[WARNING: Toward the lower third of this post there are SPOILERS about a magic item found in The God That Crawls.]
Not enough time in my life for a detailed recap. But that’s fine. The gist of the weirdness is all that’s needed.
Please see this preceding post and this preceding post for context. Those links contain all the setting notes.
So, the Lamplighters approach Graupher’s Keep. They approach carefully, finding the gate locked, the pennants snapping in the wind, but no one at the walls to answer their calls.
They scaled the wall of the towers at the top of the stairs. Saw the corpses of men and strange creatures in the courtyard below…
Their movements and efforts were methodical and careful. Such would be their pace for the next few sessions.
The Nightmare Lizard appeared from the doorway leading into the kitchen. It caught the gaze of the cleric, who was infected with a dream that began pounding in his thoughts–a memory of riding a horse across the Scottish countryside. The creature retreated, thinking, in its dim, lizard-like way, to pick off the intruders one-by-one.
The other Lamplighters moved quick down the walls into the courtyard. As they moved toward the buildings ahead of them, they found the strange creatures, the dead men wearing the crest of Graupher, and a collections of ruined puppets and a puppets stage. (This freaked them out.) They entered the main doors to the hall, found the shattered cages of the menagerie, and started to piece together what had happened as they explored.
They dispatched the creatures that escaped from the menagerie with greater ease than I expected. (I didn’t commit to telling the Players that they had so many rounds before the nightmares in their heads exploded their skulls from the inside out. This would have caused panic… but also might have killed two of them! Instead, I pulled my punches and it the nightmares in their heads were simply description–not a tangible reality that would fuck them up. So, that’s on me. Lesson learned. Stay tough!)
The explored some more. Figured out that the creatures had escaped. But not much more.
They then moved to the entrance of the Turning Tower, which I located at the north west edge of the keep.
The tower took them about three weeks to deal with.
- There was the slow exploration and looking for traps.
- Slowly piecing together the strange architecture of concentric elements (even before they discovered the levers).
- They encountered men raised from the dead as zombie who wore Graupher’s crest.
- They met Tahneko, a creature built of many limbs and who controlled the zombies.
- Tahneko asked them to find Baylor and kill her for him, for if they did not he would kill them. They said “Sure. We’ll go kill Baylor.”
- They found another room with a spiral staircase. As they explored the room, naked clones of three men (a dozen of them) moved down the stairs toward them. These were creatures made by The Mother Of Unused Flesh, a creature summoned from the Plane of Flesh who now possessed Baylor, a sorcerer from the World of the Lost. (Please see this link for all the background details.)
- Baylor appeared at the top of the stairs, a lovely woman with long, striking white hair, and asked them with two voices (one hers, one the Mother of Unused Flesh) to go kill Tahneko. They said, “Sure.”
- They explored more. Found corpses. Found the private rooms of Pierre and the Archbishop. Found journals. Pieced together the history of what had happened.
- They tried to find the lab in order to finish the Holy Word spell Pierre and the archbishop had been working on. But to no avail.
But they did find Graupher’s bed chamber:
- Inside they found a strange box full of traps. Dismantling them one by one they found a small box with an amazing item in it: A miniature wheel of a sailing ship made of jade.
- They then found a set of stairs leading to a rough corridor dug into the very mountain (remember the tower is built into the mountain).
- They followed the corridor until it opened up to a huge cavern with an underground lake.
- And upon the water of lake, in the huge cavern, was a three-masted sailing ship.
- The ship, however, lacked its wheel.
- They put together many clues and realized they had found Graupher’s method of traveling between worlds. When the jade sailing wheel was pulled from the box, it grew in size and could be placed on the steering spindle.
- The numbers from the drawing they had found corresponded to the number of spokes on the wheel (12). By turning the wheel back and forth like a combination lock, they could travel to the worlds with the combinations they had. (Look for the numbers toward the middle of the folio sheet below.)
But before they used the ship, they wanted to deal with Tahneko, the Mother Of Unused Flesh, and help Baylor if they could. So they left the tower to regroup and decide what to do next.
Their magic-user burned lots of magic items and magical library books to build up a really solid bonus to cast a Summon Spell on The Mother Of Unused Flesh and rip her out of Baylor. It took three weeks to prep. But they did it!
But then, when they opened up the doors to the tower they found pressed wall to wall with cloned men. Some were zombies, some where not. The Mother Of Unused Flesh had been building an army of clones in the weeks the Lamplighters had been prepping their Summoning spell. The clones had gone off to fight Tahneko’s zombies. They almost reached Tahneko, but enough died on the way that Tahneko raised them as zombies. The fight was still ongoing. But it was a nightmare in the tower, with clones squeezing out the door.
The Lamplighters struggled to close the door before any zombies could get out. They succeeded, and discovered the that the clones, no longer controlled by The Mother Of Unused Flesh, were mindless husks.
Meanwhile, they were worried about Baylor — still in the tower, but no longer possessed. They assumed Tahneko was still alive, but with an army of two thousand or so zombies in the tower, what were the going to do?
And then the most amazing thing happened.
They remembered one of the items they had collected from the deepest level of The God That Crawls. They had found a series of chambers, each with the word FORBIDDEN on the door, and each containing a unique, bizarre magical item. They had been carrying many of these items around for weeks, afraid to use them, but afraid to simply toss them away.
One of the items was THE LOST BATTALION
The Lost Battalion
Here a cohort of 4″ lead legionnaire figurines are spread out on the shelf and piled on the floor. Under the base of the commander figure is the word “Attack” written in Latin.
If the commanding figure is held and the word spoken aloud, the cohort will animate and fight for the one holding the commander. They will not stop until the commander figure is destroyed.
Lead figure: Movement 30′, 0 level, treat as unarmored, attack does 1hp damage.
They assumed that the figures would attack if the word “Attack” was spoken. But they didn’t know for sure who or what the figures would attack. (Might it be the person who speaks the word “Attack”? Maybe!)
But they decided to give it a shot.
They snuck up to one of the tower’s murder holes facing the keep’s courtyard, dumped sack containing the cohort through the slot, and shouted the word “Attack.”
The Players were really tense a moment, not even sure if anything would happen. And they they saw the sack begin to shift. Tiny spears sliced through the fabric of the sack. The Players gave up a gasp. And then the Players gave out a cry as the figures leaped down from the ledge over the zombies and clones and set about attacking them.
Now, I had no idea any of this would be happening. I had no idea the Lamplighers would be taking three weeks to build a supercharged thaumaturgic circle in order to, essentially, performa an exorcism on Baylor. Thus, I had no idea The Mother Of Unused Flesh would have three weeks to make clones (at a rate of a new clone every ten minutes). And I certainly had no idea that the Players would have their characters pull out The Lost Battalion after having found it months ago in play.
So, I had to adjudicate on the spot the results of all this stuff.
I reviewed the facts about The Lost Battalion:
- There are 500 of them
- They each get an attack
- They deal 1hp each
- They are made of lead
I came up with the following:
- Flesh-hungry, mindless zombies will be utterly unaware of these magical lead figures, not only because they are made of lead but because the figures are so tiny and the zombies in the tower were presses up so tightly against each other they would not be able to easily look down.
- The figures are going to hit 40% of the time against the naked zombies. (AC 12 for unarmored figures). With 500 attacks a round, even at only 1hp each hit, The Lost Battalion would do (on average) 200hp every round against 1, 2, and 3HD monsters.
- I decided The Lost Battalion was going to behave essentially as a medieval-magic equivalent of a nanotechnology grey-goo and would simply mow through the zombies at an incredible rate, killing them with fantastic ease even before the zombies could react.
I came to understand quickly, in a way I hadn’t before, why the ancient monks who had built the catacombs of The God That Crawls, labeled the magic item FORBIDDEN! It is TERRIFYING!!!
So, with this item, the Players cleaned the the tower of the zombies.
They waited for silence. Then entered. Walking the corridors carefully, not sure what, if anything, had happened to Tahneko.
But he was dead. They found his body. He had been torn apart by The Lost Battalion.
Let’s look at Tahneko’s magical abilities (which are stolen from one of the creatures from Death Frost Doom, by the way):
- Each lvl drained adds d6hp to Tahneko
- Charm Someone by Looking in their Eyes AT WILL
- Telekinetically move up to 1000lbs AT WILL
- Can cause any item to melt in holders hand and appear in his AT WILL
- Control any undead AT WILL
- Detect all magic Items within 50′ AT WILL
I had to make one quick, off the cuff decision about ability number 3: Did it affect only 1 item up to 1000lbs, any number of items up to 1000lbs? I decided on the former — that he could, at will, slap anything around up to 1000lbs, but he could only focus on one item at a time.
And so, when the Lamplighters examined the room, they found several of the lead figures flattened against the wall opposite Tahneko. He did mange to fling several of them away from him with his massive power. But it was only one figure around, a magical power capable of flinging 1000lbs used to fling only a few ounces, while the rest of the cohort charged him tearing him apart.
Notice that NONE of his other magical defense could help him at all.
And so the Players defeated an amazing challenge in the most amazing way.
They found Baylor safe in the magical laboratory. (She had retreated to it as soon as The Mother Of All Flesh was pulled from her.)
So, now they had a sorcerous from another world as an ally. They had acquired a keep that now belonged to them. The magical tower now belonged to them. And they had a ship that could carry them to another world.