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July 11, 2017

Dungeons & Delvers: Age of Worms, Episode 604

Cast
  • Humal (level 10 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 10 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 10 elf rogue/ranger)

Summary

With the water elemental destroyed and Humal more-or-less back on his feet, the party continued through the water ring and on to the smaller building beyond.

The door was covered in elaborate bas-reliefs that from a distance concealed a number of what Sumia figured were keyholes. The entire surface was covered in rust, so when she tried to pick one and almost immediately failed blamed it on ancient, faulty machinery.

Luckily Corzale still had the magical rusting gauntlet they found beneath Dovin’s arena: she obliterated a sizable portion of the door with a single punch…revealing another door only a few feet behind it. It was similar to the first, just much better preserved.

Sumia was able to pick one lock, which quickly retracted into the door, only to be replaced by a series of dials covered in “Wind Duke language”. Rather than wait for the rust gauntlet to recharge or go through who knew how many possible combinations, they decided to back track, find Allustan, and hope he could sort it out. Who knows: maybe it’d take so long the gauntlet would recharge by the time they got back.

When they turned about, Humal and Corzale saw a strange, shadowy form moving about the door to the previous building. They were used to ambushes by now, but when they retraced their steps across the winding bridge and peered through the door, everything looked to be more or less in order: the statue was still standing, and the pile of rubble was still a pile of rubble.

Figuring that whatever it was had something to do with the remaining statue, or that the statue would animate and attack as soon as they tried the remaining door, Corzale strode up to it and prepared to smash it with her hammer. She was surprised that it reacted to avoid her attack. Not that it moved, but that it moved before she could hit it: normally these sorts of guardian constructs just stood around until you touched something or moved somewhere you weren’t supposed to.

It stomped on the ground, causing the stone floor to ripple and pelt Corzale with stone fragments. The floor was visibly damaged but still mostly intact; Corzale prayed that they could destroy the statue before it could stomp again. Unfortunately Sumia’s arrows harmlessly shattered against it, and her owlbear’s claws and teeth didn’t fare much better; it got in another stomp before Corzale struck it square in the midsection, shattering it in two and sending the amorphous shape they’d spotted earlier flying out of the torso.

Corzale found herself stranded on a floating piece of rubble, unwilling to risk leaping off of it because for some reason they still fell on this accursed plane. Whatever had been controlling the statue was still alive: Sumia failed to strike the creature as it swam through the stone towards Humal, but just before it struck it suddenly stopped, bowed, and began speaking to him in an infernal language.

Now that it was completely exposed and standing still, Corzale recognized it as a very old and primitive gnome. As with the rest of the elemental guardians they’d encountered it had likely been bound here by the tomb’s creators long ago, and from what Humal discerned the binding magic had faded and now it just wanted to go home. Corzale agreed to let it go after it reassembled the floor so that she didn’t have to risk jumping across the gap.

After it eventually completed its task to Corzale’s satisfaction it, best they could tell, attempted to warn them about a pair of guardians in the next room before leaving.

Expecting another fight they rested up before trying the final door, which opened into a square room. Standing opposite of the door was a golden statue of a wind duke, garbed in flowing robes and standing atop a heap of slain demons. The walls were covered in bas-reliefs that depicted warriors and what they assumed were wind duke nobles and common folk saluting and bowing before the golden statue.

Humal and Sumia were surprised that the only magical energies they could detect emanated from beyond the wall right behind the golden statue: it looked roughly spherical in shape, and radiated abjuration, conjuration, and evocation magic. Everything else seemed perfectly mundane: had the gnome attempted to warn them about traps? Had the previous guardians already left?

Taking a cue from the bas-reliefs, Corzale grabbed Humal and Sumia by the arm, pulling them down into a position of supplication, but nothing happened. Recalling the gnome’s warning, Sumia entered the room and examined the bas-reliefs of two warriors on either side of the statue.

Careful examination revealed that these warriors weren’t carved from the wall: they were assembled from a number of tiles that fit together almost seamlessly. To Sumia’s surprise and relief, nothing happened when she pried a tile loose, and as she continued to work a door was gradually revealed behind it.

She lifted the door to reveal the source of the magical energies: a great sphere of electricity, seemingly powered by a metal spike positioned in the ceiling above it. In the center she saw Allustan, face contorted in agony, likely due to the great wound in his side. Fortunately he seemed to be frozen in time, so hadn’t yet died from blood loss.

Design Notes

First off, we’ve finally released Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book!

It’s a complete role-playing game, albeit with a soft five-level cap (there’s a sidebar for it you want to go past that, plus guidelines on converting monsters, so with a bit of work you can play until you snag all the talents).

We also updated it with the first Appendix D document, which adds some new races and classes, multiclassing, and examples of what you can do with various monster parts.

Second, I am in fact working on an adventure that involves the party going to a sky tomb on another plane, based on some of the stuff I mentioned in this post and that post. Going to release it as a kind of intro adventure for the game.

Aside from being the tomb of an air elemental-ish humanoid, it’s not going to have much in common with The Whispering Cairn, though I’m also kicking around a sequel adventure that has the characters investigate an ancient worm-cult temple (which so far has an Alien vibe).

Announcements

If you’re curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you’re interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we’ve mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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