Part I: Renki
Part II: Commander Parseltongue
The party used some remaining healing spells to bring everyone up to full health, and settled down for the night. Before dawn everyone awoke and the spell casters started their morning meditation to prepare for spell recovery. Note 9
The plan is the same as the day before. Torches extinguished, Gilden will use his infravision to scout the hallway. He cast Silence l5' Radius on a copper piece and held it ready to throw.
Opening the secret door Gilden discovered his infravision didn't work. The hall was lit by torches! The door near their secret door had a torch in a sconce, and other torches were lit at the corners (east and west) where the hall turned north. Putting the coin down he informed the others of what he saw, although they could see the hall was lit. It was agreed he'd go ahead anyway and scout the two rooms where battle was held.
The eastern room was lit with torches as well. Looking into the room, Gilden noticed the bodies had been removed as were the remaining belongings. He also noticed something startling. About 20' up on the walls is a 3' wide ledge, and about every 10' there is a small statue, about 4' or 5' tall, of a crouching humanoid figure! He had not seen them in the dark the previous day, and even when the room was lit in battle no one had noticed the ledges.
"Having giants trying to kill you IS distracting," he thought. Turning back to report to the party he realized the ledges were everywhere! The halls, the rooms, everywhere! All with small statues every 10 feet. At first he thought the statues were identical, although even at the distance he could make out differences in posture.
A quick check of the western room revealed the same -- bodies and belongings gone, ledges and statues 20' up.
Reporting back to the party they decided to explore the western area first. From the battle room of the frost giants they discovered the hallway turned north, went a ways and turned back east. A single door was visible on the eastern wall. Scouting quietly Gilden saw that the eastern hall opened into a room.
Using the coin to keep block the noise of the door opening, Jake opened the door. The room was a small one, at least by giant standards. Unfortunately the silenced coin didn't block reek. Bodily wastes and the rank smell of infection filled the room. Slumped in the northeast corner sat a huge figure, manacled to the wall. A female ogre mage, obviously in poor health.
Dropping the coin in the southwest corner the party investigated her. Note 10
She conscious but in terrible pain. Her wrists were badly infected where the manacles lie, and David, Bisonbit, Gilden, and Faraz recoiled in horror. The manacles were each inscribed with the Rune of the Chain, an anti-magic symbol! This rune blocked magic from working and would burn the skin of any magic using creature. It was the worst form a torture that anyone could inflict on a spell caster. Note 11
The party tried several languages they thought she might know, but she replied in unaccented Common Trade Language. Note 12
First accusing them of coming to torture her further, she finally understood they were killing giants. At that her interest piqued.
"Do you want us to free you?" David asked.
Biting back several caustic replies she nodded affirmative.
Gilden cut the chains with his axe, then carefully cut the bolts on the manacles. The Runes of the Chain negated the magical abilities of his axe, but Cieldren's Axe was a mithril/steel/adamantium alloy, more than sufficient to cut iron. The ogre mage sobbed in relief as the manacles fell free. Her wrists were horribly infected, a doubly cruel torment.
Without hesitation Gilden invoked a healing magic to remove the infection. The rank smell grew worse as her body rejected the infection, making everyone want to retch. Jake washed her wrists and hands in clean water. Gilden made to cast another spell to further heal her but she stopped him. "No need to expend more magic. My kind heal quickly and this will be fine with those cursed manacles off me! My thanks to you and your god."
The party retreated from the stench, moving back to a previous storeroom, an armory. Here she selected a spear to use and told the party what she knew. "The alliance started by the humans and frost giants is falling apart. The lawful beings, such as my own, finally realized that Tharizdun is a god of pure chaos, one whose aims will never be ours except for brief moments." Pausing a moment she continued, "Brief moments as gods know such things."
"This god will sacrifice us without thought if it furthers his goal of release." She snorted. "He will sacrifice any of us for his own amusement! Or because he's irritated. Or because he wants to."
"My people chose to leave this union. I was imprisoned for this."
"And tortured for it?" asked Jake.
She snorted again. "No. That was simply for amusement. They would have killed me otherwise." She swallowed.
"The fire giants are on the verge of pulling out. The orcs and other lawful goblinoids would like to, but they are too afraid. Only the humans, frost giants, and hill giants are content." Looking around at the group she continued, "But not for long. I overheard the human and frost giant clerics talking. There is something imprisoned in the lower levels, something so old it doesn't have a name. They intend to release it with the idea that it will destroy their enemies." She swallowed, shocking the humans and dwarf to see fear on her face. "Tharizdun has destroyed his followers before when they displeased him. I fear this thing will destroy all mortals it encounters."
David asked, "What do you intend to do?"
"You are the little men who kill giants. Your infamy has spread throughout the lands ruled by giants and goblinoids. The destruction your little band has caused is known far and wide. Any caught with you will suffer a horrible fate." Glancing around at each one, she continued, "Let's kill some giants!"
"What is your name?"
"You may call me Renki."
I use spontaneous spell casting for clerics and druids, so their morning spell memorization isn't btb. They make a connection with their deity and/or minions and prepare themselves for spell casting. Spells are chosen at casting time with PH & UA spells legal, subject to their deity's later review.
This doesn't make as much in-game sense as the Vancian rules, so we avoid thinking the in-game mechanics through so much that it will confuse us. MUs & illusionists use semi-spontaneous spell casting, which makes a bit more sense. I need to post a formal write-up of how this works on my web site.
The players use invisibility and silence VERY effectively ... but as I said previously I don't give them a free ride. They have to be very specific about how things are done, e.g., spell casting in a silenced area doesn't work and I am a hard-ass about it.
Pop Quiz: What work of fiction did I borrow "Rune of the Chain" from?
IMC there is a trade language, e.g., "Common Trade Language". In addition several human languages are spoken in the PCs' home land, all similar dialects but a possible source of problems and confusion. In this land there is just one human tongue that they know of in addition to this land's version of the Common Trade Language.
My primary campaign world has 5 human ethnic groups, two of which are the Satheans and the Kerreans.
David and Jake are primarily of Sathean blood. The Satheans are typically a bit shorter than other human ethnic groups, standing 5' to 5'6" tall and having broad frames. David is 5'1" and Jake is 5'4", and both have the typical bronze skin, dark hair, and broad facial features. Jake's paternal grandfather is Kerrean although Jake looks like a typical Sathean. Both grew up in the Free City Kerr.
Bisonbit is of Kerrean descent and is taller (5'10"), lighter skinned, and has dirty blond hair.
Faraz and Trilla are of local descent in the land of Shahrivar, similar to Bisonbit but with slightly darker coloration.
Ogre magi think of humans as "little people" and Renki thinks it's funny that Jake, who is so much smaller than she is and has much less body mass, is actually stronger than she is.
David asked, "Can you use your magical abilities?"
Renki replied, "My natural abilities, yes. My spell abilities? No, not without spell books to study. Mine were taken."
"Spell books?" David asked perplexedly. "I didn't know ogre magi needed books."
"Most don't. I'm of noble descent and we often have the ability to learn wizard spells that augment our natural abilities." Note 13
The party moved carefully up the hallway and peered around the corner. A large room was visible containing a dozen hill giants. Two stood conversing in front of this hallway, while other pairs stood in front of the other hallways and four in the middle of the room. Gilden flung the silenced coin into the middle of the room while David opened the conversation with a Fireball! Right after the fireball detonated Gilden turned two of the hill giants' spears into snakes, while Jake, Bisonbit, and Trilla hit the closest hill giants from behind.
It was a bad day to be a hill giant. The first two dropped quickly as did the next two. Each of the hill giant pairs watching a hallway kept one on station while the second joined the attack on the scrawny humans, excepting the two fighting snakes.
A snake snapped at the first giant, drawing blood but not really hurting him. The infuriated giant, lacking any other weapons, stomped on the snake ... and missed, almost falling over. The snake snapped at him again and again he stomped, not even coming close.
The second snake snapped at the second giant, who repeated the clumsiness of the first! The second stomp barely grazed the snake, infuriating it. With an enraged hiss it bit the giant in the leg.
The giants and snakes went into a frenzy of stomping and biting. While the snake bites did little damage to the giants, it enraged the giants to the point where both were spastic ally thrashing at the snakes, doing little or no damage to them.
The last of the giants attacking the party fell, so they turned their attention to the frantically stomping giants. These doofuses were so wrapped up in their frenzy to stomp the snakes that they failed to note their other attackers, dying without realizing what killed them. The snakes made a few last snaps at the bodies and then hissed their displeasure at the party. Gilden told the snakes to calm down, there were more giants ...
As the last of the giants fell to the human/dwarven onslaught, the three remaining on guard turned and ran in three directions. A quick investigation of the northern passage showed that it went a short distance and T'd into two staircases going up, pointing east and west. The other two halls went east and south. A few party members received healing spells but Jake was badly hurt by a giant's spear. After a moment's consideration Jake quaffed a Giant Healing Potion. Other than churning his guts for a minute it had no ill effects; rather it completely healed all his wounds. Note 14
David cast Web in the entrance to the stairs leading up, figuring it would block the way temporarily.
After healing the party moved as quickly as they could after the giant who fled down the eastern hallway, apparently empty. when the party reached the middle of the room giants attacked from a southern hallway, first throwing rocks and then closing. Fortunately none of the rocks hit but several were close calls. The party made a fighting retreat to the hall through which they entered, where they could fight only few at a time.
Gilden had the foresight to bring the giant spears from the last fight. He immediately cast Sticks to Snakes and to his glee he got 2 poisonous ones! [9 snakes, 45% chance for each to be poisonous, and he got 2 ... crappy rolls!] The battle immediately became ugly, with Renki jumping in and hacking a hill giant down. Two stiffened like boards, foaming at the mouth, when poisonous snakes bit them. The remainder were slowly losing when reinforcements came from the south. The fighting turned bitter but all but one the giants went down. One in back ran.
While the clerics cast a few healing spells Jake and Renki checked the eastern hallway. It turned south and led to a stairway down.
"This stairway should be guarded! It always has been before " The pair returned to the others.
Following the path of the giant who ran, they party discovered that the way circled and they came back to the twin stairways leading up, where the hill giant who fled stood looking at the web in wonder. So much wonder that he didn't hear David, Jake, and Bisonbit walk up behind him and hack him down.
David looked at the web, realizing something was wrong but not immediately realizing what. Jake and Bisonbit looked at each other in shock and horror, both screaming, "FIRE!" as they jumped back.
Fire giants on the steps set fire to the webbing, and the last of it burned away in David's face. He was close enough to feel the heat but not enough to be burned. Fortunately his daze lifted as he realized the fire giant magic user on the other side of where the web had been was casting. He dove out of the way as a Fireball burst right where he had been standing. Badly scorched, David realized he had been a cinder if he hadn't moved.
Renki screamed, "DOWN!" and invoked a Cone of Cold. Hugging the stone David felt the magical cold spray right over his back, blasting the fire giants who were charging off the steps. None went down but all stiffened with the cold. This bought him time to get to his feet to cast a Lightning Bolt into the passage, making the bold wide and short so it would fill as much of the passage as possible and not rebound on him. Yanking his sword from its sheath he backed up even with Jake and Bisonbit..
David, Bisonbit, and Jake were badly outnumbered. They made a rapid fighting retreat to the passage way behind them, taking a few minor wounds but doing fairly well considering their foes. The passage was only 20' wide so it drastically limited what the giants could do.
David flinched as cyan bolts of magical force flew from the fire giant magic user's hand toward him. His Ring of Magic Missile Negation absorbed the bolts without harm to him. Note 15
Faraz plied his staff sling with deadly aim, smacking the fire giant magic user several time, ruining a spell. Renki cast Darkness upon the enemy spell caster and then swapped places with David so he could cast. With a scream of rage she drove her spear through a giant's guard and pierced his heart!
Bisonbit drove his spear into a giant's knee and then into his throat when the giant's concentration broke and he reflexively grabbed at his injured leg.
Gilden beat ineffectively against a third giant's shield, then side-stepped and whacked the giant in the ankle. A dwarven sized axe is a tiny thing compared to a 12' fire giant, but when that axe is made of the finest steel, Mithril, and adamantium alloy and blessed by a god? It cuts bone and tendon without regard to size. The giant collapsed upon his side and Gilden heroically leapt upon his side and played golf with an imaginary ball located on the back of the giant's neck.
With most of the fire giants downed David cast another Fireball from scroll into the magical darkness. Flame burst from the area but nothing showed. The snakes hit the remaining giants from behind, and while they were occupied killing snakes the party hit them hard. When the last fell David asked Renki to dispel the darkness. Nothing was there, the fire giant magic user had fled up the steps.
The question was: Which staircase will the counter attack come from?
I recently came up with the idea of noble ogre magi who have MU ability. Renki is 7+4 HD and has MU spell ability at 5th level. I need to post my addition to ogre magi in the near future.
The party acquired three Giant Healing Potions in a previous fight. Each potion performs a full Heal on humans and demi-humans. The drawback is that they're strong, dangerous to medium sized creatures, and potentially fatal. When drinking one the character has to make a system shock roll or be knocked unconscious for 3d6 turns. Unconscious characters make a second system shock roll; failure means death as the potion was too strong for them to handle. For characters with good constitutions it's a reasonable risk. My players don't take the risk lightly.
A Ring of Magic Missile Negation is the same as a Brooch of Shielding. I forgot David had it ... and it ruined my fun as it should have disrupted his spell!
Copyright 2013 Bryan Fazekas