Dungeons, but no dragons

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When dice have a mind of their own,

though the possibility is known,

still last weekend was absurd

and with death did we flirt.

The wench, courageous and undaunted,

with her fiery flail she flaunted

only to be put in place

her cleric level back to base

when quth-maren gazed into eyes

his will empowered through the dice.

In cowering fright on floor she crawled

and shivering with eyes red, she bawled

until her siblings saved her ass

and brought her back to mighty class

Then from the corner a new beast stirs

and yet another fight is hers.

A hellish spider from the abyss

bit her straight back into paralysis.

A second rescue attempt was made

lucky for her the fiend took bait.

The wizard, fighter and the scout

dragged her, found a safe way out.

And from the dungeon they fled in shame

just in case a dragon came.

 

Anybys Velifane

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The next day, the siblings arrive at the Isle of Scribes after a two hours walk south. The area is swarming with Shi’quos guards, and Lilith checks the parchment. It is safely tucked away, next to the 500 platinum pieces she has the freedom to offer to Anybys Velifane. Matron Mother Thandysha still seemed troubled by the prophecy this morning.

Multiple wizard towers shimmer with a metal sheen. The tower of the archmage is not the highest among them, but it is the broadest – very elegant in obsidian stone and well over hundred feet tall. When they approach the entrance, the captain of the guard halts them. When asked for admittance, Rhuadin is detaining their access at first, but prodded by the cleric’s authoritarian air, he soon returns with the message

The Archmage will see you now. Leave your weapons with me, they’ll be safe.

A flamboyant drow leads them up a winding staircase towards the second floor. They are welcomed by a very handsome though haughty lady, dressed in a silk robe. She seems to be Thandysha’s age. Lilith introduces herself and explains the reason for their visit, after which she hands over the scroll. Archmage Velifane is intrigued and is about to enter her study, when she looks at Jharrath.

I could use an assistant.

Without hesitation, the Xaniqos wizard replies

My name is Jharrath and I’m an aspiring wizard with many potentials. I’m honored to be of service!

Together they disappear, while the others sit down for refreshments.

Anybys

art by Carrie Best @ DeviantArt

The archmage’s study is an alchemist dream. Jharrath looks around in wonder and awe, while Velifane carefully unfolds the scroll. She gently touches it and then examines her fingertip with special spectacles.

Hmm darklight ore, highly unusual these days, how remarkable. And dangerous!

The archmage again bows over the parchment and chants a deviation spell. On her instructions, Jharrath carries several items – including a mirror – to a big table. The parchment is carefully spread out in the middle. Anybys focuses and casts a spell, unknown to the Xaniqos drow. Jharrath suddenly hears a male voice

You seeketh, and it wants to be found
It lies in a tomb deep underground
Ignorant guards of legs eight
Shield the world from darker fate

though the mirror image stays blank. Frustrated she mumbles I think we need to alert the Council.

An hour has passed, when they reappear in the reception room. In a distracted voice, the archmage recites:

Six hundred years ago, a war raged between drow. The war was triggered by Dark Fate, a rod infused with the intense hatred of a drider. Dark Fate found its way into the hands of drow cleric Alantria. It fed her hatred for drow, which ultimately resulted in a huge war. Alantria was defeated, but all was razed to the ground. Her body and the weapon have never been found. The rod has turned into a sentient being, with a mind of its own. If it falls in the hands of the wrong people, it could mean our doom! The discovery of this scroll is quite important, a matter of great urgency. Tell your Matron Mother that I’ll gather the Council within a tenday!

Jharrath offers his help for future necessities, which archmage Velifane accepts.

For a man, you were actually quite useful.

Lost in thought, she dismisses the siblings and adds a few punctuation corrections to the scroll. Now it reads:

150207prophecyplus

Attack of the Sahuagins

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The name Glimmersea is well chosen: although it is very dark, the waves shimmer with a light of their own. One of the Kua-Toas takes position in front of the vessel, another in the back and the third scouts in all directions. They are alert and take their quest seriously. The journey is very boring: the Xaniqos siblings can see only a few feet around the boat. The only visible things are stalactites and small islands and rock formations, which soon disappear into the dark again.

After two days, the Kua-toas gather more often, speaking aggressively among themselves, while their silver color slowly changes to red. Something is amiss! One of their guides hops into the boat and warns them of danger: a group of Sahuagin is drawing closer!

The Sahuagin are a lizard-like aquatic race, the predators of the Glimmersea. They hunt in packs, live to fight and hate Drow – especially spell-casters – with a vengeance. The Sahuagin society is patriarchal, with kings and princes. The law of the jungle rules: the strongest is appointed king.

Before long the Drow spot several rafts, fish heads bobbing next to them. The creatures have scales and fins and are as large as humans. Furthermore, the water is seething with sharks.

Jharrath casts a fireball in between the two front rafts and hits them well, therewith announcing his spell-casting abilities to the magic-loathing Sahuagins. Two Kua-Toas unite their powers and send a sizzling bolt of lightning towards the predators, shattering the last remnants of one of the four rafts. Lilith activates her spiritual weapon and directs it over the raft on the left, while Alvra readies for action.

The lizards clamber aboard their rafts and attack the sisters – Scout and Cleric – from a distance with nets. Both Phaedra and Lilith get entangled; the male siblings are able to stay free of the nets. When a Sahuagin tries to board the boat, the Drow Fighter attacks. Jharrath summons an Earth Elemental. Whereas Phaedra manages to escape, Lilith gets dragged against the edge of the wooden boat and is rendered immobile. Unable to join the fight, she hisses with frustration. Her spiritual weapon continues to do damage. Alvra is in a fight with the Sahuagin, while the Kua-toas are in deathly battle with the sharks in the water. More aquatic warriors climb into the boat.

One of their attackers is bigger than the rest and has an extra set of arms and legs. This must be the leader of the Sahuagins, since this kind of abnormality often comes with extra strength. The eight-limb beast dives into the water and joins the fray.

Suddenly a screen of smoke appears, forming an acid curtain between the boat and new attackers: Wizard in action. There’s a lot of confusion and hissing going on in there. The Elemental kills the first Sahuagin, and Phaedra slices another one. Alvra goes into a fit, hacking and slashing like a madman, resulting in a frenzied reaction of the beast, which is quickly cut off as the Elemental makes his second victim. Two more of the monstrous humanoids climb up from the water and attack Jharrath. The body of a Kua-Toa floats lifeless in the water, killed by a shark.

The Scout feels a thud near her feet and discovers she’s being attacked by crossbows. While the Wizard casts another wall of smoke – this one stationary – Phaedra attacks a creature in the boat and manages to kill it. Lilith’s spiritual weapon ends the life of another seawolf, and when the Cleric sees two muscled salamander feet next to her, she quickly redirects it onto this opponent. Alvra succeeds in severing a couple of threads of the net around his Cleric sister, which gives her a bit more freedom of movement.

More Sahuagin step through the smoke into the middle of the boat, chanting Flesh. They suddenly look very hungry and attack the spell-caster with their claws, causing deep wounds. Enraged, Jharrath summons a new Earth Elemental and together they pummel another Sahuagin to death. Taking advantage of the turmoil aboard, Phaedra completely cuts through the net that is holding her sister and frees her. Hurriedly, the Cleric tries to get her blood circulation working again. Her sister protects her by firing bolts at her assailant.

While the leader of the waterwolves disappears under water, Alvra hurls a javelin towards one of the few remaining raft-riders. The Sahuagin slowly topples forward, the net falling from its claws. Then the Drow Fighter is attacked from behind by the leader of the Sahuagin, whose trident is a frenzied blur.

Kellgore’s Firebolt – sent by the Wizard – ends the life of a waterwolf, and the sisters defend the boat against the entering of more Sahuagins, dealing blows on grabbing hands with flail and spiked chain alike. When Lilith kills one of the remaining Sahuagins, the Spider Queen grants her extra powers (Lolth’s Meat).

Alvra casts a globe of darkness on the leader, also obscuring the Scout and Wizard. Taking a few steps back, Jharrath orders his Elementals to attack in the pitch black, aided by the Fighter and his Scout sister. Lilith is outside the globe and throws the corpses of the slayed Sahuagins overboard. When she hears grunts and hissing, she dispels the globe of darkness to see what is going on. Alvra is not amused by this action – she has taken away his advantage to fight in the dark – but takes the opportunity to drink a potion. Eight-Limbs  jumps into action and bull rushes Phaedra overboard. Lilith attacks the scaled beast, soon joined by Alvra. The Drow Fighter manages to kill the raid leader, the last of their opponents.

The Cleric helps her sister back on board, who is followed by the two remaining Kua-Toas. One of them is heavily wounded and Lilith heals him as well as her brother. The other Kua-Toa jumps back in the water to retrieve Alvra’s javelin. The raiding party has been beaten off and the Glimmersea is quiet once more.

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>>  what came before

Blessed Seahaven

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Filled with the adrenaline of executing their Matron Mother’s wishes – and of executing the Bard – the siblings swiftly travel the Underdark towards Blessed Seahaven. It is a small village in and on the water, centered around a temple. The inhabitants, the Kua-Toas, worship Blid Dool Poolp, a great sea god – although sea monster would be a more correct term. Still the Kua-Toas gain special powers through their worship. The Glimmersea glistens in the distance, while a small lake is nearby.

The Kua-Toas have fish heads with vaguely human features. They are scaly, have webbed hands and feet and are armed with small shields and tridents. One could say they are very ugly. But they can fight! These cruel green creatures are very alert and well trained warriors. The skin color of Kua-Toas changes, depending on their emotions. When they are white, they are scared, and when in anger, red. The eyesight of these creatures is extremely good, they even see invisible things. Poisons can’t harm them, and though they are water creatures, they manage remarkably well on land. It is good the Kua-Toas are friendly towards the Honorary Drow.

The Xaniqos walk up to the temple and the closer they come, the more their noses are assaulted by a heavy rotting-fish odor. It completely permeates the air. They enter the stone structure and find themselves in a big hall. Even on the inside there is a water basin. A Priestess, wearing a gold cap and a pincer staff, is in the middle of leading a service. The Kua-Toas are completely devoted and in their eyes total fanaticism gleams. When the sermon reaches its crescendo, two acolytes drift outwards and return with a wretched creature: a captured goblin. The Priestess accompanies the acolytes towards the water basin and drowns the prisoner, offering its life to her God. The butt end of the staff striking the ground announces the end of the ceremony.

Then the Priestess introduces herself to the Cleric as Plill Seachild and respectfully bids them welcome. She was already awaiting the Xaniqos and tells Lilith that the trip to Looblishar will take four to five days by water.

It will be a dangerous passage. The Glimmersea is an underground sea; there is no wind to use as power for transportation. In stead travelers magically create wind, or simply row. There is a current in the lukewarm water since it is enormously deep and vast.

On your journey over the Glimmersea, you will be accompanied by three of my faithful acolytes. Afterwards they will continue on their pilgrimage to The Goddess, the Holy Mother. Oh, and by the way, I have a request on behalf of Sloomik Goldscale, my second-in-command. Could you give this letter to Vuon in the Temple of Looblishar?

Lilith examines the ‘letter’, a chain made of shells that convey a sound – a message – when moved through water. Plill doesn’t seem to be charmed by her very ambitious second-in-command. She continues:

The only God who holds sway over Looblishar is Shar, Mistress of the Night. And although there is a Kua-Toas settlement in the  city, alas they have left our real God. The city is utterly and completely dark and the only merchandise is information. Beware of the many dangers that lurk out there. Apart from intrigue, you might encounter bats, hookhorrors and darkmantles.

The Priestess leads the way towards a jetty, where several boats are moored. One of them is rather large, with six hobgoblins on board. The acolytes swim towards the vessel, and the Xaniqos wade after them. The boat has no cabin, no luxury whatsoever. There are only the hobgoblins, who turn out to be dead yet alive, and their oars. One of the Kua-Toas commands the zombies to row and off the party goes, heading out onto the Glimmersea.

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>>  what came before

To pass the time

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Only a month to go to our next D&D session in the weekend of October 6&7th. So I’d better start working on the reports, or my DM will make up all sorts of nastiness to punish me ingame. And we can’t have that 😉 The Drow world is harsh enough as it is.

To pass the time, here’s a great post on Cracked.com:

It starts with:

D&D, the game that lets you save the maiden, slay a dragon and become a hero; all without leaving your kitchen table.

Just The Facts

  1. Dungeons and Dragons was created by the team of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR).
  2. Is credited with being the first modern role playing game, and spawning an entire multibillion dollar industry. If you play WoW, your addiction started in a box in 1974.
  3. Has been the source material for some of the best and worst novels, movies, video games, comic books and cartoons ever produced.
  4. Has a higher nerd to norm ratio of enthusiasts that can be found anywhere outside a Comic Book Convention or high school chess club.

Cracked on Dungeons and Dragons

The world of Dungeons and Dragons is not actually one world at all, but a nearly infinite number of realms and universes, all with spell casters, valiant warriors, and women with the most revealing chain mail bikinis ever imagined by the sordid minds of fourteen year old boys.

The official website describes D&D as “an imaginative, social experience that engages players in a rich fantasy world filled with larger-than-life heroes, deadly monsters, and diverse settings. As a hobby game, D&D is an ongoing activity to which players might devote hours of their time much like a weekly poker game, getting together with friends on a regular basis for weeks, months, or even years.”

And for our group, the D&D fun has been going strong for almost ten years!

Interesting article so far huh? It has much more information on D&D, its history, the dice, how to play, the DM. Go and read Dungeons and Dragons.

In the meantime I’ll be typing like a mad Drow Cleric, so next time you come over to Dungeon DuTchess, you can read more about our adventures in The Underdark.

Charicide

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As soon as the show is over, the Xaniqos siblings pick up their gear and go outside. When they see Charicide leave the Hall of Shadows, they follow her and the troll to the Silk Curtain. The streets are crowded with mostly Drow nobles, but there are also a couple of non-Drow and a few Duergar. Such a contrast with their own district.

The Silk Curtain turns out to be a very big, luxurious house of pleasure, where one can find more than just carnal joys. Again Aleval solders are patrolling the neighborhood. Guttural sounds and cries – either of pain or rapture – fill the air. The four hide their house insignia’s and boldly walk past the two men who are guarding the door. At the top of the stairs is a big white salon, where an albino Drow is entertaining the guests. Spicy aromas, comfortable chairs – the whole scene breathes an air of luxury. On the second floor a hostess approaches. Lilith asks her which offers are currently available in the Silk Curtain, and it seems there are plenty of possibilities; even a surface elf is to be had. The Cleric demands the best private room in stead, so she can decide on her entertainment for the evening in peace, hoping that room will be close to the Bard’s.

A male Drow leads the way to their quarters, upwards, past a lot of rooms. Not many guards are around, and there are only one or two bouncers. He opens the door at the end of a corridor and reveals a big room with table, huge bed, a dancing-or-other pole, brazier, a torture rack, handcuffs and other useful stuff. The window opens onto a balcony. The room in the opposite corridor has probably the same design.

The siblings are going to use a ruse: Lilith is very ‘bored with her two males’ and wants to exchange them for some fresh meat. Silently Phaedra checks out the hallway: only servants and three guards who are enjoying a glass of wine. The Cleric sweeps out of the room into the corridor and boldly walks past the guards, into the adjacent corridor. When a female Drow – whip in hand – approaches Lilith and asks her to lend her the ‘slave’ brothers, the Cleric refuses, declaring she still needs them, and moves on. ‘Maybe later!’

On the other side, the bored looking troll is sitting outside a door, similar to their own. The giant takes up half of the hallway.

I want to speak to your Mistress, Troll. What is your name?

I am Zorg.

Well, Zorg, open that door!

Can’t do that, Mistress, my Mistress will be very displeased with Zorg.

I’m sure your Mistress is very interested once she hears of these two tasty and strong males.

Though the giant hesitates, Lilith can be very convincing and manages to sway the troll. When Zorg knocks on the door several times, it opens and a melodious voice shouts ‘I told  you I do not want to be disturbed!’ A male Drow slave is bound to the pole, handcuffed. The Cleric uses her diplomatic skills and offers Alvra in exchange for the already used and drugged slave. The Bard assesses the Fighter – strong, with much stamina – and agrees to let him in. The door closes again.

Inside, the woman introduces herself as Ariana. Alvra estimates her as beautiful but deadly, gracious and cunning, not overly muscled. But then her voice sounds again, very sweet and alluring this time, and his attention wavers.

Now, male, you may lay your clothes and gear on the table near the window. You are going to undress for me…

Meanwhile the others are still outside, with a giant troll in front of the door. Lilith tries to talk Zorg into getting a drink at the bar – he must feel very thirsty and hungry? – but it won’t work. Next she pretends to hear his mistress in distress, but the troll is stubborn and stands his ground. He is not going to disturb the Bard again. When Lilith tries to put a blinding spell on the troll and fails, the giant gets suspicious.

What are you doing?

I’m trying to enhance your hearing, you deaf troll! Your Mistress seems to be in danger.

Zorg would hear more if you stupid woman would not talk so much!

Outraged, Lilith lashes out at the giant, who stumbles backwards and falls straight through the door. The Xaniqos follow it into the room and find their brother, dancing and slowly undressing. He’s in a total trance, oblivious to what is happening.

A massive fight erupts. Phaedra tumbles past the troll – getting hit in the process – and slashes at the Bard. Charicide counterattacks and casts an enchantment on the Scout, so Phaedra feels the uncontrollable urge to giggle and bursts out laughing, unable to stop. The Wizard, still in the hallway with his Cleric sister, evokes a puddle of slime underneath Zorg’s feet and the massive beast drops down. It won’t stay down for very long though. The Cleric unleashes a spell that negates Charicide’s magic, so Alvra stops dancing and the Scout can control her laughter. Shaking his head, the Fighter finally comes to his senses. He snatches a javelin from the table and aims it at the Bard. It narrowly misses. Suddenly faced by an angry Scout and a deadly Fighter, Charicide’s magic flares again and four more illusionary Bards appear around her.

Jharrath is battling the troll with a ray of flame, which seems to do much damage. When the Wizard subsequently fails to summon a monster to help them out, the troll regenerates and attacks Lilith with full force. She throws a bottle of acid in the giant’s face and steps back. Jharrath’s second try is successful and soon Zorg is surrounded by three creatures, who keep it busy.

An eerie sound fills the room – Charicide has gotten her hands on her lute – and again Alvra falls for her spell. He sits down dreamily and sways to the music. Phaedra keeps a clear head this time and slashes at the five ‘Bards’. She manages to destroy three illusions, while Lilith heals herself and then fires bolts at the troll. Jharrath summons two more elementals to try and take the troll out.

The Bard screams at Zorg to come and help her, but the giant is too busy defending itself. She changes her song to encourage the troll, causing the spell on Alvra to fail. Together the Wizard’s creatures manage to kill the troll and Jharrath finishes it off for good with Kelgore’s fire bolt. No more regenerating for this troll!

Lilith climbs over the carcass and gets out her flail. Alvra – his wits once again restored – activates his piwafwi, jumps on the bed and attacks the Bard from behind; he destroys the last fake image. But the Bard is not defeated yet and casts a spell, after which the brazier sparkles into huge fireworks: colored lights fill the air. The Fighter jumps off the bed and continues his fight, blinded. Charicide is surprised and steps back, giving the Scout the opportunity to lash out. Finally she kills the Drow.

Phaedra also slices the throat of the drugged Drow, who is still tied to the pole, bars the door, and then the Xaniqos escape from the balcony. They disappear into the night and manage to leave the city without being recognized.

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>>  what came before

The Hall of Shadows

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The Xaniqos gather in the throne room, where the Matron Mother awaits them.

Because of the latest developments, House Godeep is not interested in a collaboration anymore. We have been made a fool of. House Vae is still interested – though they are not well liked – but for it will suffice.

The day has come to strike back against the second House. Take all your gear with you, for you will leave the city immediately. Do not expect to return until things have cooled down. You will act against House Aleval tonight!

Your target is Charicide, a Bard of great renown, who was once part of the family of Aleval. This evening Charicide performs in the Hall of Shadows, a theater in the Ghetto of Performers. Afterwards she will pay a visit to the Silk Curtain, to enjoy the company of men. Take care of her there.

Further instructions will be given to you in Blessed Seahaven, a small Kua-Toas settlement, led by Pliil Seachild. Since – being Drow – we are all honorary Kua-Toas, these creatures will help you. Their demi-god is Blid Dool Poolp. Take the route over the Glimmersea to Dunspeirrin and return overland with an army of lizards in a few weeks.

The siblings prepare themselves for the journey. Lilith hands her sister a bottle of holy water, and together they visit Lolth’s shrine. Platinum and diamonds, worth five thousand gold pieces, are entrusted to the Cleric for negotiations over the riding lizards, plus extra  gold pieces for daily needs. Jharrath has crafted anti-toxin and gives his sisters one potion each.

In the evening they leave for the Halls of Shadows. The buildings in this Ghetto are fancy and lush, it is all decadency – no slums. The old Hall of Shadows was destroyed in the past and the place has been rebuilt into a grand half-circle theater in the typical Drow architecture. The theater slowly slopes down towards the stage and it is crowded with nobles. Aleval Guards patrol the area and the Xaniqos leave their weapons and backpacks in the checkroom.

They are escorted to their seats and watch flashy and magic acrobatics being performed on stage. Next is a mime artist. He is not really that good and the more nervous he gets, the more mistakes he makes. The crowd gets agitated and suddenly a Drow magician stands up, deep in trance. A moment later a dirty filthy demon appears on stage. It grabs a heavy chain that is wrapped around its body and, cheered on by the crowd, crushes the mime artist with its multiple arms. He then devours him. The magician, notwithstanding the clamor that erupts around him, never loses his concentration and sends the demon back to its plane. Bugbears clean up the mess on the suddenly empty stage.

Ten minutes later the curtains open again to reveal a man in flashy – though bit overdone – garments. Meet Shelos, the owner of the amphitheater. He has a ready, cynical tongue. For a Drow, he is even comical. When he announces Charicide, the audience goes wild.

A young Drow female steps out. Dressed in a shimmering cloack she is gorgeous and lithe. Then an ugly troll enters the stage. Next to Charicide, this giant seems extra large. The Bard takes out her 64-stringed lute, called Vazhan-do, and starts playing. A wailing sounds fills the theater. When after a while the music picks up speed, she suddenly draws her rapier and starts cutting the troll, faster and faster, while the music somehow lingers. The giant stands motionless and doesn’t move. Fingers and other body parts are hacked off. Fortunately trolls have the ability to regenerate their limbs (as long as they are not hit by acid or fire). For the next fifteen minutes the audience is captivated, under the spell of the performance of music and fight. When Charicide finally stops, the whole theater erupts in cheers and salvos of applause. This artist is a feast to the eyes: a true performer!

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>>  what came before