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Archive for October 30th, 2011

A Ravenloft – Empire Strikes Back – Tomb of Horrors mash-up

The astral giant lowered hist massive sword and bowed his head low to the ground, yielding. “You have vanquished the guardians of the stair and may pass into the cathedral. What is more, you have defeated me, and I offer you this…” so saying he pulled a ring off his finger and laid it palm out-thrust. Poppy the elf leapt forward to grab the ring, which was a silvern loop with a star shaped diamond. “The fabled ring of x-ray vision.”

The heroes were led into the enclave of the astral giants, which was a stone city floating above clouds of pink and orange. They were given rest and refreshment before arriving in a meeting hall. 8 giants stood around an enourmous table showing all the cosmos as globes connected by wavering lines. Another giant stood against the far wall, cloaked and hooded. They also met a human ranger named John Smith who explained he took the back entrance – twice as many steps but you didn’t have to defeat giants.

When asked where the three remaining divine engines were located, the heroes quest, the giants pointed to their world of D Erte, and spoke thus:

“We giants, first among the elder beings to join the side of Law, are also the builders of the divine engines. Very well we know their whereabouts, and of the three you still seek, the first is held by our cold cousins the frost giants, in their own king Jarls Glacial Rift. The next is further north in the Mountains of Dawning, in the Hall of the Fire Giant King. Finally, the third and last engine you seek is yet further north, in the mountain of Neverwinter, over-topping the furthest northern free city of your world. Beneath this sleeping volcano, a primordial is chained about the neck. The lock is failing and soon he will be free.”

So saying, the heroes questioned them a bit more, stayed a day, ad were led by the silent giant to a chamber inscribed with a glowing teleportation ring. A man in a red shirt stood on a podium preparing to beam them home. The heroes were shuffling around on the magic circle, trying to find a good place and pose to stand, when suddenly Hex perceived something was amiss. Time stopped for all of them, except for the hooded giant, who threw off his cloak and revealed himself. Being lord of time and space, he was able to warp time in a location based manner, and so allowed time to continue flowing for the brain, ears and eyes of the heroes, while their physical bodies were trapped in stasis, like an insect in amber.

“It is I, Zagnasdiak, came to usher you to your doom!” He was their arch enemy, the one who cursed them into the world of Dark Sun. Zagnasdiak the Insane Lord of Time and Space destroyed the world of D Erte in a future these heroes witness first hand. They slew his restless spirit in a crypt heaped with the skulls of the dead world. But that was then, and he was still alive in the present, and now they see he is the one behind the war of the giants. This could be the beginning of the downfall that will turn the fair young world into the broken world of Dark Sun and eventual annihilation. Bad news. He continues:

“I could slay you here and now with a flick of my wrist, but instead I will leave you to my favorite captain, who has planned a slow and painful death for you all. Muah ha ha..” Then he looks to the vampire princess Rook and adds “Especially you!”

*****

The heroes of D Argent are suddenly in a very dark place, silent and smelling like a charnel house, or worse. Each of the heroes notices something: Hex notes that a teleportation ring cannot be broken, but it can be interrupted, in which case another portal should be nearby, to continue the journey home. Poppy is wearing her new ring of x-ray vision, and she is the only one among them that can see through the magical greater darkness spell that causes even the brightest flame to appear no more than candle-dim. She sees that they are standing in an aisle between rows of pews, as in a church or cathedral. Shapeless sagging lumps fill the pews within her limited x-ray vision. With one sniff of the foetid air, Felipe knows that the air is deadly, and that they cannot breathe it for long without suffering permanent damage.

Rook and Thokk had darkvision, and even they could see no further than five feet around them. Rook stood near one end of the chamber, and she could see an alter with a small box atop it. All of it was coated in congealing blood. Thokk stood by a wall, and recognized a certain slot in one end, a narrow hall near the other end, and knew where they were. John Smith and Hex were completely blind and had to light a lantern to see even within a few feet of themselves in the constricting darkness.

Felipe took charge, and said they must seek the entrance as quickly as possible to get away from the diseased air, and turned towards the narrow hallway which led out of the Tomb of Horrors. Ignoring the corpses, the alter and aught else in the cathedral of evil, Poppy noted that the whole chamber seemed new-built, with pews of fresh cut pine, and polished stone floor tiles. After Felipe came Rook, then Hex, John, Thokk, and finally Poppy came last.

After moving along the narrow passage or a few minutes, a booming laughter assailed their ears, which mutated into the howling of a wolf. Felipe in the lead heard the scrape and scrabble of paws on stone, before a wolf leapt out of the darkness to land before her. He transformed into a tall man with white hair. “I am Lord Strahd, twice raised, and it is my duty to kill you slowly and painfully.”

“Father!” came a shout from somewhere back of the line.

“What? Yes, Rook! I am your father!”

Lord Strahd was betrothed to Cady the Fearless, a hero of the who ended the Undead War of 100 years previous by a marriage proposal. But on their wedding night, as Rook was being conceived, Cady slew Strahd, and became the new Lady Queen of Shalazar. She gave birth to a girl and named her Rook. They have been arguing ever since. Apparently Zagnasdiak, lord of time and space, raised Strahd again somehow, to become a trusted captain. Felipe had some choice words about that and voiced them.

***combat ensues***

“Enough of your insolence!” Strahd shouts as a free action. He then slaps Felipe with his main attack. As part of the attack he shifts back a square and looks deep into Rook’s eyes. “Oh lovely daughter, you look just as beautiful as your mother. I should have slew the treacherous wench when I had the chance, but then I would have ended your life too. I died to save you Rook.” Mascara flooded her pallid cheeks with dark streams.

‘Oh father, command,” she wept in thrall to the vampire lord. “Help me deal with your friends my love. We have so much catching up to do.” He winked at her just as Felipe shouted “oh no you don’t!” and dissolved into piles of squirming maggots that slithered between the stones of the narrow hallway as they shifted behind the vampire lord. They damaged Strahd but not as much as she hoped. Rook was next in line in that narrow hall and she was ready to do her father’s bidding. SHe turned to Hex and gave him a little vampire slammin’ love. Hex marked and charged the vampire.

The next to go was the new ranger, John Smith, who watched the shadows ahead in that darkened hall. He waited until the until it seemed there was a gap and loosed two arrows in quick succession. One arrow struck true and the other went wild. Then Thokk rushed into the gap ahead and threw his sky render axe which missed its target but clanged off the walls and returned to his hand. Sharia’s final gift to the barbarian.

Finally, last in line was Poppy, who moved up close enough to see the vampire with her ring of x-ray vision. She first swore an oath to track him down and slay him, then loosed her big undead power which did forty points or so of damage, shaking Strahd in his boots a little. As a free action he looked up and said “Such a feisty elf, you remind me of another with a like fiery spirit. ” He leered at her. So ended round one.

On round one, the initiative order went in order of the single file line the characters stood in. Since many characters shifted position, round two returned to the traditional of around-the-table initiative order, which meant that it was Strahd’s turn. Hex was closest to him, so he slapped the space pirate with his special Slap-attack move, while saying that he didnt know why it felt so good, but he just couldnt help himself. Between his reunited daughter and the vampire, Hex was taking some damage. To round out his turn, Strahd transformed into a cloud of vampire bats, who fluttered and flew about in a curtain of bloody fangs.

Hex fended off the fangs at the start of his turn then retaliated by attacking more. Then Poppy fired her longbow and missed. Hex had shifted forward, so Rook had to turn and attack Poppy, then failed her domination save again. Felipe pounced among the bats, John fired ineffectual arrows, and THokk sent his sky-render axe sailing one more time, and its magic brought the normally unflappable swarm to a prone position, but did minimal damage.

On Strahds turn, he stands as his move action, then uses his slap attack back on the druid, who stands behind him, which allows him to shift up onto the wall and one square further back. Hex double cursed the vampire lord and stayed back, allowing Poppy to use a special fortune card shift to switch places with him and get a huge attack against Strahd, using Aspect of might (Like Wil Wheaton!) doing 40+ points of damage. Rook charged Poppy from behind and slashed her. Felipe on her tun became a fling raptor and swooped past him to the rear of the party, being bloodied.

This caused John Connor to run forward and literally try to bea Strahd with his bare fists,since he had no weapon but his bow. Thokk then threw the Skyrender one last time before handing i to the ranger John to use.

From his perch above them on the wall, Strahd made a groaning sound and immense clouds of poisonous gas suddenly were released from his undead bowels. The fumes filled the passageway so that almost everyone was thouroughly grossed out. He then scuttled down the hallway and back into a standing position at the end of the noxious clouds. Hex followed him and attacked him. Then Poppy hit the vampire with one of her few divine ranged powers, causing more massive damage due to the divine radiance. This also caused Strahd’s regeneration to stop working for the round. Rook had shaken off the domination, and used the chance to attack with her swarm of bat attack, and ended her turn next to him. Felipe moved out of the back edge of the cloud of fumes and used her second wind. Thokk and the ranger did various deeds.

Back to the vampire, who now slapped the girl who dared disobey him, then he noticed she was bloodied, and he expended an action point to bend over her romantically ad whisper how he could taste her mother on her, and how he longed to taste her blood too. Then his fangs bit deep into Rook. He ended the turn by dominating Poppy, whom he had seen from afar and wished they could spend more time together. poppy soon wished that as well, though she used a card or power or feat or something to roll her save at the beginning of her turn, so Strahd’s wishes with her all came to naught.

Another round of Hex, Poppy, Rook, Felipe, John and Thokk all jockeying for position in the narrow dark hallway followed, with Hex finally bloodying him. The vampire accepted opportunity attacks while it bolted down the hall on his turn, but Hex followed, bloodying him then Poppy followed in a charge, doing another 40+ points thanks to her radiance. Felipe returned to a turn in the hall, and threw her dagger, which missed. John and THokk missed as well.

Strahd was bloodied and didnt care, he didnt even bother using his own second wind, since he planned on being reduced to zero and returning to his cunningly placed crypt within the newly built Tomb of Horrors. He wanted todraw the party in so their deaths could provide the raw energy needed to turn the Tomb to a learning center for necromancy. He slashed at Poppy with his claws, drank more of Rook’s blood, and finally ended his turn by dominating young John Smith.

Hex attacked, Poppy attacked, Felipe attacked, Rook attacked, then John attacked Thokk, then Thokk broke away from the pack charged the vampire lord Strahd and took him down to zero with a thundering blow of his great axe. The vampire turned into an invulnerable mustard fog which wafted back the way they came.

After a quick discussion, the party continued on towards the exit and eventually found the glowing portal right at the tunnel mouth, and were able to leave the Tomb of Horrors, and Strahd, and return to their home base of D Argent, city of Heroes.

They gain a level to 15 and their newly made sky-metal toys are waiting for them, fresh from the Torrian smiths.

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