Gladius 4e

New Companions within the Pyramid

After recovering from their wounds the party began making plans to set out from the entry room, when suddenly the ambient light emanating from the walls dimmed briefly and two men appeared within the entry pit.

The men crawled out of the pit and introduced themselves as Ludo Lharso, a “business man” who happened upon a small black pyramid, and found himself within this pit, and Felix, a war-priest, presenting the symbol of no god, who had no idea how he ended up here, or even who he was aside from his name. After introductions all around, the party and the new recruits decided that if they were all looking for an exit, perhaps they should look together.

Proceeding north the party encountered a room swarming with diseased, mutant rats, and handily destroyed the whole colony, burning the nests, before moving on. Humorous comments were made as to the nature of Karavakos’s decor, “closet full of skulls, well at least he’s consistent.”

Further on they found a library, the territory of humanoid beings, lacking a face aside from their eyes, unrecognized by anyone within the party. The creatures emanated a constant psychic whisper of multiple garbled languages that caused mental discomfort to their prey. Obviously protecting the library the beings attacked the party, some armed with bows, and some with scimitars and mental assaults.

The party was victorious, and even captured one of the creatures, who filled them in on the details; he and his brethren were servants of the god Vecna, what they knew, the god of secrets knew, and this library contained much knowledge. The eaters of knowledge, had intentionally come to this pyramid to feast on the knowledge they had recieved visions of being within. There was a wizard within behind the closed doors atop the bookshelves, a tiefling wizard. The eaters of knowledge had a simple deal with him, they could consume any knowledge within the library, as long as they didn’t disturb his studies.

The party offered their captive another deal, he and his brethren could live, if they stayed out of the way of the party killing the wizard, whom they believed to be a shard of Karavakos. The creature, without other options, agreed. However, after passing through the closed doors, and into the wizard’s study, the creature sent out a silent telepathic message to his companions, and they rushed to his rescue, along with the shard of Karavakos.

The party was victorious again, and found a key with a strange inscription, which the head of Vyrelis identified as one of three required for entry to the top tier of the pyramid. Thoroughly exhausted, the party bedded down for another rest.

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Beggining the Pyramid of Shadows...

Between sessions the characters went from level 8 to level 10 (actually, to about 200 xp short of level 10, but I decided that prepping an adventure for level 9, after one encounter, 10 would be an unnecessary headache, and put them at level 10 minimum xp instead), and despite my best intentions, we didn’t start dealing with this level-up until about an hour before game time.

Due to printer errors, a new character needing to be rebuilt to fit the theme desired by a player, a last minute need for snacks, a player half-asleep after a marathon 36-hours of consciousness, and my sometimes frightening compulsion to dig through hundreds of miniatures for, “that human who looks so much more like a roguish, human lackey (a minion, whose life span will be roughly fifty-five real-life seconds), you know the one who you’ll probably fight four sessions from now, than the other roguish human lackey in my hands right now”, and the necessity for me to play an absent player’s character;

due to all that, we all arrived at my home two hours earlier than game time, and began gaming an hour (at least) late.

After all the drag, I didn’t want to drag things out even more, so I glossed over some of the more roleplay-heavy elements leading up to the big reveal: Imura, once the party’s somewhat enemy, was now a member of their school, an important one even, and he had a message from their school manager, Krusk; we need a stronghold if we are to continue to grow.

At this point I let the players see the extensive strong-hold building rule-set that I had spent hours converting from a 3e book, and as I somewhat expected they said,

“look can we just assume that we give our school accountant 10k gold, and if it’s a bit off that we’ll adjust our school funds on our sheet after we’ve had a bit of not-at-the-table time to look over all this crap?”

to which I of course said,

“Hell yes!”

It was on to the meat of the session!

A man who had sought out Carric for his acclaimed skill as a bounty-hunter was surprised to see him fighting in the arena among the Beasts of Flame and Steel, but had a job for him nonetheless; find the Dragonborn bandit Gharesh, and bring him back dead-or-alive for a moderately substantial reward.

Gregg thought the reward was a bit low, and asked if alive was worth more, the man considered this and revealed that though the bounty, a government issued reward could not be altered, he had a personal stake in seeing Gharesh brought to justice. The man offered an additional reward if Gharesh were brought back alive, as the prospect of the Dragonborn’s humiliation enticed the man.

Gharesh was known to prey on caravans traveling the road between Caltha and Orus. Different options were discussed, such as pretending to be a trade caravan, or pretending to be a new recruit, but sneaking up on the bandit’s camp after tracking them through the forest was settled upon.

Between Carric, an elf ranger built to hunt bounties, and Cliff, a shifter warden with an ability to re-roll nature checks made to track, defeating the skill challenge was a simple task, only Carric lost any healing surges, and he only lost one. The party came upon only a half-dozen bandits, none of whom were a dragonborn, and their rage-drake pet. Gregg did some scouting, using his rat-form armor, and could find no additional bandits, and saw that the few there were, were haggard and hungry looking; totally on edge.

The party positioned itself for a shock and awe attack, hoping to quell the bandits after Gregg knocked out one, and an invisible (thanks to Ro’jhi’s magic) Cliff appeared in their midst, arrows flew from a hidden Carric, and fireballs flew from an angry githzerai wizard.

No plan ever goes accordingly for my poor party, unfortunately, and Cliff tripped several feet from his target. After a moment of thought on what to do, his character announced that he would just stab out at the bandit.

A battle ensued that resulted in…

-All the bandits tied up.

-The rage drake submitting to the Cliff after he jumped on its back and wrestled it to the ground.

-A new skill challenge, “The taming of the Drake” to be carried out in once a day checks, whenever the player has an appropriate idea to earn the drake’s trust, until the drake is either tamed, or pissed off enough that it attacks the party again.

To say the least, the party was pretty happy with themselves. Unfortunately, the Pyramid of Shadows comes with a big middle finger for players who try to get information out of their captured bandits, and I, in one of my lesser moments as a DM, followed my book, instead of my heart.

A holographic tiefling wizard appeared and summoned bolts of lightning slay the helpless bandits in an attempt to “help” the party with their foes. The party was rightfully miffed with the wizard, and yelled at him for a bit before demanding the whereabouts of Garesh Vren, their target.

The wizard summoned a shoe-box sized, black pyramid, informing them that, “all answers lied within.”

After sleeping on that, the party decided to fiddle with the pyramid, and as suspected, it grew to giant size, trapping the party within.

The party appeared in a pit of half-century old corpses, strangely un-rotted, and had to battle the welcoming crew; an Ettin with a thing for collecting heads, and the carrion crawler pets he kept to dredge up prefferable specimens from the pit.

After not-so-handily defeating their foes, the party proceeded to “where’s the loot” the place, discovering an orb containing the visage of a bodiless eladrin maiden named Vyrellis, who filled them in on the following…

-They were in a prison built for the tiefling wizard, Karavakos

-He was imprisoned because of a contract he had made with a devil from the nine-hells who had granted him an invincible devil army. The imprisonment was punishment for leading the army to defeat, which was only accomplished by taking them into the feywild, where they were no longer invincible.

-Going to the feywild was Vyrellis’s idea. Attracted to Karavako’s great power, she had become his bride, and convinced him to strike back against the winter-fey who had stolen her home from her noble family. When Karavakos was trapped in the pyramid, he severed her head and trapped it in the orb as punishment.

-Karavakos has been split by the prism-like effect that the pyramid had on his life force. There are three parts to him within the pyramid, and if all are slain, escape should be possible.

With all this learned, the party set watches, and bedded down for a much needed rest. Preparing to explore the rest of the pyramid in the “morning”.

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Finally using Obsidian Portal!
It's about time

After months of letting this thing go unattended to, I'm finally using it as my campaign journal.

The Story So Far…

The Beasts of Flame and Steel, a gladiatorial school based out of Belfort, have recently returned from their latest exploit; burning to the ground a town inhabited solely by cultists to the demon prince Dagon. Cultists who lured travellers to their town by providing shelter from rain-storms summoned by their high priest, and then magically compelled said travellers to drown themselves; a sacrifice to their awful lord.

With their evil-cult destruction counter up to three, and Ro'jhi beggining to develop a serious cynical streak due to the constant barrage of wolves-in sheep's-clothing, the school enjoyed some much needed R&R in Orus, while spending their hard-earned treasure on new rituals and equipment.

Armed with a few new goodies, the Beasts took on the Orus league champion, a megalomaniacal young red dragon named Raelcressensisix, better known as Scorch. The dragon offered them an interesting side wager; the loser could never set foot in the arena again.

The (kind-of) good-guys won, but only by a slim margin, and offered the dragon a new deal; fight for the Beasts of Flame and Steel, and he could fight all he wanted. Thoroughly subdued, Scorch agreed.

 Next Time…

Krusk has been hard at work for the school in Belfort, and a surprising new recruit brings the party word of orc lietenant's surprising new request.

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