Friday, July 8, 2011

The Last Fleet: The Lich Tree (Session Three)

Continuing the series of session reports for the Last Fleet campaign; previous entry here.

Recap

The group, having evaded the trapped circular doors at the top of the ancient structure, discover a hidden staircase. They make their way down, and it narrows as they descend. At the door at the bottom, Lira detects as trap, but is uncertain of its effect. She keeps that to herself and instead presses on with her disarming efforts. She’s lucky and it does not go off in the tight confines.

Into the Structure
They come into a large circular corridor, undecorated and unused for ages. It wraps around an enclosed shaft. Presumably the trapped doors at the top lead to some kind of tunnel down into the heart of the complex. With that passage unavailable, the group opts to explore the upper part to make their way down. They slowly press forward, checking doors and looking for evidence. The place proves dangerous- with a dart launching trap catching some of them. Whatever venom was once on the tips has dried and been rendered impotent.

Through another door they found an empty room with a door on the other side. Suspicious, they made a careful examination. With her goggles, Dweena noted that the ceiling was breathing- indicating a rare, magical and kind of stupid Lurker monster. Dweena launched oil into the area. Then Chain moved in to spray the beat with fire and lost his footing, requiring him to be pulled back by Whet even as he let loose with the flames. The writhing beast dropped to the floor. Marreg and Lira rushed in and dispatched it before it could gain its composure. They rolled up the carcass and discovered some treasure in the sticky mass attached to the ceiling by the beast. Mostly these were minor but useful magic items, such as a runestone of polishing and a ring which could transform into a shield.

Past another room, they found circular stairs going down. Lira found several trap plates and marked those. The room at the bottom had furniture in it and four doors. Spiderwebs obscured most of the view. Moving forward, Whet found the trap of the place. Cutting wires had been attached in several places from ceiling to floor. One slices through his armor and into his shoulder. If the stairs had dumped them down into the room, they would have been cut apart. They isolate these and then take them down with Dweena’s tools. The lines they careful preserve and keep for later use.

Downbelow
After listening and heard nothing, Lira opens the door directly across. A horde of silent ethereal warriors begins to rush in. After the first four get in, Lira manages to slam the door shut miraculously. She desperately braces against it as the group dispatches the first wave and readies themselves for the second. Lira lets go of her hold and leaps back.

Silent absolutely silent, despite screaming faces, ten more spectres and a banshee flood in. With careful coordination, the group begins to take them apart. Marreg and Lira work the front right and Dweena and Chain using area effects to hold the left. Whet keeps moving and shooting to hold the traffic. Still the numbers work against them, and a number of the group take damage. The Banshee lets loose repeatedly with a psychic stitched together from the screams of the other wraiths. Each manages to evade in turn and when she finally lets loose directly in Marreg’s face, it has little effect. Dweena manages to capture the Banshee in an urn and then they dispatch it.

The Watery Grave
They search the floor, finding a regular pattern of rooms. They also discover some more magical treasures, including some potions- one of them wholly sealed like a grenade. At the end of their search they find stairs down to the next floor. That has been flooded. The water is clean and moving, indicating someone has set that area up as clean water reservoir. Marreg volunteers to descend. However once down, he’s swept away by a massive current. This bounces him through doorways and passages until it finally spits him out into the top of a waterfall. As he falls, he sees a massive tree in a giant cavern. He attempts to catch himself with his sword, but crashes into some scaffolding. He slips in and out of consciousness.

Whet senses Marreg’s pain and the group pushes forward to follow. They lash together and descend, collectively fighting the current. Chain locates the egress and the top of the waterfall- but he cannot see the room below well. After some poor sign language communication, he and Dweena opt to press on. Chain lands with some damage and Dweena uses her Skysquid to slow her fall. She lands and commandeers a small air raft on a ledgein the large chamber. She quickly pilots this up to catch Lira, Whet and Ashpala (the NPC) as they come through.

The Awful Chamber
In the enormous chamber, they see the other end of the massive glass tubes they witnessed on the underside of the flying island. These draw light in from the outside to light a giant, silver leafed tree. In and among the roots, they see water and dozens upon dozens of bodies- a corpse tree. A picture begins to form. The tree bears five complete and large fruits, with a sixth one slowly growing in. They recall legends of wizards who spent hundreds of years creating the fruit of life- a means to become an immortal Lich. This is an evil and hideous practice. They’ve clearly arrived in the lair of a Necromancer, and one close to realizing his goals. After a quick discussion, they split up.

Chain climbs the tree to get at the fruit. Dweena searches for an exit. Marreg recovers himself and climbs down to the ground. Whet begins destroying things- smashing magical instruments and equipment. Lira becomes distracted by the possibility of treasure and begins to scavenge.

Then they hear a ship descending.

Enter the Necromancer
A large and archaic skyship lands on the larger ledge above. They see six Flesh Goems serving as a crew. They they spot the Necromancer, a Gnome, flanked by two hooded arcane assistant. As he lands, he sees the disturbance below. He curses at Whet destroying his lab equipment and lets off a blast of magic. Chain meanwhile pulls free a fruit, resulting in the screams of the bodies buried at the base of the tree. All hell breaks loose.

Dweena grabs up Marreg quietly and attempts a sneak attack on the vessel. With the Necromancer distracted, Marreg leaps aboard and grabs a Golem. He hurls this at the Gnome who catches it with magical force. He turns to curse at them when Dweena fires full blast at him. His concentration broken, the Golem he’s been holding magically drops on top of him. Chain, holding one on the fruits, launches himself onto the Necromancer’s vessel and barely keeps his footing, the fruit rolling away.

Two of the Golems drop to the floor and rush after Whet. He begins to run, trying to climb the scaffolding. However, the material proves less than sturdy and he’s struck by one of the Golem’s fists, like being hit by a warhammer. He continues to make his way upwards. With her talents, Lira runs along the beams and poles over to the ship. The Arcane assistants blast Marreg, dealing heavy damage. Chain grabs the fruit and evades damage. Dweena works her skills and figures out a way to boost the power in the sky boat. She swings close by as Marreg and Chain leap on. The Necromancer rises and they’re forced to dodge magical blasts. The situation looks dire- the larger ship can clearly outrun their skiff. But Lira launches the unidentified potion grenade they found earlier into the magic engine of the large ship. Within moment, it shorts out as a gelatinous ooze presses out from the interior. The Necromancer begins to scream even more obscenities.

Dweena boosts the skiff around, catching Whet as he leaps off and then Lira. They race up the shaft, getting past the doors just as they close. The Gnome Necromancer screams at them as they escape- they have not heard the last if Zollos Ver! Outside, the storm has just begin to settle on the island. They crash the skiff by their own ship, load in and take off. Lira flies them back home, injured but secure- and now armed with some potent scavenged magic...

GM Notes
It has been some time since I ran a dungeon crawl. I ended up discarding about two-thirds of the facility. I'd forgotten how to plan and handle quickly the issue of trap finding and disarming. You have to be ready and able to manage it without letting it eat up too much time. You want to balance giving the key player their opportunities and having something for the others to do. I think I'm just out of practice on that. But we got through a lot in the session, it was literally midnight and we didn't realize it. The end sequence had a ton of great moments in it- with the players beginning from a position of disadvantage. That fight would have been really, really tough had they pressed on. It didn't help that I forgot some of the damage amelioration mechanics until Sherri pointed them out late in the session.