2007-05-19


Adventure: Before the Storm, Into the Maw
Session: 2007-05-19, 2007-05-27
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Anethilzair Mykispar (Mike)
Status: Monk 11

The wind whispers through the branches of an oak tree in the forest to the west of the lightning-rail line on the Thrane–Mournland border.

I’m sorry I couldn’t talk earlier. The Blood of Vol is pretty busy over here.

I’m above the Glowing Chasm. Blaze (you saw him leaving in a hurry, remember?) asked that we check out reports of Vol raising undead to fuel the Blade Army. Vol has built a castle across the Chasm, and is using it to churn out undead. We’re working our way through it: Vol’s father was guarding the inside the door, and was killed by Tyrian (the firebrand—yes, I know you don’t like his style), Sovalem (Blaze got her raised from the dead—yes, she. Accident with an elemental), the gnome, and the warweaver.

I don’t know if Vol herself is here or not: I came outside so that the wind could whisper. Give my respects to House Sivis for setting up this call. We’ve got time: please, what’s happening at home?

Alia took over the ziggurat? I guess she liked all the skeletons. She should be a better neighbor than Lucan: no running out at night and sucking innocent blood and no battles with adventurers. But if she becomes a nuisance to you, let me know.

The psion turned on his mindlink, and I just became invisible. Combat seems likely. I have to head back now.

I’ll be careful, and I’ll come back in the same body. I promise.

***

For those of you that have been confused by the recent posts: I had Mike take Nymph’s Kiss as one of his exalted feats. This has the role-playing requirement that he “maintain an intimate relationship with a good-aligned fey.” Hence he knows a Dryad, who calls him via House Sivis in the middle of battle. Yes, I had to leave for a dinner meeting, but this works well and ties up the fate of the necromancer, since Catherine couldn’t make the game.

Adventure: Before the Storm, Into the Maw
Session: 2007-05-19
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Silverwind Siivrell
Status: Warblade 1/Wizard 5/Jade Phoenix Mage 4

“To the ziggurat! Care to come along?” Somehow, Siivrell convinced the timid halfling named Cade to join her on her phantom steed, chasing after another rider who probably had the same destination in mind.

It’s a good thing you’ve got this fellow along. I think he’s a healer.

Oh?

From what I recall of what Watcher said to you, the last bunch of adventurers to go after these vampires got burned–

Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you.

I always have to worry about it. Every time you get killed, I get stuck in somebody’s attic or a deep dungeon for a couple of decades, collecting dust and cobwebs.

Psh. Oh, here’s that rider.

Introductions were exchanged. The other rider was Tyrian, and he, too, was after the vampires. Soon thereafter, though limited by the pace of Tyrian’s merely magebred mount, we arrived at the ziggurat and its bonefield.

Those bones definitely weren’t here last time.

You don’t think…

I doubt a couple of vampires have one of those for a pet. Besides, it would have eaten the adventurers before they got to the vampires. Speaking of whom–

A simply-dressed human was leaning against an oak tree outside the bone field. Near him were a gnome and a slightly menacing orc.

I don’t like the looks of that orc.

Oh, shush, Eiryavel. They’ve been instrumental in defending Eberron.

And this one may be mental.

If you say so.

More introductions took place. Mike, Teferi and Ankya. Another person was there, a Karrnathi war weaver named Nebu. He had the blue eyes of an azurin.

The Karrnathi are idiots. You should never send a war weaver alone to deal with an issue. They’re best for supporting others.

True.

Although it is good that he’s here. Maybe you wouldn’t die so frequently if we worked with war weavers more often.

Hey! I can handle myself just fine!

Only so long as you aren’t cornered by five warforged an hour before reinforcements are due.

That wasn’t my fault.

Mm-hm…

The group entered the ziggurat, and quickly reached the vampiric Antinua. Siivrell stepped into the room after Tyrian released his spells upon the undead elf.

Siivrell, going first isn’t such a good idea… remember when–

Gah!

A spell caused a bunch of tentacles to sprout from the ground and grabbed Siivrell. A spell by Nebu caused her to swap places with the monk.

Was that really necessary? I could have dimension doored out myself.

They just wanted you out, and someone who could grapple in.

But it’s implying that I couldn’t have gotten myself out. Ugh.

A few seconds later, Tyrian had reduced Antinua to vapor and trapped her in a stone hemisphere.

That Tyrian is efficient. And you’re the only one who got hurt at all.

I’ll admit, I’m impressed. Well, that’s done.

Wait. Wasn’t there another vampire?

The voice of Lucan Stellos spoke, offering a compromise. The amulet that Blaze had gave the bearer the ability to control the powerful vampires of the world. Lucan wanted the amulet — and thereby, his freedom. A debate raged between the adventurers; Tyrian explained that Blaze was trying to destroy the item, and would not give it up, especially to Lucan. Someone asked what Lucan would consume to survive; he was unwilling to give up the blood of people for that of animals.

“You could always just use my followers,” offered Teferi.

The monk objected. Smack. A fight seemed iminent.

I agree with the monk, but I think it’s time for you to intervene, Eiryavel.

Finally.

Siivrell drew me in an instant, and held me between them. “If you continue with this,” I said, “you will only be proving my belief that all creatures with legs are idiots.”

Nice. But what about me, hm?

Oh, I already know you’re an idiot.

Hmph. It took you seven millenia to come to that conclusion?

No, about seven seconds.

And you’re still around?

It’s what I was made for. You do realize we’ve had this conversation before, right?

Should I remember every argument we’ve had in the past seven millenia?

Well, I certainly–what’s that?

Lucan had come down from the ceiling, and had tried to attack Tyrian. Tyrian was quick, and trapped Lucan in a web spell. The position for negotiating improved considerably.

“Just kill me now and get it over with.”

That’s a little pessimistic.

He was made a vampire against his will, and we can’t change that, except by killing him. You expect rays of sunshine from him?

Not particularly.

Besides, he’s a vampire. Undead are not proper living creatures.

You’re an undead-bane weapon. Of course you think that. But what is the just action here? What is fair to him, and still protects the innocent? I don’t remember any precedent for this.

There was one time when– oh.

With the agreement of the others, Teferi used his mental powers to open up a hole to the outside — letting the sun fall on Lucan, utterly destroying him. After two hours had elapsed, Antinua’s vapors also faded into nothing.

***

The group then returned to Flamekeep. Cade had seen enough fighting, and sensibly returned to the quiet wilderness he had been wandering before. Most of the group teleported; some of Teferi’s followers slowly and unskillfully flew an airskiff that had belonged to the adventuring party’s remnants, which we had now supplemented. Siivrell rode her phantom steed.

That monk seemed very fond of that oak tree near the ziggurat. Didn’t you notice?

No. Maybe he just likes trees.

Maybe. Wait, weren’t we supposed to turn right here?

No, left.

No, the next turn’s a left.

Hm. Maybe you’re right. Oh, well, we’ll just take a left at the next crossroads.

No, right! I said right!

I’m right, you say?

Why do you insist on misinterpreting what I say?

Because it’s fun. So quit trying to hold the reins.

I can’t hold anything.

Then I guess I’ll just have to do it.

***

Blaze listened to the information of the completed mission, and gave another: to track down Vol and her supporters in the Mournland, determine the nature of her arcane experiments… and stop them, before they were used to crush Thrane.

After gathering supplies, the party gathered on the newly-returned airskiff, now captained by Sovalem, a half-elf turned kobold and compatriot of Blaze who had been raised from the dead.

***

On the way to the Mournland, aboard the airskiff…

We’ve met Vol before, haven’t we?

Yes… about seven hundred years ago.

Pretty recently then. Let me think. It was us and a few others, and we confronted her when… oh, that one didn’t go so well, did it?

Not really. It’s a good thing Verall escaped, or I’d be in the hands of the Blood of Vol.

Not a pleasant thought.

Especially if you’re an undead-bane weapon who was a breath away from being owned by a bunch of powerful undead types.

Well, we’ll just have to make sure we finish what we’re doing, then.

At least Vol probably won’t recognize you. Just be careful.

Yes, getting killed again now would be inconvenient.

***

After traveling in the Mournlands to the glowing chasm, we found a great black fortress that spanned the chasm, blocking the glowing lava from view.

“That fortress was definitely not here before the day of Mourning.”

The airskiff swept in. After confronting and defeating a flying undead creature, an upper entrance was selected. Four of the five guards were silenced, and quickly killed; the fifth was dominated by Teferi, questioned for details of the fortress, including where he was not permitted to go and the password to enter, then knocked unconcious by the monk. To fascilitate our passage, Nebu made us invisible and silent, and Teferi bound us all with a mindlink. He neglected to include me, but I expected as much.

In the next room, we encountered a green dragon.

“Unholy father of Vol!” said Sovalem through the mindlink. Of course, dragons can see right through invisibility…

We withdrew, and the war weaver worked his magic. When we were ready, we entered. The dragon had prepared defensive spells as well, but Nebu quickly wiped them away. Vol’s father breathed acid at the other half of the party; Tyrian trapped him with web. Then Sovalem and Ankya struck him with lightning and greataxe, and he perished. A warrior entered the room, and would have left to sound the alarm, but Tyrian quickly turned him to ashes.

Entering that passage, we found a cluster of undead. Tyrian scorched one, and the others dealt with another; as for the other two…

That was a great deal of fun.

Fun? And you’re always trying to tell me not to get so excited about combat?

They’re undead.

And smacking undead is what you’re made for.

Exactly.

Player’s Notes

This should be an amusing way of writing up events… hm. As from sword’s perspective, plus tidbits of telepathic conversation.

That, and this party is currently pretty wicked in terms of damage output. Thanks in large part to the war weaver, Matt’s new character. I get this funny feeling that Domenic is going to pull out some interesting villains…

Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Silverwind Siivrell
Status: Warblade 1/Wizard 5/Jade Phoenix Mage 4

Somewhere in Aundair, some months ago…

A tall, silver-skinned illumian searches through an attic.

“I can’t believe I broke another sword,” she mutters. Eventually, she finds what she is looking for: a chest of weapons donated to the cabal for services rendered many years ago. Because of her own service, she’s being allowed to choose a blade from here. And also because she needs a sturdier weapon.

Beneath the other assorted blades, she finds a greatsword, with a large piece of jade in the hilt and the name Eiryavel etched into the adamantine. She takes it out, and tests its balance.

Perfect, she thinks, Almost as if it were made for me.

***

Siivrell leans back to think, staring at the blade on the table in front of her. “There’s something strange about you, Eiryavel, and something strangely familiar…” she mutters to herself.

“May I enter?”

“Certainly.” Siivrell turns to see Watcher, a warforged with whom she had fought before. “Can I help you with something?” She grins. “Hopefully with defeating something evil?”

“Perhaps a little later,” he says quietly. “I wish to speak with you on a matter of importance. Have you ever noticed that everything seems vaguely familiar? Perhaps remembering history you never learned?”

“I do seem to have déjà vu more often than most people. And history… you’re right. What’s all this about?”

“I believe you and I are a part of the same organization, the Order of the Jade Phoenix.”

“What?”

“We thirteen were the only survivors of the order after fighting to drive the daelkyr into Khyber, protecting Eberron from their destructive power. We swore an oath, to forever defend Eberron from the creatures of Khyber. That oath extends even beyond death. Your sword — the one you bear now — has become bound to that oath as well, through you.”

“The daelkyr? That was, what, nine thousand years ago?”

“Yes.”

“Almost unbelievable…”

“But true. The memories only need to be reawakened, as Eiryavel will reawaken.”

Siivrell shook her head. “Reawakened how?”

“I wish to perform the rite of waking. We only need talk a few minutes, and you will begin to remember…”

***

“Fantastic. All that history we had a hand in… Now, what was that about smacking something evil?”

Some people never change, Watcher thought, even after over a hundred lifetimes.

***
A few months later…

Siivrell walks down a road. “We’re not lost. I know exactly where we are.”

“Right, then, where are we?” asks a neutral voice coming from her sword.

“We’re, ah, in Thrane near the Mournland, and–”

“And? And?”

“Um…”

“I thought so.”

“But I’ve been here before!”

“Right, about six hundred years ago.”

A halfling leans out from the brush, and timidly says, “Um, hello? Who are you talking to?”

“Oh!” Where did he pop out from? Siivrell thinks. “Just Eiryavel, my sword. It’s always more fun to argue out loud.”

A little later…

“Were you really here six hundred years ago?”

“Well, closer to five hundred ninety.”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-seven.”

Player’s Notes

I anticipate a great deal of amusement. Slightly cocky but easily lost fighter/mage with a talking sword. Note that Eiryavel has twice the wisdom of Siivrell. In any case, Siivrell is the official spell-casting meatshield. Yay!

Prior to levels and items and such:

  • Str: 15+2 = 17 (+3)
  • Dex: 10 (+0)
  • Con: 13+2 = 15 (+2)
  • Int: 16 (+3)
  • Wis: 8 (-1)
  • Cha: 8+2 = 10 (+0)

And Eiryavel:

  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 16
  • Cha: 12

…the adamantine, diamond-mind, undead-bane and slightly cynical weapon of mass amusement value.

The timid halfling at the end is Cade, a healer extraordinaire type character briefly played by Scott.

Adventure: Before the Storm
Sessions: 2007-05-05, 2007-05-12
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Tyrian
Status: Human Paragon 1/Wizard 1/Human Paragon +2/Master Specialist 4/Fatespinner 2

On Slaying Vampires: Three Case Studies

From the teachings of Tyrian, Master of the Elements

Ah, the vampire. They’re tricky foes; while they lack the sheer toughness of dragons and the impressive abilities of bodaks and other undead, they are notoriously difficult to permanently destroy, unless one is properly prepared for it. Consider the following case study, from my younger days some thirty years ago.

I was a young lad of twenty-one years, and was in Flamekeep at the time, due to my friendship with Flamelord Blaze, then a High Priest. As some of you more learned in history may remember, this was near the climax of the Warforged Revolts. Blaze had asked me to take care of a couple of vampires hiding in the forests of southern Thrane. He personally attempted to do so not half a week previously, but failed. Let’s review his circumstances and results as a first lesson:

Case 1: Antinua

In his case, he had three companions. One was a student of the natural powers (Anson), one was a dabbler of forces both arcane and divine (Sovelom), and the remaining two were of little consequence. They struck through the first layers of defenses (including a giant purple worm) without real injury, but were massacred (save Blaze) by the first vampire, a wizard by the name of Antinua. The events were as thus:

The group failed to notice Antinua due to her invisibility and clever positioning (corner of the roof); she used the element of surprise to isolate the most dangerous of the group, Blaze, by encasing him in spherical wall of stone. Next, Sovelom invoked a control winds effect around the remainder of the group, attempting to fortify a defensive position within the eye of the arcane tornado, but that simply made their concentrated positions a ripe target for a cloudkill spell. While the poisonous gas did not manage to outright end the lives of any, it did sap their vitality enough such that the ensuing maximized greater fireburst did.

By the time Blaze burst from his stone prison, his companions had all fallen. Seeing the threat level of this vampire, Blaze had decided to retreat and regroup, but was concerned for the bodies of his allies. Only Sovelom was noticeably morally upright, however, so Blaze retrieved (and later raised from dead) only him. Still, the delay was enough for Antinua to conjure Evard’s black tentacles. Here, Blaze was lucky, for the Silver Flame blessed him with the ability to travel unimpeded despite any and all obstacles, and thus he was able to retreat back to Flamekeep with little personal damage.

There are three points to be learned from here:

  • Be vigilante, even against invisible foes. Had they noticed Antinua before she could effectively separate the group, they would have had access to Blaze’s healing magic, and at least one other adventurer would have survived the greater fireburst. From there, the two of them may have defeated Antinua.
  • Avoid defensive tactics. Defensive tactics usually are performed at the expense of sacrificing offense, and when this is done, the enemies will respond by further resolving their attacks.
  • Possess a reliable escape route. Had Blaze been anyone else, he too would have been in mortal danger due to Evard’s black tentacles, but he did not have an infallible escape route prepared. For this purpose silent teleport and silent dimension door are optimal, though against less observant foes invisibility will suffice.

Case 2: Antinua, revisited

My companions numbered six: a jade phoenix mage by the name of Siivrell, a war weaver named Nebu, a monk named Mike, a priest named Cade, a telepath named Teferi, and a berserker named Ankya.

Building upon the knowledge of Blaze’s experience, I casted see invisibility on myself, and Antinua’s initial ambush was not successful. In fact, I reacted before she did and casted two spells before she could invoke anything, thanks to a dagger Blaze gifted me. My first spell, an empowered fireball, was wholly unsuccessful due to her active fire shield. My second, an ice ball, however, was able to penetrate her innate resistance and managed to damage her significantly.

Ankya charged into the room, but was unable to locate Antinua (again, due to Antinua’s invisibility). Thus, she instead waved her banner with a mighty cry, which spirited myself into casting a third spell: another iceball. This was sufficient to destroy Antinua, and she reverted into a thin cloud of gas. But don’t let this fool you! Vampires, in this state, can return to unlife should they rest in their coffins for a night. In order to truly atomize them, the gas needs to be gathered and prevented from entering any coffins. Here, I used the spell stone shape to morph a sphere of stone around her essence. Rather poetic, since she had previously used this trick against Blaze. Trapped there, she was helpless, and utterly put to final rest in two hours.

  • Vampires morph into invulnerable gas when “destroyed.” Attacking the gas with either weapons or spells will not work.
  • The gas needs to be trapped for two hours to send a vampire to its final death. Wood and cloth is insufficient to trap gas, but stone and iron (and raw magical force) are. In this state, the vampire is also helpless though, unable to physically attack or tap magic.

Case 3: Lucan

Lucan, unlike Antinua, did not possess arcane talents, though he could use wands and scrolls of various sorts. His preferred method of approach, however, is with an evil artifact sword that he came to possess. He attempted to strike me with it, but again, I noticed him first and acted first. This time, however, I casted Otiluke’s resilient sphere, trapping him inside the force prison. Those of you who have been taking notes will remember that Otiluke’s resilient sphere only lasts for a few minutes, and that Lucan had not yet been reduced to gaseous phase.

But vampires have an additional weakness, one that is more debilitating than coffin dependency. They cannot stand the light of the sun, and is destroyed within seconds upon direct exposure. Teferi, the telepath, invoked a beam of sound, shattering a hole through the walls of the castle, and shining the sun upon Lucan. With this, he was painfully returned to the state of nothingness to which he belonged.

In summary:

  • Always react faster. Life-and-death combat situations depend vitally upon it. When outclassed, it at least gives you the opportunity to retreat and regroup, and against a manageable foe, it ensures that he dies before killing you.
  • Fight vampires during the day. Through brute force or trickery, if you can shine the natural light of the sun upon the vampire, then he is instantly destroyed.

Player’s Notes:

Bah. This was too long.