Spires of Xin-Shalast 9

For this session we had an extra player join us, though they were hardly new. At the end of chapter 5 of the adventure path last year one of our players left to travel the world, so we started chapter 6 without them. Tonight though they returned for a quick visit. In order to give them a chance to play again, I assumed that their character, Sayen, had joined them when they went to fetch the sage Brodert Quink.

With the research in the Library completed, several of the party decided to investigate the hall of pillars which sloped gently downwards. Two of the pillars had been smashed – they seemed to have been stone constructs carrying sky metal swords – but there was no sign of any other constructs, just row after row of stone pillars heading into the darkness.

After about half a mile of travel, they detected a dampness in the air, and eventually found that water was covering the floor. Beyond, at the edge of their light, they could see that the passage opened up into a much larger space.

At this point they decided to stop the exploration, since the prophecy they had been given by the Norns told them to explore no further than the sunless sea. Deciding that this was the sunless sea mentioned, they turned back and headed back up to the library.

There is a plan to possibly come back here after defeating Karzoug, in order to find the blue dragon and take its treasure (which rightfully belongs to the party, at least according to Esheire), but the immediate plan is to rescue the silver dragon, then grab all the loot they can and leave as quickly as possible.

Their first step is interrupted when the ghost of the Curator appears again, rejuvenated after a day. Again, he manages to kill another NPC – Bartholomew the Bard companion of Sayen with the poison effect from a Color Spray. They are back for only one session, and already falling back into their old pattern of Bart getting killed, and Sayen bringing him back with a Breath of Life.

The Curator was beset with bad luck (not helped by a Holy Word which blinded him – can undead be blinded? I ruled yes when it’s from a Holy Word effect), and managed to roll a 1, then a 2 on physical attacks. There was some going back on things on my part, which I normally don’t like to do, but in this situation I hadn’t realised Grodok’s player had changed his mind on exactly where he was moving to, and then there was a discussion on exactly when a blind effect expires.

The Curator was put to rest a second time – and then they discovered that the water elementals (now smelling nicely of lavender after Esheire had used her bubble bath on the magical pool) also returned after a day, so there was a brief fight against them. Whilst that fight was going on, Serena sneaked invisibly into the laboratory where the silver dragon (along with other creatures) was being held in stasis.

By the time the water elementals had been put down, Serena was dispelling the stasis effect on the dragon – just about succeeding against 20th level magic. Whilst half the party kept round the corner out of the way, Serena, Sayen and Grodok tried to make friends with the newly released dragon.

An Intellect Devourer

It was at this point that I decided to have a bit of fun, and enforced that character’s couldn’t share information until their action came up. Unknown to the party, the silvar dragon’s (dead) body was actually being inhabited by an Intellect Devourer, and it was happy to play at being confused in order to gain an advantage over its ‘rescuers’.

They initially tried talking to the dragon, but it appeared confused and then tried to bite and claw at Serena. It missed entirely, but encouraged everyone to try more diplomacy. Serena tried to get it to follow her out of the room, but it seemed keep to stay, and then exhaled a cone of cold on those still in the room. As it happened, this also cracked a couple of the other containers, but no-one noticed that yet.

Sayen tried a Heal on it to cure its confusion, but that had no effect, and she figured out that the dragon was dead (not undead). I didn’t allow Sayen to share that knowledge with everyone until her next turn though, so she tried to figure out what that meant.

Meanwhile, both Grodok and Solossar tried to subdue it with non-lethal damage, but it didn’t seem to be reacting much to that. Esheire finally realised that it was pretending to be confused rather than actually being confused. Again she couldn’t share that information yet. So there was about a round where different people had different information about what was going on, and were desperate to share it, but couldn’t.

Eventually the clues started to leak out, and they put them together to guess that the dragon’s dead corpse was inhabited by an intellect devourer. At that point everyone turned their full destructive abilities on the creature, slaying it. On doing so of course, the ‘brain’ of the dragon burst out of its skull, and began to grow in size and sprout legs. Grodok finished it off before it could do anything.

At this point the other containers had shattered, but only the Roper was still alive. Fearing another intellect devourer, Esheire quickly slew it with a Finger of Death. Fortunately for them, this was a real, live, Roper, and had no unwanted passenger riding around in its head.

At this stage the path back to the surface is safe. A quick use of the Quill of Revelation gave them a clue as to how to put the soul of the Curator to rest, so they buried his body up in front of the remaining Guiltspur spire on the surface. Having mostly left the various artefacts in the place untouched, they now felt it was safe to loot the place, and promptly did so.

At this point it is early evening on the 16th Pharast, and their next step is probably to start heading towards Xin-Shalast. The group still has over three weeks to save the world, so I don’t think that the time limit is going to be a real issue. But you never know.

Samuel Penn