Spires of Xin-Shalast 20

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I was thinking that there was a chance that we’d wrap up the campaign in possibly as little as three weeks, but after tonight’s session that’s unlikely to be the case. As always, players find ways to get distracted from what is to the GM the obvious path.

We began with the looting of poor Ghlorofaex’s treasure hoard. The most useful item found was a third Sihedron Ring, which Solassar took, leaving Grodok as the only party member without.

What followed was much discussion about where to head next, and once decided, exactly how to implement that decision. One fortunate side effect of player’s prevaricating on what to do, is that when I think “They’re thinking of doing what?”, it gives me time to figure out exactly what’s happened in the part of the city I’d pretty much forgotten about.

So they teleport back to the giant’s encampment in order to talk to the strange stone giant Gyukak who they had made a deal with to attack the main fortress. They discover that the camp is in disarray, as if there had been a large battle between the giants in the last day or so.

I decided that Gyukak had used the confusion and distress caused by the murder of the Rune Giants in the fortress to openly call for the giants to leave Xin-Shalast. This had caused a rift to form, between those who were cold and bored and those who wished to still follow Karzoug. A batttle had started, and Gyukak’s faction had fled out of the city and down the mountain. About a quarter of the giants, mostly Stone and Hill, had been slain in the fight.

Esheire discovers this whilst posing as an orc, and questioning one of the orc slaves. Whilst she is doing this, Solassar notices that one of the dead hill giant bodies has a Sihedron rune carved into its shoulder. Indeed, all of the bodies they check have this. Remembering back to the events at Turtleback Ferry, they deduce that this means Karzoug has been collecting the souls of the giants who have been killed in order to increase his strength. Killing more giants will only continue to add to this.

Serena casts a control weather spell to make it even colder and more miserable, something the Frost Giants aren’t too concerned about, but the other giants and lesser creatures are less enthusiastic.

The next stage of their exploration was to find out what the yeti were up to. They’d previously been told that Karzoug’s apprentice Khalib had set up an ambush for them back at their camp using the yeti. Since they had decided to camp elsewhere after that, the yeti had gotten bored and wandered back to their dome, where they were now enjoying the sudden blizzard.

There was some discussion about why Khalib had thought that the yeti to be much of a threat to the party, but they hadn’t realised (as they were soon to do) that the yeti had just been meant as a distraction whilst the real assassins did their work.

Wanting to spring the trap, and fight (and hopefully kill) Khalib, they went to visit the Spared again, the group of skulks who they had rescued from the Hidden Beast (a vampiric decapus sorcerer). The Spared were happy to see their heroes again, but also particularly nervous about something. After several minutes of Esheire being incredibly diplomatic and trying to hint at where they would be, hoping the Spared who leak the information to Khalib (they had as it happened been interrogated quite forcefully by the apprentice), Solassar simply told them that it was okay for them to tell Khalib that they’d be down in the decapus lair tomorrow morning.

Message delivered, they teleported back to their new camp and rested up for the rest of the day and got a good night’s sleep.

Wealday, Pharast 25th

Three days to go until the full moon, and they buff up and teleport to their old camp location, to find no sign of anyone. There are signs that yeti were here a few days ago, but no signs of any trap now, which was to be expected. The travel to the decapus lair takes a good 90 minutes, which means recasting a lot of spells, but Solassar creeps in invisible and has a look around, seeing three vampire skulks… skulking.

Khalib had less to work with this time around, so the distraction was slightly less dangerous. Grodok wanders in, and Esheire catches sight of a flicker of movement out of the wall, just before a ghostly hand reaches out and grasps Grodok. A little damage.. and two negative levels as the spectre energy drains him.

In total, four spectres move to the attack, using spring attack to dart in and drain some life from their victims, then jump back into the walls. It takes several rounds for the party to start getting their act into gear, and even Esheire is forced into melee combat (actually getting an attack of opportunity and hitting something).

The skulks are ‘killed’ relatively quickly, and Esheire tries a Undead to Death but it doesn’t affect any of the spectres since they are sufficiently levelled to take them above the HD limit. Serena summons several Zuishin, which start shooting holy arrows at any spectres they see, and Solassar is able to use his ghost touch weapon to sneak attack a couple of times.

With one of them controlled by Esheire using a Control Undead, the spectres quickly melt back into the walls and back off once they start taking serious damage. With the Zuishin able to use Restoration for free (an ability that seens sort of broken¹), the negative levels aren’t a serious problem, but it used up spell resources and provided Khalib and the spectres with better knowledge of the group’s capabilities.

With the trap sprung, and nothing really gained by the party (especially not the opportunity to take out Khalib), they decide to finally scale Mhar Massif. Something I had been expecting to happen at the start of the session. Oh well.

Wind-walking up the mountain, they come to a place amongst the snow and rock right at the limit of breathable air where there is a cave full of trees and greenery. At the back lurk three huge spidery forms – each with an odd number of legs. As the group pauses to take a look, Leng Spiders call out to them, asking them to stop and talk. What they want to talk about though needs to wait until the next session since we needed to end at that point.

¹ And it turns out that this is broken because it’s not allowed. Whilst checking Monster Summoning for an entirely different reason, I’ve just come across the following: Creatures summoned using this spell cannot use spells or spell-like abilities that duplicate spells with expensive material components (such as wish). The example is pretty useless, since wish is about the most expensive spell there is, but my initial gut reaction is that it means anything more than 1gp, and reading around I don’t seem to be the only one to come to that conclusion. So Restoration wouldn’t have been available in this case. I’m not going to re-wind things, but it does affect how I’ll rule things in the future.

Samuel Penn