Spires of Xin-Shalast 22

The previous session ended with the party having stormed the Pinnacle and fought their way through the guards at the main entrance, and Esheire spotting Karzoug in the corridor outside. At the start of this session, it is revealed that it is merely an image of Karzoug, who welcomes the maggots to his home, and promises death by fire – the image casts four meteors which all manage to miss her, but explode in huge bursts of flame, catching most of the party and slaying one of the summoned Tyrannosaurs.

Esheire feels her star knife, which was made into a Dominant weapon at the end of the fifth chapter, tremble in anticipation of being rammed into Karzoug’s image. She is unable to reach him though, leaving Grodok to run out into the corridor and smash the image with his Dominant axe. The image vanishes with a scream.

The adventure suggests that Karzoug only uses low level spells for encounters like this, saving his big spells for when the party encounters him for real. However, he has an Intelligence in the high 30s, and given what the party has achieved over the last few days I really don’t see him continuing to underestimate them at this point. It’s highly unlikely that they’ll try to take him on before resting, and if they rest to recover spells, he’ll get time to do so as well. If they don’t, he’ll still be in a much better position than them. Weakening them as much as possible now has a better chance of killing them and/or using up permanent resources.

Anyway, there is some time for searching the dead corpses and healing up – just long enough for most of their spells to expire when the delicate sound of giant footsteps can be heard stomping up from round the corner.

There is some discussion amongst the players at this point about what to do – it is apparent that teleport won’t get though out of here, so there is some thought of casting Magnificent Mansion as a refuge as an escape hatch if they need to bug out.

Based on some comments at the end of last session, I had expected them to actually retreat at this point and come back later, but they decided to continue. It meant that I wasn’t quite prepared for them delving that much further into the Pinnacle, but it also means they’re going to clear things out a bit quicker (or die trying).

As a storm giant and several cloud giants come round the corner, several of the group turn invisible whilst Grodok and Solassar step in to take them down in melee. The giants are joined by a couple of Lamia, but the fight is over in a few rounds, with one Lamia fleeing back the way she came from.

In hindsight, there should have been some preparation done by the second wave of defences, which would have made them a bit more dangerous, but I forgot. There’s some other spells that I’ll need to ret-con in for next session as well. I thought of them during the fight, but they required some up-front preparation on my part (or a longish delay), so I assumed they’d been cast but in a slightly non-optimal way so their effects won’t be seen until next session.

They pursued the lamia further into the building, with an invisible Serena leading the way. The corridor opened up into a larger sort-of-hall, and some fun was had in trying to draw the map on the board. When everything follows the grid, it’s easy, but the Pinnacle of Avarice consists of concentric circles of corridors and rooms which is hard to map. What the players got was good enough for tactical combat.

Fighting their way into the Pinnacle of Avarice

There was another rune giant here, as well as some cloud giants. A Waves of Exhaustion from Esheire really puts a crimp in the giant’s attacks, but the rune giant’s breath attack did some damage before he was slain (by a Grodok critical, which few things survive). There was then some sounds of non-human spell casting which turned out to be a yeti coming down one of the passages. Those who have played through Rise of the Runelords may be wondering where the yeti came from. More on that later.

The yeti opened up with a chain lightning, and followed things up in the following round with a force cage around Grodok. It’s at that point that the differences between Pathfinder and D&D surprised me, because I hadn’t realised that Pathfinder gives force cage a saving throw. I’m not entirely certain how that’s meant to work, especially with a 20ft cage, but Grodok failed anyway and was trapped. The following round Esheire removes it with a disintegrate, but it delayed them a bit.

Serena, who was hiding in one of the side rooms, converted one of her last high level spells to a summon, and called in four Zuishin to start healing people.

Towards the end of the session a six-armed serpent creature also came slithering down the corridor, ready to join the fray. By this point a couple of cloud giants, the yeti and serpent was left, and the party has taken a bit more damage and used up more spells. They still have a lot of defences to get through, and the inhabitants know they are here and for the most part won’t be sitting idly by waiting for the intruders to come to them. Which means I need to figure out their most effective plan of defence.

I also need to draw some more maps, or switch to Roll20 for tracking everything. I’d prefer to use real table maps, since it’s easier for everyone to see, and more in keeping with a tabletop game (I’ve painted the figures, I might as well use them), but the whole place is some 400ft across, with long arcing corridors with clear lines of sight that can be moved down quickly. Thought I have a lot of cardboard tiles, we don’t have that big a table (especially when people’s laptops and character sheets are also vying for space).

Maybe I’ll try for a sliding map or something if I have time over the weekend.

Samuel Penn