Serpent’s Skull – Part 70

Sanctum of the Serpent God – Scouting the Sanctum

After quite a long break, we are continuing our Pathfinder adventure for Serpent’s Skull, where we are nearing the end of the final chapter of the adventure path. We are continuing our social distancing and finishing off the campaign using Roll20 and Hangouts Meet. Our exploits are recorded by the half-elven ranger Tabansi.

Tabansi’s Journal, Part 70

Whilst we were resting, Ek’Tura was able to scout out the Serpentfolk’s city, finding it full of maybe a couple of thousand of them. They have been busy patching up the holes that we had made in their fortress in the middle of the lake, but there is also activity towards the back of the cavern.

In front of the temple there is a river of hardened lava, possibly the place where Savith entombed the head of the god Ydersius after defeating him the first time.

The rocks there are made of strange material which gives off a strange light, which we are calling serpentstone. We’re not expecting to win any awards for originality. As well as the greenish aura, it seems to constantly whisper in Alko praises to the serpent god Ydersius. There is a collapsed tunnel, and beyond it several chambers in which both serpentfollk and morlocks can be found.

The area here seems to have magical defences, which drain a person’s personality. It doesn’t appear to affect either the morlocks or the serpentfolk, so either they are naturally immune, or have (or have done) something which protects them.

Beyond those caverns are sets of adamantine doors, guarded by some huge 8-headed creature with a massive maw and a reptilian body. These lead into the Sanctum of the Serpent God himself.

With this information, we are more or less ready to perform an initial foray into the serpent’s lair. We still need some information – such as whether we can teleport directly into the temple, or whether the place is shielded. Ek’Tura thought there might be problems with that approach, but we’d need to try it to find out.

The Spears Above

First though we having been making a concerted effort to figure out how to make use of the Spears of Saventh-Yhi. There are seven of them, and once we’ve figured out how to activate them all at once, then we will be able to use them to transport our army from the surface city down to the underground city of Ilmurea.

Until know, we’ve only figured out how to activate four of them

  • The Spear of Honest Pride, in the Government District.
  • The Spear of Wealth in the Merchant District.
  • The Spear of Eager Striving in the Artisan District.
  • The Spear of Abundance in the Farming District.

Previously, whenever we tried to activate them, they went dormant as soon as a second was activated. From our most recent readings of the texts we have found in the city there is a way to keep them all active, as long as the activations are performed in the correct order – which turns out to be the order in which they are needed for war. I assume that this is based on some ancient Azlanti doctrine, but none of us are good enough historians to know what this means, and even the Cyclops general, Avashi, has no idea, except to agree with us that the military spear should probably be last.

We decided to first active the Spear of Honest Pride (I guess governments were different back then), by having Eando reading a book on the Azlanti legal system out loud on top of the Government ziggurath. The spear activates, and by using an Ioun stone to trace its runes, the spear gives off a satisfied hum of energy.

Next up we tried the Spear of Wealth, since you need money for war, but apparently that was the wrong choice, and both spears deactivated. This told us though that we at least had a chance to brute-force our way through the options. Ek’Tura didn’t seem keen for us continuing to try, since we were only guessing at the order, but since he didn’t have a better idea we went ahead with trying Honest Pride followed by Eager Striving. That wasn’t right. Neither was the Spear of Abundance the correct second choice.

By the end of the day our researchers from the camp had figured out how to activate the Spear of Righteous Anger in the Military District.

Ek’Tura and Derek learned some spells to try and divine more information about the unknown Spears, and to commune with their god. Ek’Tura was able to determine the activation methods for the remaining spears, and Derek asked his god for information on the order and managed to obtain the correct sequence:

  • First, The Spear of Honest Pride, in the Government District.
  • Second, The Spear of Fertility, in the Temple District.
  • Third, The Spear of Wealth, in the Merchant District.
  • Fourth, The Spear of Rest, in the Residential District.
  • Fifth, The Spear of Abundance, in the Farming District.
  • Sixth, The Spear of Eager Striving, in the Artisan District.
  • Seventh, The Spear of Righteous Anger, in the Military District.

We activated all but the final Spear of Righteous Anger, leaving that until we were ready to begin the final battle.

Scouting the Sanctum

Our final plan was to try and scout out the entrance to the Temple, and see if we could teleport directly into it. The plan was to get in, and then immediately leave – assuming that we could. Nevertheless, we buffed up on spells assuming for the worst – that we’d get in and not be able to immediately get out and have to start a fight.

So Ek’Tura tried to teleport us into the temple, but instead we founded ourselves spread out in one of the caverns that was being used by Morlocks loyal to the Serpentfolk as living quarters. Not only did we not know where we were, but we were also all invisible so couldn’t see each other. From our mental link with each other though, it was obvious we weren’t all in the same place. We were also surrounded by the whispering rock, and there was a negative energy effect here that gradually sapped at us.

Fortunately Ek’Tura had the ability to see invisible, so he was close to me. Using my wayfinder to provide compass directions, and looking at the terrain I could see, I tried heading around to the east and south where it seemed an exit would be most likely.

Athazog and Arkin were also close to each other, but (as we figured out later) far to the south east of us. Derek was on his own, and as it turned out somewhere to the west.

Player’s Note: There are definite advantages to playing where everyone is sitting around the same table, but this is the sort of things that a remote virtual tabletop is good for – providing a fog of war mechanic so that players are kept from seeing everything.

Eventually, most of us managed to make it towards the passage that led out of the caverns, the only exception was Derek.

Derek was also the least stealthy of any of us, being clad in full plate armour, so had been noticed by the Morlocks, despite being invisible. He tried to use Word of Recall to return back to base, but instead obtained for us the very useful information that teleporting out also did not work properly – he re-appeared elsewhere in the cavern.

By the time Derek had found his way to us, Morlocks had located us as well – they were coming out of one of the side passages that us larger folk were unable to fit through. We took down a few, then Ek’Tura summoned three earth elementals to help block the route to us.

The passage we were in was free of the negative energy, so Ek’Tura tried a teleport from here – and it worked, bring us safely back to base. So we know that we can’t safely teleport directly to the Serpentfolk temple, and we’ll need to run the gauntlet through the Morlocks in their cavern, but if we do need to escape then we know where we need to get back to.

There’s not much else for us to do now. The Red Mantis Assassins have turned up as they said they would, and we have given them what information we can about our enemies. Hopefully, soon, we can begin the final assault on the Sanctum of the Serpent God.

Samuel Penn