Serpent’s Skull – Part 72

Sanctum of the Serpent God – Snakes in the Dungeon

We continue our raid into the temple of the serpent god, in the final part of the final chapter of the Serpent’s Skull adventure path. We continue directly on from the previous session where we had made our way past the front door and were now in the temple itself.

Tabansi’s Journal – Part 72

We head further down into the serpent’s temple, fighting light resistance on the stairs until we came to a huge room which seemed to be the dwelling place of two massive snake constructs. Each had two heads – one at each end of its body, and was covered in sharp spikes.

Standing between them was an unusually dressed serpentfolk, and as I opened the door it cast a spell – a green ray shooting out from its hand and hitting me in the chest. Though it hurt, it didn’t kill me, and I decide that it was obviously a wizard or sorcerer of some sort, and marked it for death.

Player’s Notes: Tabansi marked the sorcerer as his quarry, which is a ranger ability that grants bonuses to hit and makes criticals auto-confirm. It’s one of those abilities that can’t be used often, since once the target is dead it can’t be used again for another hour. Which probably means the rest of the campaign. As it happens, I’m not sure that I got much use out of it at all.

One of the giant snakes moved forward and took a bite out of Athazog. Derek came down the stairs and tried a Destruction spell on the sorcerer, but it bounced off. He responded with a lightning bolt which hit Athazog, then split into multiple forks which struck at all of us, and then ran off around the corner.

The snake thing at the back split itself into two parts, each with one head, whilst the first was wrapped in chains of light by Ek’Tura, holding it in place whilst I tried to shoot arrows into the body of one of the halves at the back. Athazog leapt at the chained one, destroying it, clearing the way for the rest of the party to move into the room.

The last two are taken down by myself and Athazog, and Venus runs forward looking for the sorcerer, to find a dragon in his place. The angel vision of Venus is able to pierce the magic though, showing it to be the shaped-changed sorcerer, who also had up illusionary duplicates of himself.

He still has a number of powerful spells, including a blasting cone of cold which freezes me to the bone. If it wasn’t for Derek and his healing magic then I probably would have been killed.

We force him back up against the wall, with my arrows hitting the illusions and taking them down. Eventually he has no-where else to go, and after Ek’Tura dispels his final defences, I shoot him through the heart killing him dead.

Since we have a number of enchantments up protecting us, none of which will last more than a few minutes, we quickly open the doors to find a large room with arrow slots up high in the walls, and a large green stone statue of a serpentfolk in the middle. At the far side of the room is another set of double doors, and a single serpentfolk stands the other side of the doors we have just opened.

Athazog pounces on him, and Arkin tries to flank around him, noticing that there is a second guard behind the door. Arkin still manages to stab the first guard in the back, and whilst he is distracted I shot him down.

The second guard flees for the far side of the room, and it is then that the statue breaths a green cloud of gas on us, though it appears to have no effect. Whilst Ek’Tura and Derek are still looting the corpse of the sorcerer, Venus runs across the room towards the far door. The statue animates as she does so, hitting her on the head as she passes, but she continues on and opens the doors.

The remaining guard tries to attack her, as do several serpentfolk up above who shoot arrows down at us, but Athazog and Arkin quickly follow Venus to the far side. With Venus quite badly hurt, she runs through the door into the cover of the hallway beyond, and Arkin and Athazog follow her after killing the remaining guard, allowing Venus to heal herself and them.

I rush across the room, dodging the statue and make it to the hallway safely, though Ek’Tura and Derek are still at the far side, their route now blocked by the statue as it follows after myself and the others. It breathes gas again, and Athazog is briefly petrified, though is able to somehow shrug it off soon afterwards. The statue slams the door shut, cutting us off from the rest of the party.

Ek’Tura though is able to dimension door himself and Derek over to us. Safe from the statue, we quickly examine the hallway. A flight of stairs run up to probably where the archers are, and it continues round to another set of double doors. We decide to move forward as quickly as we can, opening the doors to find another set about twenty feet beyond.

With some of our enchantments running out, Ek’tura re-casts Haste on us all, just as a giant floating snake head appears in the corridor behind us. Dozens of smaller snakes dangle from its neck, oozing an acidic ichor onto the ground. The angel Venus steps forward to try and protect the fragile end of the party, and I start putting arrows into it from my position next to the closed doors.

Suddenly though, the doors are thrown open, and two large iron golems stride through, their fists finding my head a rather soft target. Fortunately Derek is able to put up a wall of stone between me and them, protecting us and allowing us to concentrate on the floating snake head.

It obviously decides that the odds aren’t in its favour, and teleports away just as some serpentfolk come down the stairs and begin attacking our rear. Before we can react to that, the two golems smash through the wall and reach for me… I quickly dash away to safety.

Player’s Notes: I used a Hero Point to take an immediate action and get out of the way. I was down quite a few hit points by that point, and was concerned another hit would kill me. In retrospect, I probably would have survived, but I’m happy to have been conservative in this instance.

And so begins a rather desperate fight to keep the golems off our front and the serpentfolk off our back. The latter turn out to be clerics, and repeatably throw spells at us to try and disable us. After Ek’Tura summons an earth elemental, and puts one golem in a pit, the battle turns briefly but then the floating snake head appears.

It’s continuous hissing drives Arkin insane, and he begins acting randomly. A blade barrier put up by Venus is taken down with a dispel magic, and two attempts at a fire storm are resisted by the serpentfolk’s magic resistance.

I manage to take down one golem, as the other is making its way out of the bit, and Athazog and Arkin manage to engage the floating head. After Ek’Tura is able to use a cone of cold on the serpentfolk, Venus gives up on magic and wades in with her holy sword, managing to keep them at bay.

Eventually Derek weakens the floating head enough with a flame strike that I am able to take it down – though it continues to regenerate. Not knowing how to stop it from doing so, Athazog begins to try chopping it into as many pieces as he can, allowing me to take down some more serpent folk.

By this point the serpentfolk are fleeing back to the statue room, and the second iron golem is back out of the pit. But we have no way to stop the head from regenerating itself.

Player’s Notes: This was a very combat heavy session, but quite fun. Though there were some tough opponents, and a couple of hero points were spent fighting them, we were able to kill them so made progress. Tough fights where we aren’t able to make progress or find an alternative approach is what gets annoying.

The spell resistance of the serpent folk can be annoying – it completely renders a one shot effect useless. I’m thinking it may be the sort of mechanic I might want to try to avoid in my own games. The Ranger’s quarry ability is similar – I think I’d prefer an ability that can be re-used (once an hour is normally longer than most expeditions) but isn’t as powerful (though to be honest, it barely had any effect).

Ek’Tura was able to figure out that we need electricity to stop the demon head’s regeneration, but none of us have the ability to do electrical damage. However, looking through the summon monster tables, one of the options we have available is an electric eel. So next session we may need to summon an electric eel to finish this thing off. I’m not exactly sure how the details of that will work, but so far it’s the best idea we have.

Samuel Penn