The Oraculum

Last session we finished early so that we could have all the players together before we started the next section, and we did indeed manage to get the whole group back together, which was good. Much to the surprise of our GM, this also turned out to be the last session of What Grows Within (the fifth chapter of the Strange Aeons adventure path) after we decided to avoid some unnecessary combat and talk to people rather than fight them. I also got to use Etheric Shards to its maximum – I feel that the way that we’re interpreting it is overpowered, but the GM and everyone else is happy with it.

21st Gozran, Oathday

This morning we decided that it was time to head to the Oraculum in search of the third and final Star Stelae, whilst the Yithian Kaklathat decided to head down beneath the city to take a look around. Obviously now that we’d recovered its body for it, it no longer needed us. Before we left, Erasmus provided us with some of his magical wine, which made us slightly drunk but also cleared our heads and made it easier to think.

The Oraculum was over the eastern end of the city, so we headed in that direction – flying, but keeping low to the ground so as not to attract the attention of any of the other flying critters. Finding the Oraculum wasn’t too hard, but as we got closer we discovered that we were unwilling to approach – even thinking about it became painful. After some thought, we decided that there were protective wards up around the place which were forbidding us entry. Not to be put off by a bit of painful rejection, we pushed forward and broke through the wards.

Erasmus was on hand to heal our wounds, and as stood around looking at the ruins and the large tower which was the site of the Oraculum, there was a loud ‘gong’ that rang out from the top of the tower. That obviously caught our attention, so we glanced up to see a large face starting down at us – a giant of some kind, probably a Moon Giant.

He demanded to know whether we were breaking into the place, and we answered that no, we hadn’t broken anything. He told us that we shouldn’t be here, and that we were trespassing. I decided to ask him whether he had actually been to the Moon. He was a bit surprised at the question, but answered in the affirmative.

I told him that we’d also been to the Moon – to the one in the Dreamlands, and that we’d met lots of moon beasts there. Intrigued, he decided to come down to talk to us, but was stopped by a loud grinding sound. From the south, two colossal ‘towers’ were moving through the ruins towards us, covered in fungus growths and bits of buildings. They’d come round the side of ruined buildings, and were beginning to cross a couple of bridges which spanned what appeared to be a bottomless trench.

He decided that he’d rather stay up there, and slammed the window shut, leaving us to deal with the things ourselves. They were probably constructs of some kind, maybe a type of Juggernaut, but obviously infected with the diseases of Xhamen-Dhor.

There was quick discussion, with Ray wanting to head up to a nearby Zuggernaut to fight them from there, and some of the rest of us thinking that hiding beneath the bridges. Erasmus quickly put up a Haste spell, and I dropped an Etheric Shards on one of them.

Player’s Notes: Etheric Shards does 1d8 damage when a create moves through a 5ft cube. We’ve interpreted this to mean that larger creatures take more damage since they are moving through more cubes. These creatures were 30ft across, so took up 216 5ft cubes, meaning according to our interpretation they take 216d6 damage each time they move. As it happens, my spell isn’t powerful enough to cover more than 120 cubes, so such creatures only took 120d6 damage. One took over 500 damage, the other over 400. It seems excessive, but the group is happy with this.

The juggernaut fell apart as the shards ripped it to shreds. As the second one continued its slow crawl towards us, I dropped a second shards on it, and it also fell apart. The fight was pretty much over before it began, and Erasmus was very annoyed with me for having caused him to waste a Haste.

The Moon Giant was quite pleased to see us deal with the juggernauts so efficiently, and came down to meet us, introducing himself as Olkoshim. He was here doing some experiments, and had paid the Naga for time in the Oraculum. Apparently someone had outbid him though, and he’d lost a couple of days of research when the Naga had allowed Lowls to use the Oraculum. He was still waiting for compensation from the Naga.

He invited us into the tower, at the centre of which was the Star Stelae. It was surrounded by all sorts of equipment that the giant was using to perform his studies. Apparently use of the Star Stelae caused interference which disrupted his experiments. He was trying to divine the future of Golarion, since there seemed to be a conjunction of worlds coming up.

We asked whether Carcosa was involved in this conjunction in any way, and as we consumed the tea and biscuits that he offered, we told him of what we knew. It seemed to match with the findings that he was making, so when we suggested that we needed to use the Star Stelae in order to stop Lowls and prevent the end of the world it appealed to his sense of enlightened self interest.

So Olkoshim helped us make room to perform the ritual needed to attune to the last of the Star Stelae. As before, Ray used his knowledge of Arcana, I used my knowledge of aberrations, and Erasmus used his knowledge of spells and magic. Together, we managed to succeed. It was helped greatly by the fact that we were all still a bit drunk off Erasmus’ wine.

After the attuning was completed, we decided that the best thing to do would be to finalise the ritual that would allow us to follow Lowls to wherever he has gone – presumably to Carcosa. This ritual would take several hours to complete, so we headed back to our camp at the tower.

I think Olkoshim was happy to see us go, but gave us a device to take with us for when we did the ritual. It would measure the magical activity and provide him more information for his studies. We didn’t see any reason not to agree to take it.

On the way back there was something obviously unusual going on. Things seemed to be headed towards the lake – flying creatures flying in perfect formation towards it, and the sound of walking and slithering things heading in that direction as well. Even the Dhole raised itself above the towers of the city, and headed in that direction. Whatever was happening was obviously interesting – but we wanted no part of it.

We drew the circle, placed the eldritch symbols in the air and finalised our cosmic coordinate. Myself, Ray, Erasmus and Gregor all needed to contribute our skills to completing the ritual.

As the final parts were finished, the sky started to move, flickering between states. There was a tall metallic tower, a world crushed under buildings, an arctic tundra, graceful cities, destroyed temples – everything flickered and shifted, and then we were elsewhere.

Above us were two black suns, and in the distance a moon. It was no our moon. It flickered as it moved, and was a pale yellow in colour. We were still in a city, which didn’t look entirely unlike Neruzavin, but it wasn’t that place. Everything was wrong – the taste of the air, the feel of the gravity, the temperature, the sounds… From somewhere came came the sound of eldritch piping. Is this Carcosa?

Samuel Penn

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