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4 July 2013 - Thursday

Happy explosion day!

Today we managed to game! Someone (whose name may begin with a K) persuaded Al to run more of his long-idle D&D 3.5 Ptolus game. Since we hadn't played for like four years, and were too stupid to read the writeup of the last session, we had to flail around a lot to remember that the PCs had backed away from the minotaur-infested frozen pit beneath the haunted abandoned brothel, planning to return later with spells refreshed.

Our Heroes do return, although accompanied by a crazy rat lady who wants to scavenge some stuff from the haunted abandoned brothel and won't go away. The cheerfully self-destructive minotaur Chaos cultists are annoying and rant about the coming "Night of Dissolution" when all Law will be swept away, but James and Johann beat them down while sustaining only non-fatal wounds. From their brands and ritual scars and whatnot, it seems that they belonged to the Chaos cult that other cultists want to join when they grow up. There is a book conveniently frozen into the ice with them that may explain more, but Raul absconds with it.

Behind the ice is a pool that is really one end of a tunnel of very cold water that leads to a room full of ice-covered treasure chests. Fortunately Karl and Nora brought enough cold resistance for everyone who isn't conspicuously macho. (The crazy rat lady had her own spells.) While people are admiring the Chaos cultist doggerel on the chests and speculating what might be in them, something starts pounding on the large solid iron door out of the room. When the door starts visibly deforming, however, Johann chops open as many of the chests as he can before the giant mechanical dragon stars peeling away the door, and everyone skedaddles back through the tunnel. Apparently the thing behind the door is not a giant mechanical white dragon, because it does not follow them. Presumably it is guarding the one remaining treasure, which was the one with the strongest magic.

(Level UP! For clerics and wizards, 5th level means third-level spells and not much else, but that's okay. Third-level spells are nifty.)

One of the items retrieved from the icy chests is a key that seems to change its shape while one watches, which is in fact Niviril's Nineteenth Key and opens Karl's ancestral box. Inside is a sealed book, an unsealed book full of notes on Shadow ("to find a Shadow object, find what is casting the shadow"), two daggers, a pair of spectacles, and a vial of black vapor. The spectacles apparently detect Shadow, since the vial glows brilliantly through them, and the daggers are described as being able to touch Shadow. The sealed book is magical, but of unclear purpose.

The Chaos cult under the H.A.B. is generally agreed to be bad news and in need of high-level stomping, so the next day Karl and James presume on Nora's family connections and the three of them go to see one of the Knights of the Pale, the paladin group that raided the H.A.B. originally. Being the stereotypical paladin with rectally-mounted dowelling, he grumps about unsanctified amateurs stirring up sleeping evils, and finally realizes that Karl is someone paladins Do Not Approve Of and throws them out. But, in Ptolus, that is about as close to notifying the duly-constituted authorities as it gets, so their civic duty is discharged.

On the way back, the three visitors to the Pale are accosted by a creepy person with yellow-green skin and wings of shadow, who claims that they have some stuff that belongs to him and his friends, stolen without provocation from their secret clubhouse, and he would like it back Or Else. Since they don't have it on them, he agrees to meet them the following evening at the same spot to reclaim his Chaos-tainted belongings. It is not clear whether this is the same shadowy presence that was lurking outside the H.A.B. earlier.

Meanwhile, back at the laboratory, Raul has been analyzing those very same items. Mostly they are +1 weapons that do extra damage against Law: a little above Our Heroes' level, but not ridiculously powerful artifacts out of legend. However, when Raul examines Karl's sealed book, he blacks out and wakes up in a place that looks just like his lab but shadowy and immaterial, and containing shadowy people looking around going, "What happened to Raul?" plus one person who looked like Erika but with a different shadowy person overlapping her. With Karl's new spectacles and use of the Charades skill, contact is made with Raul, who eventually escapes the plane of Shadow, but no one knows what is up with Erika's shadow-self. She's just creepy.

With a little more, more careful, investigation, it is determined that the book contains a sentient copy of the Shadow Walk spell, which wants to crawl into someone's head and make them cast it as it sees fit. Not even Karl is up for this.

Our Heroes have about 24 hours to figure out what to do when Greenface Guy and all his buddies come to get their stuff back.

Oh, here's the list of previous Ptolus sessions:

Ja Baby can swim! She has to have two foam noodles tucked under her arms for extra buoyancy, but she can swim all the way around the pool, including the deep end, without having to touch down. Hurray Ja Baby!

The cats are probably still okay, though cruelly deprived of gooshyfood.

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