Sunday, July 18, 2010

LL at Paul's: Butterface

Heyawatha! Another week, another night around the table bouncing dice. Here ya go.

So we join our merry ganksters busily bailing nasty toilet water out of a subterranean cesspool in the depths of an extensive ancient Ilmorian ruin.

Three of our members are down for the count: Gentleman Jack Getz is poisoned and won't be able to do much more than stumble forward and moan for about ten days. Feyeka, our handy henchman, has taken a few too many mouthfulls of stankwater and is horking his cookies in the corner with Gentleman Jack. Finally, either Kashim or Yøgund is suffering from paralysis from one of the frikkin' ghouls we rumbled with last week.

That one, at least, is easy to deal with, with the application of Cure Light Wounds from the Deacon. It's fine, he's not busy currently, since he wants nothing to do with straining bog water through his teeth like the rest of the group. Finally, after a couple more passes through the silt, the others are willing to admit that a glorious future for us all isn't hiding down there, and we move on.

So we crossed the hall and checked out a row of doors to the north. As we listened at the first one, we heard a mysterious crash inside, as if something had been knocked over. Made wary by this, we poked our head in, and found a bedroom.

On either side of the door, we saw large mirrors hanging on the walls. This made us nervouser. Big mirrors are a source of trouble, like a lot of things in a dungeon. Stuff can come out of them, or get sucked into them.

So the first thing we did was pull the blankets and canopy off of the bed and covered the mirrors up. Then we proceeded with our usual rifling and petty burglary. There was a desk with some long dried jars of paint, and an old sketch of some kind of tropical bird, both of which the Deacon pocketed. The others turned up a lady's comb/brush/mirror set, pointing to the fact that the room's ancient occupant was probably a woman.

Once we'd searched, we decided to take a chance and check out the mirrors more closely. The Deacon cast Protection from Evil on himself, to keep from getting possessed or simulacra'd or what have you, and pulled the blanket down from the right side mirror.

Initially, it showed a reflection, but after a moment the view changed to an endless expanse of clouds. If there was any ground in the 'scape beyond, it was covered in thick mist. The Deacon touched the glass, and found it solid and unyielding. An examination of the other mirror revealed the same view, from a slightly different angle, so we reasoned what we were looking at was some kind of magical window to some other plane. My guess, the Elemental Plane of Air, but since this isn't straight up AD&D, that may or may not be the case. It's really up to Paul as to whether he's playing with the great cosmic pinwheel laid out in the Player's Handbook or not.

Anyway, from there we checked out the other two rooms in this hall, and found similar furnishings. Best guess from evidence, the first chamber was a maid, or lady in waiting, the next was the room for the Queen or whatever the Ilmorians had, as it was larger, the brush and mirror set was silver, and there was a door to a fancy nursery complete with a magical crib mobile of little floating birds, as well as a door to a small library that in turn conjoined with a large chamber we presumed to belong to the King, being the biggest and fanciest of the three. All of the rooms had the mysterious double mirrors into foggy land flanking the doors. I guess they got the ancient equivalent of satellite TV here. Otherwise, we found some minor loot. I think we turned up some gemstones and maybe a ring hidden in one of the gold painted knobs on the ancient poobah's bed. We're making Elef memorize Detect Magic the next morning so he can pick out the fancy stuff among our haul.

Moving on, we went back to the big feast hall and checked out a couple of doors leading to the east from either side of the hall we entered. These seemed to be barracks, with bunks and chests and racks for weapons. The first of the two rooms was messed up but otherwise uninteresting, while the other held a big ol' red flag for any dungeon delver worth his 10' pole.

It was more orderly than the other one, which had presumably been looted, but there were three statues in there. Three statues of armed and armored men in very non-aesthetic poses of alarm and dismay, depicting soldiers caught leaping out of bed on high alert. Ah crap... Yeah, what this means, if you haven't sussed it out quite yet, is that we had some kinda petrifyer on our hands. Medusa? Basilisk? Cockatrice? Gorgon? Any number of things that can give you the ol' evil eye and leave you as a planter. Lovely.

One of the stoned guys was actually reaching toward what turned out to be a shattered mirror lying on the floor. Good advice, o exquisite dead guy! So the first thing we did was take stock of the mirrors we had. We'd looted a couple from the ancient lady and her lady in waiting's rooms, and Klint already had a steel one on hand for peering around corners and the like. So we gave Yøgund and Kashim the other two, since they were probably at the front line with whatever we met.

From there we cautiously set out, heading out to the corridors and moving south, where we proceeded with our usual method of sussing out the halls before opening any doors. I won't dwell on the details. We found a bunch more halls with a bunch more doors, as well as a set of stairs leading down. One room we checked out was just full of rubble and wreckage, and looked to have once been storage.

After a couple of hours of hall mapping, we decided we should find a suitable place and camp for the night. Since the nicest room we'd found was the ancient high muckity muck's chamber, we decided to head back there.

As we came through the door, we heard a noise and looked up, startled to see a figure step into the room from a secret door by the fireplace. It was female, a shapely woman in a flattering gown.

But her face...

Argh! A medusa!

We whipped out our mirrors and as one turned our backs on her, as the serpents crowning her head hissed and writhed, their glittering eyes staring at us in a halo around the deadly creature's lambent orbs (I'm talking about her eyes here, by the way. Seriously, this is one case where "Hey buddy, my eyes are up here." is a BAD situation to be in...). She stamped her pretty foot and in an imperious voice demanded to know who we were, and how dare we intrude on her sanctuary.

We took a conciliatory tack, apologizing for intruding and explaining we were exploring these ruins and didn't mean to offend her. Of course, she was offended by us referring to her lair as a ruin, so there you go. Yøgund detected pure 100% evil coming off of her, so we excused ourselves and left in a hurry.

At this point, I'll own that this particular foe leaves me at a bit of a disadvantage. One edge a medusa has, beside her gaze of death, is being something of a femme fatale. That deadly balance of physical attractiveness and instant, uncompromising death.

Admittedly, a monster face and a head covered in angry vipers kind of instantly dispels any romantic notions, but even then the deeply ingrained "don't hit a girl" chivalrous programming I grew up with makes it tough for me to raise a hand to 'em. Heck, I don't like killin' female monsters of any kind. Reference the she wolf with her cubs we encountered in the Kellman woods, for example.

She doesn't have any of those kind of compunctions, and a pause can be fatal when all it takes is a glance. Pretty insidious, really.

Of course, the Deacon can probably overcome his hang ups if it's a choice between walking out of this labyrinth or becoming something that needs to be dusted occasionally. Still, there's that element there.

Outside the medusa's chamber, we huddled up, and quickly decided to head down to the lady in waiting's chamber, and try a similar tactic to what we used on the hobgoblins up on the road to Bridgefair, which was to fake bedding down for the night and wait for our enemy to come and try to bushwack us.

We knew that there was probably a network of secret tunnels connecting these rooms, which probably explains the crash we heard when we listened at the door. We made a dedicated, thorough search, taking an agonizingly long time as we knew that our predator/prey was out there drawing her own plans, and finally found the secret door.

Then we spent an agonizingly long time spinning our wheels trying to come up with some kind of way to drop a bucket or blanket on her head as she came thru the door. (For all we know, she was on the other side of the door listening and trying to keep her snakes from laughing.) We finally gave up on that idea as the end of the session rolled around .

So next week promises to be interesting, as we're faced with an intelligent, mobile, and potentially very dangerous foe. Which is pretty neat, actually. It's kinda cool when you know what you're facing and can work out tactics to face it.

Or we could just flail around and hope not to end up as so many unwieldy collectibles. Either way, it should be interesting.

Thanks again to Paul for a good session, and a hat tip to the rest of the 10d gamers.

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