Sunday, July 27, 2014

Level One Boss Fight - The Lord of Bones - Taenarum Game 10

Moe took the week off, so Moe's Marauders were temporarily under the command of Etor, the party's ranger, who planned the night's adventure.  I try to start every game of Taenarum back at the adventurer's hall, with the characters huddled around the tavern table and planning their excursion - the same way the players leaned in over the table to peer at their maps to start the game.

"I know we told that sorceress we'd explore quadrant 3 and search for the source of the giant insects, but we've got to go through quadrant 2 to get there."  Etor laid out the maps and showed the path.  "And since we'll be in quadrant 2 anyway, why don't we just poke our head into this area over here where the 'Arch of Greed' is supposed to sit, and see if there's really a big treasure nearby?"  The players in attendance voted unanimously for the Arch of Greed over giant killer insects.

There were preliminary encounters with a horde of skeletal animals, jaws clattering and tiny claws clicking on the polished marble floors, and a few treacherous skirmishes with swarms of flesh-eating scarab beetles.  The swarms reduce any explorers killed in the zone to bones, stripping the flesh and preparing the remains to join the skeletal hoplites that patrol the area.  The party used up all of their supplies of oil burning the scarab swarms.

The Arch of Greed was real, and it glowed with reddish sigils and glyphs.  As the reddish light washed over the characters, they began to sense the gold and silver they were each carrying, until their new 'detect precious metal' senses became aware of the large pile of coins beyond the archway and their attentions were drawn towards the hoard.  Beyond the arch was a short hall, and flickering lights illuminated a great pile of silver and gold coins.  A number of characters - Etor, Thaddeus, and Jax (a new guy) - were overcome by magical greed and hurtled themselves down the hallway.  The champion of Poseidon made his save and held the rest of the party back.

Unfortunately, while the three ensorcelled characters kneeled before the treasure pile and threw coins into the air, giggling like Scrooge McDuck, various skeletal hoplites crept forward from the shadows behind them, lowering their spears to skewer the characters overcome by greed.  Once the rest of the party caught sight of the skeletons, they shouted warnings and ran down the hallway to intervene.

There was one awful round where the greedy kneelers, oblivious to the skeletal threat, were stabbed at again and again by the skeletal ambushers.  Blood sprayed everywhere.  Jax was butchered and perished, and the others were sorely injured.  The rest of the party slammed into the skeletons, joining the battle, and Mac the Dwarf Cleric of Hephaestus was successful at turning the remaining undead.  The damage was done already - one party member was slain, the others grievously injured and required the use of healing potions.  The magic coercion of the Arch of Greed wore away once the trap was finished.

The party scooped up a few thousand coins, mostly silver obols but a fair amount of drachmas, and they discovered a strange, heavy spear hanging on the wall.  It was black meteoric iron, with symbols on the blade.  Assuming it's magical, the paladin hefted it and claimed it, leaving his wooden spear in its place.

They continued north in quadrant two and discovered the throne room of the Lord of Bones.  The boss eidelon sat on an onyx throne, wreathed in purple  Asphodel flames  that surrounded the throne.  The eidelon appeared like a flaming skeleton wearing bulky armor and wielding a large bident.  He mocked them from the safety of his throne.

"If you're so tough, Lord of Bones, come down here to the ground and fight us, man to man," taunted Etor.  The Lord of Bones is easily provoked, and gave up the invulnerability of the throne to face Etor in hand to hand.  "Mortal weapons can't hurt me, fool", boasted the Lord.  He stabbed with his bident, and the players learned the aura of cold fire that surrounded him burned anyone that attacked him physically, meaning they had to kill him quickly or get worn down by cold fire damage.

The black meteoric spear was indeed magical, and the champion of Poseidon stabbed the Lord of Bones a number of times with it, cutting through his ghostly form with the magic blade.  "The key you seek is in the room nearby,"  said the Lord, as he disintegrated and died.  "Enjoy your fleeting victory, mortals; my master will just create a new Lord of Bones in a few days..."  And then he faded away.

Among the treasure of the Lord of Bones was an over-sized skeleton key.  Way back in Game 3 (He Took an Ogre to the Knee) the players had wandered into quadrant two and found a mural room where the creature you touched on the wall materialized and fought you.  When the summoned monsters were defeated, the room revealed a secret door and a large glowing keyhole - the same size as the over-sized skeleton key.  The players wasted no time in navigating across the quadrant to the mural room, and readied themselves.  Instead of touching "ogre", this time they picked "goblin", and quickly fought off 8 magically summoned goblins.  It pays to be prepared.

The skeleton key fit the glowing key hole that appeared, and beyond was a simple treasury - a silver-inlaid drinking horn sat on a simple stone pedestal beneath a shining pillar of light from the ceiling.  The paladin picked it up, and the horn thrummed with power.  Players being what they are, they poured some water into it and took a drink - anyone who sipped the water was healed!  No, they didn't find the Holy Grail - this is the Drinking Horn of Hades, one of his 7 special objects, a piece of the Regalia of the Death God  (although the players don't know that yet - the significance or why it's important.  They're just to glad to have a cool healing item).

As they turned to leave, glowing red letters began to appear on the stone table.  The players gawked in dismay as the swirling letters arranged themselves to read thusly:  "Alantir of Athens now owns the Horn of Hades.  Alantir's current location:  Taenarum."  They threw a cloak over the pedestal to hide the lettering, and left the room.  Hopefully it would be a while before anyone else discovered how to get past the mural room and see the inscription of the table.

That's where we ended last game.  Pretty good all around.  At least half the group is on the cusp of leveling up, they've defeated a major boss and gotten an important quest item (even though they don't know they're on a quest).  What more can a referee want?

Cast of Characters
Alantir, Champion of Poseidon
Etor, Spartan explorer
Jax the Hunter (newly joined - and dead)
Maribel of Christmasland (Elf Enchanter - newly joined)

Hirelings
Fighting men - Dorus, Eutropios, Dunixi, Apostolos

NPC's
Barnabas - a thief
Thaddeus - a fighter

Stayed Home / Player Unavailable
Moe, a Bard
Talus, a Magic User