ADVENTURE 20: Rest for Saracek

The Characters

Telok: Elf cleric of Obad-hai, divine disciple, level 11 CG
Jerry Springwater: Human Fighter-Paladin-Justicar, Level 10 LG
Jestyn: High Elf Wizard, Level 10 N
Verrof: Earth Genasi Ranger-Foe Hunter, Level 9 CG, ECL 10
Sithdar Darkblade: Human Rogue-Assassin, Level 11 NE

ADVENTURE 20: Rest for Saracek: The first level stank horribly, though all were brave heroes and could stomach it without trouble. In addition to the stench of feces was a new smellthe smell of rotting vegetation. Exploring, the characters found an empty first room, then a hallway choked with the same withered black vines they had seen coming out of the rat-holes outside. Further in, in the burial room and the next chamber, the vines grew larger, plumper and more vivacious. At the final room, they covered a humanoid form that looked to be sitting down. Suspecting undead, Verrof attacked it, finding that it lacked not the dead part, but only the un. Suddenly, everyone saw something coming around the corner and into the room: a rolling mass of putrid fecal terror, the abomination that was the Dung Monster! (Complete with the beautiful new miniature that I made myself.) Jestyns fireball did nothing to it, and nobody else dared an attack. Though Jerry was almost hit by it, all PCs ran back to the entrances side-passage, to wait for Dungie to leave. Eventually, they went back, seeing its dirty trail leading back to its lair in the north part of the level. Ignoring it, they headed south. Here, the vines grew worse and worse, so alive that they grabbed at the characters legs. Sithdar led them into a secret room to the side, but it was empty and so they headed into a larger cavern, where the vines covered everything, writhing about the room like some sick tentacles.
In the center of it all stood a humanoid forman elf, naked but sprouting plants from his eyes, fingers and other openings. Verrof and Sithdar immediately recognized who this was: Valrilon, Verrofs mentor and Sithdars traveling companion, now a plant-like monster! (For details on his death, see my first RA campaign.) With him were two other plant-monsters, mere masses of vegetation with gaping mouths. A battle ensued, mostly going easy for the PCs, though Jerrys falcon familiar was nearly killed. Valrilon didnt even get to attack, and was destroyed by a fireball and a flamestrike. The others were harder, the final one swallowing and nearly digesting Sithdar before it finally went down. Now most of the vines began to die, and PCs had time to look around, noticing the slime-choked river here, as well as a pile of rubble to the right. Beyond this pile, stairs led to level 2, which the PCs took.
The second floor; dark, dingy and man-made, was fairly empty. No beings assailed the characters, and so they headed right for Saraceks room, ready for a fight. Prepping with buff spells and Remove Fear, the party disabled Saraceks traps and went into the tomb. The villain was there, along with three black skeletons, who quickly attacked. The fight was quick and brutal. Saracek got one hit on Jerry, but was soon beaten to a pulp by the paladin himself, subjected to some wizardly fire from Jestyn, then finally finished by Verrof, who took the weakened skeleton down in one hit. His minions werent much of a fight either, though they managed to do a good amount of damage to the ranger. Exploring Saraceks tomb, the characters soon began looting. (All except Jerry, who found such practices below him). In his treasure chest they discovered some interesting items, including a Tome of Leadership and Influence, which was eventually awarded to the paladin, though not without resistance from Jestyn. The room contained a holy shield, taken and used by Telok, a scroll and some potions, along with a bit of money. Verrof took Saraceks bones, as part of his quest for the temple. Afterwards, the characters debated whether they should continue on or go back to Nenkal to deliver Saraceks remains to Karsyla. The latter was decided on, and the trip to the surface began.
It was impeded a bit by good ol dungie, who attacked while PCs neared his lair, again nearly getting Jerry before the characters ran off back to the entrance. Here, they got all the way back to the mausoleum. Inside, the door to the outside was closed. Sithdar found the traps mechanism, but failed to disarm it, and the floor began coming up. Running out, the characters watched in dismay as the floor rose up, told by Sithdar that it would take quite some time to come back down. Thinking of a plan, Telok eventually used several castings of Stoneshape to dig his way through the raised ceiling and make a path back to the doorway. From here, Jerry sent his falcon (made of pure light) outside through the doors crack and had it take the key and open the door for them. Freedom at last! Leaving quickly, the PCs made it back to town without incident and got the next boat to Nenkal. On the way, Telok smoked a bit more of his pot, finding that he was now addicted to it.
In the capital city, Verrof delivered Saraceks bones to the Temple, getting a reward of a five thousand gold and congratulations. Jerry went back to his own church, discovering to his surprise that High Priest Sartorious was back; not an illusion but the real man. He had been resurrected due to him leaving a piece of hair with the Temple of All Gods, in case of emergency. Supposedly, he had been killed nearly a year ago, when Scramge took his identity. Now the real Sartorious was back, ready to lead his church again. He told Jerry to come back later, for he had a possible quest for him. Another lower priest wanted to speak with Jimwise, about possibly leading a mission to restore the valley temples. Later on the halfling met with the priests and agreed to this most honorable mission, even though it took him away from his comrades. Saying farewell to his friends, Jimwise departed the group. Telok and Jestyn did a little bit of shopping, the wizard picking up some valuable spells: including the ever-useful Teleport. Telok stopped back at his church, intent on searching the gardens for some more of his blessed chronic. He found precious little, for it was no longer in season. The priest who he spoke to there suggested that he stop using it, preaching moderation, using the gifts of the earth sparingly. He suggested that if Telok was truly addicted that he go cold turkey for a while. Later on, after reading his Tome, Jerry received his new quest from Sartorious: to rescue Sir Kingsley, a paladin who had disappeared on a mission to Rappan Athuk. Divinations revealed that he was somewhere on the twelfth level, in a prison run by goblins.
As the party got together again, Jestyn decided to try his teleport out. To reduce the weight limit, Sithdar briefly climbed into his portable hole, while Jestyn teleported everyone, breaking up their molecules and reforming them at Port Grinetos. The journey was a success! At the port city, Jestyn picked up his remaining familiar components and spoke with the others. They decided to head off for the nearby hills, where Verrof knew some Tressym (intelligent flying cats) lived. Finding a good sight for the summoning, the wizard sat down and burnt his root, chanting ritual incantations and imagining the familiar coming to him. Meanwhile, Jerry was on guard duty, checking for possible attacks. He noticed several scraggly peasants coming down the road. Oddly, all of them detected as evil! Using his lie detection abilities, Jerry realized that these people were not all they seemed to be. Rude and ignorant, they seemed to worship Orcus, and were possibly cultists of some kind. Letting them go for now, Jerry remembered their faces as they walked off to their village, muttering curses under their breath. Jestyns familiar arrived: an enthusiastic flying cat called Andy. (For his personality, think Austin Powers). The cat got along nicely with Snaggletooth, and seemed friendly with the rest of the party as well, although Telok didnt like him much either.
Later that day, the party journeyed to the marsh and spoke with the mad hermit. Having made some utterly delicious brownies earlier that day, Verrof gave them to the hermit, who seemed to open up much more. He spoke of some things he knewhe had been to Rappan Athuk, and amidst insane ramblings, he told the tale of Gerald Navarre, a paladin he used to know who had went into the dungeon and never came back, and had been corrupted by some woman. He knew how to get Navarres old holy sword back together, and recognizing Sithdars piece, offered to help the PCs if they could revive his senile memory by giving him a special mushroom from Rappan Athuk. (Sithdar remembered much about Navarre from his previous journey to the island, having visited the former governors mansion, even speaking with the ghosts of his murdered family. Jerry knew about him from legends, as the last Justicar, who had betrayed his faith for the cult of Orcus). Afterward, the characters headed back to Rappan Athuk, arriving by moonlight the following night, now seeing the macabre graveyard illuminated in the eerie white light of the eternal moon. They prepared to descend once more.

DM’S COMMENTS: They’ve still got it a little easy, as they’re way too high level for floors one and two. As PCs on previous expeditions had already killed the were-rats, the ghouls and all of that stuff, I decided to change level one, filling it with what ammounted to a permanent Entangle spell, and adding those new opponents that they fought. (Former PC druid Valrilon, and two Tendriculi.) Not too hard, but it used up some resources and hurt the PCs. Dungie was as reliable as always, although my players still aren’t brave enough to fight him. Sarecek was kind of weak, even with my addition of 3 black skeleton guards. The two warriors (Jerry and Verrof) are experts fighting evil undead, so he went down fairly easy. No deaths this time around, but certainly a few injuries. As we see in the outside sections, the players are just starting on one of the major side-quests I have set up; involving Navarre and the mushroom for the hermit. We’ll have to see how all of that goes.

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