We ended last game with the weather finally clearing enough for us to head north to the Frozen Tower (probably of Doom!). We are starting to – perhaps – approach the pole when a strange blue glow is seen on the horizon. It dominates the dark sky like the Luxor.
It’s cold. Damn cold. -100F/-73C cold.
The shaft of light emanates from a hexagonal tower, some 100m tall, whose top crackles with blue energy, a raging storm swirling above the light.
GM: The winds are SCREAMING here. This is the windiest wind that a wind ever did wind.
A shattered causeway leads from the shore of the frozen lake to a hexagonal entrace on ther northern face of the tower. It begs us (metaphorically) to venture on . . . and die.
Or maybe I’m just reading too much into this. Nope:
Everyone makes out skeletons of various creatures (including humanoids) slowly moving aimlessly in the lake around the tower.
Cadmus wonders out loud if this place feels quite as evil as the last black basalt thing we encountered, and he can feel the nasty emanating from the lake from the low hill you guys are scouting from.
Yep. Evil. Damn evil.
We also decide that this is in fact the Creepy Black Tower by the Lake, but not the Nameless Spires, which are at the north pole and well, “spires,” not “spire with vertical maglite.”
Cadmus prays for guidance, but receives none.
Cadmus: “Pharasma ignored me. So either we’re doing the right thing, or too stupid to keep living and she’ll see us Real Soon.”
Thumvar: “Or you at least.”
Cadmus: “Fair point.”
Shiba bats an eye at this weird foreign pagan reassurance, but only an eye. “Care to wager on that, Cadmus-sempai?”
Cadmus: “Absolutely. 100 silver says we make it halfway up and then encounter some Unspeakable terror, which is just a warm-up for the challenge we face extinguishing that light source.”
Jaded pros, we are.
We decide sneakitude is the best course, and start up the causeway. The Big Clunky Warriors make their rolls by 3 and 5. The Mystic Knight by 1, and the Scout is embarrassed by only making her roll by 3.
GM: You manage to sneak across the cracked and ruined causeway all the way up to the hexagonal portal leading into the black tower. Peeking inside, you see windblown snow in all the corners of the roughly trapezoidal chamber inside. Identical hexagonal openings exit the room to the right, left, and straight ahead. A strong wind blows from the portal ahead of you, but overall the wind is mercifully damped compared to outside.
Accidentally, a few wights are revealed by a vision layer error:
Cadmus: Oh, look. The Wight Stuff.
GM: It’s about 10 yards up and featureless.
GM: Wight? What wight?
Thumvar: or Thumvar on the left, Shiba on the right since that is how we are now?
Cadmus: Huh. Coulda sworn I saw the Wight
Cadmus: Well, they’ll be a Wight to Remember, then
GM: You do see some sort of crystaline structure poking out of the snow drift to the left and ahead.
Cadmus: Remember, we don’t talk about Wight Club
Looking around the area, the door to the left opens on a room dotted in pale white mushrooms sticking out of drifts of windblown snow, while a very large (and probably carnivorous) plant dominates the corner of the right-hand room. It’s about 7 yards tall, bulbous protusions that glow with gentle white light along it’s main stalk.
Feed me, Seymour. Wonderful.
It’s root system sprawls across most of the room. It’s maw is currently pointing up towards the cieling, and it’s gently twisting back and forth as if it’s dancing to some music only it can hear.
GM: Staver, you recognize the mushrooms in the other room as some weird arctic variant of a fairly common northern mushroom.
Staver: Does it eat people or spew toxic spores?
GM: You’re not sure what they’re feeding off of, really, and the normal ones are brown, not white, but you’re pretty sure they’re descended from that.
Cadmus responds to Shiba’s suggestion of killing the plant from a distance with “I have five vials of alchemist’s fire.” He likes that plan. He likes the part where Staver suggests using his alchemist’s fire arrows even better.
Staver takes some time to study the plant, and tells us more bad news:
GM: You are pretty sure that’s an exotic plant normally found in jungles far to the south. Known as a “Moonflower” They can emit bursts of blinding light, are moderately mobile on their root structure, and like to swallow SM0 things whole. It is very weird to find one that is a) white, and b) thriving (apparently) in the arctic.
Cadmus: While I have never heard of an undead carnivorous plant, I feel we have found one. Deduction, not divination.
Naturally, our conversation is loud enough that the plant hears us. Sigh.
GM: The moonflower pauses in it’s strange dance, and the head turns towards the door all you guys are standing in.
Shiba reacts as he should, dropping his bodkin arrow, replacing it with a cutting arrow, and Aims at the Moonflower. Staver launches two flaming arrows at the Moonflower, and scores two hits, both of which suffer from the conversion to 1/2 damage for homogeneous creatures, but also both set it on fire.
As the warriors move up to cover the archers, the Moonflower slithers forward a bit . . . and emits a blinding flash of light. One of the light-emitting bulbous things on the stalk is now dark, and we find ourselves facing a HT-5 roll to see. We all fail, three spend bonus points to not be blind, but we rapidly realize that’s four more to go. Thumvar can do that; the rest of us can’t. And HT-5 is a lot. Staver, of course, didn’t have to roll at all, having actually looked purposefully away from the flashbulbs of doom after he loosed his arrows.
GM:Looking behind you, you see withered corpses sit up out of some of the snow drifts in the room you’re in. Two angular black things covered in chitinous armor plate with two legs and four arms ending in heavy claws step through the portal back outside. And you see a faint disturbance in the air in between you guys and the open portal to the room with all the mushrooms.
GM: Oh, the scary black things seem to be dripping a black slime from every part of them, which sizzles when it hits the ground inside the tower. Thought that might be information you’d like to have.
Even better. It’s like he’s trying to kill us or something.
Staver Fast-Draws two flaming arrows, and shoots both at a scary black thing, which try and fail to dodge out of the way. 10 (2) imp and 6 (2) imp plus 3 and 4 burning . . . the first arrow sinks through an armor plate and burst into flame like a flaming arrow should, the second is much less effective, but still penetrates.
They start towards the group, moving awkwardly on all six limbs and leaving a small trail of hissing black slime behind them.
The two Scary Black Things move towards us at Move 4, which isn’t too scary for now. Could change. Maybe they’re holding back. That would suck.
Thumvar shifts around to protect our flank, tosses his sword in the air like a boss, Fast-Draws an axe and chucks it at a Scary Black Thing, and catches the sword. He hits for 11 cut with the silver-coated hatchet . . . which “just barely” lodges in his armored plates.
Shiba casts a large Grease spell to create a bit of a denied zone around us, keeping the inner three hexes open so we can have footing.
The frost wights (GM: Like normal wights, but waaayyyy cooler!) advance at a sprint (Move 7) right through the greased zone, and one of them is in our inner circle darn quick. The other crit fails his balance roll and falls flat on his back, stunned (unusual for undead).
Cadmus steps into the middle of the circle of undead, and casts Smite. Unfortunately, Staver, a part-Infernal, takes the highest damage. Coudla sworn that he was less affected than that . . . but also the Smite is strangely muted, as the Evil Temple gives the beasties DR 5. OK, Shrivener is on the menu tonight.
Staver puts himself out, and the Bad Guys (SBTs) try and advance on us through the Grease. They both fall over.
Thumvar Rapid Strikes with his broadsword, but it’s parried by the Frost Wight despite the -2 Deceptive Attack; he’s not that good, but he got lucky. Shiba regains his vision, and strikes twice at the wight, the second strike biting deep (14 cut).
The wights go before Cadmus, and one closes to the Grease circle. The wight Shiba hit returns the favor with two quick blows, while the fallen wight critically fails his roll to get up, slams his head into the ground with a loud CRACK!, and his head rolls away from his body. First “own goal” of any game I’ve ever played. Shiba easily blocks and parries the two blows directed at him. He shouts “legacies of a more civilized age!” and golden ideograms flow down the sword, turning it into an annihilating weapon. The wight loses his arm about mid-forearm. Which is quite traditional, as we all know.
The third Frost Wight also crit-fails his DX check as he goes across the grease, and falls and hurts himself.
Cadmus, a bit tired of all the other guys doing the cool stuff, invokes Righteous Fury, receiving a +5 boost to ST, +4 to DX, and +6 to HT. Yow. He is, for the next 3d seconds, a 530-point character. He needs (!) to get at the Scary Black Things, as he now does 4d+1(2) cut with his axe.
Staver fast-draws two bodkins into SBT2, crits the F-D roll, and crits again on the first arrow shot, merely hits the second. SBT’s right leg is crippled. SBT has two legs and four arms, so this is a good thing.
Thumvar’s up, and is forced to spend a destiny point to turn a miss into a hit, and one-armed Wight Skywalker does not dodge. He takes 15 (2) cut, and crumples to the ground, unmoving.
This frees Shiba to advance on SBT2, with telegraphed rapid strikes for 8 cut and 14 cut, which fails to damage it (!).
Frost Wight 4 leaps at Shiba, crossing the greased spell area to claw at him, and Shiba blocks successfully.
Cadmus moves through his friends, striking at FW4 on his way to hit SBT1. He carves a large chunk out of the frost wraith as he passes, and due to the slippery surface and overall position on SBT1, nails him too. 15(2) cut on FW1, and 12(2) cut on SBT1, but I suspect the Scary Black Things have DR15-20, which probably means “not much of a wound!”
Nope: Your axe sinks deep into it’s armored plates. Black slime oozes out around the wound with a muted sizzle that echoes with faint screams.
The Moonflower closes in.
We started late, so we ended there . . .