The 11th full game session. Dean (Thic Duc), Mary (Kriselle), Larry (Michael), Matt (Barron), Mariel (Leah).
As we left the party, they had just emerged from the Castle Greyhawk Petting Zoo following their first venture below the surface. Shortly after emerging, a crossbow bolt from the shadows killed the messenger Starron.
The party delivered the ensacked minitaurs to Mina in Herzog's Tower, facing a raging storm of hail and thunder. Mina informed them that they would need to seek a reward from Zantos, the proprietor of the Petting Zoo, but they could store the minitaurs in the guard's small prison in the meantime. Apparently the prison needs beta testers. Mina also mentioned that Zuphaitz, the Citadel Union sage, wanted to see the group about a message he had received recently.
The party braved a heavy mist that blocked nearly all vision to return to the Citadel Union and speak with Zuphaitz. As it turns out, Zuphaitz wanted to ask about the message that Starron delivered to him. He said it was an incomplete fragment of something that arrived without explanation, but the fact that two messages and two couriers arrived at the same time made him suspect the other message (addressed to, but not delivered to, Merrang the Enchanter) might offer context. The party agreed they would try to determine the contents of the message, if at all possible.
After briefly discussing strategies for doing so, they decided to start by making inquiries at the local tavern. The most popular tavern within Castle Greyhawk is known as the Merry Memory Moss Tavern, possibly because it is also the only currently operating tavern. The bartender there was happy to answer questions while feeding Barron and his pet stuffed bird drinks. Asked about Zanto, Cullum's dad and the proprietor of the Petting Zoo in the dungeon, the bartender mentioned that Zanto was not known to have any children. Zanto had been missing for the last several days and some of the workers he had hired were getting nervous about their job prospects. One of those workers was drinking in one of the corners, and had been doing so pretty much every day this week.
The party immediately moved to investigate this lead, interrogating the worker -- who turned out to be a short-order cook, responsible for serving delicious tourists to unsuspecting Monsterburgers. He told the party that Zanto had been working on the Petting Zoo ever since Zanto discovered the dungeon below the floor of his house in the Citadel Union's residential level, and the bizarre and weird monsters that filled it. Cullum had been seen hanging around, but presumably looking for something to steal, not as Zanto's son. The cook had no idea where Zanto got the monsters he was displaying, but did notice they weren't being shipped in and Zanto didn't seem to expect them ahead of time. Instead, he was surprised when they appeared and had to figure out how to confine them in a hurry.
The party also inquired about Merrang the Enchanter. They learned that his offices are in the Tower of Wizardry, across from the library.
Having conducted intelligence operations, it was time to visit the Enchanter himself. He was not very helpful, repeatedly refusing to answer questions "due to client confidentiality". He did admit to recently receiving a message, however. Perhaps he stores it in his office...
Giving up that line of inquiry for the moment, the party returned to the Petting Zoo. They began their explorations with the closed door leading to the south from the dining hall. This door led to a very short "T" corridor, which Cullum claimed was the bathroom. A sign on either end of the corridor confirmed it, with a lady in a dress on one door and a barbarian warrior on the other.
As they approached the doors, the party heard a rumble from the ladies. They lined up before the door, and Kriselle took the lead; pushing the door to the ladies room open carefully. Inside was a normal bathroom, with flowers, a fainting couch and changing table, and two stalls separated by partitions. Kriselle was considering how to investigate the stalls when the party was attacked from behind by two snake-like heads on long, thin necks.
The party quickly smashed the heads to pulp, poured oil into the toilets, lit the oil on fire, and filled the toilets with rubble. If anything was still alive in the septic tank, it wouldn't be coming out for a long time.
Continuing their explorations, they chose to take the southeast passage out of the dining hall. It lead to a room with a stream flowing through the center, crossed by a small bridge. Across the bridge was a small circular pool; two channels had been cut into the floor from the stream, one leading to the pool and one leading down a corridor to the northeast. The stream itself exited underground to the west, and flowed into a southeast corridor. An additional exit with neither stream nor dry channel lay to the east.
Upon closer examination, the pool was found to be occupied by a small, spherish creature. It had a single large eye, several tentacles ending in claws, and splashed playfully at anyone coming close to the pool. A A sign promises that the creature from the deep would grant wishes to those who tossed in coins. Barron promptly tossed in a coin, wishing for wealth to appear near his feet. A moment later he was struck by a coin the creature from the deep had spit at him, and it fell at his feet.
The party chose to explore the passage to the southeast once they finished playing with the creature from the deep. As they approached the corridor, they saw two orcs floating in their direction, and immediately prepared a violent reception. Only Thic Duc had a moment of premonition and took cover before Barron's crossbow bolt struck the lead orc... and the orc exploded, filling the air with a yellow powderish substance and bits of some vaguely orclike flesh.
Kriselle, Michael, and Barron failed their saves versus poison. Thic Duc and Leah saved successfully.
The remaining "orc" was wrapped in two sacks, top and bottom, then punctured from a distance. The roof where the gas orcs had originated turned out to contain nothing but "Uniduck Island", so named by a sign on the wall.
As they finished dealing with the gas spore orcs, the party was surprised by four ducks waddling rapidly towards them from the corridor to the east. They were noble animals, with feathers both white and black, and occasional speckles of green and blue, and each one sported a large ivory-and-gold horn sprouting from its forehead. These visions of purity were indeed the unfamous "uniducks"... and on their heels were 6 goblins, weapons out, charging the party!
The ducks took refuge in the pool, swimming in circles above the creature from the deep. The party made short work of the goblins, save one which made it to the pool, desperately swimming towards the center with the ducks... and was quickly torn to sheds. Never attack a uniduck on its home turf!
The passage from which the uniducks and goblins emerged contained nothing more than a small room with four aquariums. Three of them contained
Against his better judgment, but egged on by peer pressure and the desire to use his new swimming proficiency, Thic Duc entered the water and attempted to play with the dolphins. They attempted to eat him.
As soon as it was clear that the playful splashing was no longer playful, Michael sprinted to his rescue along the bridge above the pool. Arriving there, however, he realized that he couldn't quite reach the monk to lift him out of the pool, and descending into the pool wearing heavy armor would be suicide even without the killer dolphins.
Grasping one of the rings the dolphins had been trained to jump through, Thic Duc attempted to pull himself out of the water, but leaping dolphins tore at his flesh, knocking him unconscious and loosening his grip on the ring. He fell back into the water, simultaneously drowning and bleeding to death.
Seeing that the monk was unconscious, the killer dolphins found a new game: knock the cleric into the pool and tear him to shreds while he drowns. They hurled themselves at the cleric as he stood on the bridge above the pool, biting at him as they passed, until finally a dolphin latched on to Michael's throat with its teeth and bodily knocked him from the bridge. With but a single hit point remaining, dangling by one hand over the deadly pool, Michael prayed for the chance to live long enough to help his friends... and his prayers were answered in the form of a crossbow bolt from Barron, spearing the dolphin's snout and forcing it to let go, splashing into the water once more.
Barron would be next to know the dolphin's fury as the one he wounded tore through the water in his direction. He threw the monk a rope, but as Thic Duc was unconscious and the lasso missed, it did not help much. Next time, tie ropes to characters before they jump into the pool with the killer dolphins.
For a moment, time stopped, as the party members (and indeed, the universe itself) pondered an existential question: did any other party members have swimming proficiency to get Thic Duc's body out of the water before it was torn to shreds? Michael did not, and wore heavy armor besides. Barron did not. Kriselle was engaging in urgent business elsewhere. All eyes turned to Leah, who had not yet chosen any of her non-weapon proficiencies. The universe was merciful, and allowed that a ranger would likely have learned to swim at some point.
Leah jumped into the water and swam rapidly towards Thic Duc's unconscious body. The dolphins ignored her in favor of charging
at Barron, and she was able to tie the rope Barron had tossed around the floating body. Barron grabbed his end of the rope and
began to drag the
bait unconscious monk back towards the edge of the pool. Meanwhile, Michael recovered his
footing, cast a quick healing spell on himself, and ran back to the edge of the pool nearest the rest of the party to help out
while Leah swam back alongside Thic Duc.
Michael occupied himself first by healing Thic Duc with a Cure Light Wounds spell, and then using his healing proficiency to bring him back from drowning. It took three rounds before he achieved a success on the roll, and the monk coughed the water from his lungs and took stock of his surroundings.
Meanwhile, with a shocking and impressive string of four natural 20 attack rolls, one of the dolphins was clearly feeling especially killer this evening (perhaps he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night?), and succeeded in first knocking Barron out, then dragging him into the pool, and finally savaging his corpse before Leah could drag it out. Barron was beyond the skills of the party to bring back to life, but his corpse was recovered mostly intact. The killer dolphins watched them leave the pool area with happy smiles on their faces and a sinister glint in their eyes.
On the way out of the pool area (carrying Barron's body), the party met the Little Guys, a group of stand-up comics hired (theoretically, on a trial basis) to make the guests at the Petting Zoo laugh so they wouldn't notice how awful the food was or how expensive the meal turned out to be. They were quite friendly, and offered to help make a stretcher and carry him out. For four little guys, they were remarkably strong.
They also volunteered that they pretty much had free run of the place, and knew where Zantos was being held captive (the southwest passage from the cafeteria) and what was holding him captive (a "cretin", which they said was like an ettin but less intelligent). Exactly why the cretin was holding him captive was unclear, unless perhaps Zantos had simply found a way to be eaten last. The dolphin exhibit was supposed to be labeled "Killer Dolphins" but the sign wasn't ready yet; the trainers in charge of having it made kept disappearing. Oh, and the "creature of the deep" was named Howard and actually is really friendly if you can talk to him, but you need some kind of spell to do it.
Barron's body was carried to the multi-faith Citadel Union temple. After a brief discussion of Barron's faith, the monk took his body to the priests of Pholtus (who mentioned they had heard of him and his quest to "walk the earth"). They retired to a small back room, turned the crank on the altar to show the face of Pholtus instead of the many other dieties therein represented, and brought him back to life per the Adventure Capitalist's policy. As he coughed himself back to life, Barron felt roughly 20% less himself than he had before, but as the alternative was death, he shrugged and accepted it.
(To be continued...)