Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Session LXI: Blazing Trails

It's been a pretty sporadic year for our Swords & Wizardry campaign. We're still trying to get into a rhythm of regular sessions and I think we're finally there. I've decided to do the campaign in smaller chunks of 3 or 4 sessions and then take a break.  Trying to save myself as GM and my players from burn-out.  This way it has been pretty fun when we get back into it.

So after having 'supposedly' defeated the Spectral Scavanger and his headless dogs, our bloodied  party loots the chamber of it's treasure.  Maximus the Giant Slayer has the mysterious Green Orb in his possession. However, each member of the party has an odd feeling that things are just not quite right, that something is off with the battle* but they can't quite put their individual fingers on what that might be.

They headed back up to the main level of the ruined abbey and Maximus placed the Green Orb into the statue's hand.  Immediately, the dead vines attached to the statue began to turn green once again and very slowly spread throughout the rest of the chamber and the Abbey.  Also, a magical fountain began to bubble again and drinking from it healed all the party's wounds.

Comforting the frightened Jute, the orphan girl they found hidden in the Abbey after her family was ambushed by Gnolls, they hunkered down for the night but the night was filled with the manic howls of the Gnolls that surrounded the Abbey.

The next morning it was decided to try to make a break for it to the town of Fishersville.  Frightening the Gnolls with a swarm of insects cast by Gnarly the druid, the party broke for the forest and ran through the woods with the Gnolls in a distant pursuit.  Towards the end of the day they made it to the road but some of the Gnolls ambushed them. Defeating the beasts, Maximus cast an illusion of fire to keep them at bay.

Now on the road they hurried to Fishersville with the Gnolls closing in but the gate to the town was closed and the watch wouldn't let them pass after sunset.  As they begged with the watchmen, the Gnolls attacked.  Gnarly, fed up, turned into a bird, flew over the wall and obscured the area with a mist  and opened the gate for his companions.  Maximus finished off most of the Gnolls with a blast of lightening and Thenus and Eidan captured the Gnoll that made it past the gate.

The watch captain came up and reprimanded the his underlings for not letting the party in that were in need of aid. 

The captain led them through town to the inn, the Bearded Clam, when they came upon a mob of folks wanting to burn her as a witch for claiming that Lord Blackmoor was dead.  Apparently all the townsfolk though him alive and well as did two sellswords how were no their way to join Blackmoor's army to fight against Kushanna's forces coming out of Caladan. The Captain broke up the mob and brought the girl under her care.

The party, after dropping off Jute at the Temple of Mithra proceeded to the tavern looking for a long rest.

*At the beginning of the previous session, I didn't have much planned except for a couple of quick one-off dungeons that I put together but the final battle at the end of that session was stacked waaaay against the players.  Now, I hate fudging dice rolls which I did  a lot when I was a young GM 30 + years ago.  I vowed that in this campaign there would be no fudged dice rolls, letting all the dice fall were they may, for good or bad, for or against the players or GM.  And I stuck with that, proud to say, until that last battle in that last session.  We had a TPK.  I had overpowered the players with virtually unbeatable foes without any warning or hint as to what they might be up against.  I blame that fully on poor GMing on my part.  So after the very upsetting TPK, I retconned the battle for a redeux bringing in PC's who's players weren't present.  And after a few fudged die rolls the players were victorious.  Now,  I felt bad that I broke my own rule about fudging die rolls and I hate retcons.  So after a bit of thought I rolled that whole concept into the campaign.  Having two opposing forces of law and chaos battling through the party with law 'cheating' so to speak by bringing the party back to life, cheating death and chaos of it's victory and in the end, upsetting the balance of nature.  This helped me settle with the retcon by working it into the campaign with some negative benefits for the party and actually breaking the campaign open quite a bit from what I had lazily planned in the first place.  I don't know how much the players are aware of things but I've been giving them hints and clues that something is just not quite right.  That should break open a bit more in the next upcoming session.  I feel this was a pretty good way to handle the in game retcon and am excited to see where this might take us!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Session LX: Dogs On Your Tail

It has been quite a while since we were into our Swords & Wizardry campaign.  I didn't at all mind the break.  As DM it takes time an energy to put together even the lowest of prep-games and I welcomed not having to expend the energy running sessions.  Our group just switched over to boardgames for these many months and it's been quite enjoyable being able to relax with my crew and getting lost in some non-Role-playing game, though at times, some of these board game rules can be quite cumbersome.

So here we are, back into this crazy campaign now using the newer Swords & Wizardry Complete rules...

A bit of background...
With the public murder of Lord Blackmoor, a fierce battle broke out between followers loyal to the fallen lord, his sellswords, the priests of Mithra and the priests of the Dark Gods. Caught in the middle of all this were our fearless adventurers who held in their possession the sword Blackrazor and the Soul Gem.

Fighting their way out of the city erupting in civil war yet again, the party high-tailed it on stolen horseback to the town of Blackmoor and the temple of Morpheus with elements of all the fighting factions in hot pursuit. The path to Blackmoor was paved with blood as Televon, wielding the bloodthirsty Blackrazor hacked down the party's foes.

Entering Blackmoor in secret, the party split up, with Televon and Skwanky returning to the temple of Morpheus carrying the bloody and soul filled magic sword and the Soul Gem while Gnarly Blunderbrush and Maximus the Giant Slayer, under the cover of night, commandeered a row boat and paddled across Lake Blackmoor and into Brush Wood.
 At dawn, the two companions reached the opposite shore as an autumn rain began to fall.  Looking back they saw fires burning on the horizon where the town of Blackmoor would be.  Maximus and Gnarly worked their way into Brush Wood but as evening approached, the temperature dropped and the rain turned to sleet.  To make matters worse, they stumbled upon a hunting party of Gnolls who  pursued them to the entrance of a ruined Abbey.

Under the hail of arrows the two weary companions stumbled into the Abbey only to run into an Atlantean Edan Kael and a female Ranger Enus and a strangely pale fellow known as Tibag (yes, the original PC Tibag who had fallen into the icy blue lava too many sessions ago) who had also been chased into this ruined Abbey by the Gnolls who appear to have been under some kind of spell as their eyes were lacking pupils and white.

The Gnolls were reluctant to enter the ruined abbey, however, and the group made their introductions and explored the structure which provided some respite from the chilly damp weather.

They found a statue entwined with dried dead branches deeper in a corner of the Abbey.  The statue appeared to be that of some kind of priest and had his hands outstretched as if holding something.

Exploring further into the ruins they found a young girl hiding in a small chamber.  The frightened girl, Jute, had been part of a caravan from town of Larm heading towards Fishersville when they were waylaid by the Gnolls.  Her father helped her escape and she had made her way to the Abbey.  There she has stayed, scared, cold and hungry for two days, protected from the Gnolls but trapped from leaving.

The group rests for the night and the next day explore the rest of the Abbey and find a looted tomb and a barred door.  Going beyond the barred door the find a crypt with a set of stairs heading down into beneath the Abbey while Gnarly guarded Jute in the main hall.

Through a series of tunnels they found four statues of dogs with gems in their forehead and fountains.  Collecting the statues and matching them with the fountains they were able to reactivate these ancient wells and they bubbled up colored water in red and green.  Filling two decanters they found two basins in rooms tiled in red and green, and filling the bowls heard stone gears grinding.
In a previously deadened hallway,  a door opened revealing a hidden tomb and a boney horror on an iron throne, above the throne wrapped in a purple swirl of magic was a glowing spherical green gem.  The Spectral Scavenger claimed that the group were sent by the priests and that they will, yet again, fail as it raised it's sword and blasted a bolt of lightening at the party standing in the doorway.  

Surviving enough to react, Maximus blasted the demon back with some lightening of his own as Tigbag ran around behind the throne.  The the Spectar 'alive' and angry, he caused boney hands to burst forth from the ground and grab the ranger just as Tibag drew his blue flaming sword which greeted the thief with a cheerful "Happy Birthday!".  Tibag leaped over the back of the throne and brought his sword down upon the back of the beast which cried out in pain and Maximus finished him off with a bit more of his magic.  The Spectral Scavenger turned to dust and the glowing green gem, freed from it's magical cage fell to the floor and rolled over to Maximus who snatched it up and put it in his pocket.

Just then from, up the passage, the guttural sounds of four demon dogs sounded.  Bursting to the room were these headless hounds, bodies shredded to exposed muscle and bone and that's when things went from bad to worse...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Session LIX: The End of the Beginning

For those of you who have kept up on this blog you may have noticed a complete lack of attention given to posting as of late.  In fact, I haven't posted in months - December to be accurate. Though I've been gaming a-plenty, I haven't had much to say on the topic these days.  I've been mostly playing board games with my group as we've been taking an extended break from our Swords & Wizardry campaign.  In fact, this post is months behind our last played session.  Call me a lazy sod, or lazy Sid if you prefer.  So here's the conclusion of our latest adventures which took place some time this past December.

Our Fearless Adventurers
  1. Arg - Half-orc
  2. Gnarly- Druid
  3. Christopher - priest of Mithra
  4. Maximus - Magic User
  5. Skwanky - Halfling Warrior
  6. Wolf - Viking
  7. Thovin-Cleric 
  8. Televon priest of Morpheus (via SKYPE)

So we picked up with the party recovering in the forest level of the tower preparing for their confrontation with the Fire giant above. As they make their final preparations Televon and two other warriors appear out of the woods sent by Baron Blackmoor to discover what has happened to our fearless explorers. 

So it was time to take on the Fire Giant.  Ascending to the next level of the magic tower, the party just launched into a full rush, with some running and some flying, at the giant while he tossed boulders at them knocking one of the red shirt warriors into the pools of fire.  Finally face to face with the Fire giant some hack and slash ensued with the party finally prevailing.

After looting the Giant they discovered that the 'stairs' upwards that they saw from across the room is nothing of the sort, just a pile of rock and iron.  The real entrance is a hole in the ceiling in the center of the chamber.  But this hole covered an area of reverse gravity and it took some time for Arg with his boots of flying and Skwanky's ring of feather falling, to transfer everyone up to the next chamber - which was an upside down tropical island in the middle of a salt filled sea.

Arg flew around the water filled chamber and discovered a hatch guarded by a number of Ixitxachitl.  After a battle with these creatures with Arg flying around stabbing them along with the Druid as an alligator with Skwanky on his back 'jousting' with them, they were finally able to get to the hatch, open it and climb into the final room of the tower, the chamber of the Soul Gem!

All crammed in the tunnel hatch, they discovered the body of Zadir the wizard lying on the floor, his body and belongings burnt white!  With ropes tossed, the body was pulled over to the party and Maximus recovered the Stygian's spell book!

Seeing white flashes coming from the gem, Arg, Wolf, Thovin, Skwanky and Gnarly charged the tower only to discover it was protected by a forcefield.  As they hacked away at it, there was a blinding flash and the souls of Thovin, Wolfheir and Arg were sucked into the gem, their burnt white bodies falling to the floor.  Skwanky, the halfling, who was also burned white did not have his soul sucked into the gem.

Gnarly the druid attempted to dispel the magic force-field and was able to do so, knocking the gem to the ground.  As Skwanky picked up the gem, the whole tower shook and quaked.  With the magic of the Soul Gem, the Heart of the Tower destroyed the magic tower crumbled and vanished leaving the remaining party standing in the courtyard of the merchant guild before the priests of the Black Church and Lord Blackmoor and his guards and soldiers.

The Priests of the Black Church wanted the Soul Gem as did Lord Blackmoor but Skwanky did not want to give it up.  So this is where things really went down hill, Skwanky, ran away with the Soul Gem, with the priests of the Black Church in pursuit along with Blackmoors guards.  They began to fight amongst themselves while the perused Skwanky leaped over the cliff and started to feather fall into the sea below.  Gnarly and the priests of the Black Church fighting to save and kill the halfling.  Blackmoor, meanwhile was in a hasty chase of the halfling, with his magic sword Blackrazor increasing his speed.  Seeing his companion in trouble, Televon cast a spell on the Baron freezing him to his spot.  Televon removed the magic sword from his hand but became possessed by the power of Blackrazor and killed Baron Blackmoor in cold blood.  Take note that Televon has been dressed in the garb of the Black Priests for quite some time.

So as Gnarly and Maximus lowered a rope to help Skwank (totally bleached white by the power of the gem), Televon kills the rest of Blackmoor's guards who rush up to avenge their fallen leader.

Now, the courtyard is filled with Blackmoor's soldiers, Freeswords waiting to get paid for the battle of Caladan, armored priests of the Black Church, armored priests of Mithra who all just saw Televon, a priest of Morpheus, dressed as a member of the Black Church, murder in cold blood Baron Blackmoor who was to declare his lordship over the land of Eir'ian.  At that moment, all present were turned against our party of adventurers - but that didn't last long...

Aaaand that is how we wrapped up this portion of the campaign.  As a DM I had planned on ending on a high note with a new king for the realm and a good ending point for an extended break to our sessions - a plateau so to speak.  Well, leave it to my players to really mess any plan I make.  In fact, where we get back to playing, maybe this summer, I'm not going to plan anything for any session.  It's all going to be total randomness with direction by the players.  So instead of a nice conclusion we now have:
  1. Arg - Half-orc - Trapped within the Soul Gem
  2. Wolf - Viking - Trapped within the Soul Gem
  3. Thovin-Cleric - Trapped within the Soul Gem
  4. Gnarly- Druid - came out fairly ok, just lost some of his mushroom-men
  5. Maximus - Magic User - Finally has his hands on Zadir's spell book -  not bad
  6. Skwanky - Halfling Warrior - Bleached white and implicated in the killing of Blackmoor
  7. Televon priest of Morpheus - The murderer of Baron Blackmoor

Friday, December 20, 2013

Session LVIII: Into The Tower

Our Fearless Adventurers
  1. Arg - Half-orc
  2. Gnarly- Druid
  3. Christopher - priest of Mithra
  4. Maximus - Magic User
  5. Skwanky - Halfling Warrior
  6. Wolf - Viking
  7. Thovin-Cleric
When we last left our brave heroes they had finally pieced together the last key and opened the door to the base of the tower.  But no sooner than they had finally gained entrance to their goal that their army of soldiers all fell to the ground in a slumber.  Behind them, down the wide hall was the woman they had 'rescued' from the ogres who had come back to them as a witch!

As the party rushed this feeble looking woman she blasted them with a cone of frost just as Maximus cast a hold person spell on her. 

With all the soldiers dead, including Captain Vanir and Christopher mortally wounded, Arg and Wolf butchered the witch who turned out to be an Ogre Mage!

Finally entering the tower's base chamber, they found only a number of soft reclining chairs.  But as they were deciding to sit upon them, the door slammed shut and some magical force pinned them to the ground. 

Once the disorientation and the magic dissipated, they found that a hole had opened up in the ceiling that wasn't there before. 

Arg tossed the Halfling up into the hole to find what he could see.  Skwanky discovered that about thirty feet into this hole were rungs in the stone. 

Gnarly turned himself into a raven and flew up the hole and discovered that it opened up into a spacious chamber filled with a moist air and fog.

Tying a rope to the rungs, the wounded party climbed up into the mysterious chamber.  Blindly exploring, they eventually came upon a wall following the slightly curved wall for a way they were attacked by a vicious Heiracosphinx.  Killing the beast in a bloody battle they found it's lair in a pile of rubble and looted some treasure.

Not far from the lair they found an iron spiral staircase climbing into the whiteness.

As they ascended the stairs they were attacked by a trio of petranodons, which after some hack and slash they dispatched.

Climbing the stairs they entered into a heavily forested chamber.  Following the trail they were ambushed by a deadly Su-Monkey who was joined by two others.  After a horrific battle which left them all near death, they continued through the enclosed forest and came upon a rose garden tended by a hooded gardener.  As they got the gardener's attention, she turned around and removed her hood to reveal that she was a Medusa and turned three of the party to stone.  Slaying the deadly Medusa and rescuing their companions with a scroll looted from the Ogre Mage, they continued through the forest to discover another iron staircase rising through the ceiling. 
Meeting a Medusa in the forested chamber
 They found themselves standing upon a stone landing with paths leading from it all above a lake of fire.  Opposite of them, guarding another staircase upwards stood a fire giant who proceded to pick  up a large bolder.  But as the Halfling charged around the stone path to face the Giant alone, the party was attacked by elemental fire bats.

As they fought these mystical sprites they noticed that the Giant just stood his ground and didn't try to attack them by throwing boulders. 

With the fire creatures defeated they stood across the grand hall facing the Fire Giant who goaded them on.  They talked with the creature and discovered that he was a servant of the Heart of Invernese, the power that built this tower and what is controlled by Zadir the Stygian wizard.

The giant was guarding the entrance to the higher levels of the tower. 

After a parley where they tried to get the giant swayed to their side, the badly wounded party thought it best to head back down to the forested room and lick their wounds for their coming battle against the Fire Giant...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Session LVII: The Final Key

The party at session start:

  1. Arwa (Weasly) - Wizard's guard freed from charm
  2. Arg - Half-orc
  3. Gnarly- Druid
  4. Christopher - priest of Mithra
  5. Maximus - Magic User
  6. Capt. Vanir 
  7. SkwankyHalfling Warrior
  8. Handof - soldier
  9. Wolf - Viking
  10. Nafre - soldier
  11. Thovin-Cleric
  12. Brik - Black Church Acolyte 
Having navigated the mysterious chess board room, the war-weary party continued down a passageway which took them to a bubbling fountain of what appeared to be clear water. Examining the water but wary of all the other deadly traps throughout this complex, it was decided to avoid drinking the water (although Skwanky the halfling was already splashing around in it) and continue down the hallway.

At the end of the hall they found another dead end with the indentation in the shapes of two keys they found.  Not having found a key in their current section, they decided to back track to seek it out.

Once again, standing before the statue outside of the chessboard room, Arg give it a "high-five" and a panel opens within it's chest revealing the third piece of the key!

Leaving the tunnels beneath the wizard Zadir's tower and with everyone seriously wounded, it was decided to head back into town to heal up.

With dawn breaking and the battle for Caladan wrapping up, our weary group of adventurers went their separate ways with some heading back to the Temple of Mithra and the Cloven Hoof. 

Healed, rested and fed the party regouped at the final entrance to the basements of the tower.  Zadir is still nowhere to be found and Baron Blackmoor and his bannermen stood guard waiting for the Stygian to show his face.

Again, with some additional soldiers, the party descended beneath the surface in search for the final part of the key to open the final barrier to the tower.

The first chamber they find is one shrouded in shadow with an odd shape upon the floor. The halfling trots into the dim room where no light can cast off the grey shadows and found a body with a dagger in it's back.  Upon removing the dagger, it leaped out of his hand and attempted to stab him in the back.  The quick thinking halfling lifted the dead body upon his back and used it as a shield against the enchanted dagger - which worked as the dagger once again stabbed into the back of the already dead victim and ceased harassing the tiny warrior.

Continuing on, they found a cocoon which they cut opened.  Inside was a body with a terrorized look upon it's face.  Robbing his boots, the large half-orc found that they allowed him to fly!

The next chamber brought them to a very larger hall with an army of Bugbears standing perfectly still.  As Arg and Skwanky passed the threshold, the Bugbears became animated and attacked the party.  Creating a bottleneck within the doorway, the party easily hacked the Bugbears into a bloody heap.

In the expansive hall was a large stone sarcophagus which held treasure and the final piece of the key!

Continuing on they came across two ogres seemingly torturing a beautiful peasant girl.  Dispatching the ogres and rescuing the woman, they sent one of the soldiers to escort her back to the surface as they proceeded into the tunnels.

Finally, facing the polished door with the four pieces of the key, Arg joins the keys together and places them into the indentation.  A line appears going down the two halves and the doors suddenly spring open revealing a chamber inside.  Suddenly, all of the soldiers collapse onto the floor, asleep.  Turning around they party sees the rescued woman with eyes afire, the soldier her slave....

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Session LVI: Ball Of Confusion

I've got a few sessions to catch up on so here goes....

The party now consisted of a large number of NPCs; soldiers from the battle for Caladan, a handful of Gnarly's Mushroom-Men, a couple of priests good and bad and Blackmoor's captain, Vanir.  It was quite the unwieldy lot!

The party:

  1. Arwa (Weasly) - Wizard's guard freed from charm
  2. Arg (PC Half-orc)
  3. Gnarly (PC Druid)
  4. Skwanky (PC Halfling Warrior)
  5. Big tough Mushroom-man
  6. Not-so-tough Mushroom-man
  7. Wimpy Mushroom-man #1
  8. Wimpy Mushroom-man #2
  9. Galyn - soldier
  10. Christopher - priest of Mithra
  11. Maximus (PC Magic User)
  12. Capt. Vanir
  13. Handof - soldier
  14. Wolf (PC Viking)
  15. Nafre - soldier
  16. Thovin (PC Chaotic Cleric)
  17. Brik - Black Church Acolyte
  18. Brack - Black Church Acolyte
  19. Greyson - soldier
But these numbers didn't last too long as the party continued the exploration beneath Zadir's magical tower.  The next chamber they came across was a large open hall with a number of tall rugged cave like openings.  There was also a chest in the corner of the room which Skwanky immediately ran over to.  As the rest of the party stood guard, suddenly there was a rumbling and as a portion of the wall collapses out comes a raging Umber Hulk!

And confusion ensued!

Due to it's gaze attack many of the party were in a state of chaos either battling each other, standing in awe or just wandering off.  Not all of it was bad though as some of the confusion lead to the death of the Umber Hulk, though a good half of the party was killed including all of the Mushroom-Men and Skwanky had wandered off deeper into the dungeons.

Gnarly and Tuk the owl went off after Skwanky while the remainder of the party searched the chest and found piles of gold and another piece of the odd key to open the inner chamber entrance to the wizard's tower.

Gathering the treasure and meeting up with Gnarly and the dazed and confused Skwanky, they discovered another chamber, the floor glistening with moisture.  This turned out to be some Grey Ooze which the party thoughtfully avoided and headed back to the surface to explore the third underground entrance.

This third staircase lead them to a chamber with a beaded curtain that was impossible to part.  After much thought, Arg just ran full speed through the curtain and passed through.  On the other side, however, he was ambushed by a pack of Gnolls!

The Half-Orc fought his way through the Gnolls but soon fell from their attacks as the rest of the party formed a 'conga-line' and ran through the curtain.  Saving Arg from the death blow of the Gnolls, the rest of the party attacked the hyena-men, defeating them.

Further down the hallway they found that it ended with weird human-like impressions in the wall.  Testing these with the dead bodies of the Gnolls, it was discovered that these portions of the walls spun around and disappeared down a passageway. With no other option but to move forward through these odd transporters, each member of the party stepped into a different impression and was swept off into another chamber - a chamber with a large checkerboard pattern on the floor and a statue at the other end.  As some of the party carefully moved across the checkerboard pattern they were able to make it to the other side with minimal affect while others, for some reason, were shocked to near death by apparently stepping on the 'wrong' pattern.

Gnarly, being a wise druid, changed into a bird and flew across the hall without any ill affect.

The badly wounded party was on the other side of this deadly trap facing another hallway into the unknown...

The party at the end of the session:
  1. Arwa (Weasly) - Wizard's guard freed from charm
  2. Arg
  3. Gnarly
  4. Christopher - priest of Mithra
  5. Maximus
  6. Capt. Vanir 
  7. Skwanky
  8. Handof - soldier
  9. Wolf
  10. Nafre - soldier
  11. Thovin
  12. Brik - Black Church Acolyte

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Session LV: Beneath The Wizard's Tower

Making their way across the chaotic bloodshed that Caladan had become, our party, carrying their wounded and dead companions, enter the guarded gates of the Temple of Mithra.  Here they are healed by Father Downing, however, he refused to bring back to life Thovin who was a follower of the Black Church.  Sending them on their way to continue the fight against Utasu and Zadir the Stygian usurpers, Downing sent the priest Christopher to aid them in their battle.

Outside the temple, the party came across Gnarly who finally brought along his Mushroom-men to the battle.

Working their way across town again they sought the Black Church.  There, Thovin was brought back from the dead in the secret rituals of the Black Church but at what cost....?

So, fully healed and together again, the party worked their way back to the Merchant Guild and the Wizard's Tower.  There they found Capt. Vanir who informed them that Baron Blackmoor had slain Utasu on the steps of the guild along with his soldiers and monsters.  He then persued the pirates back to the docks and left the Captain with the task of hunting down the wizard Zadir who had retreated into the tower - which he asks for the party's assistance.

Rumor had it that the tower was raised up in a single night by the powers of Zadir.  There was no way into the polished stone tower itself but there were four domed structures each with an entrance to the underworld.

Choosing one of the domes, the large party (now consisting of our party, Capt. Vanir and his soldiers, Gnarly's mushroom men, a priest of Mithra and a couple from the Dark Church) descended down...

There they first ran into a wizard apprentice and his bodyguard.  After making quick work of the wizard and freeing the bodyguard of the wizard's enchantment (and being chastised for the mistreatment of Capt. Vanir's red shirts... er soldiers), they moved on and ran into a Manticore.  Killing the beast they found some treasure in his lair and a strange piece of metal.
 Continuing onward, they soon opened a door and were chased by a giant bolder rolling down the hall smashing to death half the party!  It took quite a while for the survivors to figure out that it was just an illusion set by the wizard and that their companions were quite alive (the silence at the table as the players found half their PCs dead was a priceless DM moment, really you should have been there)!

Moving forward they came to a dead end with a polished black wall similar to the walls of the great tower.  In the center of the wall they discovered an indentation, a portion of which matched the piece of metal they found earlier.  Figuring that it was probably one portion of a key and that the other pieces would be hidden in the other domes, they backtracked and entered the second dome.

A No-Prize for any reader that can guess what adventure
I've dropped my players into!
Following the passage they came upon a room with a large crystal ball with shadowy shapes swiming around inside.  The crystal rested upon a pedestal with four words on it. As each word was spoken, one of the shapes would fly out, take shape and attack the party member who said the word.  The first person to speak the word was Maximus the Chaste who was them mauled by a Carnivorous Ape.  Saved by the Half-orc Arg, they called out the other the monsters and killed them gaining the crystal ball as their prize!


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