2018 so far...Part 2
Because I don't like clicking between pages to scan my updates, here's a new post...
Lost in the Dark
After escaping from the ancient G'nar temple, the party found themselves washed up on the banks of an underground river, presumably deep under Moonthrone, but who can say for sure? Well, Druuk the barbararian somehow washed up after a drunken night of back alley pit-fighting, so couldn't be too far, right? We'll see.
The group decided to follow the river downstream for a few hours rather than investigate any possible branches in the gargantuan cave system. For most of the journey, the cave extended into darkness beyond the limits of darkvision or torch to the left and right, though there was some indication of possible branching passages on both sides of the river.
Eventually, explorations revealed a possible fungal forest to the right.
After investigating some scuffling sounds in the distance, the group was attacked by a pack of feral pig-things, like a cross between swine and giant star-nosed moles. Despite some close calls, everyone survived.
While most rested to bind their wounds and recover, Exayu, the assassin hired by the Cog to track the group down, went off on his own to explore the mushroom forest. He found signs of cultivation, and some indication that someone might have raised or hunted the moleswine they encountered. He also found that he was being followed, and chased down the skulker to find a dogman child. When Exayu tried to capture the kid, he found definitive proof that there was some husbandry to the moleswine, when he was captured by a pair of dogman (dogwoman?) huntresses.
The dogwomen initially wanted to just kill Exayu and forget about the assassin, rather than bring him to someone named Baelscrate, and cause more headache and hassle for themselves. But Exayu managed to convince them he might be a sign of larger trouble, so they decided to keep him alive for more questioning and turn him over to this Baelscrate character in some sort of larger settlement. But first they needed to investigate the other strangers.
With a bound and gagged Exayu dumped under a mushroom tree a short distance away, the dogwomen huntresses tried to surround and scout out the party.
Some warning shots were fired, but the party wasn't having any of it. They captured one of the dogwomen, named Zarradesh, and rather than ask her any questions, Charion quickly sacrificed her to his patron, Luza the Red, by making her invoke Luza's name [DMs note: in Charion's defense, he might not have intended to sacrifice the woman by forcing her to invoke Luza; however, Counterpoint: he was given fair warning that his patron demanded more red, usually as blood, be spread, and then there is this next point], then decapitating her as the blood began to rush out all her pores.
At this point, most everyone was caught off guard. The remaining dogwoman fled further upstream. Danison gave chase. The dashing [as in literally taking dash bonus actions] rogue warlock had no trouble keeping up, and followed her through the mushroom forest, into a clearing with what appeared to be a dogman farmstead occupied by a few dogman families.
Back at the camp with the rest of the group, things got even more messed up...
to be continued
Charion, hexblade of Luza, and Jared, dragonborn paladin and original proselyte of Azul, decided to experiment with Zarradesh's corpse.
Among his collection of severed-head trophies, Jared had a deva's head he had killed...somewhere. Charion had the bottle of ghoul-goo he scavenged from the G'narrec they fought in the ancient temple [from which he contracted...something nasty, which despite having made one saving throw, he has not quite shaken--more to come]. They decided to see if they could attach the celestial's head to the dead dogwoman with the rotted corpse-slime from an undead abomination, and then reanimate the body. What could go wrong?
But Azul and Luza were competing, diametric manifestations of the same entity; they shouldn't get along. Players were warned. Dice were rolled. High checks were made. Both warlocks invoked their patrons, calling on their mysterious benefactor(s) to find balance between each other (itself?) and restore life to the patchwork abomination they had made.
The blue drained from Jared's pamphlets. Charion's red blade-arm dissolved into a red puddle, as did the blue pseudopod-slime of the rogue Jake-rat's arm, gained from a prior invocation to and subsequent corruption by Azul. Charion's eyes, once solid blue, and then red, became normal again, if only briefly. Jared's head-flame went out. Everywhere, the colors red and blue drained away and rushed to the corpse. Blue and red dripped and drained from the cave ceiling above, and swirled from every direction. Red and blue gales howled all around; the cave walls shook and trembled. Waves and waves of blue and red filled the air, presumably from all over Moonthrone, sifted through the earth into the vessel Charion and Jared had made.
The corpse lifted, its back arched. Indistinct, bruise-colored purple wings stretched from its shoulders. The once-deva head contorted, became more bestial and canine. Still more blue and red rushed into the thing.
Everyone nearby, even those not witnessing the birth of the new god-thing directly, heard the swirling howls, inside their minds and out. Danison, near the dogman farmstead at the edge of the fungal forest, saw the dogmen drop to the ground, clutching their skulls. He wasn't far behind. Madness reigned. Everyone heard a new name in their minds: Azuluza.
Pretty much everybody failed their sanity check. Except Charion and Jared, but as they were responsible, they were arguably insane already. Both warlocks gained some new corruption. Charion sprouted purple fur all over his body, and his head became more shriveled and cadaver-ish, even slightly-so when using his hat of disguise. Jared's head-flame now burns purple instead of blue, and his tail twisted into a fifth arm. Everyone else gained at least half a week of long term madness.
Here are madness effects as best I can remember. Those who were there, feel free to correct me or clarify duration.
Adrick: Partial amnesia. Knows who he is, but doesn't recognize other people or remember anything before the madness took effect. 100 hours?
Danison: Regards his blade, the hexblade from Azul, once blue but now bruise-purple, with intense revulsion, as the antipathy effect of the antipathy/sympathy spell; he's terrified of it and must succeed a DC 15 wisdom save or be frightened of his blade when can see it or comes within 60 feet of it. Given he can dismiss it as a pact weapon, the 60 feet issue should be manageable; given that Azuluza still has a will of its own and kinda controls the blade, there could still be complications. 100 hours?
Exayu: Has become attached to his belongings, and must go through his entire pack, removing and itemizing everything to be sure nothing is missing, every 30 minutes or so, or whenever there might have been a chance it was unattended or susceptible to theft, or suffer disadvantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws. 70 hours?
Jake-rat: Lost the ability to speak. 70 hours?
Their new tortle druid friend (still haven't learned his name): Extreme paranoia. This Azuluza thing reminds him of stuff he'd like to forget, from his life millenia-ago as a servant to the G'nar and G'narrec.
The floating purple-winged body of Azuluza then dropped to the ground and seeped into the stone, deeper, and vanished.
And that's where we left it.
Adrick's amnesia was 70 hours: the assassin was 100 hours, and everyone else was averaging somewhere around 50-70 hours.
After the birth of Azuluza, the party picked themselves up from the ground. Nearby lay two more warlocks: Gaxolgon, a dwarf with a celestial patron, and Ithar of Cthulhu. Apparently other entities had noticed, and sent their own agents to investigate further.
After some regrouping, and some dubious stories to the new visitors (and Adrick, thanks to his amnesia) to explain what the hell was going on, the group investigated further upriver, hoping to find a way out of the caverns. They came to the dogman homestead, consisting of a moleswine pen, mushroom garden, and three shacks. The dogmen were in a panic, still trying to figure out what the hell had just happened. Adrick and Ithar went invisible. Jake-rat attempted stealth. Danison, disguised as a dogman with his guise of many faces, attempted to parlay, along with Charion, who, now covered in purple fur, was mistaken for some weird dogman breeding experiment.
There was a lot of confused bluffing, as no one in the group really had any idea of the dogman culture Danison was attempting to bullshit his way through.
Somewhere between 15-20 dogmen lived at the homestead, with at least 6 children, and possibly more, running about. All the adults were women. The dogwomen found it odd that Danison, a male, claimed to live alone as a hermit in the caverns, instead of training at Scratesburg to become a member of the Moonthrone city watch. Eventually it became clear that Scratesburg is a larger village of dogmen somewhere in the vast cave system. All male dogmen of a certain age must report to Scratesburg for training as soldiers or city guards, while women are allowed to train if they so decide. Scratesburg is run by Baelscrate, some sort of high-ranking Moonthrone official, and apparently also a bit of a creep; a few of the dogwomen confided that they were tempted to join the soldiery, but ultimately decided they didn't want to deal with Baelscrate, or any of his off-putting subordinates.
Danison managed to convince the dogwomen that he had come across the party as they wandered lost in the caverns, and was attempting to help them return to Moonthrone's surface. The story might have worked better, were it not for the fact that the lead dogwomen was Farra, the huntress who witnessed her companion Zarradesh get decapitated just before a storm of blue and red rushed through the caves and drove everyone temporarily insane.
Zarra had Jared, the only party member she actually saw and recognized (thanks to Charion's new purple fur), captured and bound. Jake-rat wasn't so lucky on his stealth roles, and was also found and captured. Eventually Farra decided that they would need to report to Scratesburg, despite her dislike of Baelscrate, as clearly there was some witchcraft afoot, and the area would likely need to be checked for Incursions. At Scratesburg Jared would be turned over for interrogation, and Danison would be able to help anyone who could prove they weren't involved in the recent warlockery return to the surface.
A cart was loaded up for the trip to Scratesburg. Five of the most able-bodied dogwomen, including Farra, agreed to escort the group. Adrick invisibly tried to sabatoge the cart before it left with a bomb he had received from Dokeppel Ironbones, but the explosive was found before it could be detonated. Jared and Jake-rat were thrown in the back of the cart; everyone else grabbed a spot and traveled unbound.
Despite DM fears, the party managed to NOT murder an entire community of women and children.
They ultimately killed all the dogwomen they were travelling with though. But first, during the ensuing half-day of travel, they learned that there are at least two known exits back to Moonthrone's surface, the village of Baelscrate, or a small dogman fort another day or two's travel upriver.
Adrick, hiding invisibly under the wagon, sabotaged a wheel, causing the wagon to crash and toss one dogwomen into the river. Gaxolgon jumped in to save her while the rest of the group fought and killed the rest. Ultimately, the 5 dogwomen died, and the group was still lost in the underdark beneath Moonthrone, only now with a busted wagon and the knowledge that there are at least two known exits to the surface somewhere upriver.
Oye, ya means ta tells me dem boys I's is travelling wit lied ta me? Jes' t waits untilz I remembers wat da truff is when's dis amenesia thingie wears off - dat lil smurf gonna 'ave sum 'splaynin' ta do he is!