The Fall of Astia – Session 3 Recap

Afternoon all!

Running behind on my recaps, but I finally got this one together and even with the holiday rush.  Who would have thought?

So let’s jump right into it!

When we last left off, our party of adventurers had barely made it to the Wizard’s Tower deep in the Underdark, and ended up taking a long needed rest of the large twirling stairs just outside.  Our Rogue Nar was still recovering from his grievous wounds inflicted by the front door, which was actually a mimic (see pic below..that white mini on the front door is a mimic), Khaleen, after fighting his worst nightmare in the form of a phantasmal killer and critically failed jump, which ended him falling into a 50′ chasm, and the others who were pummeled by fireballs and other highly annoying magic.

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The PC’s, after their short rest, started off by entering the foyer of the wizard’s tower, shown above, on the right.  It seemed quite bare, and dusty. There were stairs leading to a second floor and a long hallway situated on the left. The PC’s decided to take the long hallway.  At the end of the hallway, they encountered this:

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The door opens up into a large room. Moss and grass grow rampant on the masonry floor, but the ground itself lies in turmoil, as the masonry blocks are pushed up and disrupted from beneath.

Six, small globes of eerie pale blue light flicker and float upwards of 15 ft. in the air.  As your eyes follow their waving path, you get a good look of the ceiling, or lack thereof, which gives the impression that you are deep underwater. There is a faint white light at the ceiling’s surface, but you get the feeling that you are sinking deeper…as the light around you gradually gets darker and darker; yet the globes provide the same flickering light.

 The walls are otherwise covered in thick vines that span the entire east and west walls. The vines are thin, and continuously writhe almost as if in a trance.

 There are eight dragon statues positioned directly across from each other on each sides of the hallway. The statues are for the most part are heavily in disrepair. Vines from the wall have veered off in various places and have slowly engulfed a couple of the statues. Only a few remain fully intact.

 The East and West walls each have a wooden door.

 On the east wall, through a small patch of vines that look to be intentionally parted, there is writing in a florescent blue ichor that reads, “All hope dies”.

 As the PC’s progressed into the room, with Vola (played by Joe) throwing a torch into the middle of the floor to see what happened.  Immediately, some of the vines started to creep off the statue and towards the torch, albeit at a fairly slow rate.

Then, some of the vines on one of the statues on the left began writhing and strangling the neck of one of the statues. The PC’s heard a loud snap and the head of the statue hit the ground, rolled and stopped right in front of them.

The PC’s also had to make a will save and then all noticed the following:

The light coming from above you flickers, and as you look up, you notice that shadows glide about what looks like the surface. One particularly large one seems to stop, as if contemplating for a couple seconds; it feels like it is staring right through you, though you can’t see any real definition in his face.

At this point, the party had to make some saving throws.  Both the elven ranger (Ari) and the Half-Elven Sorcerer failed their saves and had their alignments changed to chaotic / evil. (Muahahahahaha) In addition, Wexxle, the goblin friend of Ari, failed his save and had to play “devil’s advocate to one other player”, who turned out to be the Sorcerer after another roll of the dice.

This worked out PERFECTLY. Dave played the part of both Ari with his new alignment and Wexxle with his difference of opinions with Henry’s sorcerer, Walker Boh. The banter and fighting between the entire group was expertly done, but my hat goes off to Ari/Dave, for really taking it on and doing a fantastic job. Nar, already being Chaotic / Neutral in alignment, also role played really well, telling the wood elf how much he liked the new Ari.

Not long after that, the vines started to coalesce into a large humanoid shaped mass of these dark vines, forming something akin to a shambling mound plant creature and combat began.

Vola hacked away at the plant creature with reckless abandon. Nar scored a crucial sneak attack, beating out the creature’s initiative. Walker sent a firebolt and then rendered himself invisible, so there was no retaliation. Ari peppered it with arrows and it finally fell. Not a terribly hard fight. If I remember correctly it was a CR5 for a 6th level group.

Next, the PC’s went into the dining room.

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You open up the door to what once was a long finely crafted dining table which used to dominate the center of the room. The floor and table are covered with a thick, cushiony moss. Most of the chairs are knocked over or destroyed and look to have been used some time ago, as moss is creeping up them as well.

 On the table, there are eight tarnished silver place settings, each with a large plate covered by a dome. The table is also adorned with fine cutlery and two silver candelabras, which are barely seen through the thick overgrowth of moss.

 There are four lit torches that illuminate this area with the same eerie blue light seen from the hallway. There is a door in the North wall and a small bare serving table on the east wall.

 The PC’s decided to not touch anything in the room, worried it might be a trap and continued on north to the kitchen and came upon the following:

There are several work tables in this room and a large hearth on the North wall, which looks to not have been used in some time. An inch of dust covers the room, as well as a large collection of pots and pans that lay scattered all over the floor and table. There is a row of clay jars resting on a dusty shelf on the east wall and a wooden door on the west wall that looks as if it leads into a pantry.

 PC’s decided to skip the pantry for now and headed to the other door, in the dining room.

Inside this room was the following in large glass cases, a zoo display, as the players soon found out.

Inside the cases were some  odd creatures I found in an old Planescape monster manual/appendix.

  • Viper Tree – Snakes that are twisted as a group, their tails entwined to form a stump and the heads writhe out like branches on a tree.
  • Beholder head on a centipede body with lobster claws
  • Water Elemental with one large central eye and knobby ground down teeth.

Mushrooms were strewn about the room and gave off an eerie glow, though did not affect the Darkvision of anyone, as others the PC’s had previously encountered.

Next up, the PC’s ventured off into the sitting room, to the East of the statue room.

This sitting room contains a once plush, purple velvet sofa, which is now tattered and ripped open, its stuffing tossed about as if done in rage. There is a high backed chair, with a piece of its back ripped off, sitting in the center of the room, next to a small wooden table and an open book. There is a fireplace with a mantle on the East wall.

 The book on the small wooden table is shredded, with burn marks and blood covering the binding.  

 

The PC’s were only able to discern one passage in the back of the book that wasn’t badly burned:

 

In the depths of the howling waste

Even the darkness has a voice

It chortles and beckons

It begs and cajoles

It slithers its way into your brain

Like a black slimy worm

And if you listen to it…you’re lost

The garmorm of the dark will

have you, and

You’ll never see the light again.

 

The PC’s continued to trudge through the tower and next entered the library:

You enter a large library with bookcases that reach to the ceilings on the east, west and north walls and are filled with thousands of books. There is a large table in the center of the room, with legs carved into creatures you’ve never seen before, twisted and foul. Various tomes, drawings and scrolls are scattered on top of the table, including an iron candelabra fashioned to resemble a hydra with nine heads. The table is surrounded by wooden high-back and wingback chairs. On the south wall, there is a large hearth. More of the bobbing eerie blue globes hover near the ceiling, giving off the unnerving blue light. A coatrack sits in the SW corner, with a faded leather coat on it.

 On the north wall, there is another message scrawled in blue ichor, but is hard to read from your current position. It reads, “Some secrets do not PERMIT themselves to be told”.

 There was a trap, if and when the PC’s disrupted any of the books. Of course Nar, our drow rogue, started rifling through the books and carelessly throwing them on the floor when they were no use to him.  Once the first one hit the ground, this is what happened:

Suddenly, the books start flying off the shelves in a storm. For what seems like a minute, you can’t see anything, as the flapping pages resemble a flock of birds startled into the air; complete and utter chaos. They start to coalesce and shape into a large humanoid. First the legs, then the torso and arms, then finally the head of this hulking golem, which now stands 12 feet tall above you. Its eyes glow with a purple and red magical fury and suddenly on his left arm, the books which have finally just settled, begin flipping pages again, their magical writing inside glowing bright gold.

This spell book golem was formidable indeed. When casting a spell, one of the books on him starts flipping its pages, glows and then the spell is cast. It was able to cast multiple spells per round. (Up to 3 levels each round, so it could cast three 1st level spells per round, two 2nd level or 1 third level, in any combination.) It never ran out of spells to cast either and was hurling magic missiles, among other spells, left and right.

Obviously the golem refrained from using any fire and or corrosive spells in the library, so as not to harm the books or himself, however, the PC’s did manage to set him ablaze and made a run for it.   The golem was vulnerable to fire and corrosive, but had resistance to all magic damage.

The PC’s, before Nar had set off the trap, found a couple of books that they ended up keeping. One was falsely imbued with magic and was really worth nothing, but took some research to figure out. A couple were magically trapped and others alchemically trapped. They only found one real spellbook, which with no wizard in the group, was only useful for selling at a later time.

They did find a book about Vivimancy and what a Vivimancer was, and was explained as followed: A Vivimancer is an expert of cloning, cross-breeding, flesh warping, genetic meddling, neural manipulation, and vat growth; master of mind slaves, mutants, symbionts, parasites, and viruses.  Basically, the Vivimancer is a perverter of nature, a magician whose focus is the manipulation of life to his or her own ends.

 Eventually, the PC’s made their way back and up the stairs where they entered the tower. They left some of the rooms alone downstairs, like the pantry, thinking that they would come back to them later. They were, after all, hunting a wizard.

 The PC’s traveled upstairs and encountered more of the small eerie globes and spread out in all directions were dark, black roots that breach and cover the walls like a disease.

 On the east wall, there is another message scrawled in blue ichor. It reads, “but secrets of another…are the sweetest fruit of all.”

 They made their way into the bedroom next and encountered the following:

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You open the door to a large bedroom with a plush canopy bed, with crimson blankets and gold colored pillows. There is a small end table on each side of the large bed, an armoire on the west wall that almost reaches the ceiling, and two doors spaced out along the North wall, all of unremarkable quality. What captures your attention is a large mural on the wall.

 The mural is of a large majestic tree with a circle of people in white robes surrounding its base. In large letters, it reads, “The tree of life”, but in that same blue ichor you’ve been seeing, the letters UN have been put before the word life, now reading, the tree of UNLIFE.

An altar sits in front of the mural, with a large velvet pillow in its center. A deep impression in the pillow can be seen in the shape of a large book or tome, which is currently missing.

There is also an ornate treasure chest that sits at the foot of the bed.

The chest had a timed lock on it. They needed 3 successful open locks roll (DC: 16 originally), consecutively, to get it open or it resets. It also has a spell on it. Need to make a Will Save DC: 13 each round, or a suggestion spell tells you to make the lock harder. (Giving it a +2 DC, which becomes cumulative over all 3 rounds) However, the rogue was in good sorts that day and had little trouble with not only the lock-picking rolls, but the will saves to keep it from getting increasingly difficult. While slightly confused as to why he heard the lock “pop”, but the chest didn’t open and the ticking, he kept at it and made it on the first go.

Inside the chest was a ring of feather falling.  The wizard didn’t mind leaving this behind in his haste, as he was prepared with a fly spell, which becomes more evident in the next session.

They also explored the adjoining bathroom:

When you open the door to this room, you are surprised to find rain pouring from the ceiling. Mold and other vegetation has grown across the floor and walls.

At the far end of the chamber is a metal tub which is overflowing with algae filled water.

Ari did some digging in the tub and found a golden medallion worth 75 GP hidden in the water.

The PC’s continued down the hallway and encountered a large torture room: (Most of it can be seen on the right side of this pic)  I need to do better with these.

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You open the door into a large room. There are two sets of lit torches, on the east and west walls, as well as on the far wall, flickering without wind, but illuminating a chilling sight. The walls consist of greying and sinewy flesh of faces, hands, broken bones, feet and toes jutting from the surface. It

The room is fully adorned with torture equipment, including a pillory, a rack, and a pillar with chains. A blood stained chair stands off to the right side of the room. The chair has thick leather straps upon its armrests. The chair legs are stained with blood and urine.

Piles of bloody rags, tossed carelessly in one corner hint at the terrible practices wrought upon the unfortunates brought here. On the west wall, there is a shelf that holds a collection of dirty and rusty implements, including pliers, clamps and thumbscrews. An iron basket holds a collection of branding irons. Burnt flesh still clings to some of those irons. Two oubliettes pierce the floor in a dingy corner of the room. The narrow, roughhewn holes are filled with black, foul water to a depth of 6 feet and topped with a locked iron grate.

The PC’s basically called this the “NOPE” room and moved on. They did end up checking it out later after exploring the rest of the tower and found when they ventured too far, the torture equipment animated and attempted to grapple them and begin torturing them. They just made a run for it.

They also found a Reflection Pool Room, which was as follows:

You walk in to what once had been a beautiful room of reflection. A pool sits in the center of the room, in which two beautiful elven females with blue skin (and scantily clad in some sheer silk fabric), bathe themselves with delicate pieces of cloth. The room itself promotes peace and relaxation, filling you with ease and calm.

The ceiling is covered in what looks like the cosmos, but is now chipped, cracked and weathered.

After a successful arcana check, the party realized that the ceiling must have once been vivid and most likely used ink of some magical nature, that was used to create this work of art, as it tricks the eye into giving it far greater depth than could be imagined.

Inside the pool was the illusion of two female elves, which were going to beckon the PC’s to join them. However, Ari snuck in undetected and deciding it was an obvious trap, left the room without much other thought. With a highly successful perception check as he closed the door, he noticed the illusion flicker out when the door was mostly closed.

Next up was a Museum room that portrayed the stages and history of the tree of life in murals on the wall. Most of which was covered in blood, claw marks and scratches. For the most part, it was ruined.

Inside the center of the room, there was a large worm creature, with what looked like human faces pushing up against the inside skin of the worm, trying to get out. The creature was known as a Garmorm and it started to sing an eerie song.

 

We are many (snap)

We are one

Now we live (snap)

Never done

 

Sing of days (snap)

Sing of night

Long to sing (snap)

Show our might

 

Join us in eternal song (snap)

Live with us forever strong (snap)

Our choir seeks more in kind (snap)

Our power grows with each new mind (snap)

 

The garmorm turned out to be even less of a challenge as the party just eviscerated it, even with its 7 attacks.

Going back to the museum room, our sorcerer with his hermit background and discovery feature, was able to fill in the gaps regarding the murals.  His background features gave him access to unique knowledge on long lost and ancient history. Here is it summed up as if the museum was intact.

  1. Shows tree of life in all its glory. There is a white angelic light coming from the heavens and shining through the branches. The land around the tree is flourishing, with bright, healthy colors. There are small statues of druids, showing reverence and worshipping the tree.
  2. Depicts the tree of life exactly the same, except the tree seems to be a little blurry. The land in the background is much clearer and shows the destruction of cities, fires and armies marching on one another and on the tree itself.
  3. The druids are at war with the armies, but are clearly outmatched. They fall back, leaving the tree to its fate.
  4. Shows the tree in a withering state, slumped and dying. The world behind it is in turmoil. A large shadow / cloud has rolled in and seems to be enveloping the tree and the world itself.
  5. In a shambling of a room, a council of mages sit, with a replica of the tree at the center of the table. One holds his head in his hands, another seems to be stressed. The replica of the tree shimmers…changing, into it can be seen with arcane shackles that seem to be pulsing with energy, sustaining, but not fixing the tree.
  6. The tree is suffering, showing a twisted knotted mess, where the shackles are.
  7. Shackles are broken. The tree is dying once again. The circle of mages lies empty, the room abandoned and ancient.
  8. The trees roots are branching out; looking for sustenance in any place it can find it. Shimmering portals to the Shadowfell and Negative Energy plane.

I can’t take credit for the original idea, which I took from my good friend, Christopher Mennell, a.k.a. The Secret DM.  His website can be found here.

The original post, with a little bit of the background on the magebound tree can be found here.

When I told him my ideas on where I wanted my campaign to go, he said to use some of his magebound tree background and then run with it.  What ended up happening is we sat down and talked about it for like 5 hours, running into the early morning of the next day.  Chris is a longtime friend since high school and any chance we get to talk shop, is always a good time.

Anyways, in this room, there was also a large excavated hole that led down, spiraling deep into a cavern and was the end of the session.

At this point, the PC’s decided to go back and check out the pantry right off the kitchen.

As you go to open the pantry door, writing begins to form in that same blue ichor you’ve seen and reads in common: “Even the dead fear the darkness”.

Inside, there is an impenetrable darkness.

The PC’s dispelled the darkness and Dave, being the first to go in, fell into the floor into a pit trap. The floor was illusioned to look like a normal floor and a silence spell was permanently cast here so no one could hear him yell for help. However, with the darkness dispelled, (using a light spell of some sort, perhaps daylight?), they saw Dave fall in. They could see that there were three shelving units that cover the south, west and north walls.

The shelves contained various food items, all of which are rotten or moldy, including old bags of grain, flour and jars of preserves. Hidden amongst the shelves is a secret compartment, that opens up and contained some potions and a box with no way to open it.

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Here is a picture of the whole tower, instead of piecemeal.  It wasn’t the best of pictures, but my hands kept blocking the light when I tried to do a nice landscape one.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this recap.  I’m hoping to get the most recent session up and ready within the next week or so.

As always, thanks for reading!

Jinx

About jinx_the_bard

Longtime Dungeon Master, tabletop and video gamer. Been playing D&D and Shadowrun on and off most recently. Ran a post apocalyptic, paragon, 4th edition D&D campaign for a couple years. Running a 5th edition campaign now called "The Fall of Astia". Enjoy Borderlands 1, 2 and even the Pre-sequel (which I tend to play with fellow author Ness), Fallout 3 and 4, Bioshock and Skyrim. (Games this good never get boring) I also indulge in Magic The Gathering, mostly in the Legacy and Modern formats. Please feel free to contact me at dungeonmaster.bm@gmail.com for any questions, thoughts or things you'd like to see featured on our site.

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