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Summary[]

The party continue their descend down the Shoin Institute, guided by Skraak the kobold, and begin to realise that Shoin has a thing for puzzle traps.

Zolf is starting to lose his patience, Cel isn't okay with Hamid's assumptions, Azu loves a good smash, and Hamid is hungry.

Synopsis[]

The party, having just defeated several oozes and a bunch of kobolds, are still at a storage landing several floors down from the top of the lighthouse. Hamid asks what the remaining kobold's name is, which turns out to be Skraak. Hamid tells Skraak to relax. Zolf wonders whether Skraak will be useful or whether they should leave them behind. Hamid asks Skraak what their duties are, managing to deduce from their answers that they are a guard. He asks Skraak whether they know their way around the facility, which they do, and whether they know where Yoshida is, but Skraak looks blank at that last question. Hamid asks them where their boss is, and Skraak points at Hamid. Hamid asks them who was their boss before himself, and where they are. Skraak replies that that boss is 'down'. Hamid asks if Skraak can lead them there, but Skraak looks worried.

Hamid explains the situation to the party, and the fact that he thinks that kobolds have a relationship with dragons, and that he might be able to exercise some influence over them due to his draconic heritage. Skraak starts tugging at Hamid's tunic. Skraak asks Hamid whether they can be a general. Hamid replies affirmatively, and Skraak inflates with pride. Hamid tells Skraak that his very important mission is to tell the other kobolds not to fight Hamid or his friends, and to take them to their former boss.

Hamid translates the conversation to the party, and Zolf feels like Hamid is lying to Skraak, although Cel disagrees. Zolf wants to leave Skraak behind, but the others feel that they could be useful. Zolf urges Hamid to hurry up, and he and Hamid get into a heated discussion, which is interrupted by Azu who suggests that Azu and Skraak should lead the way and they can try the 'scaring the other kobolds' plan. Hamid agrees with her, and they start going downstairs.

The party notices that Skraak is scrambling a bit haphazardly, occasionally bumping into things, which makes them realise they're probably under the effect of same kind of drug as the kobolds they met earlier. Zolf spots another eye-robot underneath the stairwell and he smashes it with his glaive. Zolf suggests to call them 'cameras'. They continue following Skraak downstairs, heading into more populated areas of the building. They notice an open door halfway down the stairwell, and Skraak points at it. Hamid tells Skraak to stay close to him and tells them to try not to get hurt, but the others think Skraak could perhaps go first because they know what is ahead. Hamid asks Skraak what is through the door, and they say 'Welcome!'.

The party discuss what could be behind the door, whether it is a lobby or a welcoming party of armed kobolds. Hamid says that kobolds aren't very sophisticated thinkers, and Cel corrects him, telling him that kobolds are just as intelligent as the party, and that the kobolds' low intelligence in the Shoin Institute is a symptom of something, instead of being inherent to them. The party concludes that the kobolds have probably all been drugged into compliance.

Skraak keeps tugging at Hamid's robes and tells him to go through the 'Welcome' door. Hamid asks whether it is safe, and whether there will be any spike traps. Skraak indicates that obviously there will be spikes somewhere. Hamid asks them where the spikes are, but Skraak isn't very helpful on that front. Zolf checks the doorway with his glaive, but no spikes come out. Cel wonders whether they can dispel the effect on Skraak and get clearer answers. Hamid casts detect magic on Skraak, but can sense no magic, which means they can't dispel anything. Zolf gives Skraak a look-over, and finds similar puncture marks in their neck as the kobold they left in the storage room. He determines it's probably some kind of poison. Hamid wonders how long a poison would stay in their system, and Cel suggests it's probably 24 hours.

Hamid tells Skraak to stick close to him so they don't get hurt, and Skraak attaches themselves to Hamid's leg. Hamid asks them to create a little more distance, and Skraak reluctantly creates half an inch distance. Zolf inches through the door, and no traps are triggered. There is a large hallway behind the door, there is a small amount of light filtering through some windows further around the corner. The hallway has carpeting on wooden floors, and there's a big picture on the right of some kind of matronly figure, who Cel fails to recognize. The hallway looks in much better upkeep than the areas the party had visited earlier, although they had a similar style.

The party proceeds down the corridor, and emerge from behind a grand stairway into a very grandiose great hall. The hall has a large, ornate fancy front door. There is an enormous chandelier hanging from the ceiling, with a couple of lesser chandeliers above the remaining stairways. There are several corridors leading off from the great hall to the left and the right.

BREAK

There are signs that people have been in the great hall, such as an umbrella stand next to the front door with umbrellas in it, and there is a large banner hanging over the two stairways. Skraak tugs at Hamid and points at the banner while grinning. Cel walks forward to look at the banner, but Skraak tugs at their clothing to make them stop. Skraak then runs to the other corridor behind the stairway, and the party hears some machinery clunking. Hamid asks what Skraak did, and they make it clear they turned off some spike traps. Hamid excitedly compliments them and Cel gives them two thumbs up.

Cel heads into the great hall, which is absolutely massive. They look up at the banner, which is badly done, but which in Japanese says 'Welcome intruders!', and has an arrow pointing down. Cel translates it for the rest of the party. Having entered the great hall, they can see that there are two large, stained-glass windows next to the front door, which depict two images of Yoshida Shoin. One of the images is Yoshida the healer, handing out balms and tinctures to the needy masses. The other image displays Yoshida Shoin as the genius man of science, stood atop a lighthouse looking up at the stars.

The party discuss what to do next, as following the arrow seems like a bad idea. They decide to stick to their other strategy of heading down the stairwell, but Skraak wants to lead them into the hall. Hamid calls them back, but Skraak looks displeased. Hamid and Zolf discuss whether the sign is a trap, but Skraak keeps tugging at Hamid's clothing. Hamid asks Skraak who made the sign, and Skraak proudly points to themselves. When Hamid asks when they made it, Skraak says 'Two ago', which does not clear up the timeline. Hamid asks whether Skraak can get them safely to Yoshida, and Skraak says 'Yes! And then no'. Zolf suggests it's a good idea to follow Skraak, and then just deal with the 'no' part when they get to it. Hamid thinks it's risky, but probably their best bet. The party decide to follow Skraak.

They head into the hall up the main stairway, heading through large double doors into a big dining room which has been laid out for eight people, with a lot of food. Skraak goes over, pulls out a bowl of apples, looks around and then throws the bowl through an expensive-looking window and gives the party two thumbs up. The party assumes the apples have probably been poisoned. Zolf says they didn't have time for lunch anyway, but Hamid is reluctant, struggling to leave the delicious food alone. Both Zolf and Azu grab him and march him out of the room, following Skraak into another corridor.

They enter a larger but more spartan, posh room. There are four chests, two on each side of the room. There is an elaborate, tapestry carpet that leads up to a large, gilded, tacky doorway. Skraak points at all the chests, giving the party thumbs up, and then moves to reach behind the curtains of the golden doorway and machinery starts clicking. Zolf opens one of the chests with his glaive, inside of which is a fresh set of fine clothes fit for someone tall, and there is a test tube rack with six unlabeled test tubes, and a closed wooden, locked box.

Hamid opens the next chest, which has opulent clothes for a heftily build person, and also contains the same test tube rack and wooden box. Azu opens a chest with a very fancy dwarven attire, with a lot of brocade. The party assumes that the clothes have been made for them, and Hamid opens the last chest to find clothing made for his size. All the clothing are Japanese-style regalia, although they are very over the top. Hamid puts the clothing in his bag of holding, and then uses his cuffs to change into something resembling the outfit, although more tasteful.

Zolf takes the box from the chest with the dwarven clothing and hurls it against a wall. The box explodes into chunks, and there is a hiss. Poking around through the remains, Zolf smells acid and finds a piece of paper that is curling into nothing. Zolf is not in the mood to play any games and suggest the party move on. Cel inspects the test tubes, but they are empty although corked. Hamid stuffs his test tube rack in his bag of holding. Cel attempts to unlock their wooden box and succeeds. The mechanism inside the box is designed to break a vial of acid if someone would attempt to jimmy the lock. Inside the box is a piece of parchment which has the number 5 on it. Zolf throws his rack of test tubes into a corner, smashing them. Cel looks disappointed at this, and Hamid pats them on the forearm to comfort them.

Hamid asks Skraak whether it is safe to go through the doorway. Skraak scrapes a line on the floor and stands on one side, holding thumbs up, then stands on the other side and shakes their head. Then Skraak goes over to the doorway and scrapes a line in front of it, and stands on one side and puts their thumbs up. The rest of the party join them on that side of the line before pulling the curtains. Cel drinks a potion to cast shield on themselves. Azu pulls the curtains aside and reveals a large mahogany door, when she opens it there is a drawing room behind it. There are bookcases and a big picture of Yoshida Shoin on one of the walls. There are no other doors inside the room. In the middle of the room is a kind of coffee table that appears to have some kind of mechanism in it.

Azu and Skraak step inside the drawing room. Cel checks behind the painting, which appears to cover a huge amount of complex machinery. Cel thinks maybe they are in some kind of escape room. As Cel investigates the machinery, Azu uses chairs to prop open the doors. Cel gets the impression that the machinery behind the painting is probably related in some way to the broadcasting machinery at the top of the lighthouse. The machinery is currently dead because the power is off, but Cel is able to deduce that if it were triggered, the painting would move upwards, revealing a series of black and white pins.

Skraak starts messing around with the mechanism in the middle of the table, but nothing happens. Hamid explains that they turned off the power, but Skraak is frustrated and keeps messing with the mechanism. Hamid explains they broke it already, and Skraak is disappointed. The party starts destroying everything in the room to search for an alternative exit. They are able to discover they are in a sealed metal box full of complicated machinery. There are a lot of hidden clues that the party proceed to destroy. Eventually they discover a hidden hatch in the ceiling, with a big red cross painted on it. They get the impression that this hatch is not part of the actual solution to the puzzle.

Zolf levitates up to the hatch using his boots of levitation and opens it. Looking through it, he is able to see that they are in some kind of lift shaft, near the top of the shaft with only about one floor of space above them. Although there is no hatch in the floor, Zolf is able to see a maintenance ladder in the lift shaft that leads down. Zolf ties a rope to the hatch so the rest of the party can climb into the lift shaft.

Quotes[]

Hamid: "Ehm... Tell me your name?"
Skraak: "Skraak."
Hamid: "Skraak?"
Skraak: "Skraak!"
Hamid: "Okay, Skraak? I'm gonna... you... Skraak, you need to relax."
Skraak: "Skraak, yes!"
Hamid: "Skraak?"
Skraak: "Yes!"
Hamid: "Ehm..."
Azu: "Is it me, or are they just saying 'Skraak' to each other?"
―The party meets Skraak.

Zolf: "Then, whatever you're doing, can we do it quickly and now?"
Hamid: "I mean, suddenly you're in a rush, earlier you were like 'Ohhh'.. please- slightly- can we just-"
Zolf: "Because we've already not done the stealthy bit! They know we're here so we need to move fast!"
Azu: "Why don't you-"
Hamid: "It wouldn't hurt us to have some information, Zolf!"
Zolf: "Right, just do it quickly!"
Azu: "Why don't you and Skraak-"
Hamid: "I have done it! And now the only thing that's making us slow is you criticizing us-"
Azu: "Gentlemen, please!"
―Zolf doesn't agree with Hamid.

Hamid: "I mean, we probably don't want to go to the big sign saying 'Welcome Intruders'."
Zolf: "Yeah, I don't think so."
Hamid: "I mean, it's a pretty bad trap, though! I mean, unless it's a kind of double bluff?"
Zolf: "I mean, it's a challenge!"
Hamid: "You think?"
Zolf: "Okay, narcissistic portraits, obviously clever person, probably quite evil. I'm going to assume quite arrogant and maybe a bit of a..."
―[add context].

Zolf: "I assume those were poisoned."
Azu: "So those were poisoned."
Hamid: "Seems likely!"
Zolf: "Although I don't think we've got time for a light lunch, so..."
Hamid: "... I mean..."
Zolf: "Hamid."
Hamid: "It doesn't hurt just to have a quick snack to get the energy levels up."
Zolf: "Hamid!"
Azu: "No!"
Zolf: "Hamid! Evil food! Evil buffet!"
Azu: "We can come back for it."
Zolf: "No. Come on! I know what you're like, let's keep going."
Bryn: "Hamid is really struggling to walk away, you guys!"
Ben: "I'm going to get- grab you by the-"
Hamid, high-pitched: "It's fine! Fine! It's fine - I'm fine!"
―Hamid tears himself away from the buffet.

Lydia: "Are we, are we in a, like... We're in Zelda."
Ben: "We're doing a dungeon. We are doing a dungeon... with a cheat code!"
Bryn: "Ok, if anyone who makes computer games is listening to this, and can make a cheat code called 'Skraak', that explains everything you reach as you reach it, I will pay you a million pounds!"
Lydia: "You've gotta be careful!"
Helen: "Yeah, that's been recorded, that's for posterity now!"
Bryn: "...A hundred pounds!"
―The party stumbles into a number of puzzle rooms.

"Guys, so this room is... maybe... so there's this concept I've been cooking around with where there's rooms you have to escape from? I've been thinking of like 'Mechanical no-go room', or 'Get me out of here please this is frustrating', or maybe just like, 'expensive brand tie-in story plot room'."
Cel, inventing escape rooms.

Dice rolls and Mechanics[]

  • Azu, Hamid, Cel and Zolf Perception check in the stairwell: 21 (Cel), 19 (Azu), 20 (Hamid), 25 (Zolf)
  • Cel Knowledge (nature) on kobolds: 18
  • Cel Knowledge (alchemy) on Skraak: 27
  • Zolf Heal check on Skraak: 23
  • Cel Knowledge (nobility) on the painting of the matronly figure in the hallway: 9
  • Hamid Profession (tailor) to assess the clothes: 17
  • Zolf Strength check to hurl the wooden box against the wall: Natural 20
  • Cel Disable Device check on the wooden box: 27
  • Azu Perception check investigating the doorway: 13
  • Cel Knowledge (engineering) on the machinery behind the painting: 17
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