Join Alex, Helen, Bryn, Lydia, and Ben as they creep towards the corrupted heart of the Blight. This week Cel reads the room, Hamid goes for a classic, Azu knows how the sad bear feels, and Zolf will be careful (since Wilde asked so nicely).
The party has dealt with three lots of tentacles and a horrifying undead teleporting monstrosity; two bell-vines remain, and have just attacked the party with silver dust. Sumutnyerl has fallen to their knees (still as a dire polar bear), and is shaking and struggling to breathe.
Sumutnyerl manages to partially shake off the effect of the silver dust, and attacks the vine, but misses- she's moving slower and appears to be clumsier, there's a magical effect at play.
Azu moves towards the vine and attacks it, hitting. The plant dodges slightly, but is still damaged. Skraak moves to the same vine and flanking it, deals more damage to it, lopping off the flower head. The head drops to the ground and seems to petrify into metal.
Hamid casts magic missile on the other vine, damaging it.
Zolf uses calming touch on Cel, removing the shaken effect on them; he then moves towards the second vine. Cel shoots their crossbow at the vine, killing it.
Sumutnyerl is still struggling to breathe, is stumbling, and is shaking more. A silver colouring seems to be spreading from where it hit, across their face. Cel has come across plants vaguely reminiscent of this in the Americas, but they are usually found in warmer climates. Whatever is happening to Sumutnyerl is some sort of ongoing poison effect. Zolf and Azu think it might be a magical poison, or at least the effect is behaving more like a curse.
Azu moves to Sumutnyerl and uses lay on hands. The silver stops spreading, but does not reduce; she looks like a very exhausted and sad bear.
Azu and Zolf examine Sumutnyerl, and Azu realises that Sumutnyerl has taken dexterity damage that would paralyse and eventually petrify her. Azu knows that she has stopped the damage from getting worse, but that she can't heal them completely as Sumutnyerl will need a magical rest. Zolf channels positive energy. He says he might have something to help with the paralysing effect, but that he needs time to meditate again, and asks if Sumutnyerl will be able to manage for now. They nod, sadly. Azu wonders if Topaz can carry her. Wilde stops humming, but bells can still be heard.
Zolf asks Sumutnyerl to return to human form, and she does so, wiping the silver from her face. They say that everything is wrong, and that everything they have encountered in the blight is not of the Garden. Cel adds that the silver plants shouldn't live in this sort of temperate climate, and that they're better suited to a tropical environment. Azu wonders whether their presence caused the battle, and that the blight doesn't want them there, but Sumutnyerl says it's impossible to say. Zolf asks what they should do, and she says the best thing to do is find the centre of the blight, despite her weariness. The others agree, saying they'd rather get something useful from this journey. Azu offers to summon Topaz to carry Sumutnyerl, but they refuse. Sumutnyerl bends down to find some soil, but the blighted ground isn't suitable, so they sigh and reach into a pouch, bring out some soil, and rub it between their hands muttering. Green light glows from the soil, and she rubs it on her face; the silver colour disappears and she straightens slightly.
Sumutnyerl says the ringing concerns them, and that they've never managed to proceed further into the blight than this before. Hamid wonders is they should spread out or stick together, and they decide to stick together, given the power of the garden. [At this point Ben remembers that Zolf's still tied to Wilde, which makes the previous combat interesting...]
The group has decided to stick together but not too closely. As they walk, everyone sees more silver forms in the distance. Everyone also hears more distant bells. Zolf, Skraak, and Cel still notice a lingering sense of hostility in the area, although it doesn't seem to be pursuing them. Cel thinks the feeling is probably from some kind of entity moving around, using some kind of spiritual concealment. Cel then swishes a dragon's breath elixir around their mouth, spitting the rest back into the jar. They tell the others that something is moving around, but they're not sure what. Wilde and Zolf say they can feel it too, and Wilde knows exactly where it is, and seems to be able to hear it. He says it sounds a bit like a wounded animal. Sumutnyerl says their instinct is that the blight comes from a source, and that the lingering hostility is probably a symptom not a cause.
Azu is clanking along, giving away their position, as stealthy as the others are; the ringing still seems to be moving with them. Sumutnyerl is navigating the group through the area, using their incredibly good eyesight. As they get closer to the centre, they notice more and more still silver figures, giving the impression of mass petrification. Cel and Azu realise that the figures are all dwarven, and in full battle armour. Some are slumped on the ground, some are face down. Cel asks whether the figures are statues or petrified people, and Sumutnyerl guesses the latter. Hamid wonders if the dwarves attacked and were caught by the flowers, but Zolf wonders what they were attacking, and how they would do it without the Ursans noticing. Cel suggests a portal or the teleporting undead creature. Zolf suggets they move on as these people are clearly all dead. Wilde says they may have an advantage in that they know that the silver plants probably caused the petrification, but that they'll have to be very, very careful since there are so many of them around. Quips ensue (see quotes). Wilde says kindly to Azu that her lack of stealth (due to armour) is a bit of a liability, and wonders if she can remove the armour, or split the party so she doesn't give them away. Cel wonders if there's any way to improve Azu's stealth, such as invisibility, but concedes that it's the sound that's causing the problem. Azu wonders if she should hang back, but Hamid and Zolf are adamant that the party stays together.
Sumutnyerl says they should lead as a guide, and suggests those with cures for the silver dust should walk in the centre of the group. The going is very slow and cautious. Eventually they get close enough to the dwarves to realise it looks like a rout. Some are fleeing and others are trying to stand their ground; others are lying on the ground with friends protecting them. Cel doesn't recognise much in the way of cultural markers (insigniae etc.), but may have come across dwarven culture through books and trade. They do notice that the dwarves are mostly wearing indoor furs, and only some are in armour; those wearing indoor clothes are the ones fleeing. Zolf, though not very connected to dwarven culture, does know that Svalbard is a Dwarven stronghold, and during the 18-month timeskip, would have been reading up on how Svalbard fits into the wider picture (the seed, the killswitch). Zolf is almost certain that these are Svalbardian dwarves, but how they got there is rather an open question. Sumutnyerl is confused and concerned, and starts moving on towards the centre. Azu, meanwhile, has been murmuring Aphroditean funeral rites, but Wilde tells her that funeral rites might be premature- petrification isn't death, rather imprisonment... and reversing the effect would be a monumental task.
Zolf tells the others that the tentacles came from the ethereal plane. Azu's understanding of the planes is rather limited, because she kept skipping the boring classes at seminary in favour of 'axe practice and kissing girls'. Her understanding is that existence is a bit like a sandwich. The material plane is the meat, the ethereal plane is is full of ghosts, and there are some hells or something at the bottom, like the tomato, and there's some sort of heaven too, but that's not the ethereal plane, and she's not sure how they fit into the sandwich... but the outer planes are definitely like the bread. One can travel around the planes without meeting the gods, but that's about it. Zolf, however, knows that the ethereal plane is where spirit is material and material becomes spirit, and that the sandwich model is an oversimplification. Teleportation involves warping of the planes. It would make sense that if something were wrong on the planar level here, beings from the ethereal plane are more likely to be coming through, as well as elementals. This feels like a small tear or weakening causing a bleedthrough. Cel suggetss it's like an interdimensional hernia, and Wilde says he'll be stealing that analogy.
Sumutnyerl has moved on and the party catches up. They realise they're reaching the base of the cirque, and visibility is wavering. Wilde still has a bead on the stalking animosity, which doesn't appear to be coming closer, but there also seems to be a general feeling of unease and wrongness growing. Something (mechanically) huge is looming in the distance... in fact there are three of them. The visibility clear slightly, and it becomes clear that there are three giant, enormous plants in the centre of the clearing, with building-sized buds. the roots of the bell plants seem to lead back to these plants, and there are hundreds of dwarves, fleeing from the nearest flower. Form the second one is a group of fleeing animals that Cel recognises from the Americas. Sumutnyerl is horrified and distraught at the alien, monstrous, cathedral-sized plants warping the world around them, desecrating this hallowed place.
- Wilde: "I think we're going to have to be very, very careful not to set them off"
- Zolf: "I was thinking of not being very careful, but now you've said that..."
- Wilde: "Thank you Zolf, I've missed your sharp rapier wit"
- Azu: "...It is good to have you back, Wilde"
- Wilde: "It is, isn't it!"
- Azu: "Yeah"
- Wilde: "Gosh, I'm fabulous"
- ―Zolf, Wilde, and Azu, on the dangers of the multitude of silver bell plants
- Azu: "Maybe I should just..."
- Hamid: "I think Azu should be with us, and I think that that's part of the risk we're taking coming here, I don't think..."
- Zolf: "Yeah, we live or die together, we ain't leaving anyone behind"
- Azu: "Thank you, Zolf."
- ―Zolf, Hamid, and Azu, on whether to split up.
- Alex: "Every religion roll I get you just did not pay attention in seminary, you kept blowing it off for axe practice, and it just keeps coming up!"
- Helen: "It was axe practice and kissing girls"
- ―Helen rolls poorly again on a knowledge religion.
Dice rolls & mechanics
- Heal check to heal the remainder of the silver dust on Sumunyerl: Zolf assists (17), and gives Azu a +2 bonus, Azu (20). They learn that Sumutnyerl has taken 6 dex damage from the silver dust.
- Zolf channels positive energy, healing himself and Hamid for 22 hit points.
- Perception check to see more silver forms: Zolf (27), Cel (29), Azu (23), Hamid (21), Skraak (28)
- Cel drinks an extract of alchemical allocation and the then their elixir of dragon breath, which will last an hour or until it is used.
- Stealth check to avoid bell plants etc. Cel (16), Zolf (16), Hamid (22), Skraak (Nat 20: 37), Azu (7)
- Perception check to see the silver statues: Zolf (20), Azu (Nat 20: 31), Cel (31), Hamid (22), Skraak (20)
- Knowledge (history) for the dwarves: Cel (29), Zolf (7 + an undisclosed bonus for having dwarven parents)
- Knowledge (religion) for planar cosmology: Azu (13)
- Knowledge (planes): Zolf (21)
- Perception check to see what's fleeing from the second plant: Zolf (16), Azu (27), Cel (33), Hamid (27), Skraak (27)
Combat continued from previous episode, ongoing effects:
- Cel: -2 to charisma, +4 to constitution, +2 AC, wings, and Scent
- Hamid: +4 AC from mage armor, flying for the next 9 minutes, and invisible for 7 more rounds.
- Skraak: +2 to saving throws, +2 to skill checks from heroism.
- Sumutnyerl: -2 to attack rolls, -2 to saving throws, -2 to skill checks, and -2 to ability checks from being shaken.
- Whole party:
- +3 to will saves (against charm and fear effects), +3 to attack rolls, and +3 to damage rolls from Wilde's bardic performance.
- +4 on saving throws against fear effects from Azu's aura of courage and (excluding Skraak) +2 to AC, +2 to saving throws, an extra saving throw against mind control from her casting of protection from evil
- Zolf's freedom's call makes everyone in a 30ft radius not affected by the confused, grappled, frightened, panicked, paralysed, pinned, or shaken conditions for the next 8 more rounds. If they leave the aura these effects, if active, would take hold, however.
- Hamid has taken 33 damage, Zolf has taken 16 damage.
Initiative: Hamid (Nat 20; 26), Zolf (Nat 20; 25), Cel (23), Sumutnyerl, Azu (6), Skraak
Round 4, continued
- Sumutnyerl: Makes a successful Fortitude save against the silver dust and attacks the vine that sprayed them, but misses.
- Azu attacks a vine: 28 (14 damage).
- Skraak attacks the same vine, flanking: 25 (18 damage). The vine dies.
- Hamid casts magic missile on the other vine: 18 damage
- Zolf uses calming touch on Cel, removing the shaken condition.
- Cel shoots their crossbow at the vine: First attack: 20 (11 damage), second attack: 20 (6 damage). The vine dies.
- Sumutnyerl fails to shake off the effect of the silver dust. The silver on their face appears to be spreading. Cel makes a Knowledge (nature) check: 28. Zolf and Azu make a Heal check: Zolf (16), Azu (18). Cel recognises the effect as an ongoing poison. Zolf and Azu think it may be a magical poison.
- Azu uses lay on hands on Sumutnyerl and the silver stops spreading.