Monday, February 20, 2023
(After playing the scenario Lord of the Iron Fortress in Matt McPike’s D&D 3.0/3.5 Greyhawk game on Discord today from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with, Adam Frager, Laura McPike, Scott Allen, Aaron Frager, Sean McPike, and Scott Wakefield.)
Matt McPike: DUNGEON MASTER
Myself as Ahnold (ogre barbarian)
Adam Frager as Groth Stoutbrew (dwarf cleric)
Laura McPike as Alexiah (dwarf fighter)
Scott Allen as Maxerian (human psionicist)
Aaron Frager as Turk Stoutbrew (dwarf paladin)
Sean McPike as Himo Nailo (human monk)
Scott Wakefield as Fred (gnome wizard)
The Tale of Ahnold the Ogre Barbarian
The Company of the Copper Card was safe in the pocket paradise of the rod of security. Ahnold set to eating everything he could find in the paradise, including an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Ahnold continued eating and guarding the cloud giant.
Groth questioned the giant on what spells he was trying to cast earlier and the creature told him, under control of Max’s domination, he cast spells naturally. He asked the giant how they got the slaves so often and so easily.
“Is there a portal in the fortress?” he said.
“What makes you think we are able to easily acquire slaves?” Exandalon, the evil cloud giant, said.
“Because you said when slaves die, you just replace them.”
“It’s not instantaneous. It’s just, when there’s the need for another slave, we go acquire one.”
“How do you go about acquiring them?”
“Typically, we … as far as I know, they go out and obtain them. I am a guard here. I’ve not been part of a …”
“Who, specifically goes to get them? Do you know? The steel predators, because they’ve been noticed around areas?”
“They’re part of a hunting party that goes. The azers may go. But if not, it could be Imperagon or … it could even be the mind flayers.”
“Okay. Have you ever heard of them talk about casting a spell called plane shift before?”
“I have heard that spell discussed before, but I can’t recall who actually is casting it.”
“Show us how to get to pit on map!” Ahnold said.
The giant pointed at the map, at the area he had said had been the Pit of Toil.
“How do we get there from door?” Ahnold said.
The giant showed them the way, through the portcullis and down the hallway to the right to a large room and then to the adjoining room where there were doors that led to stairs down into the pit.
“Is the forge really loud?” Groth said.
“Yeah,” Exandalon said.
“You said you’ve seen the pit and you mentioned a symbol that guards the double doors that leads down there. Do you know how to bypass the symbol? Do they speak a word to get by it?”
“I don’t have to do anything to avoid them. If you’re looking for them, you’ll probably see them.”
“Yeah, I know how symbols work. Not all of them, I don’t think, but I can cast them myself, so …”
Groth thought and then asked about the liquid metal on the floor in the Pit of Toil. The giant said there was a great forge on one side of the pit with a pool of molten metal within it.
“Ahnold has question!” Ahnold said. “Is the fire elemental a prisoner?”
“Yeah,” Exandalon said.
Ahnold nudged Groth.
“That good question?” he said.
“That was a very good question,” Groth said.
Ahnold laughed and ate some more, muttering about his good question.
“I think we should all have the knowledge of what the pit looks like,” Groth said. “If people would let Max put the knowledge of what the pit looks like, that’s up to you. But, I feel like if we all know what that looks like we may be able to potentially rescue these slaves easier, and I don’t know exactly how we’re going to go about doing that yet but …”
Alexiah asked if they were going to the pit and Groth noted he wanted to meditate on a plan first, but they would eventually end up there and if everyone had a good idea of what it looked like, it would help. Ahnold asked if Max could do that and still keep the giant harmless.
“Oh yes,” Max said.
Groth thought a moment and then asked Max and Ahnold to watch the giant while the rest of them moved away to discuss things out of earshot of the creature. He noted Max could come to listen so long as he could still control the beast.
“We’re good,” Max said.
“Does anyone have any other questions they want to ask him?” Groth said once they were out of earshot. “If not, I’m … I’m still willing to dispatch this evil creature and I want to make sure we’re all in agreement about that.”
“I have no problem killing him,” Turk said. “But I can’t think of anything now.”
“I think we’re going to run into things we’re not prepared for regardless, so …” Alexiah said. “What do you mean by ‘dispatch’ again?”
“Execute him,” Groth said. “I mean if anyone needs any more of a reason …”
“… I’m sure we can have Max make him confess his crimes, but … I just want to make sure nobody was opposed to it before we went ahead and did that.”
“Dispatch just wasn’t as straightforward as …”
“I just want everyone to be on the same page.”
“I don’t really have any questions for the giant but … what’s going on?” Himo said. “I came out of the sky, there was a fight …?”
Alexiah reminded him they were there trying to rescue people being kidnapped and forced to work by a duergar named Imperagon. She said they were trying to figure out the way to free the innocent souls being enslaved and murdered. Himo seemed satisfied with that for now. Groth pointed out they would talk about it more in the future but now they had to concentrate on rescuing the dwarves and recovering the Blade of Fiery Might. He also noted there seemed to be some connection to other things they needed to do in the future.
He also mentioned he didn’t think they were a match for a pit fiend.
“We’re just going to be fodder if we go up against that thing,” he said.
He tried to remember what he could about pit fiends. He only knew they were very powerful.
“Is it just one of these pit fiends that we know of?” Himo said.
“Yes,” Groth said. “They were referring to him by name. Lydzin.”
He looked at them.
“All right, if we have nothing else for this giant,” he said, “I just want to make sure. We have no way to get information out of him after this.”
No one did.
Max tied off his power over the giant so it lasted for a day.
Groth returned to Max and Ahnold and whispered in Max’s ear.
“We’re prepared to execute this giant unless you have any final words you would like to speak with him,” he said.
“I have no further questions,” Max said.
“Okay,” Groth said.
He turned to the ogre.
“Ahnold, you hate evil, right?” he said.
“Ahnold is a good ogre,” Ahnold said. “He does not like evil. No.”
“Okay. It’s time for this giant to meet his maker.”
Ahnold slammed his club down on the giant’s head, crushing it. He wiped his club off on the giant’s clothes. Then he talked to his club.
“Is that good?” he said to it. “Was that okay? You like that? Good club.”
Groth told them all he prepared a divination spell that morning to ask his god how much time they had before the sword was complete. He noted they needed something to sacrifice and planned to use the giant’s chain shirt. He noted they called their god Giant’s Bane.
“Unless someone has something else they would like to sacrifice?” Groth said.
“We should’ve sacrificed giant,” Ahnold said.
“I don’t think he’s worth … 25 gold.”
“I don’t think there’s anything better that we can part with,” Himo said.
“I don’t have anything of mine I’d like to depart with and … his armor wasn’t magical, just that mace was, so …” Groth said.
“Why not sacrifice mace?” Ahnold said.
“Because that could potentially become useful for us in the future. There’s magic that could potentially make it smaller so we could use it. And it’s also more valuable. It’d be overkill. The chain shirt is actually overkill as it is now.”
Fred asked if it had to be an object or just 25 gold coins. Groth said he thought it had to be an object and some his incense. It was 25 gold pieces worth of incense and an object. Fred joked they could melt the 25 gold pieces into an object.
“And this is to see how much time is left for the blade to be made?” Himo said.
“That’s my rough thought right now,” Groth said. “I mean, I’m not going to cast it right at this spot, but in a while. If there’s a better question we need to know, but right now, that’s the most important thing to know: when this is done.”
“Why do we need to know how much time we have before it’s done?” Alexiah said. “How does that affect our …”
“Because we could prepare more,” Groth said. “There are some items I don’t have for some spells. If this was going to be completed for a day or two, then I don’t have time for us to move about to get these items. If we have weeks, then we would have time to potentially go back to Rigus, purchase some items, that kind of thing, come back, and then do it to where we’re more prepared. But, I know the smiths are in danger, and I want to help them, but I also don’t want to have a fool’s errand and go in there.”
“They’re not in danger,” Ahnold said. “He said they are dying.”
“Yes, well …” Groth said.
Ahnold turned to Alexiah.
“What question would you ask?” he said.
“I don’t know that I would ask a question,” she said. “I would make a plan to move forward and act upon the information that we have.”
“Oh,” Ahnold said. “She smart.”
“I understand that,” Groth said. “I mean, I have the spell prepared and I would think, the more information that we have … you’re saying regardless, you think it would be … you don’t like the idea of wasting more time with the …”
“I don’t think it’s going to change anything,” Alexiah said. “We’re still going to come in here, we’re still going to come across whatever we come across, and we’re going to have to fight it and move forward, and if we want to go in and save these people, let’s do it, and I don’t understand why we’re leaving them captive for two more weeks if we have two more weeks. More people are dying. More people are being kidnapped. More people are being taken from their families.”
“Right,” Groth said. “I understand. I guess two weeks would be an embellishment but I can also prepare spells to learn more about the enemies, to learn what their weaknesses could be, but that takes days of prayer, preparation, that kind of thing. If we know what we’re facing and how to defeat them more easily, then we guarantee success vs. going in, guessing that was have the things ready to take care of them too.”
“Well, if you know what the area looks like, would it be possible just to … teleport in?” Max said. “Grab the smiths and then teleport out?”
“That’s what we briefly discussed last time and it seems like someone else has turned away from that and doesn’t think that we are able to do that,” Alexiah said.
“Let’s do it!” Ahnold said. “Do it now!”
“I’m okay with that,” Groth said. “The only problem is we can only move so many people with teleports. Fred, you said you could cast teleport, correct? And we have the helmet. My rough knowledge is that we would need to do two teleports at the same time to move just our party into the pit. Glorack and Ahnold make it more difficult, because they’re large creatures, to teleport in. There are at least 20 smiths in there. We won’t have enough. If we can’t teleport the eight of us, we’re not going to be able to teleport 20 smiths. I can cast a spell, plane shift, I could send them back to Greyhawk. My only problem is it’s a fairly powerful spell and I never got the spell focus for it: a tuning fork made out of aluminum. If we could either find some aluminum to craft that, make that, or find that object, then we can go in and I could plane shift pretty much all the dwarves, using pretty much all my strongest magic, out of there. And then we could grab the sword and then we could teleport back out.”
“Is this aluminum?” Ahnold said.
He pointed at his shield.
“Probably steel,” Groth said.
“Is this aluminum?” Ahnold said.
He pointed to his breastplate. Groth shook his head. Ahnold went through his few meager possessions with the help of Alexiah but nothing was aluminum. They all looked through their possessions but no one had anything made of aluminum. They talked of magic for creating matter but no one had access to such. Groth suggested looking about the fortress with an arcane eye to see if there was any. He also noted they might go to the pit regardless and see if there was any aluminum there. If there wasn’t, they would have to fight their way out.
They talked about the cubehop spell but the scrolls would take 11 people and the caster. It was not enough for all the smiths.
Groth noted if he could get the spell focus, they could rescue the smiths. He could have eight at a time link hands and then send them back to the material plane. He could do that up to four times. Ahnold tried to multiply four times eight and Groth told him it was 32.
“So what is plan?” Ahnold said. “Do we go now? Save smiths and lady?”
“There is the possibility that if we get to the smiths, we might be able to arm them,” Himo said. “In some minor way at least give us an upper hand.”
“The other problem is, the symbol on the door leading out of this place, if it’s a symbol of death, I think if we go by it, people will just die,” Groth said. “I have some symbols I can cast. I cannot cast that spell. I don’t know exactly how it works, but if that’s the spell they’re talking about, then we can’t just walk back out there with them. I do have a spell I can cast that’s called suppress glyph …”
“Can it be dispelled?” Max said.
“I think my suppress glyph would be the best,” Groth said. “It basically renders it to where it wouldn’t be triggered. But it’s a not a guarantee, I believe.”
“This is supposed to be on the back of the door to the entrance?” Himo said.
“He just said watch out for the symbol,” Ahnold said.
“On the double doors going into the pit,” Groth said.
“Into the pit,” Himo said.
“I would assume it’s on the doors leading into the pit,” Groth said.
“Could be on floor?” Ahnold said.
“And if Lydzin, the pit fiend, was the one who made them and is as powerful as I feel they are, I have to overcome his power to suppress the glyph. Dispel magic might work. I don’t know one hundred percent.”
“You have to see glyph to dispel it, don’t you? Do you know where it is?”
“Well, my suppress glyph, I can identify it without setting it off and then try to dispel them.”
“But … that’s why my rough thought was to be able to teleport in, kill the creatures, it sounds like maybe free the fire elemental if it’s a captive, maybe it’s charmed in some way. I don’t know. We might be able to dispel that off the fire elemental.”
“Does it speak giant? I speak giant. And I speak common.”
Groth knew fire elementals spoke Ignan. Groth asked if anyone spoke such a language. Fred noted he could cast tongues but he didn’t have it prepared. Groth said they needed a night’s rest and would go in the next day. He thought tongues was a great idea though.
“So talk to fire elemental, he’s our friend, could fight for us,” Ahnold said. “I will call him Blazy Boy.”
Groth said he could also cast resist energy fire on them, which would protect them from the heat of the place.
“Would all you like to see this place?” Max said.
“Yes,” Goth said.
“Everybody okay with that?” Max said.
“Do it!” Ahnold said.
“Don’t go poking around too much but … you can show me what it looks like,” Groth said.
“Poke!” Ahnold said. “You can poke! Little man inside my head. He run around. Maybe clean some cobwebs out up there. I can’t remember things sometimes.”
“This is a rough plan,” Groth said. “Has anybody got any input on this, any other ideas you want to try?”
“Wait, what is plan?” Ahnold said. “Tell plan.”
“Essentially teleport into the pit, fight off the evil ones, try to free everybody: fire elementals and slaves,” Groth said.
“Slaves!” Ahnold said.
“Capture the sword and … if I can plane shift everybody, if I can get a focus, I guess that’s the first thing,” Groth said. “We need to … pop out of the paradise, see if we can find some aluminum, see if we can get the spell focus, that’d be the big thing for that, if we can, then I can plane shift things out of there. We teleport in, fight off the bad guys, try to free the fire elemental, if we can …”
“Talk to him!”
“Yeah, if we can talk to him … um … I could cast dismissal on him and send him back to his plane, if he would accept it. And then, after I do plane shift to the slaves, we could cube hop back out of here and try to go back to Rigus and then back to Greyhawk.”
“What about girl?”
“I have to think on that some more. There may be a way to do it but I haven’t figured it out quite yet.”
“But I could also cast dismissal on her, if I could see her, and send her back to her plane. The only problem with dismissal is there’s a one in five chance they might not go back to their plane.”
“So, this is a very complex plan. But it could be done!”
“I also need to do divination. I guess if we’re not worried about the length of time that the sword’s going to be completed, then I might ask how many smiths are there.”
“Who you asking?”
“I’m asking my god: Clangeddin Silverbeard.”
“Shouldn’t you just ask him what we should do? ‘What should we do about it?’ He is God. He would tell you.”
“He may just tell us to end evil and rescue the innocent.”
“Then he is lazy. That’s a terrible answer. That’s a terrible answer if that’s what he says.”
“We are mere mortals. He is a God. Whatever answer he bestows upon us is our blessing and not‒”
“He better give you better answer than that!”
“I’m just telling you that it’s his will and‒”
“‘Do what is right!’”
“‒he knows more than what we know.”
“Well, then he should help us. Does he like slaves?”
“The more specific of a question that I ask him – is it not us being lazy just to ask what to do? We also have to be our own dwarves, our own men, our own ogres, to take care of the situation too.”
“Well, then ask specific question that we need to ask. You smart one. You come up with this masterful plan. It’s so complicated! You will have to tell it to me several more times!”
“We will, Ahnold. We will.”
“Oh, thank you.”
“So, basically the time in which the sword is to be completed doesn’t matter to our group? Correct? We’re going to do this tomorrow after we prepare the spells necessary? So, if I’m going to ask my God a question … the only thing I can think of is to ask how many smiths there are so I could leave my most powerful spell open. I can cast plane shift three times. I can cast it four if I use my strongest spell. If I can save that for something else, I can use it against the enemies in there.”
“But you still require …?” Himo said.
“The focus,” Groth said.
“… the focus,” Himo said.
“How many … how many with this plane … shit spell?” Ahnold said.
“Plane shift,” Groth said. “Up to eight at a time.”
Ahnold started counting on his fingers.
“I could also ask where there’s some aluminum as well,” Groth said.
“But you can only ask one question?” Alexiah said.
“It’s … sort of,” Groth said. “It’s not like a question-question. It’s … um …”
“Twenty-four!” Ahnold finally said.
“You …” Groth said. “It provides useful advice to a question of a specific goal or activity that is to occur within one week. It is a question. I mean, I could ask him what is our best route to free the smiths and obtain the sword. But it could also be very cryptic and vague …”
“His response you mean,” Alexiah said.
“Right,” Groth said. “As Gods often work. So …”
“Not your question,” Ahnold said. “You don’t your question to be cryptic and vague.”
“No,” Alexiah said.
“Right,” Groth said.
“Say ‘What is my question, Clangeddin Silverbeard,” Ahnold said. “‘What question should I ask?’”
“Ask him what question to ask. That’s cryptic.”
“Or ‘Where will I be buried?’ ‘Cause it’s about a crypt.”
“I mean, would your God be able to tell us what we could all do individually?” Max said.
“Uh …” Groth said.
“Didn’t the giant tell us that there were 20 slaves in there?” Alexiah said.
“At least,” Groth said. “I mean the other thing is, if there’s a couple left over, they could go with us through cubehop.”
Groth asked if he should ask for the best way to get the spell focus. He was uncertain how they would teleport there. Himo noted if they were trying to get as many of the smiths out as possible, they would have to get in and out as quickly as they could before the pit fiend and whatever else was there came to investigate. There was talk of going back to Rigus. Himo asked if they could use the helmet to get to the town, but he was told they were on a different plane from where they were. The cubehop spell would allow them move from one cube to another to the portal back to Rigus.
“How big is … is whole place?” Ahnold said, swinging his arms wide.
“Infinite,” Groth said. “Forever.”
Ahnold looked around himself, his mind blown.
Fred spoke of learning the cubehop spell instead of casting it from scrolls but realized not only would it take a while, but he wasn’t a powerful enough mage to cast it.
Groth decided to ask how to best get the spell focus for his spell. He asked if anyone had holy water but only Turk had a single vial. Ahnold checked his pouch but didn’t have any. There was talk of blessing water but it didn’t seem worth the effort.
Max forged a telepathic link with everyone and sent them the image of the Pit of Toil from the giant’s mind.
Groth thought about the creatures he saw. He knew little about the azer. He knew the bladeling was native to the plane of Acheron and they were extremely hard to injure without bludgeoning weapons.
Fred recognized the blade golem. They were more dexterous than an iron golem and their hands were blades resembling axes or swords. Rather than slam, their attacks were both keen and wounding. They were also immune to any spell or spell-like ability that could be resisted by magical spell resistance and certain spells and affects acted differently to the creature: magical electrical attacks slowed them and magical fire attacks broke the slow effect and healed them. It was also affected normally by rust attacks. The thing also had a poison gas breath weapon. He knew dragonnes typically preferred deserts.
Ahnold pointed at Groth.
“How do Ahnold get bling … that floats around your head?” he said.
“Oh, the shards, yeah,” Groth said.
“They’re sparkly and glittery.”
“That’s something else to keep in mind. Those could all potentially come in handy as well.”
There was some talk about the potential for the elementals to be charmed and using detect magic and dispel magic to deal with that. They talked about Fred using arcane eye to look into the place and possibly into the pit, though they were not sure how the symbol would work if he saw it with the arcane eye. Certain symbols could affect him directly or could destroy the eye.
Groth went off to cast his divination spell.
“What is the quickest and easiest way to obtain the spell focus or the material to make the spell focus to cast plane shift to the material plane?” he asked.
He received his answer and returned to the others.
“He told me ‘Rigus is the path to many things,’” he said. “We’d have to go back to Rigus.”
“Do it!” Ahnold said. “Do it now!”
They talked about Fred cubehopping back to the Battle Cube and then back to Rigus, get the stuff, go through the secret passage to the portal, return to Acheron, and cubehop back to the lost cube. Alexiah asked if they would cubehop back to the others, but they didn’t know. In the past, they had always gone to where their friends were. She suggested someone stay there so they’d return. Groth said it should only take a very short time to get to Rigus and back, going back through the secret entrance. He suggested Fred and himself do it. He also noted if anyone needed anything else from Rigus, they could get that as well.
“Before you go, it’s not as easy to get back to Acheron as you’re making it sound,” Alexiah said. “When Falstaff and I returned to Rigus … when Falstaff and I were together we went back to Rigus to find where you were located and, in order to get back to Acheron, we had to … ask of favor of Barry the Spiked Devil. He required that we promise to do a favor for him in the future in order to get back through the gate.”
“Uh,” Groth said. “I don’t like that.”
“So, all of this is an option but there is a price to pay.”
“I mean, Falstaff did try to replicate what he was doing with the chalk and drawing the door and all of those things and it did not work out. We couldn’t replicate it and we had to go back to Barry to make that happen.”
“Okay, so …”
“I mean you could pay him. I’m sure it would be a very exorbitant fee. We did not have the funds to make a payment at that time.”
Groth guessed the drawn door wasn’t the portal but only led to it. He suggested using the helm of teleportation in Rigus to teleport to the room where the rust dragon and the portal to Acheron had been. They talked about how many people the helm could teleport and Groth asked who had bags of holding of what size. He noted some people would have to be in bags of holding to get them into the Pit of Toil, but only if they put the helmet on Ahnold, who wouldn’t count as a large creature at that point. But others would have to use the bags and they’d need Fred to cast it as well if they all wanted to go at once. They discussed breathing in a bag of holding and Groth noted they would have to hold their breaths.
“So, our lives are in your hands,” Max said. “Okay.”
They talked of Fred just going by himself.
Ahnold went to the giant body and started to drag it away.
“Before you do that,” Groth said. “This is a dwarf thing. We need his fingernails.”
Ahnold and Groth looked at the giant’s hand to see that it looked like the fingernails of the giant were already ripped out. Groth looked at Turk with a raised eyebrow. Turk nodded.
“There’s no fingernails there,” Ahnold said. “I didn’t take ‘em!”
He had seen Turk go over to the body and rip the fingernails from the giant while the others were talking.
“I didn’t take ‘em,” Ahnold said again. “I don’t even chew my own fingernails.”
Ahnold looked at the body.
“Do you want his ears too?” he said.
“Hm-mm,” Groth said.
“You could make a nice necklace out of ‘em,” Ahnold said. “Maybe a hat.”
Groth looked at the giant’s face but the creature only had a mustache.
He went off to make a list to go with Fred to Rigus. Ahnold took the body away and left it.
They spent the night in the pocket paradise. Before they bedded down, Groth cast bull’s strength on Ahnold, knowing it would last 11 hours.