Sunday, May 02, 2021

Sorcery! 2 - Magical Murder Mansion Part 2

Our villains defeated the strange water being that rose out of the fountain, and retrieved the second gold key from inside it. Then, after taking a moment to catch their breaths, they entered the hedge maze, headed to the tower at its centre.

They soon realised that the strangling vines that formed the maze shifted constantly, making it easy to lose one's way, and as they wandered through the maze, they could hear the low bellow of a huge beast stalking them. Horovar used all his skills to try to guide the party safely to the tower, but eventually he realised that to reach the tower, they would have to face the beast stalking them.

Entering a small clearing that was before the tower, they came face to face with a minotaur. Zhora and Silent leapt into attack, while Penn held back, shooting arrows at the beast. Horovar stepped behind the hedges "to summon a creature" (see PC profiles here), and soon a wolf appeared and started attacking the minotaur too. After a hard fought battle the party slew the beast; the wolf departed, and Horovar rejoined the party.

Our villains bound their wounds, and stepped up to the tower's doors. They inserted the two golden keys they have found, turned them - the door opened. Inside, they found a spiral staircase leading upwards, and also to the basement, where they knew the vault was.

Climbing the stairs to the first storey, they found Goncol's alchemical laboratory. There, they found a large clear tank on a table in the centre of the room, and at the bottom of the tank laid a third key. Forewarned by the clues left by Goncol, the party approached cautiously, and was able to determine that the clear yellow liquid inside the tank was a strong acid. Using the glass apparatus within the lab, our villains removed much of the contents of the tank and pured them onto the stone floor, which corroded part of it. Eventually they were able to lower the level of the acid sufficiently to fish the key out with a wooden pole. They were now one key away.

Continuing upwards, our villains came into Goncol's library. Here were all manner of magical tomes, and also what appeared to be Goncol's autobiography, but no golden key.

The next floor held a large chamber, with arcane patterns carved onto the floor. Near the staircase was a silver whistle hanging on a wall hook. Zhora recognised the patterns as a summoning circle, and the party wisely decided to leave the room and press onwards.

As the party entered the highest floor, they found that the walls and roof of the room was transparent. This was Goncol's astrological observatory. In the centre of the room was an astronomical model of the planets. Through the walls of the observatory the party could see the eastern sky starting to turn light - they had little time left before the king's men could arrive.

Our villains searched the room, but could not find a key. Then Penn had an idea: what if the line from the clues left by Goncol:

The other is not found upon this Earth, to find it you must return to my birth

referred to the model's position?

The party moved the model to what the planets would have looked like on the day of Goncol's birth, based on the autobiography they found in the library. when they had done so, they heard the sound of a click, and one of the planet models opened up: inside was the fourth key.

Hurry to the basement, the party opened the steel door to the vault with their four keys. The vault consisted of three rooms. In the first were held mundane treasures. In the second were several magical items and spell components, which the party pocketed. In the final chamber there was a plinth, upon which was an ivory scroll case.

Despite promising not to open the case, Horovar decided to do so. Peering inside, he found a scroll. Removing the scroll from the case, they found that it was a letter, seemingly from the last king. On the back of the page they found a hurriedly scribbled reply (see here). Returning the scroll to the case, the party made their way back to the front gate, pausing briefly only for Horovar to start a fire inside the mansion. On their way back to the city they passed the king's men, who were riding quickly towards the plume of smoke that now issued from the mansion...

That evening the party met once more at The Hanged Man. 'V' turned up as promised, received the scroll case, and paid our villains. He then gave them their second mission: to kidnap Morgana the Arch-Sorceress.

The Arch-Sorceress, who now resided in the College of Sorcery in Arkleton, he explained, was scheduled to attend Goncol's funeral at the Grand Temple of Libra in two day's time. Thereafter she will return to her tower in the hills, which was guarded by sorcery and her personal army of Blackguards, and from which any attempt to capture her would be impossible. The party had but two days to capture her, and bring her to the docks at Arkleton, where they will deliver her to a waiting ship, and receive their reward.

'V' emphasised that she was to be captured alive for questioning, and handed them a silver torc which he told them was to be placed upon Morgana's neck to prevent her from using her magic, and then left.

Prepping and Running the Game

This session is of course a continuation of the module we started the session before, and we actually went on to play the start of the module for the second mission, but for narrative purpose I will write about that in the next post.

The exploration of the dungeon was a straightforward puzzle-dungeon.

The real trap of the dungeon was actually the summoning chamber. There was no reward to be had at the chamber, but I left the set-up temptingly obvious, in the hope that Horovar's player will simply not be able to resist blowing on the silver whistle, which would have summoned a monster which the party would have to defeat in combat, something which they were in no shape to do at that point in time. I was happy to be disappointed.

There were a couple of combats this session, both against "monsters", which meant that the rules for Parrying and Dodging were not applicable. As a result we were not able to experience the full potential of the Forbidden Lands combat system, which is one of the reasons why I decided to use the rules. The next module will feature human opponents, which will allow us to try them out, but as it will be a heist scenario, there is a chance that we may play through the whole mission without combat.

Overall I have been satisfied with the rules. There are limited healing options, and playing as written the party would have been unable to progress at all at some points. Fortunately we were playing a mission with a ticking clock, so I was able to make the ruling that they could heal up at the expense of time. This will probably be something I will do for the next module too.

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