Recounted by: Jameson Sheehan
As we continue the tale of our venture through Gary Gygax’s Temple of Elemental Evil, we find ourselves at the 3rd level of the Temple as our adventurers journey deeper within. But, before we start, we should first address the players and their respective characters, the first three of which are members of our podcast series. Randall played Toki, a Cleric once devoted to Sarenrae, but now devoted to Asmodeus, due to a misfortunate magic fumble that resulted in a change of his alignment. Gabe played McClain, a resilient fighter dedicated to the DieHard feat chain. Mike played Eum (pronounced A-oom), an eccentric barbarian sorcerer who deftly wielded a trident to fend off his foes. He possessed a unique magical item: a tattered hat inside of which housed the spirits of Mike’s previous two characters, Depsto and Kerus, an inquistor and ranger, respectively. These spirits could be called upon once per day to offer guidance for Eum. The fourth player was Jack, who played Sneezy the First, a noble paladin with his stalwart steed. (Jack continued to name his characters Sneezy throughout the campaign). It was this group of noble adventurers that became my rescuers when I joined the party.
My introduction to the campaign was rather interesting and memorable. The party had cleared about one fourth of the 3rd level by the time they found me. They were sneaking through a few corridors when they turned a corner and found a basilisk facing their direction, menacing and deadly.
Aside: For those of you not familiar with this creature, a basilisk is an eight-legged reptilian monster whose gaze turns those that lock eyes with it to stone in the same manner as a medusa.
Upon careful consideration and study of their foe, they realized that it was rather quite still and actually only an illusion. It was then the party heard the sounds of torture and yelps of pain from the nearby door. Inside was my character, Chase, a fighter rogue who had been captured by the denizens of the Temple and was presently being tortured by a female warrior who relished torturing and humiliating her captives. I was tied up to a rack, my limbs stretched as far as they were able, as the party burst through the door and attacked my captor. The party handily defeated her together and turned to free me from my bindings… with a big surprise. Oh, did I forget to mention? I was clothed only in a pink, frilly thong, much to the shock (and disgust) of my rescuers. After grabbing my gear from the far side of the room, and regaining some dignity, I joined the party in their exploration of the Temple.
Journeying deeper within the 3rd level, we eventually came upon an armory adorned with well-crafted swords, spears, shields, and suits of armor along each of the rooms walls. We began our inspection of the room and, distracted by the treasure within, failed to notice the unnatural movement of shadows around the room. We were ambushed by a group of six to ten shadows, vile undead creatures that hale form the Plane of Shadow.
Aside: Shadows are exceptionally dangerous creatures individually or in pairs, and are outright murderous when in large groups. The greatest threat of shadows besides the difficulty of hitting them due to their incorporeal ghostly nature is the fact that they don’t deal hit point damage, but instead deal strength damage with a special caveat: you die if your strength reaches zero and arise moments later as another shadow.
Having been ambushed and unprepared, the shadows set upon us with violent intent and brought us down. Sneezy, the paladin, was struck down first, having drawn the evil creatures like a beacon in the dark. Next was McClain, who valiantly attempted to fight them off. The rest of us began a hasty retreat from the Temple to the broken tower outside, once an outpost of evil but now the party’s base of operations. This is a tactic would later be known as Plan A within our group because of how frequently we had to implement it. When all else fails… RUN! As we retreated, Chase was struck down, his time with the party having just now begun and now rapidly over. The last to fall was Toki, the stalwart cleric of Asmodeus who had been around since the party first attempted to delve into the Temple. Only Eum survived, alone and forsaken in the dark dreary expanse that surrounded the Temple with little hope remaining.
If you recall from last week, I mentioned that there were a series of seven seals that were being broken in succession by the forces of evil at the Temple that would eventually lead to the destruction of the region and possibly the world were they all to be broken. At this point, only 2 remained to be unbroken and only a week remained in game until they would be so destroyed. The party was running out of time. A heavy fate rested upon Eum’s shoulders. He could face the villainy within the Temple alone, but he would have no hope to survive for long. Hommlet, the nearest refuge of good, was too far away to return in time with additional aid on his quest to defeat the machinations of Iuz and Zugtumoy. Lost and bereft of hope, Eum turned to prayer. He cast a desperate call for aid and prayed to the goddess Desna, the patron of travelers, the butterfly of the dawn and twilight, and as fate would have it the mistress of luck. Tonight, luck was a lady. And this is why we love Desna.
Let’s set the stage: Mike tossed his percentile dice, the fate of the campaign literally resting on this dice roll. They tumbled and rolled to reveal a 100. We all cheered with excitement!
At this moment, Desna was enjoying a game of craps among the plains of Elysium with her followers and the master of revelry and drinking, the god Cayden Cailean. Hearing Eum’s prayer resound within her ears, calling to her of his desperate situation, she knew this was not a plea for help she could ignore. Eum felt a sense of calm and hope grow within his heart: his prayer had been answered! A torrential portal of magical energy opened in the ceiling of the tower next to Eum, out of which fell four warriors and magicians – pulled from the flock of souls that reside of in Elysium and returned to life to aid Eum in his valiant quest. All five of them were further granted a powerful potion that only could be crafted by the gods: a brewed concoction that held the powers of a true resurrection, the ability to return one who has succumbed to death regardless of the means restoring them to whole. Reinvigorated by the affirmation of his faith, Eum and his four new compatriots return to the Temple to defeat the evil within. Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished.
Upon journeying back into the Temple, we came upon a hexagonal room with doors leading off in five directions and another leading back the way we came. We stacked up on each door in sequence opening them up and clearing the room or corridor that lay beyond. Things were going well, until my new character a sorcerer cast a spell and fumbled. Another magic fumble arose to wreck havoc upon our party in the form of a tear in the fabric in reality, summoning several creatures hostile to all of those around them: a giant megalodon whale like creature, a pair Tyrannosaurus Rexes, and a frightening bone devil. “PLAN A!” we shouted. We began our hasty retreat back to the tower, most of us surviving. Gabe’s new character, Bhir, was bit in half and swallowed whole by one of the T-Rexes. The potion of resurrection on his chest did him no good as it resurrected him inside the stomach of the vile creature, causing him to suffer another vile death from the acid inside of the dinosaur’s stomach.
The remainder of the party managed to escape unscathed through to the tower… well, except for Frenzy. Frenzy was Randall’s new character, a gnome bard who loved to inspire is friends with his graceful dancing and charm his foes with his wit. Frenzy was set upon by the bone devil, filled with murderous intent. The bone devil slew Frenzy near to the exit from the Temple. As luck would have it, the bottle of true resurrection strapped to his chest shattered as he fell dead, its magic seeping into his body, bringing him back to life as he struck the stone floor. The only problem? The bone devil was still standing next to him. Randall rolled a bluff check, and luck finally having returned to our party, crit on his check to play dead. The bone devil then proceeded to slowly remove the skin from Frenzy’s back, as Frenzy did the greatest impersonation of death for the remainder of the time that the devil remained summoned to this world. The devil eventually winked out from existence, allowing Frenzy to wearily rejoin the rest of our party, in pain and damaged, but still alive, if only just so.
We eventually managed to clear out the remainder of the 3rd level of the Temple after many hardships, trials, and deaths of four more characters (including Sneezy the Second, Jack’s newest character). We managed to find the stairway that descended deeper into the Temple to the lowest level where the commanders of the Temple resided below. Tired from our endeavors of the previous days, we trudged down the steps, hopeful that the end of our quest was in sight, come what may.
Next week we will continue the story with the discussion of level 4 of the Temple and the four elemental nodes of power, from which the Temple gains its name.
Until next time, this has been Tales from the GM.