Temple of Elemental Evil – Part IV

Recounted by: Jameson Sheehan

Where we conclude the tale of our adventure through the Temple of Elemental Evil and face the breaking of the seventh and final seal chaining Zugtumoy to her prison…

After clearing the fourth and final level of the Temple, we journeyed back to the tower outside to weigh our options. Zugtumoy had not yet been released, though we knew the final seal would break in only a few days, so our time was short. The only problem? We had no idea where she was or how to defeat her. So, we did the only thing we could: we searched through all four levels of the Temple for anything we missed.

With the inhabitants cleared, we were able to search all four levels without trouble, and on the third level we found a secret door that we had previously missed. Inside we found a room that had many papers and books strewn about the place. It appeared to be a wizard’s study, now abandoned. Looking through the documents in the room we found a tale of a golden skull, an object tied to Zugtumoy that should be in the Temple… well, somewhere.

Searching the stonework of the room, we found a secret door on the opposite wall from the entrance. Directly in front of us was a panicked and angry wizard leveling a wand at us. A fireball came streaking down the passageway from the tip of the wizard’s wand and exploded amongst us. Smoldering and slightly singed, we gave chase to the wizard as he fled around the corner. We were met by yet another fireball to the face as we rounded the corner and caught a glimpse of the wizard diving for a blue shimmering portal with a bundle of cloth under his arm. Just as he jumped into the liquid surface of the portal, we managed to disarm the bundle out from under his arm. The portal closed after the wizard disappeared inside. We opened up the bundle and found a golden skull with four holes in its head. The paladin, Sneazy, decided to detect evil on it to see if it was in fact the skull mentioned in the documents and he promptly collapsed onto the floor, unconscious and overwhelmed by its forceful aura.

We carried him, various documents, and the skull out of the Temple to the tower to determine out what to do next.

From the documents, we found out that the skull was the key to the entrance to Zugtumoy’s prison. If one would be to insert the four elemental gems into the four slots in the golden skull and subject the skull to each of the 4 elements in quick succession, then the prison door would be revealed to us. We devised a crazy plan: we would play baseball. (Well… sort of.) Our paladin would hit the skull with his sword enchanted with lightning after the bard coated it in dirt from the ground. The skull would fly towards a wall of fire created by the druid, which would then be coated in water summoned by the cleric.

Happily our paladin could bat in the major leagues because, on his first strike, he hit a home run, driving the skull through the wall of fire and towards the cleric to be doused in water. The skull lit up and a stairway descending underneath the Temple in the entrance hall appeared where none was previously found.

We rested from our labors and awoke to the sky lit in a firmament of lighting and thunder as rain fell down from the heavens. The ground shook with a violent earthquake. We knew that the final day had come, for the seventh and final seal had finally been broken. We collected our armor, weapons, and other gear we might need for the final battle, and descended the newly revealed stairway to face off with Zugtumoy against all hope.

We climbed far down below to emerge into a vast cavernous chamber. The chamber was expansive in size, about half a mile across and around 100 feet in height from the floor to the ceiling. Descending the stairs, we found a beleaguered army that had been sealed inside to defend against Zugtumoy and her greatest minions locked in with her. They were tired and exhausted from years of this endless fight, attempting to hold her power back, but they had been failing as each successive seal was broken. The only hope to succeed against Zugtumoy was to take the fight to her before her power waxed to its fullest height where none but the gods could stop her. The army would breach a whole in Zugtumoy’s defenses to allow our party to get through to Zugtumoy to have a chance and defeating her.

The mechanic that our GM came up with for simulating large combat has to be one of my favorite moments in tabletop gaming. The GM arrayed the armies on our table with all of the many minions of Zugtumoy coming to attack us in waves. If they reached our battle lines, we would lose as their vast numbers would overrun our positions quickly. Our job was to control the siege equipment in our army: the ballistas and catapults. We would throw d20s or pencils at the minis on the table in initiative order based on which siege engine we were operating. The thing is we had to throw them starting at around 10 feet from the table. For every modifier point our characters had for intelligence, we got to move closer to the table 1 foot per point. IF we had a negative intelligence modifier, well we get to move further away. If we hit our own army lines, we had botched and fired into our own troops and had to move another foot away from the table. We had to survive for around 10 rounds of continuous waves before we would make a hole in the enemy lines through which our party could escape to Zugtumoy. We managed to survive, barely, and breached a gap in the opposing forces and fought our way to the lair of Zugtumoy and the final battle.

We emerged into a large rectangular cavern at the center of which was a circular pit of lava. On the other side of the pit stood Zugtumoy clad in her demonic majesty, ready for battle. She summoned a stone giant to fight beside her as we charged and now had to fight against two foes: the demon lord herself and a stone giant swinging a club. Our druid was quickly cut down. We fought long and hard around the pit of lava, suffering many wounds as we killed the giant and began to drain Zugtumoy’s power.

Eum fell in that bloody battle, a victim to the giant’s wrath. Frenzy was beheaded when Zugtumoy struck him with a strong kick. His body slumped to the ground as his head sailed through the air into the pool of lava. Only three of us remained: the cleric, the fighter, and the paladin. We surrounded her and struck at her with our last bit of strength to deliver the fatal blow. Zugtumoy fell before us and faded into the wind, destroyed and removed from the world at last.

The three of us stumbled from the ruins of the Temple with the rest of our army and took stock of what remained. Over the next few weeks, we would discover that the world of Golarion as a whole had suffered greatly. One whole third of the entire world population had been destroyed and devastated by the plagues and devastation that had been wrought by the breaking of the seven seals. Iuz was unaccounted for and still at large, though his ally and army had been defeated and destroyed. Most tragically and giving the longest term effect, the entire world was cut off from all good divine magic.

Next week, we will continue our story with Act II of our campaign: The Tomb of Horrors.

Until next time, this has been Tales from the GM.

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