The following post was written by Chris Fong and the player for Philo / Lux. Enjoy!
We once again had issues with players unable to meet, so with two players in attendance, it was decided to improvise another ad hoc adventure with brand new characters, set during the war that was referenced in the first Gaiden adventure. This gave the players an opportunity to play around with different classes abilities. They started out as level 4 characters already, a reference that they’re not rookie adventurer’s in this historical tapestry.
During the last great War of the Realms, the Council of Necromancers formed, desperate to conquer the realm in their lust for power. The civilized races of humans, elves, dwarves, and outlanders joined forces to defend themselves and their homes from this threat. Calling themselves the United, a great war was waged, and destruction scarred the land.
During this time, great heroes emerged to lead the people against the chaos. Among them was the Iron War Elemental, a mighty iron golem imbued with the soul of a heroic, nameless dwarf. Called Zentral among his closest allies, he set out on a quest with two of his closest lieutenants to acquire a powerful artifact, the Urn of Heroes, said to possess the ashes and souls of heroes past. Zentral hoped to utilize its magic to help him forge a shield impervious to the magics employed by the Council of Necromancers.
Meanwhile, one of the most powerful Necromancers, a dwarf mage named Halorin, and the archrival to the Iron War Elemental, broke away from the council, forming a third power for the Council and the United to contend with. It is also said that Halorin too seeks the Urn for his own gain…
The Iron War Elemental stood nearly twelve feet in height, a hulking humanoid of metal and destruction. Yet he moved with surprising quickness and was light on his feet considering his massiveness. He was breaking camp with his two lieutenants, a mutant salamander barbarian calling himself Thing-of-Nouns (I like to think of him as a ninja turtle, except as a salamander and more barbarian-like,) and a human paladin named Lux. While the overnight hours had been kind with no attacks of any kind, this morning would not be so kind, as two massive creatures nearly as tall as the Iron War Elemental suddenly appeared. Sporting bear-like bodies with owl-like heads, these two owlbears roared and hooted all at once before attacking. The Iron War Elemental suddenly found himself wrestling on the ground with one, while Thing-of-Nouns charged at the other with his greatsword. Lux joined his fellow lieutenant in the fray, and the two were able to damage their foe, with the salamander using his greatsword to slice off the beak of his prey. Meanwhile, the Iron War Elemental quickly snapped the neck of his owlbear. For inexplicable reasons, Lux ran over to the dead owlbear and stabbed it in the head, followed by Thing-of-Nouns, who brought his greatsword down on the already dead owlbear.
“I think you both have your own enemy to deal with.”
Thing-of-Nouns and Lux glanced at each other before turning around and finishing off their foe in quick, brutal fashion. The mutant salamander hissed a victory cry and kept the dismembered owlbear beak as a trophy of his conquest.
For the next few hours, the terrific trio traveled through the forest until they happened upon what looked to be ancient ruins. Two giant stone doors stood before them, towering in height, even taller than the Iron War Elemental. Suddenly, a giant roar pierced their ears coming from behind them, to their left. It sounded to be miles off, and yet it was no less blood-curdling. A dragon was nearby. The Iron War Elemental made a decision.
“My friends, the two of you must go into the ruins to recover the Urn of Heroes. I will go dragon hunting. Lux, if I may have a word?” The Iron War Elemental pulled Lux aside, and pulled out an orb the size of an apple with a pin in the middle.
“Are you familiar with alchemist’s fire?”
“I…really? Have you ever seen alchemist’s fire used?”
“Good. I designed this device, inspired by alchemist’s fire. Just pull the pin and throw it at your enemy if things get out of hand. I have no clue what danger you’ll encounter in those ruins, but it is critical that you and Thing-of-Nouns succeed in this mission. And now, I must be off.”
The Iron War Elemental handed the curious throwing weapon to Lux before running off, away from the ruins. As he received the new weapon, Lux closed his eyes tightly and bowed his head down. “I give you my sacred oath sir, that we will be successful in our most holy mission. I, Lux, paladin of valor, will bring light to the darkness, and see your will be done! You have my word! I thank thee lord, for in thy mer-”
“Who are you talking too?” asked Thing-of-Nouns, curious at Lux’s strange behavior.
Lux opened a single eye, realizing no one was around to hear him except his mutant salamander companion. “Uh, come Thing-of-Nouns!”
Patience was not a strong suit of Thing-of-Nouns, and he went straight towards the doors and began to push. Straining his muscles to the utmost, the mutant salamander hissed as, slowly but surely, the doors parted before his impressive might. With the doors now open, Lux lit a torch and proceeded into darkness, his salamander friend following behind.
For several minutes, the two walked down a seemingly endless corridor, well-carved stone brick surrounding them, reminding Lux of fine, dwarven craftsmanship. Thing-of-Nouns chose to crawl on all fours, occasionally eating a stray insect as he traveled. Lux suddenly walked straight into what appeared to be an invisible wall, rubbery and slimy by the touch, and sticky too! Before he knew it, his body was being sucked into a gelatinous cube! The torch still glowed brightly within the cube, illuminating its shape.
The cube proceeded to attack Thing-of-Nouns, doing damage as the two traded blows. Some would have called Lux “trapped” in the Gelatinous Cube. Lux bravely stood his ground within the cube surrounded by all sides. Using all of his might, he tried to push through the monstrosity, but was unable to move. It was like trying to wade through slime. Things were not looking good. his skin was beginning to get tingly and hot. The gelatinous cube would slowly consume him if he was not freed!
In a fine maneuver of swordsmanship or tomfoolery, Thing-of-Nouns charged and pierced his greatsword into the gelatinous cube, incidentally striking the shield of Lux with such force that the paladin went flying through the other side of the gelatinous cube, covered in acidic slime. Acting instinctively and heroically, Lux quickly whispered an oath and slashed his sword as he went flying through the other side, doing even more damage to the slimy dungeon monster. Realizing a need to end the battle quickly, Lux said another oath and leapt through the air above and over his foe, his body spinning as he brought down his blade, glowing with the purity of valor, bisecting the gelatinous cube completely, and dexterously landing his on his feet in front of Thing-of-Nouns. The enemy defeated and despite being wounded himself, Lux healed Thing-of-Nouns injuries, recovered the slimy torch, and the two proceeded forward into the dungeon ruins.
A few minutes later, our heroes found themselves in a large chamber with four unlit torches resting in wall sconces, and a stone door with intricate carvings at the far end with no apparent way to open. Lux decided to shed some light on the matter and lit all four torches. This prompted the appearance of a Minotaur sitting in a giant throne, materializing out of thin air at the center of the room. Introducing himself as Alexander, he applauds Lux for even thinking of lighting the torches, something he hasn’t experienced before. He proceeds to tell them that if they wish the door open, they must answer three riddles correctly, and gives them five categories: 1.) human ability, 2.) magical energy, 3.) Exorcism, 4.) the Four Horsemen, and 5.) the Seven Sins. After a brief huddle, they select the Seven Sins as their first category:
I covet what you have
Green eyes glinting
Alighting always on something beyond my grasp.
“What is envy?” Thing-of-Nouns asks. He is correct. For the second category, the duo chooses natural ability.
Nimble-footed, nimble fingered,
Dodging blows by reflex, doling extra attacks
Faster than blades,
I speed arrows on their way.
“What is the dexterity of a thief?” Lux proudly asks. Alexander ponders for a moment; the mention of a thief was gratuitous, but does not make the actual answer any less relevant, so he allows it. Wiping the sweat off their brows (do mutant salamanders sweat?), they select exorcism for their third, and hopefully final category.
Always wax, yet always wane:
I melt, succumbing to the flame.
Lighting darkness, with fate unblest,
I soon devolve to shapeless mess.
Lux thinks for a moment before pulling a candle from his adventuring gear, and says: “This!” Alexander reminds him to phrase it in the form of a question. “What is this?” Lux says, pointing at the candle in his hand. Alexander nods, clearly impressed with the two lieutenants standing in front of him, and with a few gestures, the door at the far end rises and opens. For answering all three riddles correctly with no wrong answers, the minotaur rewarded the dynamic duo with a glowing bottle, citing that Lux “looked like bull poop!” Lux took the observation as a challenge to drink the mystery liquid. He immediately downed the potion, and found the injuries he suffered in the previous battle healed. The minotaur waved farewell and vanished before their eyes. With the path before them clear, the two made their way down another corridor.
A couple of minutes passed before they happened upon a larger chamber, where hundreds of rupees lay scattered throughout. At the far end of the chamber was an alcove, where a brilliant urn rested. There was no sign of life within the room, save for one curious rabbit. Feeling an irrepressible, barbaric urge to skin the rabbit, Thing-of-Nouns charged at it, brandishing his greatsword. The rabbit suddenly leapt at the mutant salamander with surprising speed and grace; his greatsword managed to connect a grazing blow as the rabbit landed and gnawed on the salamander’s shoulder.
Thing-of-Nouns hissed in pain as Lux leapt into action, grabbing at the rabbit and pulling it off his companion. The rabbit went hurtling at the wall, only to springboard off it straight at the paladin. Raising his shield, Lux perfectly times his defense, and shield bashes the rabbit to the ground. Thing-of-Nouns takes advantage of this opportunity, driving a dagger straight into the rabbit’s head, killing it instantly.
With no more enemies before them for the moment, Lux walked over to the far end of the room, and retrieved the urn from the alcove. It appeared ordinary in its appearance, not golden and lacking any intricate detail. And yet, it shone brilliantly, and both Lux and Thing-of-Nouns felt inspired. Lux shoved the urn into his backpack, and tried to heal his friend’s wounds. However, his healing abilities failed him, so he sacrificed his own health by transferring any wounds and diseases the barbarian had to his own body. Lux ponders his sacrifice. Knowing Thing-of-Noun’s hedonistic tendencies, Lux really hopes it won’t start burning when he has to use the outhouse.
Feeling better, Thing-of-Nouns began to skin the rabbit, and kept the carcass as another trophy, his second of the day. He also proceeded to scoop up rupees from the floor, even though it was not essential to their mission. There was no reason not to; their task is complete, or so they think. Suddenly, the commotion of cursing and battle fills their ears, coming from the corridor they just came from. The dynamic duo looked at each other before uttering a single word and running from where they came.
Moving with haste, the two returned to the chamber where they met the riddling minotaur. They encountered a grisly sight, the minotaur on the floor, covered in his own blood and the blood of his enemies. Over a dozen orc bloodwarrior bodies lay defeated, scattered throughout the room. Standing near Alexander’s prone body was a lone orc bloodwarrior along with two goblins wielding spears and another goblin that appeared to have no weapons.
The orc bloodwarrior swore bloody vengeance for the death of his comrades, intending to take out his oath on Lux and Thing-of-Nouns. The mutant salander hissed a challenge at his enemies, immediately drawing the attention of the orc and two armed goblins. The lone goblin took several steps backward, making arcane gestures. A goblin magic-user! Lux had wanted to attempt healing Alexander, but the greater threat had made itself clear, and as a paladin of valor, he could suffer no evil creature to live. With the goblin magic-user preparing an incantation, Lux chose to charge it, with the hope that he could take it down quickly enough and hopefully heal Alexander, assuming the Minotaur could be healed. Lunging forward, Lux screamed his holy word.
The goblin magic-user unleashes a putrid green orb from his hands, slimy and transparent. Lux tries to anticipate where the attack will land and raises his shield to counter. He anticipates incorrectly, and is struck in the forehead for his efforts. Despite the blinding pain, he now finds himself in melee range with the magic-user and strikes down. Meanwhile, Thing-of-Nouns winds up, intending to knock his enemies down with a wide swing of his greatsword, but he mistimes his swing and hits nothing but air. The goblins are so shocked by this turn of events, they freeze in their tracks, perhaps anticipating that they are being baited. The orc does no such thing, and injures the mutant salamander with a jagged blade.
Lux manages to greatly injure the orc magic-user with a swing of his blade. Once more, he utters his holy oath! Over and over again!
“Die! Die! Die!”
The magic-user manages to conjure another acid orb, but is unable to let it loose before Lux swings his mighty blade with great valor, killing the goblin magic-user. Thing-of-Nouns meanwhile manages to nimbly dodge the orc bloodwarrior, and shoulder tackles him down to the ground. Raising his greatsword for a killing blow, he surprisingly misses, while the orc counterattacks from the floor, stabbing upward, his jagged blade once more drawing mutant salamander blood.
Lux charges forward, swinging his blade at one of the goblins. The goblin tries to parry with his spear, but the blade slices through the spear and neck of the goblin, killing it instantly. An enraged Thing-of-Nouns swings his greatsword once more, finally connecting with the orc, killing it instantly in a mess of blood and entrails. The lone goblin drops his spear, and runs down the hallway. The goblin footsteps grow more and more faint, before a clang is heard. Metallic footsteps fill the hallway as the Iron War Elemental emerges into the room, looking somewhat haggard and fatigued.
“My friends, did you recover the Urn of Heroes?”
Lux produces the Urn for all to see. Sadly, Alexander the minotaur has died and is past the point of healing, magical or otherwise. The Iron War Elemental and his two lieutenants make their way towards the ruins entrance, their mission an apparent success…
As an aside, the riddles I used are from ‘So What’s The Riddle Like, Anyway III’ from Raging Swan Press. No, I don’t work for them, and you can find it here.