RECAP: Age of Ashes, 5-22-20

After the defeat of Gerhardt, the party planned to cross the river to the south, avoid the elephant people and move northeast along the river and then north to the camp where they saw the vrock overflying. But before that, Damien took the better part of the day to build a good raft; his plan, once they were able to return to the Elven village, was to build a boat of magical capabilities. But for now, a solidly manufactured raft of local materials would have to do. Well-crafted and light, it would bear the party across the river as needed, and allow them easy portage as was necessary.

It was blazing hot the next day, and the river was moving slowly, but traversing the 300 feet across would be fairly uncomplicated. That evening, the weather turned darker and colder, and everyone decided to wait until the next morning to carry on. They enjoyed a peaceful night.

The next day there were clear skies but the heat was brutal. The party paddled and poled their way across the river without incident and beached the raft to explore the rest of the hex. Tons of insects bedevilled them as they explored, and in the afternoon the skies grew cloudy and dim in the jungle. Soon it began to rain. By late afternoon, the party stumbled across an enormous skeleton of some sort of great beast. Carrion birds picked at the remaining flesh, which led them to think that this creature had only been dead for a few weeks. It was large enough that people could walk inside the rib cage, and they followed a trail of giant vertebrae was a house sized skull. The creature had a huge body, and a long neck. The party decided to camp for the night at the skeleton; the insects were terrible.

On the third day, there was no rain but the environment was cloudy and oppressive. Nothing of note was found.

On the fourth day, the party was dragging the raft along the river. It was a sunny morning and they moved with good speed. Around noon we came across a swampy area and were tacking back and forth across the river – the area turned out to be riddled with quicksand. Damien and Baelfir were both caught, and Ink and Tasno took out ropes to assist the others in getting themselves out of the quicksand. Eventually Baelfir managed to extricate himself, and he assisted the other two in getting Damien loose as well. All were careful as they made their way forward afterward; they tested the ground continuously until they were safe.

Fifth day: it was very dark and cloudy, although not as hot or humid as the previous days. The terrain was very swampy, in some cases water reached 5 feet of depth, and the party had to travel mostly by raft. They poled through the waterlogged trunks of trees and by noon they could see a larger structure – a granite slab rising up from the swamp. On top of the slab were various sorts of dwellings and towers made of red adobe clay bricks, baked in the sun. Some of the towers reached as high as 30 feet above the top of the slab, and around the perimeter there were wooden pillars topped with dragon heads, larger than before, with a flicker of energy crackling between some of them. The party did not approach, but looked to see if the pillars correlated with anything they had experienced before.

  • Inactive pillars: black, blue, green, yellow.
  • Active pillars: dark blue/indigo, red, orange, violet.

Each colored pillar created a barrier that had a protective effect. Crossing the energy fields would subject a person to multiple spell effects, thought Ink. The party passed by them quietly, and moved forward for several more hours just to be safe. They had Renali set up camp, while they continued exploring. The region was less swampy but more dense, and exploring was arduous.

Sixth day: the party spent the traveling all day, due north toward the mining camp. They had to move through incredibly dense jungle, but like before, there were no animal sounds the closer to the camp they got. Ultimately they found the trail around midday, and used it to approach the camp. A vast mine had been dug into the earth with a lot of yellow mod/dirt around it, coating things and making the air dusty. Lots of the baboon creatures – the charau-ka – could be seen, putting several cooking at a large fire. One building had several cots in front of it. Another structure more to the north across the pit. There was also a large mound of mud to the northwest.
They could not see the rock. Damien decided to use the wand of invisibility and moved into the compound to conduct a reconnaissance:

  • Northeast: lots of tangled branches like a huge birds nest. The party surmises that this might be the nest for the rock.
  • Mine: lots of baboon creatures and boggards working in the mine. There was also a violet colored dragon totem in evidence, circled by a bunch of wispy creatures that seem to be attracted to it a circular ramp led up out of the mine and into the camp.
  • North: a large wooden cage, holding a dinosaur similar to the bones of the much larger one the party had encountered before.
  • East: a wooden hut, with some smoke curling out of the chimney. And table sat outside with some sort of leather cover that covered some objects underneath, on the southern side of the hot was a summoning circle carved into the dirt, and poured with a lead.
  • South: the baboon creatures had made something of a barracks; in the cots seemed to be sick baboon creatures and boggards, some of them groaning, some of them still. Some healthy boggards seemed at first to be acting as medics, but upon second glance they weren’t providing any medical attention to the ones in the cots.
  • Southwest: three baboon creatures were cooking over a large pit of coals. Nearby, another pit with a bamboo cover contained smoked carcasses and some vegetables and water – essentially, food storage.

There was some discussion regarding tactics. Ultimately a plan was formulated: lead off the vrock with animal sounds into the woods, then Grease and Web it. Vrocks are creatures of the Abyss, said Ink; they are also known as “wrath demons.” They are formed from the worst aspects of nature – any magic that has a calming affect will do them damage, and cold iron hits them as well.

The plan was agreed upon, and the party selected a suitable killing ground. Ink greased the ground, and enacted ghost sound to attract the Vrock. The vrock landed nearby with an extraordinary thud; flies swarmed around the creature. It moved into the killing ground, then slipped and fell prone in the grease. Ink immediately cast Web, and it was stuck. Damien used that caterwaul sling to blast it with sonic damage, then jumped down out of the trees in which he was hiding to attack it with his kukris. Tasno cast true strike and hit the creature with an arrow – max damage. Ink cast heightened magic missiles through the wand he’d just acquired, and Baelfir rushed in to attack but the vrock critted him with its beak, doing horrendous damage.

Tasno cast phantom pain from the mentalist’s staff, followed by Ink casting a huge sonic bolt that did significant damage. The vrock was finally able to stand and break away from the web, but it was too late: Damien slashed at it viciously and eviscerated it. It slowly evaporated in a cloud of foul-smelling black smoke. Ink then used all the available charges on the staff of healing to bring Baelfir back to a semblance of health.

Back at the camp, Tasno cast invisibility sphere on the party, and they sneaked over to the large cage in the North. Damien unlatched the cage door, at which point Ink used ghost sound again to imitate the screech of a vrock. The creature, known as “Mokale Mbembray” in Mwangi, crashed through its now open gate in a rage. It thundered through the camp, knocking baboon creatures aside, trampling several of them, and sending and wounded flying through the air. It ultimately crashed through the trees at the southern end of the camp and disappeared into the jungle.

The party moved south towards the fire pit, and Ink exited the invisibility sphere to take up a position on the edge of the mind. Battle with the baboon creatures commenced and it was very ugly, a real scrap. Ink was hit hard and bleeding profusely. Tasno cast gravity well and dragged a baboon creature into the blazing fire, along with a huge stack of bamboo that buried the creature in the coals. Its screams were hideous.

Eventually all the baboon creatures outside the mine were killed, and the party turned its attentions to those down in the pit. Ink created a flaming sphere in the mind and began burning the creatures down there alive; Damien began shooting rays of frost down there as well. The creatures tried to cluster, to provide themselves some semblance of safety, but Tasno only took the opportunity to blast them with a fireball. Their screams of fear and pain echoed through the entire mine. At one point, a kobold sorcerer came out and began attacking the party from the eastern flank. She and Tasno got into a spell battle, and she proved to be very hard to kill, but ultimately both Damien and Baelfir were able to add their strength to Tasno’s spell power and she fell. Then everyone turned their attentions to the remaining baboon creatures in the pit. It was a slaughter; between the flaming sphere, the rays of sonic and frost, and Tasno’s illusory vrock that frightened the baboon creatures and kept them from escaping, nothing was able to survive. Even the wispy creatures, which proved to be some sort of flying snail, were shot down one by one after giving chase to Damien, who had charged the totem and used a hero point to knock it to the ground.