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Dragon of Life ([personal profile] dragonoflife) wrote on October 6th, 2016 at 06:30 pm


Hoard of the Dragon Queen --

Krixxix: Whores of the Dragon Queen!
DM: You’re playing a very different game than I am.
Maldrake: I thought I was playing Duke Nukem for Dragons.
DM: Yeah, it just came out for 2nd Edition.
Maldrake: No! I don’t want to play 2nd Edition!

Fresh off their meeting with Talis, who had been trying to play both side against the middle, they head to Skyreach Castle. The DM reminds them all: they know there is a giant, they know there is a dragon, and they know the passphrase to gain entry. Krixxix tells a horrible story of being stuck on a floating castle in a video game.

DM: Keep this story in mind as you progress.
Thalynmar: So you’re saying, leave Krixxix’s body where it lays.
DM: I’ve been saying that all game.
Krixxix: “But I’ve got friends!”

They reach the village of Parnast; Skyreach Castle sits in a ravine, all shrouded by fog. Said castle is made entirely out of ice, leading the group to speculate about the magics that preserve it against melting.

Krixxix: As we get closer, Krixxix goes, ‘Whoa-HO it’s magic! Ya knoooow—“
Thalynmar: (mimes slapping Krixxix)
Krixxix: “Ow.”
DM: 10 experience.
Krixxix: And he’s gonna take it.
Thalynmar: And yet my alignment never shifts.
DM: That was both Lawful and Good.
Krixxix: You should give him initiative or whatever. Inspiration.
DM: You have initiative if you want to keep attack him…

The group is collectively reminded inspiration exists. They attempt to send pigs on ahead to check for traps, and then some substantial debate occurs (for quite some time) about the exact layout. The group, to the DM’s incredulity, attempts to stop in the cultist-controlled, tiny town and purchase healing potions.

Raven: I have a lot of gold but I don’t know what kind of cool stuff you can get for a fighter. I don’t think you can buy magic items in this edition.
Krixxix: There’s no use for gold in this one.
Maldrake: As the DM has told us many times before, gold can be used to purchase housing and so forth. That we’ll never live in. I’m not sure why the DM kept telling us that. But I’m going to repeat it, so the DM understands that I don’t believe him.

The DM points out that the town is small and cultist-controlled, and is unlikely to have healing potions in bulk. Krixxix balks at the weight of healing potions and proposes putting the potion directly in a pouch.

Krixxix: What kind of cultist town is this?! No potions, no poisons, this place sucks!
Maldrake: It’s the happiest place on earth. There’s kids playing, there’s adults having a good time, it’s like this awesome utopia of magic.
Thalynmar: I disbelieve. ‘Oh my god. Look how destitute these people are.’
Krixxix: ‘Someone cast a really good spell. Put it back, put it back.’
Thalynmar: ‘I can’t! I wanna re-believe!’
DM: You watched it. You can’t un-watch it.

They spot a wagon rolling from town onto the bridge. The DM declares a phone moratorium, which was… actually surprisingly respected for this session. Town dwellers stare in hostility and fear at the group as they enter town. Racism ensues!

Krixxix: Persuasion. Deception. ‘There’s lots of naked women and treasure in that castle.’ 30.
DM: …who are you deceiving?!
Thalynmar: I don’t know.
Maldrake: No one’s walking near us. He’s deceiving himself.
Krixxix: I’m getting myself geared up to be there, okay?!
Maldrake: Roll against yourself and see if you pull off your deception, do you believe your deception?
DM: Roll your Insight….
Krixxix: No! I failed! I’ve lied to myself!
Thalynmar: He has hyped himself up.
Krixxix: THERE’S TITTIES AND JEWELS, LET’S GET MOVING!
DM: You’ll get your fair share. ‘Here you go, sir – one-sixth of a breast.’
Krixxix: I’m a small dude, man, that’s great!
Eben: He seems less treacherous and more lecherous.
Maldrake: Cryptic? How do you say your name? “Krixxix. I am honor-bound to tell you what your friend has told me. She has told us that you will betray us. You will turn us for her.”
Eben: (cracking up at the music playing in the background) This gentle harmonious tune! Over back of, ‘We now call to order the trial of Krixxix…’
Maldrake: “As I said, I’m honor-bound to tell you that.”
Krixxix: “Thanks.”

Krixxix cheerfully informs them he hasn’t decided as they approach, and they all run hurriedly off to lick the ice walls of the castle.

Maldrake: I dismiss my mount.
DM: Maldrake shoves his mount off the side of the bridge.
Maldrake: If I read it right, he just poofs.
DM: I like my interpretation better.
Maldrake: Listen. The last time – oh by the way, I get OFF my mount, and then dismiss it. I say it that way because the LAST time I dismissed my mount, because the pet dragon we had looked at it hungrily, I didn’t and he’s like, ‘Give me an Agility check.’ ‘Aww fuck, I forgot to get off it!’ I shoulda been like, “I invoke Looney Tunes rules, I’m not looking down.”

They charge across the bridge with Krixxix yelling about titties and jewels like a R-rated Monterey Jack. At the far side of the drawbridge stand two statues of giants. The PCs plow eagerly ahead!

DM: I remind you because it’s a session since we last played, you were given a passcode to get in.
Maldrake: Oh that’s right.
Thalynmar: Okay. I don’t remember that.
DM: I mentioned that in the recap at the beginning too.
Maldrake: You mentioned we had passcode, you didn’t say what the passcode was. ABOOM!
DM: I assumed if you didn’t –
Maldrake: Thalynmar! Wizard’s high five!
DM: It was, “Tiamat, our mother and strength.” I was trying to get you to that point in the hopes that you’d have a legitimate chance of remembering.
Thalynmar: The best way I remember is by reading game reports. And they haven’t been there.
Maldrake: “The passcode still stings my tongue. I hope that I don’t have to say the words.”
Krixxix: By the way, I’m still carrying around a fireplace poker.
Thalynmar: …oh yeah! I wrote it down too!
DM: Right beneath the power of the spider, huh, Thalynmar?

Each of them speaks the passcode in turn, though Maldrake chokes on his bile to do so.

Maldrake: “My body aches! The words taste like acid! …that’s not my own.”

Maldrake hams up his revulsion, while Eben complains about Raistlin for a bit and he and the DM debate how useful he actually was. They step into the massive courtyard, built on the scale of giants. Another courtyard overhangs this one, supported by ice arches. Giant doors open into many different buildings, and the group collectively fails a Perception check! Even Lualyrr! The last wagon rolls onto the bridge, and a voice on the tower calls for preparations to lift off.

Maldrake: “As much as our strategy for the last castle may have worked, I don’t think it’s going to work here. Charging into the kitchen and killing everyone there…”
Eben: MALDRAKE! MALDRAAAAAAKE! Maldrake was a man…

So far they haven’t been called out, so they decide to march into the main keep like they own the place. Into the main keep they head, finding it constructed on giant-sized proportions. Krixxix scoots on up to the first door they see, listening but hearing nothing and at last opening it up. They’ve found a human-proportioned guest room!

DM: To your halfling ass this is still huge. But this is comfortably furnished, probably if the cloud giants ever had guests.
Eben: Is there a table?
DM: Yes!
Eben: Is there a clock?
DM: Yes!
Thalynmar: What time is it? Water?
Krixxix: Is there anything to steal?
DM: No.
Krixxix: I wanna put poison on the doorknob, so the next person –
Thalynmar: No! Stop it!
DM: Later on you forget and come back...

On they head, finding a few other doors to investigate. Krixxix discovers a human-sized one is locked, and this is a siren song for him – he whips out his thieves’ tools and promptly blows any numbers of rolls to attempt to unlock the door.

Krixxix: What the fuck? I’m supposed to be a specialist in this!
DM: Yeah, at assassinating.
Eben: You can’t assassinate locks.
Thalynmar: You’re better than Marros, who didn’t even have tracking as a ranger.
Krixxix: Because Marros was fantastic. He was fabulous. He didn’t need tracking, creatures came to him!
Eben: ‘I’m the one everyone’s trying to find, why do I need tracking?’

The DM forbids Krixxix from a fourth retry at picking the lock, so Thalynmar whips out his crowbar. The DM just shrugs.

Eben: He licks his chops as he describes how excruciatingly you overexert yourself trying to move this four thousand pound door…

Thalynmar hopes for a natural 20, but – after a quick crowbar rules check – comes up with only 23. Krixxix proposes knocking on the door. The entire group become stuck on this one door, though Thalynmar at last notes that they can team up to open the giant-sized doors. Nevertheless, they knock!

DM: For a moment, a voice hisses out through the door. “What is it?”

Silence.

Krixxix: Anyone wanna start?
DM: YOU knocked!
Thalynmar: Come on, Mr. Deception.
Krixxix: “We’re trying to seek entrance. Tiamat is our mother and strength.”
DM: “How dare you novitiates bother me for something so trivial?! Begone, or I’ll have your heads.”
Krixxix: “Would you be kind enough to open the door first?”

Silence.

Krixxix: I’m open to ideas that as to why we should tell them open the door. Do we have a message? For who?
Eben: For Tiamat! Why not? Let’s just go full crazy!
DM: Your car has been impounded…

Krixxix has the name of the giant in charge of the castle, and Eben has his hit list. They take another stab at it.

Krixxix: “Apologies, great gatekeeper—“
DM: “What?!”
Maldrake: I grab him and start dragging him away.
Krixxix: “But we do seek entrance. Is there another manner in which we can get in?”
Maldrake: …but sadly he resisted and kept talking.
DM: Roll a Persuasion, you have disadvantage.
Krixxix: Fuck. 15.
DM: There is no response.
Maldrake: Oh guys, the silent alarm. “Dr. Wily! I heard the silent alarm!” God damn it, Mega Man…
Krixxix: What do giants like?
Thalynmar: I don’t know one intimately, sorry.
Krixxix: Outside of the game, I’m telling them my thoughts.
DM: Nope, you can’t. Talk in character. Stand there in that hall and talk in character.
Krixxix: “I guess we’ll have to find another way to get –“ What’s that giant’s name again?
DM: Blagothkus.
Thalynmar: Ginormous.
Maldrake: Humungous.
Krixxix: “Gotta get Ginormousgotkadis the special items he requested.

This effort to enter fails as well. The DM finally points out that they have enough general knowledge of the keep layout from observation to know that this area they’re trying to get into isn’t that huge. They elect to try elsewhere.

Krixxix: We turn. Shoulders slumped. Defeated.
Thalynmar: Chin held high.
Krixxix: As we shuffle our way back out again.

Thalynmar and Maldrake start totem-poling each other to reach the handle, only for Eben to open the door with Mage Hand inches before they do. They find themselves looking at the courtyard again, but this much closer they see an opening to a spiral staircase – with a cultist coming down! Said cultist gives them a nod and heads past them. And tries to get past them, comically. Thalynmar panics and murders him (no, not really).

Maldrake: Are we such not a threat for the dragons that they still don’t have crude wanted posters of us yet? Just keep a look out for a dragon, a dwarf, and a list of species that don’t hang out together.
DM: The castle begins to shudder.
Eben: What, just because we let this guy past us?!
Thalynmar: Yes, how dare you!
DM: The guy has walked past you and is knocking on the door.
Thalynmar: Same door we knocked on?
Krixxix: I want to listen in.
DM: “WHAT IS IT!?” “Just – just wanted to let you know, ma’am, they’re departing.” “Good. See to it I’m not disturbed. Find those idiots who were lurking about here and have them put to work in the kitchen.”
Krixxix: YES! We’re in the kitchen!
DM: He slowly looks sidelong at you guys.
Lualyrr: Wave.
DM: He looks at your armor, your weapons. “Yes ma’am.” He hurries off in the opposite direction.

The cultist is compared to Stormtroopers stumbling on Kylo Ren. The PCs elect to head up the stairs – wishing all the while they had some magic device they could leave behind to watch the door.

Raven: You talking about the Eye of Kellrogg that runs around?
Thalynmar: I like the Eye of Kellogg…
DM: It’s a full floating bowl of corn flakes.

After a pleasant moment of envisioning this, they clamber up the staircase and arrive in the upper courtyard. A massive central core dominates this area, but more immediately, several ogres are practicing their javelin-throwing. They hastily back down the staircase before they’re noticed, then head right back up.

DM: As you step out, the ogres pause in their throwing and turn to look at you, and by extension those of you who are behind him.
Thalynmar: “Afternoon, gentlemen.”
Krixxix: “What do you all want for lunch?”
DM: Roll a Deception.
Krixxix: 35?
DM: “Little early for lunch… we got mutton?”
Thalynmar: “…Sure!”
Krixxix: “Absolutely! Just came in with the shipment today!”
DM: “Mmm. Didn’t hear about that. Good to know. Mutton. Mutton for all of us.” “Yeah, mutton!” “There we go!”
Maldrake: That’s when the rest of the ogres show up, there’s like 50 of them.
Thalynmar: ‘Hoooollyyyyyyy shit.’
DM: In the back, one of the small ogres is going, “How many people it take to get a lunch order around here?”
Eben: Shut up, Toadwort.
Krixxix: “We’re all in training!”
Thalynmar: “Have you see the size of these sheep, boy?”
DM: “Well, Blagothkus also need lunch order, me take you to him. Fall in.”

The PCs follow him to the marching cadence of ‘hun-nerd-gold’, heading around the big core area to a huge tower in the back. They head in the tower, noting a manned ballista post up top and a low chime as the ogre opens the door. Four ogres are in the lower floor, all of them wearing a fancy plumed helmet.

Lualyrr: “Those are some fine helmets, gentlemen.”
DM: Roll me a Persuasion check; you get advantage.
Thalynmar: ‘Sexy small chick hot. Unlike castle.’
Lualyrr: 16.
DM: At your compliment the ogres puff up with pride. “Thank you, ma’am.” And forgetting to ask your business here, the small ogre takes you up the stairs.
Eben: Oh, Toadwort’s escorting us, that’s great. ‘Dukey! I bring lunchmen for you!’
Maldrake: Listen, guys, as much as this journey’s going great, we’re going back to the kitchen. You remember the last time we ended up in a kitchen?
Krixxix: It all worked out for us. And I have lots of poisons, so I plan to poison their food.
Maldrake: Listen, though. Because last time it was like 30 little guys. Now there’s thirty of those. I don’t like our chances.
Eben: But they all listen to Toadwort.
DM: The ogre knocks at the door, and you hear a deep booming voice. “Enter.”
Eben: SULESDAG is running the castle!

They step into the room and find the chambers of a storm giant, with said giant seated on a rug while ogres comb his hair. The players are somewhat angered that the picture of the giant in the module does not feature him having his hair combed.

DM: “Why are you.”
Eben: I should go booming in his head, ‘no!’
Krixxix: “Great lord, we were sent up from the kitchen to take everybody’s lunch orders with the new shipment that came in.”
DM: “Scum! I’ve TOLD you people not to bother me in MY private chambers. I tolerate your presence on this castle only SO FAR.”
Krixxix: “Someone with the infinite patience of you, I can understand and appreciate that.”
Eben: ‘So it’ll be the fish then.’
Maldrake: Using my power of Relentless Avenger, I’ve taken many opportunities – to leave.
DM: “Damn the cultists.”
Maldrake: Hold on a second! -- in my head.

Maldrake is already pondering setting the giant and the cultists against each other, while Krixxix babbles incessant servilities that give the giant a headache. The giant demands they stop bothering him, muttering to the ogres that he ought to just kill them all. They leave quickly. Krixxix continues to talk about his poisoning plan directly in front of the ogre – though the DM allows him one warning to not actually have talked in character.

DM: No more talking about your plans out-of-character.
Maldrake: IT’S NOBODY’S PLANS! HE’S JUST FUCKING TALKING! Don’t put me involved in his crazy fucking ideas!

Krixxix and the ogre get into a long and pointless debate over what to serve if there is no mutton (pig). The DM demands a Deception check as Krixxix asks directions to the kitchen, but this is his good skill so the ogre ends up blankly pointing to the stairs.

DM: You head back down the stairs quickly and find yourself in the courtyard on the bottom floor once again.
Thalynmar: And smack Krixxix upside the head. “Askin’ where the kitchens are when we’re from the kitchen…”
Krixxix: “Come on, let’s get to the kitchen!”
Thalynmar: “Why?!”

Krixxix explains his poisoning plan in-character at last – poison the ogres to turn them against the cultists! The other characters spot a flaw or two in the plan.

Eben: “Or he’ll blame us. Specifically.”
Krixxix: “Not if we disappear.”
Eben: “Where will we disappear to?”
Krixxix: “We’ll just leave!”
Thalynmar: “Ya know this is a floatin’ castle, right? Ya know that we’re no longer attached to land?”

The transcriber bemoans that he’ll never be able to capture Krixxix’s expression in the transcription. Continuing to explore, they walk straight into the nearest door.

DM: As if destined, you have found the kitchen. (laughing and clapping) You push open the door with the help of a little mage-handing and look in on pure chaos. There are dozens of kobolds in here, chopping, mixing, carrying sacks of ingredients, and stirring great cauldrons. To be fair it could also be an alchemical lab, with kobold cooking it’s kind of hard to tell? There are huge sides of beef, entire, sheep, chests full of dried fish, bacon, onions, beans – and resting on a ledge up above all of it is a griffon.
Raven: A griffon, huh?
Thalynmar: Aww. Eh, they’re pretty vicious creatures.

The kobolds begin squabbling, only for the griffon to screech at them and get them back to work. One of them explain that the griffon is the giant’s here to watch them. Eben scourges the kobold with the voice of the Great Old One in his head for failing to provide yogurt. Mutton goes on the fire.

DM: I like the idea that by the time the castle gets there, you guys have de facto joined the cult because you’ve run so many errands for them.
Thalynmar: We’re now Honored with them.
Maldrake: Three years later we’re just sitting on top of a burning village, thinking, ‘Well, this escalated.’

Brunt is mocked for his guard-jellying. They head back out into the courtyard. They attempt to have a long conversation on the way to the barracks, but are defeated by it only being like 20 feet away. Maldrake wants to know what they’ll do when they find the treasure.

Krixxix: We’ll tie sheets to it like parachutes and throw it off the edge.
Maldrake: “After you’ve done that, what are WE going to do?”
Krixxix: “Grab the rest of the sheets and jump off the edge ourselves.”
Maldrake: “No, you’ve already done that. You’ve done your plan, and the rest of us will now discuss a REAL plan.”
Thalynmar: Kinda fucked up…
Maldrake: I’m sorry, there’s no sheets that’re gonna lift my three hundred pound scaly ass! I can’t fly. Now if you’d said an inflatable raft and jumping off towards a snowy mountain…
DM: No!
Maldrake: Oh, his idea of sheets was perfectly fine!
DM: I wasn’t even dignifying it with an answer!

They cross the courtyard and open the door to what proves to be the wyvern stables – and are promptly charged down by a pair of said wyverns. They hurriedly slam the doors, taking a pair of Strength checks to avoid horrible combat. The idea of releasing the wyverns to cause chaos appeals to them, but they head over to the barracks so Krixxix can listen at the door.

DM: You hear the sound of voices within, and an occasional clatter that sounds like… (rolling dice)
Krixxix: Dice…? Yeaaaaaah, boy! “WHO WANTS TO GAMBLE!”

For some reason, a fanfare from Final Fantasy IV erupts in the background.

DM: I… you succeed on the Listen check.
Maldrake: No, that’s – a cultist has joined our party.
Thalynmar: “Hi guys!” “What the fuck?! Who are you?!”
DM: “I’m Baigan.”

Krixxix interrupts the game to demonstrate that an object can pass through a loop only one way, then promptly and accidentally passes it through the way he claimed it could not go. The DM calls him an idiot.

Maldrake: I wanna see the transcription. He says something. Pause. “You fucking idiot.”
Thalynmar: Pregnant pause.
DM: You push open the door and immediately assailed with a foul stench.
Eben: The hydras!
DM: Unwashed bedclothes.
Thalynmar: “Ugh, worse than the wyverns.”

15 cultists occupy the room, half sleeping and half chatting and dicing. The PCs immediately plan to murder them all. Krixxix grabs a bed for some reason, as they generally wish they were playing evil characters. Krixxix steps up to the gamblers.

Krixxix: “Mind if I join you guys?”
DM: A quick glance passes between them. “It’s, uh, five gold to sit down at the table, so to speak.”
Krixxix: I pull out some gold and am like, “All right. I’m not very good at this game, but what are we playing?”
DM: They describe briefly the dice game that they’re playing, in which one person rolls the dice, another person has the opportunity to meet or break the number in a certain amount of throws, there are rules, all this and that,
Krixxix: “I guess it looks like it could be kind of fun! Sure! I’m in!”

Gambling erupts, while Maldrake eases his way into a conversation. He’s eager to see what they’re talking about!

DM: “Well it’s really difficult with, you know, her being on the ground and us being up on this castle, I’m not certain it’s working out.” “I think you should keep trying. There’s – they say there’s plenty of fish in the sea, but if you find the right person you should stick with her.” “I’ve been trying—“
Maldrake: Oh no! I can’t get to know these people! I just start having a quandary near them.
Eben: Don’t worry, it’s a cult woman.
Maldrake: That’s when it goes further in. ‘Yeah, she’s a preacher for the local religion we’re gonna wipe out, I’m kinda worried that I’ll have to kill her.’
DM: Yes, you’ve stumbled on a very banal conversation about romantic advice.
Eben: Become Dr. Maldrake, help these guys out.
DM: What are you guys doing?
Eben: Is there another way out?
Maldrake: There’s a door that says ‘Exit Only’, it leads directly outside the walls!

Furious cheating erupts over at the gambling arena, and as the checks all even out Krixxix wins 6 gold from the group, and they hurriedly bid out. Krixxix elicits more hints of discord between the cult and the giant.

Eben: “Is Rezmir waiting for the new shipment to come?”
DM: “Probably just hanging out, you know?”
Eben: I’m just trying to find out if he’s here. (spotting the DM’s look) I’m not saying. To them. I’m telling you. That’s why I’m asking.
Maldrake: I feel so bad that our team isn’t more well-known. At all. Any level.
Eben: Yes, be upset about it, and also be thankful that we’re not having to fight one combat after another.
Krixxix: You say that but we’ve actually taken painstaking to stay under the radar and be low-key.
Maldrake: Is there an easy way to track time here?
DM: Nope.
Eben: It’s ice o’clock.
Thalynmar: “Can’t use a water clock in here, it’s always ice o’clock.”
DM: Stony silence greets you.
Thalynmar: “What?”

Thalynmar and a cultist get in a phenomenally petty argument over the dwarf stealing the cultist’s joke, which leaves the cultist sobbing in despair over his lack of wit and trying to make puns that the PCs blow Performance rolls to pretend to cheer. General japery and nonsense occurs.

DM: Only you guys could find the kitchen and then have a banal conversation with a bunch of cultists.
Thalynmar: (indignant) What do you mean a failed conversation?!
DM: I said a banal conversation!
Thalynmar: Oh, okay.
Maldrake: We are killing time until the food is ready! He has gotten us into a side-quest.
Eben: Stop the roleplaying right now, I fire an eldritch blast at the one dicing with Krixxix!
Thalynmar: I pull my axe out. ‘Time to ante up, boys!’
DM: ‘NO! Basic gaming etiquette! FLAT goes into the ground—‘
Thalynmar: (mimes hewing)
DM: ‘Oh my God! You’re a madman with that axe! We’re taking you for remedial training this instant!’
Thalynmar: ‘These cultists are pussies.’

The group settles into a discussion about poisoning the ogres and sowing dissent between the cult and Blagothkus. Some of the potential downfalls of this are discussed.

Eben: The ogres will all pass their Con checks, because that’s what creatures in D&D do, they pass their Con checks, they won’t realize they’ve been poisoned, and they won’t blame anyone for anything!
DM: ‘WHO MADE THIS FOOD?! It was extra tasty.’
Eben: EXACTLY! But I’m not going to speak against it, because I want to go before Rezmir.

Rezmir is on Eben’s to-kill list, but he won’t admit this in-character. It goes all Game of Thrones till the DM glares them back to the game. Thalynmar starts to make a Perception check on Eben.

DM: What are you perceiving him for?
Thalynmar: He’s very eager to take this dinner to Rezmir.
DM: That’s Insight. Perception is seeing that Eben is there.
Maldrake: (cracking up)

Thalynmar notes, in song, that you should never split the party. The DM polls everyone on their actions, and Krixxix adds into the plan the idea of letting Rezmir overhear them discussing the giant’s treachery. The party remaining in the barracks hears a couple of rumors – the giant speaks to his dead wife, there are red-robed wizards around, and so forth. Raven and Maldrake stay in the barracks while the other four take off for the kitchen.

Eben: Skeptical Jesus doesn’t know about this plan…
Maldrake: JESUS?! I’m sorry… I’m sorry, DM… (laughing helplessly)

The kitchen kobolds start loading down the heroes with mutton buckets. They head for the stairs, stop on them, and start doctoring the food. A cultist servant comes upon them.

Lualyrr: “They’re heavy today…”
Maldrake: FLASH A BOOB! FLASH A BOOB!
Lualyrr: I AM leaning over…

The PCs discover they have 14 mutton buckets, and Lualyrr rolls a Deception check to pass off the lie.

DM: “Let me get out of your way.” And he just starts backing up.
Thalynmar: “Listen,you gotta carry fourteen buckets, you need a rest halfway up these stairs.”
DM: “But you’re a dwarf!”
Thalynmar: “These are heavy-ass buckets of meat! I’m not—“ (trailing off as he realizes he can’t badmouth dwarves or himself)
Maldrake: I kinda feel like there’s a cultist looking at the handbook, ‘Races We Have and Races We Don’t Have.’ Races we have: humans, kobolds, ogres. Races we don’t have: dwarves, halflings, dragonborn.
DM: To be fair, you have fought a dwarf AND a dragonborn cultist before.
Maldrake: Oh, you’re right…

Mutton doctored, they load themselves back up and clamber up the stairs.

Thalynmar: ‘Ha ha, fourteen buckets, no problem.’
DM: ‘I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT!’
Thalynmar: ‘Crap! The jig is up!’ All this hinged on me carrying fourteen buckets.
DM: Your pride has been your downfall!
Thalynmar: “All right, boys, we’ve got mutton!”
DM: “Yaaah, it’s food!” The ogres tromp over.
Thalynmar: We didn’t survive the great mutton trample.
Krixxix: “Wait, don’t forget to take some up to—“
DM: By the time you finish saying your words the ogres have already snatched away most of the mutton, leaving behind only the slightly shorter ogre. He resignedly takes the buckets and begins trudging around.
Krixxix: “Don’t forget to take some up to—“
DM: “That’s where I’m goin’, ya moron.”
Krixxix: “Thaaank you. Enjooooooooy. I don’t understand why the cultists don’t seem to like you guys or trust you, they seem like nice enough guys to me.”
DM: “CULTISTS SUCK.” (grotesque eating noises)
Krixxix: “That’s so funny, because earlier they were – uh um gnawglum – personally I don’t trust ‘em—“
Thalynmar: “Poison going to take effect very soon, we should leave!”
Maldrake: Start dragging him out…

Krixxix continues to babble as the group waits for the ogres to declare their immunity to the poison. The group demands Eben give them the death cry of the short ogre in his Toadwort voice.

Thalynmar: He only has six hit points? What a pussy.
Krixxix: If it’s ingested, I assume it doesn’t work immediately, it’s going to take a little time to kick in.
DM: Are you just gonna stand there and watch?
Krixxix: No.
DM: Then you better think of what you’re doing.

Back downstairs they head, looking for lunch for Rezmir. They get a platter, even as Maldrake angrily demands a kobold be dressed like a professional chef.

Krixxix: “Lualyrr and Eben, you guys are going to take it over to… Rasputin. Mir.”
Maldrake: (laughing) Get the fuck out of the table.
Thalynmar: That’s almost as bad as Siameseovich.
Maldrake: When we get the real table, we’re gonna a kiddie table that you can sit at. You EARN your way to the gaming table.
Lualyrr: And off we go.

They head off. Krixxix and Thalynmar return to the barracks. The DM collapses in pain.

Thalynmar: What the hell?
DM: Maldrake kicked his binder in such a way that it went right between my toenail and my toe.
All: OH! (synchronized wincing)
DM: It was a completely a random one-in-million shot… You head back to that door that Krixxix was trying to finagle his way in allll that time ago.
Krixxix: Thank god I failed, because maaaan, if I had been able to pick that lock, woooo! We would’ve been in some serious problems.
Eben: I could’ve saved us all our adventures in Barracksland.
Krixxix: And the game’s over, because we’ve all been killed.
Thalynmar: It’s like fighting the Gorgon in that one level…
DM: “What is it?”
Lualyrr: “Great lady, I shudder to interrupt your great workings, but they sent us from the kitchen with your lunch.”
DM: “That’s early.” A moment passes, and then you hear the great clunk of the lock disengaging. The door opens, and you find yourself faced with the purple-robed half-dragon.
Lualyrr: Head down, very proper.
DM: I want you both to roll me an Insight.

In they head, getting a flavorful description of the room. A rug, a lit brazier, a chest…

Maldrake: And along one of the walls is a poster of her favorite band.
Thalynmar: One Direction.
Maldrake: I couldn’t think of a band name, but Thalynmar got it!
DM: Whatcha doin’?

In Lualyrr steps, responding to the half-dragon’s beckoning. Krixxix abruptly realizes Lualyrr and Eben are both blowing the whole ‘overhear gossip’ thing, but can’t fix it. Lualyrr quickly recovers by mentioning unruly ogres.

Maldrake: Poor Krixxix had a plan.
DM: She holds up a hand, as you step in.
Krixxix: Now you understand why I don’t make plans, I just go.
Lualyrr: I’m gonna go put it on the desk.
DM: You step forward. She says, “I’m truly shocked and appalled.”
Maldrake: The fireball deals 75 damage to each of you.
DM: She turns and in a smooth motion draws her greatsword and slashes at you.
Maldrake: Oh wow!
DM: “That you would think I wouldn’t recognize you!”
Maldrake: OH! THAT’S RIGHT! She definitely has seen us many times before!
Lualyrr: I’m going to upend the food tray at her and use it as a shield!
DM: Well, first she gets her surprise round on you. You take 14 slashing damage and 8 necrotic damage.

Initiative ensues! Maldrake furiously rages about Lorrithrik’s long-ago invisibility shenanigans. As they roll and the battlefield is drawn, they reminisce about when they saw Rezmir and vice-versa.

Lualyrr: Everybody’s going to hear this. Shatter. BOOM!
DM: Uh let’s see here, Lualyrr… your AC is 14? The rug grapples you.
Maldrake: HA! THE RUG!
DM: As you’re standing on it and you’re preparing to cast your spell, it bursts upwards and wraps around you. You’re restrained, blinded, and at risk of suffocation. Eben, you see this as the rug comes to life and swirls around her like something straight out of Aladdin.
Maldrake: I knew that son-of-a-bitch rug from Aladdin was not trustworthy! I knew it was just waiting to choke that bitch out!

Krixxix bemoans the idea that the ogres were the only ones they could trust. Lualyrr resigns herself to death before discovering Acrobatics works to break a grapple, and she squirms free. A long period of further battle-drawing is done. Something causes space mercenaries to attack.

Maldrake: Why couldn’t her poster of One Direction wrap her up?
Krixxix: She’d be happy about that. ‘Oh! Yay! Of all the ways to go! Yes!’
DM: You guys live in a weird weird world.
Thalynmar: What?
DM: One Direction.
Thalynmar: It’s the only boy band I knew off the top of my head that’s still around.

Rezmir attacks, but the door frame protects Lualyrr. Eben, not daring to hope, casts Polymorph on Rezmir – turning her into a lizard! They contemplate ways to murder her, and everyone delights in the idea of throwing her to the wyverns. The DM points out that the spell ends when her new form hits 0. The rug grapples Lualyrr, who scrambles free once again, then claps a clay jar over the escaping lizard. Another door bursts open!

DM: A pair – actually, there is one red-robed wizard that you recognize! It is Azbara Jos, from your time on the caravan, and actually several identical wizards standing behind him.
Lualyrr: I’m going to put the cork on the jar and be like, can I get away?
Krixxix: Lie to them. ‘Dude, she asked us to get this lizard out of her room.’
Eben: When she opened her dinner tray there was a lizard in there.
Maldrake: Uncooked food.
DM: The several identical wizards all point a finger at you in sync. “Surrender this instant!”
Maldrake: They probably heard the scream.
Thalynmar: The guy probably recognizes us. ‘Oh look, the goody-two-shoes who kept helping the caravam’
Krixxix: How much time has it been since we split apart? Like since we went back to the barracks? Has it been enough time that we’re kinda like questioning what’s going on?
DM: (chuckling) No. You don’t know how long it’s going to take. However, do either of you guys surrender?
Lualyrr: Are you kidding?
DM: Nuh, just asking.
Lualyrr: Eben, do you want to surrender?
Eben: I can’t cast another spell without her turning back into Rezmir…
DM: You can, you can’t cast another concentration spell. And it is your turn.
Eben: Hunger of Hadar!

This is… probably another concentration spell, because the group is still muddling with that one, but the wizard-group in the back counterspells it.

Thalynmar: That’s good at least. That’s one less fireball.
Maldrake: You still have your move action if you want to, I don’t know, run…

Eben refuses to run into undrawn space on the premise that it doesn’t exist, as Krixxix continues to try to finagle his way into this combat and Maldrake tries to start up a rising chorus of ‘We Hate The Ogres’. Eben passes a Wisdom saving throw and is unaffected by a spell, while Azbara fires a Thunderwave spell at nothing as an alarm that alerts the dragonsworn cultists.

Maldrake: Hold on a sec, hold on. “It’s the ogres! They’ve clearly rebelled against us, those sons of bitches! What else could make that noise?!” It was a 17 on my Performance.
DM: You have to roll Deception…
Maldrake: Oh. 16 instead.
Krixxix: 30 on my Deception backing up his story.
DM: “The ogres?!”
Maldrake: “Clearly, what else could make that loud stomping noise?”
DM: “To the stairs!”
Maldrake: And while they go to the stairs, we go to where they were. ‘Go my friends! Kill the ogres! Raaaagh! ..come on, let’s go help our friends.”
Krixxix: Maldrake, good thinking, dude. I thought we were gonna start fighting them all in the barracks.
Thalynmar: I was about to start whacking away.

The rug misses Lualyrr. She slaps the lid on the jar. One of the wizards fireballs Lualyrr and Eben, and, strangely, half the group complains that they aren’t there to use evasion mechanics to not take damage. They pass and take 20 points of damage, but Eben maintains his concentration. This is fortunate because no one knows what will happen if Rezmir transforms back while inside the jar. A digression leads to a potion boiling away to health dust, which is then snorted.

DM: Azbara hurries forward, looking in horror at the elder mage who just unleashed a fireball in an ice castle.
Thalynmar: You moron!
Maldrake: What is WRONG with you?
Eben: I figure since it’s enchanted ice it’s not going to be affected the same way.
Maldrake: There’s words in Giant written all over the place. ‘Don’t cast fireballs. Don’t cast fireballs.’
Eben: Is this, like, the alien’s blood hitting the deck of the spaceship?
DM: (rolling) Oh no! That’s not good!
Krixxix: That’s not good for us, or for them?
DM: For them? Where’s my critical failure deck…

Azbara fires three bolts of fire, to the PCs’ irritation. Why all the fire? One misses, leaving blood dripping from his nose, and this spectacle of spellcasting catches the attention of all the guards who were racing up to reach the staircase.

Maldrake: Come on ogres, be angry about the poison. Or else we’re gonna have to fight all our friends. ‘I’ll tell her you loved her.’
Thalynmar: ‘Ice to meet you.’ HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT ONE, JOCULAR ASSHOLE?!

The guards, with the rallying cry of ‘stab first, ask questions later’ turn to charge down Lualyrr and Eben, while the PCs demand the rug smother some Red Wizards. Krixxix attempts to sneak attack a wizard, leading to a large argument about the whole thing till he finally uses his Hide check to get behind a person and plant an arrow in Azbara’s chest.

DM: …what are you rolling?
Krixxix: Hold on… 20 on my Deception. “AWW CRAP, I MISSED!”
DM: Thalynmar, put paid to his lie.
Maldrake: “Don’t worry, I’m gonna stab the wizard one! OH NO!”

Thalynmar starts cutting through the nearest target, which is unfortunately Raven. Or maybe it isn’t. A guard drops. The players continue to ponder how to spin this into an anti-ogre fight, against all logic. Lualyrr heals herself and passed the jug to Eben, who casts Fly and takes to the air. Maldrake blasts his acid breath into the group and Raven starts cutting into them. The wizard-group casts a spell, trapping Eben in a cage of force, while Azbara lobs a fireball into the melee. Some of his allies go down but it sweeps through the PCs as well.

DM: Krixxix dives behind… probably Lualyrr. Maldrake takes the brunt on his shield and smacks it aside. Thalynmar just surges through with his teeth gritted and the edges of his beard smoking! Raven… sucks it up.

That dragonclaws surge into melee, swarming around the PCs. Thalynmar takes the opportunity to tell a story of three former players who rolled up the Knights of Conformity.

Thalynmar: ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking? You’d BETTER be.’

The fighters tank the adds a lot. Krixxix begs Thalynmar to cut down some more mooks, but Thalynmar has eyes only for the wizards and stomps across the courtyard to intercept them. Lualyrr gets cut down by dragonclaws. Krixxix struggles for a hiding spot, finally using one of the mooks as cover. Maldrake and Eben go at the same time, which leads to a minor dispute over timing and precedence.

Eben: Shatter right there...
DM: I want you to roll me a Dexterity check to not whack the cage walls.
Eben: (rolls, then silence)
Krixxix: (miming a pinball rattling off the bumpers)
DM: I have good news for you. You WANTED to roll that 1. You stick your hand forward, jostled by the lizard struggling, and your hand jerks to the side, passing cleanly through one of the bars.

A moment of silence.

All: Ohhhhhhhh.
Krixxix: It’s an illusion, nice.
DM: (cracking up at the expression on Eben’s face)
Thalynmar: He’s aaangry. Now move.
Eben: I wanted to kill this thing before, to save our skins…
Maldrake: Now you need to fly as high as you can and throw it AT the wizard.
Eben: Now – now my ulterior motive has taken the forefront again.
DM: He’s duped you. (a pause) I’VE duped you!
Eben: Chalk one up like the fucking tally count on the prison wall.
Maldrake: Oh, he used – illusive image—
DM: Major Image.
Maldrake: And yelled out ‘Forcecage’!
DM: He didn’t yell out ‘Forcecage’, he just created the image of a forcecage.
Krixxix: This isn’t Japanese anime, dude, they don’t yell out their attack moves.

Maldrake and the DM briefly squabble about his description as Eben lobs his Shatter into the mook group, then takes off for the edge of the castle. Krixxix and Thalynmar are called on to make Wisdom saving throws; Krixxix is confused! Raven fumbles and is off-balance, getting penalties to his attacks, but cuts down another mook with his second. Azbara launches flame bolts at Thalynmar, critting with one for a total of 29 fire damage. The last two mooks turn to run, but then it turns out there’s four of them left and they attack. Krixxix rolls ‘do nothing’ and does that.

Eben: Still a land of confusion…

Eben dumps Rezmir. Down she goes.

Maldrake: Oh my god. Her hatred, if she lives, will be ABSOLUTE.
Krixxix: It will be epic. I kinda hope she DOES live.
Eben: Not as much as mine. My entire family…
Maldrake: I understand, I just think it’s insane.
Eben: I now picture her as having killed [Eben’s player’s wife and beloved pet]. Not even a shred of compassion. Plus I’m dead. Plus I’m fucking DEAD.
Krixxix: I’m kind of enjoying the fact that this is not how she pictured she would end.
Thalynmar: ‘Well this is a bit of a predicament!’
Maldrake: ‘After the characters polymorph one of the main antagonists and throw her off the ledge, THIS is where you should go from here.’
DM: I gotta give you credit for dealing with her in a very effective fashion. For the record, a lizard has 2 hit points… In any case, she won’t hit for another couple of rounds.

The group finds this hilarious, and the DM scoops up 20d6. It comes up to 65 damage, and Rezmir survives the fall by landing in a tree.

Krixxix: The great thing is, we’re going to assume she’s dead. So if we come across her again, she’s gonna be PIIIISSED!
Maldrake: I’m not going to assume she’s dead. I’m going to hope she’s dead.
Krixxix: I’m gonna hope she’s dead.
Lualyrr: I’m gonna HOPE she’s dead, but no body.
Maldrake: She’s a powerful half-drake. I’m gonna assume. I’m gonna hope, but not assume.
DM: You Gastoned her good.

The PCs start preparing their performance and excuses for the ogres, the question of what they’re doing having arisen. Thalynmar prepares to use Second Wind to survive the wizard long enough to chop him down.

DM: “You’re feeling bold, dwarf, to take on a wizard of Thay with a stick!”
Krixxix: I point at you! FEEL MY POINTING!
DM: Force missiles erupt from his finger.
Thalynmar: Magic Missile.
Eben: Burned all your good slots?
DM: 20 points of force damage to you. It’s something his armor won’t protect him from. Behind him, Azbara does much the same, with a mere three missiles to his credit. 12 points of force damage from his fusillade.
Thalynmar: Gettin’ close to deaaaath!
DM: From up on top of the towers you hear the ogres scrambling into position to fire down upon you now that they have a clear shot at you, but a booming voice erupts over the courtyard. “HOOOOLD!” You can’t see where it’s from, but the ogres stop dead in their tracks.

Thalynmar starts hacking the Red Wizard, even spending his action surge, but strikes only his mirror images. Krixxix does nothing and shrugs off the confusion. The wizard speaks a word of power and stares at Thalynmar, but seems to do nothing else! Thalynmar is totally baffled as his turn comes back around, misses with one hit, then stabs him with his glaive – to no effect! Krixxix also fires, missing grandly, while Lualyrr sits up after being healed.

DM: I’ll put it to you simply for a bit. You swat at the image of the wizard, and abruptly it dissipates, vanishing into a puff of magical energy.
Krixxix: He ran away.
Thalynmar: I still don’t understand how that works.
Eben: Major Image or something.
Thalynmar: I still don’t understand how that works.
DM: It is in fact the spell Mislead. It makes him invisible at the same time it creates an illusory duplicate of him. So while his illusion was standing there—
Thalynmar: He was invisible and ran out.
DM: Yes, his movement was -- (mimes running at top speed)
Thalynmar: Heh heh heh. ‘Oh shit! I’ve got no other defenses here…’
DM: He could have cast, but the rest of y’all were coming, and it wasn’t worth his pride to kill you.

They follow after Azbara into the room they came from to discover the outer wall completely missing, opening up onto the great fall outside. With the battle wrapped up, the PCs anticipate the next session… dealing with the giant and his ogre servitors!
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