Jul 28, 2019

6th Day of Ready'reat, CY 580 - Deeper into the Underdark

Because the party dressed like drow and were driving a drow merchant cart, most creatures with some amount of intelligence let them pass. It is clear that the drow rule most of everything down here. There are some exceptions, however, and the first encounter the party experienced was with a dozen wererats.

There was a portion of the road that narrowed between some rocks, forcing the party to stop and guide the lizards through one at a time. The wererats, which had been hiding among the rocks, sprang and ambush. One dozen wererats, to the sides, and fourteen giant rats behind. It may have seemed like a lot, but Sarril was able to quickly take out the 1/2 HD rats with an area of effect spell, allowing the melee fighters to finish off the were rats, which didn't take long at all. The party debated for some time whether or not to explore the side tunnels to look for their nest, but in the end, decided to keep moving, and thus ended their first encounter.

Three days passed. It is now the 9th day of Redy'reat, and the party came across an enormous cavern. 300 ft. across, at least, with ceilings almost as high. Everything was slightly illuminated phosphorescent lichen, and the party could see that there were multiple ways out of the cavern. About halfway across the middle, they were shot at by longbows from archers far away on a shelf. The attackers were bugbears, and while they were too far away to throw daggers, Dalron pulled out a longbow of his own and was able to take them out. Two more began shooting from another shelf, so Sarril cast Fly on Dalron so he can fly up and finish them off with thrown daggers. That's when the drow mage showed up. Sarril spotted him up on the shelf beginning to cast a spell, and, using a held action, he activated Minor Globe of Invulnerability from his staff, which has a 10 ft. radius, protecting everyone around the cart from the incoming fireball. Everyone except one of the lizards, that is. Dalron was able to fly over to the wizard and kill him before he got off another spell.

With only one lizard to pull the cart, things were moving slower. The party decided to allow Dalron to fly ahead, carrying Sebastian with him as a look-out (using Sebastian's infravision). Entering a cavern to the northwest, they smelled a horrible smell of death that caused Dalron to begin retching. In the cavern below were no less than 40 ghouls and ghasts. Dalron turn and flew back toward the party, with the undead horde chasing. Sarril cast a Wall of Force across a narrow portion of the tunnel, causing the horde to crash into it like a scene out of World War Z. Sarril then tossed a fireball over the wall, destroying the entire horde. Dalron, still flying, then searched the remaining side caverns, throwing daggers at any remaining ghouls.

The next encounter was more difficult. Up on high shelves on either side of the next cavern were 24 gargoyles, 12 per side. The gargoyles were not reacting to the party, but that just made things suspicious, so Dalron and Sebastian flew up to one of the shelves and Dalron pushed one of the gargoyles off the ledge. The gargoyle, and the other 11 on the shelf, all came to life and attacked.

Gargoyles are fairly low HD creatures and they don't do a lot of damage, but they get four attacks each, and when a lot of them are swarming, the damage starts to add up. Soon, the other 12 gargoyles were awake and joined the fight, causing the party to be swarmed by more than 20 at a time. Sebastian blew the Iron Horn of Valhalla, summoning two berserk warriors to the shelf he was on while Dalron flew down to join the rest of the party. It took some time to kill all of the gargoyles, and a lot of damage was taken due to the sheer number of attacks, but the party survived. As it turns out, the gargoyles knew better than to attack drow, and had no interest in attacking the party that were dressed like drow, so this was an encounter that could have been avoided, but hey, they got some EXP.

The party decided not to search the area, preferring instead to make use the of the limited time they had with the Fly spell to explore as much as possible. Heading around to the west and then south, they found a small, humanoid sized tunnel with terraced steps leading down. Dalron decided to explore, flying just above the floor to avoid traps. The tunnel was dark ahead, and tossing a Continual Light coin into the darkness did not change that. Realizing this was magical darkness, he asked Sarril to dispel it, but the dispel failed. Pressing forward into the darkness, Dalron triggered a magic mouth warning declaring that the tunnel up ahead has collapsed and is unsafe. Dalron took that to mean that there must be something interesting up ahead that someone doesn't want the party to stumble into, and therefore they should all move forward. He asked Sarril to try a second time to dispel the darkness. He did and it worked the second time.

There was then an argument that took place between the party members, led by Dalron on one side and Sarril on the other. Sarril believed that some very powerful magic-user must be located inside the tunnel (a lich, Sebastian postulated) and should be left alone. Dalron believed that such a powerful being would not need to issue such basic warnings, and that this was likely something trying to appear powerful. In the end, the entire party, except for Sarril, decided to go into the tunnel. They emerged in a cavern where almost everywhere they stepped, they tripped a Magic Mouth warning. At one end of the cavern were three illithids, but the illithids didn't attack. They were shackled to columns, and each one had a small spike driven into its forehead. They looked to be writhing in pain.
The party realized that whatever could do that to illithids was definitely too much for them to handle,  so they ran out of the cavern as fast as they could.

Continuing to explore the cavern, they eventually came across a pen containing pack lizards, which must belong to the drow who use them. Casting Animal Friendship, Sebastian took one of the lizards and connected it to the cart, making it fully functional again.

The final encounter of the session came shortly thereafter. In a nearby sub-cavern was a contingent of drow. Four male fighters with a male commander, and eight female fighters with a female commander. The female commander was riding a nightmare and holding a wicked looking magical lance. Recognizing that the odds were a bit overwhelming, Sarril summoned two, five-headed hydras while Sebastian summoned a fire elemental. These summoned creatures would buy the team the time they needed to squeeze out a victory.

While the male fighters were quickly dispatched, the female fighters proved to be tougher and more capable. Using atlatls, they hurled poisoned spears at Dalron and Shan-Ju, knocking them unconscious pretty early in the battle. Sebastian and Sarril, using the additional time bought by the summoned creatures, were able to cast Neutralize Poison to bring them back up just as the female fighters brought down the hydras. In the meantime, the new dwarf fighter, Tyril, along with the fire elemental, decimated the male troops, including the commander. A now awake Shan-Ju began tearing into the female fighters and Dalron started throwing daggers with terrifying effect at female commander, as Sebastian followed up, throwing a javelin of lightning, nearly killing her.

Enraged, the female commander charged at Dalron, striking him with lance for double damage. The physical damage from the lance was minimal, but the secondary magical damage was severe. Dalron made a save vs. poison and avoided the most devastating effects, then flew into the air and threw more daggers. At this point, the commander was almost dead, and had only one round to do something. She threw the lance at Dalron, rolling a critical and striking him in the chest. Although he took a severe amount of damage, he made his save vs. poison, and avoided the worst secondary effects of the lance, and thus lives another day. After that, with only a couple of hit points left, the party was able to bring the commander down. At that point, the remaining fight with the few female fighters that stood was easy.

We left off here, having overrun our scheduled session by an hour. It is late afternoon (or so is the party can guess) on the 9th Day of Ready'reat, CY 580.

Jul 7, 2019

22nd Day of Patchwall, 580 CY - Into the Depths of Oerth

The party rested for a full six days in order to properly collect all of treasure from the dragon hoard, so they will starting their journey already one week behind as the bubble continues to grow on the surface. But hey, I never called them heroes. EXP and treasure is what matters here. It is a game, after all.

Stand-in image for Tyril until his player provides a better one
During the treasure collection, a dwarf came wandering by and the party intercepted him. He introduced himself as Tyril, and claimed he was with a party of adventurers seeking out the fire giants and the drow to investigate their involvement in the chaos on the surface. He knew of a dwarf named Obmi who was previously sent to investigate and didn't come back. Tyril told the tale of his party being attacked by Mind Flayers (Illithids). He was able to escape but feared his companions all had their brains eaten. Among his companions was a monk named Shan-Ju, who had connected with the party in search of something called Slerotin's Tunnel, which would provide passage through the mountains and back to his homeland. Unless all monks are named Shan-Ju, the party recognized the name as a travelling companion they met in the demi-planes below the Temple of Elemental Evil, who was an honorary member of their group for a short time. Everyone recognized that there is strength in numbers and decided to stay together, so let's welcome Tyril to the party of the Bad Ass Motherfuckers.

The group explained to Tyril that Obmi had turned evil and was working for King Snurr. He had attacked the party, and they managed to defeat him and took his stuff, which they offered to Tyril. He
was honored to accept it (hey, +2 dwarven plate!). Soon, they were on their way, and having a dwarf in the party would be a big help in trying to navigate the complex caves of the underdark.

On their way out, the party explored all of the twisting side passages of the cave network of the fire giants, just to make sure they didn't miss anything. They found many empty rooms that looked they were drow barracks/living areas, but had been recently cleared out. They came across a jewel encrusted grotto that reflected their light brightly in a rainbow of colors. As they stepped into this room, they saw their old friend, Shan-Ju. He didn't look like himself, though. His eyes were staring blankly off into the distance. He then spoke a warning "Turn away from here, and your lives shall be spared."

Knowing that Shan-Ju was last seen with Illithid's, the party was now extra cautious. As much as they would have liked to turn around and walk away, they didn't want to leave their friend to his fate. So they started to fan out and cast various enhancement spells to prepare for battle. If there were Illithids in here, they were out of sight for now. Shan-Ju spoke again "Leave now, or suffer unbearable pain."

The party decided the best course of action would be to attack Shan-Ju, bring him to near-death, and then heal him. So that's what they tried to do. As the party converged on Shan-Ju and started to attack, three Illithids stepped out from behind nearby columns and used their mind-blast attacks on the party. Dalron was stunned, but everyone else miraculously made multiple saving throws. It looked like the party might have a chance to survive this. Sarril began blasting them with spells (ineffectively, due to their 90% magic resistance) while Sebastian and Tyril closed in. The first Illithid used Telekenesis to pull Dalron to him and start munching on his brain, but Tyril closed in on it and began attacking, slowing down the process. The third Illithid cast Suggestion on Sebastian, ordering him to attack Sarril, which he did. Sarril ignored these attacks for a couple of rounds as he tried to continue attacks on the second Illithid without any effect. The good news is that Sarril also made his save against all of the attacks coming from the second and third Illithids, so it was a stalemate with neither side able to affect the other.

Soon, Tyril had killed the first Illithid that was on Dalron. He then turned his attention to the second Illithid, who used Levitate to levitate Tyril into the air and hold him there, taking him out of the fight. Sarril decided to cast Dispel Magic on Sebastian, ending the Suggestion spell, which allowed Sebastian to rush back into the fight. Soon, thanks to some more successful saving throws, he was able to kill the third Illithid, leaving only the second one to face Sarril and Sebastian and a soon to be un-stunned Dalron. The Illithid chose to escape rather than continue the flight, flickering out of sight. Soon Shan-Ju was back to normal, unsure of how he got to where he was, but happy to see his old friend Sarril.

The party spent an hour or so searching the grotto and eventually found a large puzzle box underneath a pile of rocks. The puzzle box could only be opened by someone of 18 intelligence, but Sarril is smart enough and managed to open the box. Inside was an amulet which would later be identified as an Amulet of the Planes, and a book written with strange symbols that Sarril did not recognize. This book would turn out to be a Manual of Clarity (a one-time use artifact-level item which permanently raises intelligence by 1 point).

Almost out of the caves, the party came across a rope bridge over a lava river. Two Fire Salamanders were here, and the party quickly and easily dispatched them before searching the area and then crossing the bridge (with help from a Fly spell, just in case). Across the bridge was another cleared out area used by drow, with a table, chairs, and other furniture. Although everything of value was taken, Sarril discovered a chest hidden by illusion. Inside the chest was an adamantine scroll tube and an Ebony Fly. Inside the tube was a scroll of Wish. The rest of the chest was empty. A parting gift from Eclavdra, perhaps?

The party decided to rest in this area for another four days while Sarril studied the book he found. The book was written with a series of difficult to understand symbols which, once studied, seemed vaguely understandable, though it made his head hurt. After each page, the symbols became more difficult to understand, but he felt himself getting smarter as he went. After four days of headaches, his intelligence was raised by one point. Unfortunately, the book could not be opened again. It was now the 26th Day of Patchwall, and the party would have a lot of time to make-up (if time is of a concern for them).

Off into the Underdark they went. The underdark, at this stage of the campaign, is little more than a myth or legend. A vast network of huge underground cave complexes that connect deep underneath the surface of Oerth, and is home to all manner of vile creatures, like the drow. The party quickly learned why this map was not going to be easy to follow. The natural caverns form multiple levels of shelves with tunnels in many directions. Without a compass, it is unclear which way is north. Even for a surface ranger and druid, they would get quickly lost. And they did.

The Underdark
Near the end of the first day of travel, the party came back to the same area they started. This time, they saw a drow caravan coming over a natural bridge. There were 12 drow in total. Six male guards, two female clerics and four merchants. Sarril cast Invisibility 10' Radius on the party so they could hide off to the side and let them pass.

The drow guards fanned out at the end of the bridge, searching the area, then called back an "all clear" to the caravan behind. The party was safe. Then Dalron started explaining to the party that they should take this caravan out so they can get their stuff (not very "ranger-like" behavior, acting like a highwayman - we may have to visit his alignment in the future). One of the drow heard the voice, and looked over in their direction to figure out where it was coming from. Sebastian, figuring that they had been discovered, fired his own drow crossbow at one of the guards, then activated his Ring of Insvisibility to go invisible again. The drow responded as drow do, by using Faerie Fire to light up the entire party. Now the fight was on.

I don't remember a lot about the specifics of the fight. I do recall that multiple Hold Person attempts failed on the entire party, and that the drow guards, even at 4 HD and specialized with drow crossbows, couldn't hit the -6 and -8 ACs of the melee fighters. One lucky shot did hit Dalron and he failed his poison save, which caused him to fall asleep. A follow-up Web spell from one of the priestesses might have managed to capture the party, except that Sarril was able to leap free of it and then use Dispel Magic to get rid of it. Sebastian was able to use Neutralize Poison to bring Dalron back into the fight, and that pretty much meant things were over for the drow. One of the priestesses had already fallen, and the other priestess uses a Lurker Cloak to transform and escape into the cavern ceiling. Dalron, using Fly and Detect Magic, attempted to find her, but the ceiling was too vast and he was unable to pinpoint her location. The four merchants, in the meantime, used their innate Darkness and Levitate abilities to leap over the bridge under the cover of darkness and run away.

While they didn't manage to kill all of the drow, they did manage to get themselves a wagon, pulled by two subterranean lizards. After picking through the goods in the cart and taking what they want, the party disposed of the rest of the crates and piled onto the wagon. They could now journey through the underdark on the wagon and not worry about being fatigued from staying in heavy armor. They may even make up some time, depending on how often and how long the lizards need to rest (we shall see). For the next seven days, the party traveled unmolested through the Underdark (hopefully on course). Looking like a drow merchant caravan has its perks, it seems.

It is now the 6th Day of Ready'reat, CY 580, and the party is about to encounter something interesting. Stay tuned. . .

Jun 23, 2019

14th Day of Patchwall, CY 580 - Behold the glory of the Great Wyrm, Brazzemal the Bright!

It was an epic day. The party fought a powerful red dragon and won, though at great cost. Rest in Peace, High Priest Luapan, and Pontus Olafson of the Cold Crow.

Before I get started, here is some background information. Anyone who has played, read, or heard about the Against the Giants modules (G1-G3) knows about the red dragon named Brazzemal who shows up near the end of G3. He is located in a cave off to the side (sometimes covered with a boulder), so the party can easily ignore him and continue on their journey. But its a dragon, and dragons have treasure. Everyone wants to take on the dragon, and the Bad Ass Motherfuckers were no different.

As I stated before, I've been slowly switching over to using mostly 2nd edition rules. Starting with the Scourge of the Slavelords, I was blending 1st and 2nd edition monsters. When we started the Against the Giants modules, I had all of the books necessary to fully switch over to 2nd edition monsters and spells. The only thing I preserve from first edition at this point are the classes, because I really don't like the way the classes were redefined in 2nd edition. 2nd edition monsters are tougher. Giants, dragons and demons all have increased base hit dice and abilities. In first edition, a strong fighter with an 18 strength, specialization and a minor magic weapon, even at low levels, could kill any of these in a single round. Since switching to 2nd edition, the challenges for the Bad Ass Motherfuckers are much more appropriate to their power level, and for some encounters, simply powering through is not an option. Sometimes stealth, trickery, negotiation, or very clever tactics must be employed to get through. I think that's where we are now with the game. Choosing to engage Brazzemal should be an epic challenge, and after converting him to 2nd edition, it was.

So about the dragon. . . The G3 module gives some basic stats on Brazzemal. He is a red dragon with 11 HD and 88 hit points. He has two of each spell 1st through 4th level (2/2/2/2) and they are listed as Detect Magic, Erase, ESP, Mirror Image, Invisibility 10' Radius, Protection from Normal Missiles, Confusion and Polymorph Other (though I changed out Protection from Normal Missiles with Dispel Magic and I meant to replace Erase with Shield, which would have made a big difference in the battle, but I forgot to do so). 2nd edition red dragons start at 15 HD minimum, and then go up from there based on age category. To convert the dragon, I took the wizard spells he could cast and looked at the age table to see at what age category such spells could be cast. This put Brazzemal into age category 11, which is 21 hit dice and gives him a breath weapon that does 22d10+11 (I forgot to add the +11 part when I rolled, so it should have been a TPK, but that's okay, I think the result was sufficient). This age category also gave Brazzemal 2 priest spells (which he never had a chance to use) and some innate spell abilities like "Suggestion" that I forgot to use (but probably would have been ineffective anyway), and 60% magic resistance. This dragon is a beast that is over 800 years old and has legends told of his tyranny - legends that will be retold by Sebastian the Bard when his horribly burnt body wakes from being unconscious.

After the fight with King Snurr, the party really needed to rest and recover before dealing with whatever else lie in this cavern, which they know includes drow and a red dragon. The party was a bit excited to fight a red dragon and take it's treasure, so they enacted a plan. For the first night, they camped out in the secret escape tunnel that led between the mausoleum on the 2nd floor to the fire beetle nest on the third level. They were safe here as no monsters could find the secret doors that closed the passage on either end. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night, a large explosion on the second floor caused structural damage that made the tunnel unsafe to stay in. Though healed up, the party wanted another day of rest so they could prepare for the fight with the dragon, so they moved into the cave where they had previously found two red dragon hatch-lings (which were actually adult fire lizards which the party mistook for red dragon hatch-lings). To be safe and somewhat hidden, they nestled themselves into a corner and Sarril cast Wall of Stone to seal them off from the rest of the room. That was effective and the party rested another night.

It was now the 14th Day of Patchwall and to prepare themselves for a fight with the dragon, Sebastian the bard was able to use some druid spells to cast Fire Resistance on everyone (bonus to saves vs. fire and half damage from magical fire) and Protection from Fire on Pontus (which makes him immune to 85 hit points worth of fire damage). Sarril cast "See Invisibility" on the melee fighters, in case the dragon was invisible, as well as Fly on himself and Pontus. All-in-all, a great strategy. If they see a dragon, a full-on assault would be devastating.

Sebastian was able to lead the party directly to the large cavern where he had passed the dragon on his way through when he was captured. As soon as they reached the cavern opening, he used his Ring of Invisibility to go invisible and silent and stepped into the room. The rest of the party emerged into an immense cavern. The party's light would not be able to reach its edges, but that was not necessary, as the cavern seemed to shine with a light of its own. In the middle of this gargantuan space was a small mountain of coins, atop of which was a large, sleeping red dragon. As the party was taking in the sight, Pontus felt like something wasn't quite right. There was something in front of them, but it wasn't a dragon. Pontus barely had time to say "That's no dragon!" before the gorgon stepped out from illusion and coughed up a cloud of greenish gas. Pontus was already up on the thing, bashing it with his Hammer of Kord, but he couldn't kill it before the breath attack. Luapan and Dalron were now turned to stone, leaving Sebastian, Sarril and Pontus to deal with the gorgon alone. The gorgon was ready to charge, but with Pontus now in front of it, it had no choice but to use its breath weapon a second time. This time, everyone made their saving throws, and the remaining party was able to finish the beast off.

So this dragon was an illusion, along with its treasure. Does this mean there is no dragon at all? Was the dragon just an illusion and rumor to keep the king's subjects in check? The party wanted to find out, but first, Sarril needed to do something about Luapan and Dalron. And so he spent the last wish remaining in his Ring of Three Wishes, restoring them both to living flesh and blood and releasing the djinn from the ring. The party was now that much more vulnerable, but they decided to explore the cavern anyway.

On the north end, they found a large passage that had a huge boulder moved aside. They could see gold and silver coins strewn about the passage and there was an immense heat radiating from inside. They decided to head in, using their standard marching order, ready for anything. And so they met Brazzemal - the real one.

Brazzemal the Bright

The great wyrm, Brazzemal the Bright, the Scourge of the Sheldomar Valley, had already cast ESP and was watching the party's every move, anticipating their actions. At the time, he was resting invisibly (as he likes to do to keep his enemies and allies alike on their toes so they never know if he is in his cave or not - it keeps people from trying to steal his treasure if they don't know if he is watching or not). While several members of the party were able to see him, he still managed to act first on a surprise round because of the ESP. His first act, as planned, was to cast Dispel Magic on the party, removing most (but not all) of their buffs.

Pontus acted first, attempting to use Fly to fly into the dragon's face and attack. He didn't get off the ground, as the spell had been dispelled. So Pontus instead ran forward, using his phenomenal dexterity to leap over lava and land squarely on some solid rocks. The surprise round then ended and we went to initiative. Dalron went first and threw some daggers, realizing that the -10 AC the dragon had meant that he could actually miss sometimes. This wasn't going to be easy. Then it was the dragon's turn, and he did what dragon's do. He unleased his breath weapon, doing 22d10 damage to the entire party. The damage ended up coming out to somewhere around 122 or so, and luckily the party still had fire protection so they only took half. Alas, that was not good enough for Sebastian, who failed his save and was taken down to -4 HP (dying, but not dead).

Sarril unleashed a Cone of Cold at the dragon's head (which does extra damage to fire-based creatures - not sure that should apply to red dragon but I allowed it). The spell didn't get through the magic resistance, and that's when the party realized they were in for a really tough fight. Luapan cast Prayer and Dalron threw some more daggers, mostly missing, but getting a few good hits in. The dragon then took to the air, which meant Pontus could no longer hit him, so Pontus ran from the room hoping to draw the dragon out. Sarril tried to cast spells, but even when the magic resistance failed, the dragon was able to save. Realizing the spellcaster could be a problem at some point, Brazzemal cast Polymorph Other on Sarril, but Sarril made his save. Brazzemal had a plan to go invisible again, but first he needed to reduce the party's numbers, so he cast Confusion, which took Luapan and Dalron out of the fight for the next 9 rounds. Brazzemal then went invisible. Pontus, who was now outside the lair, tried to bait the dragon by tossing the heads of one of the fire lizards into the lair entrance and yelling "take a look at what I did to your kids." The dragon laughed a deep laugh and said, "You stupid human. You can't tell a fire lizard from a dragon" and then flew out of the room so he can attack from the air.

In response, Sarril cast See Invisibility and Fly on Pontus, who took back to the air to face the dragon head to head. During this time, Dalron had a round or two of lucidity and tried throwing one of the Javelins of Lightning that Sebastian was carrying at Brazzemal, but missed. Brazzemal was prepared and cast Mirror image on himself, causing the party to face five of him. Sarril tried to destroy the images with Magic Missile, but failed to penetrate the dragon's magic resistance. So with Sebastian unconscious, Luapan and Dalron confused and Sarril's spells failing to get through, it was up to Pontus. The next couple of rounds was a hard-core back and forth between Pontus and the dragon as they engaged in a heated one-on-one battle. Sarril was finally able to get his magic missiles through the dragon's magic resistance and destroy the extra images, giving Pontus the advantage he needed. Unfortunately for Pontus, Brazzemal got three good attacks in, sending Pontus unconscious to the ground before he could finish the dragon off. The fall damage was enough to kill him, but Pontus made his death save (custom house rule), and so was left unconscious and near-death. In that same round, a confused Luapan rushed at Sarril to attack him and missed, then stood dumbfounded.

Sarril was now staring up at the dragon above him, with none of his companions left to help. Brazzemal laughed in triumph and spoke to Sarril. "It is just you and I, wizard. You have fought bravely, and for that, I will let you leave here with your life. Go and tell the tale of the great and fearsome Brazzemal. Let the world know what happened here today." Sarril looked around the cavern at his friends, either unconscious or confused, and knew if he walked away, the dragon would have them. He also knew the chaotic evil nature of red dragons means the dragon might just kill him as he tried to leave anyway. No, this was it. He would either find victory in this moment, or it would be a total party kill. The dragon had the initiative, and Sarril knew his chances were slim, but he made his move. "I don't think so" he said, as he moved to unleash a Cone of Cold.

Brazzemal reacted first, ready for this moment. He unleashed the fury of his breath on everyone in the area. That included Sarril, an unconscious Pontus, and a stunned Luapan (Sebastian and Dalron were out of range). The fiery breath seared the three for 137 points of damage (it should have been 148, but I forgot to add +11, but that's okay because this all made for an epic story and I'm okay with it). Pontus and Luapan did not get a save, and took half damage (due to fire protection) but it was still more than enough to completely incinerate their bodies and most of their equipment (save for a couple of magic items). Sarril made his save and took one quarter damage. After some quick math, that came out to 2 hit points remaining. Then Sarril's spell went off. With only a 40% chance of success, and after a series of failures in previous rounds, this spell finally broke through Brazzemal's magic resistance. Even after a successful save, the dragon did not have enough hit points left to sustain himself, and he fell to the ground, dead. Thus ended the Great Brazzemal, Terror of the Melkot, Scourge of the Sea Princes, Bane of the Dreadwood, Lord of the Sheldomar Sky (and so on. . .).

A not exactly accurate image, but it definitely captures the spirit of what happened

I know what some people reading this might be saying. Dragons are fearsome and arrogant, but they are also selfish and will preserve their own life at any cost. If the dragon was that low on hit points, it should have ran away to preserve itself. I thought about it. Brazzemal would have made for a great recurring enemy. But the problem was that Sarril, being a wizard, could have gotten a ranged spell off no matter what if the dragon had tried to fly away. It was effectively cornered and had already burned through most of its useful spells. Brazzemal also wanted one person to survive the encounter to spread the word of his return. He was an ancient dragon that was emerging from a long sleep and ready to reclaim his dominion and terror over the Sheldomar Valley. Having a herald to tell of his coming would be in his twisted interest. If that failed, the odds of winning the fight were still in his favor, and he knew that. Unfortunately for the dragon, the dice favored Sarril this day.

A severely wounded Sarril used another Fly spell to get away from a still confused Dalron who was now trying to kill him. A few more rounds for the Confusion to run its course, and a few more rounds to be safe, and Sarril returned to Dalron. The two of them decided to begin searching the dragon hoard as quickly as possible before the drow returned. This was no easy task for just the two of them, so Sarril cast what little healing he had left on Sebastian to make sure he was stable (though far from functional) and they spent the rest of the day sifting through treasure. Among the find was a silver egg with a spider web design and a spider etched into it. Inside the egg were platinum pieces. They found a lot of other magic items and treasure, but the egg turns out to be the most important thing.

Needing to find a place to rest, Dalron picked up Sebastian to carry him and the three began to exit the cave. On their way out, they encountered the drow priestess, Eclavdra, and an entourage with her.
Eclavdra of House Eilserv
They were in no condition to fight her, so it was good that she just wanted to talk. Eclavdra congratulated the party on successfully slaying Brazzemal and asked if they found the silver egg. Realizing that cooperating at this point was the best way to stay alive, Sarril answered "yes" and showed it to her.

"That egg is the key to opening a portal to the 66th layer of the Abyss, where you will need to go if you want to kill the Demon Queen, Lolth." Lolth, she explained, is responsible for the black bubble over Istivin and only her destruction can remove it. Even now, demons are leaving the bubble and terrorizing the surface, but that is not the worst of it. In two months time, the bubble will have grown to cover most of Sterich. Those within the bubble are trapped within the abyss itself, and suffer an even worse fate. If not stopped, the bubble will eventually cover all of the Flanaess.

"But our interests are aligned. My house would like to see the destruction of Lolth as well, and we cannot do this task ourselves. I became aware of you after the destruction of the Temple of Elemental Evil, and I watched your exploits against Stalman Klim with great interest. Today you have proven yourselves to be the champions I seek."

"What is it you are offering us?" asked Dalron.

"Simple," replied Eclavdra. "The portal only works inside the Fane of Lolth deep within Erelhei Cinlu. You will never be able to reach it on your own. But I will provide safe passage through the city and into the Fane. You will do the rest." With that, she provided the party a map and some additional information about what to do when they reach the city. She also promised that the party will be able to rest in this area without fear from the drow, though she makes no such promises when they leave here as anyone without the broach of House Eilserv will consider them an enemy. Even House Eilserv with treat them with hostility in the presence of other houses. The party agreed and then went off to rest for the next two days while they heal and sort through dragon treasure.

It is now the morning of the 16th Day of Patchwall, CY 580. Luapan and Pontus are dead, and the party is about to undertake the most dangerous mission of their lives.