The Adventures of Annalax: Volume X

The first order of business for Annalax was looting the (enemy) wizard from the end of last session. Turns out he had a flashy arcane focus bracelet (in theory useful, in the event Annalax needs to cast such a spell), and a spellbook full of naughty magic. Annalax tried to get Alan interested in the book, but he wasn’t touching that necromantic stuff with a barge poll. Honestly. What is the point of having a kidnapping victim wizard along, if he’s terrified of casting the occasional unsavory spell?

Soldiering on up the mountain, Kakh, Ember, and Annalax conversed with the non-undead Leng Rogue. The first two were asking about experiences that the Rogue regrets. Turns out he had previously dobbed in an innocent woman to raiders for cash. Annalax called him a monster, because, well, you don’t do that to women. (Male) children, yes, but not women.

It then turned into a wider question of redemption and moral compasses. Hooray for off-topic discussions about Ethics:

  • ANNALAX: “The problem with you overworlders is that you confuse moral righteousness with weakness.”
  • KAKH: “The problem with you Drow is that you confuse survival with being an arsehole.”

Et cetera. Which continued on until Annalax informed Kakh that he wasn’t taking moral advice from a tree (the Loxodon is part-Groveborn. He’s an Eleph-ent). But our Drow did reluctantly return the Leng Rogue’s weapons… Ember is very insistent that our new captives are really full (NPC) members of the party. And Annalax finds Ember terrifying, what with that whole demon thing.

(Contrary to expectations, there were no Yeti ambushes on the way up the mountain, though Yeti have been confirmed as things in this world. Apparently they follow the Wild Huntsman).

At the top of the pass, the party hit a snag. From here loomed an endless series of deep ravines and crevasses. Which would have meant a series of Athletics checks, where a mistake could prove all-too fatal. The only other way into Leng was a Leng Spider cave. And Leng Spiders are big critters.

We went with the cave. Annalax thought it for the best. He has a penalty to Strength (so Athletics would be poor), and Lolth would look over him, right? Leng Spiders – as per the Wight’s descriptions – aren’t even proper spiders, but rather hideous heretical mutants, of which Lolth cannot approve. So he offered some very ardent prayers on entering the cave, including a small blood drawing of a spider. Annalax is devout, if nothing else, though Lolth currently seems disinclined to answer. Largely because she has no power in the Dreamland.

After arguing a fair bit about the marching order, Annalax (+6 to Perception) went ahead with Kakh (tanky!) to look for traps. He spotted the trap well-enough. Problem is, the rest of the party didn’t, and set off a web trigger, blundering fools that they are. You see, Annalax knew enough about spiders to realise that we were in a prey tunnel… and the spiders were coming. Note that with 16 INT, these spiders were smarter than we were.

The rest of the session was party arguments about tactics. Concluding that we couldn’t run away (the spiders are faster), or set fire to the web (too damp, and in any case, the spiders would know where we were), we eventually opted to hide in a side-tunnel. That way we were out of reach of the biggest Leng Spiders (the size of a carriage), and merely had to deal with the alarmingly large.

The session ended with everyone – except the oncoming spider – rolling terribly for initiative. Oh dear.

The fight went better than it could have, all things considered. Well, better for everyone except the Loxodon, who was not only poisoned, but also knocked unconscious twice by some serious damage. Then, when he was back up… he managed to roll a pair of 1s. It just wasn’t Kakh’s day.

Annalax himself had a rare moment of “oh shit”, and I don’t just mean the monumental amount of stress arising from the Loxodon’s situation. You see, these spiders can do real damage, and with only 29 HP, Annalax’s survival hinges on his excellent stealth. It’s a bad day when one of his enemies spots him… and, sure enough, one of the spiders was in the mood to roll natural 20s. Luckily, the spider was taken out before it could shoot a toxic web at him.

At the end of the fight, spider guts were everywhere, and Annalax was Prestidigating the goo off everyone else:

“Don’t worry,” he said, insistently. “They’re not real spiders.”

The distinction was important for Annalax, less for everyone else. Annalax was also convinced that this victory over heretical mutants constituted a sign of Lolth’s divine favour. No-one tell the poor guy that his goddess has no power in the Dreamland…

We also gained a new party member too: a Dreamland Cat Sorcerer (different person from the old Dreamland Cat). Annalax’s initial thought was that the Sorcerer was hiding from the general feline draft – recall that Dreamland Cats are being forcibly used as transport for the war against the Moonbeasts – but no. The Sorcerer was merely seeking a vital religious item, which excited Magni the Aasimar.

Then it was on through the tunnels. Now that we had some idea of what to look out for, we made steady progress. Annalax spotted a spider around one corner, but it did a runner. Kakh (with Speak with Animals) tried to communicate with it, but failed. To be fair, all the spiders know about us is that we can turn several of their number into goo, and these are smart spiders. They’ve got easier pickings elsewhere.

Soon enough we came across a trapped treasure satchel. With at least one collapsible floor and Indiana Jones-style boulder involved. Annalax was inclined to give this particular satchel a pass – he’s greedy, not suicidal – but the rest of the party decided it was important, and persuaded him to disarm the trap with Mage Hand and Thieves Tools. Apparently the DC on the trap was 20, which means Annalax had to roll at least a 12 to succeed (he rolled a 17)… but on average, he should have failed. Even from a Mage Hand distance, that did not feel wise.

The treasure was a white-and-gold silk bracelet, a helmet, and fifty gold. The helmet just says ‘Behold’ at you, over and over again, while showing sources of divine or demonic power. Magni threatened to eat it. Annalax pocketed the gold (we’ll get to that). The bracelet lets you communicate with divine power… so Annalax tried using it to talk to Lolth. Much to his confusion and annoyance, it didn’t work as he expected. Useless thing.

(No-one tell the poor guy that Lolth has no power here…).

Let’s just say that the Sorcerer and Magni found the bracelet a very exciting find. Which makes ownership rather hard to determine, since no-one (apart from Annalax) wanted to sell it. Then the question about other treasure items came up. Annalax said there weren’t any.

The Loxodon manhandled our poor Drow with his trunk until he admitted to twenty gold. Which was shared. He never did admit to the fifty.

Ember accused Annalax of stealing the twenty gold. Annalax’s view is that he disarmed the trap, and he never steals from the party directly (some pre-emptive nabbing of loot is fair game, within limits. Remember he helps others make money too, and they had the helmet and bracelet). Ember’s view is that Annalax would have been eaten by the Leng Spiders without the help of the party. Et cetera.

Thankfully, our employers (the Isaacs) put a stop to any notion of cutting Annalax’s hand off. Annalax and Ember are not exactly seeing eye to eye right now, though Annalax is scared of Ember as a matter of principle. It’s the demon thing.

After that, we ran across a cavern with a godzilla-sized Leng Spider (Leng Spiders never stop growing, apparently). We obviously weren’t in a position to fight it… but luckily it was distracted by its lunch – a very large lizard creature.

Magni cast Pass Without Trace on the company (he had Pass Without Trace? I didn’t know that!), allowing the clunkier party members to roll decent stealth checks. Annalax, of course, has +11 to Stealth, so with the spell, he was working at +21. The kicker is that he rolled a natural 20 for his Stealth check, making his Stealth score a staggering 41.

Once past the godzilla-sized arachnid (affectionately nicknamed Ungoliant), it was on through the tunnels. We found some glowing fungus along the way. The dice were kind to Annalax this session, so he rolled a natural 20 for his Nature check, and identified the mushrooms as edible. Well, he is a Drow. He should know that anyway. The Ranger stockpiled about fifty mushrooms for later.

Then it was out of the nice, cool tunnels, out into the evil afternoon sun.

And there we found the dinosaurs.

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