The Adventures of Annalax: Volume XIV
Not being particularly talented at drawing people, I finally decided to give Annalax a proper visual depiction via one of those online customisation tools. Him sneaking off with a bottle of liquor – crossbow at the ready – is more true to the character than the scary assassin picture.
Anyway, it has been a while since we’ve had a stats/party update…
Annalax Tixilix: Level Six Drow Rogue (Arcane Trickster)
- STR: 9
- DEX: 20
- INT: 15
- WIS: 10
- CON: 11
- CHA: 12
- Will Power*: 10
- Innate spells: Dancing Lights (at will), Faerie Fire (once per day), Darkness (once per day)
- Cantrips: Mage Hand, Minor Illusion, Parley*, Prestidigitation [Magical Initiate], Shape Water [Magical Initiate]
- Level One: Dusk Warp*, Disguise Self, Fog Cloud (once per day: Magical Initiate), Silent Image, Sleep,
- Annalax, Drow Rogue
- Elknel, Drow Rogue
- Ember, Nocturne Barbarian
- Tarsin, Lizardfolk Druid
- Thendwyn, Dreamland Cat Sorcerer
- Erysichthon, Ghoul Monk
Since starting the campaign (some 29 sessions ago), we have had six character deaths, with four additional characters having left the party. Only Annalax and Ember have been there since the beginning… talk about a Ship of Theseus situation.
With that out the way, back to the gaming…
Property Deed safely tucked away, Annalax had to run to catch the rest of the party as it left town. The inconsiderate bastards were surprisingly unmotivated to stay (much less search) for him. I mean, what if he had been captured or kidnapped in the interim? Not to mention what happened last time we had a party split, and one does not mess with the Mountains of Madness.
Minor grumbling aside, it turned out that the party had hitched a lift with a travelling merchant caravan. Looking like we could handle ourselves, the merchants were more than happy to have us around to fight off bandits. Oh dear. Clearly, being the Dreamland’s biggest collection of bandits ourselves was no obstacle to such employment. But we behaved ourselves.
Annalax noticed a luxury goods merchant in the wagon behind. Aforementioned merchant (who had at least pepper in stock) was being fawned over by seven scantily clad women, and thus rather distracted. But since the man also had crossbow-wielding guards around, Annalax decided that discretion was the better part of valour. Or, rather, that stealing stuff from a fellow-traveller in the wilderness was a bad idea. Annalax knew he was stuck with this caravan until the next town, and so was the merchant. Our Drow is greedy, but his survival instincts trump even his avarice.
It also turned out that Ember and Tarsin (the mad Lizardfolk Druid) do not like each other. Specifically, Tarsin bopped Ember on the head with his staff, bringing the two to blows. Annalax obligingly stepped in with Fog Cloud, though it turned out not to be necessary. The two Monster-hunting NPCs we were travelling with intervened, and separated them. Annalax does see an ally in Tarsin longer term, though…
Then the day came. The merchant, together with his wagon and his harem, decided to head a bit off the road, while the rest of the caravan was halted. Elknel and Annalax – having little better to do – decided to follow him. Alas, even Annalax’s +11 to Stealth wasn’t enough, so he had to head back, and rely on reports from Elknel via sending stone. There are few things that get under Annalax’s skin quite as much as failing a Stealth check.
Sure enough, the shenanigans started. One of the women tore out the merchant’s throat. And a couple of fae arrived on the scene too. You see, they were planning to ambush the caravan… only for our intrusion to reverse the ambush. And it also turned out that the women were werewolves. Well, not really. They were actually demons disguised as fae/werewolves. It was complicated. The one uniting thing was that they were all trying to kill us.
Annalax wasn’t having a good day, what with missing shots. But the NPCs and Tarsin had a field day. I was rolling for the NPC crossbow-man as well as for Annalax… and, yes, there was a significant difference in rolls. The NPC managed criticals and everything, which is something Annalax has yet to achieve in 29 sessions. As for Tarsin, he summoned a Parliament of Giant Fae Owls, and let them loose. Why, yes, it is really nice to be able to use proper collective nouns in a RPG session. Everyone now has a healthy degree of respect for our mad Lizard person.
In the end, the fae/werewolf women/demons were killed or captured. Annalax’s first query after the end of combat? He wanted to get his paws on the merchant’s luxury goods, especially the pepper. The poor old Dungeon Master swore, as he realised what he had done. What had been Rogue Bait turned into a risk-free windfall.
(It wasn’t just pepper either. Nutmeg, silks, leather, and a box of feathers too. And a locked box of coins, which Annalax is not opening until he can get Tarsin to Dispel Magic on it.
The session ended with the party interrogating one of the captured demons. The demon offered to act as our guide through the fae realm… which no-one was particularly keen on. Ember (always rather messed up with demons) wanted to kill it. Annalax, however, thought that he could put these creatures to use in the service of Her Ladyship. Waste not, want not, and having some demonic enforcers to back up the Good Word might be useful. The question was unresolved at the end of the session.
Session Thirty. Yikes. Time does fly.
Courtesy of a natural 20 on a Religion check, Annalax confirmed that, yes, Lolth would find demons in her service to be useful. Moreover, there would also be some social perks involved back home. Noble Houses do like having the odd exotic murderous pet on hand. Not that Annalax sold it that way to the party. No, it was all about needing extra support in dealing with fae.
Ember was having none of it, of course. But then a funny thing happened. The demon possessing Ember reached out to scare the others, saying also that he needed them. For what purpose is unclear, but after that, the party decided to take the captured demon werewolves with them. Annalax also nabbed a hawthorn whip from one of the corpses (as one does), and had Tarsin cast Dispel Magic on the box. 650 gold pieces were shared around six ways.
But it was farewell to the rest of the caravan after that. We learned that a massive fae army was on the move, and the city of Arcadia needed to be warned. So the civilians fled back the way they had come, while the party and its NPC friends were tasked with getting the warning through. It rather helped that Arcadia was where we were going anyway, since Alan’s wizarding contact lives there. On the other hand, for time reasons, we needed to take a short-cut through the forest.
Small problem there. This was no ordinary forest, but rather the Fae Queen’s garden. So when Tarsin went around creating nice cosy bogs to rest in, he was basically vandalising Her Majesty’s property. Not that Tarsin really understands property. He has spent his entire life living in a swamp. On the other hand, via an extended ‘Speak with Plants’ session, he got the heads-up from a fern named Bert about the danger. Bert glows blue, incidentally, and allowed Tarsin to stroke his fronds. The Dungeon Master remarked that he had a devil of a time figuring out what a fern would sound like.
Against the odds, we arrived at Arcadia with no further issues. Three of the demons actually had Pass Without Trace as an innate spell, so Annalax had the glorious experience of 18 (dice roll) + 11 (bonuses) + 30 (stacked Pass Without Trace) = 59 Stealth. No wonder the fae did not see us. The city guardsmen of Arcadia didn’t see Annalax or Elknel either, but as the rest of the party was being firmly shepherded in the direction of someone important, there wasn’t much option about where to go.
And that is where Annalax got a very interesting surprise. You see, while the very important person was Alan’s wizarding acquaintance – who, incidentally, has had a much more successful career than Alan – their assistant was someone our Drow recognised. Specifically, it was the Dreamland-version of one of the madder Drow Clerics of Lolth back home. Completely unaware of her Waking World form, or even who Lolth was. In short, from a bloodthirsty maniacal monster, the cleric had become a devoted and sensible personal assistant to a mad female wizard. Think a more competent and less sleazy Lord Melchett serving Blackadder’s Queenie, if Queenie were a Level 20(!) wizard, and you wouldn’t be far wrong.
Annalax’s immediate reaction was to prostrate himself before this recognisable and terrifying female authority figure. But, as noted, the not-cleric was not the issue. It was her boss, Godriel… a Level 20 female wizard with the odd screw loose. She was particularly interested in Ember’s case of demonic possession, to a degree where she kept demanding information that our characters could not supply. Recalling that Alan was Level 4, it definitely gave the party a newfound respect for our old
kidnapping victim adventuring colleague.
Our Ghoul made this encounter even more complicated. The Ghoul well-meaningly declared that Alan still loved Godriel – even though the Ghoul had never met Alan. Ember went to point out the lie, only for the Ghoul to roll a natural 20 Deception check. Godriel went a bit mad at Ember as a result. Then the Ghoul – not a great one for social skills – tried to hug the wizard to calm her down. He got Finger of Death for his troubles, and had he not made the saving throw, he’d have been dead on the spot. As it was, Tarsin was able to calm everyone down. Everyone (except Ember) likes Tarsin, adorable old coot that he is. Annalax – still face-down on the carpet – decided this wasn’t even in the top three most terrifying displays of matriarchal authority in his experience, but it is still not one he wants to relive. He’s a Drow. He expects his matriarchs to be mad as a bag of ferrets.
Anyway, Godriel will work on freeing Ember from the demons. Hooray. We had only come half-way around the Dreamland to deal with this. But for now, Godriel was much more interested in news of the fae army… and decided to conscript us as special forces. Lovely. Since she had a War Council to go to, she also left the details in the hands of her Drow assistant.
This is where Annalax took a wee risk. You see, this Dreamland Drow was not the Drow Cleric he knew and feared. She was sane, for a start, and was not about to feed him to giant spiders on a whim. Yet, for a lower-class male like Annalax, the idea of being a paramour to someone like this is a very real fantasy. He’d never dare do this in the Waking World, but in the Dreamland? Why not?
Annalax accordingly handed her the hawthorn whip, and offered himself as a subject for recreational chastisement. It’s the closest our Drow – who has had respect for women literally beaten into him his entire life – will ever get to proactive seduction.
The Dungeon Master had to improvise a bit, being caught off-guard (he’d put more thought into Godriel than the Drow). But with assistance from Tarsin and the Ghoul (the two most unlikely wingmen ever), Annalax rolled a sufficiently high Bewitch check. It’s just as well that the assistance gave Annalax advantage on the roll, since his first roll was a natural 1. That would have ended badly. As it was, the not-cleric was game. She pulled Annalax’s head back by the hair, and hissed “so you like power, then?”
Annalax spent the rest of the session out of action, so to speak. Ahem.
While this was going on, Tarsin and Elknel were particularly keen on going shopping. Not that Annalax knows (or cares). So the rest of the party popped into a Potions Shop, whereupon Tarsin – who had lived his entire life in a swamp, remember – informed everyone loudly that he could make potions much cheaper than what was on offer here. Tarsin tries to be helpful, but he is certainly not a people person.
Then they went to the Magical Item shop. Transformative magic was definitely on the party’s Christmas wish-list, what with half of them looking very strange indeed. Problem is, without Annalax around, they were reliant on haggling for the items themselves. Tarsin likes to count out the coins individually and loudly, while the Ghoul only had 348 gold in his purse, with an eye on a 500 gold item – the item in question being one that turns the wearer into (what appears to be) an attractive human. Which our Ghoul, obviously, is not. Amazingly, a bit of deceptive bartering worked, and the Ghoul emerged triumphant. God only knows what the character will do with it.
Back to the Annalax Index: https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2021/01/07/the-adventures-of-annalax-a-compendium/