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[[A short journey and eight zombies later...] / Steele: Okay, you dispatched the enemies easily, clearing the first antechamber of the crypt. Now that you have a chance to look more carefully, you notice a strange symbol carved into each zombie's chest. / Joe: I flash my Gem of Magic Detection. / Steele: It glows very faintly, more of a residual than an active aura. Make a Knowledge [Religion] check. / Dang: I succeed. / Jill: I crush it. Beat it by 15...no, 17.
Steele: Sylvani notes that this rune was probably used as part of the reanimation process. That's not normal, by the way. Mercutio, however, with his seemingly endless lore, also recalls that this alternate zombie creation ritual is used by a rare mummy-worshipping sect of necromancers. / Joe: D'OH! / Dan: Ha! Mummies HATE fire! / Dang (thinking): Dan's player knowledge still works as long as it's flame or fire related.
Joe: Yes, mummies hate fire. But... / Jill: But they are STUPIDLY resistant to everything else. And yes, I made my Monster Lore check. / Dan: But they are weak against fire, right? / Joe: Yes... / Dan: Then WHO CARES what else they do! / Joe: I'll acknowledge that we are well equipped to handle a mummy now, but it would have been dubious before Dang brought in a full-fledged cleric.
Jill: A hit from a mummy gives you a lethal wasting disease that takes about seven spells to get rid of, and these aren't the kind of spells anyone keeps memorized. The curse itself will kill you in two-to-three days, and within a week your dessicated body will have turned to dust. Fortunately, Sylvani can just rest up and prepare the needed spells for the next day. / Dan: Bah. / Steele: As you guys huddle around, investigating the bodies, a figure starts casting from a hidden alcove one floor up, and a corpse explodes for 28 damage. / Dan: Fire damage? / Steele: Half fire, half concussion. / Dan: D'OH! / Jill: My god, it's a Diablo 2 Necromancer!
[Dan and Dang are about to sit down with the others for D&D night] / Joe: Hey guys, welcome back. / Jill: Did you boys have fun at E3? / Dang: Ya, there was some pretty cool stuff there. / Dan: It was awesome! I got to meet my supergroup, and Nerf Bat was HUGE, and Captain Cowboy was German, and Atomic Gestalt was a girl, and... / Jill: As long as you had fun, I don't need your whole life's story. / Steele: Welcome back.
[Everyone is seated as normal, facing Steele expectantly] / Steele: Alright, if you're settled in now, I want to announce a big- Huh?
[Everyone's gaze is focused on a bottle of Diet Coke in front of Dang (prominently highlighted in the frame) / All-except-Dang: ! / Dang: Ya, I know...
Joe: Diet Coke? You? / Steele: When did you start drinking that, Dang? / Dang: On the way back to Canada I was low on cash, and Dan didn't want to stop anyway, so I ended up sharing his "supply". ...and after the first few bottles, it kindof stopped tasting like poison.
Dan: See? Dang has joined us! Now Joe's the only one we need to convert. / Dang: It's actually cheaper than bottled water in most places, plus it has caffeine. / Steele: I don't really care what people drink, I was just surprised at the change. / Joe: If you keep putting those chemicals in your system, you'll end up like a zombie or something... / Dang: Your warning would be more credible if you weren't the one with sunken eyes and sallow skin.
Dan: How far away is that ogre sniper? / Steele: 'bout 150 feet. That ballista has huge range. / Dan: Sweet... "Mercutio! Teamwork attack: Dimension Door me up to his position and I'll Fireball him!" / Jill: What? / Dan: Just teleport me up there with your Dimension Door spell, and I'll take him out. / Jill: *No! You idiot...* what's the range of Fireball? / Dan: Medium; "100 feet plus 10 feet per-caster level." / Jill: Yes, meaning he's WELL WITHIN your own 190-foot range. So *why the hell* would I waste a HIGHER level spell to teleport you over to him? / Dan: Because it's cool, DUH.
Steele: So I take it Dan is Fireballing the ogre... / Dan: No! If I can't Fireball him properly... / Jill [appears angry with a black thought bubble] / Dan: ...I'll hit him with Melf's Minute Meteors! Eat five flaming rocks. / Steele: Fine, he takes some d4s. It doesn't do much. / Dan: Yeah, but wait till he eats the OTHER four rocks next round... from the same casting! / Steele: As long as you are really keeping track of your Level Three castings Dan. I don't want it to be like the mummies' dungeon when you cast like a dozen Fireballs before I clued in. / Dan: Hey, it was only eight Fireballs. / Steele: It felt like more than that...
Dan: No, Rogayn cast one on the initial group of zombies, another while he was adventuring on his own while those slowpokes put Sylvani's armor back on... / Dang: Which we could have just fast forwarded. / Dan: Then a third to "detect secret doors" in the room full of bookcases, another one to hit cult archers in the chasm of bridges. A fifth took out those harmless embalmers when we met the first necro-vampire, then I wasted the sixth casting against that mummy's gay Spell Immunity ward. I needed one more Fireball spell to Fireball the Necklace of Fireballs, setting off the nuclear chain-reaction Fireball (but most of that was the magic Necklace; it still only cost one casting). And finally, I used one more to blow up the vampiric swordsman who played dead to fake us out. / Steele [turning slightly red]: *Really?* / Dan: Yeah, just those eight. It probably just felt like more because I also cast Fly and two Flame-Arrow spells, which are also Level Three. Stupid crappy Flame-Arrow...
Steele: So, Dan, *just as a matter of interest*, if you can remember every single Fireball in that dungeon after about a month of real time, including the specific circumstances in which you cast them, then HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY HAVE NOT KNOWN HOW MANY CASTINGS YOU HAD USED AT THE TIME? / Dan: Uhh, I wasn't keeping track? / Steele: ...wasn't... keeping... *RRRRRRAAAAAAUGH!* You were INTENTIONALLY cheating your daily castings? / Dan: Hey, cheating is a strong word. I was just tired... / Steele: TIRED? I knew I should have penalized you by taking those ill-gotten castings out of your higher level spells! In fact, I should really strip you of all those castings RETROACTIVELY! / Dan: Well okay, if it will make you feel better, but I think we have rested a couple of times since then so I'd have got them all back by now anyway...
[[GAMING SESSION BEGINS]] / Steele: So, when we left off, you guys just saved Dan's character Ro-gayn from a near-death experience. I know it can be hard to keep up your situational awareness with a whole week between gaming nights, so I just want to remind you that you followed a caster up to the upper level through that portcullis, and you are potentially leaving behind the main line of the dungeon. / Dan: Oooh - big bad GM is afraid we might miss some of his traps? / Joe: ...and/or treasure. / Dan: D'OH! I need treasure! Let's go back! / Jill: Apparently The Force can still have a strong effect on the weak minded. Let's continue this way...I suspect it's closer to the bosses.
Steele: Alright, you've made your way to the room where Ro-gayn discovered the giant skeleton while Dan was "soloing." / Dan: Stupid immune-to-fire butt-hole... / Steele: Well, Sylvani blew away the skeleton, eventually. Now all that's left is two doors. / Jill: Steele said "left." That's a Freudian slip; he must want us to choose the lefthand door. We'll take the one on the right. / Steele: I'm going to ignore your specious logic; with no hints, one door's as good as another. You guys take the right one... / Dan: He said you made the RIGHT choice! / Steele: That's NOT what I said.
[[Several rounds later...]] / Dan: Why do these zombies hit so well? / Joe: Everything hits Ro-gayn well; his defense value is decidedly peasant-quality. But that aside, I believe that Steele did mention these were augmented zombies, and I think this room has been consecrated with unholy powers as well. / Dang: Sylvani'll take down a couple with his bow... / Dan: Don't shoot, HEAL me! / Dang: What? Are you that injured? / Dan: Sort of. But see, shooting might kill some zombies, but healing is guaranteed. / Joe: Lothar could use some healing too, though not as badly as Dan's guy.
[[Several super-zombies later...]] / Steele: You open the next door, expecting another hallway, but instead you find a long stone bridge projecting across a massive subterranean cavern. you guys are near the cave ceiling, but you can see other, similar bridges crisscrossing the expanse at least a dozen levels below. Across the bridge from you is another door. / Dan: I'll start to cross. / Joe: But Lothar will lead the way. / Jill: Mercutio will turn Invisible and cross. / Steele: Suddenly, you hear the terrifying whistle of many arrows firing up at you. / Dang: Alright! Snipertime - this elf's time to shine. I'll ready my bow.
Dan: Come on, we should keep moving! How long will it take elf-boy to get his gear back on? / Joe: Full plate armor: six minutes. / Dan: Six minutes! / Joe: Three if somebody helps him. / Dan: Oh come on, you don't need all that junk to fight undead. You're a caster! Just let your...er...faith protect you...yeah. / Joe: Frankly, Sylvani was very brave to take on that room without his armor. Lothar would rather camp out in this crypt waiting for his Gauntlet of Rust to recharge than take his armor off. / Dang: Thank you.
Dan: Three minutes? Screw that, I'm moving on and Dang's guy can catch up later. (as Ro-gayn): "Who's with me?" / Jill: Splitting up is stupid. I'll wait. / Joe: And I'm stayin' with the guys who can heal. / Dan: Oh yeah? Fine! But you guys better not get a cut of my soloing XP! / Dang: You DO realize that the three minutes of "game time" would have passed instantly if we all took no actions...
[[A couple rounds of "soloing" later...]] / Steele: This room has 4 zombies in it. You'd guess these are the ones Sylvani turned. They seem to have regrouped, but are waiting for orders. / Dan: No orders eh? We'll see...Ro-gayn walks into their midst. / Steele: They are a bit slow to react, being zombies, but then their default behavior kicks in and they move to attack. / Dan: I'll show them default behavoir...FIREBALL! / Jill, Joe, and Dang: ...Centered on yourself... / Steele: Shock.
[[Five minutes later...]] / Steele: I just remembered, Dan; when you wiped out those zombies with a Fireball, two rooms ago, did you ever check if you took damage? It's so weird that you aren't immune...I didn't even think about it at the time. / Dan: I WILL be immune if I ever GET to level frikkin 9! / Steele: It's only been one session, how much bloody XP do you expect? / Dan: I dunno! Anyway, the fireball only did 34, so if I make my save it will be easily absorbed by my fire resistance...AAAAARH! / Steele: If you failed your save, it's only 34-30 resist, so 4 fire damage. / Dan: Friggin ass-saves! I have a friggin Bonus! A BONUS! / Jill: Not to mention our spiffy new cloaks of resistance.
Steele: Well, Sylvani's Turning attempt repels all the armored zombies, and they flee out the other side of the room. / Dang: What about the other guy? The one sitting on the bench - it sounded like he had an undead-grafted hand. / Steele: He does, in fact, but is still classified as alive, thus he is unaffected. He gets up slowly and moves sideways a little. / Dang: Does it look like I could just run over and hit the lever? Unleashing an assault wave of player characters through the portcullis? / Steele: No, he is interposing himself deliberately, and would certainly get attacks on you if you tried. / Dan: Stupid Deadward skelehands! / Jill: Quit with the crappy pun names, Dan.
Dang: Well then I suppose I'll nock an arrow. Roll initiative? / Steele: Not right yet. The man puts his right hand over his sword handle, like a quickdraw artist, but doesn't attack. (as the dude): "What business have you in this Shrine of the Immortals?" / Dang: He wants to parlay? Ultraweird, but Sylvani will point his bow down at the floor between us. (as Sylvani): "We've only come to reclaim the bodies stolen from the town's cemetery." / Steele (still as the dude): "Why? Is it not the belief of these people that their spirits have passed on to another realm?" / Jill: I'm starting to wonder if this was a last-second, cop-out adventure hook after all. / Joe: Steele IS good at improvising... / Dan: QUICK! Kill him or he'll TALK more!
Dang (as Sylvani): "Their beliefs, yours and mine, all are irrelevant. The graves belonged to the townspeople and that must be respected. Return the bodies and we'll leave." / Steele (as the dude): "But their protectiveness is a contradiction. They say the spirit has departed, so by their own admission the body is but a husk. Like refuse they leave it to rot. All we ask is a chance to save what is there; to give life anew, and if the vessel is beyond help...we waste nothing." / Dang: Honestly, I think his argument is more than valid: But not to Sylvani. / Jill: We thought he was just caving in to get us out of that town...but maybe this won't just be an easy crawl... / Joe: This IS an awful lot of flavor text...
Steele (still roleplaying): "Furthermore, I have been authorized to offer the insanely generous compensation of 20 pieces of gold. Per husk." / Dang: Sylvani raises his bow. (as Sylvani): "Few of the villagers would have agreed to that, had you simply asked in advance." (out of character): I assume we roll initiative now? / Steele: Yeah...holy crap he beat you! Even with your crazy elven DEX 19! Ahem, I mean, rather than draw his sword as you expected, he pulls the glove off his grafted bone forearm and casts Greater Sleep. / Dang: As an elf, I roll my 90% Magic Resistance VS Sleep...and ignore the spell. / Dan: That's what you get for using pussy non-lethal spells. / Joe: Dan, if it had worked, buddy would have slain him while he was defenseless. / Jill: "As a Vulcan, my mind is more resistant to harmful telepathy."
Steele: Dang's elven cleric, Sylvani, slips through the gap in the bars. You enter a narrow hallway which bends around to the right. / Dang: I'll wave the others a sign to keep quiet, and I'll start creeping towards the corner. / Steele: Well, you're not a rogue, so no Move Silently skill, but if the others stay still, your natural elf-stealth might do it. / Dang: I get a 7 on my surprise roll, but that's before my 4 point bonus. / Steele: That's enough to beat them. You peek around the corner, unobserved as of yet. / Joe: "As a Vulcan..." / Dan: ENOUGH with the VULCANS!
Steele: The hallway opens into a guardroom, where one man is sitting on a bench and four zombies are standing. But these zombies look more intact, and are even wearing chainmail armor, whereas the man sitting looks a little pale, and although he seems pretty alive, you could swear that part of his arm bone is showing past his left glove. / Dang: Any sign of the portcullis mechanism? / Steele: There is a heavy metal lever set in the far wall. / Dang: Then even without my armor, I can probably take 'em. I'll attempt to Turn Undead. / Dan: Damn space elves...
Steele: Oh yeah...uh, Cleric Undead Turning...yeah. So your "god of the hunt" still grants that power? / Dang: That and bow use, yes. / Steele: Ok, just gimme a sec...actually, pass me Jill's PHB. / Dang: I thought you and Joe had the Player's Handbook memorized. That's why you don't bring your own, right? / Steele: Well, I actually just memorized all the parts people use. These guys rarely play actual clerics, and I can't remember the last time Turning came up. / Joe: Page 136, Steele. Chart on page 137. / Steele: Ah! Found it!
Steele: Let's see: "One important and potentialy life saving combat ability available to priests and paladins is..." / Joe: Aw man! Look, Sylvani is a level 9 cleric, so according to the chart, page 137, he should automatically destroy zombies when channeling divine power through his holy symbol in this way. / Steele: Hold on, I'm not there yet, Mr. Photographic Memory...No, these are more powerful than normal zombies. Treat them as 5 Hit Dice. So that means...he rolls... / Joe: Then he automatically "turns" 2d6 of them, who run in panic. And my memory is one grade below photographic, thank you very much. / Dan: Bah. A level 5 wizard has an ability that destroys zombies. It's called FIREBALL!
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