AAR [5-H] The Hidden Lab

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The Journal of Dvarim Bolg, Journeyman Weaponsmith of Throal

Post by bronzemountain » Sat Apr 25, 2020 4:27 am

Social Distancing
Or, The Perils of Not Labeling Your Jars

My good friend Dubhan had caught wind of a potential treasure trove of information - a laboratory belonging to the famous magician, Tamerlan. Of course I accepted his invitation to join him, as did Karl and Norg. Who are also good friends, in case they are reading this.

We journeyed high into the mountains where the air was crisp and biting. My fur hat served well, both as an object of fashion, and as a functional provider of much needed warmth.

We soon found ourselves at a spot where the climb grew steep and we considered our options. I had recently purchased a climbing kit which, in retrospect, I wish had come with some sort of manual. The many wonders of the Bazaar are certainly lacking in adequate documentation. Dubhan, however, had a much better idea - flight! Oh, reader, what a joy to soar where the air is thin. To fly among snow-covered peaks.

A joy that was swiftly tempered by the arrival of weather.

Animate, malicious, corrupt, wicked weather.

Four creatures, which we dubbed Stormwraiths, as they were simultaneously stormy and wraith-like, assaulted us. They knocked us over with strong winds and barraged us with lightning. And, when they drew close, they engulfed us in their wickedly whirling winds. It was truly the worst of all possible hugs. For, battered and beset by these winds, we were also subject to bolts of lightning.

They nearly bested us, I am not ashamed to say. If not for great fortitude and the powerful abilities of my companions, we would certainly have perished. As it was, we were all grievously hurt and Karl was very nearly dead. We completed our ascent and found the ruined tower that marked Tamerlan's retreat. There, to nurse our wounds and nurture our spirits, we made camp for a few days.

There were wonders a'plenty here. A polished brass rod as tall as a flagpole and as bright as if it it had just been polished. A rune-inscribed basin that we deduced to be a scrying bowl. And, finding a trapdoor that led into Tamerlan's chambers, we found a wall of stories of Tamerlan's life that was somehow both impossibly compelling and utterly forgettable. This was the first of the traps and tricks Tamerlan had set in store for his guests.

There was a door with a riddle, solved by a shadow. There was a chessboard room in which the white square were safe in the first half and the black in the second, and the unsafe squares were riddled with traps. Man-catchers and pits and falling blocks. This was ill hospitality indeed!

But beyond, we discovered wonders. A library full of grimoires and notes and books and knowledge. A treasure beyond reckoning. We found his alchemy lab and a private room for research. And in that room we found two jars of strange metal - somewhere between a liquid and dust. I tried to assense it with my fledgling Elementalism, but it remained a mystery.

And, when Karl opened one of the two jars of the stuff, just a smidge, we found that it wasn't stuff at all. It was some sort of animate hive-colony of metal shards that spun and whirled and flensed. It took the shape of a name-giver, roughly six feet in height, and buzzed and sawed at us. Not in any effort to communicate but rather to destroy us. To strip the flesh from our very bones. It gyred and gimbled between us attacking so swiftly we could barely keep track. It tore at our flesh and shredded our clothes.

This time, however, we were more coordinated and outnumbered the thing. We swiftly dispatched it, claimed the best of what the lab had to offer, and swiftly made our way back down to the lower mountains.

Reader, let this be a warning to you. By the Passions, LABEL YOUR JARS.

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Re: AAR [5-H] The Hidden Lab

Post by sigfriedmcwild » Sat Apr 25, 2020 9:11 pm

From "Notes on the world outside the kaers" as penned by Norg

Semyon Tagarlig, the dwarf academic, was requesting aid again. Apparently investigating a still sealed kaer with possible the last traces of a passion long gone mad was and under siege from a horror was not enough, so the man is was now looking into the demesnes of an ancient wizard named Tamerlan.

This Tamerlan was apparently a big deal, Dubhan and Dvarim were both telling Karl and I how great and powerful he was and how he made sure that everyone talking about him would make it known that he was great and powerful. I still believe that the namegiver was insecure about the size of his own... legend, shall we say?

Whatever performance anxiety Tamerlan may have had, Semyon believed he had the location of one of his laboratories, and was practically drooling at the idea of getting his hands on anything that we may find inside, so Dubhan, Dvarim, Karl and I set off to investigate.

Of course the location was high up in the mountains, of course winter is still trailing on, but for a change of pace this time we were going even higher than my previous forays, up above the snow line, at least we had Dvarim along to build some shelter each night.

Good thing.

None of us were particularly skilled with navigation, and even with the ancient map Semyon provided it took us nine days to reach the destination, nine days of Karl and Dubhan disagreeing about which way to go, while I tried to scrounge up some game and berries with little luck. Dvarim's shelters and magically warmed up rations were the only bright spot in an otherwise dreary journey.

On the ninth day we spotted something glinting in the distance and given our lack of better ideas, decided to go towards it. Eventually we reached a steep climb and instead of making our way up the hard way, Dubhan offered to enchant us so we could fly, we were all enthusiastic about the idea and I have to admit, flying had been on my mind since the affair with the air node.

Flight proved to be as exhilarating as I hoped, I may have wasted far too much time clumsily attempting various aerial maneuvers if not for the clouds that attacked us. Sentient, angry clouds, that Karl called Cloud Wraiths. They showed up while we were still close to the ground which was a good thing, since they had a tendency to blast us with wind to knock us down. They also liked to call lightning down onto us, which still doesn't really seem to bother me. Being engulfed by one and constantly shocked was significantly more painful as were the large spears of electricity they could toss. It was a long and gruelling fight, both Karl and I were severely wounded and near the limit of our endurance by the time we prevailed on the creatures. We did learn that sentient clouds can be intimidated by a wizards shouting confusing portents of doom though, which I still think we should test on normal clouds too.

We decided to continue flying up to our destination in the hope of finding better shelter there so we could take a couple of days of rest. We arrived to find the ruins of a building, a 30 feet high bronze pole, a bird bath, and a collapsed water tower. Dvarim and Dubhan were immediately all over the place looking for items that showed signs of being enchanted while I slumped against a wall and... meditated... indeed I meditated and focused on internalising the lessons from the previous fight, like even if you have been hit by lighting three or four times to little effect before, electricity can still hurt you.

Meanwhile D&D managed to determine that both the "bird feeder" and the pole were enchanted but could not really understand what their purpose was. I have to say erecting a giant shiny enchanted pole seems exactly what someone with Tamerlan's insecurities would do. While the dwarves were busy staring in awe at Tamerlan's pole, Karl poked around in the rubble and found a trap door, which we cleared, but decided to recover for a couple of days before investigating.

During the recovery I often found myself thinking back to the experience of flying, the feeling of being on top of the world, the idea of being able to roam around unbound by rivers or roads... Mother would have been most cross with me if she had known, saying I was talking like a highland good for nothing and not a respectable lowlander, but what she did not know would not hurt her... yet.

Two days later, we were fully recovered and ready to investigate whatever lay beyond the trap door.

Stairs, hundreds and hundreds of steps down into the earth and eventually a door! With a riddle! I was definitely getting a bit irritated with Tamerlan's antics, the riddle was obtuse and solved in equal parts by reasoning and wildly flailing around until something happened. For posterity I will record the answer here, even though I hope nobody else has to visit Tamerlan's bachelor pad again: a light source must be used to project a shadow on the door, while illuminating the door frame.

Beyond the door was a corridor, and the corridor led to two rooms, frankly I expected something grander. One room looked like a fairly well appointed sitting room and the walls were covered in writing. The next thing I remember is several minutes later, when Karl had me in a chokehold, he says D&D and I became engrossed in reading the writings and would not budge even after reading the entirety of it. Quite the embarrassing trap to fall into.

The other room had a checkerboard pattern floor and Karl noticed some of the tiles being trapped, so I went back to the sitting room and turned one of the sofas into improvised trap detecting tools by lobbing chunks of it on the trapped tiles. Once we determined that several tiles were trapped Dvarim graciously turned the sofa frame into a Trolling Trap Detector Mk2, or as other may call it a sturdy stick. Armed with this marvel of dwarven engineering I crossed the room to the door on the other end, checking every single tile in my path.

Beyond the next door was Tamerlan's living quarters, including a library full of grimoires we liberally looted, an enchanting room, full of enchanting stuff and a research laboratory. Dubhan claimed a rather pretty necklace for himself from the enchanting room.

In the lab were two jugs full of what looked like a silvery liquid that we couldn't identify. Karl decided to try and mixing the liquids from the the jugs, which seemed an idea that could have explosive consequences, so we moved out. As soon as the seal on the jar was cracked, the liquid flew out and formed into a 6 foot tall whirlwind of metal shards intent on flaying us alive.

I've punched clouds to death, I wasn't going to let some spinning shards intimidate me, but the metal tornado was not going to let a wizard mumbling intimidate it either, you win some, you lose some. As I soon learnt the thing was significantly harder to hit effectively than a Storm Wraith and the shards would get into everything. If we'd worn lighter armour we'd probably would have been flayed alive quite quickly. Karl took some nasty cuts early on, but was able to avenge himself with an arrow so fast that it dispersed the enemy.

After that we looked around some more finding a stash of alchemical supplies and blood charms that we also looted, and took out spoils back to Throal without further incident.

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Re: AAR [5-H] The Hidden Lab

Post by ottdmk » Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:13 am

From the Journal of Dubhan Goronich:

Semiyon Targalig, a Dwarf scholar of my acquaintance, reached out to myself and a few others to verify one of his recent discoveries: the possible location of a stronghold of Tamerlan, the pre-Scourge legendary spellcaster. Intrigued, as I actually possess a relic of Tamerlan (or, at the least, one based upon his designs) I agreed. With me in this endeavor were Karl the Archer, Dvarim the Weaponsmith/Elementalist and Norg the Troll Gauntlet.

The expedition was off to a slightly shaky start. I must remember when agreeing to these things that at least one member of the expedition must be skilled in such things as Navigation. Still, we managed to find our way, slowly, but we managed> At long last we reached the proposed location, and could see a tower up on a mountaintop.

I recently learned the spell for Flight, and thanks to the skills I have developed I can cast it on others, with a bit of effort. The others readily agreed that flying would be better than climbing (although my spells can help with climbing as well.) I calibrated things for the maximum duration and off we went.

We were mostly up the mountain when hostile air spirits attacked. I quickly boosted my colleagues' combat abilities and then set about trying to add to the carnage with the Mind Dagger spell. I never did much damage (the spirits' mystic armor was formidable) but the gaps in their defenses proved valuable.

More valuable was the Knack I recently trained, which allows me to harry others with proclamations of their upcoming doom. I did this continually, and it proved to be a great help, if rather tiring. When we had finally run the last of them off, I was exhausted. We proceeded to the ruins where the tower stood, and made camp to heal up.

Healing took a few days, and during that time Dvarim & I investigated the ruins. It would seem Tamerlan had more than a passing interest in Elementalism. Perhaps that was even their primary Discipline; I know not. When we were finally feeling more confidant we passed through a trap door into the complex below.

Such a place! Almost immediately I and a few of the others fell prey to an ingenious trap in the writing on the walls. Absolutely fascinating... yet, when I was forcibly awoken from my daze, I could remember none of it, and neither could the others. Further in there was a series of traps in the floor seemingly inspired by a chess board.

Then, we were in the main complex. We found his library! Such books! Spells of every Discipline! Naturally, we decided to bring some back with us. In one Grimoire I found the spell "Lighten Load", which made this easier.

In another part we found both a fully functioning alchemy lab and a research lab. Lying on a table in the Alchemy Lab was a peculiar necklace; my Astral Sight quickly revealed it as a Thread Item. Dvarim has agreed to help me work with it upon our return to Throal.

In the Research Lab, Karl opened one of the jars, loosing a hideous thing made of slivers on us. We're lucky there was only one; I shudder to contemplate facing more of them!

Once the thing was destroyed, we set about looting the place. I would've loved to have just moved in (the astral, for one thing, was bordering on Safe in this place!) but its distance from Throal (and my lack of survival skills) makes that impractical. So instead, with a great deal of help (and the Lighten Load spell) I managed to cart the entire Alchemy lab back to Throal with me. At long last, I have the opportunity to use the Alchemical skills I've learned... and perhaps I'll even expand them!

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Re: AAR [5-H] The Hidden Lab

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:54 am

Note from GM: The area was bordering upon "Safe" before you released the horror that had been contained in the jar, unable to do anything. It did not pollute the astral a great deal in the minute or so that it was free and active, but it did spread a some corruption about. Assuming you swept the remains up carefully, and absent additional influences, the underground part should stabilize at "Open" in a year or possibly two.

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