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Posted on September 28, 2012
The Acts of the Lords of Rannick, LXXVIII
One of the problems with running Xin Shalast is that the city represents thousands of adventuring locales that you just have to skip past to the important stuff. It will take foursomes of adventurers decades to pick Xin Shalast apart, but in the meantime, the party has stuff to do there. And that stuff is detailed in the Adventure Path, it’s just that the getting there isn’t really. The lair of each BBG, for example, is mapped out while the surrounding dungeon isn’t. So for the trip into the Seven Sided Dome, I had to skip over how you actually get there in broad terms and then come up with something for the dungeon on the way to the planned encounters. In the AP, the description of the largest building just says that there are all sorts of passages and a bunch of encounters and traps. No details, just you know, thanks for buying this book, no go use your imagination. For the most part, the Paizo stuff is free of that, although I understand that they can’t anticipate everything that a party may want to do in Xin Shalast. So unfortunately I have to do some work on it, which whenever I’ve had to do it has been hit and miss.
So I, being… shall we say “concerned with the conservation of personal energy”… ran a google search for a dungeon generator and found this: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/mapper/launcher.htm
It was a WotC project from back before 2007 when they released 4th edition, so everything sticks to 3.5 rules, which is the ruleset that Paizo ran with to create Pathfinder and 3.5 is the ruleset for which Rise of the Runelords was actually written. So it is not far off. Play around with it, it’s pretty good.
So I created a dungeon to my specifications, printed it out, redid the map to suit this building and swapped in location appropriate encounters. Done. All the work of trapping places and figuring out stats for doors is done for you. I was mentioning to Jim last night that it would be fun (for me at least) to randomly create a mega-dungeon like this, but then create a narrative that strings all the randomly seeded encounters and rooms together.
Anyway, where were we?
The party retired to the safety of the Spared’s warren of under-glacier tunnels and basements after releasing the Stone Giant captive from the hands of the Yeti. Upon inquiry, the Spared didn’t think that this ended the Yeti threat – the dome was used as a place for various groups of yetis to rest while others were out on patrol; almost like it was shift work, being an abominable snowman.
There was a spot of healing to be done as Kerplak and Ron had taken some pretty terrible injuries from the Yeti’s rending attacks. After that they rested before setting out again the next morning.
This time, their goal was the seven-sided building with the domed roof and seven minarets. I’m going to call it the Heptagonal Dome. I’ll call it that because I’m not going keep calling it a seven-sided building with the domed roof and seven minarets. It kind of looks something like a combination of a Biodome, the Hagia Sophia (below), the Roman Colosseum and a bricked up building.
The Heptagonal Dome appears to be the largest covered structure in the entire city. The sheer and unbroken walls rise 500 feet before supporting a dome that rises another 200 feet. There appear to be no windows in the walls, but massive archways beneath the towers hold doors easily large enough to admit the tallest of giantkin. The seven minarets are of slightly different construction, with the spire closest to the citadel on Mhar Massif being the tallest.
About halfway to the dome, flitting between the towers, pagodas and huge abandoned villas, the party was struck by a sense of unease and heard a roaring sound high above. About a mile from them, a very large blue dragon soared through the air, high above the city. Wheeling through the sky to the heart of the Entertainment District, where the party was headed, it suddenly tilted, folded its wings in and plummeted. As they gazed up from their hiding place, the dragon’s wings snapped out just before it disappeared beneath the jagged roofline, a sharp electric crack resounding as the wings suddenly arrested its plunge.
Kerplak, being the observant sort, noticed that the dragon had a rider, huddled to its shoulder blades as it streaked down from the sky. The party was not willing to engage a dragon, although that didn’t stop them from dividing up its body parts and magic items upon the dragon’s as-yet-hypothetical demise. They began creeping through the city, towards the dome but very mindful that being caught by a dragon while only Albedon, Ron, Dagfinn and Kerplak were on the active roster would be disastrous. Yeah, suddenly the Spared don’t seem so lame, do they?
They chose a tower reasonably close to the dome so that they could do some forward reconnaissance, but as they slunk into the ground level, an open courtyard type arrangement, they triggered a magical trap, and were Flame Struck. Ron and Kerplak managed to avoid it and Dagfinn rolled out of the way without to much on fire, but Albedon was comprehensively singed.
They sought to get higher in this tower, which appeared to fall under the ‘Pleasure Palace’ type of tower that made up most of the entertainment district. But now they did so with Kerplak checking for traps. AT some point he heard what sounded like the blue dragon roaring, with each roar sounding successively far away. By the third floor, they found a suitable vantage point to observe the dome, even though they were still gazing up at it.
From there they could see that the walls did not provide much in the way of access. Other than the massive doors beneath the minarets… nothing except a few slit like windows in the minarets. Dagfinn also noticed that the dome, initially though to be covered in ice was actually entirely crystal although to what end, he could not tell. The light inside the crystal dome seemed different, perhaps a little yellower?
They then spent some more time fannying about in the tower, trying to get higher, searching it etc. Nothing really came of that, just like nothing else will come of searching the other 5000 huge towers in the city. That is not the scope of this adventure. I am pleased that no-one has set time aside to pry out all the precious stones – it’s profitable, but it isn’t as profitable as being an adventurer and the scavenging job has a definite expiry date of When Karzoug Returns And Everyone Dies.
Eventually they cautiously progressed closer to the dome. They arrived at the broad plaza that surrounded the dome, a snow swept expanse that hinted that the traffic around the dome was once considerable. This made sneaking up to the dome hard, so they made sure to skirt around for a bit. They kept an eye out for danger, which was good because they would otherwise have missed the man emerging from the wall of the Heptagonal Dome. A skilfully hidden door popped open and out stepped a figure dressed in long purple robes and with a head of long shiny black hair. The man – if it was one – closed the door carefully and appeared to lock it with a key, before waving his hands around and disappearing.
Quickly, because the door’s location was very difficult to spot and they wanted to keep track of it, the party emerged from their hiding place and made for the door. They found the keyhole, but couldn’t really make out the door. Kerplak tried to pick the door, but had no luck so he used the Crowbar of Opening which caused the door to spring out slightly from the wall. A groove in the side of the door allowed it to be pulled open and doing so revealed a dark stairway leading down. They entered the doorway and closed the door behind them.
Kerplak and Dagfinn had sources of light, so the area around them was less dark, but it wasn’t naturally illuminated. Dagfinn cast Invisibility on everyone individually. It was a small corridor that had a dead end right ahead of them, but a door offset to their right. They crept up to the door. Kerplak listened and heard several grumbling voices. Opening the door revealed a 20’x20′ room full of Hill Giants. So, four Hill Giants. The room was as full of Hill Giants as it really could be.
With the element of surprise on his side, Kerplak failed to injure the first giant with his shitty, shitty crossbow. Albedon unleashed his Fire Snake into the room and slapped it around a bit, badly burning the surprised giants. Dagfinn, meanwhile broke out his scary song. The Frightening Tune did the trick, the giants recovering from their surprise only to try to flee through the room’s only exit that didn’t have a scary Bard in the way. But failing to do that they turned and prepared to fight like cornered rats. The party had other plans however. Dagfinn cast Grease, made a giant fall over and then stabbed him while he was on the ground. Ron flurried one to near unconsciousness. Albedon Scorching Ray’d another, Kerplak added a Smoke bomb to the mix and I think that the giants didn’t land a single blow or even attempt to before they were all rendered dead or helpless. Ron kept one giant alive for questioning.
When Albedon asked the giant who he served, the giant defiantly answered “Karzoug the Claimer!”. The giant, it turned out was waiting for something, but wasn’t sure what it was waiting for… when everyone got tired of talking to him, Ron decided to put him out of his misery and snapped his neck. Not the instant and painless snap of the spinal column, which turned out to be more robust than he was inspecting. Instead the snapping sound came from the trachea he had just broken and the giant died an agonizing and slow death on the floor in front of them, scrabbling at his neck as he suffocated. Good job, Dr Towin. Albedon eventually stepped in with a knife, but not before it got awkward. T
he room itself held nothing in particular, the walls a checkerboard of niches filled with candle-bearing giant skulls. So, you know, just a regular room. Kerplak didn’t let all this get in the way of searching the giants and he found a bunch of shite in their bags, but also a Scroll of Detect Hidden Doors. Dagfinn meanwhile, had taken a look at this Portcullis (which looked pretty hefty) and the room which lay beyond. The room was dark (yes, I know he had a fucking light source, but that doesn’t make the room permanently well lit does it?) but he could make out a large iron cage that had fallen to the ground and two corpses, both ogres, one of which was long dead and the other more recently decapitated.
The problem of getting into this new, fascinating, temporarily lit room was that despite repeated attempts, they couldn’t lift the Portcullis. These four party members aren’t the muscliest of the LoR. Eventually, Albedon had enough grunting. If he’d wanted to spend his life sweating he wouldn’t have spent so many years at Hogwarts. So he cast Disintegrate and turned the portcullis to dust. Boom. Magic. Albedon would be vicious on a home improvement show.
Once in the room, there were three doors to choose from, and they chose the rightmost door, as they got over there, Dagfinn noticed not seeing an Invisible Stalker. Which is to say that an Invisible Stalker did not appear. It is tricky. Anyway, Dagfinn felt something standing in the corner and even though Glitterdust didn’t reveal it, it never the less attacked Kerplak, with some considerable single-mindedness, it should be said. Dagfinn and Albedon filled the air in the corner with arrows and lightning bolts while Kerplak tried fending it off with the Chainsword. Ron had the bright idea of using the iron cage to pin the Invisible Stalker to the wall. The IS is an a type of Air Elemental, so I’m not sure how pinning would work for something that is made of air, but assuming that it can’t incorporate objects into its being uh, I guess makes sense. It isn’t ethereal, the air of which it is composed can’t coexist with the iron of the bars… Anyway, that made it easier to hit long enough for a few more telling blows to land and even though it wriggled out of the pin, by then it was too late. They killed(?) it, sent it back to the plane of Air… who knows, maybe it had a long drawn out death with a soliloquy on the manner in which mortals fritter away their short lifespans while the elementals have eternity, yet are somehow envious… no-one saw it.
That’s where we finished for the night, before we even got to opening any of those doors …