Posted by : David Guyll June 08, 2013

Cast

  • Atticus, formerly known as the Randy (wood elf druid 3)
  • Corvus (human ranger 3)
  • Iola (wood elf monk 3)
  • Perseus (human paladin 3)
  • Yllian (high elf wizard 3)
After the earthquake subsided the characters that were not already outside got up to survey the damage, along with the rest of the town; the streets were filled with people trying to figure out what was going on, with theories ranging from magic, to monsters, to the return of vengeful gods.

It did not take long for word to reach the characters that part of the quarry had collapsed, damaging numerous homes near the top, burying others, and destroying much of the scaffolding and pulley systems used to haul stone. While Perseus was busy getting his armor on—hoping to avoid getting caught with his pants down in case a fight broke out again—Iola and Atticus helped the citizens excavate survivors and clean up the mess.

Yllian, not really one for labor, suspected that the stone boots were in some way responsible, something that he had not shared with his comrades. Though he had not yet been able to ready identify he figured that he could at least give detect magic a shot to see if he could figure anything out. What he saw was a lattice of red-orange energy threaded throughout them. In a few places the threads had snapped, indicating physical trauma, or possibly waning magic.

He also noticed something else.

Waves of evocation magic where flowing past him, through the ground. Due to the limited range of the divination he could not see where, but he theorized that it was somewhere within the quarry. Well, at the least he was able to eliminate the boots as the cause, though earthquake-causing boots would be pretty rad. Ah, well, he might as well try to figure out what was causing it, and started heading down there with Perseus.

That was when another earthquake hit, this time with Iola and Atticus at ground zero. Rocks fell, some people died, plenty were wounded. Another section of the quarry had collapsed, this time crushing about a quarter of the prison that had been constructed at the bottom. By the time they had picked themselves up and were able to take in what had happened, they could hear inmates whooping and hollering, along with a few voices screaming out before being abruptly silenced.

What guards remained at this point, some ten in all, ordered the citizens to retreat. As everyone fell back, Iola and Atticus decided to stick around and play hide and seek with a mob of criminals who, when they were not engaging in arduous, back-breaking labor, spent the time cooped up in sweltering rooms with other sweaty men. In terms of bad ideas, this easily topped their personal chart.

Iola circled around, using her speed and low-light vision to keep her distance and navigate. Atticus took the high road, transforming into a panther to help him scale the walls and slink above unnoticed. Through some bizarre twist of fate (ie, 1 in 400 odds) Atticus did run into one of the criminals, who apparently had the same idea he did by trying to climb his way out of the quarry. He frantically swiped at Atticus with a shiv, who anticlimactically just loped off.

I am not sure what Iola had expected to find, but I am sure that she was not expected to see a lone, cloaked figure slowly walking along the walls of the prison. It held its hand to the wall, pausing periodically to press its head against it, sometimes tapping with some sort of metal implement. She watched him from a distance, waiting for him to do something else to justify a surprise attack. After ten or so feet, he stopped and started etching something into the wall.

That probably would have been enough in her book, but Atticus had made it to the prison rooftop at about the same time. He peered over the edge, and saw that the figure was already staring up at him, as if expecting him to be there. His expression still changed to one of shock, because though expecting something, that something was not a very large, dangerous cat. He slowly backed away and tried to tantalize Atticat with some meat to no avail.

In all fairness he tried a few more times to deter Atticat, but when it was clear that this was going nowhere he knelt to the ground and whispered...something. Despite adding 1d6 + 5 to his listen checks, all Atticus could make out was some kind of grumbling. A pillar of stone erupted out of the prison's ceiling a moment later, slamming into Atticus's chest and throwing him back. So, magic words.

Atticus picked himself up, chest throbbing in pain, and reverted back to his elven form. This also surprised the stranger, who expressed his surprise with the statement, "Well, aren't you full of surprises." Atticus, using the element of surprise, conjured up a bunch of thick, dried roots to entangle him. This tore up his clothes and pulled his hook back; Atticus guessed that based on his height, stature, beard, and affinity for stone that he was a dwarf.

He strained against the roots, and when he was unable to break free a pair of arms erupted from the ground and effortlessly tore them apart (which, after reading the description of entangle I realized bought him all of one action). An ogre-sized, stony mass emerged after the arms, and began sliding towards Atticus. He picked himself up and began walking towards the prison, confident that the elemental would occupy Atticus long enough for him to complete his task. With his back to her and his attention clearly focused elsewhere, Iola took the opportunity to move in and take him out.

She had barely moved a few steps when the stranger, without even looking, pointed at her and commanded her to stop. He said that he did not want to hurt her, but that he would if she came any closer. She rushed him anyway, getting in a pretty good hit before his skin hardened into rock and another pillar knocked her away. He took this opportunity to make it towards the prison, creating an entrance and ducking inside, with Iola hot on his heels.

At some point Atticus had conjured a flaming sphere to use against the elemental, but when Iola chased the stranger inside the prison it turned its attention to her, attacking from within the walls to conceal its location. He hopped down and rolled the sphere after them, driving it into the dwarf while Iola pummeled him, easily dodging the elemental's strikes, and the dwarf collapsed after a few rounds of punishment.

All the while that this was going on, Yllian and Perseus had been rallying the soldiers and town militia to handle the escaped prisoners. Though the guard captain had been killed, they did manage to rescue the nobleman, one Valan Ogre'tor, from a trio of thugs who were holding him at sword point (which was pretty easy given their high Charisma scores and training in Persuade). In the end they managed to capture just under half of the escaped criminals, locking them in a makeshift prison until they could rebuild the actual one.

Once everything had settled Yllian and Atticus tried to press the stranger for information, while Perseus went to "press" Valan. They tied him up so that he could not touch the ground, hoping that it would prevent him from using his magic. After giving it their bad cop/worse cop routine, all they found out was that he was indeed somehow connected to Tharizdun. When they went back to the scene of the crime, they found that the walls of one of the cells was covered in strange signs, and had a circular shaped hole in the ceiling.

Behind the Scenes
The stonecaller marked the first time in years that I have sat down to construct a non-4th Edition spellcaster, and was also my debut into using spellcaster types in 5th Edition. Since there are no guidelines for building your own monsters, and none of them have class levels, I stuck with a method somewhere in between 3rd and 4th Edition; ie, eyeballing many of the stats and just kind of giving him cleric spells that would let him do the spell-like effects I wanted him to.

The end result is that due to a combination of limited actions and hit points, he was only able to do like, three things before getting taken out. In 4th Edition he would have had one or two action points to let him do more, and probably lasted another round or two on top of it. Thankfully I planned on giving him an earth elemental flunky ahead of time so that his objective was able to be completed, but I wish monsters had more interesting things going on.

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