FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 602

  • Humal (level 10 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 10 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 10 elf rogue/ranger)

Before Corzale could shout out a warning, the dragon exhaled a stream of acid, striking all but Doppelfilge, Auric, and Cenric. Now that it had their attention and most of them were severely wounded, it made them an offer: tell her where Adair went, and it would postpone their destruction until she exacted her revenge against him.

Sumia explained that they didn't know where he went, and then tried to trick her into thinking he'd traveled to Dovin. Unsurprisingly the dragon didn't believe her, but it did extend another offer: Allustan had ventured into the cairn, and since she was too large to fit she would need them to bring him to her. In exchange she would spare them, for a time.

Under the threat of being dissolved alive, and figuring that they'd just team up with Allustan to betray the dragon later or teleport to safety if Allustan was dead or was opposed to the plan, the party accepted the dragon's offer.

After the dragon flew away, the party entered the cairn. Humal started preparing the teleportation circle, but he didn't get a chance to finish it, because right around the corner Sumia and Corzale discovered that the previously blocked passage had been cleared.

There was apparently some sort of magic portal behind the rubble. A gnome was sitting on top of one of the stones, somehow looking bored despite only possessing vague facial features. Inquiring as to what it was doing in the cairn, the gnome explained that Allustan had summoned him to move the rocks before vanishing through the portal.

He'd been gone awhile, but the gnome wasn't sure how long because being immortal and native to another plane of existence, he'd never had cause to track the passage of time before. Allustan's binding magic was still preventing him from leaving; Humal's limited understanding of conjuration magic caused him to conclude that Allustan couldn't have been gone that long.

Inside the portal was a short, misty passage with another portal at the end. Given the nature of the tomb's architects and billowing winds, Humal theorized that they were passing through the ethereal plane, and were about to arrive on the elemental plane of air.

About halfway through, a creature that could only be described as a partially transparent feline skeleton with a bird's skull appeared from the mists. Doppelfilge shouted in surprise and pelted it with a few necrotic missiles, but when Humal conjured an illusionary wall around it they immediately forgot what they were doing, and so were unable to explain themselves to an equally confused Corzale and Sumia.

Corzale and Sumia passed through the portal at the end, emerging into another tomb that was brilliantly lit thanks to a number of circular windows in one of the walls. Peering through the windows, Corzale was distraught to find that they were not only suspended in the sky, but the ground was nowhere in sight.

Since Corzale wanted to move as little as possible, Sumia went to check on Filge and Humal in the ethereal hall, only to find them both frantically attacking the skeletal creature with their magic. She loosed a few arrows while Doppelfilge rushed past her. He arrived in the temple, and when Corzale asked what took him so long he had no idea why, or why Humal and Sumia weren't right behind him.

Already frustrated, Corzale stormed back through the portal, saw the creature, and proceeded to start smashing it with her hammer. Eventually Doppelfilge also came back in, and this time no one turned around or left before it was destroyed.

Back in the tomb they followed a short passage into a larger, square room. Pillars lined a few of the walls, and each wall featured a set of double doors. Near the center of the room, and just to the right of the door they stood in, were a pair of clusters of what could only be described as solidified air blades. The party only noticed them by the way they distorted objects on the other side. They radiated magic, but were inert.

The party collectively suspected a trap, but mundane and magical examination didn't reveal anything, so Sumia inched along the walls and tried one of the doors. The door flung open at her touch, and a powerful gust of wind propelled her into one of the air-blade-clusters before it slammed shut. She managed to twist about to avoid getting impaled on it, suffering only a few cuts before getting slammed into one of the walls.

Her brief glimpse beyond the door revealed that it simply let outside to the endless expanse of the plane or air. Unable to fly, they tried another door.

This one opened into another hall. At the center of an intersection stood a stone statue of an unknown Wind Duke wielding a very real longsword. Humal's arcane sight revealed several otherwise invisible glyphs scattered about the floor: simple magic traps that would do something nasty if stepped on. Sumia tossed an arrow on one. The glyph didn't do anything, but an orange-red, mostly humanoid lizard-like creature picked it up and asked who it belonged to.

He seemed friendly enough, and the party soon learned that he was a guardian bound back when the tomb was constructed. No one had come in a very long time, and he wanted nothing more than to leave. The magic binding him had partially faded; he could let them go, but really didn't want to exacerbate the migraines he was already suffering from, having let another person recently pass.

Fortunately Humal had picked up a few abjuration tricks, and with Sumia's help was able to undo the binding magic, allowing the elated Earl of Coalchester to finally return home.

Design Notes
If you've read/played A Gathering of Winds and remember it, you've probably realized that I've changed it quite a bit.

First, Ilthane is after Allustan because of who he is and what he knows. Neither she nor the Ebon Triad want to kill him for his tangential relationship with the PCs. Instead, they know that he's at least a competent wizard, knows Marzena (from Encounter at Blackwall Keep) and the late Eligos, so they want to zombify him (or mind clone him) and gain access to his knowledge and powers.

Now, it's possible that the party could have killed Ilthane, or at least driven her off. But, as luck would have it, she got the drop on them and barfed up a shitload of acid. Since Adair (character from early on in the playtest campaign) was responsible for the destruction of Ilthane's worm egg (albeit accidentally), that's who she wanted to kill right away.

But they didn't know where Adair went after Chris (his player) had to quit the campaign, so the dragon settled on getting them to bring out Allustan.

Second, and this is something I wish I would have done right from the get-go, is that this new section of the cairn is on the plane of air. I'm going to talk about how I'd change the other adventures to better accommodate this later (I'd set almost all of the cairn on the plane of air), but I figure I can at least do it for this part.

There's supposed to be an abyssal ghoul bound to the portal leading to the other tomb for...some reason. I changed it so that the portal links to a corridor on the ethereal plane, and swapped out the ghoul for a thought slayer (3rd Edition monster that is basically a souped up thought eater) that just happened to be passing by when Allustan went through, and was waiting in case other intelligent creatures showed up.

I modded it from its 3rd Edition stats, namely making forget a passive thing because I though it would be funny to have the PCs constantly forgetting that it's there whenever they turn around.

I also changed up a few of the traps, and made the blades essentially solidified air instead of metal, and made the Earl of Coalchester into an actual salamander with a British accent. While it would have been possible for the characters to bribe him into letting them pass (the binding magic has been giving him migraines since letting Allustan go), I also gave Humal a chance to free him from the bindings and return home.

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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