Dungeons & Delvers: Age of Worms, Episode 714

  • Humal (level 14 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 14 dwarf war cleric/druid)
  • Sumia (level 14 elf rogue/ranger/wizard)

Session Highlights
With nowhere else to go besides over the worm-lake, the party prepares themselves for an ambush of some kind. About half can fly, so again Humal conjures a solid illusionary platform for the others, and to their surprise they soar on over to the first opening without any incident.

It leads to a long hall made entirely from skeletons all mashed together. Sumia tries walking down it first, just to see what would happen. The eye sockets of the skeletons are illuminated by green flames as she approaches, but darken as she walks past. Fearing a trap, she soon returns to the entrance.

Believing that he is somehow linked to Kyuss and that it will be safe, Humal is the next to try: the entire hallway lights up as he walks down it. The skeletal remains peel and pop out of the walls, bowing and muttering to him as he passes by. It's in an ancient dialect of infernal, so he doesn't catch all of it, just enough to know that it's a constant stream of sycophantic praise.

At the end is a door, different from the others in that there are no handles or levers, just three skulls with gaping mouths. There are holes in each mouth, which the party assumes are for keys of some sort. Having seen nothing that even loosely resembles keys thus far, they assume they'll be found in the one place they haven't been to, yet.

Heading back over the lake, the final passage also connects to a hall. This one is shorter and ends in a large, circular chamber. It's sparsely furnished with a long table, some chairs, and a tall throne, all made from bone. Three staircases at its edge lead to darkened passages, or perhaps rooms.

Curious, Humal sits in the throne: arms and legs spring out, and it moves to accommodate him and minimize his movements whenever possible, seemingly responding to his thoughts. Unfortunately it only works for him: when Sumia tries, arms pin her in place and one produces a long sword, preparing to slit her throat. Humal immediately commands it to release her: it stores the blade, releases her, bows to him, and returns to its upright position.

Before Sumia has a chance to scout out the staircases, a Kyuss knight emerges from each of the openings. They're all clad in bone armor, similar to the first one they encountered but each with their own slight deviations. They introduce themselves as Zaromus, the Dreamer and commander of the 1st Wormlegion, Ninshurat, the Shadow Worm and commander of the 2nd Wormlegion, and Markath, the Mage Slayer and commander of the 3rd Wormlegion.

As the first knight did, they politely ask the party why they have come, and what they intend to do. Humal tries to pretend that he is Kyuss, but Zaromus explains that he can sense Kyuss's location, and knows that he has not yet awoken. Humal then admits they are trying to learn whatever they can to stop the Age of Worms, and want to get through the door with three skulls.

The knights state that they won't permit them to continue rooting through the ziggurat, but confess that they have no wish to fight: they offer the party a chance to leave peacefully. The party of course has no intention of doing so without checking the entire ziggurat top to bottom. The knights oblige their desire for combat, asking if they wish to rest first, warning them that as commanders of the Wormlegions they have thousands of warriors at their beck and call.

Humal places the crown on his head, hoping that it will allow him to command at least one of the knights, and that by extension he'll have control over a Wormlegion.

He is dissapointed to learn that he cannot (their wills are far too strong), but is surprised to learn that not only can he see and draw upon the necromantic miasma that permeates the ziggurat (effectively giving him unlimited Mana for necromantic purposes), he can also sense thousands of dead dwarves, all since long turned to stone: Humal declares that they wish to fight immediately, and as the knights wake their legions from the very walls of the ziggurat itself, Humal animates the fallen dwarves.

The knights are stunned to see countless dwarven skeletons burst forth from the walls and pour from the ceiling, and as both undead armies clash the party seizes the opportunity to make the first move. The Wormlegions are matched in strength and numbers by the dwarves: they're unable to assist, but even severely outnumbered the knights prove to be fearsome opponents.

The party is eventually able to succeed (though Rachmiel nearly dies), and as each knight falls it crumbles to dust, leaving only a twisted length of notched metal. Presumably these are the "keys" they need to open the door at the end of the first passage: time to head back and see what's waiting for them on the other side.

Designer Notes
For this part of the adventure I added the skeleton hall and special lock, renamed two of the Kyuss knights (I forget why at this point), and gave them all unique abilities that the players unfortunately were't really able to determine in play: Zaromus could roll twice and take the higher bonus on some checks (had to recharge in order to do it again), Markath's attacks also drained mana on a hit (only got a chance to hit Humal once), and Ninshurat could create and teleport through shadows, and got bonus damage if she hit your shadow.

Given that in the previous session Corzale did not want Humal to put on the crown, I'm surprised he did. Good thing, too, otherwise they'd have had to deal with a shitload of Kyuss zombies. Sounds bad, but then I figured they would have fled for awhile, and tried fighting everything in a bottleneck. Plus they still have the resurrection potion that they got from the leader of the Pelor church in Dovin, so I wasn't too worried. Probably would have bullshitted a quick-and-dirty mob fighting rule so we didn't spend hours killing undead.

Even so the players were forced to utilize a number of strategies in order to succeed: Xan'tchack (the argon) used his antimagic eye to negate Ninshurat's shadow magic, Sumia teamed up with Corzale and the paladins to get sneak attack bonuses (she does a lot of damage to undead), Humal filled huge sections with fire before using Suggestion or Command to force one of the knights to walk through the entire thing, Corzale used turn undead to keep one of them at bay: the whole thing was pretty crazy, but they pulled it off.

Ninshurat nearly escaped (she got to the edge of the worm-lake, and the "key" nearly fell in), but Sumia was able to take her down with silver arrows (ignores DR of some monsters) and her hefty Undead Hunter bonus.

Next session they get to figure out why everything in Kuluth-Mar keeps mistaking Humal for Kyuss!

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