Dungeons & Delvers: Age of Worms, Episode 715

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

Session Highlights
Sumia stashes the Kyuss knights' wormblades in Humal's bag of holding: she isn't sure what sort of items the eldritch horror merchant living underneath Magepoint is willing to accept as trade, so figures it's safer to just grab whatever and hope it's enough to pay her debt.

After retrieving the three keys, the party returns once again to the first passage. It takes some effort, but after inserting each of the keys the door slides away. In addition to the floor and walls being made of bone, there are numerous abstract, twisted sculptures seemingly reaching towards something floating and slowly spinning about the center of the chamber.

After a tentative approach they see that it is in fact vaguely humanoid, with elongated proportions, six limbs, and no head. It's limbs are curled inward on one side, giving it the appearance of a dead insect. Corzale can sense an evil presence so intense that her eyes and nose begins to bleed, while Humal and Sumia know that it is the source of all the necromatic energy flowing throughout the ziggurat.

It greets them calmly and politely, as everything else here that can speak has, though its speech varies with each sentence: sometimes it mutters in cold, quiet whispers, other times its voice is deep and echoes throughout the room. Humal tries to play the Kyuss card, because so far it's had about a fifty percent success rate. The creature seems to buy it at first, but then quickly grows suspicious.

It slowly unfurls and gently, silently falls to the floor. A tide of skeletons surge up, reaching and grasping one of the creature's pair of outspread arms--and each other when there's no more room--forming a robe of clattering bone. It strides towards Humal, and they are all grateful that even the light shed by Corzale's hammer isn't enough to sufficiently illuminate it.

Once it stands before Humal, a thick tentacle covered in what they assume are eyes wetly emerges from where you'd expect a neck to be. It seems to study Humal for a bit before asking him if he knows its name. Of course Humal doesn't. It then demands that they leave, and of course they don't.

During the fight that ensures it focuses on Humal, heedless of everyone else, even the paladins and Corzale. After Humal is seriously wounded, it encases him in a force cube, which slowly begins to shrink. Xan'tchack is able to negate it with his antimagic eye before it crushes him: he isn't sure if it will return should he blink, so he keeps his eye open until the creature is destroyed and Humal is moved from where it originally appeared.

Searching the room, Corzale and Sumia find a few pieces of considerably valuable, ancient armor. A helmet is clearly dwarven made, but an ornate mithril breastplate looks to have been made by both elven and dwarven smiths, as if they both worked on half of it. Humal notices that the creature's bone robe is still intact, and that he can command it: it provides resistance to necromantic energies, and the skeletons will claw and grasp anyone who attempts to harm the wearer.

He also notices a lever at the back of the chamber, mostly because it's also a magical staff. He gives it a pull before removing it: the floor shudders, pops, and snaps as it descends into a long, coiling staircase. The follow it for quite some time; when they finally reach the bottom even Corzale isn't sure how far they've gone, but the room it leads to is so vast it could easily have contained the entirety of Kyuss's ziggurat before it was damaged.

The first thing they notice as a dozen or so pillars, each capped with the swirling gloom of a necrotar, larger and seemingly more stable than the one they found in the bowels of Dovin. The pillars are covered in symbols and runes, preventing them from leaking harmful necromantic energy while allowing it to be funneled when necessary.

Initially Humal isn't sure what their energy could be used for, but they soon find a series of short, stone podiums. Green runes flicker across their surfaces, written in an ancient infernal script. They are surrounded by nine rings of various metals set into the floor. Humal recognizes them as protection circles, precisely made and tightly wound: he suspects they would be more than sufficient to keep even his father at bay.

In front of the podiums is a metal cylinder, set on a short stone platform. There's a glass lens at least at their end: it looks similar to a spyglass, but it is so long that it vanishes into the darkness beyond the light of Corzale's holy symbol.

Flanking the cylinder and platform are pairs of giant skeletons, almost completely rotted away and leaning against immense shields made from solid lead. The shields have notches at the bottom, enabling them to fit snugly around the platform and cylinder and against each other, forming a series of barriers.

Walking the length of the cylinder, they find that it is about one hundred feet long, and there are a total of eight pairs of giants flanking it. Before it all is a black, seemingly bottomless pit. It is surrounded by more protection circles, also made of various metals and set in the floor, but they are inlaid much more chaotically, and there are stone pillars covered in runes and patters scattered about their edges.

Unsure what to make of everything, but assuming it's for something really bad, a voice above provides them with the answer: it is a means to communicate with a cosmic of unfathomable power. More or less safely. They look up to see a levitating jumble of bone descend from a shadowed crevice in the ceiling. Glass tanks jut out of it randomly, each filled with a dark green fluid and multiple brains.

It greets Humal as Kyuss, and asks if he wishes to speak with "the entity" yet again. Humal feigns memory loss, citing the passage of time and his transformation as the cause. The creature introduces itself as Dolgol, and seems more than happy to elaborate and explains the specifics.

The cosmic entity is responsible for granting Kyuss the knowledge of the First Worm, but even speaking with it for a moment would utterly eradicate the mind and body of anyone of less than deific intellect. Worse, it's mere presence would warp reality for miles around. The pit is the gate, and the circles around it are intended to contain it for a brief period of time and confuse it, slowing its inevitable escape.

The lead shields and protection circles are necessary to protect the mind of whoever is attempting to communicate with it. The cylinder allows someone to observe it without it driving them insane, and also monitor its progress as it disrupts the barriers. Even that isn't enough, so Dolgol is necessary to serve as a kind of interpreter and psychic buffer.

Finally, there is a destructive failsafe should the entity reach the final barrier.

Corzale of course wants nothing to do with it: her order is dedicated to the obliteration of such unnatural horrors, and refuses to even chance unleashing something like that upon the world regardless as to whatever they might possibly gain. Worse, there is no assurance that during their communication, whatever it is they're dealing with won't alter Humal in some way.

Humal spends a good deal of time trying to convince her that it's safe, that Kyuss obviously used it before, that they could use whatever information the entity might provide, and that when they're done he can use the failsafe to nuke the place and prevent it from ever being used again. Corzale is fine with blowing the place up, less so about every other part of the plan.

Eventually Humal resorts to charming Corzale, and miraculously he is successful. She becomes far more timid, and relents. She steps in the circle with Humal, and tightly grasps his robe and he touches the symbols necessary for opening the gate.

Dolgol attaches a worm-like tendril into the base of Humal's skull. It telepathically reveals that it knows he is not Kyuss, but that whatever he might learn from the entity could assist Kyuss, and so is willing to help them for now.

Several of the necrotars rapidly wink out, but otherwise there is no indication that anything has occurred. Humal looks through the cylinder, and sees a dark tendril wriggle out. It inflates into a vaguely humanoid shape, and proceeds to tap against the unseen barriers, causing the metal rings to steadily grow white hot, while Humal asks it questions.

During the course of the conversation, Humal learns that he is Kyuss. Specifically, a Kyuss from another timeline. It explains that their world is actually the corpse of what they call Bel-Amaranth, Corzale's god. In over 300 centillion realities Kyuss forges a vast kingdom, sacrifices them all in order to fuel his apotheosis, ascends to godhood, and using his Overworms animates and takes control of the world.

The entity claims to exist in all timelines simultaneously, as they are all its dreams. In every reality Kyuss learns this, and tries to acquire god-like power in an effort to keep it from waking, or preserve its dream after waking, though so far it has never worked out: in the end Kyuss ends up being responsible for the undoing of each dream-reality.

Humal is a deviation. His father learned what would happen, what always happens, and shunted him into another timeline to spare his own. As they've conversed the entity has gradually broken through the binding circles: they heat up, and then the metal evaporates. It's about this point that the entity is almost free, so Humal initiates the self-destruct sequence.

An inky black sphere descends from the ceiling; Humal immediately recognizes it as a sphere of annihilation. It completely obliterates the portal, pillars, the remaining binding circles, and even the entity's pseudo-form, before it is teleported away: the other necrotars wink out, their power exhausted transporting the sphere elsewhere.

Humal is obviously distraught, having sought this very artifact since he obtained a control talisman so long ago. Luckily Sumia has been practicing and researching her divination magic: even though she isn't nearly as skilled as Humal, she believes she can track it to wherever it was sent.

Designer Notes
Humal being Kyuss from another timeline was something I came up with halfway through the adventure.

Honestly it started as a kind of joke, but then I kept running with it, and then I thought of all this. Interestingly, when we started the campaign Jacob had Humal as an Enchanter and Illusionist, two schools that would be useful in forming an empire, and then started going into Necromancy all on his own.

Kind of what you'd expect Kyuss to do.

I really gotta give Jacob and Kelly props for their social role-playing in this session: things got heated after they found the portal, and they pulled out all the stops. Honestly thought Humal and Corzale were going to come to blows, and that someone was going to have to roll up a new PC before the night was over.

But then Humal got lucky with the charm attempt. Or rather, Corzale was really unlucky given that Will is her best save. Ah, well, everything worked out. So far: might be blowback after the charm wears off, since people remember that they were charmed.

In any case I have to start reading the next Age of Worms adventure, as I never got past the start of this one before!

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

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Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

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