RECAPS

Game 1: 07/07/2018 Game 2:  07/14/2018 Game 3: 08/04/2018
Game 4:  08/11/2018 Game 5: 08/25/2018 Game 6: 09/08/2018
Game 7:  09/22/2018 Game 8:  10/13/2018
Game 9: 10/20/2018 
Game 10: 11/03/2018
Game 11: 11/17/2018

GAME ONE

A group of 41 year olds gather once again back in the town they came from, Hawkins Indiana. While walking in the forest where we used to game we are transformed into the 11 year olds we once were.  We remember our 41 year old selves and more-or-less retain those skills.

We are: A jock, a geek, a headcase... oh, wait, that's the breakfast club.  We are:  Terry (a plumber, played by Jude), Rich (a collectibles shop owner, played by Richard), Adam (a Coal Miner, played by Paul), Jason (a retired Navy Captain, played by Jim), Cid (a martial arts trainer, played by Jeff),Walt (A postal employee, played by Alan), and Tom (A novelist played by Darren).

Also in this area, dubbed the "In-Between", We find a backpack that belonged to Jason when he was a kid!  Inside is a first aid kit (which we end up putting to great use), his grand dad's pocket knife, and a handful of small things, plus a hand-written map for... The Mansion of Mad Professor Ludlow, a game that Walt was going to run back in the day but that we never got around to.  Analysis of the sky reveals the stars are wrong!  We are not where we should be.  No big dipper, no nothing.  So talk about it a while and then decide following the map is our best option, given that we somehow remember our weird dream that we had (see original game handout) in which we meet a being in the basement of a mansion, and on this map is a mansion.

Of course it's a spooky mansion.  But I'm jumping a head too far.  Between us and the mansion are Mrs. O'Leary's Dog, an angry, near-rabid mongrel who bites some of us.  We killed it with sharpened sticks, while Adam broke Jason's knife.  And after that, on the path, is spider a creature the size of a cat, but with a head that resembles the small worm-like alien from the movie "Alien".  It got thumped too by sticks.  (Well, some of us ran, some attacked; same result.)

Once we find the mansion it's all about getting inside.  After examining the basement and being unable to get into there we just try the front door and it works.    I will not detail monster-by-monster how the fights went, but here's the broad strokes:  Fought a skeleton on the staircase foyer (won), found a Stirge in a room (closed the door locking it in), fought a rat (killing it, but took serious damage to Cid), avoided a low-hanging cloud, fought an evil spider that had fed on a cat, all the while going room-by-room looking for a way to get down to the basement.  When we don't find anything on the first floor (other than a few useful tools, like a silver dagger, a ring, etc.) we actually briefly go back outside to see if we can break into the basement directly from the outside door, but the glass won't crack.  Back inside we find a room with Professor Ludlow's portrait.  We fight a plant (who does a fair amount of damage).  With one man down (Adam), we decide whether to feed him a potion that says, "Drink in case of emergency", keeping in mind that a potion marked "Healing" which Cid drank earlier to cure his injury AND disease was actually labelled correctly.  It's not until a bit later, after a few more members get knocked down in a combat with a Homonculous in the attic which is guarding (?) a glass coffin with Dr. Ludlow inside it.  After it takes down Cid and Tom, it eventually gets squashed.  It's after that when another being shows up...

This one is a shadowy creature who doesn't attack, it just looks at us until someone asks it a question.  This is MONITOR, a sort of guardian of the place.  Cid requests access to the basement and for some reason it grants him this, reconfiguring the house to get us access.  Down there amid many, many dangerous electrically charged Frankensteinian devices is an series of vials liquid, locked up, one for each of us (plus another that has only a drop in it).  Jason figures out that we need to say the oath we said in our dreams in order to get to the vials of liquid, only problem is that we don't remember the name of the thing we pledged to.  We try to improvise our way through it, but since the being in our childhood dreams doesn't resemble anything we know and we haven't been presented with a name, we don' t know who to pledge to.  Eventually, our shadowy friend volunteer's the being's name, Oberron, a god who is king of the Fairies.  When we do the pledge, the vials become ours and when we drink them and then leave (after ditching all the stuff we had taken from the mansion), we find ourselves changed.  We are our fictional D&D characters.  Next game:  18th Level Insanity!

As it is explained to us:  We remember everything our 41 year old selves would know (which includes our characters' history together, mechanics of how we operate, and how we were as kids).  Difference is, the world we're entering to adventure in is NOT the one we gamed in, and it's not the "In-Between" we were in last game.


GAME TWO

Drogna (Alan), Cannadon (Jim), Jinsoku (Jeff), Ram (Paul), Razor (Darren).

An illusionist, a cleric, a thief, and two fighters.  Not too bad an assembly.

So the big god did his thing and we crawl out of the In-Between and into a forest. Once there' we begin to notice that we're our heroic adventuring selves.  We remember our old lives, but like someone with multiple personalities, the heroic adventurer personality is now dominant!

We were told that there would be a contact "on the other side" when we got here who would help.  after a few minutes of orientation, we make contact with a guy waiting for us at a fire in the woods.  Redrion (presumed spelling) says we're here because we need to perform a task that has definite benefits for this world.  He tells us of the world we are now in, called MYSTARA (Our characters adventured in Greyhawk back in the day).  We are to go to Threshold, the second biggest city, and seek permission from the Baron to go and clear out the local ruin of a fort.  We're given nice quarters with 30 days paid rent.  We scope the town, shore up any necessities, and then go meet the Baron for lunch.

Redrion cautions us that we are being introduced to the Baron as lesser adventurers, though greater than anyone in this area sees regularly.  We should play down our abilities rather than doing Arc-mage/Master Thief/Son-of-Hercules level feats.  So when the Baron asks for a demonstration of what we can do, we do some minor showing off.  Razor (me) walks across the backs of the high backed chairs showing off his balance.  The magic types summon monsters, the fighter types battle said monsters.  Still, Cannadon (Jim) is aware enough to realize that we're tanking, not because of our deeds but because of some language faux pas:  Example, when we're asked to demonstrate some deeds, Ram (Paul) says something like "Like murder something?", and Alan said something about summoning fiendish creatures.  You see, these are Gawd-Fearin' people and these two give off a slight whiff of evil.  Cannadon does his best to shore up these mistakes and reinstate what goody-goody people we are.

So if Joe had been there undoubtedly we'd be running from Pitchforks and Torches.

We are given the rights to go clear the fort.  Things we need to do when we are there include collecting some sort of orb of rulership, clearing out all the monsters, and... something else that escapes me.

We encounter kobolds at the drawbridge.  Yep.  Kobolds.  They are roundly squashed.  Seems the fortress is surrounded by a dome of force!  This is some powerfully magic mojo.  We go in through the tunnel that surrounds the front gate.  The gate nearly falls on Ram, but he gets out of the way.  He and Jinsoku (Jeff) do the lifting and we disable the gate in the up position in case of a need to retreat.  Also we beat up two ghouls.

In the courtyard is a crate with a few magic items in it.  Cold be loot that previous teams failed to haul out before their demise.  We check the tower nearest the gate and dispatch your garden variety bigass spider.  Now I should point out that while Razor is good at spotting traps and he's good at disabling conventional traps, magic traps are another thing entirely; They have a much higher difficulty than he can manage casually.  And there are LOTS of wards and glyphs on this place.  Speaking of which, Cannadon has a pet angel (familiar) who does some good things for him but because of the nature of this place as having been a PRISON at one point for powerful beings, she is unable to leave except for when he casts Anti-magic shield and escorts the angel out past the glyphs.  AND I should mention that on the way in we got zapped by a glyph that removed the highest level spell cast on each of us (or the next one down if that one saved).  So while we've all been blessed by Cannadon with a horde of spells, we're each down one of those just by entering the place.

Trap disabled on the front steps.  Door gets unlocked.  Inside is a magic fire trap that ends up getting dispelled, I believe.  Next in, we try the first room in a hallway.  Door unlocked, trap spotted just inside the door, but Razor fails to disable it and it causes tentacles to cover the hallway.  Two ghosts then rush us and Cannadon obliterates them with a turn-attempt.  Next room, unlocked, we get two horrible floating black oozes.  One envelopes Ram, the other gets diced up by Jinsoku.  Someone (Probably Ram or Jinsoku) destroy the one on Ram.

Now... "The Room".

Our M.O. to this point has been:  Razor searches for traps up to and including the door, razor checks if the door is locked, if it's locked he unlocks it, then he steps back and Ram opens the door.  If nothing rushes us, razor continues to search for traps as we go in.

In this case all is good right up until Ram opens the door, at which point ZAP, there's a flash of light and we can't see him anymore.  We're deciding what to do next when Cannadon's health-status spell tells him that Ram has frenzied!  This happens traditionally if something has done enough damage to him.  At that point, the action-held PC's (Razor and Jinsoku) rush in.

Here's the problem:  The room generates a Prismatic spray as a defense mechanism to keep its captive back.  A giant stalactite is in the far corner in the only part of the room that the spray can't hit.  We are not so lucky.  At this point, Razor loss 4 CON from the spray, others are taking damage, losing CON, etc., but I'm focusing on Razor here because, well, his predicament needs more 'splaining.

Now before razor can reverse course and take action to get out of there because he can see 1) Barbarian boy is doing his slice and dice pretty well and 2) there is literally no room for him to stand in a safe place and fight, a second spray goes off and a roll of 8 means he takes two effects, which ends up being another 3 CON lost and an electrical attack.  NOW... that second one is normally no big deal because I have Improved Evasion and a REF save of +16.  With a DC 20 shock, I have only a 15% chance of failing.  I roll a 1.  So I still take 40pts of electricity, coupled with damage taken previously AND the CON loss, I'm fairly low in HP.  For a moment I thought I was down then I realized Imp Evasion is half-or-nothing, so I'm not taking 80pts.

Irony here is:  I would have been better off if I were down.  Because I'm still up when the berserker finishes his kill, and he has reach (chain) and I'm in range, and he fails his save vs murder-berserk-kill, he does a CLEAVE and does 50+ pts of damage.  At 29 AC he gets a 30 and I go down in a puddle of GOO because my 5 CON means I'm not using my full con before death, I'm beyond the -10.  The round after that, an acid spray then soaks me and my equipment.  Since I'm technically dead it doesn't get my save (Something like +8), it gets the save of the person who made it, so around +2 to +4 against a high DC.  I believe the highest roll I made was 12 (total).  It was all 7s to 9s on the dice.  ALL of my equipment was destroyed.

Berserker-boy rushes the rest of the party and, realizing that this could be it for most of us, Drogna intervenes to try and get Cannadon (the only person who can resurrect us) out of the building while everyone else slows Ram down.  He eventually comes out of it and we pull back from the place.  Some of the thin, acidy good that is ME is collected from the floor of the room and Cannadon resurrects Razor.

We sleep outside the castle.  Ram sleeps down the road a ways by himself.  Cannadon's health spell keeps track of his whereabouts and status.

There's a discussion of how insane it is to be traveling with someone who is as much (if not more of) a threat to us as the things we fight.  That discussion gets tabled until Razor is rezz'd.  With him up, Razor points out 1) Is the alternative putting him out into the world where he can do this without us around to keep others safe, 2) there are a lot of things in our time that we wouldn't have killed without that kind of firepower.  It's the danger of carrying a nuke with you; it could always go off in your hands.  We go to collect him.  Razor does not believe the coddling him is the way to treat this; he won't react correctly, so he goes with the needling approach, they reconcile and the party briefly goes to town to collect some necessities for Razor.

(Down Amulet of Natural armor, Ring of Protection, and Magic leather armor, my AC goes from 29 down to 16; 18 once I get some regular leather.)  We trade a few things we found for a +2 rapier, and the rest (lockpicks, etc.) I buy on credit from Redrion.  This town is not deep in magic items.

We get back to it:  New procedure is Trap Search, Lock Check, Lockpick, throw the door open and bound away to see what comes out.

The next room has a construct, because we haven't fought one of those yet.  It gets beat.

Last room we got to on this session:  We do the procedure but nothing comes out.  THEN Mark says, "I forgot to mention, this room has a symbol that means DANGER" on the front.  Most of the team look at each other and go, "Yeh, well, we'd have gone in anyway".  (I'm like, "Shouldn't we do that one last then?")  But we're all set up and took our actions so we continue.

First there's a field of darkness that no one can penetrate (from our distance).  Finally a summoned creature is sent in and a few characters follow and that's when a glyph gets tripped and there's a cloud of fire.  Everyone retreats.  After a "anyone see anything?" stalemate, we see something we take as being a RAKSHASA.  There's a wall of force, keeping our barbarian from rushing him, darkness keeping us from targeting him, and then another wall of force cuts the team in half, with two characters on the outside and three of us in a limited space with him.  Then there's a blade barrier to contend with too!  Razor is literally down the hall in the next room since he can't get to the guy and that means just standing around getting targeted by the guy.

Well, it turns out he's not a Rakshasa, he's actually a Hell Elf.  A what?  Yes, a Hellf.  Some sort of progenitor of the Drow.  It's not until Cannadon puts up the anti-magic shell and rushes him and the gang can start trashing him.

Once defeated we collect some things.  Some of them are good for me.  While I'm down the AC and a bunch of other things for hiding, sneaking, and attacking, I get back a conventional +3 Rapier, boots of springing/striding, an arachnid cloak for spider climbing.  So... cool stuff, I just need to work on the AC.


GAME THREE

Drogna (Alan), Cannadon (Jim), Jinsoku (Jeff), Ram (Paul), Razor (Darren)

Ram and Jinsoku may have done most of the killing this time, but it was the casters who were the star of this one.  Particularly our swiss-army-cleric!

This week we continue clearing the keep we began to clear last game.  We have less than half of this floor, and then there’s a basement level.  Fortunately, most of the stuff on this floor is a lower rating than the other stuff we fought.  So we do a few encounters upstairs as warm-ups.

We got treasure in pretty much all these rooms.  After a rest and then briefly checking out the roof, we go downstairs through the secret door.

Cannadon ends up having to do a “Mass Heal” to restore us all to working order after we killed the Mummy-lich-thing.  But we take a night’s rest to recoup and get ready.  There are two more doors that we know of.

We take another break overnight before the last doors…which are a two massive double doors (each 10 ft wide).

Now there are just two more double-doors in this room we just entered.  The warning on the last room said DANGER.  The warning on this door says DO NOT OPEN!  However, one can see the seals degrading on this thing.  It’ll be open in a matter of days, so we need to set up for what would be CR 18 or 19 thingie that dwells beyond



GAME FOUR

Drogna/Penric (Alan), Ram (Paul), Cannadon (Jim), Jinsoku (Jeff), Razor (Darren)

Rested and ready, we take on what we believe is the last, deepest room of the Castle.  When examined last game it had wards on it that were pealing.  We position ourselves and Penric sends in his huge elemental to pound on the door until it breaks.  It sets off some wards but they seem to fail anyway.  The hall beyond seems to be slick and cold, filled with icicles and ice, but it turns out that's an illusion--it's actually rough rocky terrain.

The only thing that rushes us is a swarm of spiders which target the few people in contact with a surface (Razor on a wall, Ram on the ground).  A flame strike on them does damage most of them but not all.  As we're focused on the hall again, a roar comes from behind us.  Seems that something has gotten past us and tried to sneak up the stairs!  It looks like an ancient white dragon, though folks with the right kind of sight determine it's actually an ANCIENT RED DRAGON. 

The ensuing fight lasts a good 4-5 hours!  When the dragon set off the trap at the stairs a force wall went up.  The lion-man from last game wisely has shrunk himself to a fly and is probably hiding from the dragon.  Penric cuts off the staircase and half the room using another force wall floor-to-ceiling.

Everyone has their struggles...

Everyone but Razor is in the zone of it's breath weapon which is accompanied by targeted dispel magic which starts wiping out many of our buffs.  He does that a couple of times, the third time he just uses his fire which means he may have limited uses.

Ram keeps trying to get in range but each time he does, he receives and attack-of-opportunity and gets slammed into the wall.  Over and over and over again.

Likewise, Jinsoku keeps taking similar hits but since he's flying he gets smacked into the ceiling or further away.

To be effective, Razor needs to flank the opponent to do backstab damage, but it keeps positioning itself where he can't get a straight run.  And when he does get through he has to back off because a force cage is erected around the dragon.  That doesn't last too long because the dragon polymorphs... into a tiny spider, which is how it got out of the room and behind us--in that small herd of spiders.

Cannadon has to balance being in healing line-of-sight and putting himself in the view of the dragon.  But the buffs he's put on us (those that survive the dispel) manage to help out a lot, especially the fire resistance.

The real damage comes from Penric, whose chain lightning has some real impact.

Once the dragon is down the real enemy shows up... RAM is still in his berserker state once again!  There's an ensuing struggle to either hide, get out of reach or contain the enemy.  At one point Jinsoku grapples him, successfully, but that cuts off Penric's dance to force cage him.  Eventually he does get caged and has time to calm down (on the very next round).  It was really only 3 to 5 rounds of crazy, but those rounds can be pretty scary.  Fortunately while he was doing damage he wasn't getting his full charging attack that he does for a bazillion points.

THE CASTLE IS SECURE!  We even find the orb of rulership.  Turns out it's very artifact-y.  You can command targets into cells, open or close any door at will, etc.  A diary discloses to us that the previous owner used the place to prosthelytize beasts of the wrong alignment into his way of thinking.  Worked on some, but not on fiendish outsiders or undead.  But that's what all the captives were there for.

We also find out there's a teleport way into/out-of the castle, a hole deliberately left for quick escape or sneaky entrance that no one knows about except us.

We get back to town, meet with the big cheese, and a week later he makes us Lords and puts us in charge of the castle.

Not long after that, we are contacted by Redrion (the first contact we made upon exiting the In-Between, an assistant of Oberron, the god we pledged allegiance to.  He says we need to go back to the In-Between immediately.

There we meet with the little annoying goblin and he leads us to Oberron who tells us play time is over.  Something horrible is coming for our world.  We need to go back there.  But we can't go directly, we have to go back to Karameikos and leave from there to our world.  "You have all the tools you need" he tells us.  Turns out he's right because Cannadon can planar jump us there.  There's an argument about where to come out at.  Ultimately we end up at the Grove (which felt like nice symmetry).

So we try to hide our D&D-ishness because armed adventurers wandering through town is a bad thing.  We get to Sid's (Jeff's normal guy) house we research things going on in the world.  Turns out that in Commack, NY there's a weird black cloud that has appeared and is growing and won't go away.

We teleport there and encounter a woman of D&D ilk riding a horse like mad away from a massive cloud.  Deep inside it is some kind of massive monolith.  But right now, as she's shouting at us to run away, we have bigger issues.  A part of the cloud breaks away and rushes us faster.  Inside, once Cannadon's angel kicks on her special sunlight-like ability and we see our enemies are upon us--a massive shadow-like giant of some kind and four spirit types, probably wraiths or something like that.

While we take injuries, the light from Cannadon's angel and from his direct spells, the undead turning, some blows from the fighters, etc, manage to take down the enemy.

They did however kill the girl who'd been riding toward us.  A discussion of the merits of immediately using one of Cannadon's miracles right now before a pending big fight in order to resurrect the girl ultimately winds up with him doing exactly that.  She gives us some information.  It's all about someone named Laak (or a placed called Laak?) and an extra dimensional darkness that overran her world and is now coming for ours.  By our calculation we don't have very long to get in there and stop the Cult of the Monolith, who are all as powerful or more powerful than the giant we just fought (named "Gothos").

So we're at a gas station where Cannadon Rez'd the girl, the darkness is rolling ever onward toward us.


GAME FIVE

Cannadon (Jim), Ram (Paul), Fleabag (Joe), "Penric" (Alan), Jinsoku (Jeff), Razor (Darren)

We left off at the gas station, Cannadon having resurrected the young horse rider who'd just gotten killed by the cloud of darkness' inhabitants (Wraiths and a Dark Lord).

The caster-types work out a plan (because the rest of us just hit things) as to how to let the world know what's going on.  They will scry on someone high ranking in the military.  Penric will teleport the woman and Cannadon's Angel into his/her office and will explain the situation.  This actually works pretty well except that Penric has to assemble force walls to block the doors in, else get overrun with soldiers.  Penric does get shot by a nervous assistant but it's only a flesh wound.  He leaves the angel and the girl to explain the incursion.

We crossover into the darkness.  It's a one-way trip unless you have a necklace that was provided us by the woman we saved.  With that we can come back out.

Soon inside we fight another Dark Lord just like the last one only slightly tougher, and his big-ass minions (a large construct and a huge night-gaunt).  It went pretty well over all, though a lot of it involved fighting darkness and flight (A recurring them, you'll see).  Plus a night gaunt tried to carry off Razor.

The following information was from two sources: The girl we saved and a "friendly ghost" we encountered inside the darkness who volunteered the information.  There are three dark lords left and there are three gates that are flooding darkness into our world.  This is the shadow plane.  If we shut the gates it will slow (and if we get all 3, stop) the crossing over.  But it'll be reconstructed unless we kill the people in charge.

I believe we had another fight while wandering.  It was

When we reach the gate, we find it's an arch that exists at the bottom of a crater.  We start off on a bad foot in that Razor offers to sneak down there and check out the gate since he can spider climb, hide in shadows, and decipher script.  He offers, people start making plans and trying to summon things into the crater and discover that if you summon outside the crater it works, but if you summon inside the crater it fails.  In the midst of this Razor is asked if he still wants to go down there, he says yes, and continues down, getting halfway across before Penric insists he stops so he can send in a test creature.

Well, I think it was the summoned creature flying in that triggered what happens next:  A huge undead purple worm appears accompanied by 3 wraiths, and on the gate threshold appears another construct like the one we fought earlier.

Problem with it is that 1) It does a greater dispel seemingly at will, which f's up a people one at a time, 2) It burrows underground and vanishes immediately after it attacks.

Add to this the fact that the gate kicks out 1 wraith per turn!  So there's a lot of Turning by Cannadon to take out the lesser guys, and eventually Penric starts hitting targets with lightning which seems to work anytime it comes above ground (and also dispels the "Construct" on the threshold because it was an illusion), but doesn't damage the gate.

There's a lot of chasing the wyrm, chasing wraiths, and eventually once the arch is examined, it is believed to be fallible by good old fashioned crush-and-explode methods.  The worm takes one last zap and goes down but then goes the familiar refrain... WE'RE NOT OFF ROUNDS!  Such is the rallying cry of Ram, who is in a state of rage.  Since Fleabag is nearest and can be CLEAVED, that's what happens.  Fortunately he survives.  But Fleabag has trouble disengaging due to opportunity attacks.  I think he takes one more hit and lives before Ram recovers.

We trash the gate and move on.  It's decided we should go back to our Earth.  While there we give the military an update.  In the meantime they've tried a few things, like sending in the 82nd Airborne (I don't know if that means they para-trouped in or if jets were sent in but I'm guessing it was them on ground), and all contact was lost with them.  We discourage the military from doing this again but they want to embed a couple guys with us.  We stress how hard it will be for them but allow them to send 2 with us when we go back.  Seems they were on the verge of trying a nuke and we've managed to convince them to hold off.  Apparently we've got 24 hours to go into there and show more progress or else they'll want to "Shoot the darkness".


GAME SIX

Ram (Paul), Cannadon (Jim), Penric (Alan), Jinsoku (Jeff), Fleabag (Joe), Razor (Darren), and special surprise guest Nasu (Evan)

There is lots more combat detail than I could do justice.  So here's the generalities!

We're preparing to re-enter the Shadow Plane when it is seen on the news that there is something in the harbor at Louisville that is destroying the ships and that now it is headed up the river in our general direction.  Is it coming specifically for us?  Well, one way to find out would be to pass by it and see if it alters trajectory.  So we head it's direction.

The wall of water coming up river trashes every boat and person in its path and when it reaches us, it tries to suck people down into the whirlpool.  It's an inordinately large water/shade elemental.  Most of us can't see where it is in the water, though it turns out to be the entire size of the section that is whirlpooling.  Penric summons an elemental to help rescue bystanders and eventually help in the fight, while freedom of movement spells on multiple hand-to-hand fighters helps keep some of us from being dragged under.  However, Ram thinks maybe he can attack whatever it is if he swims to the bottom.  This results in an ever-repeating pattern of "Advance and be knocked down/back" causing what is estimated to be over 900 hit points.  When Ram's rage wears off he'll be dead in seconds because he's beyond healing with the spells Cannadon has left.

A lot of the fight involves Fleabag, in dragon form, breathing on it.  At first doing so with red dragon form lets him evaporate a lot of water around the elemental making it a target to other attacks but it also creates a cloud of steam that lingers for several rounds making it hard to see.  The creature's damage resistance is lessening all physical attacks.  Nasu plucks away at it with force arrows.  Razor does nothing.

Once the creature is finally destroyed there's a few rounds of chaos as Ram advances on the group, focusing mostly on Fleabag (in beholder form) until eventually Ram's berserker rage wears off, leaving him dead.  Cannadon revivifies him.

Problem now is that we've only got part of a day to do our mission before they send a nuke into the plain of shadow and we are short on spells.  But we go to do our duty anyway.

Our companions, two military scientists, try to test some things out.  They discover quickly that science and physics are not the same here!  Guns won't work as expected, so who knows what a nuke would do if you even managed to get it to trigger.  So now we've got some extra baggage for this trip. 

Once there, we are waylaid en route by a trio of shade elementals.  Like everything else here, they fly.  Still, lightning, breath weapons, and physical violence manage to take them down.

Once at the site of the gate, we meet the enemy... and run like hell!  Cannadon has to evac us because the Lord of Shadow, his two Night Gaunts, and his two skeletal constructs, plus a couple summoned wraiths.

Back in our world we report on how science fails over there.  We rest and reset for a return.  No nuke is sent because it just won't work as expected.

We come up with a plan, which promptly fails almost immediately.  We were going to have fly and all other buffs, then we'd get carried in at high speed by the dragon and begin our assault while the casters did counter spells and heals.  Unfortunately the Shadow Lord can cast two Greater Dispels per turn and takes out Fleabag's dragon form because he has the initiative otherwise he'd have gotten countered.  So there's some reorganization and then we just do what we always do and improvise.

Now the big guy can do 2 greater dispels/turn, the nightgaunts can each do 2, so we have random spells dropping right and left, and the skeletal boys can heal the boss while zapping us for points.  It's only that Cannadon has a (seemingly) endless capacity to counter the dispels that we do as well as we do.

Ram, the pocket nuke, can't get to them and has many spells (including flight) removed from him and has to go back to Penric to get another flight.  In an attempt to limit the dark lord, Fleabag, back in dragon form, grapples him... successfully!  Red Dragons are wrestling machines!  Jinsoku slices and dices, Nasu plucks him full of arrows, and then inexplicably, Razor gets in his first hit of the entire game and gets the kill with a paltry 19 hp.  But hey, never look a gift murder in the mouth.

The rest of the fight at that point is hand-waved because we now have the upper hand since the big guy is down.  There were a lot of working pieces in that fight that somehow got us through it between a timely heal when the dragon we short on HP, countless dispels, tons of useful buffs, and a rain of arrows.

We trash the gate much the same way as the previous one.  Will they all be destroyed by brute force?  Let's hope so.

As the Dark Lord (named Kun) dies, he thanks us and says now we have to kill the one who enslaved him, Zin.

Game ends there immediately following the destruction of the gate!


GAME SEVEN

Ram (Paul), Cannadon (Jim), Penric (Alan), Jinsoku (Jeff), Fleabag (Joe), Razor (Darren)

Having destroyed the second gate, that leaves us with the "Colorless Gate".  We go back to the real world to report in.  The darkness has "slowed" further.  We rest.

While resting at home, BOOM, it feels like a small quake.  A giant Earth Elemental has shown up to kick our butts.  It starts by swallowing (in Deja-Vu fashion) Razor and taking him below the Earth.  No one is fully rested yet so the casters are all still down spells, but Cannadon manages to target Razor's general position again using Death ward and create a hole for him run out out of like his butt is on fire.  The Elemental wrecks Jinsoku's house and the car in the garage, while Fleabag summons more elementals to fight it and Penric gives us a wall of force to stand on.  Finally it comes up to take on a summoned creature and it gets sufficiently smacked down.

So we can get some rest.  Oh, wait, no we can't.  Because a call comes in from Cannadon's Angel (Queue the Charlie's Angels theme song) to say that they are under attack.  He instructs her to fight and the team teleports to the scene of the carnage.  There is an actual Dark Lord here, and all about him in the hundreds are shadows!  Fortunately, preisty mcprayer can handle the small guys with all kinds of sunlight and prayer, while Fleabag helps out with just the sunlight.  Here I'm having trouble remembering how we got the dark lord... I'm willing to be it was almost entirely a massive hit by Ram or a death of a thousand cuts by Jinsoku.

NOW we rest.  Really.  Despite the fact that most of the soldiers are wiped out in that area.  We sleep just fine!

Next day we go back into the breech.  Almost immediately there amid the piles of skulls and the monoliths, we are besieged by flying invisible spiders.  They cast spider webs... OF FORCE that bind several characters.  Of the three fights so far, this feels the least dangerous but also takes far longer!  There's a lot of escaping from spider webs, and these guys seem to have massive DR (I did more damage in that fight than in all the other fights put together; Lowest I did with a hit was 41pts and they were only scratches).  Fortunately, we have some guys who do massive damage or can do tons of attacks.  The tough part:  The spiders seem to be able to steal magic weapons... AND DEVOUR THEIR MAGIC!  Jinsoku's armor gets siphoned.  I don't know if it's permanent or what.  They ignore flamestrike, but do take damage from various other spells.  It helped that Jin's sword kept blinding them and making them run away.

Once we're out from under them we go looking for the gate.  As with all plans we start to get close enough to check things out but because we do it as a group we are easily discovered.

This time around there's only one attacker, a Black Dragon/Shadow Dragon of some sort.  It takes a number of special sights to see him as he's right upon us.  I should mention that the whole area is shades of gray as if the color is gone/absorbed/whatever.  This means that the gate, which appears to be a dome with some sort of pulsing light over it, is actually a Prismatic Sphere.  Only reason we know this is because of Cannadon's spectacular knowledge of weird crap.

Most of this fight involves "chasing the dragon" but not in the fun way.  It turns out the reason he's such a pain in the ass is that he's got a ton of personal spells up on him that allow him to maneuver way better than any dragon should, perform extra attacks, super-boost his armor class, etc.  After playing tag with him for quite a while, my favorite tactic is Penric creating his illusionary avatar to cast spells for himself and then boxing himself into a force cage to stay safe.  Also, the dragon's tactic of scooping up targets to drop into the prismatic sphere is foiled by two things:  Everyone seems to have "Freedom of Movement" cast on them, and a force wall has been cast over the sphere to keep anyone from falling in.

I should mention the dragon's breath.  Seems that not only is it damaging but if you fail the reflex save you get Greater Dispel Magicked!  Fortunately most of these are blocked by Cannadon's counter spells.  And when Penric decides to dispel magic on the dragon to get rid of his Mirror Images, he discovers that the dragon is covered in enchantments.  Many, many rolls later, it only succeeded in saving for ONE spell, the rest drop.

The dragon not only gets killed, but Ram does NOT try to murder us all.  And the now dispelled gate we dismantle.

So what's left?... in the center of the monoliths, in the tallest of monoliths, is the abode of the lead bad guy.  We need to take him out.  We're on a much longer clock now since the darkness has stopped advancing.

Also, it seems that many world leaders have been taken out in order to leave countries without leadership, only little do they know that we'll function better without them.


GAME EIGHT

Ram (Paul), Penric (Alan), Jinsoku (Jeff), Cannadon (Jim), Razor (Darren)

It's a steroid-filled nonstop rollercoaster of combat this week!  Before we leave the shadow world  in order to recuperate we find the location of the tower.  We suspect that the shifting city will be a different shape when we return.  But hopefully it'll be close enough that we won't spend a long time on finding the place again.

So we head briefly to our world, where we find out all about various problems happening in our world.  Attempts to contact our people on Earth fail, so we go a-scrying.  The second that Penric sees the command ship and sees that there is a mind flayer in charge of the bridge that same mind flayer looks back and initiative commences!

We port in and begin the fight.  One mind flayer might have been fun, but he instantly stuns some of us who sit out the fight.  Within seconds an entire strike team of kevlar-draped, machine-gun toting, grenade-dropping Mind Flayers show up and proceed to trash the bridge and anyone there who is not us.  There's some stabbing, lightning-chaining, and holy-wording that takes out the majority of the illithids.  A few choose to turn invisible and flee.

Cannadon "raises dead" on the commander so we can find out the MISSILE CODES as it seems they've already launched the missiles.  He disarms them and they are rerouted to where nobody gets hurt.  Cannadon gives him a couple of glowy orbs of holy light to automatically repel shadow-types and then we go to the bad place.

There we find the tower and its horde Night Gaunts circling around it up top.  We sneak to the door in gasseous form and attempt to slip in but the two kindly Dark Lord door men open the door for us and offer to take our coats (and souls).  The ensuing fight is not too bad, which is great because we only waste 5 rounds before continuing.  Had we wasted more, we'd have ended up with even more things stacked on top of us.

You see, it's a timed game in the sense that everything in this place knows we're here now and all of it is coming to get us in succession.

Our second fight is with a pair of Shadow-Demonic Statues, though the barbarian-nuke takes out one and while we're dealing with the second, a pair of vampire monks are spotted on a high ledge.  When they are noticed they engage.  So now we've got martial-arts types with all kinds of movement and springing-attacking. 

The monks mostly get taken down via force-cage containment, once they stop stunning-fisting (which sounds more fun than it is) Penric.  Cannadon is a dispellin' fool, taking out anything any foe wants to do, as would be his m.o. all night.  Jin & Ram make with the smacky-smacky while Razor will spend a lot of time sneaking up on them and attack-of-opportunity-sneak-attacking anytime they try to rush off after an opponent.

I can't remember at which fight this happened so I'm inserting it here:  We ran up against our old foe, Party implosion!  Allow me to set this part of the table at least:  A player who shall remain Penric used Glitter Dust to target a foe who it turns out is once-again adjacent to a monk.  So now nobody is disappearing this turn with a -40 conceal.  Add to this the failed save vs. blindness by Razor which means now he's a sitting duck.  He'd be fine except next thing that happens is the barbarian's foe is finished off and the only thing nearby and reachable is Razor, so he takes two attacks which for once doesn't kill him outright, it just puts him barely negative, so he goes down.  The medic-alert spell tells Cannadon that Razor is both dying (not dead) and probably allergic to penicillin or something, so Canny can heal him back to life before he's gone.  Now Jinsoku is saved by the other spell, the one that keeps him from dying at negative health, which is good because he's taken a shittonne of damage.  Barbarian snaps out of it.

(we dinner break but the action didn't stop because when food is over we pick up right where we were with the next wave.)

They are all contained and/or destroyed by the time a Mind-Flayer shows up and gets waxed though not before nearly draining Razor and sucking out his brain (such as it is) and subsequently trying the same on Jinsoku.  On his tail are two liches disguised as pixies that get immolated by Penric's fireball.

I'm 80% certain I've forgotten some of the non-stop barrage of enemies.




GAME NINE

Cannadon (Jim), Jinsoku (Jeff), Penric (Alan), Fleabag (Joe), Ram (Paul), and Razor (Darren)

Okay.  So we're in the tower and we've got a LONG way to climb.  We go up a thousand feet and reach a spot where the stairs continue up into the ceiling where there is some kind of madness-inducing fog.  Fearing for our minds, we try all kinds of workarounds, including Fleabag becoming a beholder and disintegrating a hole going up into the ceiling another 145 feet before he bisects where the stairs continue.  Jim erects an anti-magic shell and most of us travel inside it.  This means slow travel but it seems to work.

Then we meet our mortal enemy:  The very hole we'd made in the stairs.  Now we're tightly packed together and we're trying to cross over a 5 ft hole without magical aid and most of us with a very low jump skill.  After trying to figure out a way across we finally relent and Razor steps out and crosses using his spiderclimb then the rest cross.  He examines the rest of the way up-to- and including a double-doors.  They are not trapped and they are easily unlocked.

On the other side we find 3 T-Rexs and a Gnome, and beyond them is some kind of globe of light.  What happens next is nearly indescribable.  I mean... how do you explain the magnificent ballet that is our team?


Blah blah blah, pizza ordering.


The gnome had been using a hole he made in the floor in order to get in and out of the room earlier, now she's using that to enter the room, and a beholder anti-magic ray makes her fall back down into it.  While she's down there the newly rezz'd Ram leaps in after her and carves the shit out of her.  She'd have been much tougher if one of the remaining greater dispels hadn't obliterated most of her magic before hand.

We need to get out because apparently the plot was this all along:
We go back to the real world and have a debate about resurrecting people in positions of power.  We also have one about what to tell the General about us.  In the end none of that matters because the General and his allies don't like the idea of resurrecting them because of various ramifications, and Jin just goes ahead and tells them he's from this world, so we're obviously from here.

The magic is receding and in 30 days things will be back to "normal".  Also, we won't be able to use our magic here anymore.  So after hunting down shadows for a month we head back to Mystara to deal with these lousy dreams we've been having about a drowning woman.



GAME TEN

Jinsoku (Jeff), Cannadon (Jim), Ram (Paul), Fleabag (Joe), Mondus (Alan), Razor (Darren)
 
There’s about 2-1/2 hours of prep time accounting for the past 2 months before we begin actual adventuring.  Before the window closes between our world and our original Earth we are gifted gold… lots of gold, by the federal government.  Also, we had been having that funky dream about the woman in pain beneath the sea.  Once we are in our world we have about a week of no dreams before there’s another dream which seems to be passing us some information that we don’t quite understand.  As our merry band are doing our best to build up the castle and community, we are directed to Vorloi (sp?), a coastal community famed for whaling.
 
Vorloi is under a heavy deluge of rain when we arrive, the kind where the second we change from fluffy little clouds back into people we are instantly drenched.  The gates are untended and parts of town are heavily damaged.  Through a trip to an inn and then to the hall of records where everyone is gathered to contemplate their woes.  They’ve had all kinds of problems, like animal attacks from outside the walls, followed by a rebellion of their animals inside the walls, and an attack by elementals.  We meet the locals, try to gather information (with limited success).
 
Prevailing theories for the attacks (which we ultimately decide are druidic in nature) are that the city did something to the giants who exist in the hills beyond the city and they are getting even, or the whaling practice has driven some druid or sea-faring race to come after the town, or the Shadow Shoal, an assassin’s guild that is merely rumored to be based here, maybe killed someone that triggered this all.
 
We take the night to rest… and lurk if you’re Razor.  Well, round about midnight the noise of rain stops.  Fleabag (invisible pixie), Razor (sneaking), and Ram go outside to meet any trouble and are met with an incoming wave of air elementals!  That plus a bunch of storm effects stacked one-atop-another that do lots and lots of damage.  Ram takes lots of damage and ultimately winds up enraged, Fleabag turns into several things including a dragon and an angel but gets slammed around a lot by the winds, Cannadon puts himself in a force cube to keep from being sucked out into the storm and attempts some dispels as does Mondus, who winds up face down in the snow, much like Razor… whose body is swept up in a tornado and flung outside the city walls.  Mondus is dead but with a turn to act Cannadon revivifies him per usual.  Jinsoku is now on the street and draws the attention of the enraged barbarian, as the elementals have all opted to leave now that the storm elements have been canceled with dispels.   Razor will come back slowly due to the vigor spell, and everyone avoids Ram’s wrath for one turn until he recovers.
 
We talk to the local Wiz and the local Priest in order to set up a means of summoning us back to town via message in case the town is under attack.  We then head into the forest and make our way to a druid grove thanks to Fleabag’s path spell.  There we meet the local slightly evil druid whom we determine is probably not the culprit.  There’s also a green dragon out there in that forest but fortunately we don’t fight him.
 
Traveling back to Vorloi we are summoned by the Priest and Mondus gates us back to town.  We engage with a horde of very large earth elementals.  A bunch of us are clustered together but concealed on our dragon buddy Fleabag, but because we’re all together we catch a bombardment spell which buries us in rock.  The dragon makes his roll, the rest of us are pinned.  A hail-mary (or hail beneker or whatever his name is) prayer by Cannadon gets us pulled from the dirt and flying in the air above the fray.  About then all of these elementals bail too.
 
As we work on pulling the citizens from the ruins a squirrel with a scroll shows up.  Written on the scroll is a simple plea to meet with us one mile south of the city, which would put us in the ocean.
 
We go and meet out there and find it’s a white whale Kathoun who is covered in runes and sigils.  He’s the one who has been attacking the town and wants to know why we protect them.  They’re murderers!  Mondus shows him a representation of the woman we keep seeing in our dreams, and he believes that she is dead and the city is responsible.  It seems he’s her animal companion(?) possibly awakened and at large trying to get revenge.  It seems she (whose name I can’t recall) has been killed, he claims, and the pool that was hers is now home to a kraken.  In return for Kathoun not destroying the town we’ve agreed to meet at sunrise with him and go to the pool to clean house.



GAME ELEVEN

Cannadon (Jim), Fleabag (Joe), Mondus (Alan), Ram (Paul), Razor (Darren)

We rendezvous with the Whale, Kathoon, and discover it’s going to take days to get where we are going (The secret pool that was the druid grove of his mistress before he was awakened).  Accordingly that means we’ll need something to sleep on so Cannadon heads back and grabs a boat and brings it with him.

We travel a few days and then are attacked by an aquatic beholder, aka an Eye of the Deep.  It blinds pretty much everyone with a flash, freezes the whale into a big ice cube.  Some of us don’t get to do much, but those who do manage to kill it one we’re unblinded by a “heal”.

We rest at night in a mansion summoned by Mondus.  And when we go deep we are slowed down by some sort of barrier or ward or something that causes Kathoon to be uncle to follow us because he goes into great pain when within a certain range of the grove.  He tells us the layout, and we head down to the cave in which the pool lay.  Once there, fleabag summons some elementals and we start in.  It’s not long at ll before a wall of stone cuts the party in half.  Mondus and a few of his elementals are on one side and the rest of us are on the other.  A bit of combat happens before a hole is punched in the wall.  What happens next is about six hours of combat, as we start with three very big sharks.  I do not remember the specific names of the spells in effect but two of the sharks are encircled by a visible magical field that turns off your active powers when in contact with the field, the third has a field that isn’t visible but is definitely an anti-magic shield.

By the time one shark is down, a kraken makes its way into the room, protected but he same type of visible magic-affecting field as two of the sharks.  One shark swallows Razor, who manages to cut his way out and do a bunch of damage to it but ultimately winds up taking enough damage to put him into “dying” status.  Similarly, Ram is grabbed by the big squid and takes enough damage to put him into negative.  Beating us to the punch though is Mondus, who goes down and beyond negative CON and is killed, but is almost immediately revivified by Cannadon (further word on what is my favorite death of the campaign in a moment).  Unfortunately for the two others who go down, the Kraken spots that they are healing and attacks both while they’re down doing enough to kill them both.  Cannadon can revive one and elects to bring up Ram.

As the sharks go down, the elementals that Fleabag had summoned are reappearing because they were merely suppressed by the magic fields those shark had up.  So they are able to help with the big guy, who finally gets whittled down to nothing.

Now about that death… So, like Razor, Mondus got swallowed by a shark.  He’s already very damaged from the fight and he can’t fight his way out, which means he’ll just keep taking crushing damage every round, so as he’s considering this he realizes that he has up a contingency spell, chain lightning, which is supposed to happen when melee attacked and takes damage.  It is determined that it goes off.  Alan rolls a couple handfuls of dice, multiples them by whatever ignorer to get the true number, and has not only blown up the shark but utterly electrocuted himself to a crisp because there was no way to avoid it.  He got revived, but he lost all his stuff.  He then decides he will no longer take magic items because this is going to happen again.

We loot the kraken, grab some stuff that w won’t have time to analyze, and after a night’s rest and telling Kathoon of our success, we head for the doors we must pass through.  Now this is tricky.  The doors require a will save to pass through, and each chamber between the three doors is only 10x10, so big elementals already summoned cannot come in.  And if someone comes into the chamber and the person and can’t pass the next door in a timely manner, the person behind them could come in and cause some pile-up pain as you’re jammed into an area too small to hold you.  All of this serves to divide up the team.  At the front are the four who can actually MAKE the Will save: Ram, Cannadon, Mondus, and Fleabag, while Razor is 6 rounds behind them (failing 3 saves before making 3 in a row to arrive six rounds later).  By the time he arrives a lot has happened!

The guardian of this chamber is a statue whose reach covers most of the room.  What’s more, it has all kinds of cheating abilities:  It seems to be able to take parts of it’s turn separately and can do far more moves than you’d expect.  He quickly turns Mondus into a smear on the nice pearly surface of the floor.  Cannadon manages to put the delay death spell up on Ram so he can take infinite damage, which is good because he does just that.  A guesstimate from the GM is that he took around 10k hit points during the fight, keeping the statue busy, while Fleabag and Cannadon inspect down the hall where the statue can’t follow.

At he end of the hall is a bigger room filled with water that has seen better days, as there are bits of person floating in it from a previous fight.  An analysis of it seems to determine there were two people once.  A spell of intuition tells Fleabag that he should not have Cannadon resurrect either of them; one will fail the other will murder us and the rest of the world.  At the far end of the big room is a pool-that-should-not-be, a strangely chromatic pool that swirls and ebbs in ways that defy any real world physics and hydrodynamics, not to mention conventions of magic.

At this point we all pause to contemplate how Jeff, if present, might have had Jinsoku rush across the room and leaped into the pool.

A spirit resembling the lady Tessarel (sp?) who was the one we saw in our dreams, appears and tells us that this pool is not meant for mortals.  She then obliterates the test elemental that Mondus sent into the room.  Razor finally sneaks into the area though he’s superfluous to the situation.  After they work to retrieve Mondus’ body from beneath the fight that is still ongoing between Ram and the statue, they then just wait for Ram to go down due to the spell ending.  They then retrieve his body in similar fashion, using elementals as a diversion for the statue.

After working things out with the aid of the gods via the foresight spell, it’s determined that the druid must enter the grove and we can go with him.  He then pleads his case for not being nuked and the spirit assesses things (Alignment of characters, use of Kathoon’s name, use of a high level druid spell, sacrificing a druidic magic item, etc.) and we manage a 62 total score, 61 being needed to prevent a fight.

The woman then relays the tale.  It seems that this pool is a secret due to a pact among the gods.  Somehow humans found out and word got to the assassin group in town.  They went out there and tried to take it by force, killing the Druid but not before she took out their leader (their parts are what are circulating in the water).  Her madness which is abating now is what has prevented Kathoon from coming down there.  She thanks us but wants those bastards dead (my words not hers).  We will go and take out the three, but of course they are now… shall we say… “Buffed”.

Any who enter the pool are transformed from characters..into EPIC characters.  They don’t level, however they can now go beyond 20th level.  They’re basically demigod wannabes.  We are offered the opportunity to bathe in the pool in exchange for taking out the assassins (and shutting up about the pool).

From memory, here’s what we got:
The three people were identified by the druid…  Kentai the shipwright, Garrison Scrimm the Herbalist, and Amarylla the hobbit.  We’ve seen all these people.  Some of them even helped us to some degree to come out here.