|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 |
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.
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.
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
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.
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".
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!
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.
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.