The Acts of The Lords of Rannick, LXII

Other than tricksy times when some fey has commanded you to attack each other, there has been very little PC-on-PC violence. So that’s nice. Arguments over loot or morality have, for the most part, involved stern talkings to but no physical reprimands.

Non-lethal damage is something that nobody has ever really dicked around with.  Mostly because all of the sentries that you’ve had to take out have also been mis-shapen giant-kin gang-rapists and pulling out the old sock and snooker ball haven’t really been an option unless you fancied a trip to the woodshed on round 2. Remember all those times when you kind of wish you’d kept a bad guy alive? That’s what you’d use non-lethal damage for – not eviscerating him, then hoping he’ll die slowly enough to answer questions for you. To review:

When you take nonlethal damage, keep a running total of how much you’ve accumulated. Do not deduct the nonlethal damage number from your current hit points. It is not “real” damage. Instead, when your nonlethal damage equals your current hit points, you’re staggered (see below), and when it exceeds your current hit points, you fall unconscious.

So at some point during the fight, someone can say that they’re dealing non-lethal damage – deal, say 20 points of non-lethal damage – and then let the fight continue. If the opponent ever drops to between 0-20 actual proper blood-in-veins hit points, they’d fall unconscious because at that point their accumulated non-lethal damage would exceed their remaining hit points. A slightly odd mechanic, but only if you think of dealing damage as actually chopping someone up – it isn’t really, not every hit severs limbs. You’re more beating someone down to the point where you finish them off. I liked that about games like WFRP and MERP that incorporate (gruesome) critical hits only at the end of combat. The first few rounds of combat at foreplay and then once the stakes are probably pretty high for both combatants, vital organs start getting skewered.

Weapons, by the way, can be used to inflict non-lethal damage at a -4 penalty. Non-lethal weapons can be used to inflict real damage at a -4 penalty. Presumably monk hands switch between slap and punch-to-death settings at will.

Also, non-lethal damage can be super satisfying.

Anyway, I’ve no killed enough time to cover the fact that it has taken me this long to remember what happened,.. back to the story.

The party was, for the most part, tripping balls. Having activated the Runeforge Pool, they were overcome by visions of their own “sins”, which for some were pretty extensive. Only Ron and Arradin were free of the hallucinations, so as Dagfinn was able to pull the first Domineering Runeforged weapon from the pool, they were the only ones who noticed the face of the Karzoug statue turn down to regard the party.

Animating, the by-now-familiar level tones of Karzoug filled the Runeforge hub.

“You. Again. I can’t help but be inspired by your optimism, but alas, your weapons will never reach Xin-Shalast. Your fate is death, here in Runeforge.”

Kadoooooosh!

Karzoug covered the area in Slow, which is as detestable a spell as Haste is awesome. Someone tried to dispel it, but that didn’t work. He may be working through an avatar, but Karzoug’s caster level isn’t his weak suit. With everyone feeling as though they were weighed down, the lumbering statue was the only thing moving particularly quickly.

Making a couple of dreadful sweeps with his massive glaive, the stone Karzoug relieved the party of quite a few hit points, before his foot broke off.

As he stumbled forward, the stone up to his knee stiffened and cracked and the body of the statue slid forward into the pool. Sensing that the jig was up, Karzoug remained defiant.

“This… this is not the last… come then, heroes. Seek me atop Mhar-Massif, if you value life so poorly. You should be honored to be the first fools executed under the banner of Shalast in ten thousand…”

He never finished the thought as his jaw froze and the rest of the statue turned back to stone,  a look of burning hate on the statue’s face.

Now began the squabbling. Vraxeris had revealed that he believed that the key to defeating Karzoug was in using weapons that embodied the two schools of magic that Karzoug was blind to – Illusion and Enchantment. The question now was whether or not to use the Runeforge Pool’s power to make a bunch more Domineering weapons to defeat Karzoug or to use different combinations to make other types of weapons, presumably to help the party get to Karzoug in the first place. Halvard in particular was keen to get a sword that made good use of the power of Wrath. Dagfinn disagreed and began to use his considerable skills as an orator to drown out dissent. So Halvard used his considerable skills as a badass and knocked Dagfinn out cold. Ron went searching for the component in the Halls of Wrath and after some consideration of the motif of the wing, returned with some of the magical flame that had lit the hall.

Thus it was that Halvard runeforged the Tyrannical two-handed sword. So really in the future, expect to get punched out a lot of Halvard doesn’t like what you are saying/doing/looking at.

While experimentation was all well and good, that didn’t mean that the party didn’t need more Karzoug killing weapons. In particular, Arradin – as likely frontline fighter against the forces of Greed – believed she should wield something capable of doing damage against him or whatever it was Domineering weapons would actually do. Which meant going back to get one of Delvahine’s dildoes. Or whatever they were.

They were dildoes.

Anyway, returning to the Cathedral of Lust, they found it strangely quiet and on entering the Pavilion, they discovered the stone giants dead, having died with blissful smiles on their faces. Delvahine and her alu-daughters were gone and in her chamber, a single leather toy lay on a table, wrapped in a bow. A note attached read “See you on the outside – D”, probably in that font that they used to print Planescape in. You know the kind. Dagfinn searched the place from ceiling to floor and found no other toys.

So, one more Domineering weapon was possible and Arradin’s sword went in the pool with the other components and came out Domineering.

I don't know who these people are... why do they have your weapons... thieves!

After this more discussion ensued – to leave now and get on Karzoug’s trail, now that they know where he is or to finish exploring Runeforge. Eventually, the prospect of finding a Gluttony component that could be used with Wrath won over Halvard or at least stopped him from punching his way to a debate win.

The Hall of Gluttony is the last of the halls that they have to explore and they set off as usual, having their party disrupted by the spacial anomaly (I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek) that exists at the entrance to most of the Halls. There are no Gluttonous party members, according to the visions they received, so no-one got a free pass and Dagfinn refused to sing, so he and Arradin were stuck outside for a long time.

Tersplink got through pretty quickly, however and found himself at a double door, made of iron and carved all over with skulls. He began to attempt to pry one out, but upon scratching the iron, released a billowing cloud of dark energy. The cloud resolved into two humanoid forms, seemingly formed of darkness itself with furiously flickering lights where the eyes should be.

Boy, did they ever beat the shit out of the party. Causing pretty horrible Con damage with their successful strikes, the incorporeal undead were tough to damage and tough to defend against. Halvard fell, but was kept from being turned into a wraith by a succession of people who stood over his body. As more party members arrived the little corridor became cramped, not least of all when Tersplink summoned two celestial rhinos to… rhino the wraiths to death. Arradin finally made it through the distortion and with the wight of the entire party against the Wraiths, they were eventually sent back to the cold nothingness from whence they came.

The Con drained folks argued for an orderly retreat, but Ron HAD to know what was beyond the doorway no that they had fought so hard to secure it. Asking Tersplink to check for traps, because gnomes seemed to be good at that, Ron’s curiousity was satisfied when the doors opened to reveal a round chamber from which a flight of stairs proceeded. The chamber’s ceiling was painted with scenes of indolent men and women, relaxing in beautiful lush gardens as they were fed grapes and served wine by attending Cherubim. The walls, on the other hand, were more skulls, this time carved to look like they had shreds of flesh between their teeth.

At this point, the voices of prudence won out and the party retreated to the hub to rest again.

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