Posted on October 28, 2013
Castaway Diary, Day 21, still continuing.Last week I lauded the team-ness of the small team that fought the vegepygmies and how everyone found a party role defined by what other people were doing, making them a flexible efficient killing machine. This week,… I think we found a weak spot. That weak spot being “writing down who has the healing potions and making sure it isn’t just the people who can already fucking heal.” In general, as advice to players, I’d say taking the two rounds it takes to get someone back up on their feet is almost always worth it for the party: More actions, more winning. But that isn’t what happened, and I look forward to how loudly Orny gets to tell anyone to fuck off the next time they moan about needing healing. A quick review of the Heal skill shows that if you take an hour and two healer kits, you can make a DC 20 Heal check to restore the patient’s level in hit points back. If you get 25 or more on that check, they get their level plus your Wisdom modifier. If you don’t have the healer kits, the DC gets bumped up 2 for each kit you don’t have. That’s not bad, but it is quite a bit beyond most characters other than those who have good Heal skills who are also well stocked with healing kits. Other than that, good job against a really horrible opponent in a treacherous environment. XP doled out for this didn’t include the ultimate payoff for this chain of tasks, so there is still that to come. The party had left the wreck of the Night Voice and were back on the silent grey island. They looked around for some clues as to where all this fungal life was coming from. Floki suspected that the fungus was related to some fungal growths he had heard about that lived beneath the surface of Golarion, in the sunless realm called the Underdark. There’s dark, then there is darker than dark because it is in the dark’s shadow. That’s the Underdark. Not the Shadowdark, though, that’s a totally different kind of dark. Also of interest to Floki, none of the mushroomy type fungus had caps. Floki and Uun tried digging a bit of a hole through the thick fungal-vegetation, with Orny standing beside them, telling them what a great job they were doing. Both of these men had shovels. And rope. Not healing potions. The hole, shallow as it was, showed a thick mat of fungus beneath all the frondy stuff followed by a crushed layer of jungle vegetation which was riddled with fine roots and tendrils from the grey growths above. Beneath that, simple dirt.
They decided to head over to the spire because they didn’t think they could set this grey shit on fire. The black, rocky spire stuck out of the water a little off shore. They didn’t fancy their chances swimming, except Uun who always fancies his chances. But there was another stringy bridge of vine-like mushroom ropes that ran between the two structures and that had worked last time (with a few near misses) so they decided to try that again. Failures the last time had made them a little gun-shy, but it was actually a fairly easy proposition to get from one end of the bridge to the other. Victor removed his armour anyway and then put it back on with Orny’s help when he arrived at the other side.Nobody tried to determine if the fungus had originated here or on the larger island, but could make no definite decision. He did see that there were ONLY vines on the spire. None of the other types of fungus flourished but the vines formed a thick mat across the flat top of the spire. Floki scouted out the top of the spire and found a ledge 10′ lower on the south side that appeared to have a gap in the rock. Uun and Malicia went around the spire, finding a sloping way down to the little ledge. They confirmed that the gap looked into some kind of narrow passageway. Nobody and Malicia could see in such low light as the crack offered and could make out that the the passage led to a small flare in the passageway before narrowing to another crack. The narrowness of the crack was exacerbated by the dense covering vines that the walls had. The vines either led into the gap or were growing out of it, either way, they created a thick insulation on the natural rock walls of the passageway, giving the whole thing a weird organic vibe that made everyone feel a bit gross. Nobody and Malicia could also pick out shiny items inside the flare in the gap and Orny cast Dancing Lights to illuminate the area so that everyone could see what was in there, although the gap was so small, they had to queue to get a look in. Inside were arranged skulls, both human and animal, as well as sea shells, polished and crudely carved/tied bones. The arrangement struck Orny as faintly ritualistic in nature, but as offerings or respectful adornment, rather than summoning or magical trap-creating. Uun took some time out of his vine hacking to mess up the little arrangement. Uun abhors interior design! They squeezed through the gaps, past the decoration and second narrow and into a larger cave. The walls and floor of the cave were covered in vines, so much so that the floor had a trampoline-like quality to it as it was a thick matted mass of interwoven vine. As the party pressed in, Orny cast another Dancing Lights spell, creating a a discotheque effect amongst the many stalactites that hung just above their heads. Stalactites and trampolines don’t mix, kids, don’t try this at home.
Stepping into the chamber and onto the spongy flooring, several vegepygmies ran into view from a curved passage from the other end of the cavern. Floki and Victor were on them in a second, walling them in and preventing the pygmies from getting further into the cave. That meant most folks couldn’t do much, but Uun had taken the Masterwork Longspear from the Night Voice and so ran up behind Floki and stabbed at the pygmies over his shoulder. The four pygmies did much the same, but to little effect. At the rear of the party, the vine mat underneath Orny and Nobody suddenly opened up, a surprised Orny plunging into the hole while Nobody caught himself and rolled out of the way as the vines whipped shut again. Orny, hurtled downwards into a dark cave and his fall was (fortunately) arrested by (unfortunately) two stalagmites which impaled him pretty badly. Consciousness hung onto the departing coattails of his luck and left him just as suddenly.
Malicia, halfway to the fight turned and looked at what had caused Nobody to grunt and noticed that Orny was gone, because no-one else had, despite Orny being their healer in Percy’s absence.
As the men at the front got on with killing the vegepygmies, the party became aware that maybe the floor wasn’t going to hold them up, at least not willingly. Uun shoved Floki forward to get at the pygmies faster but ended up skipping over the gaping hole that suddenly appeared where the Ulfen had been standing. Malicia, having gone over to investigate Orny’s disappearance was similarly swallowed by the floor, managing to ameliorate the fall by twisting in mid-air, only being bashed slightly by the landing amidst the stalagmites. As the floor closed suddenly above her, she had only a moment to see the impaled body of Orny and some large, conical, bulging thing looming over him. The last of the vegepygmies put to the sword, Uun began hacking at the floor, cutting away the vines beneath his feet. Nobody and Floki ran down the steep and narrow passage that the pygmies had used, Nobody alone capable of seeing what was going on. What was going on was this: in the center of the stalagmites choked cavern floor stood a tall Violet Fungus. Its short body, made up of mobile tendrils which allowed it to shamble, was topped by a spongy-looking violet teardrop-shaped cone. From this cone whipped four long thin strands, also violet in colour. Behind the Fungus, from Nobody’s point of view, the impaled body of Orny lay and he could see Malicia skulk off behind some rocks, trying to put space between herself and the cord-like tendrils of the Fungus, one of which had left a deep rotting gash in her arm. Floki, Uun and Victor arrived, albeit by different routes. Floki ran in from the cavern entrance blindly swinging his sword in the darkness. Uun slithered through the hole he had hacked in the floor that refused to swallow him while Victor had grabbed the little pygmy corpses, hurled them into the middle of the vine trampoline and then leapt on top of them. The floor obligingly opened up and dumped Victor, riding a surfboard made of vegetable corpses onto the dangerous cavern floor below. In the darkness, Nobody could see the Violet Fungus (although he couldn’t see the colour) move into a central spot of the cavern floor after it had whipped Malicia. It now lashed out at the men who congregated on it. Floki started taking some terrible slashes from the violet tendrils, each gash it caused suddenly suppurating and the flesh liquefying and running away, exposing bone. Victor fared somewhat better, able to resist the effects of the tendril’s poisonous touch. Uun and Nobody were also attacked, one lash causing Nobody’s cheek to dribble off his face, revealing the raw bone beneath. The tiefling moved back to reload and save his face, his beautiful face. Fighting in the dark was getting them nowhere, with otherwise perfectly good strikes getting aimed at stalagmites. Malicia tore off some of the unconscious Orny’s robe in an effort to make a torch out of something while Victor suddenly remembered that he had a lantern. In a flash, he had the lantern in hand and got it lit, allowing everyone to see (albeit a little dimly) their foe. Not that this helped Floki, as he had accidentally blinded himself temporarily by crashing onto a crumbling stalagmite. The advancing Victor was the target of a great many flailing tendrils as the thing seemed to focus on him and it left a deep gash in an exposed body part before the party – including Nobody, who perhaps accidentally aimed at the fungus before firing…we don’t know, but he hit it – brought the creature down, a solid strike by Victor fatally slicing into it. The Violet Fungus fell, its mushroomy body quickly decomposing as they caught their breath/examined their horrific mushy wounds. As the fungal flesh retracted a set of bones began to protrude from the violet mass. On examination, it was a single skeleton, with only a few other items having survived being part of the violet fungus; a belt buckle and some brass buttons. The buttons has a feint device on them, not yet worn or corroded off – Nobody recognised it as the horizon-bound path symbol of the Pathfinder Society. They searched around for anything else, but found nothing of note.
Surprised by the intensity and viciousness of the creature Victor used his Detect Evil after a few well placed Laying On of Hands. Though dead, evil permeated the air around the fungal attacker, the remnant of a shockingly evil aura. The Iomedaean also laid some hands on Orny’s wounds, at least enough to get him upright, although he was groggy and sluggish, since JIM had headed home, having played an unconscious guy most of the night, with considerably less complaining than most players do when they’re just low on hit points. As the vines began to wither before them, they realized that the floor above them, treacherous as it was, was still their way out of this cavern. They dashed back up the sloping passageway and across the wilting floor, although Uun just waited for it to get out of his way and climbed up to the exit. Out on the spire, it appeared that the death of the Violet Fungus had started a chain reaction that was starting to be felt on the silent island. Rushing across the disintegrating vine bridge, hustling Orny between them, they made it to the wetly decaying hillside of grey fungus where they watched the unpleasant growths die and decompose before them. Faced with the prospect of a night crossing of the two difficult tidal causeways (the sun having set a little while after their descent into the spire cave) they decided to grit their teeth, hold their noses ignore the appalling wounds several of them picked and rest for the night on the slimy, stinking, horribly unpleasant island.
Day 20 was a long day. Happy third week on the island.