Friday, 5 June 2015

Campaign Journal: The Anthropophagi of Xamboola (Session 6)

SPOILER ALERT: This journal is extracted from an unpublished and upcoming Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea adventure I am currently completing. This account eventuates from the playtest. You have been warned!

Visitors to the desert-city of Xamboola beware! Demoniacal cachinnations and dull totemic drumbeats sound nocturnal from the outskirts of the city. Too, vile shrieks echo in response to the nightmarish noises, making even those of heroic aspect shudder in repulsion. Residents do not tarry to lock themselves in their homes at night, for something sinister lingers in the fringes of the black of night. Whisperings and warnings intimate that foreign guests residing at the inn of one Aramis D’athak oft disappear at night, never to be seen or heard from again. Where they disappear is not known, nor do the people of Xamboola speak of the hellish noises that darken their oasis city in the gloom of night.

Corey Ryan Walden Anthropophagi of Xamboola

Session 6: A Cyclopean City

The Party

Sint the Pict Ranger (Level 2)
Heron the Kimmerian Druid (Level 2)
Xechies the Kimmerian Warlock (Level 1)
Grimnear Hothgar the Viking Berserker (Level 2)
Estorane the Ixian Thief (Level 3; Hireling)
Squire Sharptooth Ixian Cannibal Torchbearer (Hireling)

Part I: Out of the Barge and Into the City

A stygian river flowed past the dead witch's house, and around a cavernous bend. Squire Sharptooth, Grimnear, Xechies and Estorane climbed aboard the witch's barge, while Sint and Heron walked the scoria path instead. Around the bend a dark cyclopean city was beheld. Dismounting the watercraft the adventurers coalesced and began exploring. The city was monolithic. Towers, spires and odd geometry comprised the city, and a greenish-mauve tinge permeated the air perplexingly.

After some exploration a sword, a locket and the huge skull of a one-eyed humanoid was discovered. Additional expedition into the nearby structures detailed the original residents of the city - alien-like entities with star-shaped heads. Though, their disappearance was not recorded on the cartouches left behind in their structures. From within a tower, Grimnear spotted an opening in the sheer cliff face behind the city. 

Part II: Scaling The Cliffs

Undressing his armour, Grimnear's viking physique was tested as he began an ascent of the cliffs, finally reaching the top after a partial fall. Grimnear squatted in the tunnelled opening, hastening to tie a length of rope to the rock so as to relay his friends up to his vantage. Sint's grappling hook was put to good use too, and after an hour or so the company stood within the thin tunnel, bored into the rock. 

It wasn't too difficult to progress down the tunnel, however at various intervals a blank stone wall would impede their progress. Estorane had scant difficulty discovering secret doorways, and thus progress was continual. During one such expedition, an illusory floor gave way to Grimnear and Squire Sharptooth - the pair plummeting into a vast chasm. Sharptooth splattered on the rocks below, though the hardy and barbarous viking miraculously survived. His senses reeling, Grimnear began choking on a noxious fume that emanated from within the chasm - some vile and poisonous fungi. With expeditious wile, Xechies trussed two lengths of rope together, tossing it into the chasm for the Berserker to grasp. Those at the top pulled, and soon Grimnear lay panting atop the chasm, injured and shaken.

An outlet to the tunnel was thereafter discovered, bringing the company into the mirrored room where Moloch had met his doom. After some rest, and the consumption of Heron's goodberries the party began exploring an isle in the cyclopean city with a single domed structure - previously unexplored.

Part III: Galleria of the Ancients

Shoving the door of the domed structure asunder, the company walked into a room filled with serpentine men, cobras and two cannibals. Chaotic melee ensued. Heron became poisoned and paralysed from one of the snake-men's venomous bites, while Xechies managed to put a significant remainder of the enemies to sleep. The berserker, ranger and thief slew the others rapidly. But all concern faded as the company beheld what was contained within the domed room...

A gem, iridescent and magnificent glowed on a pedestal. A wide staircase, some thirty feet across descended into the unknown. The gem, previously considered to be but a fable, was surrounded.
"I'm going to grab it" the viking announced, the glint of goldlust in his eyes.
None tried to prevent him.
Feeling the surreptitious pull of majick, Grimnear frantically tried to will it away. Fortune denied him, and he disappeared from that very spot. 
"Damn it!" said Sint and Xechies in unison.

In the innards of this decadent undercity, Grimnear reappeared. He was in a loathsome room, filled with glass cabinets. Inside the cabinets were various horrors: otherworldly creatures, and animals, mummified and preserved. Some were wrapped in bandages, others petrified and on display, lewd and blaspheming nature itself. Antediluvian curses and incantations were inscribed on papyrus parchments, likewise entombed within the cases. High above Grimnears head, a single circular exit was evident, though with no hope of exit, Grimnear waited. Not a minute had passed, before his only hope of escape closed, entombing him with these incomprehensible horrors!

The remainder saw no other option but to descend the staircase in search of their friend. Xechies, Sint and Estorane hurriedly descended the stairs in the domed room, searching for their friend. The staircase terminated in a prodigious room, of startling dimension. The walls were blue, with various frescoes. In the middle of the room was a fountain, atop which a lone statue - a one-eyed man - was perched. Three doors indicated exit from this chamber. The companions chose the first on the left. A hallway departed into two chambers. The first appeared to be quarters of some priestly acolytes, while the latter was surely the province of some long-dead high priest, as vile acts were recorded on the wall, lauding the priest's dedication to whatever faith was practiced. It was shudderingly repulsive.

Two secret doorways were discovered within. One, a niche holding a black stone (which Xechies immediately pocketed), the other, a claustrophobic passageway. Continuing into the bowels of this labyrinthine complex, a room appeared. The room contained a single bed, and a bureau. Lying, and appearing asleep on the bed, was a magus. Curiously a layer of dust had settled on his forehead in the time he slept. The companions snuck through the room, in an attempt not to wake him.

Without, a passageway curved like a sickle, though branched. One passageway was left unexplored, while the other was pursued. It led to a sheer staircase descending to a circular lid. Around the staircase loomed a bottomless gulf. Any false move would result in instant death. With much trepidation the descend was initiated.

Inside his prison Grimnear could feel his breath becoming short, and his grasp on reality fading. He envisioned hellish scapes, plains of fire, and wicked demons with curved swords. He felt the very floor beneath him begin to shift, and he lunged onto the top of a cabinet, as the floor dropped into the bottomless gulf. Above he heard scratching, as though someone or something was attempting to enter the circular iron lid above.
"Arrrrrrrghhhhhhhh!!!" the berserker screamed. This situation had become too much for him, and he felt his sanity begin to expire, amidst the abominations that surrounded him.

After much toil, the lid was destroyed form above, and Grimnear was hauled out. Though he strangely did not seem himself...

Adventure Rewards

172xp for defeating four cobras
428xp for defeating four snake-men
48xp for defeating two cannibals
30xp for finding locket
300xp for finding black stone
600xp for finding two-handed sword +1
1800xp for attendance and role-playing

676xp each

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