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  #1  
Old 08-01-2019, 09:06 AM
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Round 3 - D&D AlphaP, Cereal Nommer, oztk

So close and yet so farBloody and bruised, the adventurers are pressed forward. You guessed it - no rests and no resource recovery between Rounds 2 and 3.The breakneck pace is barely worth noting anymore. It's hard not to detest the judges for straining the group and manipulating them into these painful 'proofs' of strength. But you remember, sometimes at least, that there are others pressing in from the four corners of the world. You are all striving to meet at the center, where the Labyrinth and its Door to incredible power awaits. So, you press on, barely bothering to remark when the judges split your group yet again.

But within hours of that split, you crest a hill. Before you lies a bowl-shaped valley, and in the center is a gigantic heap of rubble made of deep grey stone and splintered timbers. <the judge> says simply "There it is. The ruins of the Labyrinth." In two other places upon the lip of this great bowl, you see small groups of people emerge, specks on the horizon. They pause to take in the scene, as you do now.

Then, hovering before you, again appears the spectral image of the Arch-Mage Rostamoinen, in his purple robes, narrow curled mustache, pointed beard and arched eyebrows. "Here comes the speechifying..." grumbles Cuchulainen. He and the judges back away as the image speaks. "Welcome, worthies, to the Labyrinth! I am sorry I could not greet you in person, but I am not far. I am deep beneath the ruins that lie before you. The Labyrinth held not just treasures and traps, but access and passage to greater power. Deep down, below where the greedy and vain tread last year, The Chamber of the Nine. In that Chamber is the Door to our Citadel, which lies not on this plane of existence. You must reach that Door, if you wish to join us.

"You have proven yourself worthy of the battle, and you have shown your willingness to sacrifice and choose for the greater good. Now we ask you to overcome a third set of challenges. We wish to see your true resourcefulness, and your raw will to persevere. This is your third test. Delve into the Labyrinth, and find me. Do what it takes to overcome every obstacle before you, and do it faster and better than any of the other aspirants that have met here today."
Looking at the other groups, you can see a sparkling transparent figure hovering before them, as well.

"Your first task: enter the Labyrinth! Good luck! We can't let this be too easy, you know..." The image vanishes. The aspirants to the Nine look down to the crumbled walls to find the nearest entrance. But they can't see any, because something is in the way. Standing in a narrow plaza in front of the entrance is the first obstacle - the judges.

The Druid stands still, tall and noble in the center of the plaza. He raps his staff on the ground and the very earth responds. Thick ropy vines rise up. Covered in spikes, they twist around columns and gently wave as if waiting to strike anyone who passes by. A buzz and flutter of wings darts among the vines. Has he summoned biting insects... or was that a tiny flying person you just saw?

Kalas rises up off the ground, hovering overhead. His eyes cloud and darken into an opaque grey swirl. As if in sympathy, the clouds overhead churn and spin and roil. Crackles of lighting run along the clouds, and then through the sorcerer's fingers, and then between hands and cloud. The lightning begins to discharge to the ground as the energy becomes too great for cloud or mage to bear.

Cuchulainen walks to the mouth of the plaza. He cracks his neck and rolls his shoulders, working out the kinks of decades. He sets aside his cane and stretches his legs. He squats and does a backflip without missing a beat. He pulls out his blade and twirls it, blindingly fast. He pauses, speaks a few words to his blade, and it hums with arcane force. Testing it out, he taps the sword against a nearby column. It explodes with the force. He nods and speaks the words again, re-charging the blade.

In the distance, the other groups of adventurers begin dashing down the sides of the great earthen bowl, rushing towards the ruins. A few flashes can be seen, and booms echo across the field. Cuchulainen takes a nimble en garde position, taking the vanguard of the defense of the Labyrinth. Lighting crackles around him and a morass of sentient thorns waves behind. He smirks and shouts, "Better hurry! Don't want them others to win, now do yeh? If I see anyone holdin back, by the gods, ye'll see we've got a few lesson to teach yeh..."

MechanicsRound 3 is an obstacle course! You will encounter a series of challenges, each taking a post or two to overcome, if all goes well. This will be a series of challenges, puzzles, and obstacles that you can overcome with clever combinations of skill rolls, class abilities, and player creativity. This is NOT a combat round (though clever uses of combat abilities may help you to overcome obstacles).

Your first obstacle is simply to get past the judges! They are going to resist your progress through attacks, spells, grapples, and whatever else they can do. You just need to keep away from them, and enter the door to the Labyrinth. Whatever skills and abilities you use, declare them clearly, describe (in the narrative) how and why they are used, and justify why they would be effective (if it's not immediately obvious).

You may make only 1 post per day, and there will likely be 6 posts this week. I (Wyn) will be your GM. As in previous rounds, I will post daily no earlier than 10am and no later than noon, EST. This is the GM post for Monday. The thread will close Sunday, August 11th at 10pm EST.

Your initial hit points are exactly what they were at the end of Round 2. Any resources spent in Rounds 1&2 REMAIN spent - no effects from items, spells, or abilities carry over, aside from healing. No item or ability re-charges occurred.

Action economy will go a little different this round. We WILL be tracking how many actions you take (using a potion or wand takes a round, a ritual takes many minutes, etc), but you are free to take multiple actions in a single post. This round is a race through an obstacle course! The more actions you take, the longer you take to accomplish your goals. The longer you take, the more you'll fall behind in the race, and the fewer points you'll receive. All else equal, the fewer actions and the more successfully you overcome the obstacle, the more points you'll get. Lots of actions and only marginal success will earn you fewer points. This means there are no "pre-rounds" this week of competition. If you want to heal or use items, you are free to do so. But those actions take time, and will cause you delay in the race. Choose wisely.

PvP is NOT allowed in this round. Actions taken to directly oppose the actions of other players will be deemed unsportsmanlike by judges. The judges are NOT considered 'players' in this first obstacle, so... have fun with that

All posts need to include the following under {spoilerbuttons}:
  • A clear statement of your movement. We will NOT be using battle maps this round, so clear statements like "Dashing" or "25 feet away from X", or "15 feet down Y" are sufficient, or "through the passage".
  • An explicit statement of all mechanical actions you take in the post, and how much time they take ("full action", "1 minute" etc). More use of actions and abilities will generally take more time, but of course, using abilities is how you're going to survive and succeed.
  • Clear tracking of resources expended, cumulative throughout the competition (this is often done via a stat block). Be sure this is includes all resources spent (and HP lost & recovered!) from Rounds 1 and 2 of competition.

All rolls should be made using inum tags and placed within the spoilerbutton next to the appropriate action. Here is an example thread from 2017. If you are taking an action that uses your skills and has uncertain results, please state the skill that applies and make the roll without waiting for GM approval. The GM will adjudicate results and applicability of the skill in their next post.

Edits may be made to a post up to ONE HOUR from the original post. If any rolls are made after this time or if any rolls are shown as modified as a result of an edit, the entire day's posts will be deleted by the DM. This will not work against you, but you will be punished by having to surrender that day's actions.

All point totals (including judge discretionary evaluations) are TRIPLED, relative to Round 1. Each obstacle has the same number of maximum treasure points available. Those solutions that are the fastest, most creative, most elegant, and most successful will be granted the most points. We will generally not give you skill DCs when we describe the obstacle before you. Knowledge, perception, insight, or social skills may help to get a sense of difficulty of various approaches to overcoming an obstacle, but those will take time, both in game world (delaying your character's progress in the race) and IRL (since GMs update only once per day).
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Last edited by Wynamoinen; 08-05-2019 at 08:30 AM.
  #2  
Old 08-05-2019, 09:13 PM
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Silence and storms
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Crest-fallen, dog-bitten, smack-yearnin’ -- Berthe’s sullen and miserable throughout the march. Couldn’t pick a lock, couldn’t wrestle a goblin -- some burglar, some dwarf. I’m only still here because of my magic boots and Lance’s potions. And no daydreams to find refuge in -- being magically yanked off her extra-potent potion has messed her right up. She’s flat and empty, oscillating between aching to drink her last bottle of ‘roids just to feel alive, and wanting to smash the bottle open on the rock and be done with it forever -- she hasn’t told Magnus and Freya about her little habit, and knows in the pit of her stomach she’ll have to come clean, but has the junkie’s mad hope she won’t have to.

And another way her intense high and sudden come-down has screwed with her system: sounds no longer trigger her imagination, but smells are suddenly enough to overwhelm her, the only thing that makes her feel at all alive, the only bits of color when all is black and white. Her Sweet, yeasty sweat has reliving handstands and skipping ropes at the CrossFit gym, and when she tires and washes it away the first night, her lavender, lye-soap conjures a bath of infant Freya so real she falls asleep sobbing her pillow. The second day, to break the monotony she sneaks huffs of her rose and sandalwood perfume to escape to Magnus’s arms, early in their courtship. But these odor-induced odysseys are fast and flighty compared to the solid, industrial-grade daydreams she’d had most of her life.

The rest of the ogre slayers (my boys, Berthe can’t help but think) get pulled away from her, (sent home for their bedtime?) and two more aspirants join up -- another man-child, Berthe supposes he’d be more handsome to a human, but to her he’s a fragile, beardless baby. And an elfish woman, again young seeming, but you never can tell with elves, now can you. She doesn’t pay them much heed, except to inhale sharply now to smell -- well, what does she smell? Tell us! It’d be a bit presumptuous to write another player’s smell, now wouldn’t it?

And, of course, she writes to her family. But with her habit taking up all her mental space, it doesn’t prove the solace it once did, and though she seals it with wax, she slips it into deep into her backpack without trying to send it.

* * * * *

Dearest Magnus and Darling Freya,

I’m still in the running, apparently, but I worry the nine are playing with me; I left Bifur to die and couldn’t pick a lock the first round, and I played it safe in the combat challenge (no dragons for me, I remember my promise -- merely a few wolf-bites. I will come home to you, my dumplings) and then couldn’t carry a lowly goblin through a portal. The forced march toward the center must be their idea of a practical joke, and a despair at every step that takes me further from your embrace.

I -- there’s something I’ve kept hidden from you. Something I’m ashamed of. I’ve failed you, failed you both. I know I’m being overly-dramatic, know you’ll both still love me, that you’d love me always. But I just can’t tell you like this, in a letter. It needs to be in person. So though our reunion will still be sweet, brace yourself for bad news. I hate to do this to you, make you worry and obsess about what’s wrong, but otherwise I’m worried I’ll try to weasel out of it. And I can’t lie to you two, hide from you. I can’t. Not you.

I’m sorry.

Your revolting worm,
Berthe

* * * * *

As Rostamoinen’s spectral image prattles on, Berthe stands arms akimbo, confident smile and focused eyes hiding the quiver mass of dread and doubt that was her guts. Breathe, girl. It’s a break-in. You’re a burglar. You got this. Fast and simple's what's got you here....

A forced smirk at her companions -- "See you in the Labyrinth" and Berthe empty's a bag of dust over herself -- she could have gotten the others, as well, but they were competition this round, not team-mates -- and Berthe’s vanished. "Or not" and they don’t need to be able to see her to know that her smirk is still there.

She’s not counting this will get her past The Nine, however, and immediately does the little twitch of her toes that activates her boots, and shoots straight up into the air, beginning to bob-and-weave, juke-and-jitter, spiral-and-spin, assuming anyone as power as her judges could still see her. If they can’t, they’re sure missing a show, as Berthe somersaults, loop-the-loops, dives-and-jives over the gnarled wizard and the sorcerer’s storm, only once she’s clear of the storm and above the Druid's vines does she straighten out and speed up, barreling down the valley toward the ruins that marked the entrance to the labyrinth, the scent of ozone from the lightning and verdure giving her a dazed smile no-one can see, as her mind flies off to a tent the night of Freya's rope-swing incident, as her young child cuddles her, trembling with fear of the thunderstorm...



 

 

Last edited by oztk; 08-05-2019 at 09:14 PM.
  #3  
Old 08-06-2019, 12:20 AM
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Psyliana Amastacia
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Exhaustion was the greatest killer of a warrior. Fire, fate, luck, and skill could provide a counter to any external stress, but what of internal weakness. Everybody has their limits, and nobody can last forever without rest. It was what gave the savage humans of the north their edge; no prey, however fierce, could outlast them. It was how the elves had built what was arguably the greatest kingdom in all their plane; by waiting out invaders and aggressors with the patience of the forest. It was not the initial strike or even individual battles that won or lost wars; exhaustion was what ended empires.

Even for the great elven wizards, this holds true. Thanks to events long forgotten, bending the weave required the usage of an internal reservoir of mental energy. It would grow in power the more one exercised one’s control over the Weave, but it would still be finite. Psyliana had fallen into the same trap that led wizards to their doom; she had assumed the Nine would grant the aspirants rest. She had assumed that they wanted to see the best the candidates had to offer, how they performed at their peak. The Nine, however, understood the principle of exhaustion. In their wisdom, they saw it fit to see how the contenders did at their worst, when they were battered, beaten, broken. Exhausted.

This thought was not the only thorn in Psyliana’s side. The smell of charred flesh and fabric still hung around her. The face that had once been called the jewel of elven kind now was entirely blackened and burnt from a kobold’s flaming spell. Of all creatures, it was the kobolds which had brought the hero of the hobgoblin invasion practically to her knees. Shame was the only thing she felt about the last match. The judges praised her ability, but it was still failure. Kobolds, primitives who only had limited ability for trap-building and tunnel digging, had brought the great Psyliana to her knees. How could she handle another challenge, with little hold left on this mortal coil and even less to the magical?

No. She must not allow these thoughts in her head. She swore an oath, to do everything to protect her kingdom and her pain. The wizard shook the thoughts of exhaustion from her head and returned her focus to the task at hand. Once more, Eugene stayed in her party while the dwarf who had far more than proven himself as a worthy contender was dragged away to join with the other contestants. In exchange, another dwarf. And as with before, the eyes told all.

Instead of the steadfast, determined eyes of the protector, Psyliana saw the eyes of those unworthy of anything but a dungeon cell. She saw how Berte’s eyes darted over her satchels and pockets, hungering for any gold pieces or loose articles that could be alleviated from the elf’s care. A thief! Of all the beings in this world, why would the Nine entrust the fate of their plane to a self-serving, no-good, idiotic thief!

Psyliana would find no allies or solace here. These were two people, one unexperienced and one who had already chosen the path of evil, and they could not be allowed anywhere near that Square.

The instructions were given, and the Nine sent the contestants of into the remains of the labyrinth. The dwarf was first to act, and with a smug grin and cocky words became invisible. Psyliana, however, had seen the boots resting on the heels of the scoundrel. She had a similar plan to the elf, but Psyliana would execute it far better, of course.

”Hear me well, theif!” she cried, the tone of a commander issuing forth. ”I will not suffer to see a self-serving, evil, mongrel like you turn this world into your personal treasure chest. And, Eugene,” Psyliana turned to the prince, ”throughout these challenges you have proven yourself far more than the paltry gifts that I presume some fairies granted you some time ago. But this world is MY charge, and you are ill-suited for matters that are beyond charm and battle.”

Psyliana turned further, fully revealing the burnt, scarred right side of her face. ”Stay out of my way.”

Psyliana, too, kicked off the ground into the air. Almost immediately, the soreness of her limbs and the numbness of her mind made themselves known. The exhaustion, the great destroyer, threatened to claim her. The elf knew she did not have enough to wait and study the Nine’s defenses. Psyliana knew she did not have the firepower to face them directly. But she did have just enough.

She barreled towards the courtyard where the nine waited, flying clear between the pillars and the storm with reckless abandon. As she flew, she began to spin and weave magic around and into her, readying herself to engage her Haste once more. Her plan was neither elegant nor complex; she would throw herself directly at the nine, staying far above the swords and vines of the other two. Once she was within a dangerous distance of the storm, she would activate her magic and begin evasive maneuvering. Once close enough to the end, she would teleport the final distance to pass the judges. If anything looked as though it might kill her, she would use abjuration magic to stop it.

It was a plan that her mentors and superiors would have balked at. But, with the exhaustion at her door like a ravenous wolf, all Psyliana focused on was a similar memory. Of her and her mentor, soaring above a battlefield where spears and sabers crashed. Of a battle with elite hobgoblins. Of her master being skewered before her. Of her returning the favor. Once more, she would blast past the enemy. But this time, she was the senior wizard. And this time, no one would be behind her to pick up the torch should she fall.

”Gods help me.”



 


 


 


 
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  #4  
Old 08-06-2019, 01:31 AM
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Eugene
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Eugene trudged along without speaking, at a rare loss for words. His perfectly coiffed hair was almost mussed, his shiny new shield had deep scratches on it, thank the gods he hadn't been forced to unsheathe his rapier and risk getting blood on it. The scent of his sweat was almost perceptible over his elegantly fragrant perfumes and he desperately needed to bathe and change his attire. At this rate he wouldn't be in any shape to take on the damsel wooing test!

They're only letting me come along because I'm so likable, of course. He brooded as they briskly hiked along. Certainly they don't let useless oafs who can't even handle a few goblins into the Square of the Nine. The only reason he even managed as well as he had against them was the fact that they decided to fight him with charms and enchantment. If there was one thing he knew, and he was pretty sure there was, it was charming. His limited ability to fend off hostile spells and the fey luck that seemed to make everything work out for him were only barely able to save his skin yet again.


Even with his limited comprehension Eugene knew he was no match for the rest of his competition. Magic came effortlessly to him, and he had no concept of how much work was put into the learning and control of the spells he'd seen the other competitors perform. Though he did understand that many of them were far beyond his own capacity. Likewise, he wasn't particularly fit, though he always looked hale and healthy. His companions however were all clearly physically disciplined as well, they had no doubt earned their places.

A dim realization that he wasn't cut out for this, entered his mind, but he dismissed it. Of course I can do it, I just have to try harder! He asserted to himself. I've made it this far, surely the worst is behind me! Besides good luck and better looks have to count for something in this contest!


He listened carefully to the instructions Rostamoinen delivered, paying close attention to restrictions against illusions or something. He didn't want to be disqualified for not paying attention.
As the message ended he noticed that the judges and one of his companions had already sprung into action, lending credence to his theory that wasn't paying enough attention.

As Psyliana spoke to him the words stung. He knew them to be true but desperately wanted to prove them false.

"Well, you know what I think?" He retorted a scant moment after she'd taken off. He noticed, by finally paying enough attention, that he was the only one who had yet to move. His comeback would have to wait, and by the time he had a chance to use it he knew it would be too late.


Hey! That's not a bad idea, I wish I'd thought of that. His thoughts caught up to the fact that his newest companion had disappeared in a cloud of dust, much as he'd done himself earlier in the competition. Though it'd be a waste to use so much dust for only oneself when a simple spell could do just as well. He considered.

Why I could even do that! He realized. I should do that!

He pulled his instrument around into his playing position and began to strum. Never realizing the subtle magics at work laying the plan out for him, without his conscious effort, while his conscious mind wrapped the weave of enchantment the bandore focused into a shroud cloaking him from sight.

Ceasing his performance while keeping the enchantment carefully in mind, he made for the ancient ruins. Trying to avoid the vine-y columns and bolts of energy, he carefully made his way across the plaza. His footfalls made no sound as he invisibly crossed the distance to the entrance of the Labyrinth.



 

 
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  #5  
Old 08-06-2019, 10:01 AM
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Outside the LabyrinthThe three adventurers charge in. While any one of them alone would certainly hit the wall of judges and fall, between three of them, the best the judges can do is take them one-on-one. Two of the adventurers disappear, while Psyliana takes the direct-and-fast-route.

"Damn. Going squirrely. Sensible, at least. Kalas, can yeh help me see?" Cuchulainen asks.

Kalas, hovering above, says, "Not anymore." He taps his head, granting himself True Sight. Just then Psyliana pours on her magical speed. From his higher vantage point, Kalas serves as the general. "Druid, I don't think the elf can do much more than that. Grab her. The dwarf is in the air and moving fast, too. She's mine. Kookey, that leaves the slow one on foot for you. Your hearing hasn't gone too bad to find him, has it?" He grins, but the time for banter has ended. "Don't call me that blasted name," Cuchulainen grumbles. He waits at the bottleneck for Eugene.

Psyliana blasts past the storm sorcerer with little more ill effect than some static electricity in her hair. Berthe has the sinking feeling that Kalas only has eyes for her. Two eyes. Looking right at her. Lighting rains down, sending earth flying. She nimbly dodges, keeping her forward motion. Ultimately, all that manages to hit her is some collateral effects - the great storm above kicks up a micro-burst of hail, pelting her on the head
Dice hail damage:
1d8 2
(2)

Psyliana blasts past the bard, who simply casts her a skeptical look. "Head-on assault, eh? Suppose that works. Sometimes...." Berthe, invisible and airborne, leaves no footfalls for Cuchulainen to hear. She manages to get by him as well, in Psyliana's wake. That leaves Eugene. He looks one way then another, apparently unable to detect the bard. "New generation of string-pluckers, eh? Nobles going to entertain themselves, rather than give an honest working man a job, eh? Think yer too clever for an addled old man, eh?" He pauses his tirade for a moment, hoping to hear a footfall. He fails. "Sometimes clever means being simple. You got that going for yeh here. Here's my simplicity." He takes his charged blade and slams it against another column. Shards fly everywhere.
Dice columnar shrapnel:
3d6 2, 3, 1 Total = 6
(6) Eugene DC 13 DEX save to halve the piercing damage.struggles to dodge the shrapnel, having already slipped past the ranting old man and working his wave carefully around the grasping vines, which seem to also have difficulty detecting him.

Psyliana blasts over the mass of vines. The Druid simply points upward to her. Those wings in the vines emerge, attached to tiny elfin bodies. Those tiny elfin bodies hold tiny bows. 8 sprites emerge and take aim. Mechanically, this is a Thorn WhipOne vine reaches out and tries to drag Psyliana down
Dice Vine attack:
1d20+10 (7)+10 Total = 17
(17) The vine grasps her, and as it does, the sprites fire a volley at her.
Dice sprite bow 1:
1d20+6 (12)+6 Total = 18
(18)
Dice sprite bow 2:
1d20+6 (7)+6 Total = 13
(13)
Dice sprite bow 3:
1d20+6 (3)+6 Total = 9
(9)
Dice sprite bow 4:
1d20+6 (1)+6 Total = 7
(7)
Dice sprite bow 5:
1d20+6 (12)+6 Total = 18
(18)
Dice sprite bow 6:
1d20+6 (1)+6 Total = 7
(7)
Dice sprite bow 7:
1d20+6 (1)+6 Total = 7
(7)
Dice sprite bow 8:
1d20+6 (19)+6 Total = 25
(25). Three pierce her
Dice vine + arrow damage:
4d6+3 (3, 3, 6, 3)+3 Total = 18
(18). The last thing she knows before all goes black Failed one save. Psyliana has the poisoned condition.is a burning sensation in her back, where one of the arrows pierced her.

 


With the Druid and Sprites focused on Psyliana, Berthe and Need a CON save on Invisibility concentration, btw. But however that rolls out, you enter the LAbyrinth - that damage was your mechancial "penalty" given your strategy and rolls.Eugene are able to dodge past, into the door of the Labyrinth. Seeing Psyliana lose consciousness, Cuchulainen sheathes his sword. He says, sadly, "Sometimes that works. Ain't often, though."
Inside the LabyrinthPsyliana's Psyliana is unconscious. Mechanically, I will impose vine, sprite, and fall damage all at the same time. You are therefore NOT auto-failing death saves because of damage while unconscious. However, without someone doing something, you DO need to start making death saves.unconscious body skids through the door. Her charred and cut body is a sad sight, a tale of the trials and tribulations of the path the group is on.

For a moment, the adventurers can take in the scene. This used to be a massive complex. Thick dark stone walls form a room that used to be square, with doors leading in three directions (aside from back outside, where the judges do not seem to be taking up pursuit). But the walls are no longer walls, they are heaps of rubble. The doors are no longer doors, they are heaps of splintered and termite-chewed wood. A few peeks of sunlight punch through the ceiling overhead.

The group does not have long to take the scene in. Their entrance and Psyliana's hard fall has further destabilized the structure. The floor shifts, then tilts, and then crumbles underfoot. There are a few seconds of falling, and loud rumbling, a plume of dust, and winds whipping in every direction. Finally, dusty and bruised but mostly unharmed by the experience, they see a long corridor before them.

Brushing off the dust of the collapsed then-floor, now-ceiling, you enter a small 4 foot by 4 foot passage. A strong wind (approximately 20mpg/30kph) comes from the tunnel blowing into your face, and then up into the hoel you fell through, 30 feet overhead. Sometimes the wind whips faster or slower, sometimes creating whirling eddies. Before the entryway to the small tunnel are several items - a spear, 3 steel shields,50 feet of rope, a wineskin, a crowbar, a 10 foot chain and 3 small potion bottles. Not to mention Psyliana's limp form, which fell with them. A quick glance at her possessions suggests she carries no potions, herself. One of her arrow wounds has turned black, a sign of poison.

As you glance down the corridor, you see that most of the floor, as well as spottier patches of the walls, it is coated with a thick layer of green slime. A few feet away you see the struggling form of a rabbit which had become stuck in the slime, flailing about in apparent agony. But before you are able to react, the rabbit ceases it struggles and begins to dissolve under the corrosive slime.

The corridor ends after 40 feet, but a haunting light that comes from the end lets you know that the tunnel continues downwards, deeper into the heart of the Labyrinth. This must be a shortcut to their destination...




 
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  #6  
Old 08-06-2019, 11:48 PM
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Manners MatterFirst thing’s first: not having been told what Psyliana and Eugene smelled like, we’ll have to make it up ourselves. You had your chance, and now you live with the consequences.

The elf stank, mainly. The sweat-dust-blood-dank stink of adventurers that was familiar to Berthe after a year, but still a bit inexplicable: soap wasn’t that expensive, washing didn’t take that long. In addition, the elf had strong overtones of smoke from her recent misadventures, and subtle undertones of old books that she recognized from Pykupstyx.

The human lad, meanwhile, through the unavoidable scent of dust from the road, smelled expensive. Soap, perfume, fine clothes. But underneath the sheer smell of money there was … not much. No there, there. A soft, bland, smell, a smell of infants, the smell almost of milk, not an impressive smell, but one that reminds her of an impossibly tiny Freya, and makes her protective of the baby adventurer.

Oh, and this? “She saw how Berte’s eyes darted over her satchels and pockets”? Did she now. Seems to me Berthe was described as being rather checked out, withdrawn from withdrawal, not about to eye up someone as a mark. But, fine, sure, whatever. We’ll run with it. Berthe’s eyes did dart all over Psyliana, but they weren’t really seeing anything; they were rolling like a spooked horse’s eyes as part of Berthe’s general drug-induced wig-out.

* * * * *

Other than seeing Psyliana rocket away, and the human youth disappear, Berthe’s too busy swerving and sliding through lightning and hail (not to mention just generally being chemically fried) to pay attention to how her companions? competition? are faring. She enters the labyrinth to find Psyliana prone and pincushioned, and feels a complicated mix of satisfaction (’Self-serving, evil, mongrel?’ Where does she get off?) and guilt (Pearl-clutcher though she may be, if I’d doused her with my invisibility dust…). One way or another, she sees no trace of Eugene "Didja make it, boy?" and is deciding between barreling through a decaying door or helping the stuck-up, knocked-down elf when the ground falls out beneath them all.

Bifur…I can't leave another behind The collapsing sensation brings sharply back the pain of leaving the beardling in the collapsing tower, and guilt wins over. For the second time in as many challenges, Berthe’s forcing one of her healing potions down a companion’s throat, unasked. The motherly urge to feed is strong.

"Excuse me for getting "Stay out of my way", she said.in your way. Won’t happen again -- that was my last healing potion." One of the potions on the floor Berthe picking it up while invisibilebegins hovering, and then Berthe putting it into her bagdisappears (...more ‘roids. Please be more ‘roids. Please be...) "And you can keep your share of whatever this is. Hate for you to think someone stole something from you." and she strides, unseen, into the gusts of wind, sickly acrid from the acid, but with a not unpleasant odor of rabbit fricassee, struggling to keep her jangling mind on the task at hand, but not about to ask the stinky elf for help.

The headwind is too strong to fly into. Smelly-elf did get your last healing potion, but there’s still some muscle juice in your bag...NOT NOW. Focus, girl. Down, Rostamoinen had said -- this way has to be faster than flying back up to where we fell from. THINK, Berthe. What would Bulby Baggins do? Rabbit showed us we can’t walk...ahh, screw it.

And without a plan, she caves and downs the last Potion of Giant Strength she has. "By Thor that feels good!" Immediately, she's whole again, a strong dwarf. And with the relief, her mind un-muddles, and the solution comes to her, the passage from The Halfling, Bulby and the dwarves escaping from some nasty elves by riding barrels through the river...

Nasty elf to escape from? Check. River? Well, acid puddle. Barrels? They'd fry instantly. But those shields...

Berthe reaches again into her backpack, throws a few ball bearings into the slime to test how fast the acid corrodes them while flipping one of the steel shields onto its back. Hoping they held up a bit, she takes a crowbar from her bag, and another crowbar from the floor, holding one in each hand like ski poles, kneels on the shield, and starts to pull her way through the slime with her improvised poles, jabbing them against the rock to drag her shield-sled through the acid, glorying in the sheer joy of using her magical muscles.

"Don’t try this yourself, boy, if you’re here -- grown-ups only. You haven’t the muscles, wee bairn." she calls back over her shoulder as she plunges down into the light on the other side.

OOCSpeaking of manners, sorry I couldn’t post earlier, AlphaP, to give you more time to plan accordingly.


 


 
  #7  
Old 08-07-2019, 01:47 AM
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Eugene
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If things hadn't been bad enough before they certainly were now. Eugene was downright filthy after all that dust and debris. I'm such an idiot. He scolded himself, Of course they would stir up dust to find me if I'm silent and invisible. As usual he hadn't planned more than a single move ahead. His focus was wavering as he made it through the cloud of rubble Cuchulainen stirred up, and gave out completely as a fall through the ruined floor compounded the issue.

"Now look at the state of me!" He complained. Oh, wait! I was supposed to be staying invisible. He remembered a moment too late. He attention had been completely pulled from his apparent disappearance by his dearth of appearance.

He hoped nobody did look at him, covered as he was in the dust of the rubble. Another rare experience for him, he hoped not to be noticed.


He saw the slime covered corridor and winced. Dust and grime was bad enough, but this could hardly be tolerated. The disgusting ooze was evidently dangerous as well as evidenced by the hapless rabbit that had somehow made its way down into the tunnel. The cramped little tunnel coated in slime would leave him little room to maneuver and the strong wind meant that any magical flight he might be capable of after such a long journey would do little to avail him now.

As he tried to get his bearings and saw several objects moving, seemingly at random and without outside intervention.

"Don’t try this yourself, boy, if you’re here -- grown-ups only. You haven’t the muscles, wee bairn." He heard come from the assortment of equipment floating and weaving itself through the air.
What muscles? He wondered. The objects moving of their own accord was clearly a magical phenomenon. Then he realized the voice had come from the dwarf who had joined their group. Of course, if I were strong like her. or my brother Carlyle I could force the revolting stuff out of my way with a shield. Or on the other hand, if I were smart like Alfred I could think of a way to cross without touching it like she's doing. Again the creeping notion that he was severely out of his depth tried to work its way into his mind.


He knew he could turn back.
He knew he should turn back.

But the harsh rebuke from the lips of the elf maiden who had accompanied him since the beginning of their trials spurred him to prove himself. He wouldn't give up!

Despite what had clearly been a harder won journey for her, Psyliana wasn't giving up even being at the brink of death.

He couldn't turn back now.
He wouldn't turn back!
Pride and determination, and something he couldn't quite define drove him onward. He was familiar with sibling rivalry and he imagined it was something like that pushing him to try to keep up with the fey warrior that had accompanied him.
It wasn't quite right though. He knew he wanted to impress her, but that feeling was nothing unusual. This other drive he couldn't put words to but it felt important.


He struggled to come up with a plan that didn't require he be particularly smart or strong and came up with something that suited his level of skill.

He grabbed the remaining two shields and walked up to where the near edge of the vile viscous slime reached. He tossed the shields into it at a distance he thought would be close enough for him to step from one to the other, but far enough that it would get him close enough to the other end for his plan to work.

"I hope my judgement of distance is reliable," he said aloud, mostly to reassure himself, "I'd hate to have to replace these boots."


 

 
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  #8  
Old 08-07-2019, 02:42 AM
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It was all going so well. The first member of the Nine didn’t even move, the second fired no lightning or other magic at her. The goal was in sight, she was almost there. All she had to do was say the word, and she would be beyond the first test. She should have known. She should have stopped, payed attention. But, by the time the spell was on her lips, the chattering voices of the fey entered her ears. Followed by a volley of tiny arrows entering the elf’s body.

With a harrowing gasp, Psyliana’s trajectory began to plummet. Her breathing became ragged, and the Haste spell she had cast quickly fell out of check. Not like the exhaustion would do anything worse for her than already done. The exhaustion took her rapidly, the darkness closing in at the corner of her vision. One final image played through her mind as the shadow began to creep into her eyes. Her mentor, being stabbed through the heart. At least Psyliana had been there to avenge. Been there to bear the news. Been there to grieve. Would she even be missed? Would anyone know of her fate? Certainly, she was alone. Any help she might have gotten from the other contestants she had chased away with her words. Her stupid, stupid words!

Why? Why couldn’t I just shut up for once? Of all my body, why did I have to use the stupid part? the elf’s mind bemoaned, more and more shutting down. This was it, she died here. Doing her duty, and failing to an inexperienced human prince and a dwarven thief. Boy, wouldn’t that be a story for the apprentices of the future. As she fell along, her momentum carrying her forward, the last thing the elf saw before blacking out was a door. A door into the labyrinth. Psyliana gave a weak chuckle.

At least I passed the first test.

THUD


Nghh…
Psyliana had no sense of time. How long had it been? What had just happened? All she could feel was throbbing everywhere.

”Excuse me for getting in your way…”

The trial of the Nine! That was where she was! How much time had passed? The rogue had already won, hadn’t she? She had come back to gloat, yes that must be…

A new sensation occurred. A taste, a feeling in her mouth. Liquid, more viscous than water. That taste… a healing potion! The elf’s eyes opened, just enough to see the face of Berthe, giving her a health potion.

”You…?” Psyliana stammered as the rogue commenced her plan of action, grabbing a shield and charging the corridor. ”Why? Why did you save me?”

The wizard attempted to stand up but had to stagger to the wall inside the safe chamber as a new weakness took over. She reached her hand back to the burning pain that was just now coming to her from her back and brought her hand to her face. Pus was oozing from a sore. Black, rancid. It had to be poison, or at least the source of her lack of motor control. She looked around the room to take in her surroundings. First, the potions. All she could do was hope for health or an antidote, for the poison was also clouding her mind. The elf downed a potion in a single gulp, praying it would not harm her. Next, the other tools. She saw the acid-filled corridor, and she knew the solution had to be here somewhere. The wineskin, first. It might contain water, or it might contain something that could neutralize the acid. Either way, the elf opened the cork and flung the contents out into the acid as best she could with the poison in her veins.

Next the other items. She could tie a rope to the spear and throw… no, not in her condition. She likely would not even throw it 10 feet. The shields, then. No, no. Although she did not concern herself with the dwarf’s progress, she was almost certain the acid would burn through her shield. Perhaps a good contingency, but nothing worthwhile.

To her magic then. There was no way she could contest the winds within the tunnel flying, even if she attempted to boost her speed again. And that also left the possibility of being pushed into the acid. There could be no risks, not anymore. If only she had a way to climb on the ceiling. There was no acid there, but in her state, she would most certainly lose her grip. But, perhaps there was a form that wouldn’t.

”I always hate this,” she muttered, weaving transmutative magic into her body. Not to enhance, not this time. Her body shuddered and quivered as clothes and equipment began to fade into brownish, coarse hair. A transformation most grotesque occurred, with her four limbs splitting into six and her one torso splitting into three. The elf hunched over, spindly limbs securing her body like a crib above the floor. And the face underwent something best not described. The only trace remaining to identify the newly-formed giant wolf spider was the insignia of the elven kingdom imprinted on its abdomen.

The part Psyliana hated most was the decreased mental faculties. Of course, she was still herself, but planning was much harder when every part of your body was built for one strategy. She found it best to always leave herself instructions before polymorphing.

Avoid the acid, get to the end

She skittered up the wall and began to crawl along the ceiling, her spidery limbs now adequate for clambering along such surfaces. Making certain her legs avoided any stray patches of slime, the wolf spider moved swiftly, only stopping to brace itself against the wind.



 


 


 


 
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Last edited by AlphaP; 08-07-2019 at 03:13 AM.
  #9  
Old 08-07-2019, 09:15 AM
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The slime tunnelAs the dust from the collapsed roof settles, Eugene is visible while I will do my best to remind you of timing, but there's still lots. The actual dashing past the judges and falling down to the tunnel took a matter of seconds. The main thing that ate up time was running to the Labyrinth. Berthe would estimate she has at least 5 minutes left, if not more.Berthe is still not. The first order of business was to help the elf-warrior. After going through so much, it is too pitiful to imagine leaving her there at the cusp of their goal.

Berthe administers a healing potion, and Psyliana sits up. She The poison lasts one minute. Since you're taking a bunch of actions here in the tunnel, the easiest way to manage this condition is to say "the poison DOES effect Psyliana during the present slime-tunnel challenge, but it will be GONE by the time she encounters the next obstacle.can feel the Sprite-poison still burning away. She and the others see a bunch of liquids and tools in front of them.

First comes the stuff-hurling. Out goes wine. It dissolves and bubbles on contact with the green gunk. Berthe throws out steel ball bearings. They sizzle and dissolve. Eugene tries to chuck the shields as stepping-stones. They plop one, then another. Sizzle sizzle crackle, and soon there are holes opened in their centers.

Berthe grabs one of the nearby potions.
Dice Berthe potion grab:
1d3 2
(2) The liquid inside is green, and it is the only of the three vials with a label. It says simply "Drink Me". She pockets that, and drinks one of her own instead. She then climbs, first up the wall and then upside down over the slime-lined narrow corridor. The winds buffet her this way and that. At one point she is pitched into darkness. The To be clear, this is fluff on a slightly-missed skill check - you aren't taking damage because of Psyliana per se.surprise causes her to lose her grip. Not enough to fall, but enough to knock her sideways into a patch of slime
Dice slime acid damage:
1d10 9
(9). She stops for a moment, Between rogue, monk, and giant strength, climbing upside down is OK by me. But I don't see any ability that gives you a climb speed. So climbing is half-speed. That leaves Berthe upide down, about 20 feet from the end of the tunnel. Reaching the end next post is quite possible, but you'll need to test yourself against the hazards with Athletics checks at least once more. If I somehow missed that you've got a climb speed of 45, then you're 5 feet from the end of the tunnel. Still requires another ability check, but a lot less slime to wade through if there's a very bad failure.ensuring her grip as an eeire shadow-shrouded creature slinks past.

Eugene ponders his quickly-disappearing shields. Getting across 30 feet is easy for the bard. It's the first or last ten feet You can take two steps, taking green sizzle damage for each 5 feet of movement, and then Misty step the rest. But since you put a conditional on your action and all of Eugene's tests were less-than-encouraging, I don't want to force you to have done that last round. As you can see from Berthe and Psyliana, the slime does 1d10 acid damage per touch.that will be the trouble. One vial of potion remains on the ground at his feet, an unlabeled bottle with a cool blue liquid inside.

Psyliana throws caution to the wind and grabs one of the remaining potions, swigging it
Dice Psyliana postion grab:
1d2 2
(2). It was an oily black, coating the inside of the glass, and then Psyliana's gastrointestinal tract. Almost immediately, Psyliana and Eugene are pitched into a thick muddy darkness, as if Psyliana is an anti-light, absorbing any light (from either overhead or at the far end of the tunnel) that comes close. She then transforms into a giant spider. The Sorry, conditions remain until their duration elapses, or they are specifically countered. Polymorph says nothing about ending effects of conditions.poison still effects her, but it is still quite easy to walk along sheer surfaces.

She skitters along the top of the tunnel, fighting the wind. Unbeknownst to her, Psyliana's darkness aura jilted the invisible Berthe to one side of the tunnel ceiling, allowing the giant spider to skitter past. As Berthe re-gains her grip, she watches the shadow-shrouded spider clamber past. Putting Psyliana 10 feet from the end of the slime tunnel.10 feet further up the tunnel The wind takes an unexpected change in direction. In her weakened state, even the spider-grip can't hold, and Pyliana slides to the side of the wall, brushing some slime.
Dice slime acid damage:
1d10 9
(9). The chemical burn does not burn away her spider-form, but it may Need a concentration check. Upon fail, your elf-form is obviously no longer able to keep clinging to the ceiling. The tunnel is short enough that there will be no falling damage, but you'd need to walk through at least 10 feet (two instances of 1d10 damage to your elf form) if you fall and then run the rest of the way out.shake Psyliana's ability to maintain the form.


 
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  #10  
Old 08-07-2019, 11:59 PM
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A lapse of concentration could end it all...

"Why? Why did you save me?"

Psyliana’s question catches Berthe off guard, and the honest answer pops out before her motherly instincts try to turn it into a learning experience. "You’re a jerkface, not a baddie. You don’t deserve to die for what you’ve said -- I’ve heard worse from halfling grandmothers protesting last call at the brewery. You’d have done the same for me, right?" Berthe wasn’t sure the stick-thin elf actually would have, but that was the point of the question.

* * * * *

The acid is much stronger than Berthe hoped, dissolving the ball-bearings quickly so she had to improvise, but the potion she chose looks intriguing. “Drink me” -- beer, steroids, maybe it was time to branch out. Though she missed Magnus and Freya, this last year’s taste-test of adventuring made settling back in Flintknap look more than a little stultifying. Perhaps a little chemical help would make it easier…

...as indeed, chemistry was making her “climb” along the ceiling doable at all. Most of her weight was carried by her magical boots, with her hands and feet just fighting against the fierce headwind down the tunnel. It’s slow going, but between her CrossFit training and her magic-muscles, she was making steady progress.

Getting dosed up has corrected her internal chemistry as well; scents were back to manageable levels, and the constant

whooooooshwhoooshwhoooooooooosh

of the wind was threatening to trigger a pleasant reverie about clinging to the back of The Cliche’s back as it tried to buck her off, a reverie which Berthe was barely managing to repress. But then everything went black just as the wind shifted, she lost her toehold and slammed against the slime on the wall to her left, the acid searing into the suspiciously unhealing wolf-bites "Heimdall on a handcart, that hurt!". Berthe just manages to cling to the rampaging dragon rocky ceiling with one hand as the darkness passes with a faint

tiktikclicktikclicketyclicktiktikclicketyclicktikt ikclick

of a spider skittering against the ceiling (First Kayne, now this -- what is it with the goths?), as Berthe swings back up to the ceiling and continues her upside-down crawl. The baby-boy was visible again, still at the start of the tunnel, seemingly at a loss after his shield-stepping-stones dissolved, and Berthe regrets her jab about muscles and is beginning to reach into her bag for rope and pitons to create a trail for her party member to follow, before remembering that they're a party of competitors, and that she can’t spare the time.

She can spare the air to shout, however, and an odd mix of condescension and comfort stumbles out, reflecting her own conflicted feelings for the situation. "No shame in failure, son -- amazing you’ve made it this far at all, by your age. You’ll still be fit for adventuring the next time there’s an opening on The Nine, which by the looks of Cuckoo-whatsit, won’t be long. Buck up!"

* * * * *

Beginning the climb along the second length of the cavern, Berthe's bored just thinking about it, and already planning the From your discussion, another round of climbing would have put her 5' short of end, and was *going* to do an acrobatics check to swing/jump last distance, before the horrible roll...showy dismount at the end. Her mood bolstered by her potion of giant strength, her imagination returns again to the mysterious bottle in her bag, and the eye-watering prices Lance's dealer commanded, and is happily living a future hypothetical life where she pivots from ale into harder substances. With a jolt she rolled a 1 on her athletics checkmisses the next handhold completely just as there's a gusting wind, and while because of her boots she's still flying, the corridor is small enough that the shift in balance is still enough to send her crashing against the acid covered floor.

The pain focuses her mind immediately, the looming threat of death (Sorry Magnus, Sorry Freya -- my last thoughts were of you...) sends her scurrying to comb through the possible solutions. There's little chance she can run the rest of the way through the acid and survive, but the shadow wasn't as dark as Kayne's -- if it's dim enough here, she could just maaaaybe flash her way to the front of it? Fly with the wind back to the start, make a shadow, then teleport through it to the end? If not, she'd have to jump back to the ceiling and try again.

Something has to work. I'm not dying. Not yet. Not here. Not this way. Not giving that damn stuck-up spider-elf the satisfaction. I want to see family again...


 


 

Last edited by oztk; 08-08-2019 at 12:32 AM.
  #11  
Old 08-08-2019, 01:36 AM
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Eugene managed to come up with a plan that was at once not clever enough, and not brave enough. He stood alone at the edge of the corrosive gooey muck, staring into the darkness that was his companion and competition.

He missed his chance to to succeed by being too timid... too squeamish... too cowardly. The sight of the shields dissolving as quickly as the rabbit had made him hesitate and Psyliana wreathed in darkness had evidently gone headlong into the tunnel overtaking him.

He knew he couldn't magically step into the slime filled darkness...


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This is a flashback. Not happening in the present.
"If you can't see it, don't step into it!" The hag cackled at his misfortune. "Hehehehe! Perhaps I'll leave you there to drive that lesson home!"

Young Eugene was stuck up to his waist in the sludge of the swamp, blinded by the thick fog, with an evil witch laughing at him.

"I thought I was supposed be learning how to get out of trouble?" He called into the mist. He couldn't see where her voice was coming from and learning to stride through the mist between the edges of worlds turned out to be a lot more difficult than the fey nobles who visited his father's court made it look. With a simple word they would appear or vanish in a wisp of silvery cloud. He was unpleasantly surprised to learn it would take more than a song in his heart and some magic words to accomplish the feat himself.

"The first thing to learn about stepping out of trouble is not to step into it in the first place!" The hag called back once her cackles had subsided. "If you haven't learned anything I might as well let you sit there and rot!"

Eugene knew she didn't mean it. At least, he hoped she didn't, but she made it clear she expected him to be able to work hard at his lessons and achieve a given objective. He looked around carefully and found a patch of ground he could make out that looked relatively solid. He spoke the words and drew on the cold, dark power that the old crone was so fond of instilling into him. And twisted between the seams of the world to a place he could stand.

"I did it, I got out." He gasped exhausted from the effort of teleporting out of the trouble he'd teleported into.

"Well, maybe you're not such a hopeless case after all." She said in the closest approximation of praise he ever received from her. "You'll be of some use yet, if you can manage to keep the least bit of knowledge in your fool head!"



Teleporting into the darkness wasn't going to be an option. Even if he had the stomach for it his early lessons had ingrained in him to never attempt to step blindly through the mists. He had carefully judged the length of the hall before the shroud of inky blackness had consumed it though, and he'd seen the slime didn't reach past the far end. He could blink just to the edge of the darkness and attempt to leap the last ten feet through the blackness. That is, if he didn't hit his head on the low ceiling... or on either of the other he couldn't see in the tunnel.

"No shame in failure, son -- " He heard from the tunnel. "amazing you’ve made it this far at all..." The tone conflicting with the message he heard. You're a failure! How did you manage to get this far? Who would think a prancing, pampered prettyboy could ever be worth considering. Somewhere he knew it wasn't meant to belittle him, nobody ever really did. But the sentiment, that he needed to be looked after, was hurtful even if it was well intentioned.

He refused to let himself back down again though, his expensive luxurious boots be damned! He was tired of being the one everyone thought was only along to be handsome and fun. He would make it through this filthy scum if it killed him!


He scooped up the remaining potion, because the color matched his eyes so nicely. And while there were lots of lessons on not making up words while casting spells, or making sure to see a target first, there had never been any lesson about not drinking unidentified potions. In fact there had never been any potion lesson at all.

I think something was said about not blowing up hovels. He recalled. But certainly that's not a danger here! Besides who would brew a potion that wasn't helpful to the drinker? He reasoned. The others certainly seem to think so, and I'm sure they know better than I would.

He wasn't sure what good it would do, but he thought it might help in case of an emergency.

Then steeling his resolve he backed up to get as much of a running start as the cramped corridor would allow, then charged toward the tunnel! With an arcane shout he vanished just before reaching the goop, to reappear just at the edge of the blackness at the far end of the tunnel.



 

 
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  #12  
Old 08-08-2019, 02:00 AM
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Psyliana Amastacia
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Psyliana the wizard might have been curious about the shadow surrounding her. She might have stopped to examine its effects or compare it to old tomes to determine what it is. Psyliana the spider, however, had little need for any knowledge other than she was hidden and it seemed to repel those who wished to get close to her goal before her. She felt somewhat guilty for shoving a dwarf into a wall of acid with her effect, but Psyliana was a spider on a mission. She may no longer have the ability to express the importance of her success, but it was her new form's sole purpose. One goal to put every tool the arachnid had to.

Avoid the acid, get to the end

Of course, the parts of her mind and soul which were still elf added the study of the potion’s effects to a growing list of topics to further look into. Another part was holding the strands of the Weave in place. Polymorphs, though they may appear true, are a perversion of reality to the will of the caster. This was not evil nor bad nor even unnatural; most magic is accomplished by bending the Weave out of its natural flow to cause physical changes to the universe. This, however, means that magical effects have the tendency to slip away without constant maintenance. The spider may not know magic, but the brainpower required for holding the weave in place was both minimal and intuitive. The only things that could jar it out of her control were herself and any significant pain.

Pain, of course, which came as the wind suddenly shifted direction. With her new body not being protected against the venom of the fey, the weakness throughout her body persisted and one of the spindly legs slipped of the wall into the acid. With a blood-curdling screech, the spider’s mandibles recoiled as her leg lost several inches. Enough to try and pull her arachnid brain from the task of holding a few fragile strands of the essence of magic in her grasp. Some part of her in the background noted she felt more in control even without enchantments as an elf than a feared monster. And, unfortunately, that estimation was correct. Try as she might, the spider began to lose grip on the weave and reality began to snap back into place. Her limbs began to slip as they merged from eight to four. The bulk, bulbous spider body began to strech and pull into the slender fram of the elf. Brown fur faded back into skin and clothing. It wasn't like many could see this, thanks to the darkness surrounding her, but this situation became much more dire.

Psyliana continued to lose her grip on the wall, and she knew she had little time. Thankfully, her mental faculties returned from their vacation in spider-land, and the elf knew she had to think fast. The second the reversion was completed, she had to move quickly. Grabbing onto the stone with what little hold she had left, Psyliana waited for her magical items to return to their full power. There would only be a brief window.

Wait, wait... NOW!

Just as the elf began to fall to the floor, Psyliana engaged her boots of flying once more. She Use Long Jump movement option for an initial 4' of movementkicked off of the dry ceiling and angled herself on a straight path to dry ground. Use Dash as actionWith the momentum from the kick and the magic from her boots, Psyliana shot out of the acidic corridor and back to (albiet windy) safety.

Turning back to see the progress of the others, Psyliana noticed most of them had fallen back to the start, whether from wind or simply not finding a path. Her mind still reeled from Berthe's act of generosity. It made no sense to the elf, that a scoundrel like her would assist her competition. Most thieves would have left the elf to rot.

"Dwarf!" Psyliana called out to Berthe, now more apologetic in tone. "I should hope that, if our roles had been reversed, I would have done the same as you. Perhaps you are not a mongrel after all."

With as best a smile as a charred face could give, Psyliana turned and ran down the corridor. This was far from over. Even if she now felt pity for her fellow adventurers, this was a test. If they could not prove themselves, they did not deserve the end prize. Psyliana would try and be merciful as she could, but a test had to be an equal test for all. She kept her elven senses open for traps; this was a labyrinth, after all. Unfortunately, the poison still burned in her veins and blurred her vision. She could only hope that the next challenge would be just as obvious as the last.






 


 


 


 
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Last edited by AlphaP; 08-08-2019 at 02:21 AM.
  #13  
Old 08-08-2019, 09:53 AM
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The slime tunnelPsyliana, enshrouded in a light-sucking shadow, almost makes it to the end of the tunnel before the wind causes her spider-feet to slip. She is blown into the This was last round's damage - no more from that, this roundslime on the side of the wall, and the burning pain shakes her mind's grip on her spell. The blade-elf appears where a spider once was. Still cloaked in shadow, it's hard for anyone else to see her desperately try to use her ineffectual humanoid fingers to grasp the slippery smooth stone. They can not. She does her best to turn, cat-like, and step on air rather than slime in order to extract herself from the tunnel. But the tunnel is only 4 feet high. There's not enough time to react to the fall, and there isn't enough head space to easily stand and bolt. She again touches the slime, This is new damageburning her true form.
Dice Psyliana slime damage:
1d10 10
(10) That pain is discipline enough to straighten out, tuck in, and jet out of the tunnel, dissipating the light coming from the nearby tunnel. The momentum again flings her out of the obstacle, and on the ground, unconscious.

Berthe grasps and clings to try to maintain her hold, upside down halfway through the tunnel. But she can't re-gain her grip. She falls at the same time as Psyliana, and faces the same problem - too short a fall to properly right herself. She falls onto slime, again feeling the acid burn.
Dice Berthe slime damage:
1d10 6
(6). Psyliana jets out of the tunnel, dragging her cloak of shadow along. Berthe is able to snatch the coattails of that cloak, and blips out of phase from the tunnel, and into phase in the safety of the small chamber beyond.

Eugene collects the last potion. He is soon faced with the prospect of being left behind. He screws his courage to the slimey place, and dashes. At the threshold, he phases out of the plane for the blink of an eye, then appears, Athletics jump check was successful. So while your plan caused inevitable acid damage, you made the minimum of contact possible. Apply the first slime damage roll, 4, from your last post and you may ingore the others.bearing his momentum, amidst the slime. He plants his feet, leaps, and tumbles to the ground. Now Berthe stands in the dark place, with the crumpled form of Eugene and Psyliana at her feet. Eugene has the advantage of being conscious and able to raise himself up.

In the shadow-aura, the group looks down the nearby tunnel. There is little to do but forge ahead.
The Sub-LabyrinthThe tunnels are lit by occasional pale blue light-orbs. Initially, the going is slow because Psyliana's oily shadow largely blots out those guide-lights. Not long after Pysiliana feels the effects of the poison dissipate, her Poison condition is gone, as is the potion's effects.shadow-aura vanishes.

The tunnel leads you downwards. As you continue, the passages are less and less dwarven-built and more and more natural. Water drips and trickles along the floor. Side passages abruptly end, or double back, or end up not being side passages at all, but the way forward. This wandering is long enough that Berthe's Dust effects end.A frustrating series of turns, lit by that same eerie light, finally brings you to an abrupt end.

The small room at the end of the passageway has two features. First, there is a stout metal door with no apparent handle, knob, or mechanism to open it. Second, there is an ornate pedestal in the center of the room.

The pedestal stands four feet tall. There is a basin inscribed with runes in a strange old language. In the basin sits a shining smooth back orb. On each side of the orb is an impression of a hand, as if someone squeezed the stone and molded it like clay. As you approach, the runes glow green. The ancient runes appear fade out of existence then relight in your native tongue. The words read:
Glowing RunesThe whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Your strength alone will now allow you to pass. All who would enter must share their very essence to open the way. If any withholds, all will fail.

But what is your essence? And is the Nine really asking you to make some kind of donation? It's hard to know if one should give a little, or a lot? Perhaps one should give all they can give. Perhaps this is a game or a ruse, and the only winning move is to not play at all.


 
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Last edited by Wynamoinen; 08-08-2019 at 11:00 AM.
  #14  
Old 08-08-2019, 11:02 AM
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OODM(small but critical GM edit one hour after posting. I was mistaken about Psyliana's HP. I thought she had 11HP in elf form, and so it was impossible for the slime to drop her. But in fact she had 10, and the dice gods were cruel. She is again unconscious, which the original version of my post did not reflect. Apologies if you saw the first version before I was able to edit.

For now, I will leave the mentions of Psyliana in the 'sub-Labyrinth' section, but that is of course contingent on Berthe and Eugene's actions)
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Last edited by Wynamoinen; 08-08-2019 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:19 AM
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Failing forwardThe same things that led to Berthe’s second fall -- her overactive imagination, the spider-elf’s shadow-shell -- are the same things that allow her to recover. The fantasist wishes it, imagines it, just so, and the shadows -- the boundary where light and dark mix, where nothing is fixed in black and white but all is grey and mutable -- the shadows allow her passage.

One moment Berthe is lying in a pool of acid, the next she’s standing at the light at the edge of the corridor, biting her lip in pain, but Psyliana, changed back to her frail elven form, had the worst of it.

"That was my last potion, and I did say I’d stay out of her way this time -- have you anything for the jerkface elf, boy?" A slight twinge of guilt would have shown on her face, had she not been invisible -- She did have the "drink me" potion. it's probably not a healing potion, but this was mere cover for the dread off her stash being depleted, of not knowing where her next hit was coming from. The potion probably wasn't 'roids, either, but surely it would make her feel something.

She hovers near Psyliana, watching Eugene, ready to implement her rudimentary field-medicine skills should magic healing not be forthcoming.


Using the useless skillBerthe races as quickly as she can through the winding passageways, anxious to get more use of her invisibility. But the dwarven craftsmanship catches her attention, she can’t help but marvel and feel proud of her race, and she’s physically back at school. Warm day, stuffy room, teacher droning on and on and interminably on about finding and using the natural fissures in the rock. It’s...rocks. I’m going to be a burglar, like Bulby, what did I need to know about rocks for? I’ll be fighting dragons and… and of course young Berthe is off to a daydream.

Except present day Berthe, while actually adventuring like Bulby did, is dreaming about being back in the classroom, racking her brains to remember anything the teacher said about the different styles of work, what they meant, stonecunningany information about this place that might aid her.

It's the circle of life, or somesuch.


The dramatic monologueThe handleless door immediately catches Berthe’s professional interest "Oooh, where’s the hidden lever?!" and the pedestal makes clear they’ve left the Dwarven built portion of the caves -- she has to fly up a few feet off the ground with her boots to read the inscription. "Your strength alone will now allow you to pass. The door just forces open? That’s a letdown; been a while since I’ve worked an intricate lock...Musta been ‘not’, instead of ‘now’ -- magical translation is always a bit unreliable, Pykupstyx couldn’t shut up about it. We’ve all gotta ‘share our very essence’ -- is this like truth or dare?"

Except Berthe’s read enough books; she knows it’s something a bit more…mystical? Touchy-feely? The Halfling chapter, Riddles in the Dark -- is it a riddle? What is Berthe’s essence? She wants to be the World’s Greatest Treasure Hunter (but Dwarfy); but she’s over a hundred and only been adventuring a year -- hardly her ‘essence’. Similarly, her other obsessions -- her family, her brewery, the potions for her pecs -- these occupy a lot of her thoughts, but are all new things, for various values of “new”. What’s been with her longer, more centrally?

It's not in the book. It is the book.

After this flash of insight, she pulls out her battered copy of The Halfling, a fresh acid burn on the cover, and balances it carefully atop the orb, then places her hands on the indentations on either side, floating a foot off the ground all the while, so as not to look ridiculous with her hands up at head level. The rest of the answer comes to her tongue before her brain, she speaks loud, sometimes fluidly, sometimes haltingly, discovering it as she says it. She’s not sure why she’s doing this, why she’s giving a speech, but that’s how it would go in the books she's read. So that's what she does.

"My essence is this book. My essence is ... my imagination, my dreams and day-dreams, flights of fancy. But more than that … it’s, it’s - my refusal to let my fantasies be fantasies, my drive to make my dreams reality? I … I wouldn’t be here, nearly one of The Nine, if I wasn’t dreaming about it as a kid, reading this book over and over, and wondering why the dwarves needed a halfling, why I couldn’t be a burglar like Bulby. But thousands of people have read it, imagined themselves there for the battles, the songs, the travels, the meals, the adventure. But for me … it wasn’t enough to imagine it. I had to live it."

"I … I was orphaned early, had no role models, no picture of what a successful, happy life was. The fact that I have a successful career as a brewer and a stable family is just as much a product of my imagination, of dreaming up a better life than what was around me, and making it so. It’s how I teleported out of the acid, it’s how I, how I…" (If any withholds, all will fail. C’mon, out with it, Berthe) "...how I got hooked on Potions of Giant Strength." Her invisibility no longer hides her guilt and shame, her scarlet-red flush proclaims it for all to see. "My essence is wanting to live in my fantasies, instead of this fallen, broken world."

A few seconds of awkward silence after her feet clicking together a foot off the floor. "I … there’s got to be a bit more to this than show and tell. Not sure exactly how this works, who I’m talking to, but -- this book? You can have it. My...my imagination" Berthe bites her lip a moment, tears up slightly at the enormity of what she’s saying. "It’s yours. I...I give it up. Mmma-maybe it’s just in the way now, maybe I’m better off without it. I mean, Psyliana -- you nearly died twice here. I’m more beat up myself than I’ve ever been. But...I can’t die. I promised them, promised Magnus and Freya, that I’d come home.

B--but it’s not just death that’s threatening to keep me away from them. How can I be happy there, with them, truly happy, when I’m always dreaming of making it more? They’re so great, *so* great -- my darling, my dearest -- b...but they’re not enough for me. They should be enough. They deserve to be enough. But...they’re not. They’re just not. And...and if you take away my essence...maybe they’d finally be enough. I could drop this whole stupid ridiculous adventuring lark, go home to me family, my job, a-and be….happy?

So... that’s my essence. I shared it. Take it."


As she removes her hands there’s tears on her cheek, snot in her nose, doubt in her voice. She meant it, meant it all, but still -- wouldn’t it be boring, not to have her imagination? What empty shell of a person do you have to be to be satisfied with the world?

When she speaks again, her voice is smaller, timid, her eyes down toward the floor. "There. I didn’t hold back. I gave everything. I...I don’t know how we make the whole bigger than the parts, but -- elf, we saved you, the boy and I. And I believe you. You would have saved me, too, given the chance. And...I'm sorry. I should have made you both invisible, too. There was enough dust. We're...more than our parts?

It's your turn now. Don’t you hold back. What's your story, then?"


 


 

Last edited by oztk; 08-09-2019 at 12:37 AM.
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