The Shard of Astaroth V

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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Ian » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:42 pm

Asca: Air circulation is governed through the central unit in Section R on Grey Level, with auxiliary access available at Grey Level Section J. Guest Rhyl Illaer's reactivation of the console in Section J was sufficient to restore air circulation throughout all unsealed areas in this facility.

Currently, physical isolation of Blue Level, Green Level, and Black Level is preventing air circulation to those locations, rendering air quality there hazardous to Toril-native biologics. Restoration of direct connectivity to those areas would likewise restore air circulation to them. Physical isolation of those Levels was enacted as per Directives 2202-2204 and 2207-2209. Administrator passcode authorization required for override.

Engaging contextual analysis of the Internal Defense Grid - Incident/Event Log.
Areas where full defense protocols are engaged have proven sufficient to deter access to the non-living entities inhabiting this facility, and have effectively hindered their movement. However, I cannot engage these protocols for additional sections or levels, as logical conflicts are detected with Directives 2217-2229, 2243, 2248, and 2271. Administrator passcode authorization required for override.

The answer to your question, based on available data and the above analysis, is 'No.'
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Ian » Fri May 04, 2012 2:54 pm

With the opportunity for rest having presented itself, the party elected to try and take as much advantage as it could. Berenind and Fios planned to sleep for two full nights (or "nights," since they still don't know what time it actually is) in the front chamber--after the first night, Berenind would use the party's supply of diamonds to revive Devdan, and then anoint the entire party with the longest-lasting of his deity's blessings before resting again to prepare a full complement of the party's best anti-spectral magics.

The first night was quiet, at least, and Berenind began to prepare the resurrection ceremony for Devdan as Fios asked new questions of the strange voice calling itself Asca.

Fios and Asca wrote:Fios: "You have stated that you have not been able to destroy, hinder, or seal the intruder away. Would you give me a listing please of that which has been attempted to do so?"

Asca: Engaging contextual analysis of the Internal Defense Grid - Incident/Event Log.
...Analysis complete.

Log entry 300738 - IDG engaged unknown xenobiologic entity on Red Level, Section M, utilizing mobile defense turrets. Sensors were unable to determine if damage was dealt to intruder. Mobile turrets were eliminated +12.4 seconds after first contact.
Log entry 300739 - Sensor malfunctions detected in Red Level, Section M.
Log entry 300740 - Sensor malfunctions detected in Red Level, Section L. Contextual analysis determined intruder had moved. Attempted to seal bulkheads in that section to block the intruder.
Log entry 300741 - Sensor malfunctions detected in Red Level, Section G. Contextual analysis determined bulkhead seal was compromised, though diagnostic showed seal integrity was at 100%. Attempted to seal bulkheads in Section G using energized force shield.
Log entry 300742 - Force shield in section G compromised, +6.1 seconds after seals were engaged.
Log entry 300743 - Sensor malfunctions detected in Red Level, Section F. Multiple non-living entities detected in Section F, along with multiple high-energy discharges. Deployed additional mobile defense turrets.
Log entry 300744 - Contact engaged. Deployed energized force shields and physical door seals to seal bulkheads. IDG engaged light pattern O4 in Section F.
Log entry 300745 - Mobile turrets eliminated 78.5 seconds after first contact. Sensor malfunctions detected in Red Level, Section H. IDG overridden at this point, as logical contact analysis determined the intruder could not be hindered by available means. IDG entered Surveillance Mode. End of Log.

Fios: Confirm please, the air circulation was [not?] working in those locations in Red Level but is now working there?

Asca: Air circulation was not present on Red Level at the time of intrusion. It is functioning there at present.

As this conversation progressed, Berenind laid out the diamonds as provided by Fios, spreading them in a circle with two inlaid ellipses off-set from the center, and sprinkling holy water around the entire arrangement. Standing over the circle, and hoping that Devdan's soul was in a condition to respond, he called out to Sehanine Moonbow, beseeching her to light the way for the return of Devdan's soul and to provide it a new body to inhabit--perhaps the most powerful favor her servant could ever request.

And his request was granted; as he finished the droning incantation, the diamond circle flared to life with brilliant silver fire! Generating no heat, the fire swirled, and the diamonds of the circle began to crumble. The remaining motes of ash floated on the smoke into the circle, beginning to coalesce into a shimmering new form. As the form took a humanoid shape, a cool fresh breeze filled the room, and the remaining flames swarmed over the body before slowly dying, infusing it with new life.

There was a moment of silence, and then Devdan Timolan took the first breath of his second life...right before using it to crack the first sarcastic joke of his second life.

No time was wasted. Fios began filling Devdan in on what had happened since his death, but Devdan revealed that his soul had not actually gone anywhere; he had been watching the entire time, his spirit unable to go anywhere. He likewise revealed two key facts that only the dead would have seen:

- The facility the party is now in, from the view of a ghost outside the place, is a great shimmering tower nearly a mile high. This means that the facility somehow exists in full on multiple planes at once, and is apparently designed to prevent departure by any means--even death!

- Upon entering the facility proper, Devdan had noticed two distinct types of spectres. These types were differentiated not by type or powers: the first type looked totally dead to their surroundings, glassy-eyed and dazed of countenance, their appearance drawn and ragged as if their minds were destroyed by trauma and age, their features almost generic. The second, meanwhile, were much more energetic--their physical condition was better, and their minds looked sharp as they keenly observed the party's progress (albeit from Beyond the Shroud, without manifesting). It was one of this latter sort that had confronted the party earlier.

Unfortunately, Devdan had been unable to determine for what purpose the party was being observed. And the party did not have much time to ruminate on the implications just yet--for not long after Devdan had been revived, Asca engaged the energy shields around the party's room, revealing that several of the facility's resident spectres were en route!

While the party prepared and Asca held off the ghosts, Berenind attempted to engage them in a dialogue. It soon became apparent that the cleric's massive conjuration of divine energy had attracted their attention, and his revival of Devdan had left them convinced that Berenind could do the same for them! When Berenind revealed that he could not, that they had almost certainly been dead for far too long for his magic to succeed--not to mention he had no more supplies with which to do so--they pleaded with him to instead open the gates and allow them to leave the facility.

Berenind was actually willing to agree to this, but when he asked Asca to open the doors, she refused! Asca revealed that allowing any of the now-dead residents to leave was in violation of her directives, and that only an administrator's passcode would override this prohibition. When asked which directives this would violate, she responded:

Asca wrote:Directive 2200: Engage full-spectrum energy seal around Sarnath facility. Do not allow energy-based egress of any entities from the structure that are not At'ar of Endymion or recognized guests. Passcode override required. Timestamp 474516.153.

Directive 2201: Engage all physical seals on exterior of Sarnath facility. Do not allow physical egress of any entities from the structure that are not At'ar of Endymion or recognized guests. Passcode override required. Timestamp 474516.154.

In response to "Why was egress prohibited?" Contextual analysis suggests that At'ar believed none of the inhabitants of this facility at the time of its sealing should be allowed to depart. Further analysis requires access to files currently affected by previously-mentioned data corruption.

The party tried to get more information from the ghosts themselves, but the ages had already done no favors for their reason or sanity, and having freedom so tantalizingly dangled before their grasp only to run into a roadblock of words seemed to push the spectres over the edge into mindless rage. The party sensed combat was now inevitable, and told Asca to drop the shield.

Thankfully for the party, in the relatively open space of the corridor, the spectral mages were substantially easier to deal with than in the tight quarters of the air circulation control room. Even backed up as they were with a frightening pair of spectral warriors the party dubbed 'terror wraiths,' their insanity dulled their effectiveness, and the well-buffed party managed to dispatch the creatures in short order, not only sending them to flight but also apparently convincing the other spectres in the area to back off.

Even in the short combat, though, Val was nearly killed, and the party got an unwelcome surprise in that the cruel, miasmic energy of the ancient spell vajra blades could not be healed by Berenind without first consecrating the area! This will pose a serious danger if any more of the creatures in this place control such wicked power...

[And that was the end of Part 24! Part 25 and onward to be added later...]
"Nothing will ever change. That cycle of mediocrity isn't due to some obstacle. It's who you are. The thing standing in the way of your dreams is that the person having them is you."
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Ian » Sat May 26, 2012 10:45 am

[Let's fast-forward a bit, setting the stage for tonight.]

The bizarre valve of veiny metal slid open softly, the sound of skin sliding over skin, as Fios moved through it.

Beyond, the room was disorienting beyond measure: circular in shape, seventy feet or so in diameter, Fios had apparently entered from the southeast corner. The curved walls were made of the same material as the rest of the facility, purplish-black metal almost biological in appearance, twenty feet high, with some sort of stiff ribbing every couple feet or so running from floor to ceiling, giving the room a fluted or rifled appearance. Between each rib were what could only be called orifices of varying sizes; a few of the smaller ones had tentacle-like protrusions emerging from them, semi-segmented lengths of nightmarish metal and tissue topped with a round, fibrous bundle of muscle surrounding a chrome eyeball. The larger orifices were fewer in number, and all were closed.

The space within smelled strongly of steel, with faint traces of ozone and rancid machine oil. The hard metal odor, the unyielding firmness of the walls beneath your touch, and the occasional scraping and grinding of metal chains and gears within the walls all belied the room's organic appearance.

That floor and ceiling, meanwhile, looked to be non-existent. Rather, instead of a solid platform, there was naught but night sky in all directions, as if the walls of this room were but the interior of a ring flying through space, or the room a keyhole looking upon it in all directions, stars and nebulae swirling about in a display of comic grandeur that lit the room with a rainbow-like sheen. It was unclear, though, if this was merely some projection, a sort of three-dimensional map projected onto solid surfaces, or rather an actual portal that some unfortunate could venture through if they moved out onto the floor or through the ceiling.

The only solid-looking structure in the room, aside from the walls, was in the very middle: A circular pedestal or chair of the same strange amethyst metal sits there, ten feet in diameter, apparently descending infinitely into space "below" the floor. From above the pedestal, more snake-like tubing and wiring extended infinitely from the space above the room, coming to an end about five feet above the pedestal.

On the west end of the room, a raised platform overlooking the rest of the room thrust out from the wall. Some sort of raised console is situated in the front of it, pulsing heavily as if made of thick, wrinkly purple-grey tissue.

The room itself was so bizarre that at first Fios nearly missed the creature milling about atop the platform. But then it rose, and its very form insisted that it be noticed.

A heavy, greasy black cloud hovered there. It was lit from within by two glowing emerald eyes, each the size of a man's head. Within the cloud lurked a vague but more solid form, approximating the appearance of a nude, scaled male humanoid with a flat, adder-like head, long, tangled hair, the massive lights roughly where one might expect to see its eyes.

Rather than legs, the creature sported a thick, segmented tail as thick as a man is broad and longer than he is tall, tipped with a barbed spike and twitching with menace as the creature hovered in mid-air. In one of the figure's hands, it wielded an ominous-looking scimitar, arcing with green lightning and nearly twitching with pure menace.

The figure itself looked to be manipulating something with its free hand behind the console at which it stood, though the console itself blocked the party's view of what it was doing.

Fios looked over his shoulder at his companions, and at whisper level spoke, "Yeah...I am calling it Roger. Nobody named Roger could possibly be dangerous."

Without a word of response, Devdan slipped past Fios, drawing the darkness around him like a cloak as he moved, hoping to avoid the creature's attentions. Berenind gaped around the corner for a moment, an eyebrow raised as he recognized the creature. Do gods have ghosts? How else is he here, now? And why?

As Fios stalked into the room a bit, the figure at the console looked up--directly at him, the eyes of emerald light transfixing the arcanist directly. Even as it continued working with its free hand, it spoke, its voice a discordant chorus of thousands, each speaking with pure ancient power.

You will not interfere, mortal creature.

“Already have, obviously,” Fios said, hoping his bravado wasn't too much a lie.
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Ian » Sun May 27, 2012 4:40 pm

The fate of the party yet hangs in the balance.

So far, even as the ghost of a god, with his power a shadow of its previously full divine splendor, Iyachtu Xvim has proven a match for the assembled might of some of Waterdeep's greatest adventurers. He quests for vengeance against the father who saw him only as a tool to be discarded, turning some of his father's own (strangely fragmented) memories against him by plundering legacies of power from the earliest days of Bane's existence. This quest has given him both fury and power, and the party has yet to find a way to match either.

Bolts of lightning laced with pure evil and divine power have scoured the party's reserves, and Xvim has proven capable of tossing an entire party's worth of spell's simultaneously, while what little damage the heroes have managed to inflict against the son of Bane has been easily healed.

The party has successfully ended, at least for now, Xvim's attempt to gain control of Asca, the sentient artificial intelligence running the facility. With the god-shade distracted, Asca now declares that her "ICE systems" have terminated the unmonitored connection, meaning Xvim will have to start his work all over again.

But doing so has proven costly: Devdan's mind has been enslaved, Xvim pitting him now against Berenind, while Rhyl has vanished, last seen being drawn into a gravitic void conjured by the quasi-deity via a spell unknown to even Fios. The void itself persists, its gravity well gradually drawing more momentum as Fios and Avarisa struggle to avoid being drawn in just as the half-drow was. And Berenind's effective magic is running low, while Val has been totally unable to penetrate the deity's resistances so far...

The party is learning that gods, even the ghosts of quasi-gods, swim in depths of power nearly unheralded by mortal men. Can they survive the last throes of Iyachtu Xvim's might, and banish his presence from Toril?
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Ian » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:43 am

Iyachtu Xvim is dead.

The Godson, the progeny of Bane, will never again darken the lands of Toril, instead now residing in whatever realm of oblivion awaits the truly dead of the divine. His vengeance is thwarted, his last feeble shreds of divine essence annihilated forever.

The party is exhausted. Battered, bleeding, broken...but alive. By the gods, they've never been so alive.

What Xvim was doing in this place, only he--and perhaps the artificial intelligence Asca--knew. How they survived, only Berenind, his goddess, and one other truly know...though Rhyl and his blade seem to have a distinct feeling about things, and Asca has noticed a discrepancy in her logs. But those are questions and discussions for another time.

Iyachtu Xvim is dead, and whatever else happens next, this promises to be a better day for it.
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Ian » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:52 am

Perhaps still shell-shocked after their battle with Xvim, the party slept for two days, spoke with Asca a bit, dithered about which way to go, then went down an elevator and left the facility called Sarnath.

The bards will struggle mightily, I am sure, to constrain themselves in singing the epic happenings of Chapter 31.
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Ian » Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:44 pm

As they emerged from Sarnath once more, Devdan and Rhyl immediately noticed that they were not alone--something was lurking in the darkness ahead, as if tasked to watch the doors to the facility in case anyone came out! Whatever it was had already retreated by the time the party moved forward to investigate, but its method of egress was indicative of its origins, the fifteen-foot area of pulverized rock in the floor identical to those left behind by the passage of the thaalud.

The party decided to head the opposite direction, hoping to avoid further encounters with the thaalud before they could locate and finish off their quarry, as the magical interference the party encountered previously began to fade and Berenind refocused his mind on a new find the path spell. Their hopes were soon dashed, however, as their alternate path carried the party right into a thaalud trap: a wall of stone through the tunnel on either side of the party, trapping them where they were, followed by an ominous rumbling in the ceiling above that soon resulted in a widening crack that began to flood the tunnel!

To make matters worse, even as the party tried to compose themselves and deal with the situation, a great, writhing tentacle dipped down through the crack, lashing about blindly for something to smash and devour. Val finally gathered enough sense to break out transmute stone to sand on the path behind, bringing down the rear wall and keeping the party from being drowned long enough for Fios to disintegrate the barrier in front. Rhyl fended off the tentacle with his sword and blasts of rainbow force long enough for the rest of the party to escape, and both of the thaalud who sprung the trap apparently fled. Val himself was badly rattled by a single glance at one of the creature's eyes through the crack in the ceiling, later describing it only as a ball of gleaming soulfire not of this world, old and alien in the extreme.

As a deathtrap it had failed, but the party was unnerved, and had wasted valuable resources...resources they would soon need, as they ascended and the smell of machine oil and brimstone wafted in. Before they could spend more than a few moments preparing themselves, the group found itself in the mouth of a great chamber made of the same strange purple stone, laced with sparkling violet crystals, that had dominated both this cave system and the decorative pieces in the city-section of Sarnath. With a grate-covered hole in the center of the large, irregular room's floor, surrounded here and there with stalagmites and pillars, and an amethyst-studded throne carved from the purple-black metal used to craft the Spire in Sarnath's Central Plaza, it was hard to tell what the room was used for--but that question was moot in the face of the creatures that confronted the party there...

Eh, crap. wrote:To the east, within reach of the entrance, stands another of the bizarre thaalud, this one wearing several metal items--including some magical gear. The great stony maw in its midsection slavers eagerly, wet prehensile grey tongue lashing against rows of obsidian teeth, in startling contrast to its mirror-like and utterly featureless face, glistening with light reflected from its magical necklace. It hefts a fifteen-foot warhammer in one hand, covered in a steaming rime of hoarfrost.

In the northwest corner, against a pair of large pillars, stand a pair of human women, nearly identical twins in perhaps their mid-twenties. Both are tall and lanky, with pallid complexions and wide green eyes shot through with blazing crimson. One has long, straight copper hair, wearing a cloak of purple velvet and wielding a crystalline court-blade. The other has long, curly black hair and a cloak of blue velvet, as well as a pair of short metal rods that flare with runes of ruby hellfire.

Atop the northern throne sits, strangely enough, a scaled-up version of Number Eight with but a few striking differences. Fifteen feet in height, its broad legs, spherical body, and shield-like arms are all covered in a thick layer of some green-gold metal, and its eyes gleam red beneath the integrated visor in the upper half of the torso. One spiked shoulder pauldron bears a glyph in Seldruin (translated by Fios as "M3/31"...funny considering there were supposedly only thirty of the Model 3s made), and the rest of its metal body is inscribed with fine, intricate symbols that crackle and gleam with barely-restrained eldritch power.

But for at least a couple in the party, your attention is captured by the skulking, leering figure to the northeast. The reeking form of the beast Galamoth's is massive, over nine feet in height, but his figure is twisted and slightly stooped. His badly scarred skin has paled to a sickly grey and shriveled tightly against his bones, giving him a skeletal appearance only partially concealed by its mithral hauberk. His eyes are now simply bright red motes of hellfire in pools of black. His limbs are painfully long and multi-jointed, his fingers bearing wickedly barbed talons, and an extra pair of longer, more powerful arms has been grafted to his frame (with which he wields a twenty-foot glaive), as well as an even newer pair of dragon-like wings, curling about his body and covered with scales of gleaming black-orange like molten rock; the scars at the base of the added limbs are rough and raw, and both scars and wings themselves weep black ichor.

Perhaps perceiving himself in a favorable position, Galamoth was more than willing to banter with the party before throwing down with them. His phlegmy, raspy voice tinged with equal parts feral loathing and desire, the fiend basked in the surprise of Fios and Rhyl, who had last seen him as a barbazu war-chief--not the four-armed half-dragon bone fiend champion he was now.

Ignoring Devdan's threats with a patronizing, "Hush, child, the grown-ups are talking," Galamoth revealed that he was actually here on dual purpose. Rhyl, Fios (still sneeringly called Grunt Ka Thunk by the fiend), and Charissa had interfered in his plans and rendered him a pariah not once but twice, inspiring his murder of Charissa and his attempt now to lure the party to its doom. But the half-dragon fiend now also served a creature that loathes not the party but the mage Astaroth, and seeks the destruction of Astaroth's spirit from within Rhyl's sword: the Azhi Dahaka! Fios scoffed: the Azhi Dahaka, king of the hellwyrms and favored of Tiamat, had disappeared into the so-called 'Land of Mists' about 700 years ago, he claimed. Galamoth countered that the Dahaka had escaped that place, and if Galamoth could return to him the creature that sent him there (the identity of which was a new factoid in its own right), he would be allowed to join the ranks of the Dahaka's champions.

Even as the fiend and the party spoke, Devdan realized there was another shoe yet to drop--which did so as Galamoth called to the giant gold-black robot: "Number Thirty-One. The sword the half-drow carries is the key to your Great Mother. It is yours, as per our arrangement." Rhyl tried to distract the robot by questioning the validity of that arrangement, since the Dahaka wanted the sword as well, to which Galamoth replied, "It need be used only once as a key. Once the door is unlocked, the Dorian no longer has need of it."

The rest of the party was not standing idly by. Berenind and Devdan had spent the discussion examining the human twins off to their left, noticing that they appeared to be under some sort of external influence; running with a theory, Berenind moved towards the girls, and tricked Galamoth into revealing their identities when the fiend ordered them to stop his advance. Upon discovering that the girls were Erzebet and Elspeth Palfrey, twin daughters of a Silvaeren Harper disappeared during Galamoth's rampage through the Harpers' ranks two years ago, Berenind embraced them within a circle of magical protection, cutting off the outside compulsion enslaving them and rendering them catatonic!

Enraged, Galamoth ordered his allies to advance--he sent Number 31 to get Berenind away from the girls, while he and the Thaalud moved in to take Rhyl's sword. The party quickly discovered that Galamoth was a formidable foe: scuttling with blazing speed on his multiple limbs like some freakish insect, the dragon-fiend breathed gouts of wicked hellfire and swung his glaive with inhuman precision, laying into the party with gusto. Devdan moved to help Berenind by slashing like a dervish at Number 31, but his blades were incapable of penetrating the weird adamant shell of the robot, eliciting a pride-wounding declaration from it: "Threat Diagnostic: Low. Proceeding To Primary Target."

Fios tried to free up Berenind from baby-sitting the twins by calling upon the powers of a limited wish to permanently break the enchantment over them--a task at which he was only half successful, the domination effect burning away from the girl Elspeth with an anguished scream from the girl. Horrified, the apparent warlock whipped away the rods of hellfire she had wielded as if they were venomous snakes, and as Berenind bestowed a protection from evil upon her twin to at least maintain her catatonic state, Elspeth cradled her sister and moved them both out of the fight.

Val, Avarisa, and Rhyl all flung themselves at the Thaalud, figuring it to be the weak link in their foes' alliance. Number Eight began emitting a strange, warbling series of oscillating tones like some sort of hyper-speed language, apparently trying to either communicate with or seize control of Number 31. It didn't do much to start with, as Number 31 grabbed Berenind and began flinging him around like a boneless rag-doll. Astaroth and Rhyl tried to give the cleric some insight, noting that 31 would be immune to magic and recommending a bludgeon, but Berenind was hard-pressed to even survive in the face of a creature that seemed designed for nothing but war. The enchantment Berenind had laid, absorbing a portion of the punishment inflicted upon Rhyl, did himself no favors as Galamoth did his best to dismember the half-drow.

In moments, Berenind fell, his skull shattered and smeared across Number 31's massive fists. A blessing from his goddess revived him instantly, but only to suffer even more punishment at the robot's hands. Rhyl tried to hide from Galamoth by putting the weaker Thaalud between him and the devil, but Galamoth would have none of that--with a leap and an acrobatic fluorish, the dragon-fiend perched himself atop his ally's shoulders, his raspy tone jauntily asking "Mind if I cut in here, friend?" before pinwheeling his twenty-foot glaive to nearly decapitate Rhyl!

The thaalud wobbled under Galamoth's weight, the devil apparently too clever by half (or just too obsessed with slaying those who had wronged him), but it managed with one wild swing to fracture Avarisa's wrist. It was off-balance, however, which gave Devdan all the opening he needed, and with a frenzy of slashes he shredded the Thaalud, planting one of his blades literally down the creature's throat! It collapsed in a pool of its own oily, blue-black "blood," nearly taking Galamoth with it before the fiend carried himself back aloft with his wings with a startled "Whoop! That was almost a bad idea, eh?"

Fios took advantage of Galamoth's distraction to rip the bastard's jaw clean off with an orb of force, and Avarisa attempted to compound its injuries by bounding off the nearest wall to slash at the fiend in midair...but with her fractured wrist, all her blade managed was to dispel the weakening curse Fios had laid on Galamoth earlier.

Narsingel finally stepped in then, taking offensive action for the first time on this entire trip by tossing something or other at the fiend, who nearly found himself trapped within a prison of diamond and magic! Number Eight continued his focus on his robotic counterpart, apparently breaking into 31's system and shutting down components a few at a time...but he didn't seem to be going fast enough, as Berenind nearly had his spine shattered, and as Val tried to split 31's attention by collapsing the floor beneath it, it evaded the trap by activating some sort of rockets in its legs and responded with a Word of Power that froze the tiefling into a statue of stone!

Rhyl tried to save his friends by distracting the robot again, hoping perhaps to communicate with it. "What do you want this sword as a key for? What are you unlocking? You only need it once, right?"

The robot paused, apparently receptive to dialogue for at least a moment. "I will unlock the gate that lies beyond this room, beyond which the Great Mother lies, and there I will be reunited once more with my Creator."

"What is the Great Mother?" Speaking rapidly, Rhyl's eyes moved back to Galamoth, even as a sound of surprise came from Number Eight. "You don't need him for that.. do you?"

"Galamoth approached us with open arms. Galamoth told us how to find the key. Galamoth paid tribute to the others. So far he's done more for us than you have," the robot replied, and while the exasperated Rhyl tried to barter further, he was suddenly pressed and distracted by the fiend himself. Fighting back with another orb of force, he wounded Galamoth again, causing the creature to stagger back as it dribbled acrid, smoking black blood. Then Galamoth...giggled, his rage and pain blending into hysteria as he enacted a terrible ritual:

Galamoth was up to no good. wrote:Galamoth tittered and pulled forth from his baldric a large, violet gemstone. He conjured forth his will, and with a trail of vapor, some sort of essence flew out from it into Galamoth's form...shrieking the piteous wail of the forever-damned the entire way! As the essence sailed forth, the gemstone darkened and crumbled into ash, but the wounds Galamoth had suffered began to heal, his jaw reconstructing itself instantly and his body knitting shut and whole once more. Galamoth gave a little shudder of rapturous, almost orgasmic pleasure, and grinned with a wicked smile before shifting beyond the sight of everyone that can't see invisible people.

As he shifted out of the visible spectrum and sailed off in another direction, he cackles. "Alas, that you couldn't *quite* kill me--and in your failure, you doomed some poor soul to eternal oblivion. I hope you feel good about yourselves. I am not even sure who that was--it might have been the twins' father, or Charissa's friend...or hell, perhaps it was Charissa herself. I guess we will never know."

Enraged by the devil's mockery, Fios wreathed it in a revealing haze of glitterdust, and as Fios tossed Devdan the shaman's brand, both the now-flying snow elf and the wall-springing Avarisa launched themselves in his direction, while Narsingel continued trying to imprison him in one of his strange crystalline shells. The attack went badly, however, as neither warrior could seem to find purchase through the devil's armor and scale-hardened flesh, and Galamoth impaled Devdan gruesomely on his spear, then tried to tear the elf apart with claws and poisoned tail-sting.

Meanwhile Number 31 slumped suddenly, as Eight apparently found one of the subsystems controlling its gyro, but not enough to keep the larger robot from nearly tearing Berenind in half, then activating a flamethrower to immolate the elf! Fios tried to take a page from Narsingel's book and conjured a forcecage around 31, but the robot not only proved capable of shattering the cage with a single punch, he then grabbed Fios by the throat and pinned him to the earth, trying his damnedest to rip the solar-form Fios's head clean off his body.

Things were looking grim, but while Berenind was on the very cusp of death, he had one last card to play, and used his final healing blessing to revitalize the entire party. His body renewed, Fios finally had enough control over his body to discorporate into wraith-form, escaping 31's grasp, while Devdan forcefully removed Galamoth's spear from his midsection, and suddenly the fiend was assaulted from all directions: more orbs of force from Fios and Rhyl shattered his wings and body, while the blades of Avarisa and Devdan tore him apart, the last thrust from Dev punching clean through the devilish skull!

Galamoth could not even vocalize his agony--his screams reduced to choking, gurgling noises as he aspirated his own blood, the fiend fumbled almost mindlessly for another of the gemstones in his pocket...which fumbled, fell, and shattered as Galamoth's form collapsed into a noxious, foul-smelling sludge that slammed to the cavern floor with a sickly glop. The sludge seeped into the floor, coalescing into a horrific Rorshach pattern that burned into a possibly permanent stain. At nearly the same moment, as 31 was apparently distracted by its ally's monstrous death, Number Eight accomplished his task--and the larger robot's golden eyes went dark, the metal body silent and slumped lifelessly.

~ * ~ * ~

The battle was won.

The party congratulated itself on a job well done--insofar as even surviving such a ferocious battle constituted a well-done task. Without the stress of an ongoing battle and a hundred broken bones or shattered organs, Berenind managed to restore Val from his stony prison, while Fios seized any left-behind treasures and broke the mental hold on the other Palfrey twin Erzebet.

Rhyl was cautious, as if waiting for Galamoth to reappear once more with a "Gotcha!" moment, but Narsingel confirmed that the devil was gone for good: on the Prime, he said, Galamoth's soul and body were one, and as the fiend was incapable of further existence on the Prime without a body, its soul would have dissipated and vanished.

The Palfrey twins were shaky, thankful to the party but disoriented from their ordeal, and clearly traumatized. As the party expressed relief for the death of Galamoth, the sword-wielding Erzebet muttered in a wet and bitter tone, "There is no relief here...He will come looking for us when Galamoth does not return. And likely you as well. Th--He...He hates the one called Astaroth with all His being. And He wants to return to the Prime, once and for all, as He nearly did once before."

Fios reiterated what was spoken earlier, explaining to the uninitiated that the Azhi Dahaka had been dispelled 700 years ago to the Land of Mists, but was sternly rebuked by a curt hiss from Erzebet before he could speak further. "Speak not His name! For He hears and sees all that do."

"I have spoken his name thrice today already," Fios said, to which Erzebet icily replied, "Then He has seen your face and heard your voice thrice, and will know them well when He sends the Manei Majin after them."

The introduction of a new name set the party off-balance, as Astaroth managed to translate it to a Netherese phrase, 'Hands of the Demon Lord.' Asked who they were, the warlock Elspeth spoke: "When He escaped from the Land of Mists, He was assisted by a group of six, without whom He would not have emerged, and with whom He came back to Toril. The six became His Champions, the new order of the Manei Majin to replace those lost during His previous defeat." Despite Dev's prodding, the sisters spoke no more of these creatures--Elspeth becoming quite upset, while Erzebet suggested they might be able to speak of the creatures later, but not now. Apparently the more resilient of the two, Elspeth urged her sister to "sack up," and as the party searched the area and debated their next move, she pointed them in the direction of the portal of which Number 31 had spoken, located behind the robot's great violet throne.

The portal was clearly of Elven make, crafted from obsidian-black metal laced with black crystal and set into a stepped pedestal of turquoise, inlaid with intricate glyphs in Seldruin and Aragrakh. It had apparently been dragged to its current location from elsewhere, and as Fios attempted to read the glyphs, he found a small arcane mark hidden in a crevice on its rear:

"Arfaern Daoine: Thimer Faer, Alet Aleyrid," Fios read, as an audibly shaken Astaroth translated, "Lord Starmage...on wings of magic, Love, come to me."

Rhyl moved Astaroth closer to the portal to see if the sword could notice any further details, but as he approached, the glyphs on the portal gleamed, reacting to the presence of the sword as if it were the portal's old master in the flesh. Energy arced within the portal's aperture, then coalesced into a shimmering event horizon that rippled like quicksilver, nothing visible beyond. Astaroth's lab was found!

"Is this likely work of your apprentice?" Fios asks of Astaroth, noting the arcane mark. "Lirinet's journal was an...interesting read."

"Doubtful," replied the sword, "'Aleyrid' is not the sort of endearment an apprentice uses for her master."

With naught but questions left, and with the only possible answers ahead of them, the heroes prepared themselves as best they could and stepped through the portal...

~ * ~ * ~

Astaroth's Lab wrote:As the party stepped through the portal, for once in the course of this bizarre undertaking they found themselves in a place of minimal strangeness.

Rhyl emerged into a roughly circular room of polished marble, navy blue with cloud-like streamers of white running through it. Looking up and down, he saw that it was effectively a shaft perhaps fifty feet in diameter, braced at regular intervals along the wall by broad vertical columns of the same marble, ornamented with some sort of green glass flecked with gold. The party stood on a broad landing area, wide enough for all of them to comfortably walk, while a lip of stone about five feet wide ran all the way around the wall. Between the lip and the open space in the middle of the room is a solid, waist-high wall of shimmering, rainbow-colored glass topped by a black glassy railing.

On the right and left sides of the shaft there were vaulted doors leading to stairways; the one on the left going down, to the right going up. The sound of gently burbling water came from above, along with the sight of reflected moonlight (or something about that color). From below rose the faint, musty odor of machine oil and various unguents of the sort one might find in an alchemist's lab.

All in all, the air was crisp and cool, and after over a week of being trapped underground in stale, thin, and just plain foul air, it was wonderful to stand for a quiet moment in a place as tranquil and clear as any forest on Toril.

Immediately seizing on the apparent sight of moonlight, Devdan and Val moved to go upstairs. Fios and Berenind realized that they stood within a pocket plane--not unlike their own "Cabin," albeit more advanced, as Fios made a note to build a permanent portal to their realm upon the party's return to Waterdeep.

Astaroth began to remember this place, and managed to confirm for the party that there were no traps to speak of, so the party proceeded upward. There, beneath a domed skylight of wrought iron, rainbow glass, and moon ivy, the party could see a clear night sky, illuminating a study with walls and ceiling of pure white marble, opulent furniture, rugs and drapery of blue with silver thread, and a fireplace that burst into rainbow fire as soon as Rhyl brought the sword into the room. Several small metal creatures suddenly entered the room, spherical and hovering through the air...but rather than bearing a threat, they brought the party food and drink, making the party welcome as they searched for clues and knowledge through the various writings left on what was apparently Astaroth's work-table.

Unfortunately, several minutes had passed since anything strange had happened, and that seemed too much for the narrative to take. As Fios scaled the stairs up to the study, he noticed that the Palankasha's blade Heliotrope, slung securely across his back, had begun to drip some sort of odd, green-clear oil smelling of flowers and mint. As he pulled the blade from its scabbard, the drip became a stream that ran back down the stairs behind him, pooling on the landing where the party had first entered, some dripping off the ledge down to the level below. Telling the party to keep searching the place, Fios watched the oil for a few minutes, then headed to the level below to see where the rest of the oil had landed--and to try and decipher what the deal was with it...

Upstairs, the famished party partook of some food, while Eight translated for the little mechanical droids--explaining that they spoke Mechanus, that they called the party "Friends of the Masters," and that they seemed eager to serve any more of the party's needs.

As they ate, the party searched the study, and Rhyl determined that everything on the table had been written by either Astaroth, his apprentice Lirinet Vacia, or a third person: Ephelia Cressida. He seemed to have one of those internal conversations with Astaroth for a moment, as they both realized that they had probably seen this 'Ephelia' before in their dreams.

Devdan found the door to a corridor connected to the rest of the building, and began searching the remaining rooms as well. Eventually, he found what looked to be the master bedroom and an attached walk-in closet the size of a normal room--where someone had apparently left in some haste, though not before leaving a note and a strange silver crown on the bed. As Rhyl and Astaroth were coming to their realization, Dev produced the note for them, which Rhyl translated from Seldruin to:

"I can wait here helpless no longer, and have gone to find you. I will start with the man who married us, so if you find this soon, come meet me there. -E"

So Ephelia Cressida is Astaroth's wife, the party collectively realized, and their attention turned to the crown. Berenind and Astaroth both recognized it as a Telkiira, a relic from the days of the Crown Wars linked to an elven house and filled with its ancestral memories and lore. With some bemusement at a brief thought of what the Eldreth Veluuthra would think to see him doing so, and a brief quip from Dev of, "Hail to the King," Rhyl donned the crown.

Rhyl stood entranced for several minutes, long enough for Berenind and Dev to search the rest of the bedroom and closet, and marvel at the wealth of magical items Astaroth had stored here as they gathered them up for later analysis. As Rhyl slowly came to, overwhelmed somewhat by the sheer volume of knowledge the Telkiira had imparted, Fios returned, having seen nothing more from the quickly dried-up oil, but having found a great deal of interest.

In the ensuing discussion, the party came to the conclusion that not only was Ephelia the wife of Astaroth, she was also the creator of the Dorian Guards, the "Great Mother" to which Number 31 had referred. Fios discovered that Ephelia had also apparently figured out how to replicate the metal used in the construction of Sarnath, which she called 'arcadamant.' Astaroth still did not remember how he had died, as the memories in the crown didn't include that, but he did remember far more of his previous life than he had before, and as he embraced those memories, both Rhyl and his blade seemed to subtly change, both mentally and physically. There was clearly a great deal to learn from this place, and the party decided that they should stay for some time to try and gain whatever knowledge they could.

And then there was a noise from the supposedly unoccupied downstairs.

~ * ~ * ~

A faint, rhythmic vibration had begun, as if something large had just kicked on from down below. Startled, the party tried to determine where it was coming from, but then Astaroth seemed to remember a "memory core."

"The research we did, the automated systems running Tal Tarmanel and the Dorians, were far too large and complex to write down. We...we'd have had to store them someplace else, in a medium we could access quickly," Astaroth seemed to be thinking aloud as the party headed downstairs to investigate. "Telepathic crystal, augmented by mechanized gear. Lots of energy required. That's probably it firing up. And it doesn't do that by itself."

Val and Devdan led the way, heading into the bowels of the lab and finding a labyrinthine arrangement of machines and equipment strewn across and throughout a massive corridor. Rhyl followed up close behind, and as they worked their way into the maze, they stopped, the elf and the half-elf hearing voices. Wanting to get the drop on the apparent intruder, the party drew swords, and Devdan flung himself around the next corner...

What the hell is that?! wrote:Dev rounded a corner as he pushed forward into an open space--and nearly ran full-tilt into something moving the opposite direction. He looked up, and were he not wearing an item to shield his mind from the effects of fear, his trousers might very well have been soiled.

Before him hovered a terrifying amalgamation of slithering, barely coherent protoplasm, slick, pulsing viscera of an unhealthy grey hue, metal plates, pistons, gears, and wires, all simultaneously Material and Ethereal, shifting erratically between forms as it twisted and writhed in apparent agony. The Thing hovered effortlessly through the air, surrounded by a hazy grey nimbus of energy, and amidst all the twitching plasma and metal, Dev could discern a single point of focus: a normal-sized steel face cast in the form of a beautiful elf. Its gaze was beatific, even peaceful, and yet all the more disturbing contrasted against the horror that was the rest of the Thing.

Even as he gaped up at the being before him, Devdan could see through the translucent protoplasm of the Thing that there were three more creatures just like it following behind, the four of them sandwiched two before and two aft of a fifth creature in the middle.

In the middle stood a tall, female elf, slim and lithe, with long, glossy black hair. Dressed in a modest black dress with a high collar and lace-cuffed sleeves, she also wore a flowing mantle and hood that glinted with the faint light of stars, set against a blackness darker than any moonless night or earthly abyss. Her hands shimmered with sapphire glyphs of terrible power. Her mask was a silver human skull, minus the jawbone--and beneath the mask appeared a perfect, ivory-skinned elven jaw with full, expressive lips tinged blue-purple. The eye sockets of the skull mask gleamed with golden light. She clasped her hands together enthusiastically, a simple staff of green metal with gleaming runes balanced in the crook of her elbow, and the mouth beneath the mask grinned, lips moist and glinting in the light as her teeth gleamed.

Devdan stood awe-struck, for once no wise-cracks or bravado coming to his lips as he realized his cutlasses would be of no use against anything before him.

The woman's voice, both dreamy and sultry, echoed thickly with untold power. "Oh, you saved me a trip. Good. That will make this easier." She paused. "First off, let it not be said that I come bearing only demands, and that I give not gifts in kind for boons rewarded. As soon as I emerge from this place, the Palankasha will die, and bother you no more. He has served his purpose, and his cowardice is now a liability too great to further bear. Given the escort you have given one of my lord's most reviled foes to his Final Death, I owe you a favor for your service. Upon the tiger-fiend's death, that boon will be repaid."

Her voices shifted then, taking on a harder tone. "That said, however, I am afraid I must now ask you to relinquish the phylactery in which my former master resides, and the crown the half-drow bears. Do this now and you will live."

"Who the hell are you?" Fios asked finally, himself momentarily taken aback, but Rhyl dropped in the two-word answer in a tone laced with dread. "It's Lirinet."

At that, Fios quickly moved to try and shift the party back out of this realm, but found that this place too was dimensionally locked! Rhyl, apparently in full agreement with the sword, simply said, "Let's go. Now."

"Fine, have it your way," Lirinet said with a sigh and a small shake of her head. "Styx Majoren, sieze the sword and the crown, kill all who resist."

Suddenly, Astaroth chanted throatily in Seldruin, and a wall of pure, golden-white light erupted between Lirinet and the party! The group fled as quickly as their feet could carry them, as a chrous of ear-splitting screams from the Things behind the wall rang out their hatred of the energy Astaroth had conjured. Even above that din, however, Lirinet's calm, steely voice carried unperturbed. "Go through it and follow them, or die by my hand."

Rhyl paused only long enough to call forth haste and carry the party forward even faster, while the others fled. Avarisa whirled and stood ready at the portal to cover their retreat if necessary, but Eight seemed to recognize how dumb that idea was, as he simply grabbed Avarisa on his way by and shoved her through the portal ahead of him. Fios dropped a small book from his pocket as he ran, and as Devdan brought up the rear-guard, one of the so-called "Styx Majors" dashed forward in chase, twenty-foot tentacles of crackling, slimy, shadowy slime snapping like lightning-wreathed whips as it flew.

Devdan dove through the portal in the nick of time, and as the Major pursued, Rhyl bolted away from the portal, depriving it of the presence of Astaroth to keep it open. The event horizon snapped shut, and a massive chunk of the beast from throat to hip fell forward, writhing and shrieking shrilly as half of it was suddenly separated from the other by untold planar barriers of existence. For a full minute it screamed and writhed, its piercing, somewhat mechanical tone echoing through the chamber before the lights in its eyes faded out and its form collapsed--the still-twitching plasm sizzling and evaporating into black sludge, the metal pieces igniting in purple flame (not unlike the mohrg priests below Xapur!) before melting into pitted slag.

All was quiet once more. The party moved quickly to leave this place as far behind as they could--Number Eight reactivated 31 in a 'puppet' mode to bring it back to the surface with the others, Val used a disintegrate to blast the portal to great smoking pieces in case Lirinet figured out how to activate it herself, and Astaroth used his new-found memories to lead the party back to the surface via a much easier path than that they had taken down here.

It was only en route back to the surface that Number Eight mentioned an error in his chronometer, and the party realized that some level of time distortion had happened while they were on the other side of the Portal...
"Nothing will ever change. That cycle of mediocrity isn't due to some obstacle. It's who you are. The thing standing in the way of your dreams is that the person having them is you."
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Ian » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:00 pm

Once the entire group has some time to sit down and relax, Fios takes the opportunity to assemble all of the items the party had gathered over the course of the adventure into one big pile, and begin identifying them all. Some, such as the potions and scrolls, are quite simple, and he can do those at a glace, falling back on his alchemical knowledge and his ability to read the language of magic.

Alchemicals, Potions, and Scrolls wrote:Alchemicals, Potions, and Scrolls

Alchemicals: Alchemical Bomb x10, Alchemical Sleep Gas x5, Quicksilver Unguent x10 (see below), Smoke Bomb x10, Stink Bomb x8, Tanglefoot Bag x5, Tindertwig x60.
Potions: cure serious wounds (CL 5), fox's cunning (CL 3), frost sword (CL 3; as burning sword for cold damage), haste (CL 5), mage armor (CL 1), resist fire 30 (CL 11).
Scrolls: glibness (CL 7), legend lore (CL 11), magic circle against evil (CL 5), Nystul's magic aura (CL 1).
Unidentified: Eight strange metal grenades bearing a skull-and-crossbones painted on the side. (As far as I can tell, none of you have ranks in the appropriate skill to identify these.)

Quicksilver Unguent x10
Taken from the chest of spell components found in Astaroth's lab, these glass bottles are full of a pearly liquid that glistens with a silvery sheen. They are stacked haphazardly inside a ritual bowl, which acts as a paperweight atop a sheaf of parchment.

The parchment beneath the bowl contains two major secrets: how to concoct the alchemical known as quicksilver, a material with a wide variety of uses, and some of the rituals in which it can be used. A vial of quicksilver itself has a 500 gp market price, and requires a DC 40 Craft (alchemy) check and the presence of this document to make.

The most interesting ritual in the document is likely to catch Devdan's eye--with that ritual, a quantity of quicksilver can be bound to a suit of magical armor, granting it the quicksilver enhancement (see MoF 137: +2 Max Dex, -1 ACP, +1 bonus). This ritual not only grants the knowledge of how to apply the enhancement (taking the place of any spell requirements), but its instructions are detailed enough that even a non-spellcaster can apply the enhancement as if he had the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat. Those without the feat must spend twice as much time to add the enhancement, but the XP cost is the same, and the ritual user must use an amount of quicksilver equal to the cost of the required raw materials.

Moving on to the obviously magical items, it takes Fios a couple of days between identify and legend lore to get through the sheer volume of items. In the end, however, most of these are fairly straight-forward to figure out to at least some extent. According to the spell, nearly all of the items taken from Ephelia and Astaroth's lab were made by one of those two people, by Ephelia's younger sister Celia, or by Astaroth's apprentice Lirinet Vacia. (OOC Note: There are a few items that make sense to be earmarked to certain people, and I'll indicate those that I intended to go somewhere specific. The rest of it you can all discuss.)

Magic Items wrote:Magic Items

This item, taken from Ephelia's wardrobe, is likely to be desired by Devdan.
Price: 20,000 gp
Body Slot: Face
Caster Level: 6th
Aura: Faint; (DC 18) transmutation
Activation: Swift (mental); see text
Weight: 1 lb.

This light, polished mithral mask is abstractly shaped like the face and snout of a fox, with smooth, indistinct features and eyes of gleaming yellow light.

This mask grants you the scent ability, as well as darkvision out to a range of 60 feet. These abilities are continuous, and need no activation. Twice per day, you can trigger see invisibility, which lasts for 5 minutes per use.

Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, darkvision, see invisibility, scent.
Cost to Create: 10,000 gp, 800 XP, 20 days.

Auspex Gloves
This item, taken from Ephelia's wardrobe, is likely to be desired by Devdan. It is simply a pair of gloves of Dexterity +6 combined with gloves of object reading (MIC 107).
Price: 39,000 gp

These gloves look at first to be made of supple black leather. Upon picking them up, however, they are nearly weightless, and they mold themselves to your hands almost as if you were wearing nothing at all. Their cuffs are embroidered in silver, and the inside of each cuff is stitched to give you a coin-sized pocket for safe-keeping.

This item, the last surviving possession of Galamoth, is not designated for any particular person.
Price: 86,000 gp
Body Slot: — (held)
Caster Level: 15th
Aura: Strong; (DC 22) conjuration
Weight: 10 lb.

The shaft of this ten-foot spear is made of a strange green-black metal that gleams in the light as though it were covered in a sheen of oil. A neck of blackened dragon-bone and a three-foot adamant cross-brace separates the shaft from its blade, a squarish, chisel-like shape two feet long, five inches wide, and apparently designed to penetrate adamant-hard dragon scales.

This +1 collision shattermantle valorous dragon-bane starmetal glaive is wreathed in ominous red-violet flames (harming neither you nor your equipment) whenever it comes within a mile of a hellwyrm. If you carry it for 24 hours, it automatically sizes itself to fit your native form. (This is an instantaneous effect once triggered.) It is magically hardened, having 30 hit points and hardness 32, and is immune to rusting. While you wield it, you gain a +4 resistance bonus to saves against all breath weapons, spells, and spell-like abilities generated by creatures of the dragon type.

It may have other powers as well, invisible to common detection spells--the aura it gives off is somewhat outsized to the powers suggested by such spells.

Lore: This polearm was wielded in battle by Crom Faeyr, one of the famed Knights of the Red Dawn. It was bestowed upon him directly by Chronepsis, the mysterious draconic deity of time and death. Faeyr used it to slay a score of dragons, including the mighty hellwyrm Fafnir, one of the first Great Dragons to follow Tiamat into evil. Crom Faeyr did not survive the battle with Fafnir, however, and Caudimordax was lost, eventually winding up in the hoard of one of Fafnir's kin, the Azhi Dahaka. The shaft is made of Quan Iron, a strange material from another realm unknown to the Prime. All chromatic dragons hold an ancestral memory of this weapon, and hold its wielder in great enmity, but it is said no evil dragon can destroy it.

Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, assay spell resistance, righteous might, shrink item, summon monster I, weapon of impact.
Cost to Create: 40,500 gp (+5,000 gp for starmetal glaive), 3,240 XP, 81 days.

Celia Cressida's Sacramental Shawl
This item, taken from Ephelia's wardrobe, is likely to be desired by Berenind.
Price: 46,400 gp
Body Slot: — (see text)
Caster Level: 12th
Aura: Strong; (DC 21) many schools
Activation: Standard (command)
Weight: 1/2 lb.

This woven shawl is exquisitely made, made of silk and gossamer embroidered with gold and silver thread. Along the length of the shawl are several symbols, each sacred to the elves and accompanied by a few words in the ancient tongue of the Tel'quessir. The symbols gleam with pale moonlight.

This shawl functions as a strand of prayer beads containing the following beads: blessing, healing, karma, smiting. It must be carried or worn somewhere visible to the wearer to be used, but does not occupy an item slot.

Each symbol on the shawl corresponds to the power of a prayer bead, and sheds light like a candle until it is used. As they are used, the symbols fade to normal thread until their power is restored at midnight.

Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, bless, cure serious wounds, remove blindness/deafness or remove disease, righteous might, chaos hammer or holy smite or order's wrath or unholy blight.
Cost to Create: 23,200 gp, 1,856 XP, 47 days.

Cloak of the Starry Nymph
This item, taken from Ephelia's wardrobe, is likely to be desired by Rhyl. It is simply a cloak of Charisma +6 with a waterproof interior.
Price: 36,000 gp
Weight: 3 lb.

The back of this lustrous plum-purple velvet cloak glitters with silver embroidery depicting the crest of House Cressida. The cloak has a high collar, also embroidered with glittering metallic thread, and as it ripples and flows about the shoulders the purple field likewise sparkles as if with tiny stars. It is lined with a thick, waterproof lining of an unknown material.

Conspirator's Ring
This item, taken from Ephelia's jewelry box, is likely to be desired by Rhyl. It is simply a ring of protection +2 combined with a ring of communication (MIC 122).
Price: 10,000 gp

This is a plain, unobtrusive gold band that looks much like a standard wedding ring.

Daevadu Korma
This item, taken from Ephelia's jewelry box, is likely to be desired by Devdan.
Price: 70,000 gp
Body Slot: Ring
Caster Level: 13th
Aura: Strong; (DC 21) illusion
Activation: Swift (mental) or standard (command)
Weight: 1 lb.

This ring is little more than a coil of dark, shadowy tendrils, and always feels cool to the touch. When moved quickly, a little wisp of shadowy vapor trails behind it.

With this ring ("Ring of the Shadow Twin" in Common), you may gain the benefit of displacement for up to 15 rounds per day, divisible into increments as small as 1 round. Once activated, the effect stays active until you use another swift action to deactivate it.

The conjured illusion is a construct of shadow and is thus partially real, rather than a true illusion. This allows it to provide some benefit against creatures that can see through normal illusions. Against creatures with true seeing, you still gain the benefit of concealment (20% miss chance).

Once per day, you may use shadow walk as the spell, except that no other creatures may accompany you.

Prerequisites: Forge Ring, displacement, shadow conjuration, shadow walk.
Cost to Create: 35,000 gp, 2,800 XP, 70 days.

This item, taken from the neck of the final Thaalud, is not designated for any particular person.
Price: 20,000 gp
Body Slot: Throat
Caster Level: 7th
Aura: Moderate; (DC 18) evocation
Activation: Standard (command)
Weight: 3 lb.

This thick, heavy necklace of ferrous iron beads bears three adamant planks, each about four inches long. Each plank is inscribed with a series of runic glyphs that shimmer with violet light.

This necklace acts as a ring of minor spell storing. Any spell stored within the ring has a caster level equal to 2 + the minimum required to cast that spell. The glyphs on each adamant plank correspond to one of the three levels of spells faerlanget can store; they are lit while storing a spell, and go dark when discharged.

Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, imbue with spell ability, spell enhancer.
Cost to Create: 10,000 gp, 800 XP, 20 days.

This item, taken from a rack of walking sticks in Astaroth's wardrobe, is likely to be desired by Fios.
Price: 25,200 gp
Body Slot: — (held)
Caster Level: 13th
Aura: Strong; (DC 21) abjuration
Activation: As spell used
Weight: 2 lb.

This walking stick is a deep grey color, and if you squint just right, you can see the wood grain shifting and moving like swirling clouds in a storm. Arcane casters seem to go a little green within a few feet of it, as if something about it makes them instinctively uneasy.

Guldurfarna ("Weave-Storm" in Common) is a runestaff that specializes in magic that disrupts the Weave. It allows the use of the following spells (each twice per day) by sacrificing a prepared arcane spell or arcane spell slot of the same level or higher.
- Antimagic ray
- Break enchantment
- Dweomer vortex
- Greater dispel magic

Prerequisites: Craft Staff, antimagic ray, break enchantment, dweomer vortex, greater dispel magic.
Cost to Create: 12,600 gp, 1,008 XP, 26 days.

This item, left behind by the Palankasha and described earlier in this thread, is not designated for any particular person.
Price: 29,715 gp

This item, taken from a rack of walking sticks in Astaroth's wardrobe, is likely to be desired by Val.
Price: 125,300 gp
Body Slot: — (held)
Caster Level: 13th
Aura: Strong; (DC 25) evocation
Activation: See text
Weight: 3 lb.

This simple steel rod is about six inches in length, as big around as a man's wrist, and inscribed with a series of overlapping circles that gleam with pale white light. When gripped firmly across the middle, a massive battle glove materializes about your hand and forearm, all the way to your elbow, comprised of broad, gleaming plates of pure force wreathed with slim lines of white light.

When used in melee, Leadhindar acts as a masterwork gauntlet that affects incorporeal creatures as if it were a force effect. Leadhindar functions as a wizard's staff, granting the spells listed below.
- Chain missile
- Battering ram
- Magic missile
- Mordenkainen's force missiles (2 charges)
- Orb of force (2 charges)
- Wall of force (2 charges)
- Limited wish (3 charges; usable to replicate any spell of 6th level or lower with the [Force] descriptor, regardless of class list, or to grant the ghost touch enhancement to one weapon or armor for 24 hours)

You may also use one charge from Leadhindar to automatically dispel any ongoing spell with the [Force] descriptor, such as a wall of force, resilient sphere, or mage armor, simply by touching it. If using this effect on a creature with force spells in effect on it, you must make a melee touch attack, which if successful removes all applicable spells currently in effect. This use of Leadhindar is a standard action.

While wielding Leadhindar, you are immune to magic missile, chain missile, force orb, and Mordenkainen's force missiles. Whenever you are targeted by one of these effects, you may either let it dissipate harmlessly or redirect it as a free action on your next turn; a redirected spell originates from you but is treated in all other respects as if it were cast by its original caster.

Finally, you receive a +1 enhancement bonus to the caster level of all spells you cast with the [Force] descriptor, including those you cast from Leadhindar. This and the spell immunities indicated above persist even once all charges from the staff have been exhausted.

Prerequisites: Craft Staff, battering ram, chain missile, disintegrate, limited wish or wish, magic missile, Mordenkainen's force missies, orb of force, spell enhancer, spell turning, wall of force.
Cost to Create: 62,500 gp, 5,000 XP, 125 days.
Recharge Cost Per Charge: 1,658 gp.

Lliarcor's Ivory Aerie
This item, taken from the main table in Astaroth's study, is likely to be desired by Jiriki.
Price: 25,015 gp
Body Slot: — (held)
Caster Level: 12th
Aura: Strong; (DC 21) transmutation (good)
Activation: Free (mental) and swift (command)
Weight: 2 lb.

This heart-shaped buckler is made out of mithral. The outer fringe of the boss is styled like silver ivy, wrapped about a small ivory dragon at its center. The dragon's eyes are clear-white crystal, and seem to gleam mischievously, while its heart is brilliant blue sapphire, covered by a spider-web of ivory.

This +1 mithral buckler was imbued with the spirit of an ancient pseudodragon during its creation, which seeks still to guard and assist its wearer.

The shield is considered intelligent due to the presence of the pseudodragon spirit. It has an Ego score of 6, an Intelligence score of 10, and Wisdom and Charisma of 12 each. It can communicate with its wielder in this form via waves of empathic emotion, and can see and hear out to a range of 30 feet.

Up to once per round, the ivory pseudodragon in the shield responds to its wielder's will and animates as a free action, its tail or wings lashing out to deflect an incoming ranged weapon attack. This grants the wielder the benefit of the Block Arrow feat. (This is considered a +2-equivalent bonus.)

The spirit of the pseudodragon within the shield can also be commanded to come forth from beyond and serve its master directly. The shield shifts form, transforming into a celestial pseudodragon. It follows your mental or verbal commands, and remains for up to 20 rounds each day, divisible into increments as small as 1 round. If reduced to 0 hit points, the pseudodragon instantly returns to your arm and shifts back into shield form, and cannot be released for the rest of the day. While the shield is in pseudodragon form, you lose its other benefits.

Lliarcor's ivory aerie is a good-aligned item. Evil creatures that wear the shield suffer one negative level that lasts for as long as the shield is equipped, and cannot be countered or negated by any means.

Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms/Armor, protection from arrows, lesser dragon ally.
Cost to Create: 12,000 gp (+1,015 gp for mithral buckler), 960 XP, 24 days.

Lliarcor the Crystal Pseudodragon wrote:Lliarcor, Ancient Celestial Pseudodragon: CR 2; Tiny dragon (extraplanar, good); HD 4d12+8; hp 34; Init +3; Spd 15 ft., fly 60 ft. (good); AC 19 (touch 15, flat-footed 16); Base Atk +4; Grp -6; Atk +9 melee (1d3-2 plus poison, sting) and +4 melee (1, bite); Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.; SA poison, smite evil 3/day; SQ blindsense 60 ft., damage reduction 5/magic, darkvision 60 ft. immunities (paralysis, sleep), low-light vision, resistances (acid 5, cold 5, electricity 5), spell resistance 21, telepathy 60 ft.; SV Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +5; Str 6, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 12.
Skills and Feats: Diplomacy +3, Hide +22*, Listen +11, Search +8, Sense Motive +9, Spellcraft +8, Spot +11, Survival +1 (+3 tracking); Alertness, Extra Smiting, Weapon Finesse (B).
Poison (Ex): Injury, Fortitude DC 16, sleep 1 minute/sleep 1d3 hours.
Smite Evil (Su): Three times per day Lliarcor can deal +4 damage to an evil creature with a successful attack. Alternately, Lliarcor can use this ability to temporarily boost the spellcasting ability of a good caster in his square; this ability increases the caster level of the caster's next spell by +2, if used within 1 round.

Quicksilver Rod
This item, taken from a rack of walking sticks in Astaroth's wardrobe, is likely to be desired by Berenind. It is simply a Rod of Lesser Quicken Metamagic (SRD), and functions as a masterwork club in combat.
Price: 35,000 gp
Weight: 2 lb.

This mithral stick is about three feet long, and your entire arm trembles as you hold onto it, as if some sort of intense nervous energy was encouraging you to move ever faster. In the center of the stick is embedded a glass-steel hour-glass, full of pale white sand that moves back and forth far faster than it should.

Ring of Aurilandur
This item, taken from Ephelia's jewelry box, is likely to be desired by Fios.
Price: — (minor artifact), though some collectors of relics might pay as much as 200,000 gp in the right circumstances
Body Slot: Ring
Caster Level: 20th
Aura: Overwhelming; (DC 25) conjuration

This plain, clear ring is covered with a frosty rime regardless of the ambient temperature. It can barely be held in one's bare hand, the ring is so deathly cold to the touch, but if worn, it suddenly feels like the most natural sensation in the world.

The ring of Aurilandur grants the following benefits:

Creatures with the cold subtype cannot attack you or even approach to within 5 feet of you. If you desire, you may forego this protection and instead attempt to charm the creature (as charm monster, Will DC 17 negates). If the charm attempt fails, however, absolute protection is lost and no further attempt at charming can be made.

Creatures of the cold subtype take a -1 penalty on attack rolls made against you, while you gain a +4 morale bonus on attack rolls made against creatures with the cold subtype, and any weapon you use bypasses the damage reduction of such creatures. You also gain resistance to cold 30, but you suffer a -2 penalty to saving throws against all fire-based effects.

Creatures of the cold subtype inherently recognize the ring of Aurilandur, and you may converse with them. They show a healthy respect to the wearer if of the same alignment; if alignments are opposed, they fear the wearer if he is strong, and wish to slay him if he is weak.

Finally, you may use the following spells: snow walk (unlimited use), snowdrift (unlimited use), arctic haze (twice per day), frostfell slide (once per day), and blizzard (twice per week).

Lore: This ring was originally bestowed upon a creature of Toril by Aurilandur...who, Fios is perhaps shocked to find, is the primordial creature now known as Auril the Winter-Queen! Her origin is shrouded in the mists of time too deeply for Fios's piddly spell to penetrate their mystery, but Fios gets the distinct impression that she is tied somehow to the fey, and that this ring belonged to her before she ascended to godhood. Since it appeared on Toril, it has been handed down through elven hands, with Astaroth being the last guardian of it. He had originally planned to leave it with Lirinet upon his death...but that obviously didn't happen. Auril's divine seekers, meanwhile, are all charged as a side task with the retrieval of this ring.

Ring of Tel'Shaeel
This item, taken from Ephelia's jewelry box, is likely to be desired by Val. It is simply a ring of arcane might (MIC 121). It's name translates to "Spell Power" in the Common tongue.
Price: 20,000 gp

This item, taken from a rack of walking sticks in Astaroth's wardrobe, is likely to be desired by Val.
Price: 65,000 gp
Body Slot: — (held)
Caster Level: 21st
Aura: Overwhelming; (DC 26) evocation
Activation: — and standard/attack (use)
Weight: 5 lb.

This glass rod, two feet in length, ends in a crescent hook. In the center of the crescent hovers a tiny bead of soft white light that burns as hot as any sun, but its heat dissipates within a few inches.

A starseed allows you cast any of the following spells (each three times per day) by expending a prepared arcane spell or arcane spell slot of the same level or higher.
- Blistering radiance (SCmp 33)
- Gaze of Helios (see below)
- Lucent lance (SCmp 134)
- Luminous gaze (SCmp 135)
- Radiant assault (SCmp 164)
- Wall of light (SCmp 234)

If you are a warmage, all of the spells contained in a starseed are considered to be on your caster spell list for purposes of casting them from this item.

A starseed sheds bright light in a 10-foot radius, and shadowy illumination a further 10 feet. Though its radius is small, the light overcomes all non-Epic darkness effects, and is considered natural daylight for purposes of affecting creatures both sensitive to bright light (such as drow or orcs) and those vulnerable to daylight (such as vampires).

Further, you can use the starseed to ignite combustible objects, light fires, or do anything you could otherwise do with a mundane source of fire. A melee touch attack with the starseed deals 1d4 points of fire damage and ignores fire resistance (but not fire immunity).

Lore: Astaroth, the Starmage, made this item. The shaft itself is merely a cage--all of the power in the item is tied to the tiny bead of light in its head, which is in fact a microcosmic star trapped just at the moment of its conception. As a literal sun, it has all the same power, and the secrets in its construction are drawn from insights given by a god that has not existed on Toril for millennia.

Prerequisites: Craft Rod, Craft Staff, Heighten Spell, Epic Spellcasting, caster level 21st, blistering radiance, gaze of Helios, genesis, flame dagger, lucent lance, luminous gaze, radiant assault, wall of light.
Cost to Create: 32,500 gp, 2,600 XP, 65 days.

Gaze of Helios wrote:Gaze of Helios
Evocation [Light]
Level: Initiate of Helios 9, Sorcerer/wizard 9, Warmage 9
As sunburst, except all damage dice are increased to d8s. Further, the area of effect may be centered on a single target with a ranged touch attack, dealing double the normal damage to that target (12d8, 24d8 to a light-sensitive creature, or up to 50d8 to an undead creature) and allowing no save to said target. All other creatures in the area are affected as per a normal sunburst. If the spell misses its target, it simply explodes at the nearest corner of the target's space.

This item, taken from Ephelia's jewelry box, is likely to be desired by Berenind. It is simply a ring of spell turning (SRD). Its name translates to "Spell Mirror" in the Common tongue.
Price: 98,280 gp

This silver band bears a large, rainbow-colored diamond faceted like a smoothly oblong octahedron. In the presence of magic, it gleams and takes on a mirror sheen.

Thaalud's Hammer
This item, taken from the hands of the final Thaalud, is not designated for any particular person. It is simply a +1 Huge adamantine maul.
Price: 11,045 gp
Weight: 60 lb.

This enormous hammer is nearly fifteen feet in length, obviously designed to be wielded in both hands by a creature the size of a giant. It is simple in form, but incredibly well-made, weighted for war, and made of pure obsidian-black adamantine. Its grip is not wrapped, but the meteoric metal is textured and ridged for an easier grip.

Finally, there are a series of mundane items. Some of them are obvious, some of them are really, really not. None of them are designated to anyone in particular.

Books and Such wrote:Books and Such

Advanced Metallurgy, Volume XVII: Arcadamant, by Ephelia Cressida
This is a mundane looking tome with a cover of beige-colored wood bound with shagreen. Its pages are of well-made parchment lined with vellum, the writing within done in waterproof ink by a tidy, well-organized hand.

The entirety of this book is devoted to the composition, production, and handling of a strange metal the author calls “arcadamant.” It seems fiction, given that it refers to the alloying of arguably the rarest metal on Toril (adamantine) with a metal many consider outright mythical (orihalcon), but it is written without a trace of humor or irony.

Should one procure equal amounts of adamantine and orihalcon, the methods described in this book are sufficient to produce the sum total's worth of arcadamant with a forge, a DC 35 Knowledge (arcana) check, and a DC 35 Craft (blacksmithing) check. They are also sufficient to construct weapons, armor, or other metal items made of arcadamant with the appropriate Craft check (made at +10 DC). Without having this book at hand as a reference, arcadamant cannot be produced or worked at all.

The book is also liberally filled with hand-written notes in the margins describing a plan to construct some sort of creature out of the strange material, the author's masterpiece...

Ascalian Guard Series, Mark III: Dorian Type, A Manual
This book is bound within a steel cover, with pages of engraved foil in what you now recognize as the tight, meticulous hand of Ephelia Cressida. The book is heavily laden with diagrams as well as text in the Seldruin tongue. The book has a locking mechanism, and is at least a thousand pages in length.

This is it--the entirety of Ephelia Cressida's writings on the origin, design, and construction of the Dorian Guard series. Reading the text and comprehending what it says are two entirely different things, unfortunately, and there might not be a creature left alive that understands what in the hell the woman's talking about. A long, dedicated period of research will be required before anyone can even venture a guess at most of this. The historical data is much more comprehensible in those spots where it can be found, but is beyond the scope of this write-up; find me for some rolls and a Q-and-A session to get the details.

The Lliarcor Study
Along with Lliarcor's ivory aerie, which was found beneath a pile of papers on the main table in Astaroth's study, is a sheaf of notes written in Ephelia Cressida's tiny, obsessively neat hand. They discuss a series of rituals designed to awaken and draw out the latent powers of the pseudodragon within.

Investment Ritual I: By enacting a specific ritual listed here, the owner of Lliarcor's ivory aerie can invest additional power into the spirit of the pseudodragon within. Enacting this ritual requires components worth 5,000 gp, and the investment of 400 XP. The ritual grants Lliarcor an additional 4 Hit Dice and increases its size to Small (with the attendant adjustments to its abilities).

Investment Ritual II: By enacting a specific ritual listed here, the owner of Lliarcor's ivory aerie can loosen the bonds the shield holds on the pseudodragon spirit within. With components worth 5,000 gp and the investment of 400 XP, this ritual extends the total daily duration of the shield's transformation power to 10 minutes.

The papers also discuss the history of the item. Lliarcor was at one time the pseudodragon familiar of Ephelia's sister Celia. But given the advanced lifespan of the elven archmages, Lliarcor had started to grow old well before Celia would--so Ephelia and Astaroth developed a way to bind the little dragon's spirit to her buckler so that it could remain with her without aging further. Fios and Rhyl would recognize this as a variant of the more powerful later ritual that would bind Astaroth's spirit to the blade Rhyl carries--and perhaps a variant of that used by Lirinet to stowaway on Heliotrope.

Lygos's Slate
This plain black slate is roughly 8 x 12 inches, and is made of an extremely light, shiny black metal. Motes of light appear on one face, depicting text that cannot be altered or erased, but running one's finger back and forth across the screen "flips" the text like the pages of a book.

This strange device holds the research logs and journals of Lygos, a researcher in a facility called Sarnath. Most of the text can be translated into Aragrakh or Thorass.

The device contains an immense amount of research on the anatomy and physiology of all sorts of creatures—not just humanoids, but other bizarre creatures as well, some not seen on Toril in thousands of years—and the results of many ghastly, even incomprehensible experiments performed on them. This information grants the reader a +4 insight bonus on all Heal checks, as well as Graft Flesh as a bonus feat.

Each use of the tablet in this manner, however, reveals some new and dreadful insight into the experiments Lygos performed, procedures absolutely unthinkable by any sane person. Using the bonus to a Heal check inflicts 1 point of Wisdom damage to the reader, as that bonus can be achieved with a simple, fleeting skim of the text. Producing a graft using the insights in the slate, however, inflicts 1 point of Wisdom drain, as that detailed a study of the material forces the reader to confront truths that will forever haunt him. (This damage and drain cannot be avoided in any way, though the damage can be healed normally.)

The device also grants a +4 insight bonus to Knowledge (history) checks made to answer questions about the empire of Acheron. The information here is far less disturbing, and inflicts no damage to the reader's sanity.

Turyan Daoine
This book's pages are made of some sort of very light metal foil, inscribed with supernatural precision by no mortal hand, and bound with a fine mithral mesh. The cover is made of metal, covered with a patina of verdigris and wrapped on the spine and corners with lightly-molded leather. The title is embossed: "Turyan Daoine," or in the Common tongue, "Manipulation of the Cosmos."

This book is immune to rust, acid, and fire, and has spell resistance 37 for purposes of resisting attempts to either damage the book or alter/obscure its contents. It has been magically hardened, and has both hardness 22 and 25 hit points. The foil and cover are both living metal, which allow the book to heal 1 point of damage per hour unless it is utterly destroyed.

The several hundred pages of the book hold the words Astaroth of Ascalhorn himself. Scribed in Seldruin directly into the sheets of metal foil, Astaroth describes having uncovered evidence of magic far more powerful than in the modern era, used in the days before the fall of Netheril and Mystryl's sealing of the Old Magic, inspired by the secrets of the original Nether Scrolls, if not by a set of unnamed documents that predated and inspired even those.

After centuries of research, translation, and practice, Astaroth believed he had finally managed to circumvent some of Mystryl's limits on the Elder Magic. He has included in this book both an introduction to the secrets of that so-called "Elder Magic."

That introduction, however, is...obtuse, to say the least, and even Fios recognizes it may take weeks of dedicated study before he comprehends just what it's trying to tell him. The only thing he can tell so far: this may be the Mother Lode, the most potent source of magical theory seen on Toril in centuries.

Other 'Mundane' Items wrote:Other Mundane (And Not So Mundane) Items

Acid-Trapped Locking Mechanisms x8
Value: 150 gp each.
These intricate bits of machinery appear designed for installation into any standard doorknob. The centerpiece of the design is a delicate-looking orb of glass filled with some vile-looking green fluid.

This trap can be installed or uninstalled (while disarmed) with a DC 25 Craft (trapmaking) check. Once installed, it is armed whenever the door is locked with a special key, and deactivated by the same type of key. Without the key, the device must be disarmed with a DC 30 Disable Device check. On a failed check, or on any attempt to force the door or pick the lock, the glass orb of acid in the center of the device cracks, spilling its contents and fusing the mechanism into a worthless glob of slag. This seals the door permanently unless it is taken off its hinges or broken through.

Val found two liter-size glass bottles in an abandoned backpack in one of the few dark corners of Kanche Rasatala, which the dry air and lack of direct sunlight seems to have preserved nicely. One turns out to be an ancient bottle of elven moon-wine of exquisite vintage, its robust flavor strong for an elven wine. The other is some sort of syrupy, sweet liquor not served in any bar on Toril in your lifetimes, and it would be quite the collector's item for a connoisseur. You could probably get up to 250 gold for the pair.

Bronze Ensorcelled Scales
Value: 200 gp
These are likely to be the focus for some sort of spell, though none of you know precisely what sort of spell would call for them.

Clockwork Spy
Value: Unknown, perhaps 500 gp to a collector
This tiny spider is made out of gears and pistons covered with a leather shell, with small glass eyes. A rusty metal key sticks out of its back, and its underside features two small wheels and a button. It seems to have clung to one of the necklaces the party grabbed from Ephelia's jewelry box in their haste.

A clockwork spy is totally non-magical. When the key is turned by itself, the spider moves, and can function for up to 10 minutes on a single key-winding. Round-by-round directions can be pre-programmed into the spider with the wheel and button, including instructions to wait for a specified time. The spider has both land and climb speeds of 10 feet. While moving, it records sight and sound of everything around it, and can play that information back later on command. It has a Climb modifier of +8, and Spot and Listen modifiers of +0. It perceives via normal human senses.

Cressidan Telkiira
Value: Unknown; these are each artifacts, and have no firm price, and Rhyl and Astaroth are curiously disinclined to submit it for a scan.

This mithral crown is extremely light and spectacularly ornate, with each looping piece of metal or studded pearly moonstone apparently placed in a precisely significant way.

The telkiira are known to store memories and knowledge, passed down through the millennia through family descendants, and most of them are thought to date from the dark days of the Crown Wars. Each is devoted to a single great elven house whose ancestry can be traced back to that era, and this one appears to be linked to House Cressida. The methods of constructing a telkiira are lost, and each is considered a priceless heirloom of the elven racial legacy.

Crystal Starlights x200
These clear, marble-sized crystals are perfectly smooth, and each emits a soft blue-white glow equivalent to a candle, reminiscent of starlight.

"So, Astaroth...are these Persona Gems?"
"No, Persona Gems are much larger, and prepared differently. These are Crystal Starlights."
"You noted there were no material components worth anything in the chest, right? That's what these are for--totally modular spellcasting."
"Eh...still not following."
"Sigh. Okay. See, spells that require material components do so because those components symbolize particular things. Those that require costly components do so because the inherent value of those items in the eyes of the caster grants them a measure of power beyond their base symbolism. With a sufficient amount of crystal starlight to equal the value of power required by the spell, the starlight can replace any other required symbology. Want to raise the dead, have no diamonds? Starlight. Want to bring down a hail of stone and have no jade? Starlight."
"Oh...that's nice. How much does it take?"
"For a lot of minor spells, even a single starlight will do. For more potent spells, you need more...I think Ephelia determined at one point that it took thirty to do a forcecage."

What he said. A single crystal starlight replaces up to 50 gp of material components in any spell (regardless of class), and replaces all non-costly material components.

Ensorcelled Diamond
Value: 1,500 gp
This item is suitable for use as the focus of Simbul's greater spell matrix. In a pinch, it could be used as the material component for revivify.

Ensorcelled Sapphire
Value: 500 gp
This item is suitable for use as the focus of either gemjump or Simbul's spell matrix.

Ephelia's Necklace
Value: 225 gp (materials only)
This fine silver chain has a sturdy clasp. From the chain hangs an exquisite crystal shape—the holy symbol of Labelas Enoreth—that glitters with rainbow light when illuminated.

This item seems totally non-magical. However, being worn for centuries by a powerful wizard has been shown to occasionally bestow upon certain trinkets a measure of power to alter reality, and this item certainly does react...oddly in the presence of time magic in particular.

Holy Symbol of Jormungandr
Value: 30 gp (materials only)
This necklace, made of pitted bronze covered with blue-green verdigris, depicts a serpent coiled around a planet and devouring its own tail. Legend lore and your own studies reveal this as the symbol of the Jormundandr, or World-Serpent.

Val found this in an abandoned backpack in Kanche Rasatala with the booze described above. As you return to Waterdeep, you may notice that the symbol acts oddly in areas of mist and rain; the verdigris begins to flake and fall off, and the pitting of the bronze begins to...well, 'heal' over, for lack of a better word.

Metal Rods x3
Value: Unknown
This plain, featureless metal rod is about eighteen inches long and as big around as the handle of a sword. It has no magical aura, it seems too short to be of any use in combat, and there are no markings of any sort to indicate its purpose except for a row of three indentations, each roughly the size of a pea, a couple inches from one end.

Fios collected these from some of the corpses found outside the chamber where Lygos dwelled in the bowels of Sarnath. Legend lore, strangely enough, has nothing to say about these.

Ruby Monocle in Golden Loop
Value: 1,500 gp
This item is suitable for use as the focus of analyze dweomer.

Small Adamantine Shield
Value: 100 gp
This tiny shield is suitable for use as the focus of ironguard.

Straight Cash, Homie!
Val found a bundle of small coins of unidentified mint and well-polished gemstones in an abandoned backpack in one of the few dark corners of Kanche Rasatala. After some appraisal work, they come out to be worth about 2,660 gp.

Read that Magic Item Compendium Volume II above, and let me know who wants to keep what and what you want to do with the rest, and we'll get that processed. XP has already been added to your sheets.
"Nothing will ever change. That cycle of mediocrity isn't due to some obstacle. It's who you are. The thing standing in the way of your dreams is that the person having them is you."
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby J.C. » Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:38 pm

After being informed of the items gathered, Val will be wanting the Leadhindar, and the Starseed.

He will take whatever share of the gold is due him from the remains of the loot that is sold off.

( Noted, Vals cost of the Goggles of Cha+3 may be removed from his funds and paid to Fios. Also, Val would like to have at least his Contingency Heal renewed with the fund appropriate to go to Berenind )
Last edited by J.C. on Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Ian » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:14 pm

Note: By my rough-and-tumble just-before-bed math, all of the stuff that I mentioned wasn't earmarked towards anyone in particular has a total resale value (including full value for the gems and other trade goods, half value for the rest) or 85,130g, or 17,026g to each of you (minus Jiri).

If there's anything out of that loot you want, you can consider that 17K number your share of the gold from which you're deducting the resale value of the non-specified loot you want. If there's anything that was earmarked for you that you don't want, toss its resale value onto "your share," and you can use it if you wish to choose other items at their own resale value. Anything earmarked for someone else that they don't want is fair game for you to grab. If anything gets multiple claims, hash it out among yourselves.

This does not include any items without a listed value (the books and the metal rods in particular). Those you'll also need to fight over yourselves.

~ * ~ * ~

Meanwhile, as Fios spends his time examining the items from Astaroth's chamber and the other places looted over the course of the adventure, the Starmage himself begins testing himself--encouraging Rhyl to find a quiet corner of the Palankasha's stronghold where they're unlikely to be disturbed, he reaches forth for his new memories, and the knowledge that has come with them...

He is not yet satisfied. There are still substantial gaps in his memory, especially around the fall of Ascalhorn and his death, though he also gets the sense that he's forgotten some things to do with his old apprentice--judging by both her current disposition and some cues in his dreams. He has, however, come a long way:

Mechanics wrote:The Shard of Astaroth, Level 5
The spirit of the Archmage gains three levels, and is beginning to recall its powers of old. It is for the best that he is kind at heart, for the mental power he now controls would make his mind a terrible thing to resist if it tried to assert itself.
Price: — (minor artifact)
Body Slot: — (held)
Caster Level: 21st
Aura: Overwhelming; (DC 25) all schools
Activation: See text
Weight: 2 lb.

A broad cross-brace of blue-lacquered adamantine reinforces this mithral longsword. The three-foot blade is slim and well-maintained, not so much as nicked, and ensorcelled with a long series of intricate Seldruin runes that flicker brightly with moonlight. The handle is quite long, as if designed for a hand-and-a-half grip, with a solid pommel of turquoise gripped in the clutches of an adamant brace. It rests in a broad scabbard of violet both inlaid and tipped with silver.

The shard of Astaroth is now a +4 evil outsider-bane mithral longsword. It grants a further +2 competence bonus to attack rolls made against evil outsiders.

The blade is intelligent, containing the personality and knowledge of Astaroth of Ascalhorn, a 1000-year-old elven high mage who has been dead for nearly 700 years. The knowledge and powers of the blade are still limited, constrained by its current state of existence, but far closer than before to Astaroth's true self. It is often silent when others are around (so other DMs don't have to roleplay it unless they want to). When it does speak, its voice is smooth and somewhat high in timbre, rich with knowledge and wisdom, but also aged and often a little caustic.

Astaroth of Ascalhorn
AL NG; Int 21, Wis 21, Cha 10; Speech (Common, Draconic, Elven, Loross, Seldruin, Undercommon), telepathy, reads all languages, 120 ft. darkvision, blindsense, and hearing; Ego score 32.

Skills: Appraise +5, Bluff +0, Decipher Script +10, Diplomacy +0, Intimidate +0, Knowledge (arcana) +15, Knowledge (history) +10, Knowledge (the planes) +10, Listen +7, Search +7, Sense Motive +10, Spellcraft +17, Spot +7. [These skill checks are the only ones the sword can make, and are made when the DM feels it appropriate.]

Arcane Tutor (Su): Any of Astaroth's spells can also be cast by Rhyl by using a spell slot of equivalent level. In effect, all of Astaroth's spells are added to Rhyl's "Spells Known" while the sword is wielded, but he cannot scribe these spells or teach them to others.

Empathic Link Mutations (Ex): Rhyl is becoming more like the elven archmage of old the longer he wields the blade and the more it remembers of its past. This does not at present seem to present a danger to Rhyl, but the changes are non-magical and permanent, even when the sword is not present. Previously, these changes were subtle enough that not even Rhyl noticed, but they are now becoming more overt:
- Level 1: Reduced Aging. Rhyl's age categories have increased by 20%.
- Level 2: Magical Form. Rhyl gains a permanent magical aura of faint strength.
- Level 3: Arcanist of Light. Rhyl gains Spell Thematics (minus the caster level adjustment), as all of his spells that generate a visible effect take on either a kaleidoscopic rainbow hue or the appearance of starlight (+4 DC to identify).
- Level 4: Magical Essence: Rhyl gains a permanent magical aura of moderate strength.
- Level 5: Heightened Senses. Rhyl's irises reflect light like a cat's, and he gains superior low-light vision. His ears grow longer, and he gains an additional +1 racial bonus to Listen, Search, and Spot checks, matching those of a full elf.

Indestructible (Ex): The shard of Astaroth cannot be damaged or destroyed by mortal means. There is a means of sundering the sword, but nothing short of a fiendish lord or a creature with a divine rank is likely to be capable of doing so.

Spells (CL 20th): At will—detect magic, read magic, brisingamen band; 3/day—rain of meteorites, waters of phlegethon (DC 18); 2/day—ancestral judgment; 1/day—dismissal (DC 20).
Note: The sword (DM) decides when to cast, and it always casts on Rhyl's turn. The sword typically casts to preserve Rhyl's life, kill evil outsiders, or when in direct pursuit of his own goals. Due to its limited spell usage, the sword often waits until things are dire to begin casting.
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Kemian » Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:03 am

Devdan is interested in the Auspex Gloves and he offers to trade his own gloves (Dexterity +3 Retail value 9000 GP) in exchange for them so that someone else may either take his as loot or they can simply sell them with everything else that nobody claims. Devdan would also be very interested in the Daevadu Korma. The mask while tempting has a number of functions which he simply does not need. He will take whatever is left in the form of cash assuming nobody objects.
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Failbhe » Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:09 am

Fios definitely is interested in those items Ian has recommended for him (Faerlanget, Guldurfarna, Ring of Aurilandur). Especially the Aurilandur ring as it has strong sentimental value.

Then we come to his hoarder mentality as a collector. Books, weird items, and creatures, not in any specific order.

The weird : As such he would like the Eight Strange Grenades, the Alchemical Bombs, the Smoke Bombs, the Stink Bombs, the Treatise on the Quicksilver Unguent, in the hopes of being able to divine the methods of creation and uses of the above. (Not familiar with the Bombs, so assuming they are a specialty that has been lost in time?)

The Acid-Trapped Locking Mechanisms, Bronze Ensorcelled Scales, Ephelia's Necklace, Holy Symbol of Jormungandr, Metal Rods, Ruby Monocle in Golden Loop, and Small Adamantine Shield. A portion of the Crystal Starlights, primarily to try and work out how to replicate their manufacture.

The creatures : Clockwork Spy

Reading material to be kept near loo : As he specifically requested one of the slates from Lygos, Lygos' Slate is obviously something he would like. Then we have Advanced Metallurgy, Volume XVII: Arcadamant, by Ephelia Cressida, Ascalian Guard Series, Mark III: Dorian Type, A Manual, Turyan Daoine. He recommends that Jiriki keep The Lliarcor Study with the shield.

The obvious values of such not already suggested for him is 3755g plus the values of the alchemicals and whatever portion of the Crystal Starlights he would receive.

If Devdan is truly not interested in the Antaranya, Fios would be interested in talking about that as well, adding funds to the party's pooled funds if need be. (Note that JC reminded me, Val had Fios create a +3 Charisma face item for him before they left. As Val had less than 200g, Fios paid for it in full with the understanding that Val would pay 6750g for it upon returning from his share of loot found.)
Makin - 6th lvl (Cleric of Amaunator 5 / Combat Medic 1)
Ogmios Vox - 1st lvl (Bard 1)
Fios-Khelek Heru (Grunt Ka Thunk) - 20th (Rogue 3 / Wizard 3 / Frostmage 4 / Arcane Trickster 10)
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Keith » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:18 am

Berenind is very interested in Celia Cressida's Sacramental Shawl, the Quicksilver Rod, and Tel'Harian, (the items earmarked for him), in addition he would like 30 of the starlight crystals.

He also offers the party members any contingent spells they would like at a discount of 25% over cost.
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Re: The Shard of Astaroth V

Postby Ian » Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:16 pm

Sigh, still working on the summary. Meanwhile, people seem to be itching for their toys, so I got this tossed together. Factoring in Devdan selling his existing Gloves of Dex, Val paying Fios back for the Mask of Cha, and everything else being sold (with proceeds for the dedicated items going to that person), this looks to be the loot division:

+ Celia Cressida's Sacramental Shawl
+ Quicksilver Rod
+ Starlight Crystal x30
+ Tel'Harian
+ 15,526 gp

+ Auspex Gloves
+ Daevadu Korma
- Gloves of Dex +3
- Quicksilver Unguent x10
+ 30,026 gp

+ Acid-Trapped Locking Mechanisms x7
+ Alchemical Bombs x10
+ Antaranya
+ Book: Advanced Metallurgy, Volume XVII: Arcadamant, by Ephelia Cressida
+ Book: Ascalian Guard Series, Mark III: Dorian Type, A Manual
+ Book: Turyan Daoine
+ Bronze Ensorcelled Scales
+ Clockwork Spy
+ Crystal Starlights x170
+ Ephelia's Necklace
+ Guldurfarna
+ Holy Symbol of Jormungandr
+ Lygos's Slate
+ Metal Rods x3
+ Ring of Aurilandur
+ Ruby Monocle in Golden Loop
+ Small Adamantine Shield
+ Strange Metal Grenades x8
+ 1,696 gp

+ Lliarcor's Ivory Aerie
+ The Lliarcor Study

+ Cloak of the Starry Nymph
+ Conspirator's Ring
+ Cressidan Telkiira
+ Acid-Trapped Locking Mechanism x1
+ Potion: Cure Serious Wounds
+ 16,576 gp

+ Leadhindar
+ Starseed
+ 20,276 gp

+ Treatise on Quicksilver Unguent (claimed by both Dev and Fios, though this probably isn't a problem; it has no listed market value, so Dev could always use it, then hand it over to Fios)

Unclaimed/To Be Sold:
- Alchemical Sleep Gas x5
- Booze
- Caudimordax
- Gloves of Dex +3 (Devdan's)
- Ensorcelled Diamond
- Ensorcelled Sapphire
- Faerlanget
- Heliotrope
- Potion: Fox's Cunning
- Potion: Frost Sword
- Potion: Haste
- Potion: Mage Armor
- Potion: Resist Fire 30
- Ring of Tel'Shaeel
- Scroll: Glibness
- Scroll: Legend Lore
- Smoke Bombs x10
- Stink Bombs x8
- Magic Circle vs. Evil
- Scroll: Nystul's Magic Aura
- Tanglefoot Bag x5
- Thaalud's Hammer
- Tindertwig x60

If anything there looks incorrect, or if you want to claim certain items from the sale list now that you see what's there and what your current shares are, let me know. Otherwise I'll get all this processed once I get the summary posted. As far as Berenind's contingent spell offer and any takers, I'll let you all work that out with him separately.
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