–Froderik Penderghast – Male Human Wizard. Logical and self-important wizard. Accompanied by his hawk familiar, Mordecai.
–Raskin Daggermaw – Male Half-Orc Rogue. Huge, muscular braggadocious letch who is especially good at stabbing folks, if not interpersonal skills. Largely concerned with things that will get him paid. Currently escaping from the clutches of the cult of the Reptile God.
–Edella Montfort – Female Human Paladin of Vesper. Somewhat sheltered and naïve but always out to help anyone she comes across and punish evil. The moral center of the group.
–Shren – Male Ratman Alchemist. Deadpan maker of potions and concoctions always seeking more recipes to master. He really wants the 200 gp he gave to the Temple of Guya for a scroll commission back.
–Zenga – Female Human Witch. With everything she’s ever known proven to be lies, and her long lost father returning just to wipe out the village she grew up in, she’s quite broken at the moment. Accompanied by her scorpion familiar (and brother) Janis, whose attempts to cheer her up are REALLY not working. Currently charmed to Misha, a priestess of the Snake God.
–Beybulat “Bey” Tasho– Male Human Swashbuckler. A barbarian from the Plains of Galmar, he’s slowly learning the local language, though the customs are still baffling to him and his distrust of magic both divine and arcane is starting to cause tension in the party.
–Delilah Farmeski – Female Human Cleric of Farmesk. A battle nun from the Eastern Realms who worships the God of War. She usually only thinks of healing after the fighting is done.
–Briac Youngblood – Male Human Ranger. Has a massive crush on the oblivious Beybulat, and is desperately trying to keep his preference for men a secret. Thrilled to be reunited with his canine companion, Rolla.
–Belina Katel – NPC Female Human Ranger. The lone survivor of an adventuring party, she was rescued by the group and is traveling with them for the time being.
3rd of Lion, 1159, Temple of Guya, Town of Redwyne
Thanks to the timely application of Delilah’s Sunburst spell, most of the enemies defending the Temple of Guya had been laid low. The undead were all obliterated outright, all the acolytes and the priestess, Misha Devi, were down as was all but one of the Bugbears. The only other enemy still standing was the middle aged priest, Abramo, and he had been blinded by the spell. Froderick, Mordecai and Briac promptly blinked away, causing Rolla to make a sad whine.
Abramo immediately turned himself invisible, while the bugbear tried to run for it, fleeing deeper into the temple. Delilah and Bey gave chase, with the former yelling “Halt, fiend and face your punishment!” as she ran. The bugbear turned and swung at her with his morning star, but Delilah blocked with her shield. Bey then sidled up with his shortsword and cleaved so deeply into the monster’s shoulder that he penetrated all the way into its chest, slaying it instantly. Seeing it was dead, but knowing Abramo was still around, Delilah headed back in the main room pausing only to stove in the head of one of the downed acolytes.
Edella meanwhile ran to the door to the left, intending to block it so that the invisible Abramo could not flee through it without passing her. She yelled to him, “Surrender now and take us to our friend and we will not kill you!” The cleric he did not respond. He did, however, touch her (rendering himself visible) and affected her with visions of madness, which hampered her resistance and combat ability. He then moved past her, groping his way forward into the room. Edella took a swipe at him with her ransur, stabbing him in the back as he ran by. “I told you to stand down!” she yelled to him.
“The Reptile God will eat your soul, Edella!” he hissed, grasping his holy symbol and channeling dark energy to injure the paladin.
Belina and Shren spent some time finishing off the downed Bugbears, though once Abramo started using his evil energy Belina ran into the room and drew her bow. Joined a moment later by a charging Delilah, things were not looking good for Abramo. Hissing in rage he called again upon his Reptile God and another burst of dark energy emerged, injuring the three women pursuing him. Still, Edella powered through and stabbed him in the lower back as he tried to flee, finally taking the priest down.
Edella asked Belina to bind the wounds of Abramo and tie him up as they still had to find Raskin (whose injuries they kept feeling as he battled the Ogre below, though they could not know that.) She agreed, and Edella and Delilah ran off to try to reach their erstwhile companion as quickly as they could. Shren wandered in and helped Belina to bind the wounds of Abramo and tie him up. The ratman also took the precaution of relieving Abramo of his holy symbol, which appeared to be a snake with a woman’s face.
Bey had a head start on Edella and Delilah, and had found the trap door in Misha’s room. Climbing down the ladder he lit a candle for and moved forward in the subterranean lair, trying to find Raskin (and Zenga).
Meanwhile Zenga, still surrounded by the black swirling cloud she’d created that moved with her, had found the trap door in Misha’s chambers that lead to the basement below the temple. Heading down and using Dancing Lights to see, she continued her search for Raskin. Though the basement was carved into stone, there was a finished wooden wall along her left side with a single door. Carefully, hoping that it wasn’t trapped, she went through it. Thankfully it wasn’t trapped but she didn’t see much more. She started calling for Raskin and moving forward.
Upon hearing Zenga, Raskin, still fleeing for his life from an angry Ogre, called “I’m here! Fucking help me!” Though it wasn’t clear from either party’s voice where the other was. Zenga charged down the nearest hall, finding herself in narrow hallways with spikes at random intervals. She avoided getting stabbed by them as she moved down them as quickly as she could, trying to find Raskin. She sent a Zengcode saying “In a corridor with spikes. Where are you?”
The half-orc, in the meantime, fled in the direction he thought he heard Zenga’s voice, but found himself stuck in a corridor heading to what he felt was another dead end, still with the beast behind him he was low on choices. Upon receiving the Zengcode, even though he didn’t know which of his companions sent it, began screaming as loud as he could “Here! I’m here! Come help me!”
“I’m right here!” Zenga shouted in reply, but Raskin had trouble telling where it was from but he thought he had to go back the way he came. Swearing at his ill luck, the half-orc again ducked around the ogre, fleeing further into the maze and finding himself in the intersection he’d been in twice. Thankfully, to his left he spotted a hidden door. With a cry of victory he threw it open and ran into it, closing it behind him in the hopes the Ogre wouldn’t see it. Unfortunately the Ogre knew about the door and threw it open, continuing his pursuit of Raskin.
Zenga came upon a door, nicking herself on the spikes in the process. She called out to Raskin, who replied, though his entreaties for help were getting more frantic. Fortunately he had a better sense of where Zenga was based on her voice, but unfortunately it was again past the Ogre. Ducking past the monster, Raskin was barely able to duck a blow by the Ogre as he bolted, finding a door and whipping it open. Outside he saw a swirling cloud of black mist, “What the fuck?!” Raskin swore in confusion.
“Get in here,” Zenga yelled from within the mist.
From within the door the Ogre thundered out, bleeding from various small wounds, especially the nasty bleeding hip wound Raskin had given. Hefting the javelin and ready to throw it at Raskin, who hadn’t yet ducked into the mist. Suddenly the creature’s knees buckled and the blood loss finally got the best of the beast as it slumped into unconsciousness.
Giving a triumphant cry Raskin leapt on the downed Ogre, using his makeshift spike/dagger to stab the creature over and over until its face and torso resembled yellowish hamburger. A secret healing to Raskin from Zenga’s Staff of Healing (as nobody could see her use it from within the swirling black mist) made the half-orc feel a little better.
Once Raskin was done venting his rage on the dead Ogre, he paused to catch his breath just in time to detect a horrible odor and the footsteps and voices of several creatures. A moment later eight troglodytes charged into view.
Raskin, belatedly realizing he hadn’t warned Zenga that he was fleeing from more than the ogre, stood and readied his spike, but Zenga grabbed his shoulder and drug him back into the swirling mist next to her. Able to see her now, Raskin got a front row seat as she then cast a spell and vomited up a huge swarm of spiders which marched off towards the advancing creatures.
Hearing Bey, Edella and Delilah trying to run towards them the two pulled back to join with them as the spiders charged forward at the troglodytes, biting as they went.
The Troglodytes gave chase, running through spider swarm and suffering the bites as they went. As Raskin and Zenga rounded a corner and met up with Bey, who was well ahead of Edella and Delilah. Froderick then appeared near them, just outside of the cloud. Though he still had Invisibility and Spider Climb active on him, his tendency to mutter to himself alerted the others to his presence and they quickly brought him up to speed.
Complaining about how he always seemed to pop in during a battle Froderick climbed the wall near the cloud. Zenga assured everyone that once they explained everything to Misha, that everything could be talked out, although since everyone knew she was charmed (and Raskin quickly figured it out) they gave non-committal answers to these assertions.
Raskin, Zenga and Bey ran down the hall, reuniting with Edella and Delilah and they took up positions to prepare for the troglodytes to charge into them. Delilah and Edella healed Raskin up and everyone stood ready.
Froderick, meanwhile, flattened himself upon the ceiling and waited for the troglodytes to pass him in the hall. Barely keeping himself from gagging at the stink of the monsters as they passed under him, he bided his time and waited for them to round the corner. Once they did he descended and chanted a few words of magic while manipulating a small patch of fur and a thin glass rod. A bolt of lighting flew from his fingertips electrocuting half of the troglodytes charging down to engage his friends. The remaining four immediately turned and charged Froderick (as he’d become visible after casting the spell.) The wizard who took a moment to invite them, in their own language, to lick his testicales. He then fled deeper into the maze.
Meanwhile up in the temple Belina and Shren had spent some time removing the holy symbols from Misha and the corpses of the acolytes when suddenly Briac appeared. Rolla immediately ran towards him, barking happily. Taking stock of the situation, the ranger asked for a status, and the two explained that the others had charged off after Raskin and Zenga, but that Edella had asked them to secure the clerics. With a nod, Briac charged off to join the rest of the group. Climbing down the latter he saw the ambient light from the rest of the group and made his way there.
Zenga, who was hustling back upstairs to check on Misha now that Raskin was safe, passed the ranger. Confused, Briac called to the others in the dungeon to ask Misha was because Zenga said she had to get to her.
“She’s one of the evil clerics!” Edella called back to Briac.
The ranger swore and turned to chase Zenga, calling for her to wait. Zenga, however, had reached the ladder and ascended it back to the main floor of the temple. Briac gave chase, trying to catch up to the charmed witch.
Meanwhile, those waiting for the Troglodytes to come to them, however, quickly realized that they had turned and chased Froderick rather than continue to chase Raskin and Zenga. Upon realizing this Edella, Delilah, Bey and Raskin ran back down the hallway again, mostly avoiding the spikes, to chase the troglodytes and save Froderick from their wrath.
Edella, in the lead, tried lure the creatures away from the wizard by taunting them as she ran. Unfortunately her trash talking skills of “Hey! You ugly things! Come over here and fight” were not quite up to par and the creatures ignored her.
Froderick, also realizing that the troglodytes were coming after him, decided he needed to hold the beasts until his friends could catch up to him. He stepped just into the door that went even deeper into the maze and stood to the side, his hands in a fan pattern and a spell on his lips. As the first of the four troglodytes chasing him stepped into the room he let loose with a magical gout of flame that took down the creature. Two more charged in to attack Froderick and Mordechai. The hawk clawed up one of them, but the beasts didn’t manage to land a hit on the wizard or his familiar.
Froderick pressed the creatures, telling them in their own language “You’re only going to find your death here,” and blasting the one attacking him in the face with a ray of scorching heat, while Mordechai clawed the one in front of him, though he suffered a blow from its stone axe in response. Thankfully, however, the hawk’s new celestial powers protected it from harm. Froderick was not so lucky, though, and took a glancing blow in the torso from one of the stone axes of the beasts.
Delilah charged the troglodyte who hadn’t quite made it into the room, battering the creature down with her morning star. Raskin followed up by running into the room behind one of the troglodytes, and tried to stab it with his makeshift spike/dagger but he could not penetrate the tough scales and cut up his hand on the spike.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Zenga was nearly to the main room of the temple, with Briac hot on her heels yelling “Zenga! Stop Wait!” which alerted Belina and Shren, both of whom had seen the witch get charmed by Misha at the beginning of the battle and didn’t quite know what to expect.
Zenga ran into the room and, seeing Shren and Belina standing over the obviously wounded and tied up Misha (and Abramo too for that matter) demanded “What have you done,” and ran up to the cleric (which enveloped everyone in her black cloud.)
“She’s been corrupted by the lizard god,” Shren said, holding up Mischa’s holy symbol, which depicted a snake with a human woman’s face. “If you heal them, we’re going to have a problem,” the ratman warned. “If you want to save her we need to keep her restrained until she’s cured from the lizard god.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Zenga said and bent down to check the status of Misha, who was still alive though badly battered and burnt.
“Zenga, who are your true friends?” Shren asked, trying to get through to the witch in her charmed state, but Zenga just ignored him.
“That’s your answer?” Shren, irritated, asked “to ignore me?”
Belina, confused and concerned at the growing tension of the situation backed out of the cloud and ducked behind a nearby pillar for cover and readied her bow. She didn’t know what (if anything) was about to happen, but she knew she didn’t want to be right in the thick of it.
Briac, calling out for Zenga to stop, ran into the mist to try to prevent her from helping Misha, badly lying “Zenga, uh…come with me. Ummm….Raskin needs help?” Unsurprisingly, the witch saw through this hasty fib.
Shren hefted his morning star and smeared a bottle of some substance upon the weapon and then chugged a potion.
Zenga drew forth a Scroll of Cure Light Wounds, and Janis asked her “Are you sure? I think the ratman and big scarred guy mean well…” Unfortunately Zenga, still emotionally crippled from her recent experiences and not aware that it was Janis and not just a voice in her head, merely hissed for the scorpion to stop speaking and ignored him.
Shren, since Zenga had moved right next to him to run up to Misha, was able to see her in the cloud, and was not willing to allow Zenga to heal the cleric and so lashed out with this morning star. The weapon connected solidly with the witch, blowing her spellcasting and ruining the spell. Unfortunately the substance Shren had smeared on the morning star was a dose of the Deathblade poison he’d taken from the assassin in Golden Grain Inn.
It took no time for the position to start attacking Zenga’s organs, and she started suffering from the effects immediately. Within mere seconds she was having trouble breathing and feeling her heart start pounding wildly. Quickly Zenga sent out via the Zencode “Shren is attacking me!”
Shren followed up by flinging an ice bomb at Zenga, causing several icy shards to impale the witch. Badly wounded, she clung to consciousness and yelled to Briac and Belina “Shren’s trying to kill me!”
“She’s trying to heal the clerics, she’s lost her mind!” the ratman yelled in response.
Belina went back into the swirling cloud and was able to locate Misha and drag her out so that Zenga could not heal her. Briac blindly ran into the cloud to tackle whomever he came across. Unfortunately he was unable to see in the cloud and came out the other side. Turning, he ran back in at a different angle, tripped over Abramo and flew into Zenga, accidently throwing the witch on the ground, with the big ranger atop her.
Back downstairs Edella was able to take down the troglodyte that had been trying to kill Froderick, while Froderick took down the final one with a spell that slammed a trio of magical bolts of energy into the beast. Feeling the damage Zenga suffered and having received her Zengcode everyone but Delilah (who began to loot the troglodytes) charged up the stairs as quickly as they could, running headlong through the spiked hallways as they went.
Even though Briac was on top of her, Zenga was able to cast a slumber hex at Shren, and the ratman fell asleep. Zenga’s heart rate accelerated and her breathing became harder, however, and she’d broken out in a feverish sweat as the poison continued to course through her veins. “Are you ok?” Briac asked Zenga.
“I’m dying,” the witch replied simply. “He poisoned me.”
“I can cure you,” Briac said “but I need you to not attack Shren until we can figure this out, maybe he was charmed too or something.”
“He was trying to kill me,” the witch stated flatly. “I am dying right now.”
Calling upon the strange power he’d recently acquired, Briac healed Zenga, which not only purged her of the poison, but also cured the damage it had done as well as the injuries she suffered from Shren’s attacks.
Zenga tried to shove Briac off of him to stand, but he ranger held her down. “Zenga, wait let’s just get everyone up here and talk this out,” he said. “We can’t –”
Briac was cut off by Zenga’s sleep hex and fell asleep. Using all her strength Zenga pushed the ranger off her and stood up. Taking just a moment to pull the components, Zenga cast a spell on the ratman, putting her spirit in his body. As Zenga’s body slumped back to the floor her consciousness awoke in Shren’s ratman body. Hefting the Ratman’s morning star Zenga made his body smash itself in the face with it.
Confused, Belina headed back into the cloud and got close enough to “Shren” to see him smash himself in the face. Shocked she blurted “What are you doing?!” Zenga only giggled and merely made the Ratman brutally smash himself again and again.
Belina didn’t know what was happened, but seeing Shren bashing his own face in was certainly sub-optimal so she tried to grapple the ratman, but was unable to.
Within his body Shren’s consciousness awoke from the pain of the attacks. He could not take control of his faculties, but he could communicate with Zenga. Unfortunately he did not help his case when the only mental message he sent to the witch was “There’s a darkness in you. You need to die.”
Briac finally awoke and saw Shren smashing himself in the face. Briac (like Belina) had not seen the witch use this spell before so he didn’t know Zenga was controlling Shren but he reached the same conclusion as Belina and grabbed the ratman to prevent him from hurting himself. Zenga tried to cast a spell on Briac, but was unable to make the necessary complex hand gestures while being restrained by Briac. The big ranger shoved the ratman to the ground and pinned him.
Thankfully the others, led by Froderick came charging into the room. The wizard was unable to dispel Zenga’s magical black cloud that blanketed the area, but Raskin, Edella and Bey quickly charged in. In short order Raskin found Zenga’s body pinned it while Bey grabbed rope from Froderick and tied up “Shren.” Edella convinced Zenga to return to her own body so everything could be talked out. Still infuriated, Zenga agreed and returned her consciousness to her own body and cancelled the cloud spell.
As everyone caught their breath and got their bearings, Zenga and Shren glared at one another, both under the already exasperated eye of Edella…
DM’s Notes: It’s every Game Master’s nightmare, right? Party members turning on each other. As a GM you don’t want a PC to lose a character to such a situation, but you also have to be a fair arbiter of PC actions, even against other PC’s. There’s a number of ways DM’s can react. They can refuse to let the player’s take the action, they can fudge it so that nobody actually dies, they can just kill both characters in a frustrated rage-fit if they are especially annoyed (the worst of the possible options in my opinion). Personally, my sandbox style of GMing extends to player choice, even against other players. I’ll allow it, but I also make sure that the players know that actions have consequences.
This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with of inter-party conflict, it’s cropped up several times before, most memorably in a Star Wars campaign. One of the players suddenly exhibited some very Dark Side force powers in a fight against a big bad from her past and it prompted the very anti-Sith smuggler to make a snap judgement and shoot her dead on the spot (it helped that she was low on HP and the smuggler rolled a crit.) That player, however, knew that actions have consequences. The ultimate result was that the smuggler ended up going to jail (one of the other PC’s informed the authorities), much of the party turned on him and his player had to roll a new character for the rest of the campaign. Nobody really wins in an inter-party fight, IMHO, but it’s most fair as a DM to be a neutral arbiter, interpret the rules as impartially as possible, and let nature take its course.
From an out of game perspective, it’s the sort of thing that runs the risk of blowing up a gaming group altogether. Sides get taken, players take it personally and are upset at the loss of a character if they die, stuff gets said in the heat of the moment and it can kill a gaming group altogether. Thankfully my weekly group are all mature grown-ups (or fake it pretty effectively like I do) so as I get older this a whole table blowing up seems less and less likely, and thankfully was avoided on this occasion. Still, I’m never the biggest fan of PvP unless there’s a good character driven reason. I won’t shy away from it when it happens, but it’s usually not the story I’m trying to tell.
To this day I don’t really know what prompted Shren’s player to go straight to the most deadly poison in his arsenal to try to stop a charmed ally from healing the tied up cleric who’d cast the Charm. The best idea that was bandied around was that he feared attempting a less severe and potentially permanent solution, figuring that Zenga’s response would be what it was (the Marionette Possession spell) and that she would kill him no matter how minor the attempt to restrain her. This, however was posited by others in the party, Shren’s player didn’t get into his motiviations himself from what I can recall. Sometimes knowing why a player chose to play their character in such a way is not always the GM’s job I suppose, just so long as he/she referees the results fairly…