Continued from Part I…
The party once again rendezvous outside the Temple of Elemental Evil. Our players for this session are Steve (No Name Given; Human Swordsage 7), Gabe (Caerwyn Tyr; Drow Rogue 5) and Nick (Ser Nicholas, Human Crusader 7). My GM PC was a Human Wizard 7 named Mornrandir.
Nick is, technically, a returning player but should be a new one for all intents and purposes. He played the second session I ever GM’d as a level 1 (or 2) monk. The party then was playing the Wreck Ashore beginner adventure and he charged a group of bandits wielding crossbows. He got to them, used flurry of blows (missing every single attack) and was promptly shot dead. Rather than ease off the gas and get a recurring player, I played the encounter completely straight and turned him off from the game…until now.
It’s important for a GM to know (or understand) his player’s tendencies. This does not mean you need to read their minds but that you need to know what they like, dislike and how they’ll approach a given situation. Nick is very much a believer in the “a good offense is the best defense” and will kick down the door rather than try to find a way around it. I made him a Crusader over a Warblade for two reasons: (1) With Dustin not there, I needed some way for the party to be able to heal and (2) Crusaders are a great beginner class since they only need two feats to be effective (and both are available at level 1).
Dustin’s absence was explained by Mornrandir selling him to Nulb “authorities” for the bounty. He was then sold to slavers, which will tie in nicely with the next module…
The players had in their possession the Orb of Golden Death, a Macguffin that could be used to access the hidden areas of the temple’s third level. It is a device of pure evil, giving whoever has possession of it a Charisma of 20 to chaotic evil creatures. There are spots for 4 gems to be inlaid with the skull, although those gems weren’t in the party’s possession.
The party enters the lair of Zuggtmoy, the demon shackled by the magic doors marked with silvery runes. They do not know that, though, and instead are interested in the floor, which has markings corresponding to the classical elements: air, earth, fire and water. Ever impulsive, Steve walks over and steps on the symbol of fire. He vanishes in a flash of fire and puff of smoke, leaving nothing there. Luckily, it was just a flashy teleportation and not a disintegration! The rest of the party follows.
The majority of the session dealt with the Elemental Planes. Only Mornrandir’s magic and the Golden Orb could provide protection from the constant damage effects. The party soon blundered out of the Elemental Plane of Fire and into the Water one. This allowed them to learn that the symbols would teleport them to the corresponding plane, but they had no idea how to get out.
The Elemental Plane of Water posed a problem for the party. The area which the party ended up was an immense cavern with an indoor lake that was 50 feet deep. Mornrandir didn’t have the spell points to allow each member protection from the elements and the luxury to fly around. Some party members flew, some carried others, and Nick surfed the water with his animated tower shield and incredible balance. The party soon found a gem sparkling in the cavern walls, guarded by a pair of grues.
Now, each power gem in the planes is guarded by grues but grues aren’t in the 3.5 Monster Manual. Using their 1st edition stats doesn’t translate very well considering some rule variants we were using (class armor bonus and defense as damage reduction). They’re also very “bleh” monsters (why have a pair of grues guarding a power gem in the Elemental Plane of Fire when you can have a red dragon?). We used them for the first encounter in the water plane before dumping them.
Mornrandir grabbed the gem (which the party didn’t know the significance of yet) and was instantly teleported to the Elemental Plane of Earth. The players did not know that and decided to go off and find him while the elemental protection and flight was still available. I know they at least made their way through one plane, playing hot potato with the Golden Orb to mitigate damage, before finding the wizard.
The near-scare of losing the wizard made the party more cautious through the next elemental planes. Caerwyn with Greater Invisibility cast on him took down a basilisk and the party later took down a young red dragon…although it was a rather anti-climatic fight with Mornrandir hitting it with a Ray of Clumsiness before a Ray of Exhaustion brought the dragon down in a couple of turns. Nick got the honor of putting the beast down while Steve got toasted by the dragon’s flame breath after attacking the creature with a fire-based attack.
The players acquired the remaining power gems, although they did stop to try and provoke a fight between a family of cloud giants and white dragons. The party knew how to destroy the Golden Orb but had discussion regarding the means of doing so. We needed to hit the Orb with a wind gust of 50 mph, strike it with a solid maul and subject it to a fire 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit before immersing it in freezing water. We eventually settled on using a smith’s furnace in the village of Nulb.
The players did not know the smith was actually a 10th level ranger who had previously dealt with the Temple’s evil the first time around (so he would have been completely OK with his forge being used to destroy the Temple forever). The party, thus, convinced him to allow them to use the forge for their own non-nefarious purposes. The ranger had a cover act, though, to thwart the temple followers in Nulb: that of being a smith who really likes to brawl in bars. And instead of staying at the forge, Steve and Ser Nicholas go to brawl in a bar. The ranger actually sees them, wonders why they’re not at his forge despite convincing him they should be able to rent it for the day…and then the area is hit with a shock wave as the orb’s destruction coincides with the bottom levels of the Temple collapsing. The truth of the party’s actions regarding the ranger’s forge is soon revealed and he points them in the direction of a less hostile village, Hommlett.
The party is brought back to their home dimension but upon seeing that they brought back a native (Nick), sends them back immediately! The players then spend the winter in the village of Hommlett…
Final Verdict: A good session ending with the players clamoring for more. Luckily, I had the module for Scourge of the Slave Lords and we were able to start the next chapter in the saga…
Next Time: A cook-off between Iron Chef and a hobbit. More role-playing than roll-playing. A quest to deliver a cure within 40 days being sidetracked by slavers. The party starts Scourge of the Slave Lords!