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Pathfinder #109: In Search of Sanity» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Strange Aeons Part 1 - Lost Minds rss

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Eric Dodd
New Zealand
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Limited Access - Wellycon XI - Back 5th June 2018
Dramatis Personae:
Scott - The Gamemaster (or Keeper of Arcane Lore)

Matt - The Cleric
Susan - The half-orc Fighter
John - The Inquisitor
Eric - The Investigator
David (absent) - The Psychic

I am… I do not remember who I am. I am a human woman, red haired, tanned skin. I have hard muscles in a compact frame. I seem to move with speed and stealth. But I cannot remember my name, or my family or my life before I woke in this stone cell. Only… one brief nightmare.

I am with four others in the twilight streets of an unfamiliar town. Only stone walls and narrow, empty streets can be seen. Behind the streets, above us but slowly rolling in all around is a strange yellow fog. It feels a thing of evil and madness. Then, coming out from within the fog is a noise, of flapping cloth and scraping blades. The half-orc inquisitor beside me strides into the fog in search of the noise as I call out to the noise. There is a slash of blades and rending flesh, and the inquisitor falls. A voice calls to us again. A human with a long weapon rushes to attack the hidden fiend but it has disappeared, only to attack her without warning. A second person is killed, and more words come from the fog, still maddeningly unclear. I turn to run up, perhaps out of the fog and away from this fiend. The two remaining allies, a cleric and a psychic fall one by one and I am last. Before the fiend falls on my I finally hear the whole phrase ‘Wake up godsdammit!’.

I wake. Without my gear, weapons or armour, in a stone cell. A bewildered looking man is in the cell with me. Sturdy iron bars separate the cell from a central room where the command to wake up came from. A man is bound to a large table writhing in agony. A woman stands by him, holding a blade of some kind in one hand. From another cell I hear someone call out, and the woman responds by telling him to be quiet before returning to her victim. As we all start to look out of the cells, where I can see two other prisoners across the chamber from us, the woman torturer becomes more and more angry. ‘Wait your turn!’, she insists. Finally, the calls of the half-orc makes the torturer rush to her cell. The victim manages to get a foot free and kicks out at the torturer’s back, giving the half-orc a chance to grab the keys she is carrying. When the victim kicks out again the keys fly free and into the cell of the cleric and fighter. The torturer begins to take out her rage for the final time against the victim. She is no longer an elegant woman, but a thin, grey-skinned humanoid with sharp claws.

As the creature viciously attacks the tied down victim, the cleric unlocks the cage, allowing the fighter to run towards the torturer. She sees some of the torture equipment on a small table and grabs one to use as an improvised weapon. The man beside me attacks to use his mind, or a spell against the torturer, but an object he causes to fly towards her misses the mark wildly. I try to see if there is a way I can break out of the cell without keys, but it is a solid lock with strong bars. The cleric unlocks the half-orc’s cage, then runs behind the torturer towards our cell.

The human fighter and half-orc inquisitor attack the humanoid torturer just as it finishes off the tied down victim.(1) The improvised weapons don’t hurt it too much, but the creature was taken by surprise. The cleric releases us, but the psychic prefers to stay well back from the creature. The cleric recognises the humanoid as a doppelganger in its normal form. I rush back round the table for another weapon I can use to attack, while the psychic fires a glowing magical arrow that hits the shapeshifter. With fierce claws the doppelganger knocks down the inquisitor, while the fighter keeps it engaged. The cleric heals both the warriors as I finally join them in the battle. The warriors have dropped their weapons in frustration and have turned to using their fists as weapons in trying to subdue the ‘ganger. I manage a light hit, and the half-orc is finally able to knock-out the villain before any more of us are harmed. We all stare at each other, some memory of a shared dream, but with no idea of who we are or how we got to this dungeon.(2)

I remove the ropes from the nameless man whose cries saved our lives and close his eyes, then the inquisitor binds and gags the unconscious doppelganger and locks it into a cage. The cleric is able to heal the wounded fighters. Our next goal is to find our gear if it is close at hand, then escape from the dungeon. We make our way cautiously into an adjacent chamber, where the smell of burnt cloth and flesh hides the odour of blood and death. Bodily remains and rags are piled by an open furnace, where it seems that those killed in this dungeon were destroyed. Yet to be burned are our own clothes and equipment. I remember I have alchemy skills, but there is none of my equipment here. Still, the rapier and light bow are welcome to my hands, and the armour and kit bag comforting. The others also find their equipment, and with some searching we find a handy grapnel and some rope, a mirror and a tinderbox. Recalling the candles back in the main room we now have some light. Then the psychic sees an object he believes is important to us, though he does not know why. It is a musical instrument, a viol. With the backpacks we now have we are able to take all this stuff with us. With we more confidence we head for the only door out of this chamber of horrors.

Leaving Our Saviour, entering The Chute of Death

There is another terrible smell of death and decay here as we very carefully look about. A stack of bodies in white robes lies heaped at the bottom of a steep wooden chute ahead of us. To the left is a rubble choked passage, while to the right is a wooden staircase leading up. The cleric advises us to stay away from the bodies, as they appear to have died from a plague-like disease. I lead us cautiously towards the stairs, checking to see if they are trapped or safe to use. I edge up the steps as they seem safe, but after a couple of turns I reach a rockfall of the roof collapsed down on the stairs. The psychic says he knows something of engineering and that he thinks the collapse is recent and not safe to try and dig out. We think again about going up via the chute. Taking the tables from the first room, we lay them carefully down on the diseased corpses. Then the human fighter takes the rope and grapnel and climbs carefully over the bodies, then confidently up the chute to the top. She pushes open a lid on top of the chute, finding a small empty room. Then with the grapnel firmly fixed, the fighter lets down the rope to help the rest of us up.

In this small room there is not much to explore, so once we are all up and ready I check the only door out. Listening carefully I hear a steady drumming - could it be rain? Opening the door we find it does lead outside, and it is indeed raining. We have come out in a narrow alleyway with trampled flower beds and high walls. The rain is warm, and not as refreshing as I hoped from the other side of the door. More horrifically, creeping over the wall and louring above us is that same yellow fog I remembered from my dream. The buildings are not familiar to any of us. Again there is only one more door onwards. I trip on something I don’t see on the way to the door. Passing through it I’m shocked to hear a nervous shout from my left. I can just make out a barricade some 20 feet away, while there are two doors in front of me and a long passageway leading into the dark to my right.

‘Halt! Stay right there.’
The guard seems to have a crossbow so I obey. ‘We don’t want no more of you filthy ‘gangers.’ I protest that we were prisoners down in the cells, but the guard says to wait and tell it to his leader. The leader is as suspicious as his trooper, and it takes convincing talk from our cleric to gives us a chance to get past his guard post. He says the town has been overrun by monsters and doppelgangers, and if we bring him 3 dead ‘gangers he’ll consider letting us past. With little choice other than a fight against a determined, and seemingly lawful crew we accept, and head for the first door ahead of me to the right. First though we go back to the chimney and recover the grapnel and rope, and hammer the chimney lid into place. We always have one doppelganger in a cell if we can’t find any others…

Rats in the Boiler Room

The fighter leads us into this first room, dominated by two large metal boilers in the corner. She sees glowing eyes under the far boiler as she starts to look around. Two rats and a rat-like thing rush out to attack, hunger driving their actions. The fighter takes a couple of bites, as does the inquisitor. The two warriors kill two of the beasts quickly though. The psychic and I can only miss with our crossbows, and I switch to my rapier so I don’t have to fire into combat. The cleric moves up behind the fighters to help them with some healing. Cornering the last creature, the three of us kill the last creature. The psychic recognises the unusual rat-thing with feeler-like tentacles as a Zoog, a small beast from another plane. We search around the room and find two sun rods, magical forms of light under the boiler. With our fighters still badly hurt, and the spellcasters out of magic. We decide to rest up in this room, after dumping the rat corpses out in the hallway. Remembering a power I can only use once a day, I hold the occult viol in my hands and try to see what history it might have. It is hard to see clearly, as I find it difficult to concentrate, but I get a strong flash of an aged man dressed in blue playing the instrument.

Then I take a turn at watch, listening out for any activity in the corridor. I see the faces of the others strangely expressive in the night. When I take my turn to rest, I understand why… I have a powerful dream, which becomes a nightmare. I can’t remember it all clearly, but it seemed linked to my oldest dream - a terrifying, powerful creature of seems to be chasing me, while I hear a voice say ‘stem the flow, feed the hunger’. When I wake I actually have physical wounds like bites and claw marks, and I don’t feel at all rested. The cleric heals me up along with the still injured inquisitor. It seems we all had dreams, but we don’t share them yet.

The half-orc can see into the gloom fairly well, but the rest of us need the light so we edge forward with our new sun rod to light the way. There are two doors on the opposite side of the corridor. We check each in turn and find some useful supplies - blankets, a lantern and a hammer. There’s a strong smell of chlorine but no usable cleaning products left. In the second room a poisonous centipede surprises the inquisitor, but he manages to kill it without suffering a bite. She takes the tarnished necklace she finds there as a memento, along with more blankets and a set of manacles. We’ve also found a jar of acid and a mirror, and a holy symbol for the cleric’s god of knowledge. Further down the corridor we see what appears to be an office room of files and cases. We use the mirror to see into the space without showing our light, and see an almost human creature engaged in some activity on the floor. We get closer and see it is layout and measuring strips of some material. The fighter distracts the creature with some stones thrown past it, and now we are sure it is a creature of evil and thus we attack.

Attacked by Haunted Hands and a Head.

We cut into the creature as we catch it by surprise, and it is soon dispatched. We realise with horror that the material it was sorting is human skin and we are very glad to have killed it. Searching about this space we find some garish but comfortable red cat fur boots, which I wear, a silver masterwork dagger which the cleric takes and a second mirror. We drag the doppelganger corpse back to the barricade to show the guard, and we have to show them the fresh wounds to prove it wasn’t one they had already killed. I feel I’m moving quieter with these bright boots, and lead the party back to end of the corridor. Another rockfall at the end of the corridor seems to leave door at the far north as the only way forward, when I see something in the rubble. It’s the corpse of a woman, her lower body trapped in the rubble. But something about it makes me wary of getting too close. Something is writhing inside it…

The warriors stand by me, the fighter throwing a stone at the corpse. It explodes in a nasty fashion, and a disembodied head and hands launch out of the viscera to assault us. The fighter takes a butt from the head, but I manage to skewer it against the wall. The fighter then kills one of the hands, but the other gets another a slap in again on her before I kill it with my trusty rapier. The cleric thinks this a haunt, a spectral being that has taken over the corpse. We try to burn it using our new lantern and some rags. It seems to be consumed and we set about checking the next door in search of more doppelgangers, hints of our lost memories or of the terrible doom we feel closing in...

Notes -
(1) A Sanity Check (Will Save) for seeing the horrific death of a helpless victim. The psychic and i make it, but the others don’t.

(2) We each gain a Trait from this experience… I am ‘Driven By Guilt’, though I don’t know what for yet...

The Keeper (or GM) made us cross out our characters’ names on our character sheets. A bit harder to do with those using Hero Lab in real time. We have no names and can only describe each other by class and physical appearance. My red hair stands out but I don’t have a nickname yet.

Neat cork dungeons were created by Scott, who has been waiting to start this game for quite a while.
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