Episode XI: Cutting Cards
Abraxas Silvermane (Connor), *Akkamas Mohaïva (Mike), *Braxton Chabbone (Steve), Jone Constance (Aaron), Kelwyn (Rodney), Tim (Shaun), Toman (Mason), **Velius (Paul), and **Ziyal (Joy)
The Hellblazers stepped away from the Great Machine, Ocasta’s Transmuter, dejected. While Braxton was successful in transferring the magical properties from the Crescentian halberd to a scimitar for Kelwyn, he was less successful with his Dragonslayer. Trying to move its special abilities from longsword to greatsword proved fatal to both weapons.
Deciding to explore the rest of Ocasta’s Lair, they all pressed on save for Velius, who remained behind to further study the Transmuter.
Tim led the party into the next chamber where they had battled the flesh golem before Time was reset by Jace ibn Alhazared. The elf secured the manual there while the rest of the group searched the room. Jone removed a strange amulet from the golem while Braxton took a magical halberd from the creature to replace his ruined greatsword.
Leaving Wilbough and Ziyal behind, in the next chamber, they discovered a room quartered by twenty 50′ tall columns radiating out from a 15′ square fire pit.
Abraxas sent Littlecrow into the fire pit to investigate it further. She discovered it to be 10′ deep with the flames billowing out of a magical portal of some such.
Within each quarter was a table and four chairs. To the southwest, Jone discovered a Handy Haversack and a magical bone mask (a mask made of bone, if you will). To the southeast, Braxton discovered strange carvings in the tabletop. As Kelwyn collected the oak shavings, he determined the markings were some kind of guild symbol.
To the northeast, Toman examined a hand axe thrust into the table bisecting a playing card. He left all behind, though Braxton later claimed it for him. To the northwest, Abraxas, Jone, and Kelwyn all examined four cards that were laid out on the table. These proved to be magical traps with a being imprisoned within each, supposedly by a wizard with ties to a former despot known as Durathor.
The first card housed a halfling who offered to exchange one item for another. The second was a minor devil calling himself Mephisto the Younger who offered to answer any question truthfully. Both of those cards were returned face down.
The third was a dryad who promised a boon to Kelwyn if he would free her and take her back to the prime material plane before the sun set there again. He pulled her free and promised to try and see her back to the woodlands she had been kidnapped from.
The final card housed a monk of the Dragon Order who implied he could only be freed by a former member of his monastery, a tielfling with red skin with vitiligo patching. Jone agreed to hang onto the card and reunite the monks should their paths cross. More on that later.
Meanwhile, in a room north of there, the party began to assemble. Abraxas examined the bookcases, discovering an illusory map of Waterdeep, while Akkamas looked over a nearby table. On it was a deck of cards, laid out in a Dead Man’s Hand Solitaire pattern, a leather-bound journal, and a goblet, half full with a red liquid. Noticing something swimming about inside the cup, Akkamas poured some out onto the table, the liquid burning through the tabletop and floor beneath, creating a vacuum breach (“vacuums suck”). Worse, from the goblet rose a long, snaking tentacle that immediately attacked the party.
The party swarmed into action, with Abraxas and Akkamas attacking the fiend magically, while Tim, Braxton, and Toman tore into the beast with melee weapons.
Akkamas tried to grab the journal, but only succeeded in knocking it the floor where it was drawn to the vacuum breach, sealing it. Abraxas sent Littlecrow after it. She retrieved the journal, but by ripping it away from its back cover which remained sealed to the vacuum for a few moments, then it was sucked through the tear in to the extra-dimensional fabric.
Abraxas was snagged by the tentacle and knocked unconscious when his head hit the floor. Kelwyn came to the wizard’s aid, accidentally setting one of the bookshelves on fire, while the rest of the party drove the tentacle back into its cup.
Tim kicked the goblet from the table where it landed upside down on the floor and was drawn over the vacuum tear. They all quickly exited the chamber to find Jone sitting sullen and wounded.
The arcane trickster, who had discovered a cursed Deck of Many Things much earlier, had been fighting against the compulsion to draw from the deck. He failed twice. His first draw was The Star, giving him a boost to his dexterity, while the second pull was more ominous — The Rogue. Someone, somewhere, has had a change of heart about the streetwise charlatan, and is looking for some payback. But that card was the least of his worries. Another, more extant card drew his attention.
Jone, it seems, had decided to put the Monk Card away, placing it inside the Handy Haversack. This created a magical backlash as the two extra-dimensional constructs came into conflict. All four cards were destroyed, as was the dryad.
Picking up the pieces, the party moved south, entering another room to find Ziyal, now in female form,communing with a dark green orb while Wilbough sat on a neaby table reading from a thick tome.
Ziyal reported she was able to view the interior of Shadow House in Hommlet and that she was in direct communication with the gods of Dreigotter. Erde, Goddess of the Earth, informed her that the Abbot of Shadow House, Father Rastas has betrayed the Order and the he and his three companions — a red skinned tiefling monk, a half-elven acrobat, and blue-skinned northern bard — were seeking the Hand of Vecna for their own purposes and that they must be stopped.
Akkamas and Kelwyn moved into the next chamber, discovering an adventuring party’s gear, as Ziyal disconnected from her divine communion. And thus, another thrilling misadventure came to a close.
The Hellblazers‘ next game is tentatively scheduled for Friday, September 14th.
DM’s Note: Last night was a lot of fun. There was a lot of laughter at the table. I tried something different from most of the sessions I run. I tried to inject whimsical illusions into the narrative as the antagonists, to structure the game around these extra-dimensional puzzles. I think this, ultimately, may have been a mistake. It was, perhaps, too strange and different. By removing the weight and seriousness, I got the sense that the players were less invested, too removed from the larger picture.
*Played via Skype
**Absent/Ran by DM
+Had to leave early