Chapter #359

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                                  +
                                +   +
                              +       +
                            +           +
                          +               +
                        +                   +
                      +                       +
                    +      THE ADVENTURERS      +
                      +                       +
                        +      Epic II      +
                          +               +
                            +           +
                              +       +
                                +   +
                                  +

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+    Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and      +
+  other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc.  +
+  However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or      +
+  authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these  +
+  stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any    +
+  way, shape, or form.                                             +
+    The player characters contained in these writings are copy-    +
+  right 1991-6 by Thomas Miller.  Any resemblance to any persons   +
+  or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental.  +
+  Copying and/or distribution of these tales is permissible only   +
+  under the sole condition that no part of them will be used or    +
+  sold for profit.  In that case, I hope you enjoy them...         +
+                                                                   +
+                                  Thomas Miller                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  THE PARTY:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Alindyar         16th level dark elven wizard                (N) +
+    stone golem                                                    +
+  Peldor           19th level human thief                      (N) +
+    Bosco          11th level halfling thief                   (N) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        1/22/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       a dark, narrow tunnel                               +
+  Climate:     warm and muggy                                      +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Men should stop fighting among themselves and start fighting    +
+   insects."                                                       +
+                                                - Luther Burbank   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                    CCCLIX.  Bugs in the System





  After shrinking to a fraction of their normal size, Peldor, Alindyar,
and Bosco are ready to explore the world within the walls of the Green
Dragon Inn.

Peldor:  Explore, bah!  We have to find that ring, and soon!
Alindyar:  Fear not, we shall.
Bosco:  Yeah.  And besides, with Bosco, Miniature Explorer, along for
  the trip, how can you fail?  (he suddenly notices a huge stone shape
  nearby)  Whoa!  What's that thing?
Alindyar:  My stone golem.  I reduced it to this size mere moments
  before I reduced us.
Bosco:  (nodding)  Oh, yeah.
Peldor:  Good thinking - the golem gives us some extra muscle.

  They had been approaching the gaping cave which was in reality a
small rat-hole in the wooden wall at the back of Peldor's bedroom
closet.  Alindyar spoke a single word, and a bright light appeared
on the tip of his staff.  Entering cautiously, the foursome found
themselves within a roughly-cut corridor.

Peldor:  Not cut.  Chewed.
Alindyar:  Aye.
Bosco:  (realizes that at this size, they are much smaller than the
  rats and mice that chewed the passageway in the first place)  Yipes!
stone golem:  (lumbers along in front of the party, its primary
  purpose to run interference)
Peldor:  (to Alindyar)  Maybe you should have cast that light on the
  golem's chest...
Alindyar:  (nodding)  Aye, a sound idea.  Perhaps next time.

  They hurried through the passage, pausing only briefly to examine
the unusual things they encountered:  seemingly-huge balls of dust,
spear-sized splinters of wood, dried-up droppings, bits of toenail...

Peldor:  It's really a whole different world down here.
Bosco:  Really-  (he spots something large and shiny ahead)  Hey,
  look!

  Ahead was a thick metallic disc, large enough for one of them to
stand on.  They quickly realized that the thing was a coin.

Bosco:  (to Alindyar)  Say, couldn't we enlarge this when we enlarge
  ourselves?
Alindyar:  Nay.
Bosco:  How come?
Peldor:  It doesn't work that way.
Bosco:  (trying to pick up the coin, he grunts and groans but is
  unsuccessful)
stone golem:  (moves on)

  Before much longer, they came to the passage's end.  More correctly,
it was an opening, into a larger space - probably the high, narrow
area between the walls of two adjacent rooms.  Venturing ahead slowly
and carefully, they marveled at the mammoth appearance of the chamber
they had entered.  Its walls rose into the darkness on either side,
and there were similar endless stretches to the left and right.  Only
straight ahead did they see another wall, and this one had no burrow-
hole.

Peldor:  Hell...which way did the ring go?
Alindyar:  'Twould seem either left or right...
Bosco:  (eyeing the dust that covers the wooden floor)  I'd say left,
  guys.

  The halfling had a good point; to the right, the dust lay relatively
undisturbed, but to the left, various tracks were visible.  A long,
fresh groove in the dust suggested that something heavy had been
dragged in that direction.

Peldor:  All right, let's go.  (he moves out)
Alindyar:  First the golem...
Peldor:  (yields to the gigantic golem)  Err, right.
Bosco:  I'll cover our backs.  (he walks along backwards, at the rear
  of the party, scanning for anything that might appear from that
  direction)

  They had been following the tracks for only a few moments when a
scuttling noise was heard from the darkness ahead.

Peldor:  Hold!
Alindyar:  (says something to his golem in the drow language)
stone golem:  (spreads its arms, providing more cover for the three
  adventurers)
Bosco:  (seeing nothing behind the party, he turns to face the front
  flank)  Hey, what's-

  Without warning, several huge spiders charged forth, their thin
legs waving and their dripping fangs poised to deliver a lethal bite
to whoever they caught!  Alindyar began spellcasting, while Peldor
and Bosco gripped their swords tightly, awaiting the monsters.
  The first spider moved forward with surprising speed, locking its
fangs onto the golem.  However, despite its size, the construct was
still fashioned from enchanted stone.  The spider's pointed fangs
snapped off, and before it could retreat, the golem had pulverized
its soft body with a single blow.
  Galvanized into action, Peldor and Bosco moved to intercept the
spiders that had moved around the golem.  Bosco leapt into the air,
boosted by his magical boots, and sailed over one spider.  Before
the arachnid could react, the halfling had spun about and severed
two of its legs.  Peldor watched, amazed; he knew that the halfling
had once acquired a set of magical boots, one gauntlet, and one
enchanted eye-lens.  He hadn't been aware that the gauntlet gave
its wearer such strength, though.
  The thief had a nagging thought that something was wrong, and
then he realized what:  the spiders weren't coming anywhere near
him!  The reason suddenly dawned on Peldor, and he looked at the
enchanted ring on one finger of his left hand.  It appeared that
the ring affected spiders as well as six-legged insects.  Peldor
retreated toward Alindyar, having decided to use the warding powers
of his ring to keep roaming spiders away from the wizard.
  He needn't have worried.  A single incantation from the dark elf
froze all of the remaining spiders in their tracks, and just like
that, the battle was over.

Bosco:  Hey!  What happened?
Alindyar:  An ancient drow spell against spiders.
Peldor:  Nifty.  I'd rather have my ring, but nifty.
Alindyar:  Although I do not subscribe to conventional drow mindsets,
  I still find certain of the spells...useful at times.
Bosco:  (stalking the nearest spider)
Alindyar:  I would refrain from that if I were you.
Bosco:  (pauses)  Why?
Alindyar:  Because I now control the spiders.
Bosco:  Oh.  (he eyes the gigantic arachnid before him)  Well, good
  thing you stopped me.
Alindyar:  Aye.
Peldor:  So what, now we use them as scouts?
Alindyar:  (nodding)  Scouts, and infantry.  (he says something to the
  spiders, and the four that remain form into a line in front of the
  party)
Bosco:  (wondering if he should try to ride a spider)  Then I'd be...
  Bosco, Spider-Rider!
Peldor:  (amused)  Let's continue on.

  They did, and Alindyar's spell proved very useful when the party
encountered a pack of huge cockroaches.  The roaches were menacing,
true, but they didn't have the poisonous bite that the spiders did,
or their aggressiveness.  These factors, combined with Peldor's
insect-repellent aura, Bosco's leaping, nimble strikes, and the
golem's brute strength and near-invulnerability, ensured victory for
the adventurers and their strange allies.

Alindyar:  (gazing upon the battle)  One spider dead, and another
  wounded.
Bosco:  Four dead roaches, though.  (he looks around triumphantly)
  Four!
Peldor:  Bosco, Roach-Slayer.
Bosco:  Right.
Alindyar:  (to Bosco)  Do you write these titles down, perchance?
Bosco:  Not really.
Alindyar:  I thought not.
Bosco:  But I remember them all!
Peldor:  I thought so.

  Continuing onward, they followed the trails in the dust.  At first,
Peldor was alarmed that the spiders would erase these trails as they
walked in the front rank, but Bosco assured his liege that he was
able to spy the trails well beyond the range of Alindyar's magical
light.  It seemed that the halfling's magical eye-lens (which had
come in the same black box as the pair of boots and the gauntlet)
had various and useful visual powers.  Matched with the strength
conferred by the gauntlet, and the leaping and speed granted by
the pair of boots, the entire set was a treasure indeed.

Bosco:  (almost even with the rank of three spiders that leads the
  group)  Yo!
Peldor:  What?
Bosco:  The tracks turn right...there.  (he points to another hole
  in the wall, to the left)
Alindyar:  Whatever animals took the ring have wound a strange course
  through this inn's walls.
Peldor:  Let's hope it doesn't get much stranger.

  It didn't, not at first.  The new tunnel wound a lot, with numerous
right-angle turns, but there were no side branches.  After a half-hour
or so, though, it took a steep turn downward.  The spiders had no
problems keeping their footing, but the adventurers had to be careful,
lest they slip and fall into the darkness ahead.

stone golem:  (making its own handholds in the wooden wall as it
  descends the steep ramp-like tunnel)
Alindyar:  (tells the spiders something in drow)
Peldor:  What was that all about?
Alindyar:  I merely told them to remain alert.
Peldor:  (looks surprised)  Oh...
Bosco:  Are you saying that sometimes, even spiders get slack and
  careless?
Alindyar:  Something like that.

  After what seemed like hours, the downward slope tapered off, at
the same time emptying into a larger, cave-like area.  Their entrance
into this place was greeted by a long, segmented monster.  Dozens of
legs propelled the thing toward the adventurers, and a pair of curved
pincers threatened terrible harm for anyone caught within them.
  Again, prior planning and quick reactions complimented superior
numbers.  Alindyar shouted something to his golem, and the gigantic
construct walked right into the foe's pincers.  The monster fell for
the trick, unknowing, and the golem grabbed the pincers, holding them
in place.  As the spiders went to work on the worm-thing's carapaced
body, Bosco found his own spot to leap onto.  His sword dug deeply,
and the combined pain of the sword-wounds and the spider-bites caused
the worm to writhe madly.  The wounded spider was crushed between the
worm and the floor, while Bosco was hurled away.

Bosco:  (slams into the wall, feet-first)  Ungh!  (he falls to the
  floor)
Peldor:  Uh-oh.  (unable to join the fight, thanks to his ring, he
  instead rushes to help Bosco)

  The worm was slowing down now, its body filled with poison from
the spiders.  The latter insects quickly had the dying foe wrapped
in webbing, much like the roaches earlier.  Alindyar let them do
their thing - there was no point in forcing the arachnids against
their natural tendencies.
  To one side, Peldor was surprised to find Bosco on his feet and
clear-headed.

Peldor:  You okay?
Bosco:  Couldn't be better.  (he looks around)  What happened to
  that worm-thing?
Peldor:  The spiders got it.
Bosco:  I guess I spoiled my chance to be Bosco, Worm-Cutter.
Peldor:  Not necessarily.
Bosco:  Hmm.

  Shortly, they were ready to continue.  There were no more trails
in the dust, but a quick exploration of the cavern revealed another
roughly-chewed tunnel (as well as a smaller one, almost certainly
belonging to the worm-thing.)  Bosco had to be forcibly restrained
from crawling into this latter exit.

Peldor:  We're on a mission, Bosco.
Bosco:  (smirks)  Oh, all right.

  The group, now with only two spiders in the lead, entered the new
tunnel cautiously.





next:   the ring, and its mighty guardians
ftp:    ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:       http://www.access.digex.net/~dpm
           http://www3.hmc.edu/~kshobaki/adventurers
homepage:  http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv.html
mail:   tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu  (preferred)
        thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu    (emergency)
notes:  Baseball's back on, and if you know me, you know what this
  means:  better stories, and more often.  There's just something
  about having a baseball game on in the background...
    Assuming that Peldor, Alindyar, and Bosco live through #360,
  Ged's next up, along with his quest and whoever he manages to
  convince to come with him.  Then we'll revisit Rillen and Songa.
  Only _then_ will we see how Belphanior's faring in Helgate.
    Thanks to the dozens of you who've sent in plot ideas in recent
  weeks.  I can't use them all right now, but I am saving the ones
  that I think will fit into my overall scheme.

    Speaking of schemes, here's a shitload of fanmail - everything
  through 349's big battle.  It's a lot, but I've gotta post it
  sometime...





Thomas,

Great stories.  While deep down I don't like Belphanior going over
the edge, I have to agree that it was bound to happen sometime.  The
attack strategy was about the best possible.  Keep on swinging at
Belph and keep him off balance until the spell-chuckers could bring
him down. :-)  Good thing for Belph that they are still his friends.
I'm looking foreward to the great demon battle.  At least the party
is still geared for a fight. :-)

Keep the stories coming,

Marcus



Have fun with Orcus! :) This is a great storyline ...

ERic



Yowza, that was a good story. I agree that the battle
would have been very short, and now the main group is
still in shape to at least provide some amount of defense
against this latest attack.

Thanks for pointing out the problems with using the anti-magic sphere
against Belphanior: it seemed like such an easy way for the gang
to shut off the eye's influence, but not if the elf wasn't already
nearby.

Ged may be more pious than before, but he's still the same old
ass we've grown to know and... uh, well know. At least he should be
able to hold his own (for his ego's sake at least) against the
hyorde of powerful undead attacking the party.

Leonard



I think it worked out fine...

He had been in combat for _how_ long?  I personally would have
teleported in when he was sleeping.. :]

He was outmatched even for Belphanior.  He couldn't have killed
people fast enough with Blackrazor to heal his wounds...as well,
he was bound to succumb to a missed saving throw at some point...
with all those spellcasters.  I like how you handled the demon-
spawn with the Eye of Elik though...  Very interesting....

Patrick



Actually, to my thinking, it was rather well done.  Even though
there are members of the party that do not agree with Belphaniors
bloodthirsty ways, he was still a companion, and I would guess
even Ged would not kill Belphanior if there was a way around it.

Tom



Good job with this one!

Belphanior was hopelessly outclassed by the rest of the group, there
was no possible way that he could have won.  He might have been able
to escape but not win.

A note on the rules side of this.  The Eye must have an incredible
Ego score.  According to the rules governing an item taking over its
possessor it is level+chr+wis (I think).  Anyways Belphanior has over
42 just counting his levels.  The Eye must have a HUGE ego to be able
to beat that.  Oh well, it makes for a good story and the Eye might
have some other things going for it as well, such as Orcus's direct
influence.

It looks to be a great battle shaping up.  One problem for the group
is that they most likely prepared a great many spells that would
incapacitate instead of kill.  They weren't trying to kill Belphanior,
just save him.  If Ged can whip a quick heal for Belph, HE was loaded
for bear. =)

One thing that they might have going for them: Ged.  If he is high
enough level to cast HOLY WORD, then this fight will be over in short
order.  If memory serves a Holy Word will send all extra planar
beings back to their plane, no save!  Something to think about.

Keep up the good work!

                                Marc



     Yes, oh yes. That was absolutely fantastic. (re story 348)
I have been waiting so long for the party/Belphanior confrontation
and it was perfect. How long did you spend thinking about how they
would take belphanior out? Or did you ask some of the players for
their opinions?

keep up the shit hot work!!

  Ben



I have been enjoying Belphaniors latest troubles and am glad to see
more minor characters of late.

Having recently finised #348 I was wondering if Belphanior would
attempt to use his "Horn o' Doom"?  As a GM, I would consider this a
mistake on his part.  Since Orcus is the prince of undead and persuming
he has sent these undead towards our heros would the prince try to
prevent a use which would benefit the heros?  Perhaps the horn would
backfire on Belphanior and summon undead which immediately attack him?
Perhaps the horn talks back at him when Belphanior tries to blow it;
the mouthpiece might shapeshift into Orcus's mouth who utters something
good and evil!

Anyhow, how would you handle the results if Belphanior did blow the
horn?  I know our heros are great, but, this might be a good time for
one of them to make a mistake.  Who could really blame him for a mistake
considering his recent experiences?

Keep up the good work!
wayne



Still, episode 348 was quite good, fast-paced and the fight realistic.
I wish the next fight is as brutal and deadly as their fight with the
Balor years back. Actually, there's no need to wish. I _know_ it will
be brutal and deadly :)

VP



Thomas,

Just finished #348.  Loved it.

There was no need for the justification at the end of #348.  I mean,
just what chance does 1 lunatic have against 11 experienced and
organized opponents.  The battle perhaps would have drawn out a bit
longer had Belphanior been rational and able to use his great
intelligence a bit more, but he was a raving lunatic at the time.  I
didn't get the impression that the group didn't think they COULD
subdue him, they were just concerned about the damage Belphanior
could inflict before he was subdued.

And now the legions of Orcus!  Wow.  With the high moral character
of most of the group, they certainly aren't going to let demons run
amok, so they will want to stand and fight, try to close the gate.
They will also want to protect the inapacitated Belphanior
(especially Otto), but Razor Charlie has no such loyalties.  I can't
wait to see how this one turns out.

Kurt



Good story!

I especially liked the descriptions of the demons, which were very
effective.  Too often, people are quick to name things first, which
spoils the ability to envision it in your mind's eye.

TM>    Thanks.  I worked hard on those demon descriptions, copying the
TM>  meat of their MC entries w/o plagarizing, and tried a new method
TM>  of transition-to-battle as I went.  I'm happy to hear that the
TM>  desired effect was achieved.

Are demons not immune to fire, though?  I haven't played in soooooo
long, I don't recall.  _The Adventurers_ isn't AD&D anyway, so it
doesn't really matter regardless.

One comment though.  Ever since Peldor settled down, it seems that
he has lost a large degree of effectiveness in battles.  Bosco now
is the one lurking in shadows, backstabbing in opportune moments.
Peldor seems to try a move direct approach, and doesn't do too well.
He always used to seem more carefree and yet intelligent.  Now he
is more tame, serious, and more disorganized in combat.  This may be
the result of his maturing and move away from adventuring.  Was this
all done on purpose?  Am I just reading too much in here?

Peldor used to be my favourite, but he hasn't been for a good 50
episodes or so.  I guess Belphanoir is now - he is always doing
interesting things.  I'd rather _be_ Peldor, but I'd rather read
about Belphanoir!  :-)

Regards,

Richard



Most definitely!!!  The descriptions of the demons are very good,
and I was quite happy that Belphanior did redeem himself by
destroying the Eye.

Marcus

TM>  I don't know if "redeem" is the word I'd use...



hey thomas,

a truly excellent way to end the fight.  the suspense was killing
me, i didn't know where you were going with it.  i liked what you
did.

and you kept belphanior his own man.  for that you deserve a ton of
gratuity.  if anything, he must remain uncontrolled by anything other
than himself.  and yes, that even means love...  unless you go with
the old addage "love conquers all!"  but somehow victoria doesn't
seem like the settling down type either, it must be a docile elven
nymph to finally keep belphanior out of trouble.  but he's an elf
and has a long time ahead of him before he has to settle down...

and i'm glad you were able to slip some humor in there too.  the
line from _the princess bride_, as soon as the eye first said
"inconceivable" i was thinking of inigo saying "i don't think it
means what you think it means."  this always makes it seem as if
players are sitting around a table and dice are rolling.  a truly
great effect.

what could happen in episode 350?!?  i thought they would have this
kind of fight to mark such a grand number.  i guess i'll have to
wait and see what's cooking in that marvellous brain of yours...

thanks.

have fun,

matt



That was a most excellent episode!  I only wish there could have
been more of it...

-Tony



Thomas.

This from a Episode 1 - reader : the stories keep getting better
and better...

I just finished reading Adventurers 349, and it was just great.
I like the way you handled Belph's reaction: the only way he
would indeed refuse power, is when it means giving up
his own freedom.
Also, it was nice seeing the whole party together in action
again. :)

Sam



Wow.

Thanks for the mega-episode, and all the fan mail was cool too.
I noticed your beer comments, but didn't respond, because once you
get aussies talking about beer ...  (I'm an aussie, btw).

The Carlton Cold, and Hahn Ice beers are nice, though.  Some of the
Matilda Bay beers are also pretty good, perhaps an acquired taste.

Adrian



Oh man, Oh man, Oh man!

349 was a great episode, I'm jumping around in front of my moniter
"Go Ged!", "Go Bosco!", "Wow, Pow, Sock", "Hey!  Go Belph!"  But all
the time in the back of my head I keep thinking, "But this is only
349!!!"

Goodness but I can't wait for _350_.


                Salutations from Mt. Kolvir,

                    Dave, Marie and Morgan
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





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