Using My Monsters

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Dromite Player Characters

Sorry for the lack of new stuff. I have been a busy little fellow in the real world, and so have not had time to get much down. 

Do you remember the Dromite? I do, and I was always a bit gutted that no one ever player one in 3.5. However, at the moment I am busily converting quite a few races from earlier editions up to 4e (it's incredible how much more custom stuff I have been creating since cutting off reliance on the rigid, official tools), and although copyright stops me from publishing most of them (I long to show you my Duodrone race, but it's based on the recent article in Dragon, so I can't), the Dromite is still part of the old SRD, so I think I am cool...I hope. 

Anway, I have created a 4e player race version of the "Bug Men", and although they are not play tested, think they should be cool.

If you do use it, please let me know how it goes, and how the feats and powers balance out. 

Have fun!

Friday, 24 August 2012


No games this week, so I thought I would share this little gem!

I have two games next week, though Guild Wars 2 also comes out for me this Saturday. I do promise to stick a few bits and bobs (as well as the next Ormid et Al report) up here in the next 7-days or so!

Friday, 17 August 2012

State of Play - Shnecke's Wolves - August 14th, 2012

1/8/1472; 02:51 – 10:00 (contd..) – The freed slaves are brought to the Ravager, and allowed to seek a place to rest. The rescued sailors agree that if the party wish to keep the vessel, they would be willing to serve as crew (as long as they can expect fair pay).

The party then spend time searching the ship from top to bottom. Despite its small size the Ravager is a potent vessel, designed to ride high on the waves, enabling it to make use of its manoeuvrability to bring its 16 broadsides (8 on each side) against enemies. Its versatility is enhanced by its magical sails, which have air elementals bound to them, allowing them to be filled with wind even on the calmest days.

By far the grandest room belonged to Santhiel. The poison needle trap on the door is easily spotted and disable by the assassin, and within the group find a lavishly decorated room. Amongst the many keepsakes on display in this chamber are three suits of scale armour. Closer inspection shows them to be complete skins taken from some aquatic humanoid, and Grigori realises they could be used to make fine armour if enchanted.

Behind an oil painting (done in the style of Lower Malgoroth's artistic elite, which depicts Santhiel heroically stood at the prow of his vessel, a fleet of burning ships slumped in stormy waters behind him), the assassin finds a hidden vault built into the wall. In this is a large book filled, (they find once Grigori has enacted a ritual that lets him read Dohr'Khustan) with information on what ships the Ravager has taken out, various hostages the crew have taken over the years, a number of bribes that have been paid to officials in the Feyan city of Jadasvere, as well as information about a slave ring operating in the same city, who took many of the pirates unfortunate guests. Also in the vault is a huge bronze coffer. Within this lie several healing potions, three ritual scrolls detailing a spell that can, for a while, protect an individual against drowning and being crushed by deep water, a small fortune in gems, carved Anzotรจ shells and precious metals, and most interestingly of all, an ancient wand that Grigori believes pre-dates the third age (a curious thing that is not an implement, but a repository for actual castings of magic, just waiting to be unleashed with the right magical or artificer's manipulation).The coffer also hold a fine pistol decorated with pearls and abalone shell, as well as several rounds of ammunition (the assassin claims these).

With the ship secured, and further attack apparently not forthcoming, the group take a long overdue rest...

10:01 – 10:40 -The group awaken, and turn their thoughts towards facing a Xareth'Chelde. No one is able to remember anything other than the common tavern tales about the feared Eye Tyrants, and even Shnecke seems a little worried about facing one.

The group leave the Ravager, telling those on board that if they are not back within two days, the ship is theirs, and they should leave. They step onto shore, trying not to breathe too deeply (the many bodies from the day before are already bloating and leaking, their stench filling the air, and swarms of slugs and pale centipede like things cover them, feasting on the rotting fare), and head back towards the garishly decorated chamber, where the secret way to the Maw lies.

10:43 - In the altar room, Skull is covered in fresh blood, and four more cultists lie broken at its feet – apparently having come to worship at some time, unaware of the situation in the shrine.

10:46 – 10:55 - The group arrive at the garish chamber, the roars and bellows of the Gulguthydra echoing along the sloping tunnel. Spending a few moments searching his memory, the priest locates the hidden switches, and places his fingers in the three eye carvings. Pressing, there is a click, and a finely worked doorway swings wide in the wall, revealing a curving stairway of truly ancient construction, which, like the chamber they stand in, is swarming with noisome carvings.

The group allow Varracuda some time to try and sense what, if any, magics lie ahead. After a few moments of concentration, he reports that there are several columnar sources of potent energy, which seem connected to another source of magic, which lies between them. These, he states, seem to be linked to a less obvious energy source a little way away.

10:56 – 10:59 - With Jaeger checking the way ahead for traps, the group carefully move down the stairs, trying not to look too closely at the insane carvings that sprawl across the ancient, blue-grey stone of this area.

At the bottom of the stairs is a lozenge shaped chamber, roughly 60' long. Sections of its monstrously decorated wall have given way and collapsed, spilling rubble and mouldering rock across the floor, and it feels oppressively claustrophobic thanks in part to the crushing weight of mad carvings (mostly teeth, eyes and tentacles) that cover every inch of its decrepit stonework, and in part to the wet, fishy air. Moisture sweats from the surfaces of the walls and ceiling, dripping onto the group, and a greasy miasma hugs the floor, coating everything in a shimmering mantle of slimy mist. At the far end, a pair of heavy, stone, double doors (the source, the genasai realises of the weaker source of magic) blocks further passage, it's surface covered in more insanity provoking symbols and designs. The four sources of magic turn out to come from four columns of grey stone, which have been carved with bands of alien eyes. These surround, in a square, another carving, this time on the floor.

The group can't help but think of it as an altar of sorts, for it seems to incorporate the symbol of Shadrakuul, but horribly modified with eyestalks, monstrous mouths and veiny, grasping tendrils. Varracuda confirms that the carving was another of the magic sources that he sensed, and that is is linked to the columns in some metaphysical manner.

11:00 – 11:15 - A careful inspection of the chamber reveals that a series of powerful and active wards guard the doors. It also reveals that on each of the pillars, one of the bands of eyes is carved into an articulated ring of stone, which allows them to be moved around. Realising that this could be some way of safely opening the doors, Lia suggests they take a closer look, and it quickly becomes apparent that the eyes on the mobile bands are subtly different.

So, we need to match the right eyes up to something, and the door will open?”

The group decide that the eyes should stare at the carving on the floor, and Grigori is asked to remember what the eyes of the Great Maw look like. Taking his time, the priest quickly identifies that the Xareth'Chelde has cruciform pupils, and sure enough, an identical carving is found on each of the moveable bands.

Gripping weapons, and using the pillars as cover, the group carefully move the eye carvings around until all of the cruciform pupilled eyes are staring towards the carving. A subtle tremor shivers through the air, and a series of loud pops are heard from the doors. For a moment nothing else happens, before, with a low rumble and a rush of air, the doors grind open...

11:16 – 11:30 - Beyond is a vast cavern, too large for even the assassin to see its boundaries. A single, rickety wood and rope bridge stretches out across a great gulf of blackness, though from the powerful smell of seaweed and salt that rushes from below, and the distant sounds of slapping waves, the group know that sharks and water lurk far below it. This bridge links, it seems, to a pillar of dark stone, which rises some 80' away from the depths. From the doorway, they can see that this is covered in many layers of dried blood, and Grigori realises that this is where Santhiel was kneeling in the vision.

A strong wind breathes through the cavern, and no one is eager to step onto the swaying bridge.

We'll be sitting ducks.” Growls the barbarian, tightening his grip on his axe.

Beholder's are able to fly,” muses Thatari, scratching his chin, “we would be at a significant disadvantage if we are forced to fight it on the bridges.”

A thought occurs to the Ulnyrr, “Hey! I won't even be able to hit it with my axe! This is stupid!”

A rumbling roar of rage – a glutinous, slobbering bellow – suddenly pounds from the darkness 50' above and over 90' away from the doorway, and a strange constellation of strangely coloured lights can be seen moving towards the group.

Whhuyt tayshtuy mooorsuuls have cuoome to muy lair? Theesh, urr thurr onesh thuyyt huff sluyne maynuy oorv muy shuurvunts.”

It takes the group a few seconds to sort through the drooling accent of the gravelly, sludgy voice, which comes from the dancing points of light, and with horror, they realise that it is really happening – they are about to fight a Xareth'Chelde – the “lights” its burning, deadly eyes...

Shumeth'Dour, the Great Maw of Shadrakuul, has lived for over 40 years in this place, having taken control of a standard shark cult, and warped it into a cult of personality that worships him. In it's 90 years of existence, it has never come across anything that it could not bully into servitude, charm with its magic or blast into ashes.

That ends on this day.

Overconfident, Shumeth allows itself to be lured into the lozenge chamber, thinking that it can easily destroy the invaders. However, surrounded and restricted, it quickly realises its catastrophic error, and is soon fighting for its life. It is an epic battle, which sees the party land some of their finest blows, their terror at what they face crystallising their focus to a deadly edge*, and very soon the oily gore of the monster is pouring in mucus like ropes from his mouth and split body.

Varracuda is momentarily turned to stone, only a saving prayer from the priest managing to avert his permanent petrification. An eyestalk flashes, and Lia is almost devoured by blindingly bright, green energy, which turns her flesh and bones to dust where it touches. Wounds that would kill most men are sliced open by a snarling beam of black energy that flashes from the Xareth'Chelde towards the Ulnyrr, whilst more subtle magics – fear and charming – work their own insidious effects.

However, with its way back blocked, and the group using the cover of the pillars to hide from his attacks, the Beholder is doomed. It roars and bellows in frustration, unable in its supreme arrogance and agony to understand that it has finally picked a fight it cannot win. Time and again, the party find their abilities hampered by its flashing central eye, their minds and energies scattered by its power, but still they strike...still they wound...and with a loud, flat, fart like wail, the huge monster crashes to the floor, its chitinous armour splitting open to allow a flood of stinking guts and strange, alien organs out into the chamber...

...Trying not to choke on the putrid aroma from the aberration's steaming guts (fish and silage), the group stand a moment, gulping air and taking in what they have done...

11:31 – 12:10 - With the Great Maw slain (Grigori casts a preserving ritual on the remains, as it is decided that despite its value as components, it would make an excellent figurehead for their newly acquired ship), the group turn their attention to the chamber beyond. They find the Xareth'Chelde's lair (a fang studded cavern that opens into this vast place some 40' above the level of the bridges), and in a far corner, finally, find the source of the Green Dust – a curious growth of unusual black metal, quite unlike anything anyone has seen before...

Hang on a minute.” Breathes Grigori quietly as he helps the others scrape the residue from the surface, “Is it me, or is this a...”

He takes a step back, shooing the others away.

By the immortals.” Breathes Lia, suddenly shivering as she sees the same thing as the undead.

It's a finger tip.” Grigori looks at his allies, his eyes shining in the half-light, “This huge chunk of metal is somethings' finger tip, which means...”

That there's something we need to check out behind this caverns wall?” Finishes Thatari nodding.

Once we've checked out the Maw's lair of course.” Adds Jaeger, who sits nearby, polishing his crossbow, “Beholders are supposedly great hoarders of magical items, and I intend to get some new gear out of this little escapade”...

Everyone nods.

It's a plan”.

* In reality, we had an incredible run of critical hits in this game. Every player managed to land at least one crit against poor Shumeth in the first couple of rounds, with one round seeing three crits in a row. The Beholder took over 300 points of damage in those opening rounds of combat – though he was still far from bloodied!!!

The Single Most Sensible Thing Wizards Have Said In Ages

Just heard (announced at the keynote speech at Gen Con) that they plan to release electronic versions of the rulebooks for all editions of D&D in the future...Wizards, you are finally showing some intelligence!

I can guarantee that I will not only buy e-book versions of almost all the 4e stuff, but a lot of the older stuff I don't already have (you may have noticed that I tend to use my older edition books a LOT when I am looking for weird and wonderful monsters to throw at my group).

Please let this mark an age of them actually acknowledging that supporting those that have chosen not to play the current iteration of D&D is a good would be nice...really, really nice!

Also, much as I find the Forgotten Realms one of the dullest settings ever, I love the idea that home group play results will shape the future of the official setting. That really is a lovely and masterful plan - kind of a MMORPG in paper form (though...wait....wasn't that supposedly bad before ;P )

I should probably mention that the latest playtest pack is out, and it seems a little more cohesive now. I converted one of the monsters in it to 4e in about 10 minutes (though due to the small print in the OPTA I can't put it up here). Craig (of Ormid fame) is playing a game of it soon, so I will ask him to maybe give me his thoughts for public devourment...

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Rending the Veil - Resurrection Post Sundering

"I'm losing control!”

Grigori is almost being torn apart by the primal forces he has summoned, and can feel his body and spirit being ripped away. Fear almost overwhelms him, almost makes him mispronounce a phrase, as he dwells on where the black winds he has called would take him.

The entire inn now resonates with spiritual energy. Every part of it shines with a dazzling foxfire glow, and balls of ghostly flame dance along its roof. The inn keep wails at the sight of his home being consumed by Maho, and Lia suddenly sees Shi leap to her feet, her hand on her sword.”

- Shnecke's Wolves

It is almost impossible to properly describe the sheer scale of the destruction wrought on the fabric of reality by the Sundering, though any mage or dabbler in even the most minor of magics can tell you of the risks associated with tampering with the dimensional veil of this universe. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise – given the previous impact of the Paradox Engine on such magics – that rituals intended to return the dead to life often go wrong...horribly wrong. Such rituals are not only reaching beyond the quivering walls of this damaged reality, but are opening active gates between the physical world, and psychical realms utterly hostile to mortal life. If not carefully controlled, these rituals can not only kill the casters, but summon foul undead things, permanently bathe an area in death energies, or see the target possessed by a malevolent entity instead of the expected soul...

(Note: Although this is aimed at games set in my world post sundering, the rules could easily be adopted in any campaign where you don't want raising the dead to be such an easy thing...) 

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Dungeons and Dragons Combat Manager Update is OUT!!!!

Simply the most useful bit of software written for 4th Edition, especially the ability to set up a secondary screen with all the initiatives and conditions on it. Love it and use it in every single game. 

Oh, and it's free.

Returning The Horror – Giving the Rust Monster its Bite Back

One of the D&D tropes that never stops making me smile is the fact that a paladin in +6 full plate, would rather go toe to toe with the most malevolent entities of the Abyss, than face a lowly Rust Monster. Since OD&D, these shuffling, armoured monsters have quite rightly sowed utter horror amongst player characters, both in the pen and paper version of the game, and in many electronic adaptations.

And yet, in 4th Edition, the hideous Rust Monster got a bit of a downgrade, with the ability of players to recover enough residuum from their guts to restore their lost items. Now, I understand that losing an item to one of these (or a Xaver – hands up if you remember them), is a horrible experience, but I think it's an iconic one, and as such, as part of my tailoring 4th edition, I'm bringing in some new house rules with respects to Rust Monsters...

Damaging Armour, Shields and Weapons

The mechanic for an item rusting stays the same. It's nice and elegant, gives players chance to change tactics before they lose a cherished item, and captures the feel of the afflicted item slowly corroding before falling to bits. The two modifications I have made to my version of Rust Monsters is that they can use their Dissolve Metal multiple times (Recharge 4, automatically when first bloodied), instead of once per encounter, and medium armours can be affected as well as heavy.

I am also tempted to say that the penalties inflicted on the items affected by its Bite and Rusting Defence stay in place until the items are repaired by an individual who possesses and uses one of the following rituals; Enchant Items, Forge Armour or Forge Weapon (the last two are found in Martial Power 2). The cost of repairing the item would be equivalent to 1/10th its normal value.

Residuum in the Belly

I like, to a degree, the idea of the dissolved weapons enchantment being held within the monster for a while, but hate the fact that you can simply recover the entire value without effort. So, in my campaigns to recover any residuum, a check must be made (and 5 minutes spent in the efforts).
The check will be either an Arcana, Dungeoneering or Nature check.

  • A check Vs a moderate D.C. Of the slain monster's level allows 20% the value of the devoured items to be recovered in residuum.
  • A check against a Hard D.C. Of the monster's level allows 50% the value of the devoured items to be recovered.
  • A check against Hard D.C. +5 allows 75% of the value of the devoured items to be recovered.
  • A check against Hard D.C. +10 allows the entire value of the lost items to be recovered in residuum.

If the check is failed, either the monster has already consumed the residuum, or the material has become hopelessly lost within its guts. The item is lost, and is impossible to recover without a fabled Wish or similar.

Effects on the Game?

Yes, if a character is silly enough to gamble and lose their most potent item, this could make the rest of the adventure very unpleasant. However, a lot of players keep a few backup weapons, or bits of armour (usually with the intention of breaking them down into residuum at the first chance), so they should be able to cope. If you use Inherent Bonuses, there will be no impact at all really.

A DM with at least a little light in their blackened soul might want to place some of the following items into their games in order to give a little protection against the horrible doom of Rust Monster bites...

(please note, Bluesteel items are from 3.0 / 3.5 D&D, and possible earlier editions too. I just converted them to 4th Ed).

Additional Thoughts

Harsh though it is, certain slimes and oozes could be given back their old weapon and armour damaging powers. Black Puddings used to scare the life out of players once they had experienced their weapons turning to smouldering gunk in their caustic bodies, and tactics used to change massively when they shrugged into view.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Servants of the Divine - Servants of the Battle Gods

Looking for some new powers for your battle cleric? Well, download the article below, and get some new* abilities! Also included is some basic info on two of the battle deities in my campaign universe; Banturn'Vortax and Thorduin. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Gangor Head Eater - Urgorgori Bodyguard - Level 15 Elite Brute

(As always add half the monsters level to the modifiers next to the ability scores to get the correct modifier)

Click for biggeningness

Friday, 3 August 2012

State of Play - Shnecke's Wolves - July 30th, 2012

1/8/1472: 02:23 – 02:50 – They attack in waves. The first consists of crew from the Ravager; lowly swabs wielding scimitars, more experienced soldiers, and a few pistoleers. They are hampered somewhat by the need to climb from the dock level (where the group can see the sails of the ship suddenly bulge unnaturally, as a silvery-white glyph sewn into them blazes to life, filling them with wind), using great ladders. Realising that the cavern they stand in is too small to fight effectively, the group descend to the next level down, dropping gracefully on the wings of a Feather Fall, courtesy of the barbarians enchanted band, immediately finding themselves toe to toe with their charging foes.

This melee is frantic and the group are hard pressed. Varracuda is blinded by a slash that whips across his eyes, and spends most of this battle lunging at empty air – though his blows do occasionally land, leaving hissing, sparking wounds in their wake. The two remaining dundiir charge in (despite Grigori trying to keep them out of harms way). Angrun is slain by a swab, his borrowed axe clattering to the ground as his throat blossoms with a salty, crimson spray. Enraged by the death of his “brother” (although he then mutters under his breath in his own tongue “not that he is my brother”), the surviving dundiir, ploughs into combat, leaving a bloody wake as his axe thunks into the flesh and armour of the attacking pirates.

Lia sweeps like a vengeful angel towards the charging men, her resonant blade flashing with unearthly speed to remove limbs, open throats and spill entrails. As she fights, so a delicate light shines from her, its whispering touch filling her allies with courage and focused rage. This mantle of psychic power helps them to ignore wounds that would normally floor them, and helps them filter out the distractions that may slow or misguide their blows.

Bellowing a hearty battle cry, the undead Ulnyrr joyfully wades into combat, his jagged blade chewing through the enemy like the fangs of a great winter wolf. Time and again the scimitars of the pirates find a way through his armour, and time and again, he is either restored by the logic prayers of his fellow undead, or given a mental boost, which helps him to carry on. Soon covered from head to boot in gore, he has helped the group advance to the ladders.

Grigori is as much a combatant as any in this battle, the chain-sword of Balskuss screaming deafeningly as it chews into the foe. A fine mist of blood and fear surrounds him as he goes to his butcher's work, each blow accompanied by loudly shouted formulocantations, which allow him to project fields of healing power through the swirling melee, where it finds and restores his allies, or helps them to focus on landing deadlier blows.

Atop the low wooden buildings that squat to the left of the main battle, Thatari gives into his own blood-lust. The air coils and sloughs around him as he summons unholy power; sending tendrils of filthy flame into the enemies ranks, cursing them with misfortune or summoning unstable beings from other universes to chew and harass his foes. Hopes Famine shines with a dark light in his grasp, and blood pours from his own flesh as he feeds it some of his life force to bolster its power.

As for the assassin, he is everywhere and nowhere at once. He takes good advantage of the plentiful shadows to strike and melt away, shifting at the fringes of the battle, carefully sowing his own brand of carnage amongst his foes. Time and again the darkness rears up at his command to swallow a screaming pirate, or coalesces into a hail of venom-tipped quarrels that unerringly seek their flesh. Bolts of darkness pregnant with bound malevolence blossom hungrily in the faces and throats of men, who fall without the chance to utter a single scream, and within the swirling darkness of his hood, something like a smile forces its way onto the empty, black features of the living shadow.

Were it not for the healing powers of Lia and Grigori, the battle would be over quickly, for the group have not had chance to recover since their fight with the skeletons. However, they are old comrades now, and fight as one, and it is quickly clear that the Dohr'Khustans are outmatched and so, are doomed. With slow, hacking momentum, the group push them back to the ladders, the docks spread some 50' below, the Ravager moving slowly away, Santhiel Burr clearly visible at its helm, waving madly at more of his crew, commanding them to slow the group.

The pirate party that heads for the docks is small, and mostly consists of lowly deckhands and swabs. However, they are lead by a fearsome brute; a monstrous Urgorgori (Ogre, or in the Trade tongue, Ogger). It stands half again as high as Shnecke, and the gangplank bends alarmingly under its prodigious weight. It appears almost obese, its head small in comparison to its bulging body, but everyone knows that most of that bulk is muscle, bone, thick skin and hardened blubber. It wears mangled chainmail, and wields a maul so large that it seems too big for it to bear. However, it soon shows this perception to be an illusion, as it puts the thing to deadly use.

The first member of the party to strike at the Urgogori is Jaeger, a bolt of shadowy energy striking it with the force of a runaway cart...

...The brute apparently doesn't notice it hitting...

Upon spotting the massive enemy, both Shnecke and the dundiir gives whoops of savage joy, and throw themselves off the cliff to float down and land next to it (the barbarian swipes at a Dohr'Khustan who was climbing up a ladder, as he passes, sending him screaming downwards to land with a final crunch, broken and dead far below). The dundiir, using the momentum of his fall, lands a hideously deep blow on the Ogger, his axe biting deep into its armour and managing to draw a little blood, and the barbarian hacks at its massive belly, sending links of mail pinging across the ground, and leaving a light scratch on the beasts' bulbous gut.

On the cliff, Thatari seriously dents his companions already low opinion of him by calling upon a truly insidious power of the Hopes Famine, which draws life energy from them to power his next attack. Wounds suddenly appear on all his allies, the blood that issues forth turning to a coiling crimson energy, which is absorbed into the potent, thrumming implement. His face oddly calm, his form wreathed in a bloody aura, the warlock unleashes a terrible, mewling mass of chaotic power towards the Urgorgori, which spreads like a timelapse of mould growing, through the air, to strike the monster. That gets its attention, as the spell chews at its flesh, leaving numerous bitemarks over its body.

By this point, the swabs have arrived, and Santhiel's first mate – a masculine woman bearing a fine looking rifle – has turned her attention to the group.

The last of the freed dundiir is slain; a bullet from the first mate's weapon dropping him with nary a sound to the floor. Grigori drops down besides the barbarian, and Balskuss' chainsword goes to work at the Urgorgori's side, chewed armour and pieces of mangled flesh arcing out from the grim wound he inflicts.

And then the Urgorgori - one Gangor “Head Eater” - attacks. Within a hearbeat both Shnecke and Grigori are on the floor, 15' from the brute, close to death; their chests misshapen and crushed, their ichor pouring blackly onto the stones. The swabs are kept back by the assassin who sends bolts hissing towards them, killing all he has in his sights, and Lia soon drops down to support her stricken allies.

Still blind, the swordmage gropes for the ladder leading from the dock to the cliff. He finds it, and realises that someone is still climbing it (it's one of the original pistoleers, who, having seen his allies cut down is trying to make his way back to the safety of the Ravager). Blinking through agonised tears, Varracuda gives a grim smile, and with a grunt, pushes the ladder away from the wall, taking the screaming Dohr'Khustan with it. It takes him down with a bone-crunching smash, and ends the life of an unlucky swab who is too slow to get out of the way.

Prone and dazed, Grigori, his pain almost too much to bear, utters his most potent formulocantation of healing, an aura of fractal radiance suddenly blazing around him, to lash at his nearby allies; mending bones and torn meat, stopping bleeding and reversing deadly swelling. Shnecke gasps in pain and shock, and gives a grim smile – only to be almost kicked unconscious by the Ogger.

And so begins a truly painful battle. The group spend as much time falling back and healing as attacking, as Gangor is a monstrously powerful enemy, and his blows are enough to kill thirty ordinary men with a single strike.

Santhiel briefly joins the battle when he realises that most of his crew are either dead or ashore, and that escaping on the ship is no longer a viable option. He quickly recapitulates however, and tries to bargain with the adventurer that dogs his every step.

Unfortunately for him, that adventurer is Jaeger, and there simply is no bargaining, and Santhiel dies on board his ship, trying to breathe through lungs rapidly filling with blood, and already filled with more steel and shadow that anyone could survive.

The first mate is taken down quicky, and the remaining crew members either flee or are murdered.

As for Gangor, he simply refuses to give up, and even outnumbered six to one, is a monstrously potent foe. In the end, were it not for the psionic mantles of Lia, the healing logic prayers of the cleric and the sheer bloody minded determination to succeed of the rest of the group, he would have walked away victorious.

The battle ends when Varracuda suddenly blinks, and realises that he can see. Through a haze of tears and blood he spots the massive enemy, and his darting, ducking, stabbing allies, and bringing his blades to bear, he calls upon his elemental heritage to wreathe them in snarling, flickering arcs of lightning. He leaps forwards, all his frustration and pain behind the nimble blow, his blade finding the notch at the base of the Urgorgori's throat. Putting everything into the blow, and sending a blasts of lightning down the blade, the swordmage strikes a fatal blow, the massive humanoid suddenly dropping its maul, stumbling back and staring stupidly ahead as a cloud of coppery steam issues from the cauterised, critical wound.

“Morg*.” He mumbles under his breath thickly, before stumbling back towards the waters of the harbour, and dropping to the floor with a crash.

He dies.

02:51 – 10:00 – Everyone is utterly spent. The group decide to claim the Ravager for themselves, and decide that they will seek the assistance of the sailors they freed in sailing it away. Although they know the cult will soon seek them out, and that there are two more pirate vessels to destroy yet, they chance a proper rest – mainly because no one is capable of carrying on in their current state.

During this time, Grigori enacts a ritual on the Shadrakuulite symbol that Santhiel still wears around his thick neck. Calling upon the powers of logic, and opening his mind to the echoes of the planar skin, he demands to see any encounters the symbol may have had with the Great Maw of Shadrakuul...

Santhiel is in the sickening chamber at the bottom of the spiral stairs that leads to the tunnel to the Gulguthydra lair. He's jabbing around at the carving on the floor next to the bottom of the stairs, and Grigori briefly sees his fingers enter the eye holes of a particularly monstrous carving. At once, a well crafted hidden door slides noisily apart...”

Next he sees a vertiginous view of black waters, alive with sharks, seen through the boards of a rickety bridge. Santhiel is clearly kneeling (in worship?) and....”

“Oh Gods no.” Breathes Grigori, his waxen flesh turning paler still. “Anything but that.”

“What?” Asks Shnecke thickly, his face a mass of ugly, necrotic blisters where his dead flesh has bruised, “What did you see?”

Grigori runs over the vision one more time before telling them...

The field of vision shifts as Santhiel stands to face the maw...a monster straight out of the most terrible and terrifying tavern tales. It floats without assistance; an armoured sphere of black and purple chitin, crowned by ten twitching eyestalks. A huge mouth filled with crooked, inwardly curved fangs drools and slobbers, whilst above it, set in the front of the sphere, a single balefully shining eye twice the size of a man's head stares hungrily at the pirate.”

“Oh Gods,” Gasps Grigori again, “The Maw is a Xareth'Chelde. An Eye Tyrant. It's a feckin' Beholder...”

Suddenly, no one is smiling.

* This translates roughly as “Mum”.