NOTE: The title, in case you didn’t recognize it, is from the W.B. Yeats poem "The Second Coming."

Adventure #10: Things Fall Apart

DM: Lynn
Players: Missy, Mike, Daniel, Robin, Mark, Curtis

There's never a druid around when you need one.At some time between the end of the last adventure and the beginning of this one, Ezren was released from the Warp Marble. Tellar, Daiten, and Oaklore remained imprisoned. See Adventure #9 for details.)

Still stranded far from home after escaping from Cerfal Pass, the party continued to roam through the wilderness in what they hoped was the correct direction. While tromping through the forest they were caught out in a storm. They attempted to take shelter in Seisha’s tent but it was ripped apart by the winds. After hearing a strange howling and seeing a figure flitting through the woods, the party prepared for a fight, but after Shao Tsang investigated intangibly he discovered that it was only a friendly ranger, Bobo McBaggett. The howling was apparently just the wind. Shao Tsang offered Bobo fifty gold pieces to take the party to the nearest town.

On the way they were beset by a pack of wolves. Bobo was able to scare a few of them off, and the party killed the rest. This encounter provided the first of many opportunities for Bobo to grumble that he should have charged more than fifty gold pieces to associate with the party.

Bobo eventually guided them to a small village. Because of the storm, the local inn was packed, and the party was not allowed inside. They were directed to the local temple, where a few other refugees were staying. The temple appeared to be a relic of the ancient Ziggurat Builder society that the citizens of Cerfal Pass were so wary of. It was covered with strange carvings of human-headed lions and the like. The high priest, who claimed that the ziggurat was a temple of his god Ishker, was apparently just a squatter and hadn’t worked out the details of his religion very well.

Shao Tsang, always eager to make more friends and discuss the Tao with them, struck up a conversation with a confused bard. He introduced himself as "Binkknutt Rocksilvas, performer and star," and he seemed to think that he was from some city that no one had ever heard of. Shao Tsang, finding his lack of focus disturbing, eventually left Binkknutt alone. Seisha, however, loaned him her Pipes of Charming, which he promptly used to form the temple refugees into a conga line.

1st level monsters! Run!That night, the party heard strange noises outside, and despite warnings from the priest and some serious hesitation on the part of a few party members, they investigated. They found several zombies in the local cemetery who were apparently engaged in grave-robbing. Over Binkknutt’s protestations that zombies didn’t exist, the party destroyed the zombies, and Shao Tsang scooped up their loot, claiming he intended to return it to its rightful owners. Several party members seemed to doubt this statement, and whether or not his intentions were honest, later circumstances would prevent Shao Tsang from fulfilling his promise.

Heading in the direction that the zombies seemed to be coming from, the party arrived at a house with a gate. After several party members flew over, climbed around, or teleported past the gate, Ezren discovered that it was unlocked. Proceeding on to the house, they found that it was locked. Initially wary of breaking into a house when they had very little evidence that it had anything to do with the zombies, Shao Tsang eventually decided to use Dimensional Door to get inside to ensure that no one inside had been harmed by zombies. Seisha, Mogdar, Binkknutt, and Bobo followed him through the door, while Natashi and Ezren scouted the rear of the house.

After recovering from the disorientation that always follows the use of Dimensional Doors, the inside group found themselves in the grip of some very large zombies. Their commander, a man named Gunther, told them that they should have minded their own business and dropped hints that they would soon be zombies as well. Gunther had the zombies tie them up, and went to deal with Ezren and Natashi, who were outside wondering where their comrades had gone. Seisha immediately began a psionic assault on Gunther, intending to dominate him.

The zombies emerged from the house and attacked Ezren and Natashi. A spectral hand also appeared in mid-air and began to attack.

Nnh, I hate these chains. They're too heavy.Shao Tsang phased free of his ropes and began to free the others. He then teleported outside to assist his comrades in fighting the zombies. Bobo, Binkknutt, and Mogdar soon appeared to assist as well. Ezren promptly enlarged Bobo and Natashi to giant size to fight the zombies.

Seisha had an unusual amount of trouble dominating Gunther. His resistance was much higher than expected. Eventually she battered him into mental submission, and forced him to become visible and dispel the spectral hand.

At the same time Shao Tsang channeled the last of his psionic power into his martial arts attacks and blew up the last zombie. Seisha forced Gunther to allow himself to be tied up. The party was victorious. A quick search of the house revealed several sacks of coins, some of which were pocketed by Binkknutt, who was afraid that they party was going to give the treasure back to the town. Looting the bound Gunther’s person yielded several useful magic items, some gems, and some items useful for thieving, but no spellbooks or other items one might expect to find on a wizard.

Unknown to the rest of the party, Ezren’s familiar Ixifractus detected a powerful item on Gunther and told Ezren that he should grab it. Ezren managed to filch a stone off of Gunther’s body without being detected. The black rock gave Ezren additional necromantic powers, doubling his spellcasting abilities. He kept the rock secret from the rest of the party, a decision that would have major ramifications later on.

Whilst dragging the bound Gunther back to the temple, where Shao Tsang intended to disburse the gold the party had taken, a group of skeletons attacked. Again, several party members seemed to think discretion the better part of valor, but they eventually joined in to help those who stood their ground. Natashi used a Scroll of Protection from Undead, which kept the skeletons from attacking her but made her unable to attack them in melee. Since she had no missile weapons, Natashi had to watch the rest of the party fight the skeletons. Bobo immediately knocked Gunther out, suspecting that he might be controlling the skeletons. Eventually the undead were defeated and the party proceeded back to the temple of Ishker.

Ever since the party captured Gunther, Ezren had argued strenuously that they should release him, since he was only stealing from the dead. Shao Tsang thought that he should be turned over to the local legal system. While perhaps not sharing Shao Tsang’s faith in the town’s justice system, the rest of the party also agreed that Gunther should not be released. The priest of Ishker insisted that Gunther was just a common thief, and could not be responsible for the zombie attacks. He said that Gunther had last been seen heading off to rob a hag that lived in the forest to the south. The priest also informed the party that the house they had found Gunther in was the mayor’s house.

I'm crazy skull-eye! Gimme some candy!That night, lightning struck the ziggurat, and everyone within was fully healed. Seisha, Natashi, Shao Tsang, and Ezren were plagued by dreams of undead and zombies. Ezren’s dream also included a rotting Mogdar. When he awoke, he found that Mogdar was acting strangely, and was very agreeable for some reason. He didn’t mention this to the party either.

The party awoke the next morning to find that Gunther was gone. They felt a little foolish for not setting any watches to guard him. When grilled on his possible involvement in Gunther's escape, Ezren began offering some rather weak explanations, among them that Gunther was actually an illusion. Seisha and Shao Tsang found this particularly suspicious. (Ironically, Gunther really had been an illusion, at least for a while. Ezren actually released him during the skeleton attack and covered his absence with an illusion.) Binkknutt fanned the flames by accusing Ezren of all sorts of treachery. Bobo uncorked his keg of ale for a drink. Natashi wandered off, grumbling.

The tension eventually escalated into violence when Seisha donned her Ring of Chameleon Power and shot a sleep dart at Ezren with her blowgun. Bobo, uncomfortable with the party’s conflict, wandered off to join Natashi. Binkknutt began playing Seisha’s Pipes of Charming. When Mogdar immediately supported Ezren and appeared to be under Ezren’s control, Shao Tsang joined the combat on Seisha’s side, attempting to choke Ezren into unconsciousness. Despite Mogdar’s attempts to kill Shao Tsang with Magic Missiles, Ezren was eventually choked unconscious and Mogdar taken down with one of Seisha’s sleep darts.

It was then that Seisha noticed that Mogdar wasn’t breathing. Shao Tsang tried to revive him with first aid and healing potions, but nothing seemed to work. Overcome with guilt, Shao Tsang activated his Time Travel power and jumped back to the point just before Seisha put on her ring and initiated combat. He tried to warn the party that if they fought, tragedy would result. He seemed to be making some progress, but when Ezren refused to explain what was going on, and Mogdar still appeared to be enslaved, Seisha once again put on the ring and began combat. This time Ezren fled, followed by Mogdar, Seisha, and two Shao Tsangs.

When Seisha’s dart missed, it appeared that Ezren would make it to the forest and escape, but one of the Shao Tsangs teleported in front of him and grabbed him in a choke hold before he could get away. As the same brawl with an extra Shao Tsang began again on the edge of the forest, a group of bugbears emerged to investigate. Shao Tsang released Ezren so the party could deal with the greater threat.

When the bugbears were defeated, only Bobo thought to search them. He kept all that he found, which included some gems, a magical armband, and some magical oil. Shao Tsang, meanwhile, finally thought to check to see if Mogdar was breathing at all. He wasn’t, of course – Mogdar had been turned into a zombie! Shao Tsang’s past and future selves merged, and he lamented both that he had failed to prevent the fight and that his reason for coming back had been completely baseless.

Ezren agreed to explain his behavior to the party when the combat was over. He admitted releasing Gunther, but insisted that he did not charm or otherwise enslave Mogdar. Ezren reasoned that perhaps the hag had charmed Mogdar for him as repayment for releasing Gunther. The party didn’t exactly buy all of Ezren’s story, but they did seem to think that the hag was probably somehow responsible for Mogdar’s condition, since Gunther was just a thief. They decided to proceed south into the forest to confront the hag.

In the forest, the party confronted several wandering beasts. One of these was an ettin, a two-headed giant, which gave Bobo a chance to demonstrate his overwhelming hatred for giants and all of their kin. Bobo immediately charged into battle, and the party killed the ettin. After some more wandering about, and encounters with giant beetles and other beasts, the party found the hag’s tower.

Hoping to peaceably negotiate Mogdar’s restoration, the party knocked on the tower door. They apparently did not notice that the door was large enough to accommodate a giant until a cyclops answered. Bobo, spotting a humanoid of unusual size, immediately flew into a rage and attacked. The party was battered and tired, but they managed to defeat the cyclops. They retreated to the edge of the forest when the hag’s other humanoid servants emerged.

Seems like ya can't go anywhere these days without getting summoned.Thinking that their odds against the hag’s forces were not good, but desperate to find a solution for Mogdar, Shao Tsang risked summoning a random creature from the Astral Plane. He got enormously lucky and pulled a Ki-Rin, an intelligent, good, and very powerful horselike creature, from his planar gate. The Ki-Rin proceeded to destroy the tower, the hag, and her servants, but this did not visibly help Mogdar. When Shao Tsang asked the Ki-Rin what they could do to help Mogdar, it responded that the evil causing their problems was among them, and that the evil was so great that the Ki-Rin would not taint itself by dealing with it.

That statement finally convinced Ezren to tell the rest of the party about the rock he had taken from Gunther’s body. He explained that it gave him necromantic powers and that he thought it might have caused Mogdar’s condition. After several attempts to break it, which involved some blessings and Bobo breaking his sword against it, the party gave up until they could find more about it. Ezren maintained possession of the rock, and Mogdar remained his slowly deteriorating zombie servant. Wondering who would be the next to be zombified, the group continued their long journey back to the east.