Monday, January 8, 2018

Monday Recap: The Reptile Archives

We sat down to play another session of Maze of the Blue Medusa this weekend! I really enjoy this campaign, it's easy to prepare for and there's so much content.

However, my players have started expressing some fatigue in going through room after room of the dungeon. As you'll see this session, I used NPCs to help them along, and lowered the number of random encounters. They are still progressing, we're just skipping some of the extraneous stuff.

Of course, I'm still getting used to the dungeon crawl style of play. It's a lot different than the games I normally run!

Edit: This series was written before allegations about the authors of this module were released. To respect the players of the game, as well as the brilliant writing of Patrick Stuart, I've decided to keep these posts up. However, all links and art have been removed. Thank you for understanding.

This story is part 10 of a series. The campaign was completed.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 |

Maze of the Blue Medusa: The Reptile Archives

Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Megan: Aniria Lightningblood, Firbolg Tempest Cleric, accidentally destroyed her home, now an adventurer, rushes in to danger but loves cute things
Makayla: Coria Kelvardil, Moon Druid Elf, traveling the world and cataloguing all the animals she can find, cartographer and voice of reason
Jackie: Derrik Evanwood, Human Bardbarian, punch things, woo women, deal with alcoholism, collect magic swords, learn about the feelings of trees
Tom: Alan Xanthudides, Human Phoenyx Sorcerer, not-so-secretly a noble with a bad family, someday hopes to burn the maze down, actually quite good at social graces

When we last left our group of intrepid explorers, they had returned to the in-dungeon island of Elatior, only to find themselves surrounded by machete-wielding temple guards. Behind the ring of swords stood Lady Nine-Bones, colorfully robed and wearing her signature nine-bone necklace.

She accused the group of bringing a "Loa", a God of the Maze, to the surface after she had asked them not to. She was referring to Marquis Aeolis and Lady Torc, the newlyweds that had been frozen in time in the Dead Wedding. The people of the island had only ever known the lovers to be a statue, and they had woken up that day to find themselves visited by said statue.

Aniria was upset that people were so upset, and tried to make things right. She appealed to the fear of the islanders, saying that they were also afraid of the maze and wouldn't bring something to the surface that they didn't trust. The Bondye Reparte lowered their weapons, and Lady Nine-Bones seemed willing to talk.

The party explained that Marquis Aeolis and Lady Torc were human, not Gods, and that they were looking for refuge from the Maze as well. Lady Nine-Bones declared that they could stay, although she would be having a talk with them to confirm their intentions.

The group wasn't quite sure what to do next, and Lady Nine-Bones offered a solution: she touched one of the bones on her necklace, and suddenly clasped her hands over her eyes. She spoke in a different voice, and asked what the party was doing.

As they told their story, the group slowly realized that they were not speaking to Lady Nine-Bones anymore, but to the Medusa Psathyrella. They immediately informed her of Lady Crucem Capilli, the dragon bent on destroying the dungeon. The Medusa advised them that she would take care of the situation, and seemed intensely interested in how Chronia was doing. Finally, she told them they were amazing, and pitched backwards into a faint.

Aniria managed to catch Lady Nine-Bones before she fell. The Bondye Reparte assured the party that she would be alright. They also told them that they hadn't spoken to the actual Medusa - just a representation of her personality. Now they knew that the Medusa would want to be informed of Lady Crucem Capilli. Also, she didn't really think they were amazing; Lady Nine-Bones used a phrase that the Loa would never say to break her trance.

The party decided to stay in town while Lady Nine-Bones recovered, and to see to the Marquis and Lady's integration into the village. They also planned their next moves: find the children of Torgos Zooth, deliver them into the Almery where he was laired, and then deliver a message to the Medusa about the threat of a Dragon. After that, they could leave the Maze without guilt.

Well-rested and ready to adventure, they travelled down/up to the maze via the stairs in the island's temple. They stopped by Chronia's room to ask her to write a letter to the Medusa explaining the Dragon situation, since they thought it might go over better for her to say it than them.

Coria lead the group as they ventured up through the Gallery, dispatching some Cannibals they found critiquing some artwork. They were passing through a room with visually upsetting art (thus their eyes were closed) when they heard soft crying and moaning. Coria had turned into a Giant Scorpion (which had blindsight) for this task, and was able to see the form of a thin man surrounded by three corpses.

Fortunately, the corpses were Cannibals, and the man was quickly revealed to be Seymore, the mathematician who had supposedly kidnapped the children of Torgos Zooth. The group had already heard that he could turn invisible by saying "See-Me-No-More", and became visible again whenever someone said "Seymore". They demanded he return the children of Torgos Zooth, and he conceded.

He directed the group to follow him, although Aniria hesitated due to his terrible rudeness. He even tried to abandon them at one point, though his attempt to turn invisible was quickly reversed. He seemed to begrudgingly accept that the party was stronger than him and knew his weakness.

They passed through rooms they had explored before, until they came to the stairs leading up to the Reptile Archives. Seymore lead the way, and they passed into a dark stone hall lit only by a lantern filled with red, glowing Moths.

Derrik decided to investigate a lizard-shaped mummy standing in the corner. He was quite surprised when it started speaking to him! It said its name was Scripta Elegans, a mummy stuffed with strategic maxims printed on silk. Here, the Archive was built by Reptiles, and the Reptiles were the Archives!

Scripta seemed quite serene, and happily allowed the group to pass by. They walked past a lamp which shone light from all over the universe, and over a bridge of stacked blue and grey slate. Seymore instructed them to hold their noses as they passed by a room containing a single rose, then stopped for a bit in the next room.

The room contained dusty furniture and an old lizard - not a mummy, but still undead. Seymore bowed, addressing him as "Lord Ambassador Draco Scabra", and proceeded to tell the old lizard a joke, which he found hilarious.

Draco demanded jokes from everyone, and Aniria flubbed hers but Alan came in with a one-liner to save the day. Draco countered by telling them the best joke he knew: due to an odd contractual obligation, his job as an Ambassador had never ended, and he had been alive for over 5,000 years. And now that he had lost the papers somewhere in the archive, he couldn't even break his own curse! He laughed hysterically.

The group realized he might be a bit insane, but he knew a lot of information about the maze. Alan kept telling him jokes and he told them more about the Maze and the Medusa and how it came to be. He thought their plan to get Zooth's children back to him was a solid one, and didn't seem too concerned about the whole "Maze burning down due to art-collecting Dragon" thing.

The party thanked him for his assistance, and continued to Seymore's lab. Succulent flowers and lab implements littered the room. In the corner, a caged door hid the two children, Anole and Anolis Zooth. They wore hats that mostly obscured their heads, but they did appear to be half-selenuim on their father's side. They seemed very afraid and upset.

Seymore, rather reluctantly, unlocked the cage and set the children free. Aniria immediately took them up on her own, setting them on her shoulders like a pair of giggling half-moon-men pauldrons. Their task accomplished, they set back to leave the Archives.

However, upon reaching the stairs down to the Gallery, they found an invisible wall of force in their way. According to Scripta, Seymore had placed it there to prevent people from escaping. Most of his "test subjects" ended up dying, and the lizard mummy had assumed that was what the group had been. It was quite a surprise when they returned, but unfortunately Scripta had no way of opening the wall.

They decided to venture southward, towards the Archive's true entrance. They met a cranky lizard-mummy named Emys Orbicularis, who forbid Alan from using fire in the Archives, claiming a nice young reptile lady had informed him of Alan's propensity for arson.

The group carried on, passing through a few rooms with the help of Chiromantis, a Lizard-Mummy who loudly announced them when they passed from room to room. After some convincing, they finally were able to rid themselves of their loud friend.

They found the exit to the Archives, and stood at a doorway that opened up into an enormous black void, punctuated by exploding rocks frozen in place. They were able to climb down toward a large platform, which looked to be the remnants of some sort of palace or great hall. At one end sat a throne, and on it was a very old lizard. Not a mummy, not undead, just very, very old. He wore a tarnished silver crown, and seemed unbearably sad.

The group stopped to ask him what he was doing here, what all this was, and if they could help him. He said this was the remains of the Reptile Empire, or at least his part of it. Long ago, they had built their archives into the Maze to preserve them, but after a terrible tragedy, all that would have been here was obliterated. He was all that remained, the lonely guard of the Archive entrance.

The group didn't think there was much else they could do, so they carried on, jumping from rock to rock until they got to an odd door standing by itself on a rock. Derrik knocked on the door, and a voice asked them to come inside.

They did so, and entered a room that looked like the Gallery. It was built from sandstone and large columns, with a large sphinx statue wearing a black crown. The Sphinx had been the one to ask them into the room, and requested their help.

She told them the story of the island city she once guarded, where the inhabitants would use the reflections of the stars to predict the future and avoid disaster. No one was allowed to enter or leave the island, for fear of disturbing the waters and muddying the predictions.

She knew the city had fallen, but couldn't remember how. She also knew she was supposed to ask people riddles, and thought if she obtained enough riddles she might remember what happened.

The group came up with some good riddles, the best one being about the stars being of the past, present, and future all at once (since they were used to predict the future, they were seen in the present, and the light came from the past). The Sphinx thanked them and asked if they wanted to see anything in the Maze.

The group had been long looking for clothing for Chronia, and they had heard there was a place they could make immortal clothes in the Reptile Archives, the Grimspindle. The sphinx showed them a hidden room, where the spindle was housed. It sewed clothing of pure light, but in doing so released shadows into the world. The party was divided on whether or not they should use it.

They thanked the sphinx and ventured into the next room. Here, a strange symbol prevented plants from growing out of the next room. Coria quickly surmised they were near the Gardens, which means they must also be near the Gallery...

On Coria's directions, Aniria used Stone Shape to create a tunnel through one of the walls of the room. To the group's delight, they found themselves in the Gallery's Orrery room.

Not wasting any time, Coria quickly lead the group through the remaining Gallery rooms until they had reached Chronia's room. Next stop: the Almery!

We stopped there for the evening. I'm noticing that the players int his group have really different levels of involvement. There really is a "active" and "passive" playstyle here. Which is fine, as long as everybody understands and accepts that!

Thanks for reading!

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