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Mannix, level 8 Human Inquisitive Rogue/Divination Wizard
Khaless, level 8 Half-Drow Assassin Rogue
Gillian, level 8 Triton Bard of Whispers
George, level 8 Tortle Battle Master Fighter/Rogue
Therin, level 8 Hill Dwarf Druid of the Moon
After a battle with the undead guardians of the armory, the party hunkered down in relative safety. Mannix learned the truth about Xandala’s plans before subjecting himself to the Ritual of the Night Serpent, while the others use the distraction to explore the caverns beyond the temple.
This week’s session opened up with a battle, our first real fight with the level 8 PCs. The party had smartly chosen to hide out in the magically protected armory. But it happened to have another deterrent besides an Arcane Lock on the door – a freaking Bone Naga and a pair of Minotaur Skeletons!
The interesting twist in this fight is that nobody had any room to maneuver – though that ended up helping the party much more than the enemies. The Minotaur Skeletons couldn’t perform their Charge attack, while Gillian was able to conjure her Call Lightning Spell and repeatedly zap two of the three enemies for three brutal rounds in a row.
I rolled so badly on my attacks that I only hit once, and she rocked the CON save to maintain concentration. Meanwhile the Bone Naga is a spellcaster. I had it use Stinking Cloud, but Therin nailed the CON save and used Dispel Magic in response. We did that song and dance twice before the Bone Naga and the skeletons were slain due to the repeated lightning bolts, George’s flurry of sword blows (his first attack was a crit!) and Xandala’s cantrips.
Meanwhile in the hallway Khaless had to deter a guard patrol from checking out the room. They had discovered the body of the guard George had slain in the store room in the previous session and were on edge.
Khaless passed them off to Soakosh in the nearby Hall of War, and intimidated the hell out of him when he returned with the guards. Even with literal lightning storms in the room nearby, she was able to prevent the guards from figuring out what was going on.
With the enemies defeated and the PCs having sustained almost no damage (grumble grumble), they hunkered down for a Short Rest to wait out the few hours until it was time for the transformation ritual that Mannix had signed up for.
Xandala used the downtime opportunity to confess to Mannix that Artus was not her father. She didn’t care about him at all – she was really after the Ring of Winter. She tried to convince him that the Ring would be better served with someone who would actually utilize its power, and not spend their days on the run from everyone else who wanted it.
Mannix wasn’t so convinced that Xandala was entirely altruistic, and he wasn’t about to steal, or kill Artus. She claimed that if she could rest and regain her full power, she could use magic to simply take the ring. But she she has learned that trying to do things on her own in this jungle has been troublesome, and she could use their help. With additional payment, of course.
The party became split on how to handle this entire situation. Mannix wanted to have a three-way discussion with Artus and Xandala. George was on board with helping Xandala get the ring, while Therin was sure this powerful artifact was too much for anyone to handle. Khaless muttered that she would take the ring for herself.
These plans would have to wait until the party could complete their mission here in the temple. The temple gong rang out, signaling the gathering of the ritual, and Mannix dutifully marched toward the cathedral, meeting up with other slaves who had hopes of becoming yuan-ti. Khaless was the only PC with any concern for Mannix’s well-being (and the only one who could still pass as a disguised Pureblood), and watched from a nearby hallway.
The ritual was a grand affair. Nearly all the yaun-ti of the temple turned out. A sacrifice was made in the adjoining chamber, blood flowed into the pool, and Mannix and the others waded in. They were offered a fleshy broth, and Mannix used illusory magic on himself to calm his nerves. Smoke poured into the room, causing hallucinations as everyone in the cathedral danced and cheered.
I flavored the ritual as a series of saving throws. The transformation would happen regardless but every failure would net another level of exhaustion.
Mannix used one of his Portent Die to automatically succeed the first save (CON save for imbibing the flesh broth). He failed the WIS save from the hallucinogenic smoke but then nailed the INT save from the whispers and chants and the STR save from being pulled under the blood pool by the snakes. Amazingly, Mannix suffered only a single level of exhaustion, and was transformed into a Yuan-ti, granting him Darkvision, Magic Resistance, Poison Immunity, and a few limited spells like Animal Friendship (snakes only) and Suggestion.
He also became afflicted with Indefinite Madness. I had discussed the madness thing with the player and he agreed to take the following (DMG 260): “There’s only one person I can trust. And only I can see this special friend.” Mannix immediately role-played his new invisible confidant, which should lead to some amusing and questioning responses from his party.
Meanwhile the rest of the party wasn’t content with waiting around. Ishmakahl had hinted that much of the temple clears out for the ritual, leaving the area mostly empty – a prime time to explore, or perhaps even make their way to Ras Nsi and the cube.
Getting in the main doors would be impossible as they’re attached to the cathedral where the ritual takes place. But Ish hinted at a backway via the underground river.
This path was confirmed with the party followed George beyond the store room and into the Slave Grotto caves, where they found Slavemaster Issar still watched over the slaves. George grew impatient with diplomacy and was about to attack when Gillian used the Friends cantrip to appeal to Issar’s pompous superiority complex. They were able to convince him to leave peacefully.
The slaves were physically healthy but in a state of calm that appeared to be a result of both mental trauma and drugs. Only one could even speak to them, a young human boy named Koti who claimed to be Issar’s second-in-command, and liaison to the slaves.
George and Koti hit it off, with George bestowing a pair of handaxes on the young boy. Koti responded by showing them the underground river, and the broodguards that watched over the back entrance to the temple. He confirmed that the river runs near the throne room, but that a great monster lives in the water who feeds on dead slaves.
Undeterred, the party plans on making their way past the guards and into the river, effectively splitting the party while Mannix and Khaless are still at the ritual. What could possibly go wrong?
Voted MVPC – Gillian!
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