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The Architects of Betrayal (TAB) 33: Must . . . Resist . . . the Facepalm . . .

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

I fail to understand the value of this action.
Because I couldn't find a picture of 3 Q's facepalming

I learned something with this session. I learned that the act of facepalming is involuntary. And I only know this from the number of times I had to physically restrain my arm. I imagine it looked much like Dr. Strangelove as I wrestled with that particular reflex.

Several times . . .

It started with the last puzzle room. If you'll recall, the group had to use salt to increase the buoyancy of the water in the previous room, and the compass to find their way through the prismatic maze. That left peppercorns, rope, and the ship's wheel as their remaining useful items. As they reentered the cave (they'd slept outside the night before) Oraclees actually made her save against the anti-magic field! This would prove useful, as you'll later see.

The next room was completely circular. There were archways leading to a smooth rock face at their three and nine o'clock. Directly in the center of the room was a double cylinder. The larger cylinder stood six feet tall and protruded from a hole in the ground. It was connected at the top to a smaller cylinder that reached into the ceiling. There were two pedestals with axles at opposite ends of the cylinders.

The group quickly figured out that the wheel lined up with the keys on the axles. Experimentation showed that when turned, axle one (as a random, non-specific designation) caused the larger cylinder to slide up the smaller cylinder. When lifted thusly they were able to observe a 2 foot hole through the floor of the room. They were also able to ascertain that the floor of the room was separated from the ground below. Axle two (as a slightly less random, nonspecific designation) caused the cylinder to rotate in whatever direction the wheel was rotated.

And there they were stuck. The idea that they needed to rotate the room was expressed several times from several directions, but was almost never tried. The first thing they tried was:

1: Using the cylinder to crush their peppercorns. For which silliness their DM made them roll fortitude saves to avoid uncontrollable coughing. Most made it, but Zubat failed so hard I had him uncontrollably puking.

2: Taking aforementioned crushed peppercorns and throwing them at the archways.

3: Speaking friend at the aforementioned archways.

4: Surfing the internet.

5: Playing solitaire

(Not really sure how those last two options helped)

6: Forcing the oar that one of them was apparently carrying around into the crack via dropping the cylinder on it. Reflex saves for piercing damage everyone!

7: Lifting the cylinders and placing boards to cover the hole in such a way that the cylinder would be resting on them when dropped. It spun. Ironically one person mentioned using iron rods and the weight of the cylinder to force them into the gap which I would have accepted. Too bad they never actually tried it.

8: Then they got the idea that they had to somehow turn both cranks with only one wheel. This evolved into tying the rope to the wheel, wrapping it around the cylinder a few times, and then around the naked axle. I thought it was a really cool idea for a solution to a trap, just not this one.

This went on for something like two hours. I mentioned repeatedly that they could just quit. This wasn't necessary to the storyline. A few voted for this option, but give my group its due, they are stubborn. And loot was mentioned. I think Dave was worried Tanic would rise up out of his character sheet and back stab him if he voted to quit. Ironically he was the one surfing the internet for some of this endeavor.

And you know what the absolute worst part was? About twenty minutes into this Clint said 'What if we wrap the rope around the base of the cylinder and jam it down into the gap . . . oh never mind, that would never work'. Facepalm nothing, you have no idea how hard it was to not bang my head on the table. For over an hour.

Two hours later someone else had this idea. To be fair I wanted them to loop the rope vertically around the large cylinder, thus ensuring that it could not be pushed off as the cylinder dropped. I suppose I could also have tapered the cylinder a little. Or I could have put small hooks on the cylinder and the inner surface of the hole. Either way, after two hours I said 'close enough' and they were able to slowly rotate the room with a DC 40 strength check. After the first such check I decided they'd eventually get it and moved on. My bad.

When they were finished, the door to the left of their entrance now led back the way they'd come, the door to the right led to a new room, and their entrance door led to solid rock. The new room was square with beveled corners (think of an octagon with four short sides and four long sides) with nothing but a pedestal holding the very artifact they were looking for.

Sensing a trap (its like they know me) they were very careful about not touching said artifact. Tanic was able to quickly ascertain that it was on a pressure plate. As everyone else was figuring out how to not die Vex became . . . well I'm not sure really; she was either bored or entranced by the sparkly object. Whatever the reason she walked over and picked the artifact up off of the pedestal, to the frank dismay of the rest of the group. The four beveled sides immediately rotated, revealing a Cannon Golem in each. Upon seeing them, Vex placed the artifact carefully back on the pedestal, I can only imagine with a wide eyed look of abject fear on her face. This did not return the golems, but it was a good try.

Now, Tanic, he sized up the situation, did the math, and declared 'We can take em!'. Oh the facepalms. You could fit your head in their cannon! Yeah, that's what I should have yelled. I was too busy being dumbfounded. Granted, with magic they could probably take these things. But without they were cannon golem fodder.

{DM's Note: This encounter was originally supposed to be with two cannon golems, which I suspect they could have taken. But the last two fights had been exceedingly boring for half of the party, since they could not use magic, spell like, or supernatural abilities. So I deliberately made it an impossible fight that they had to outrun. Don't worry, they had a way to kill them. I'm sure some of you have already seen it. Dan actually declared that should be their goal, but was ignored.

P.S. I also forgot to state that a door should have closed behind them, but got stuck.}

But don't worry, my dice had my back. As the others spread out in an attack formation Zornesk hopped up, retrieved the artifact, and . . . well that was it because he was out of moves. And, as an added bonus, the moment he touched the artifact every golem's head swiveled his direction! I also think they were angry because the very next one rolled a twenty against him. And confirmed with same. In our game that means MAX DAMAGE CRIT! One hundred and seventy two points of humiliating, bone crushing, character annihilating damage. Yeah, he would have been paste but for the timely intervention of two hero points. Dammit; they're all tricksy hobbitses! Meanwhile, by random chance, the artifact got launched directly into the golem Tanic was currently attempting suicide with.

Oraclees cast a heal which brought the kobold back to full. Remember, she made her save. And it turned out to be an amazing indicator of how out of their depth the group was because they then instituted the retreat maneuver commonly referred to as 'Run Away!'.

But, as Zornesk left the room, walking cannon that could probably shoot him trailing right behind, he stopped, jumped up, and ripped the artifact out of it's body! Look at the balls on that runty little bastard! I need to remember to give him a Con point or something for that.

Back in the cylinder room Minerva and her trusty sidekick Zubat decided that the best solution was to turn the room to block the golems. Let me say that again; they decided to turn the room to block the golems. One of which was already in said doorway.

Must . . . Resist . . . Facepalm . . .

And there ran the rub. I figured it would simply be an opposed strength check for the golem to block the move, but a couple of people kept insisting that all strength checks are full round actions. I could only find that a strength check to break an object was myself. In the end I decided to make it a grapple attempt, which failed miserably.

Afterwards was a really cool hand off as the group realized they would have to negotiate the maze in order to escape. Vex had the compass, as she has the highest survival checks, but she also had a movement of 20ft. Seeing Zubat make a failed grab for it on his way by, Tanic yelled for her to hold the compass out. As she did he zoomed past with his damned 55 ft movement speed (which is somehow an extraordinary ability damn it all) and raced to the maze. He then pulled out chalk and began dragging it on the ground as he navigated the maze. I had him moving at a quarter speed for this. But he was still able to trace out enough of the maze to get a prismatic wall between the group and the golems.

Now, I screwed up here. I'd forgotten all about the golem's magical immunity when I made this setup. Even when brought up I didn't think it would be a problem because I remembered that cold spells slow them down, and I thought all heat spells caused them to misfire. Unfortunately only Heat Metal seems to do the trick on these walking tanks, which means they should have been able to just stroll through the prismatic wall.

This is where everyone else in the group gets a collective facepalm.

But what's done is done. Perhaps the mage that made them bound them so they were not allowed to leave the cave. Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket! Needless to say the group decided to rest. I'll have to throw four cannon golems at them while they have their magic at some point. I'm sure they'd like that.

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