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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 11: Greed, Illusions, and Elder Gods, Oh my!

Updated: Aug 3

When the DM tries to reign the players' shenanigans in . . .
Seen Here: Actual footage of our group . . .

Welcome back to all you commuters on the shenanigan shuttle. As you'll recall, last week we dropped a Gnoll chieftain down a hole, and decided we'd annoyed the DM enough for one day. So, today we picked, up still in that very room. And we could hear three other Gnoll's gibbering to each other.

While we were still worrying about that Hazel continued complaining about the Palantir sitting on the pedestal. Having heard enough of the whining, Loki walked over to the pedestal, used the cloth over the top as a bag, and marched the offending crystal ball over to Thor, where he suggested they huck it into their freshly acquired portable hole.

At first the group was not receptive to the idea of returning such a device to the Gnoll Chieftain. But, when Loki pointed out that no form of scrying could reach extradimensional planes they eventually agreed. Which turned out to be . . . a mistake. But we'll get back to that.

The minute the bagged orb passed that threshold, the gibbering in the hall stopped. The characters could almost feel the owners of those voices staring at the door separating the two groups. So they spread the portable hole out in front of the door again. And waited.

And waited. And waited.

After about thirty seconds of this (what; that's a long time!) Loki directed Steve to secure his rope to him. He then had The Muscle pull the portable hole six inches away from the door containing the wall and edged between the two. Once at the door he opened it and peeked out. Three Gnoll shamans looked back. He then exclaimed 'OOPS!' and slammed the door.

Thor then tugged on the rope, pulling Loki across the interdimensional portal just as the door burst open. The first Gnoll charged headlong through, and quickly went the way of his former leader. The other two looked at the group waiting to receive them, down at the hole whence their ally had gone, and decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

By the time the group could get the portable hole folded up (which oddly never increased in thickness no matter how many times it was folded) they were long gone. Not wanting to meet the reinforcements (including archers with log casting arrows, no doubt) they were undoubtedly summoning, the group decided to make itself long gone as well.

Fortunately, the stairwell upwards that Loki and Nebula had used during their redundant rescue attempt. By the time they'd reached it they could hear the sounds of the inevitable search party, and decided that hurrying would be a very good thing.

They'd made it back to the invisible pathways when Hazel pointed out that they had only retrieved the key (currently around the neck of one of the Gnolls in the portable hole). They still needed to get Maiphere's (corrected spelling by the DM) eyes. Which Ms. Drider had informed them were in the possession of the Gnolls.

At that point, Loki remembered (with the DM's prodding) the elevator he'd seen the Gnolls use to go down into some basement area on his first foray into their barracks. So he led them back into the garden, back to the ballroom, and up above to the first entrance to the invisible paths leading above the barracks.

There were still a few Gnoll archers on the lookout, but their numbers had thinned considerably. They took that as a good sign that the hunt for them was underway, expecting that the last plays the oversized hyenas would look would be smack in the middle of their territory.

That did, however, require that the lookouts didn't see them. And they almost did. Well, actually, one caught the motion of Steve's jump over the gap in the bridge. But before they could identify the motion that had caught their eye, Loki summoned a massive silent image of a golden dragon behind them. While they were busy figuring out that they didn't actually need to shit themselves the group hurried back to the Paladin's tunnel.

They then went back down to the Gnoll hall. The hall itself was completely deserted. Loki quickly led them over to the elevator. The contraption was quite easy to figure out, and down they went.

The elevator dropped for quite a ways. As it scraped its way down, another slap of rock took its place, blocking them off. At the bottom they found a treasure trove of gold trinkets of all sizes. While Thor and Hazel went off looking for their patron's eyes, Loki quickly began shoveling the most valuable items in reach into his bag of holding. Strangely, the more he shoveld, the more his need to shovel was.

Of the other members only Nebula took anything. And though she did feel an urge to continue, she was able to fight it off.

Aided by what Hazel calls Maiphere-vision (due to the vision granted to her by the dragonkin's skull, which she was wearing like a helmet) the two of them had no trouble locating their eyes.

As they headed back they noted a shadowy entity hovering over Loki. And the more he shoveled the closer it got. They also noted suddenly that there were many skeletons in the place, none that appeared to have any damage to them.

Thor called out to Loki. Loki looked up, saw the shadow . . . and went right back to shoveling. It was as if the danger of the presence of such a malign entity was far less important than filling his BOH to the brim. And then his pockets, and his clothes, and his hat, and he was also contemplating how much of it could be tied up in his hair.

He was actually working out just how much could be held with mage hand, when Thor interposed himself between the two, holy sword in hand. The creature shrank back to the other side of the cavern. Meanwhile, Steve snatched Loki up like a football, pulling him out of reach of the bait- er . . . I mean treasure. When Loki started to mage hand an item up Steve shook him.

That jostling was enough for Loki to get a hold of himself, though why the armpit stench of the Brawler wasn't enough to smack some sense into him we'll never know. Loki then glared at the entity. And, while maintaining eye contact, he held out his bag, and upended it. Not much fell out before he righted it again, certainly not nearly as much as he'd taken, but the message was clear.

The shadow didn't make a noise, but it was just as clear that it was enraged by the act. It kept trying to dart around Thor's weapon to get at Loki. Sadly, the Brawler's hand wraps were not only holy, but also axiomatic.

In the end it let them go to the elevator and leave. As the elevator breached the next level the group was aware that they weren't alone: a large Gnoll stood there, as if waiting for them.

They immediately attacked.

Honestly, this wasn't so much of a fight as a beat down. It was a basic tank and spank that had only one outcome. Sadly it did have the side effect of creating a lot of noise. And, as the alarm began to sound again, the group quickly realized they'd outlived their welcome.

They bolted back down the hall to their secret entrance, up the tunnel, and into the cavern of mushrooms. Once they'd rested they headed back to the Drider to see if any of their Greed inspired gains were worth anything. As it turned out, the only thing of value to her was a massive ruby Loki had looted. In fact, it had been the first thing he'd looted.

And in trade she offered him . . . a secret. Eventually he agreed, but with the proviso that he decided if the information was worth the ruby after he heard it. When they agreed she stared meaningfully at the rest of the group until they got the hint. They filed out of the room and decided to just head up to Maiphere's apartment, because fuck that little guy, that's why. Let's split the party.

Once they were alone, the Drider (her name is Zhalluk'sie (pronounced: Ja-lus-ki.) what do you expect from someone with a French name?) bent down and asked Loki how he'd like to be immortal. Of course, he was intrigued. Up until now his life had been governed by the motto 'So many pranks, so little time'. Now he had a chance to have all the time he wanted.

Of course, he was a bit suspicious. Zhalluk'sie elaborated that the scarab they'd found was one six, that when put together would make him immortal. When Loki asked for specifics a box with which to store the scarabs rose out of the ground. In it were instructions on how to assemble them, their locations, and a pair of gloves with which to handle them. She also confirmed that he would stop aging, and he would not be any type of undead.

Loki was still suspicious, but he agreed that the information was worth the ruby and handed it over. After that it was time to rejoin the group in Maiphere's apartment.

He was understandably joyed to get his eyes back. He was less so when they unrolled their portable hole. Hey, by that point both Gnolls were definitely dead right? Time to get that skeleton key back.

Except as soon as he saw it, Maiphere told them this wasn't a portable hole. He then asked Loki what he'd seen when he'd gone inside. Loki admitted to having seen a huge open space, with some clouds off to the distance. He'd just assumed it was a much larger hole than normal.

But this was actually a doorway. A doorway leading to a dimension without gods. In their place were the elder gods. And now they had to go back in there for that key. Oh, and that Palantir may not have been as inert as they'd figured. All eyes glared at Loki.

It was voted unanimously (It should be noted that Loki didn't get a vote) to send Loki back in to get the items. Loki shrugged and stuck his head in. Again he saw the open space and clouds, but still none of these elder gods Maiphere seemed so upset about.

He was able to locate the two Gnolls drifting away. They'd only drifted a little over a hundred feet. The Palantir was nowhere in sight. Steve then tied his two hundred foot of rope around Loki's waist. Thor then picked his brother up and cast him like a spear in the direction he'd indicated.

Due mainly to amazing rolls, Loki's flight was true. He hit the Gnoll Shaman, gave him a quick once over for valuable items, and then pushed off towards the chieftain. When he saw the valuables on the chieftain he grabbed him by the scruff of his armor and jerked on the rope. Thor immediately began to reel him in.

As Loki gripped onto the lifeline with one hand, and his prize with the other, he noted something moving towards him. He turned to examine it, only to see a gargantuan mass of tentacles moving towards him. And it was moving faster than he was being pulled.

He immediately tugged on the rope again and again. With each tug Thor increased his speed until he was reeling Loki in as quickly as bipedally possible. Loki popped through the doorway with such force that he arced over their heads, landing next to it. With his first lung full of air he yelled 'close it, close it, close it'. Then he passed out.

Steve picked up one end of the carpet. The moment its flat plane was broken the doorway was closed. Maiphere seemed concerned. But he passed that by. Thor and Loki started going through the loot. One keen warpick made of human spine. One sash of the champion that went to Steve. A set of gloves of dueling that Thor took. Some boots of striding that Steve took. An amulet of natural armor, that again went to Steve. A headband of inspired wisdom that Nebula took. A cloak of resistance +2 that went to Thor. And a ROP 2 that also went to Thor. Note to self: don't let the muscle divvy up the loot.

Next up were the arms, which had been incorporated into some chair in a library.

{Player's Note: Yes, we get it. It's an arm chair. Trust me, that pun was aged when Beth said it. And she won't stop. I blame Alex.}

Maiphere told them that the library was directly above them and they were off. All but Loki stepped out immediately. He stayed behind to question Maiphere on the information Zhalluk'sie had given him. Maiphere confirmed what he'd been told and he moved to leave. Before he could rejoin the group Maiphere asked if it would be too much trouble to have Thor knock a hole in the ceiling, so he could get into the library.

The next floor up held yet another dining room with nothing of interest. Passed that they found a hallway that led to several sleeping quarters, bathrooms and other mundane rooms of no value. The hall ended at a T intersection, with a single door with 7 different locks. The group tried the center lock first, using their skeleton key. It turned 360 degrees, with various clicks along the way that sounded like various mechanisms unlocking. Yet it would not open.

They tried the other key holes, which worked as standard, except that the door opened differently, based upon the location of the keyhole.

Top Left: Opened from the right; led to a pantry with unspoiled fruit preserves.

Top Right: A kitchen. Empty.

Top Center: Opened down; Led to a path leading into a snowy mountainside. (We dubbed it Narnia)

Bottom Left: Opened from the right; Led to a smelly trash room. They neglected to explore further.

Bottom Right: Opened from the Left: Opened from the left; led to a skeleton sitting on a toilet. (We dubbed him Elvis and moved on)

Bottom Center: Opened inwards; Led to Sewage.

By this point Loki was able to figure out that the center probably opened upwards. On his prodding It was opened into a dark hallway. The hallway had dust that was an inch thick, with treadmarks that were half filled leading down to a room. Loki is elected to enter. He chose to use the footprints to get to the end where he finds an empty room.

He saw nothing, but when he got to the threshold Hazel saw lights turn on in the room. After he reported back, she chose to check it out. She found an alchemist's lab complete with a dragonkin alchemist, writing in a book. He seemed to be experimenting with various formulas, each with notes next to them. The one that caught her attention said its only good for clearing large rocks. Suddenly shadows came and drug the alchemist out of the room. She followed the abduction to see both abducted and abductees vanished halfway down the hall.

After that they decided to rest in one of the bedrooms they'd just passed.

LAST NEXT #Madnes #ManyAlternateDoorsNoExitsInSight

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