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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 10: The Portable Hole, A cautionary Tale For DM's

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

Every child in time out.
More like floating

No, this isn't about the merging of extradimensional spaces. I mean, that warning is right on the BOH and the Portable Hole. It helps avoid lawsuits. I mean, not by the people that do it. By the people traumatized by the inevitable result.

{Player's Note: Seriously, wouldn't it have been easier to just state they can't be placed inside each other if the builders were worried about nested storage?}

No this warning is about something else. Something quite . . . hilarious really. But we'll have to get to that point. As we left this intrepid group of explorers they'd just been reunited with their chief informant (who's most likely using them for his own ends) and discovered that all their hard work up till now had been quite handily undone.

And, in response to this news they decided to take a nap. What; they'd leveled; what else would you have expected? Besides, Maipher had already admitted that he's been waiting thousands of years to pull himself back together. What's a few more days?

And then, after they'd awoken, there were the inevitable stretching routines, the bragging about the new abilities that had come to them in the night, the morning constitutionals, not to mention the daily preparations they had to go through.

Maipher put up with all of that quite well really. But finally, all of that was done. And then . . . well, then it was time for breakfast. Seeing as half of the group had lost their possessions the last time they were captured, that meant it was time to take another trip to the pantry.

When they got there they noted two things. One: the dining area was cleaned and laid out with fine china; apparently whomever ran the place was expecting company. And Two: Incu was wandering around in his giant skeleton legs again. The group immediately dived into hiding with various results. On the one end of the scale, Loki basically disappeared. On the other, well we're fairly certain Thor had a foot sticking out from under the table.

But that was okay, because Nebula drew the gremlin's attention by not hiding at all. He marched up to her, noting the dress she was wearing (that came from one scary elf's foot locker in a previous chapter) and told her she was early. Nebula ignored this, instead requesting (only slightly imperiously) some food for the group. Incu's eyebrows shot up at that, but Nebula held her ground. A moment later he marched those legs back to the pantry/kitchen area, returning with a bag full of provisions. Nebula accepted them and he turned to leave.

He was halfway back down the dining area when something caused him to turn back to them. Noting the oddly positioned table setting on Thor's table (what; have you ever heard of a barbarian doing anything gently?) he clambered out of the legs and walked over to the table to investigate.

When he lifted the tablecloth Thor immediately said "Oh, hello. Just checking to make sure the tables were sturdy enough." With that he thumped the underside of the tabletop (lifting the table up a couple inches with each hit) and said "this one seems good."

Incu squealed and made for his legs. He didn't get far before Thor's ham sized hand wrapped itself around his ankle, and pulled him back under the table. A truly horrific or hilarious image, depending on your alignment. While Thor went about the process of restraining and silencing the gibbering gremlin, Loki helped himself to said captive's legs.

It took him little time to discern the operating procedures involved, and he immediately marched back to the pantry/kitchen area. Considering that stealth and subterfuge were no longer an option, he decided on a pantry raid. As in, every single consumable item (as well as various utensils) was placed within his BOH. Every. Single. Thing.

The group then tied Incu so tightly he could barely breathe (what; he wouldn't shut up!) and strapped him to a table leg in the kitchen. Then came the lengthy and tedious job of maneuvering the legs back to Maipher's. Well, it's not like Loki could have taken them on the invisible passages required to go back in the Gnoll's barracks could he? And he certainly wasn't going to leave them for Incu to steal. He'd stolen them fair and square.

Maipher seemed a little perplexed when they brought only the lower half of his friend into his room. Perhaps a little upset on his friend's behalf as well. They quickly explained that they weren't the ones to split his friend into two pieces, before he could smite them all. As they explained the separate uses his friend had been put too, not to mention the location of his upper half, Loki began forming an idea.

The way he saw it, having a giant ally could be of great use when fighting giant Gnolls. So, he proposed that the group liberate the top half of the Giant and reassemble it before they attempted another expedition whence they'd been beaten up once already. After a short argument they agreed. (See? Most geared person is apparently in charge.)

They had no trouble making their way back to the dishwashing station. Closer examination revealed that the last vertebrae of the skeleton had some sort of a ring around it. That ring was in turn set in one of the bricks of the wall. Which left an interesting question; how to get him out without damaging him? Thor tried hitting the stones next to the anchoring stone, but was doing little damage. Plus there was some concern that the skeleton might count as a construct, making him vulnerable to the mace. Thor's holy bastard sword presented a similar threat. And really, who wanted to bring Maipher's friend back in a dustpan?

After chewing it around a few times Loki cast a silent image the size of the anchoring block that passed through the wall to the other side. He and Thor went out into the hall. Thor tried his mace a few times, finding it to be of the same limited use as it had shown previously. Then he switched to the Bastard sword and worked at cutting through the mortar holding the stones in place.

His first thrust (a critical hit I might add) tore completely through the wall. As the sword's tip exited the other side the skeleton began to panic. Fortunately, Hazel was able to calm him down before he ripped himself out of the wall, minus a couple vertebrae. After that it was a simple process of rinse and repeat. Other than Thor shinning himself at one point, (something Loki found hilarious) there were no other problems extracting the skeleton.

Once out it immediately dragged itself over to the chimney at the other end of the room and began disassembling it. Once he had one side demolished he reached inside and pulled a fifteen foot spear with Giant (language, not size) runes on the blade out. Then he made a beeline back to Maipher's, like he knew the way.

As they passed through the ballroom Loki decided to check on Incu. He was still bound to the table. In a momentary fit of compassion Loki decided to unbind him enough to give him something to eat. But, once the gremlin's mouth was free he immediately began howling his displeasure. They tried to gag him with a piece of chicken. He spit it out and continued. Shrugging, Loki and Thor retied him, and caught up to the slowly moving skeleton.

Once back in Maipher's room, the disembodied dragonkin examined his friend's prison, stating it would take him days to undo. When they explained exactly how they freed the giant Maipher asked to see the sword. Thor showed it to him, at which point he identified the original owner (formerly Mr. Krispy) as a paladin of Ragathiel.

{Player's note}

He then asked if they'd seen any of his three companions, all followers of that same divinity. Loki admitted not, but remembered there had been a second passage in the tunnel where they'd found the sword's original owner.

Hazel then changed the subject, asking what the runes on the skeleton's spear blade meant. Maipher explained that they were designed for killing dragons. Which immediately raised another question: how exactly were they friends if one hated hated dragons and the other was a Dragonkin? Maipher explained that they'd had common enemies. Something they could hardly refute. It was probably the only reason Loki was still in the group.

In any case, the group wasn't about to wait an indeterminate amount of days before going and retrieving the coolest key ring ever. So they headed back along the invisible bridges. The Gnolls on sentry had no trouble seeing them tromping along above them, but great difficulty in getting their arrows anywhere close to them. Loki and Thor may have made some rude comments on the marksmanship (or lack thereof) exhibited.

Once inside the tunnel, they decided to check the branching path instead of heading directly down into Gnoll central. As it went the tunnel got wider and wider, ending in a large cave. The mushrooms they passed also seemed to get larger and larger, suggesting that maybe they were getting smaller and smaller.

There they found two of the Paladin's companions. Each had a diary on them. The story they told was a familiar one at this point, and perhaps a bit disheartening. As it turned out, this foursome had also been captured and brought here against their will. They too had been searching for some time for a means of escape when a shadow dragon attacked them. Their paladin (A.K.A the barbequed one) held it off while they ran.

Then they'd decided to simply wait to die in this cavern. And, when the food ran out, that's exactly what they did. There was a footnote about the fourth member of their party having found an underwater tunnel. He explored down it, never to return.

They also found some minor loot, nothing any of them could use. Steve did explore down the tunnel as far as he could, finding nothing but more underwater tunnel.

That minor detour out of the way, the group crept carefully into the main hall of the Barracks. Loki showed the group the small door leading to a winding cave of ever increasing temperature. Hazel and Nebula, both possessing dresses of endure elements, scouted ahead until they found a pool of lava leading into a reverse lavafall. Lava was coming in through a tunnel and then crawling up a cliff face. They were pretty sure it was feeding the lavafall they'd seen above the shadow dragon's haunt.

As they approached to investigate they noted that all their metal objects began pulling them towards the lava. They stepped back, but could see nothing of use. There were no control levers or buttons on the wall. Nothing to suggest a way to reverse the flow. So they backtracked back down the tunnel into the hall, picking up the rest of the group where they'd chosen to wait.

The hall was completely devoid of any life. The only sentry they saw was a Gnoll scarecrow which, after a brief start, they all ignored. At the other end they found those massive doors flung open, revealing a ledge overlooking a large plateau filled with the tents of an army. As they examined the scene they realized three things:

One: This appeared to be some place on Golarion.

Two: The encampment was a Gnoll army.

Three: There was a Gnoll patrol, complete with some sort of a two headed Gnoll centaur thing, coming up the raised path to the door.

They immediately backed off, looking for some place to hide. But there wasn't anything but smooth floor and wall behind them, and barren rock in front of them. Their best bet would have been to try and get back to the columns, but their wasn't enough time.

So, while Loki spun the gears in his head trying to work out an elaborate plan involving fleeing illusions that could draw the patrol down the hall, Steve noted a lever that looked as if it controlled the doors. Thor threw him up to it, thanks to the hurling rage power and his ridiculous rage strength. When Steve activated it, a thick metal security gate slammed down, blocking the patrol off. Thor then closed the doors while the rest of the team climbed the rope Steve lowered to them.

Thor managed to join them on the second floor just as the Gnolls in the barracks, alerted by the sound of the gate crashing downwards, ran down the lower part of the hall. Loki quickly identified the best way to disable the lever and directed Thor in it's removal. Into the bag it went.

Once that was dealt with the group crept along the second floor pathway until finding a door that led out into a snowy night sky. They quickly worked their way to the next doorway, which lead back into the Gnoll barracks.

Eventually they made it to the room Loki had guessed was the chief of the Gnolls' and got inside. They found about what you'd expect of a semi-bestial boss's room. Lots of weapons on the walls (made of people leftovers), a rather soiled bed, and a massive chest. And, in the center of the room was a cloak draped over a spherical object sitting on a pedestal.

Loki moved to the chest, all thoughts of the impending fight forgotten, because: LOOT! Meanwhile, Hazel began to sense evil whisperings coming from the cloaked object. When she informed the group of this Loki suggested Thor smash it, an idea quickly rejected by all else in the room. Hazel then complained periodically that the whisperings were getting louder and louder with increasing frequency. Loki replied that he couldn't work like this, at which point Hazel pulled out her chime of opening (pilfered from one of the tombs in the graveyard) and unlocked it.

Loki quickly lifted the lid and dove inside. The first thing he came up with was (as the DM put it) a large piece of material that seems to absorb light. Thinking this must be some sort of cloaking cloak, he immediately put it on.

Sadly, it was not a cloaking cloak. It was indeed a Portable Hole. And, as luck would have it, Loki had chosen to cover himself with it business end down. It fell to the floor, pushing him into the extradimensional space it led to. A much much larger extradimensional space than the average portable hole. He had no idea how big it was, but he could see what appeared to be nebulas floating in it. Also, at that particular moment he simply did not care. He was more concerned with the fact that he was starting to suffocate.

{Player's Note: We're assuming here that he'd put his BOH on the ground while he picked the locks because otherwise . . . well, the warning is on the side of the bag. Besides, he definitely would have had it down and open in preparation for the inevitable looting that always occurs after opening a chest.

Also Note: The description linked above is not at all what the DM described it as. Tricksy big hobbit . . .}

Meanwhile, as Loki floated in the void, Thor rushed over to the cloth, picked it up, and began shaking it, saying "Give me back my brother!". After the fourth or fifth shake Loki tumbled out onto the ground.

Before anyone could say anything pointed about his decision, the sound of Gnollish gibbering came to them through the closed door. Then there was a rustling at the doorway. Loki and Thor looked at each, each seeing the same idea in the other's face. They quickly spread the Portable Hole out in front of the door, like a demented welcome mat. While the others hid, Hazel stood on the opposite side, bait in trap.

The door opened, revealing the very Gnoll that had cleaved Thor in two. It took one look at the interloper in his bedroom, growled something, made an incredibly poor perception check, and charged. Right into the abyss. Thor immediately kicked the door closed and folded the material back up.

The gibbering, which had paused at the chieftain's roar, picked up again, sounding as if it were coming from three other Gnolls.

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