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The Long Road

Why DM's get headaches . . .
Red: DM's original path, Blue: First Detour, Green: Got lost, Yellow: Gnome saw a shiny, Blue: Had to see world's shortest giant (4ft 5inches), Purple: Dwarven Beer Run

Once the fun with slimes yearly event had concluded (via multiple castings of Meteor Swarm on the main slime, which only cut it back a bit) the Cupcakes retired to their inn . . . to level up. Feorge went straight to bed, completely ignoring his trainee's attempts to get his attention. For perspective, that trainee's name is Gloquan The Great (currently level 3), so you get an idea of why Feorge chose to ignore him.

The rest of the Cupcakes were a bit more attentive, or had less annoying charges. Said charges were quick to unveil that they'd been invited to compete in some low level event set in one month's time. Something about culling the local Flesh Works. They were understandably excited to finally be allowed to do more than pitch tents and carry water buckets.

What? It's a valid training tactic. Have none of you seen the Karate Kid?

The next morning the Cupcakes were visited by the couple with the caravan. Seemed they had a job for them, delivering a parcel somewhere. The group agreed to talk to the quest giver, and also asked if they couldn't do something about the Gnome's stench. (Never roll a nine on a Kuncklebone of Fickle Fortune; actually, just don't roll it at all if you can help it. Gnomes can't)

Upon their inquiring gaze, Feorge held up the offending minor artifact and asked if they'd like a roll. Before they could respond (most likely to ask how they had gotten it and why they still had it) Khadijah asked if it was buttered. Feorge considered this, deciding that it couldn't hurt his luck. So he went into the kitchen, buttered the icosahedron, and rolled it. This time he rolled a 7.

But, just because that one test didn't succeed did not mean that Khadijah hadn't been on the right track. So, Feorge immediately set about a complex set of experiments to see if food might alter the die's disposition. We can only assume the others left him alone because they saw his absence as a moment's reprieve.

Feorge was up to wrapping the die in bacon and cooking it when the innkeeper shooed him out of 'his' kitchen. Feorge made a halfhearted complaint about 'his' knucklebone before being pushed back into the common room.

The next day the Cupcakes went to see their newest benefactor. Turned out he wanted them to deliver a bottled ooze to a town smack dab in the center of a maze of wild magic zones. The group immediately gave him the stink eye. Many sense motives were rolled. Many ridiculous questions were asked. Many knowledge checks were made. In the end all we learned was that this man must have been incredibly desperate to put up with the Cupcakes.

Eventually they left with the ooze, a set of care instructions, and a feeling of dread. It's almost as if their players just don't trust the DM at all . . .

It was only a couple of days into the journey up into the mountains (the air hadn't even thinned yet, regardless of what Gred had to say) when they came across an old weather beaten monolith standing roughly 4 medium creatures tall. At its base stood a massive chest flanked by two stone guardians. Each guardian was staring at the chest, as if keeping watch on it.

Now any sane individual would recognize a trap flanked by a warning right off and kept on keeping on. Not that the Cupcakes didn't recognize it. They just didn't care. So, in a parody of safety belonging on an r/OSHA board, they tied a rope around the waste of the rogue and sent her to investigate. I suppose, if nothing else this could be a story about the dangers of blind trust . . .

She made to the bait-I mean chest, and stuck her lock picks into the over-sized treasure receptacle . . . and I'm just going to pause the adventure right there for a moment. Don't worry, she'll be fine. She won't even get a cramp.

{Player's Note: It was at this moment that Adam pointed out that Mimics (should this be one) were a much maligned creature. And he had a point. Just look at it from their point of view. There you are sunbathing in an open meadow, just minding your own business. Then you see these . . . adventurers (for want of a worse word) stroll up. And you're like, shit they'll definitely kill me if they find out what I am. Better just play dead. But that doesn't stop them. one of them just has to approach, stick a couple of lock picks in your nose, and start digging around like they're performing a reverse colonoscopy. I know I'd try to bite their head off if it were me!}

Unpause. As you can imagine, it wasn't long into the nose picking that the mimic formerly known as a chest promptly chomped the top half of the rogue. Kor'el (pronounced: Coral) immediately attempted to yank her out of its maw, but the chest was faster; all he managed was to drag her along its teeth a little.

The statues also came to life and began attacking. The group sprang into action, whether in an attempt to save their partially ingested companion or for the love of murder we'll probably never know. The fight went quite quickly, and mostly painlessly, with the minor exception of the golems' splintering ability. But, it did give Feorge the opportunity to cast his very first fireball of healing.

Trap . . . subverted, they all turned to the monolith. The group tried everything they could think of. Well, except speaking 'friend' in every language they could think of. (Perhaps that little chestnut's finally run its course) Feorge even suggested that they had to strip down and dance around it. The group vetoed this option. Well, most of them. A couple seemed intrigued, then disappointed. But they did detect magic, use knowledge arcana, perform multiple perception checks, and even check on top.

Here's what they discovered: it was a slab of etched rock. Gred did suggest leaving a note on it for the next group. Something like 'make sure you get a running start'. This too was overruled.

Eventually they tired of the enigma and headed off. As they approached the nearer stand of trees a massive cracking sound filled the air, followed quickly by an earthquake that tripped the entire group.

{Player's Note: Okay I didn't actually pay attention to who got tripped. I got tripped, ergo everyone did. Otherwise Feorge would look foolish . . .}

They quickly backtracked the sound to that same meadow. Only this time the monolith was gone. Detect magic did nothing, but Gred chucked a rock at it's last known location. As the rock intersected that spot it bounced back.

{Player's Note: We pointed out that invisibility should have triggered under detect magic. Turns out the DM was making it up on the fly because we clearly expected the rock to mean something. To him it had apparently been backdrop.}

Khadijah stepped up to it and hit it with her sword, only to have it rebound with such force that it leapt from her hand back towards the rest of the party. It managed to graze Velora before sticking hilt deep in a tree. Thus proceeded a series of experiments that revealed that the stone didn't like metal. Seemed an odd form of discrimination really. They're both hard, tough, and heavy. Perhaps the rock just saw worked metal as a traitor?

For whatever reason, it was apparent that one had to divest themselves of all metal. Hyalnik did one better, stripping down to his skivvies (Feorge made a mental note to send him the bill for his psychiatric care) and stepped up to the structure. This time he passed through to a pocket dimension.

Inside he found a small room with writing on one side. The writing was in an ancient dialect, but as he touched its wall it transformed itself into Dwarfish. As it turned out, the obelisk was actually a monument commemorating some ancient battle. As the Dwarf exited he noticed two things.

One: his stats had all been improved by 1, which ironically did not help him at all; they'd all been even.

Two: his alignment had swapped from Neutral Good to Neutral Evil. Unsurprisingly, he kept both of these tidbits to himself.

He then exited, telling the others only that they'd looted a monument. Not sure what he'd meant since the only loot came in the form of a mimic, unless said mimic was both guard and container of some treasure? Sounds pretty efficient now that I think about it. But, considering his new alignment, its just as likely that he was just bragging.

Kor'el entered, performed the above ritual, and gained the same . . . adjustments? Only he went from Lawful Neutral to Chaotic Neutral. Upon exiting he stated that the more naked a person was the greater the power they received. Coming on the heels of Feorge's earlier suggestion, this was met with a level of distrust.

But it did make Gred curious. However, he was also aware that curiosity killed the cat/gnome/tiefling. He wanted to know what happened, but in a risk free way. How to accomplish this, he wondered. Then his brother caught his eye. His brother that had competed with him in virtually everything including birth order.

So, he made like he was going to enter. Feorge didn't even hesitate. You'd think he'd learn one day. The Gnome charged ahead yelling 'me next' and shedding clothing along the way. The Gnome entered the obelisk, immediately touched the wall (because why wouldn't you?) read the text, and felt the change. The boon to his stats helped him almost as little as it had helped the Dwarf, but more importantly, his alignment went from Chaotic Good to Lawful Evil. Muhahahahahahhahhahahahhahaahhahahahaha . . . ad infinitum.

Feorge then exited, and successfully bluffed the rest of the group into thinking that there was nothing of interest in the monument. What like he's going to share that completely inconsequential buff? The group carried on.

A couple of days later the caravan came upon a couple standing in the road. Initially Feorge ignored it. But when Kor'el hopped down to suggest that they would best avoid being trampled by moving out of the way he became interested. The two suggested (quite pompously IMO) that the caravan should go around. (Clearly they were of the younger generation, whatever that's called on Faerun. . .)

The more clericy of the two then cast a curse of Kor'el. A couple of archers appeared in the nearby brush and shot the shit out of the Gnome. Kor'el responded to the cleric's curse with a crit dealing nearly a hundred hit points to him. Long explanation short, he was split in twain. His buddy immediately bolted. And was chased down by Hyalnik and Kor'el who, upon catching him, administered the same treatment, albeit slower. He should have known better than to show fear to a Dwarf or a Tiefling, really.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Cupcakes were dealing with the duo of archers. Feorge took great offense at the arrows still buried in his chest, and fireballed the archers. One made the save, one smoldered. Velora flew over and began whipping them. And Gred . . . well, Gred did what he does best. He exploded things. But with frosty explosions to put out the fire set by Feorge's fireball.

Quite quickly they found themselves down to one bleeding out bandit. Feorge stabilized him, and had Hyalnik tie him up with a silken rope. Then he healed him enough to wake him and announced that they were going to play a game. It was called 'Good Fire or Bad Fire'. Basically he began torturing the poor misguided bastard for information on the rest of his bandit clan.

{Player's Note: It became quickly clear that the DM was not prepared for me to roleplay a Lawful Evil Character, but this, like the rest of the campaign, was all on him.}

Upon realizing what their Gnomish buddy was up to the rest of the group became uneasy. Velora complained that she needed healing. Feorge told her he'd get to it when he got to it. Khadijah fought between the impulses of 'don't kill allies' and 'kill evildoers'. Fortunately, before that particular inner battle could be resolved Kor'el took his axe and killed the captive, because he, and I quote "didn't approve of torture."

Feorge gave him a dirty look and stomped off. When prodded again about heals he informed them that each heal would cost ten gold. Gred found himself suddenly press ganged into healing. He also used an extract of detect alignment to uncover the alignment shenaniganry currently afoot.

Meanwhile, Feorge had begun plotting Kor'el's death. Only three days into the journey and he was becoming a regular Lex Luthor, really . . .

#CC #DontSwapPlayerAlignments #CaravanOfChaos

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