Thursday, February 8, 2018

Maze of the Blue Medusa: Session 3

Our heroes once again stepped through the moonlit painting into the chambers of the former Ashen Chanterelle. It had been an eventful month. Their last excursion had led them straight to a powerful demon who could stop their heart or catch their breath in their lungs with a snap of fingers. They would have to be more careful if they were to survive this.

DMs Note: In this session, I implement a new downtime mechanic I've been working on. Because there's a solid month between each foray into the maze, I asked each player what their character did in that month, and gave them mechanical advantages for creative ideas.

The party had been busy. Kali, knowing their next journey was to a place known only as “the Dead Wedding," decided to spend the past month in Erebus, conversing with the souls of the dead [in-system: her summons' damage is rolled straight]. Eizen had been training, pushing his muscles to their limits for weeks on end [in-system: his STR score increased by 1]. Mr. Nancy, the dashing rogue, had been partying and spreading raucous stories about how Nemora romanced a vine. His tales became part of the collective consciousness, to the point that “screwing the plant" has become a common idiom for foolish behavior, though nobody knows quite where it came from [in-system: his carousing meant it was plausible that he would have seemingly-random items on his person]. Nemora, however, was hard at work in the smithy, crafting a pair of magical swords hewn from the very rocks that formerly trapped him [in-system: +1 swords, able to create a burst of bright light by hitting them together].

The heroes head to Lady Capilli's room, and from there to the Escher Stairs. Instead of heading north, as they had done previously, they use the key given to them by the dark lady to access the previously-locked East Wing. Stepping forward, they enter what appears to be a coat room, with capes, cloaks, and furs lining each wall. Nemora, wearing nothing more than the stony protrusions that maintain his modesty, decides to update his wardrobe. Reaching out to take a coat from the rack, he is startled when he instead finds a large peacock hiding amongst the clothes.

The peacock introduces himself as Zacchaeus, and immediately begins eyeing the party up and down with a discerning gaze. Nemora in particular is the focus of his ire, and he immediately demands the strange man clothe himself before he enters the wedding. Zacchaeus begins throwing random clothes at Nemora, who graciously adorns himself with a floor-length leather opera coat, velvet slacks, and a feather boa. It suits him wonderfully.

After the clothing situation is dealt with, Zacchaeus remembers his real duty and staunchly asks for our heroes invitation to the party, “presided over by Chancellor Sophronia Wort herself!" When pressed, the peacock refuses to give any more information, but luckily Mr. Nancy manages to fish a tattered ticket from his inner pocket and presents it. Satisfied that the group don't appear to be wedding crashers, Zacchaeus instructs them to head forward to catch the end of the ceremony.

The next room is a nightmare come to life. Burnt, desiccated corpses float between rows of empty chairs. Ash falls from their blackened skulls as they wordlessly converse. One floats to Eizen and extends his hand in a conventional greeting, but when Eizen takes it, the figure disintegrates. The party notices the buffet table on the side of the room, but upon realizing it is devastated -- with the exception of an eerily-pristine wedding cake -- decide not to fool with it. The four agree that this silent procession holds little prospect for them, and head south into a small side room.

In it is a table, and on the table is a small key. The key is attached to a string, which trails forth into a darkened room. From within, they hear childish giggling. Eizen, bright as he is, illuminates the room to reveal a crouching, sallow child with coal black eyes and a sadistic smile. Adorning the child's room are the skins of (presumably) other adventurers, stretched and pinned to the walls. The child lunges at the party, but Eizen manages to pin him with a well-executed grapple.

However, the wight will not be bested so easily. Its fearsome teeth dig into the flesh of Eizen's arm, and the son of Atlas feels his strength draining by the second (DMs Note: EXP drain). But the abomination can not long sustain the combined effort of four demigods with a purpose, and soon it falls. The party takes a moment to catch their breath before examining the strange display of skins. Each was pinned with several needles, and have what appears to be braile dots poked through. None of our heroes can read them, although they do make a note to return once they've done some more research.

Fishing the key from the dead boys hands, the party returns to the reception hall, where they immediately get the feeling they are being watched. They turn to see a small boy, translucent but otherwise identical to the one they just fought, staring at them. Mr. Nancy steps forth bravely, but the child is not here to fight. Instead, he simply holds out his hand, pointing further east. The party follows his lead into the next room.

They are led into a grand altar, empty save for two well-dressed, lovely figures They are caught in a timeless, frozen embrace, mere seconds from their first kiss in marriage. Dust specks lay motionless in the air, and a pebble tossed by Mr. Nancy slows, then stops before it even approaches the bride and groom. They are trapped in a bubble outside of time, and it's clear nothing can affect them until it is broken. The ghostly boy points up at the couple, and then sits down before them. He is unable to communicate further, but it's not long before the silence is broken by an unearthly shrill scream from ahead.

Suddenly, the party is confronted with what they can only assume are wraiths composed entirely of gold dust. What they had assumed was a scream was, in fact, the grinding of metal-on-metal as the forms flew around and through each other. They turned to our heroes, and we were in intiative.

Despite having first actions (in Godbound, players always win initiative unless facing other demigods), not much was accomplished in the first round. Mr. Nancy, the smooth talker, has next-to-no combat capabilities, relying on his foresight and manipulation of luck to see him through encounters. Eizen attempted to trap the wraiths in a cage of stone, but their gold-dust forms slipped effortlessly through any crack. Kali, with her dominion over death, managed to enslave a spectre, raising it as a solid-gold skeleton under her command. Ever eager to try out his new swords, Kellen attempts a strike. Though merely a glancing blow, the wraiths do recoil from the powerful magic contained within the blades.

The wraiths mount an unconventional counterattack. Two of the four rush towards Eizen's face, smothering him with a cascade of molten gold forced down his throat. His body spasms in the throes of his heroic resistance, but it is for nought. The spirits have possessed him, and immediately turn their attention to the rest of the party. The other two wraiths attack Kellen and Mr. Nancy with whirlwind-spins that strip flesh as easy as a sandblaster.

Beaten but not broken, Kellen realizes his friend Eizen has set his sights on the party. Kellen jumps to pin the giant to the ground before his mighty stone hands can close around Kali's neck. Kali in turn commands her skeletal guardian to attack while simultaneously reaping the very life from a wraith with her scythe.

Mr. Nancy picks up a stone and throws it.

Eizen's eyes and mouth are starting to bleed liquid gold as Kellen drives his fists into the titan's back. Kali looks to the remaining wraith, already weakened by her summons' attacks, and raises it as another. With a final push the last two specters are expelled from Eizen and he stands to join the party.

Mr. Nancy goes back into the wedding hall.

The combined efforts of three demigods (and two golden skeletons) makes short work of the last two wraiths. Victorious, Kali dispels her necromancy and Mr. Nancy strides forth to rejoin his compatriots. Sensing further danger deeper within the Maze, the party takes a moment to catch their breath and lick at their wounds before proceeding south.

This room is mercifully free of dangers. A single white swan floats lazily along a river of wine. The party exchanges glances and shrugs, but continues past it (making sure to disturb neither it nor the river) into a large room dominated by a brilliant crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Pushing past the broken and discarded gift boxes that litter the floor here, they enter another room that has been completely impaled vertically by a vine thick as an oak tree. Kellen drops a coin past the vine, but no impact is ever heard. Eizen volunteers to climb down, and is met with a familiar sight: he is standing outside of the Rat King's chambers, deep within the garden.

In heading east, they have ended up above where they started.

Ever the opportunist, Kali marks the convenient shortcut on her map. Eizen returns to his friends, and the party continues north.

The golden engine. Designed and built by Torcul Wort as punishment for an abstract crime, the very thing that gave the dead wedding its namesake. It stands in the center of the room, formidable even in its stillness. Its purpose is to turn anything its fed into gold. It is alive, and duplicitous, and hungry.

In this room is the biggest threat our heroes have faced so far. In this room, a demigod will die.

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