Thursday, April 22, 2021

House of Worms, Session 222

Though the bulk of the characters wished to return to Bakatlán and, from there, to the Ssú-inhabited ruins in the mountains northwest of it, there was some dissension. Grujúng was none too keen to return to the ruins. Having been driven off by the Ssú several days previously, he was in no hurry to face them a second time. Additionally, he did not understand why they simply did not return to the nexus point that brought them to this alternate Tékumel and return to the Citadel of Sighs, where the might try their luck with another nexus point, one that could conceivably lead them back to their Tékumel. Kirktá meanwhile wanted to spend as much time as possible on this version of Tékumel, as he hoped to learn more about it and its inhabitants.

Znayáshu would have none of this, though, supported by Keléno, Aíthfo, and Nebússa. They, along with the rest of the party, headed back to the docks, where the boats they'd borrowed from Bakatlán were moored. Grujúng and Kirktá joined them, grumbling as they did. Their journey along the coast took the better part of a day. At Bakatlán, they were met by Vrummíshsha, who welcomed them back and inquired as to whether they found what they needed at the provincial capital. He also asked if they would be staying in his village for long. When Keléno explained that they'd be leaving in the morning to return to the ruins in the mountains, he expressed surprise. Were the ruins not the abode of the Enemies of Man? Why would they return there? Keléno explained that they needed to find something beneath the ruins and they had no choice but return. Moreover, they needed to be sure that the Ssú did not attack Bakatlán and its people. Vrummíshsha was pleased by this and prayed that Lord Jráka would smile on their efforts.

The trek to the mountain ruins took another day. As the characters made it to the plateau on which the ruins were located, the sun was beginning to set. The group discovered the stripped and mutilated bodies of the three Tsolyáni soldiers who'd died during their previous encounter with the Ssú. Aíthfo suggested that they should be given burials appropriate to followers of Lord Sárku. Graves were dig through the use of the transmutation spell and Keléno, as a priest of the Worm Lord, oversaw the rites of their entombment. With that done, the characters settled down for the night, posting watches in order to protect them against any attacks by the Ssú or local wildlife. 

The next morning, the group entered the ruins and made preparations to descend down the shaft to the second level beneath the surface. Znayáshu acted as a scout, sliding down a rope lowered into the shaft. Partway down the shaft, he noticed a source of a faint glow below. Descending a little more, he saw three interlocking rings floating about six feet above the ground. The rings, he guessed, were some kind of magical ward, placed here by the Ssú to impede their return. Kirktá offered to make use of one of the scrolls of dispel magic they had acquired in Mihimór. Once the ward was dispelled, one of the Ksárul sorcerers offered to make use of his extra-vision spell to examine the area below more thoroughly. The spell revealed that, just out of sight, there were two more traps put in place, each one looking like a three-legged stand upon which a gem had been placed.

Znayáshu theorized this was some sort of a Ssú weapon. He asked Aíthfo and Grujúng to accompany him, as he descended down the shaft to deal with the two weapons. Once at the bottom, the three of them saw evidence of Ssú advancing on their position – a group from the south and one from the west. At that moment, Znayáshy cast telekinesis, lifting one of the gems from its tripod and throwing it southward toward the advancing Ssú. The gem exploded as it got close to the Ssú, killing half of their number. Grujúng and Aíthfo then rushed off in that direction, hoping to slay the staggered but still alive Ssú in the group. Grujúng was particularly effective in this, cutting down three in a single blow.

Back in the shaft, Aíthfo continued to use his spell to move the second gem, which he pushed down the west passageway toward the second group of Ssú. Behind him, three soldiers descended down ropes into the shaft to support him. The second gem exploded, killing more Ssú. Hearing this, Grujúng and Aíthfo ran off to face the surviving Ssú, backed up by the three soldiers. In the melee that ensued, all the Ssú were slain. Keléno, his wife, Mírsha, and the leader of the Ksárul sorcerers, Lára, descended the shaft and moved in the direction of the south corridor. 

In doing so, they observed another group of Ssú rushing toward them. Thinking quickly, Mírsha cast sleep and all of the Enemies of Man fell into a deep slumber. In the western corridor, Znayáshu made use of his necromancy to raise the dead Ssú in that area as undead, commanding them to move down another passageway and to engage any enemies they might encounter there. Unsurprisingly, there were yet more Ssú there; a combat erupted between the living and undead Ssú, as the Tsolyáni made their way to join them. 


  1. Doing a lot better this time around. Helps when you can use the enemies' traps against them.

    Zombie ssu. That's shudder-inducing. Worse than undead beholders or vampiric illithids. :)

  2. They’re lucky those gems didn’t explode when they reached the bottom of the shaft. I wonder how the Ssú planned to detonate them. Some nice uses of magic by the PCs, though.

    I think I missed something: what are our heroes using for light?

    1. There were two different characters (Nebússa and Keléno) using light spells for illumination.

    2. Maybe the warding rings that they dispelled were a combination of sensor and trigger for the explosive gems? The latter seem to be proximity fused, or maybe sensitive to motion, and perhaps the ward would have set them off somehow, with the explosions also alerting the ssu?

      That's my speculation, anyway.

    3. It’s the proximity fusing that confuses me. Why not just put the gems of obliteration a little closer to the shaft so they would go off as soon as someone entered? Unless the gems were actually there to protect the ward from interference coming from the corridors. But what would they be protecting it from?

      Maybe we’ll learn more in future episodes.

    4. Sadly, there aren't likely to be any answers to these questions from the characters' perspective, since the Ssú are notoriously uncommunicative with humans. (There is an explanation and I might post it here eventually, but the characters haven't learned it and may never)