play report: Dice Boys episode 23

This is an account of the latest session of my ongoing freeform fantasy campaign entitled Dice Boys. The referee was myself; the players were Seb, Russell, and Jason.

The party retreated from the magma cavern, back through the mirror portal into the room with the massive silver doors covered in reliefs of terrible demons torturing humans with the inscription “Speak the name of the one you seek.” They had entered this room through a secret door which closed behind them and could not apparently be reopened from this side. The only other means of egress was a large pair of wooden doors which were magically locked.

There ensued a protracted period of discussion about how to proceed. The dragon had been badly wounded in its battle with the phoenix and was now as vulnerable as it would ever be, yet it was still capable of incinerating the entire party in an instant. The status of the phoenix was unknown - it had been buried in rubble when the ceiling of the magma cavern partially collapsed on it; was it possible it was still alive and could be freed from the rubble to fight the dragon again? Was there anything to be gained from trying to parley with the dragon? It had been served by a host of humans, all of whom had been killed by the Dice Boys - perhaps its need for human servants could be exploited somehow? Could using the frightening silver doors somehow allow them to speak with the dragon from a safe distance? Gylvun discovered that the large golden key he had found in the Sorcerer’s chamber did indeed fit the lock of the silver doors, but he did not open them. There was also the mysterious hint from the fortune teller back in Chunchul - the dragon’s weakness was its poor eyesight.

After much discussion, Retch decided to sneak back through the portal to observe the status of he dragon and he phoenix. The dragon was now nowhere to be seen, having either retreated into the depths of the magma cavern or else vanished. Looking at the pile of rubble which had buried the phoenix, Retch observed thick smoke billowing forth from among the boulders, and an orange glow emanating from the depths of the pile. He contemplated climbing down the 110-foot cliff and approaching the rubble pile, but he did not.

The party decided first to secure their means of egress from this room, and with the help of the urchin Paldeen, who had been transformed into a grizzly bear during the battle with the Sorcerer, they broke down the magically locked doors. Next, Speck discovered that the ring he had found in the Sorcerer’s chamber allowed him to control the horrible flesh golem shut in the closet off the dining room. Behaving much like his late father, he impulsively began leading the golem around the dungeon with no clear objective, while the rest of the party stood around wondering what he was about. After discovering the golem could not climb the rope up through the illusory latrine, Speck got bored with his awful toy and put it back in its closet.

The party decided to go back up to the first level and speak with the mysterious stranger who smelled of flowers and sat cross-legged in the bottom of a deep shaft off the room with the dragon mosaic on the floor. As they entered the mosaic room, they encountered a strange woman, dressed in a tattered red gown, wearing a red-gold tiara with red gems, claiming to be a princess who had been held captive by the dragon. She said that the adventurers’ attack on the dragon had given her the opportunity to escape, by means of a hidden staircase at the back of the dragon’s lair. The Dice Boys were suspicious, and asked her to show them the stairs by which she had escaped. She indicated that they could be found in the adjacent room with the giant dragon-head statue in the wall and the joystick-like switch in the floor. She declined to enter the room first, citing fear of the dragon. Speck attempted to cajole her into entering first by pretending not to know what a door was, while Gylvun maneuvered behind her intending to put her to sleep with a blue crystal. Speck’s hamfisted and painfully obvious attempt at deception aroused the woman’s suspicion, and she noticed Gylvun moving behind her, leaping into the air at the last moment, causing the crystal beam to hit Speck and put him to sleep. The dragon-woman flew about the chamber, enraged, and began weaving a fireball in the air. Retch blasted her with the lightning wand, causing her to release the fireball before it reached full size, singeing Retch and Paldeen (who had turned back into a goth teen), and badly burning Emmita and Anlel. At the same time, Gylvun hit her with a green crystal, causing her to shrink by 30%, and she immediately vanished.

Ignoring the obvious threat still posed by the dragon-woman, Speck decided to descend the shaft and speak with the strange flower-smelling man. Speck displayed self-centeredness, impatience, and profound disrespect, and the sage did not vibe with him at all, and so the conversation was fruitless. Speck tried to force the saintly man to help somehow by physically dragging him out of his shaft, but then had an uncharacteristic flash of wisdom and released the man, who leaped the thirty feet down into his shaft, landing gently like a spider, and resumed his posture of serene concentration.

The urchins had seen enough of the dragon’s lair, and were not having fun anymore now that their friends were dying from being burned in the dragon-woman’s fireball, and they began making their way back through the dungeon seeking the exit. The Dice Boys wanted to keep exploring, in spite of the unknown whereabouts of the powerful and dangerous dragon-woman, and they boldly stepped through a teleportation portal they had previously discovered in the mosaic room. This turned out to lead back to the first teleportation portal at the beginning of the dungeon.

The impetuous Speck was leading the way and wanted to explore some doors and passaged they had bypassed near the dungeon’s entrance. Lifting a false wall heading toward the entrance, Speck came upon the dragon-woman, who caught his eye in her dragon-gaze and immediately enslaved his mind, causing him to approach and stand by her side like an obedient servant. Gylvun and Retch dove under the falling  false wall as the insensate Speck released it; Gylvun threw the mysterious warm jar he had found in the Sorcerer’s laboratory at the dragon-woman’s feet as Retch threw his two throwing daggers at her. One of the daggers hit the dragon-woman as the jar shattered on the floor, releasing a crawling and spreading liquid fire that spread across the floor and crawled up the legs and body of the dragon-woman and Speck. She was as unfazed by the fire as she was by the dagger, and she began to laugh villainously as Speck collapsed to the floor screaming, his legs on fire. Seeing no other option, Gylvun threw the Magic Dice, hoping for salvation. He rolled double 3s - a good result - and he became infused with invincibility, his body glowing and lashing with rapidly alternating colors, as a portal to deep space opened behind the dragon-woman. The invincible Gylvun and the brave Retch rushed the dragon-woman, shoving her backward into the portal. As she fell into space, she began to transform back into a dragon, and reached out with her leg which had become a talon, grabbing Retch around the ankle and dragging him toward oblivion. Gylvun used his shadow-dagger and Speck used his dragon sword and the hacked off the dragon-foot just in time, even as it was growing to its enormous dragon-size. The dragon in space immediately froze solid and then exploded in a shower of fragmented flesh, one chunk of which shot back into the corridor just before the portal closed.

The dragon had been defeated, and the Dice Boys had a full dragon claw and a chunk of flesh with a few scales on it to prove it. Speck was in very bad shape, and Gylvun used his healing magic to stabilize him and Retch, then they discussed the new situation. There was enough treasure in the dragon’s hoard to start a war. The treasure had been stolen by the Scorpion People over the centuries in order to meet the dragon’s demands; there was no clear rightful owner of the vast wealth. Once word got out that the dragon was dead there would be a mad rush to find the treasure and chaos would ensue. Right now the only people who knew the truth were the three Dice Boys. If the urchins, still in the dungeon somewhere, saw the claw or scales, they would also know, and soon all the land would know. The Dice Boys now had more power, for good or ill, than they had ever imagined - what would they do with it? And what developments had occurred in the world during their absence? What of the demon who had enslaved the city of Urno at the bottom of the Great Chasm, conscripting the citizens to excavate giant passages beneath the earth to open a portal for more of the Terrible Ones to enter the world, and the Ancient Elders who had been awakened beneath the Dome to battle them? And what of the invaders who had recently landed on the coast and whose spies and scouts had been spotted in the Dead Lands and the Urn River valley? And what of the Grease Beast who had been released into the Gnarly Wood from the portal beneath the Spire? The only certainty was that world-changing events were at hand….

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