But how could they get the azoth through the narrow gap behind one of the looming statues that flanked the force field?
In their stomachs of course!
The first quarter of our session consisted of almost every party member (only Matilda the Witch abstained) choking down as much azoth as they could stomach amid handfuls of saving throws. When they began to grow ill, they switched over to azoth-infused pulled pork to try and keep the unstable stuff of raw magic down.
Chaotic mutations, both useful and malign, began to follow, much to the group's lasting delight. Ghaul the elf suffered a Giger-esque elongation of his skull. A few characters had hit points increased or decreased, but the turning point was when Brunhilda acquired a spontaneous, intuitive, directional sense. By concentrating, and frying her brain a bit, she could act as a sort of living compass.
An earnest debate broke out over whether Brunhilda should try to find the mechanism for lowering the force field, or psychically quest for the "red-iron hatch" and the chamber for reawakening the "perpetual motion mountain spirits" marked on the partial map furnished to the group by Loomis Dooin.
I was surprised when, in the end, they chose the later. Squeezing their stray party members back through the gap and emptying flasks containing water, oil, and healing potions so that they could bring along a few more swigs of azoth "for the road," the explorers set off to complete their original mission.
Danny, having made contact with the forces of chaos through his azoth-addled brain, uttered "The Hissing Curse." He wasn't sure what this new found power could do and was eager to find out, so he directed his curse at the party's kitten.
I had Danny's player set his phone to play a YouTube video of two straight hours of hissing static, signaling him to increase the volume every 15 min or so.
Shortly thereafter, they ran afoul of some floating, gas-bag, vegetable, monstrosities who ensnared a few of the party with paralyzing tendrils, but Kermit the Brute plowed through them, his armor saving him from their grasp while he slashed away like a madman (switching to a moon silver dagger when his short sword broke).
Of particular note in the battle, however, were the deeds of Danny the Arthropod. Azoth-mutated so that he now had a pear-shaped, mandible-adorned baby head on his centipede body, Danny managed to drop from above and chew a hole in one of the fleshy, plant-balloon things. Thrusting his abdomen down inside, his antennae-waving baby head now protruded like a cork from the thing's floating, flatulent, bulk. He spent the rest of the session wiggling to release noisy bursts of gas that propelled him clumsily to and fro.
Confronted by a chamber full of silvery-black fungus, the group slipped on the strange, rubbery, grey robes that they had found in some cabinets elsewhere on level three, finding them to be at least partial proof against the strange spoors. Meanwhile, Kermit, who has time and again prevailed in his saving throws against toxic Yellow Mold ... even eating the stuff at one point ... proved once and for all that he was immune to Dwimmermount's fungal horrors, eschewing the protective robes to stride boldly through the grove and rolling a 20 on his saving throw.
The red-iron hatch they sought waited just beyond, admitting the party to a humming room full of strange controls and glossy panels of unknown material--the chamber of the perpetual-motion-spirits discovered at last!
So, next session will be our last of the school year, and of course I can't begin to guess what the gang will get up to.
- Will they be successful in awakening the ancient forces within the mountain?
- Will they figure out a way to avoid the deadly, animated column that blocks their only known route out of the dungeon?
- How much azoth will they recover and will they accidentally blow themselves up with it?
- Will they be ready to deal with the vengeful Delvers, who have had plenty of time to prepare an ambush of their own?
Finally, as a dungeoncrawl that focuses on player agency over pre-determined plot lines, will our 30-odd sessions end with a bang or an anticlimactic whimper?