Age of Worms Adventure Path – The Champion’s Belt Epilogue

A hate-filled wail, carried on the voices of thousands of wights, tears through the air, jolting the party with its unholy resonance. The freshly anointed Apostle of Kyuss surges and undulates its bulk up onto the stone stands of the coliseum and heaves itself through the back wall with a stone-shattering crash. In an instant, wights are pouring through the opening, down the arena steps and over the railing down to the arena floor. As one, the Mercenaries flee down the gaping Abyss in the arena floor left by the ulgurstasta’s emergence.

Within the darkness, the party finds themselves in the domed room that previously held the sleeping monster. Through the double-doors, the team discovers the podium holding the Apostolic Scrolls still stands and no light surrounds them. They are easily snatched up and stuffed into a sack. Roars of rage come from behind the group as wights crowd around the hole in the dome and fume over the height. The party further realizes the depth of Waterdeep’s troubles as they hear one of them intelligently shout, “find rope!”

Uncertain what other traps and dangers lay in this portion of the complex, the Mercenaries work their way back the route they originally took to find this area. It takes quite a bit of time but seems free of wight presence. After a while, the team crosses through the coenoby and up into the arena understructure. The area appears abandoned now, but pools of fresh blood prove the wights have already visited. You recall from lore that those slain at a wight’s hand are cursed to rise as a slave wight under the control of their slayers in less than a minute.

The party finds the route leading up into the arena but decides that is the last place to go. Instead, they roam about a bit until they discover a tunnel leading in the direction of Prendergast’s manor. Taking that path, the party soon finds themselves in the home of the director of the Field of Triumph. The place is in shambles. On a balcony above, a female voice roars in rage and utters what sounds like a command word. The railing blossoms as flame rushes through, over and around it. A trio of wights staggers out of the fire, and one topples from the balcony to land lifeless at your feet. The burned flesh makes you retch as smoke stings your eyes.

Like a ghost, the figure of Aridarye emerges from the swirling smoke above. Her hair is singed, tears streak her face, and barely-contained rage shudders through her body. She still wears a stunning, and revealing, evening gown that is oddly intact despite her disheveled appearance. A mithral buckler adorns her left arm, and she clutches a red-tipped wand in her left hand. In her right, one of the finest rapiers you’ve ever seen. At some point, she has fastened a potion belt and dagger around her slender waist.

Recognition dawns across her angry features, and she rushes down the stairs to your group. In almost a whisper through clenched teeth, tears rolling down her cheeks, Aridarye tells you how she rushed to the manor when the wights appeared to get to her eight-year-old son, Urtos III. She was too late. The noblewoman barely escaped with her life, and her now-undead son slipped off into the growing throng of wights. After barricading herself in her quarters and arming herself, Aridarye emerged with a vengeance and has slain a number of the wights.

She begs you to help her out of the city. There is nothing left for her here. Her son is dead, her husband has become an abomination, and the authorities of Waterdeep will no doubt want to question her about her involvement in this catastrophe. All she has left in life is vengeance. As long as you oppose Kyuss, she swears her assistance and abilities.

Still unsure about Aridarye and her future, the party agrees to allow her to accompany them out of the city—beyond that is a conversation for another time. Out in the streets, chaos has come to the City of Splendors. Undead run rampant, groups of the Town Watch fight valiantly against them, various spellcasters from around the city hurl spells of mage fire and scalding acid upon the hordes. The Apostle of Kyuss is nowhere to be seen, but fragments snatched from passersby indicate a gigantic worm crashed through the streets and into the sewers. The guardsmen who pursued soon returned as shambling undead dripping green worms.

On the flight from the city, the Mercenaries stop at the home of Dagsumn the sage. A notice posted on the door causes them to pause in their tracks. It reads, “Notice: Reward of 1,000 gp for information leading to an arrest and prosecution of the murder(s) of Dagsumn and Kyrss Wands.” With no guards without, the team decides to snoop around. The place has been searched, probably by the killer(s) but also by the watch. Pools of blood reveal where the bodies finally fell, but scorch marks around the premise indicate they did not go down without a fight. Wedged in a corner of two walls, the team discovers a clue unnoticed by the watch—a single saw-like bladed disc. Also, beneath an upturned table, the party finds the following unfinished note attached to a sealed bundle of papers:

“My dear friend Delfen—What your adventurers have stumbled into sickens me to my soul. Every new leaf I turn reveals an even darker secret. Here are my notes. You must take them to our one-time master—although I fear that even he may be ill-equipped for what writhes in all of our futures. Until then…”

With the sounds of the battle approaching, the team scrambles out of the manor and manages to go over the wall of Waterdeep to flee into the countryside. Behind them lay several of their allies, their contact in the city, two escaped foes, and numerous unanswered questions. Ahead lies the road to Daggerford and their long-time confidant, Delfen. Will he help the party contact his former master? What secrets can he reveal? And what of the beautiful and dangerous noblewoman? Is the enemy of mine enemy truly a friend?

Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 38

Game summary for May 24, 2007; present characters included Ashkor (lizardfolk battle sorcerer/dragon disciple/fighter), Eol Seregon (half-elf hexblade), Evo Shandor (human fighter/rogue), Iapetus Hasur (hu-charad giant rogue/vigilante), Lyrin Sinbal (simian incantatrix/warmage), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), and Pitamian Kalal (human yang monk).

The Mercenaries used some of their hard won gold to purchase a variety of potions and oils, many tailored to fight against cold-immune, fire-vulnerable creatures. They then returned to the coenoby to await the beast match. At the appointed time, they marched into the arena to the cheers of the ground, legion’s fire shield surrounding them all in a shroud of flames. A hush fell over the crowd as Madtooth was raised up into the arena, and the crowd went wild. Much to the party’s surprise and dismay, Madtooth was decidedly not a frost salamander. Instead, they gazed upon a massive toad-like aberration known as a froghemoth. Its tentacles swirled about as the 5-ton terror unleashed a series of booming “roar-ribbits”!

Madtooth chose Evo as the most tasty-seeming morsel and charged him, snatching him up in a tentacle. The Mercenaries quickly found their fire effects were having little or no effect upon the monster. Electricity, however, seemed to slow the creature down. Alas, that was little comfort for roguish Evo as he was swallowed by the beast. With flailing tentacles, the froghemoth snatched and grappled most of the party and succeeded in gulping down the monk, Pitamian, and hexblade, Eol Seregon. Evo fought valiantly but succumbed to the deadly stomach of the froghemoth. Pitamian also fought violently within the beast and succeeded in killing it from the inside-out. The Mercenaries returned to the coenoby to the cheers of the crowd.

The Mercenaries awaited their next match with defending champions, Auric’s Warband. They made numerous plans to counter the golems and mop up the games quickly. As the fight began, the crowd was split in their support of the two teams. Most of the Mercenaries had quaffed potions of fly and zipped about the arena. Shortly after the fight began, Prendergast walked out onto his balcony wide-eyed and crazy-looking. He laughed maniacally as the center of the arena surged upward and sand and dirt sprayed about. The ulgurstasta was free!

The crowd fell into stunned silence as the towering maggot-worm rose from the hole it had created. Prendergast screamed and yelled about the coming of the Age of Worms and indicated the creature should kill the champions of the arena. At the pinnicle of its rise from the gaping maw of the understructure, thousands of thin tendrils shot out about the ulgurstasta forming a slashing, stinging cloud of pain and destruction in a 40-foot radius. People screamed and chaos erupted. The Mercenaries and Auric turned on the Apostle of Kyuss immediately, and it quickly swallowed both Eol Seregon and Auric. The party blasted the creature with spells and arrows and seemed to have it in bad shape. Suddenly, it vomited forth a slime-dripping corpse, that of Auric. As his body hit the ground, it erupted with green worms and staggered to its feet as a newly risen spawn of Kyuss! At the same moment, the temperature in the arena plummeted and the wounds on the Apostle disappeared entirely. A horrid wailing arose as the souls of all those slain in the arena manifested and floated upward. As they rose, they brought with them a necromantic cataclysm that drained the very life energy from those around them. Although weakened, the Mercenaries survived the drain. The thousands and thousands of spectators were not so fortunate. Horrific awe settled over the party as the entire crowd dropped dead in an instant, their life force snuffed out by the abominable power of Kyuss.

As the enormity of the event they just witnessed settled upon them, a transformation swept over Prendergast. His features aged and withered as he transformed into an undead creature of tremendous power. Unholy energy burned within his eye sockets as he shouted out praises to his new creator and master, Kyuss. Within moments, a flaming black horse from the netherworld (a nightmare) appeared and he rode away on the creature, fading into ethereal nothingness.

Then, as if the all of the death and destruction already wrought were insufficient, the corpses of the crowd began to move! Over ten thousand bodies animated as wights in a single instant! True fear then took root in the hearts of the Mercenaries as they realized the battle was lost and getting out of the city was now the only real option. They looked about at the wights that gazed with their hate-filled eyes back upon them. Then the Mercenaries’ eyes turned to the gaping hole left by the ulgurstasta. They gave one last glance back at the worm beast and whispered a prayer for Eol’s soul. The maggot monster quivered again and began spewing forth a worm covered corpse of a certain half-elf hexblade. At that, the Mercenaries put their first steps toward the only visible escape, for flying away with all the souls of the dead swirling and flitting about above seemed a bad idea. Can the Mercenaries fight free, and what will remain of the City of Splendors?

All Your Zombies Are Belong to Us

Finally, after being overdue for months, Eden Studios has released All Tomorrow’s Zombies in both print and watermarked PDF! This sourcebook details the rules for running a futuristic zombie survival horror game with All Flesh Must Be Eaten. The web site for their pirate/zombie campaign book, Argh! Thar Be Zombies! has been updated and lists August 2007 as release date.

Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 37

Game summary for May 17, 2007; present characters included Ashkor (lizardfolk battle sorcerer/dragon disciple/fighter), Eol Seregon (half-elf hexblade), Lyrin Sinbal (simian incantatrix/warmage), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), and Pitamian Kalal (human yang monk).

After picking up another pair of gladiators, Pitamian Kalal and Ashkor, the Mercenaries slipped back into the coenoby and waited for their next arena fight. They found they were up against the dwarven maulers, Pitch Blade. The group stood across from the dwarves watching them closely. One carried a large maul, another (the female) toted a strange crossbow loaded with razor disks, and two held flaming bastard swords. When the games began, the dwarves charged.

The female ran out to the side and fired spinning disks at several party members. Much to their dismay, the blades appeared to be poisoned with a disabling venom attacking their Dexterity. The flaming-blade dwarves revealed an ability to fly and moved at astounding speed across the arena to attack Eol and Ashkor. The hammer-wielding dwarf flew up into the air and began unleashing curses.

The first few rounds absolutely belonged to Pitch Blade as the Mercenaries suffered injury after injury. Despair gripped the Mercenaries as they felt outclassed and overpowered by the vicious dwarven warriors. However, Lyrin hit upon a combination of spell effects that could punch through the hammer cleric’s spell resistance. Eol unleashed curses and hideous laughter to fantastic effect, and Morak proved he is a master healer. Things began to turn around for the Mercenaries when one of the dwarves was disqualified for killing Ashkor after he surrendered. Soon after, Lyrin hit the crossbow woman and the cleric with a nasty lightning bolt, killing her and forcing the priest to surrender.

Although the last flaming-sword dwarf loomed over paralyzed Pitamian, he opted to try and eliminate the rest of the party. However, in a short time, the Mercenaries regrouped and beat the dwarf unconscious. With the crowd cheering wildly, Phylund came forward and accepted the victory purse and trophy for his team.

Once back within the coenoby, Eol requested an audience with Aridarye. He was escorted to see her, and she met him with a small group of armed guards. Eol suspected Prendergast had wanted Pitch Blade to play assassins in the arena, and Aridarye revealed Captain Okoral is the manager of the team. She also made it clear she would expect Okoral to cheat and slip additional magical aid to his dwarves. Eol admitted he believed this may have happened due to the sheer power the dwarves possessed. Aridarye warned that Okoral was not a good sport and would likely move against them in the near future. While Eol met with Aridarye, the Mercenaries got Ashkor a raise dead spell.

The Mercenaries huddled up in their rooms and discussed the future. They decided they needed to be better prepared for future battles and had Aridarye slip them out of the arena again. On the way out, one of the guards whispered a message from Aridarye. It appears Prendergast has arranged for the Mercenaries to fight in the beast battle tomorrow. He has lined them up against Madtooth the Hungry, an enormous frost salamander captured some time ago. Some of the guards hope the thing gets killed off because they have so much trouble keeping ice packed around its cage to keep it cold. Traditionally, the previous year’s champions fight the beast battle, but Prendergast seems determined for the Mercenaries to fight the salamander.

Now outside the arena, the Mercenaries seek items of an arcane or divine nature to aid them in their coming matches.

Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 36

Game summary for May 10, 2007; present characters included Eol Seregon (half-elf hexblade), Grot Bloodtunneler (shield dwarf barbarian/warmain), Iapetus Hasur (hu-charad giant rogue/vigilante), Lyrin Sinbal (simian incantatrix/warmage), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), and Valgen (afflicted wererat human fighter/rogue).

Having slain the tiefling cleric, the party pondered their next move. Grot ran over and tried to take what he believed to be the apostolic scrolls and found he could not move them. They then began opening doors, finding the room with the massive ulgurstata in stasis and the bedroom of the tiefling. While they explored, the body of the cleric erupted with Kyuss worms and staggered to its feet as a newly risen spawn of Kyuss! The undead creature placed a worm on one of the party members, but a quickly thrown moonsilver shard destroyed it. The team moved around the spawn and beat it to the ground and burned up its remains with alchemist fire.

Returning to the bedroom, Valgen attempted to use a key to open an ornate trunk. When he did, a large green Kyuss worm burst from his chest, fell to the ground and dissolved into goo. With the trunk open, the group pulled a number of items forth, including gold, jewels and magical treasures. Not content with their haul, Valgen continued to fiddle with the trunk until he triggered its trap again. Suddenly, he was sucked naked into the carved scenery adorning the chest. With a crash, his armor and equipment hit the floor where his body had been. Reacting quickly and thinking slowly, Grot used the key to open the chest as well, and the same fate befell him.

The group gathered the equipment of their allies and dragged the chest back to the Titan’s House, where they hid it in the ruins. They then returned to the coenoby. Not knowing how to rescue their friends, the group decided an 8-hour siesta was in order. Approximately four hours later, they awakened to a vision of their two friends being consumed by a massive Kyuss worm. Eol used a potion of invisibility and went back to the trunk. He found that the images of his friends had disappeared, and a very satiated green worm appeared where they had been. He slinked back to his companions to deliver the bad news.

Early the next morning, after recovering their strength and spells, the remaining Mercenaries received a visitor. One of Prendergast’s soldiers asked Eol to follow him. Curious, the half-elf tentatively trailed behind and was taken to a well-furnished out-of-the-way boudoir. Within, a provocatively-clad Aridarye began questioning Eol and his team’s ties to her husband. She made it abundantly clear (with all the ample abundance available to her) she wished to become better friends with Eol and establish a mutually beneficial relationship. The stoic half-elf politely refused her physical advances but did agree to keep in communication with her. A flash of spurned anger burned in her dazzling eyes but quickly faded with a forced, beautiful, smile. Aridarye arranged for a short foray out of the arena for the team to consult their wizard contact, Dagsumn. Aridarye managed to get the team carried out in carts hauling the belongings and linens of the gladiators who would not be returning from the field. Eol vowed to return and attempt to win the Games and possibly eliminate Prendergast if he proves to be the murderous cur the party suspects.

Once at Dagsumn’s, they met up with their manager, Urtos. He is incensed they have dealings with Aridarye and swears she is trying to get to him through them. After calming down, he did agree to bribe the minor officials in the arena to allow new gladiators to join their team. He even concocted a far-reaching, but nearly plausible cover story: the party used illusion magic to hide their true appearance and abilities in the first fight to better their chances against unprepared opponents in the second round. Urtos had also managed to recruit a giant for the team, Iapetus Hasur, an old friend of Aker’s.

Now, the party must find two new gladiators to join them, buy additional supplies, sell off items they have recovered, and get back to the coenoby within a few short hours.

Age of Worms Adventure Path – Game Session 35

Game summary for May 1, 2007; present characters included Aker Cruven (litorian exotic weapon master/ritual warrior), Eol Seregon (half-elf hexblade), Grot Bloodtunneler (shield dwarf barbarian/warmain), Lyrin Sinbal (simian incantatrix/warmage), Morak Beardfist (shield dwarf fighter/rage cleric), Thoril Songsteel (human thug), and Valgen (afflicted wererat human fighter/rogue).

Valgen and the rest of the Mercenaries scaled the chute and entered the small, circular room. With his continual light coin clutched in his teeth, Valgen went to investigate the coffin. He found a total of three in the room, and as he approached, they burst open to reveal three worm-dripping spawn of Kyuss! In seconds they had nearly half a dozen Kyuss worms on him, with one already burrowing into his body. He quickly doused himself with alchemist’s fire, setting himself ablaze. It killed the external worms but burned him sufficiently to force him to change into wererat form. His allies, having never seen him change, stood in stunned amazement.

Grot used his necklace of fireballs, and Lyrin used fireball to help take down the spawn, but one was able to put a worm on Lyrin first. The party killed the remaining worms and extracted the one worm from Valgen’s head. Morak discovered smaller, slower moving worms infesting Valgen’s body. No one was sure how they got there, and there were far too many to remove one by one.

Advancing down the hallway, they ran into a group of five Kyuss spawn in an abandoned training hall. These undead quickly put worms on the warrior cleric, Beardfist, but he was able to fall back and get the worms removed. Another fireball devastated these corpses and returned them to their graves. Moving quickly, the Mercenaries went through some double doors where Beardfist believed he saw something else move through, and they found a short hallway and more doors. They filled the hallway in formation and readied to charge through. As the doors came open, an ugly, hoof-footed tiefling completed a spell, and a giant praying mantis appeared behind the team. It quickly grappled Lyrin, who was in the back.

Inside the room, the party saw a small stone altar with a glowing green scroll upon it. An eerie beam of light projected from the scrolls through another pair of double doors. The tiefling caster was also accompanied by another spawn of Kyuss and a horrific skeleton with a writhing purple tongue and intestines, known as a mohrg. The spawn and mohrg moved to block the doors and began putting worms on the front line and paralyzing people with the mohrg’s lashing tongue. Meanwhile, the tiefling cast a fell spell the likes of which the party had never seen. The group soon discovered it conjured a Kyuss worm into Lyrin’s head!

The mantis was quickly slain by Thoril, and Eol recovered from paralysis thanks to a quickly applied resurgence from Morak Beardfist. Aker and Grot began hammering away at the undead frontline while Valgen stood behind them lashing with his whips through the openings between them. Things seemed to be at a standstill until Lyrin cast black tentacles into the room. This obscured the tiefling for the moment, but a slap from the mohrg’s tongue sent Aker to the ground helpless and paralyzed. Tragedy then followed soon after when the mohrg crushed his skull with a well-placed punch from its bony, iron-hard talons.

The spawn of Kyuss was slain, so Eol tried to move into the room to attack the tiefling, whom had just emerged from the tentacles. Something prevented Eol from entering, and the tiefling hit the mohrg with a harm spell, healing it of all damage it had suffered. Things again came to a stalemate as the party hammered away on the mohrg while the tiefling pumped inflict wounds spells into it to keep it “healthy”. Valgen, Thoril and Lyrin started whittling away at the tiefling with long-reaching whips, arrows and spells, eventually killing him. Shortly thereafter, the mohrg was destroyed.

Dangerously low on resources and with one of their own dead, the group moved into the room as Morak used detect magic. The raw power from the scrolls knocked the dwarf reeling to his knees as he sensed the greatest source of magic he’d ever encountered. Crossing the threshold into the room, the group found it now cloaked in silence. They quickly pulled valuables from the body of the tiefling and must decide what to do about their exhausted spells and slain companion.