Veil of Whispers 7: Enough Grease Already

Posted on Mar 5, 2024 in Tales from the Table. Last updated on Mar 9, 2024.
Part of a series called Veil of Whispers.

In which our so-called heroes complete their so-called noble quest.

Date: March 2, 2024

Characters present:

Character level: 4/5

New Characters, but Not Really

With Rosa and Findus having met their untimely fates by the beaks of a goose hydra last session, their players showed up with brand new characters. Findus was replaced by Theelf, who was an elf. A wood elf, to be precise. He was a rogue, much like Findus had been. No further description was provided. Rosa’s player hadn’t quite had time to make her character, but she arrived with a homebrew class called Archivist. Actually, it was two different classes with the same name that she was hoping to mix. She wanted to play one of them but, being a new player, she thought the subclasses seemed too difficult and was hoping to replace them with features from a similar homebrew. Only it wasn’t a homebrew; it was a class from the Heroes of Horror supplement for D&D 3.5. With that idea out the window, we looked over the first homebrew class to determine whether it was balanced. The results were inconclusive, and the player brought out her backup idea: Rosa’s twin sister Cut. To my dismay, she turned out to be the evil twin.

We picked up where we’d left off with just a touch of retroactive continuity: Cut had been recruited before we left Emberfall to search for the soul-swapping crown. She and Sorigash had been looking somewhere else when the rest of us were attacked by the giant goose hydra. Theelf was a wanted thief in Stormhaven and had left to find a new place to stay. He was looting Findus’ gear when the others arrived at the lake.

Theelf introduced himself and said he was in search of lucrative opportunities. Sorigash responded by doing something I’ve never seen anyone do when a new party member is introduced: she tried to get rid of him. Told him to get lost. After some back-and-forth, they agreed to let Theelf join the search for the crown in exchange for 20 gold1. Now the expedition could continue, except Monty was missing. Cut called out to him and found him sitting in a tree in the nearby woods. Shaken up from the deadly goose-battle, he said he didn’t want to come back down to the ground because everything dies there. Cut responded by throwing a rock at him. She was not like Rosa. She was not kind to animals, or even people. With my roleplaying offer declined, I had Monty fly back to the ship with the others. Sorigash made fun of him for being upset, so I guess there was at least some roleplay. They’d continue searching in the morning.

From Geese to Grease

The giant-footed goose’s footprints had led from the wizard’s corpse to the lake, so that had to be where the crown was. Monty and Sorigash didn’t hesitate to dive in, and they quickly spotted a dark hole; seemingly some kind of tunnel, at the bottom of the lake. Just big enough for a humanoid to fit through. Monty took a deep breath and swam in. The tunnel contained some kind of magical pocket of air, and Monty wound up falling down the hole, slowing the fall with his wings. Cut dove into the lake and went next. With no wings, her fall was more dramatic. After falling about fifty feet, the previously vertical tunnel began to slope, eventually turning fully horizontal. It was a slide. And it was covered in grease. As the slide ended, it spit Cut out into a large stone room with a grease-covered floor. A stone door with a rat-sized hole at the bottom stood at the far end, and Cut crashed right into it. She was covered in thick, yellow grease. Monty wasn’t, having flown down safely. Next, Sorigash came sliding down, crashing into Cut. Last was Theelf, who had tied a rope to a rock at the bottom of the lake and climbed down gracefully.

The party examined the room. Above the door was a carved symbol of a skull surrounded by tears of blood. One of the walls had some kind of riddle written on it: “Key goes hand in hand with…” The party started shouting possible answers, hoping the door would open. Monty tried lock, Peele, and mellon, but nothing seemed to work2. Cut brought out The Knife; the parrot her sister had stolen and that she’d now supposedly inherited. She sent him through the rat hole of the door to look around, casting Beast Sense to see through his eyes. She saw nothing, as the parrot was blind in the dark. Monty lit a torch and threw it through the hole. Big mistake. The grease on the floor of the other side caught fire, spreading quickly back through the rat hole. It took only a few seconds for the entire room to be engulfed in flames.

Monty flew to the ceiling. Cut avoided the floor by grabbing onto the carved skull above the door. Sorigash tried to do the same but wasn’t strong enough. Theelf did nothing. Cut and Sorigash began attacking the door as the grease covering them caught fire. They knocked it down and it crumbled to the ground. They stood atop the pile of rocks as the fire quickly subsided. The door—now doorway—led to a stone platform looking out over a massive cavern. Far ahead they could see a stone bridge. Between the platform and the bridge was a series of flat stones floating in the air, like giant pebbles large enough to stand on. The cave was lit up from below and when the party looked down, they saw that the floor was covered in several feet of thick, yellow grease, which was still very much aflame. They began making their way across the floating rocks, jumping carefully between each one. Cut went first, and when Sorigash tried to go second, she fell into the burning grease, slowly sinking as if trapped in burning quicksand. Cut threw her a rope, tying a noose at the end for some reason. Sorigash put it around her neck. She realized what a bad idea that was when Cut began pulling her up, and tied it around her waist instead. Theelf made it across with little trouble, and Monty even less so since he could fly.

They followed the bridge into darkness. Cut threw a torch at the ground to let the parrot, The Knife, scout ahead. The bridge led to a large, rectangular platform. Two skeletal minotaur statues overlooked it from the sides. In the center was a pile of gold and valuables, including the crown they were looking for. Behind the pile stood a throne with a humanoid corpse sitting atop it. There was nothing left of him but bones. He had an ornate golden dagger stuck through the back of his spine and he was wearing a sock puppet3 on his right hand. Since his remains hadn’t collapsed into a pile of ribs and vertebrae, he had to be undead as hell. Sorigash took the knife from his back, and he and the statues began to move. It was time for battle.

Monty kicked the torch off the platform, plunging the scene into darkness. The group all had darkvision, but Monty, being a gloom stalker, would turn invisible in the dark. This allowed him to kick vast amounts of ass. The skeletal king attacked Sorigash, biting at her with the mouth of his sock puppet. Somehow, this managed to knock her out. The minotaur skellies charged at Cut and Theelf, trying to ram them off the platform, but the alleged heroes stood their ground. The Knife tried to distract the minotaurs by making owl noises. The skeleton king made his way to the rest of the group but quickly found himself covered in arrows as well as crossbow bolts. Monty picked up the sock puppet before flying over to heal Sorigash. With the group’s full strength back once more, they made quick work of the minotaurs. Although Theelf went down. That particular player’s characters tend to do that.

The gang filled their pockets with gold from the pile. There were also some potions and other things I don’t remember. On the way back, the party found that the massive pebbles had begun to move around, floating in random patterns. Furthermore, there were now two massive, floating heads in their path, each one with a single green cyclopean eye. They were covered in sickly green scales and had four tentacles sticking out from their sides, each one with an eye at the end, slightly smaller than the one on the head itself. Their teeth were sharp and their tongues were long. Monty, king of fighting in the dark, killed one of them in a single round. Cut jumped onto the moving rocks and tried to make her way toward the remaining one, unsuccessfully. The rest of the group attacked from the safety of the bridge and brought the second abomination down without any real trouble. Then it was just a matter of returning home.

An Actually Pretty Good Denouement

The party made it back to Emberfall just a few days before Snake Day. They handed the magical crown to the king’s advisor, Snetos, who used it to put Princess Elloween’s soul back into her body, and Hoola the owlbearcat’s back in his. Hoola headed outside to terrorize the townspeople. The royal family was united once more and all was well. Cut and Sorigash demanded more money from the king and, bookending the first session, he seemed to completely accept being threatened despite his position and power. Cut also demanded a magical pet. King George gave her a winged snake named Nick4. She renamed him to The String. The party headed off to rest before meeting up again to celebrate Snake Day.

Snake Day was all about the competitions. For the party, at least. Monty, Theelf and Sorigash all entered an archery competition. This time there was no magical douchebag to move the target when they fired. This was Monty’s chance to prove his skills once and for all. Except everyone rolled terribly and some random dude named Stefan won instead. Guess you can’t have everything. Next up was an aerial race. Monty loved going fast and eagerly joined, and Cut entered her flying snake, The String, who bit another contestant to death as soon as the starting gun was fired. Monty cast Longstrider on himself and won with ease, being rewarded with a cloak of protection.

Sorigash entered an animal handling contest where she had to guide a chicken through a maze as quickly as possible. I’ve already forgotten what happened but I think she lost. Next, Cut won a dwarf-tossing contest by coating the dwarf in oil of slipperiness and sliding him like a curling stone. Then she entered a wrestling match. Her opponent was the goliath whom Rosa had previously lost to, causing her to break down in tears. Now it was her twin sister who would get a rematch. Or just a match, really. She lost too. Monty used his new sock puppet for the first time on the goliath, who failed his saving throw. Monty moved the puppet as if it was talking, and forced the goliath to proclaim “I’m a cheater; I use steroids!” He was immediately disqualified and Cut was declared the new winner. I knew that spell would be amazing.

And on that bombshell, it was over. They had saved the princess and stuffed her back into her own body. Monty got to be the speedster he always5 wanted, Nessie finally got to meet her dad—disappointing as he was, Theelf got rich and successfully escaped his past, Rosa and Findus died doing what they loved, and Cut and Sorigash got to live out their violent sociopathic tendencies. All is well that ends well. The DM also announced that the campaign would be continuing. It wasn’t a group decision. I’m not sure why the group would stick together after this; some party members are only motivated by money, others got what they wanted, and Monty has a job to return to. Also, if we’re gonna continue this game, we should probably have a little discussion about what it means to be a hero. I’m not a huge fan of playing with—or DMing for, for that matter—unlikeable characters who resort to violence and intimidation all the time. Guess it’s high time for a bit of rapid character development. We also learned that the gloom stalker ranger is absolutely bonkers under the right circumstances. As long as you’re fighting in the dark—which also means your entire party needs darkvision—you pretty much get Greater Invisibility for free without concentration. So I guess Monty really got his chance to shine there in the end. Let’s see where the campaign goes next. To higher levels, and higher stakes!

  1. Don’t worry, he wound up getting paid as much as everyone else. ↩︎

  2. The DM later told me that the solution was to hold up a severed hand in your hand. Apparently he got it from Baldur’s Gate 3. ↩︎

  3. The DM wanted to include a magic item that casts my homebrew spell Psychic Ventriloquism. I suggested he make it a sock puppet. ↩︎

  4. Yet another reference to an old campaign where we had flying snakes named Nick and Monty. Nick because of Nicolas Cage, as the snakes were found in a cage, and Monty as in Python. ↩︎

  5. Or at least, since the third session. ↩︎