Anvil of the Gods and the Destruction of Blackrazor

After uncovering a plot by evil wizards and vile vampires, plus recovering the notorious sword Blackrazor, the party is hailed as heroes of the city.  Unfortunately, the Church of Death (Lawful branch) isn’t quite able to destroy the chaotic blade, so once again the PCs are recruited to deliver the weapon to the legendary Anvil of the Gods for final destruction.  Dozens of other clerics (mostly in the 1-3 level range) volunteer to escort the party there, as well.

After departing the city a murder of crows begins to follow the large cohorts movement.  Suspecting “foul” play (hehe 🙂 ) they devise a number of ploys to shake the birds, but nothing works.  Finally, they hit upon the idea of casting invisibility 10′ radius while under the cover of a tent.  Then the rest of the clerics will dismantle the camp and pretend to carry Blackrazor off in a different direction.  The gambit works, and the PCs, plus a few other clerics, speed off to the mountains with Blackrazor.  However, a few hours later they hear the din of a battle off in the distance.  It seems their diversion has been ambushed by nefarious forces.

The next day the party begins to head up into the mountain, following a narrow path to the remote temple housing the Anvil of the Gods.  Early in the day they are ambushed by 40 troglodytes, most of whom are quickly dispatched with a fireball.  Around mid-day they are again ambushed, this time by four stone giants hurling boulders from across a 200′ crevice.  The giants order the party to leave “the sword” behind and withdraw down the path.  They quickly concoct a ruse where they wrap another sword in cloth and leave it on the ground, telling the giants it’s Blackrazor.  They then hurry back down the path and find a good spot to launch an ambush of their own.

A short time later two giants rush down the path, having discovered the ruse and intent on catching the party.  The magic-user casts phantasmal force to create the illusion that the party is further down the trail, causing the giants to run past the party’s ambush.  Too late do they realize their mistake as the cleric of loth (reformed) casts slay living on one of them, and the thief “backstabs” the other with a well placed bow shot.  The second giant is quickly slain.

However, they still have to contend with two other giants up the path.  They order their “escorts” to protect the sword while they proceed up the path to battle the giants.  Given the range across the crevice the party has trouble reaching the giants with their most powerful spells, so they use a ring of telekinesis to move the magic-user part way across the chasm.  Between long-range bow fire from the thief and a few magic-missile spells, one giant is felled and the other retreats, having been blinded by a continual light spell to the eyes.

The party presses on, knowing they must be close to the temple.  But before they get there they come across a stout rope-bridge across another gap in the trail.  Beyond the bridge, the path twists and turns up the mountain, out of their line of sight.  A cleric and the thief cross first and, finding no apparent danger, signal the escort to bring Blackrazor across.   And that, of course, is when the invisible ogre magi flying above the bridge launches his ambush, casting cone of cold with a cry of triumph and instantly turning the hapless, low-level clerics into priest-cicles.  It was a short-lived cry of triumph, however, with the cleric of loth immediately firing back a hold person spell, freezing the monster in mid-air.

None-the-less, the ambush is sprung, as a half-dozen ogres bound down the path from ahead, and another half-dozen climb down the mountainside to block the path back.  Due to poor timing on the ogres part, the party has a few rounds to deal with the foremost ogres first, allowing them to defeat the beasts in detail.  However, they’d expended most of their best spells in the fight against the giants, so it comes down to a brutal brawl, barely won in time to keep the rearmost ogres from enveloping the party.  They cut the rope-bridge to prevent pursuit and hurry up the path.

Finally arriving at the temple, they are shown to guest rooms, given a hot meal, and collapse in exhaustion.  After a good night’s rest, the party is prepared for the ordeal ahead.  The head priest at the temple explains that the “Anvil of the Gods” isn’t a physical object.  Rather, it’s a metaphor for a meta-physical process, which can’t really be explained, only experienced.  Within the Anvil they must confront the essence that is Blackrazor in order to destroy the sword.  They are to trust nothing they see or hear, for the vile sword will do anything, say anything and promise anything to preserve itself.

After a few more questions for the high priest, the party announces they are ready and are shown to a door-shaped portal.  The portal is black beyond, though it is framed in a bright light.  Passing through the portal, they enter a vast chamber filled with unimaginable wealth.  Starting with the basics, Blackrazor promises the party all the wealth they could ever hope for.  They take some of the treasure “just in case,” but for the most part are unimpressed, deducing Blackrazor’s promises to be empty.  Another portal appears, which the party quickly moves through.

While in “transit” to the next area, Blackrazor telepathically speaks to each adventurer, promising them untold power if only they’ll kill the other party members and take Blackrazor away from the Anvil.  As a token of trust, each party member is granted a surge in power by the sword (they all went up one level).  On the other side of the portal they find a harem-like room filled with beautiful young women and men (some of the characters are female, gotta be fair 😉 ).  No sooner have they taken in their new environs, the thief draws the Sword of Fighting (as they’ve taken to calling the talking sword they found on the Isle of Dread) and stabs the cleric of loth in the back, almost killing her in one blow. “She’s going to kill us all and take the sword!” he exclaims with a cackle of madness.  The cleric retaliates with slay living, which the thief successfully saves against.  After each attack or spell, the harem politely golf-claps, showing their approval of the party infighting.  After a flurry of spell casting, the thief is webbed by the magic-user and cooler heads prevail.  The thief apologizes and promises to not kill the cleric of loth, so they let him go.  Another portal opens and, true to his word, the thief proceeds through first.

He enters a clearing in a forest.  Turning around, he sees an owl-bear advanced towards him menacingly.  Using the Sword of Fighting’s levitate ability, he flies up into the air to avoid the monster, which is quickly joined by two more angry, howling owl-bears.  The rest of the party, upon entering the clearing, see a giant roc flying above them, preparing to dive on them.  Fortunately, they quickly figure out it’s some kind of illusion or trick and manage to avoid killing each other.  The find the next portal and move on…

…entering a massive stone cavern.  From the shadows the temple’s high priest steps out.  “Congratulations,” he says.  “You’ve survived the Anvil.  Now hand Blackrazor to me and we will complete its destruction together!”  The party immediately suspects that something isn’t kosher.  One of the clerics casts detect evil on the priest, and the fight is on.  The “priest” morphs into an amorphous black blob, covered with the same starry pattern as Blackrazor’s blade.  The blob gets in a few good blows, but the party’s combined firepower quickly downs the Blackrazor blob-entity.

Again, a portal opens and the party steps through, finding themselves in the same room they started in.  The high priest is waiting for them.  “Ah, have you managed to destroy Blackrazor?” he asks.  Of course, my players have seen way too many movies to fall for this simple trick.  As detect evil is still active, the spell shows the priest to be evil and, what’s more, the spell reveals that Blackrazor is hanging from the cleric’s belt, completely unnoticed just a moment before.  Grabbing Blackrazor, the cleric of death jabs it into the high priest.  Both the blade and the priest dissolve into an acrid black cloud and disappear.  Once more a portal opens…

…into the same room they started in.  The high priest is waiting for them, along with two of the surviving “escort” clerics that accompanied the party.  Detect evil does not reveal the high priest to be evil, so the party is reasonably sure they’ve finally completed their task.  But you can never really tell with those pesky dream-sequences, can you… 😉

The party received virtually no treasure or magic for their efforts, though they still retain the additional level granted by Blackrazor.

After a couple of months recuperating in the big city, the party is approached about a difficult job in a far-off land.  It seems there’s this frog cult causing trouble…

—————————————————————-

So, next up I’ll be running the party through Temple of the Frog (they actually started it last session, but didn’t get very far).  In hindsight I think running them through this module may be a mistake, as it requires a bit of diplomacy and subterfuge, something the players haven’t really dealt with in the any of their previous adventures.  They were expecting to roll up on another abandoned dungeon, kick in the door, kill everything inside and loot the place bare.  None-the-less, I expect them to finish the module within 2 or 3 session, tops, and then that will be the end of the B/X campaign.

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