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rakshasa

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #66: A Hard Won Victory

Here's what happened in last night's final session of the Ongoing Adventures of the Juma Gang. Each PC gets enough xp to reach level 21 and the epic tier.

The Juma Associates climb the ancient paved road towards the ring of stone pillars. Hrothgar checks his map of unseen lands: ahead is the vast snow-covered peak where Vrishabha lies trapped in the ice, waiting to be freed. A great stone arch crosses the road, guarded by three rakshasas. Hrothgar charges in, followed by the others, and they are quickly dispatched.

From here, the road leads steeply upwards to a large round stone platform about a hundred feet in diameter. Nine great rock pillars, over 40 feet high and irregularly-shaped surround the platform, forming a circle of stone. Within the ring of pillars are eleven rakshasas – some have the heads of tigers and other great cats, others are foxes or vultures – and Gyeltsen, a yakfolk sorcerer.

These rakshasas are led by Avishandu (the Fourth Tribune and Boss of All Bosses); also present is the infamous Heinsoo, Aurius Kalothese (Tribune of the Imperial Quarter) and Mardinuya (once the deva Samael who discovered that Srivatsa’s Bow and the Arrows of Hanuman could be used to free Vrishabha).

Avishandu mocks the Juma Associates for their naivety and stupidity: “Before we kill you, I’d like to thank you for freeing so many of our servants from the curse that trapped them in bovine form. You really have made things so much easier for us. Now, prepare to die in agony.” Hrothgar responds with a bloodthirsty threat of his own and battle is joined!

Heinsoo shoots Hrothgar with his poisoned crossbow, then Juma is bloodied by a hail of arrows from the rakshasa warriors standing between the pillars. Gil takes down two of these archers with magic missile, then brave Juma charges in, only to go down from multiple sword attacks from Mardinuya and Aurius. Hrothgar also charges the rakshasas, despite being slowed by the poison, and Jenma attacks an archer with acid orb, while Ulthar moves forward to heal Juma. Unfortunately, Avishandu’s misleading visions send him reeling backwards and the Urskovian warlord’s carefully planned tactical sequence is in tatters. He does manage to heal the genasi but not much – Aurius’ deadly aura of doom prevents healing magic from functioning at full strength.

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Vashnawi and Gil kill two more warriors, but now Hrothgar is in trouble, falling unconscious to attacks from Mardinuya, Heinsoo and Aurius. Marduniya’s cloying words dominate Ulthar but fortunately Jenma is on hand to slap the warlord in the face and snap him out of it. Still bloodied, dazed and prone, Juma teleports away from the rakshasas; he’s hit by Gyeltsen’s withering staff and weakened. Wisely, he decides to use his mask of the impish grin to hide.

As Ulthar goes to heal himself, the dagger with a gold dragon’s head hilt he’s been wearing on his belt for months, transforms into its true form – that of a snake-like raktavarna rakshasa – and bites him in the leg. The nasty creature’s mindbite again throws his plans into disarray and he growls in frustration, before pulling himself together and smashing the raktavarna to a pulp with his great axe. Meanwhile, a dao blademaster appears from the stone, summoned by the yakman, and attacks Vashnawi. The pair continue to fight each other at the edge of the stone platform for the rest of the encounter.

Jenma is pulled towards Aurius with his phantom lure and attacked, but the dragonborn turns one of the rakshasa’s sword blows back on him with chaos echoes. Gil casts ice storm to create his signature zone of icy terrain around the rakshasas, then follows up with furious immolation on the following round to burn Aurius, Mardinuya and Gyeltsen. “Bring me my great axe” rings out in the mountain air, and Hrothgar is healed as Heinsoo steals the escalation die with reversal of fate. The gnoll enters the hydra rage, his axe darting and biting like the hydra’s many heads as he attacks the rakshasas.

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Aurius has been bloodied but Juma unbloodies him when he rolls his gambler’s die. Then, Mardinuya bloodies Jenma, allowing her to strike back with aspect of the dragon. At the end of the round, Ulthar attacks four opponents in turn with path of storm, killing Avishandu and Aurius. Gil turns to stone after being hit with Gyeltsen’s diamond bonds, while Juma is tricked into attacking an illusionary duplicate instead of the real Heinsoo. Hrothgar falls unconscious and is dying again. Jenma slays Mardinuya with twin bolt.

Ulthar heals everyone, rallying them to his warlord’s banner and grabs the Arrows and Bow from the stone altar. Next, he unleashes his warmaster’s assault and Hrothgar and Juma charge Heinsoo as the Urskovian takes down Gyeltsen. With her master slain, the dao vanishes.

Only Heinsoo is left standing, but not for long as Hrothgar uses his final confrontation to slain the party’s arch-nemesis.

With the rakshasas vanquished, Vashnawi leads the PCs in an hour long ritual to destroy the Arrows and Bow. As they sustain their om chants, dark storm clouds gather overhead. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning flashes down, striking the altar and blowing the two weapons into smithereens!



Epilogue

Now the final adventure of the Juma Associates is over, our heroes go their separate ways.

Gil returns to Forathin to his father Paelias, in the hopes that his magical knowledge and prowess will at last impress him.

Hrothgar travels to the Great Grass Sea in search of a legendary totem which will unite the gnoll packs of the steppes under his rulership as Khan of All Gnolls. A confrontation with Urgedai the Kinslayer seems inevitable.

Jenma tracks down her sister Sora and persuades the paladin to go on a new adventure with her.

Juma steals the secret formula for Parsantine Fire but Ulthar persuades him not to give it to Sheikh Babak al-Hasid. As punishment for his failure, Juma is forced to serve as a pleasure slave among the nomads for a year and day.

Ulthar goes into politics with the ambition of becoming the first Urskovian to sit on the Inner Council. The Old Quarter tribune, Murad al-Rumi vouches for him, and Juma helps his comrade’s political campaign behind the scenes with a few dirty tricks.


Pics by Gog Magog
rakshasa

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #65: A Costly Retreat

Here's what happened in Sunday's game – the penultimate session in the campaign. Each PC gets enough xp to reach 20th level.

11th December (contd)

With trepidation, the Juma Associates enter the fiery temple of Imix beneath the ground floor of the Mosque of Blistering Atonement. Here, they are confronted by Simsek (fire genasi Chosen of Imix), Dhalal (efreeti flamestrider), a conflagration orb and four azer. The Chosen urges Jh'od to side with the Eternal Flame. When this is ignored, he summons harginn (fire) grues in front and behind the party, which burn the PCs standing next to them.

Ulthar manoeuvres around the back to get into a flanking position while Hrothgar charges in, and is quickly surrounded by azer flamewards, taking 97 hp damage in a single round of attacks. Gil teleports on top of a plinth, taking position against a temple wall, while Jh’od casts his thundering vortex on the azer pyromancer and the flying conflagration orb.

The relentless attacks on Hrothgar drop him below 0 hp but uses his deathless frenzy to keep going, then Ulthar heals him before he has to make a death save. Meanwhile, Gil uses the handglyph the party found in the geomancer ruins in Sampur to blast his enemies with thunder and lightning. As the battle rages, he spots another azer sneaking around the fringes of the battle behind the party – only afterwards do the Juma Associates realise this was Heinsoo in disguise, searching for Srivatsa’s Bow.

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Jenma’s azure talons inflict a critical hit on the efreet who is now bloodied, as is the azer pyromancer, but all of the PCs’ enemies are still standing. Then, the Chosen’s fiery orb knocks Gil unconscious; luckily, Ulthar’s martial healing powers bring him round and provide much needed solace to everyone else.

Hrothgar has got the (fire) horn so he blows it, making the genasi, efreet and azers no longer immune to fire damage. He kills the azer pyromancer but is surrounded again and out of surges. Gil is down to 5 hp; he uses his burning transformation to go insubstantial and hopefully take advantage of the horn’s magic to damage Imix’s cultists with his fire spells. Unfortunately, all of them make their saving throws at the first attempt, and are immune or resistant to fire again. Ulthar is bludgeoned unconscious by the efreet; Gil stabilises him, but with only one enemy down, the PCs decide they need to flee for their lives.

The Juma Associates make a run for it as efreeti and fire archon patrols close in. Gil is struck by a flying scimitar from an efreet and also goes unconscious but Jh’od grabs hold of him and they carry on running. Managing to reach the golden-feathered roc they spotted before they entered the Mosque, Jenma intimidates its firenewt handler into letting them climb on the giant bird so they can fly to safety.

As the huge bird takes to the air, ballistas are fired from the towers of the Furnace – one strikes the firenewt, killing him instantly, but the great roc flies on to the Bazaar of Beggars. Here, Gil is revived by Hrothgar with a healing potion; the mage casts the Planar Portal ritual to bring the PCs back, beaten and bruised, to Vashnawi’s tower in Parsantium’s university.

While Hrothgar and Gil collapse exhausted next to the unconscious Ulthar, Jenma and Jh’od go to find Vashnawi in her bedchamber. The naga is tossing and turning in her sleep and babbling in tongues, clearly having terrible nightmares. When the PCs wake her up and explain what’s happened; she relates her vision: the rakshasas and yak-folk had the Arrows and the Bow and were performing the ritual to curse both holy items so they can be used to free Vrishabha from the ice. There is no time to waste: the party must come with her to the Vale of Descending Stars in the Pillars of Heaven Mountains, stop the ritual and destroy the weapons.

Reluctantly, the naga agrees that the Juma Associates need a full rest before she teleports the party to the mountains.


12th December

In the morning, Vashnawi opens a portal to the Vale of Descending Stars, teleporting herself and the Juma Associates. They arrive in the middle of an ancient ruined town, high in the mountains. Strangely the air is warm and the lush foliage more like that found in the jungle.

The PCs don't have much time to take in their surroundings as they are ambushed by rakshasa archers and yak-folk sorcerers hiding in the ruined buildings who rain down ghost arrows and cast evil spells of Visions of Things that Should Not Be on the party.

Gil casts stormstone fury to attack the archers on the balcony, while Ulthar smashes down the door to one of the buildings and charges in to engage a yak-folk sorcerer. The yikaria withers the warlord's arm with his necrotic staff but the weakened Urskovian manages to kill him with help from Hrothgar. Meanwhile Juma attacks the other sorcerer while the spellcasters and Vashnawi dive for cover – Gil and the naga duck behind a crumbling wall, Jenma runs into the trees.

Hrothgar charges the second yak-man, teaming up with Juma; the gnoll slays his shaggy opponent, but not before both he and Juma are also weakened by necrotic damage. Juma is actually bloodied for one of the few times in his entire adventuring career! Ulthar heals the wounded, dons his shadowform cloak and flies towards the balcony.

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Jenma and Gil kill one rakshasa with their spells; then Vashnawi kills a second after its true location is revealed. Ulthar lands on the balcony, joined by Hrothgar, who finishes off the last one. As the bodies of the rakshasas dissolve, the Juma Associates realise that these are just three of the forty-nine they freed from their imprisonment as cows.

A worn, paved road leads up the mountain....
St George

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #64: The Mosque of Blistering Atonement

Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Each PC gets 6,000 xp, so you’re all still 19th level.


11th December (contd)

Now inside the Furnace, the Juma Associates race through the streets to the Mosque of Blistering Atonement. As they hurry along, evading archon and efreeti patrols, Hrothgar and Gil spot a huge golden-feathered roc, hooded and tied to a stone pillar, attended by a solitary decrepit-looking firenewt. Perhaps the giant bird could provide a means of escape later?

The PCs approach the nightmarish-looking mosque, its walls made of black basalt and its domes sheathed in corroded green copper. Entering through the great brass doors, the party surprise the occupants: three fire giants and a fire titan. At first, the battle goes our heroes’ way – Gil casts ice storm in the centre of the temple, immobilising Olostro, the priest of Imix, and slowing the other giants while the others gang up on one of the fire giants. Hrothgar charges, Ulthar unleashes his hail of steel and Jenma finishes the giant off with acid orb.

Then, Olostro activates the crystal idol of Imix, trapping Hrothgar inside – his fur starts to sizzle and burn. Hrothgar tries to smash his way out, to no avail. The other PCs attack the second fire giant warrior, but before he can be taken down, he retreats to the mirhab to use its healing magic. Ulthar throws an axe at him and Gil casts magic missile but the giant is able to make it there on 1 hp and heal some of his wounds. He’s still bloodied, though, and Jenma is able to kill him with another acid orb. Gil’s next magic missile takes down the priest who has been clobbering Jh’od and shoving him into the blistering pillar.

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Meanwhile, Hrothgar is still trapped inside the crystal idol, trying to smash his way out. Ulthar arrives to free him but realises he doesn’t have the necessary arcane knowledge. Jenma tries to help rescue the gnoll too but also fails; Hrothgar finally escapes of his own accord and charges the titan.

Ulthar uses his warlord’s banner to rally and heal the party before unleashing his war master’s assault, giving everyone a basic attack against the fire titan. But the Urskovian is down to 21 hp and he falls unconscious when the huge giant hurls fire at him. With the rest of the party ganging up on the titan, it doesn’t last long, and the Juma Associates are able to revive Ulthar so he is conscious on 1 hp.

Ulthar and Gil swap magic boots so that the warlord is able to sneak around like an elf, hopefully avoiding taking any damage, and the PCs explore the rooms leading off from the main hall of the mosque. There they find several potions of cure critical wounds which Ulthar swigs down enthusiatically, as well as a magical fire horn.

Low on surges and daily powers, the Juma Associates have no alternative but to head downstairs in search of Srivatsa’s Bow. Ahead is a fiery temple where a fire genasi priest of Imix and his azer and efreeti acolytes await the party....
 
St George

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #63: Gate Crashers

Here’s what happened in last night’s game in the City of Brass. Each PC gets 12,000 xp, half way to 20th level, and can also recover one healing surge for making it inside the Furnace.

Jenma needs one more encounter to end her death penalty; Hrothgar needs another one to recover from his depression and be able to rage normally again.


11th December (contd)

Gil buys arcane reagents for rituals. Jenma hires a courier to take a message to Shah Abdul-Azim Abassi, asking for a meeting at the Burnished Coffee Pot in the Plume district. When the azer messenger returns, the efreeti noble’s reply is “tell the bitch to come to my house”. The Juma Associates cross the fiery Riqaq Canal and head through the Char district. They go past a parade ground where efreet officers are drilling fire archon and salamander troops, before arriving in the wealthy Plume neighbourhood.

Knocking on the door at the Palazzo of the Blue Horse, Jenma and her companions are shown into a large courtyard filled with leafless black serpent trees to see the efreeti shah. Abdul-Azim Abassi welcomes Jenma menacingly, asking her if she’s come to return the genie prison she stole from him and to apologise. Jenma, Ulthar and Gil bow deeply, heads to the floor; Hrothgar and Jh’od just stand there, confused. Jenma uses flattery to win over the efreeti, and with support from Ulthar, convinces him to tell the PCs where they can find Srivatsa’s Bow in return for the stolen genie bottle. The party must retrieve the Bow from the treasure vaults of the Chosen of Imix, beneath the Mosque of Blistering Atonement, in the Furnace district.

As the Juma Associates leave the palazzo, the great brass gong sounds, marking the start of the nightly curfew when non-efreeti must be off the city streets. The heroes attempt to avoid trouble by moving quickly through the estates of the noble efreets, running through garden and leaping over walls. Hrothgar and Jh’od lead the way but Gil isn’t that athletic and they are spotted by a fire archon patrol. Luckily, they make a run for it and are able to escape. The PCs cross into the Char without trouble and make it past the parade ground. As they approach the Phoenix Gate, they encounter another archon patrol but again manage to give it the slip.

Reaching the great gates into the Furnace, the Juma Associates discuss their strategy in an alleyway: the burning hot gates are guarded by two efreets, three salamander archers and five hell hounds. Unfortunately, they spend far too long in one place and a third fire archon patrol spots them. This time they can’t get away and a battle ensues. The archons are troublesome opponents, creating clouds of cinders that obscure vision and scorch the PCs. Hrothgar takes down the first one when Ulthar unleashes his hail of steel; Gil’s magic missiles finish off the last two.

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Returning to the gate, the PCs drink their elixirs of flying and land on the roof of a nearby building. Ulthar is left behind though, and is surrounded by the hell hounds. He activates his cloak of the shadowform and flies after the others, landing on the top of the dome ahead of them. This attracts the attention of the archers who shoot him twice each; the warlord uses his phoenix sash to stay on his feet. For the first time ever, Gil heals Ulthar, then summons a stormstone fury on the top of the walls to battle the salamanders. He decides not to spend an action to control it, so it attacks of its own accord, which does thunder damage to the eladrin and knocks him over each round. The two efreets throw their flying scimitars at Hrothgar and Jh’od, then fly in to attack the party in melee. After the fighters and Jenma have done plenty of damage to the first efreet with their weapons and spells, Gil pings it with magic missile, killing it, obv. Jh’od shoves the second efreet off the roof, where it lands on top of the hell hounds, squashing three of them.

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Meanwhile, Ulthar has flown over to the salamanders and landed on the burning hot ramparts. Dropping his insubstantiality, he kills one of the salamanders. Then, Hrothgar leaps down from the roof on top of the fallen efreet, slaying him. The two surviving hell hounds have fled, leaving a pair of salamanders for the PCs to finish off. Once these too have perished, the Juma Associates fly down to the other side of the gates and catch their breath. They are inside the Furnace!


Pics by Andy
St George

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #62: Into the City of Brass

Here’s what happened in last night’s game in which there is a tragic death, and the truth about Hrothgar is finally revealed. Each PC gets enough xp to bring them to 19th level.

30th November
The Juma Associates arrive back in Kishkindha with the geomancer sorceress’ head and a plan to come clean with King Narinda and tell him why they need the Arrows of Hanuman. If that doesn’t work, they will use the code word “diamond” and Juma will steal the arrows from the treasury. Unfortunately, when they get there, it turns out the arrows have been stolen already and the PCs’ guide Balachandra is the prime suspect. The party rush in to see the angry vanaran king who demands to know where Balachandra is and why a letter addressed to the Juma Associates was left in his treasury in place of the arrows!

Jenma eagerly grabs the note and reads it aloud, falling victim to the shadowflesh curse embedded in the writing. The dragonborn is wracked with hideous pain as her flesh warps, stretches and twists, infused with a spark of horrible, unnatural life force. She collapses to the floor, dead.

The note is a mocking message from “H”, which Ulthar guesses must be the infamous Heinsoo, a rakshasa agent of the Rajah Vrishabha. It is clear the Juma Associates have been very naive! Jenma’s body is taken away to the temple of Hanuman to be raised from the dead by the wizened high priestess, Sunazara. King Narinda tells the Juma Associates they must leave as soon as she is returned to life and bring back the arrows. Gil says the party will do their best.

7th December
The party arrive back in the village of Madhwa. Jenma is alive but has a death penalty until she reaches three milestones. Most of the PCs get a good night’s sleep in the Nutmeg Inn, but Hrothgar continues to be troubled by recurring nightmares of violence and slaughter.

8th December
Heading downriver on Pradnesh’s kettuvallam, the PCs arrive at the tributary leading to the lair of the notorious catoblepas. The Juma Associates board a small boat and row through the shallow, stagnant water for a couple of miles, coming into a dingy swamp full of diseased plant life. When their boat gets stuck, they climb out and continue through the bog on foot to the monster’s lair. Hrothgar charges in to attack the strange-looking beast, backed by the rest of the party. Gil casts mass resistance to poison on everyone which makes the catoblepas’ normally deadly breath much less effective and the creature is bloodied in the first round. Crying out “for Mormekar!”, Hrothgar enters the rage of the oak hammer, striking first with a critical hit, follow by a terrible rage strike which slays the beast.

Killing the catoblepas wins the death god’s favour, freeing Hrothgar from the demonic spirit that has possessed him for so long. The demon leaves the gnoll’s body, screeching in frustration, and Hrothgar slumps to the floor, sobbing as the terrible realisation hits him that he killed his own pack. Ulthar consoles him, encouraging him “to let it all out”. Searching the amongst the matted reeds and human and crocodile skulls in the lair, the others find treasure: 12,000 gp and a +4 earthbreaker parashu.

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10th December
The PCs arrive back in the port city of Surivata. Hrothgar is still very low – for now, with the anger and hatred of the demon no longer spurring him on, he needs to make a saving throw to rage.

Gil casts linked portal and the Juma Associates teleport back to Vashnawi’s tower to report.  The naga is horrified to learn that Heinsoo now has the arrows, and she urges the PCs to set off for the City of Brass without delay.

11th December
Gil makes a brief shopping expedition to the Victory Ward’s magic district to buy ritual scrolls, components and, of course, whetstones, then the PCs step into Vashnawi’s teleportation circle and are transported to the Elemental Plane of Fire. Juma becomes Jh’od before he teleports so he will blend in.

The planar portal bring the PCs into the middle of a great square, guarded by fire archons. They are in the centre of the Bazaar of Beggars which lies a few miles outside the Diamond Gate to the City of Brass. It is swelteringly hot, the sky is a dull red, and the imposing walls and shining brass domes of the fabled city can be seen in the distance.

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Gil and Hrothgar need protection against the heat of the Elemental Plane of Fire, so the PCs visit Axam’s Forge to buy brazen amulets for 4,000 gp each from the azer smith. They still have geomancer magic items to identify, so their second stop is the tent of Burgundy Rose, a cheitan (half-efreeti) sage, who is able to tell the PCs their powers for a fee.

Knowing they are in a race against Heinsoo, the PCs decide not to join the slow-moving, miles long queue to enter the city. Instead, they approach one of the gargantuan tusk lords and pay 15,000 gp to bypass the queue. Ulthar does a fairly convincing impression of the catoblepas’ cry in the hopes that this will get them a discount but to no avail. As they approach the city on the back of the colossal elephant, Gil casts Sezrakan’s deceitful sensor to foil scrying for 12 hours.

At the Diamond Gate, the PCs join a far shorter queue. As they wait in line, a group of fire giants stride up, shoving past anyone in their way. Only Jh’od holds his ground – the other PCs step aside – and gets clobbered by a giant as they jump the queue.

Finally inside the city, a dishevelled, blind mystic grabs Ulthar’s arm, warning him that his “weapon will betray him”. The Juma Associates make their way to the district of Iskalat where they rent overpriced rooms at Razi’s Rest where Jenma has stayed before. From here, they travel to the Bazaar of Arcana in Pyraculum’s City Market and visit Hansiq’s Library. While Gil peruses the extensive range of rituals, Ulthar asks the djinni owner if he knows of Srivatsa’ Bow – he hasn’t. It looks like Jenma will have to brave the wrath of Shah Abdul-Azim Abassi and offer the efreeti noble her apologies and the stolen genie prison in exchange for information about the bow’s location....
St George

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #61: Rumble in the Jungle Temple

Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Each PC gets 7,500 xp.


26th November
On the way back from speaking to King Narinda, Gil stops off at a market stall in the central commons of Kishkindha and buys five whetstones of combustion. Praghal the whetstone dealer is sure to be talking about the bonanza the day Gil came to town for many years afterwards.

Back at the Heron and Lotus, the PCs speak to Zakti, the only vanara to survive from the scouting party that ran afoul of the sorceress, Shareshka, Sunderer of Dreams. He tells them what he knows about the geomancer and limps off. Juma explains that as an earthsoul genasi, Shareshka will get her power from contact with the earth, so the PCs come up with the idea of lifting her into the air. They return to the market and purchase an elixir of flying each, making Sajjana the elixir seller as happy as Praghal.

27th November
Jenma recovers from jungle fever, but Gil is still at stage 1. The Juma Associates head off through the jungle to the ruins of Udnagiri.

28th November
Gil finally recovers from jungle fever. The party arrive at the ruins, coming to an open plaza where they are attacked by stone thralls – ogres marked with strange glowing geomancer tattoos. Fortunately Hrothgar spots the lurking ogres, foiling their ambush, and the PCs charge into battle. The ogres do a lot of damage with their mauls: Juma and Ulthar are bloodied first, then Jenma is pounded into the ground with a crushing smash. Juma turns the tide, killing the first thrall, then Ulthar’s hail of steel kills the second with lethal damage coming from the warlord’s greataxe, Gil’s magic missile and Jenma’s acid orb. Hrothgar kills the third ogre, then the PCs surround the last one and Gil finishes it off with a precision-targeted scorching burst.

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Climbing the broken stone steps, the Juma Associates can see the ruined temple of Kubera through the trees. Deciding that stealth is the best option, Juma sneaks around the side while the others creep through the foliage straight ahead. The genasi spots three earth archons and a huge earth titan at the temple entrance – using his mask of the impish grin to make himself invisible to them, he moves in closer. Meanwhile, Jenma and Ulthar don’t manage to be very stealthy, but the PCs are nonetheless able to get the drop on the monsters.

Gil and Jenma attack first – Gil’s ice storm is very effective in keeping the earth archons pinned down at the entrance and he follows it up with frostburn. Shareshka appears and casts Abi Dalzim's horrid wilting on Ulthar but the warlord resists and only takes half damage. Hrothgar drinks his elixir of flying and charges the mighty earth titan with support from Ulthar and Gil. Jenma is buried alive by Shareshka but manages to pull herself out of the ground. Juma moves in to attack the archons and sorceress, triggering a rba’ symbol of warding as he passes into the courtyard. Jenma and Gil (now transformed into a pillar of fire) finish off the hapless archons as the bloodied Juma flies after Shareshka, triggering the symbol for a second time.

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Hrothgar takes down the earth titan and now all the PCs move in to attack the geomancer. Unfortunately flying over the wall into the courtyard does not protect Hrothgar and Ulthar from the warding symbol. Nonetheless, with the whole Juma Gang attacking her, Shareshka does not survive for long – Gil delivers the killing blow yet again. Sadly, the party didn’t get a chance to implement their plan to lift her off the ground while flying.

After a short rest, the PCs search the sorceress’ body, finding her +4 greater talisman of repulsion, and also recover several interesting geomancer artefacts from her campsite in the temple.
St George

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #60: The Giants' Topiary

Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Each PC gets 7,500 xp.

21st November (contd.)
After their battle with the girallon, the PCs continue their hot, tiring trek through the jungle. Hrothgar spots some of the yellow jungle geraniums said to help cure jungle fever growing in a tall tree; Balachandra scampers up to get them. The PCs stop for the night and are perplexed by strange glowing lights bobbing around and tinkling near their campfire. No harm comes to them though.

22nd November
Jenma feels better: eating the jungle geraniums has brought her jungle fever down to stage 1, but Gil is still at stage 2.  During the day’s travel, Juma climbs a “ladder” of large, flat, woody mushrooms spiralling up a large tree. At the top he finds a skeleton overgrown with plants and manages to pocket a pair of tiger agate gems without the rest of the party noticing. That night, Ulthar and Gil are disturbed when a huge swarm of bats flies though the camp. Hrothgar spots three large pairs of eyes watching the party but when he goes to investigate, they’ve gone. Balachandra can’t explain the bats’ strange behaviour but suggests that the eyes might belong to man-eating tigers, and points out the party are now in jungle giant territory.

23rd November
It turns out Balachandra is right: as the PCs strike camp, they are approached by an 18’ tall female giant accompanied by three giant tigers. Jenma talks to her, using her helm of languages to translate what the giant is saying. She introduces herself as Kadufi, and explains that she and her two sisters are overjoyed at the PCs’ arrival. She offers the party ten valuable tusks of ivory if they will pose as models for the sisters – they love creating topiary and think the Juma Associates would make great subjects.

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Kadufi is joined by Wadufi and Padufi, her two sisters – the youngest, Padufi, is particularly taken with Ulthar, bending and twisting his limbs painfully into suitable poses until he shoves her off. Willing to go along with the giants’ suggestion for a while, the party follow the sisters to their nearby stockade, a large wooden structure with 50’ high walls surrounded by the topiary the giants have created. Kadufi’s sculptures are terrible but the giant is oblivious to this. Reluctant to offend her, the PCs compliment her creativity. Wadufi’s sculptures are just as bad, but Padufi’s are the work of a real talent. After showing off the topiary, the giants head into their stockade to prepare lunch.  The Juma Associates aren’t keen on following them inside so Jenma tells Padufi they would like to get started on the modelling straight away. At this time, they notice that Balachandra seems to have disappeared.

Padufi jerks and twists the PCs around into the poses she wants and starts clipping away at some nearby bushes. By this time, the PCs patience has run out and Gil summons a stormstone fury to attack the giant. Her sisters and their tigers soon arrive on the scene and a big battle ensues. The PCs dispose of the three giant tigers swiftly but the giants are tougher opponents, capable of inflicting grievous wounds with their khandas and arrows. To make matters worse, the giant wasps nesting in the stockade fly in to defend their mistresses – their poison first slows, then immobilises PCs who are stung. Wadufi is killed first, then Jenma slays Kadufi with azure talons, and finally Ulthar (who has blasted the pesky wasps with his conch) knocks out young Padufi. They tie her down to the ground with ropes and stakes and loot the stockade, finding a +4 stone of good luck and the ten ivory tusks (which weigh 200 lbs each!). Balachandra returns and the party decide to leave; Ulthar loosens Padufi’s bonds so she can escape when she wakes up.

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25th November
After two days of hot, sweaty trekking through the jungle, the PCs arrive at a waterfall flowing into a lake through a ruined wall flanked by two ancient giant stone statues, one with the head of a hippopotamus; the other with its head missing. Large boulders form stepping stones going part way across the water. Before the PCs can slake their thirsts, a voluptuous dark-skinned female figure (a yaksha) emerges from the water of the lake and speaks to the party, explaining that the forbidden waters will kill anyone who doesn’t first answer a riddle. The yaksha’s “riddles” are more like philosophical questions designed to test if the answerer is enlightened or not which annoys Ulthar who was expecting a traditional Urskovian riddling contest. Nonetheless, Jenma is able to figure out a satisfactory answer to Ulthar’s riddle and Hrothgar answers his own; both can drink and bathe in the waters, while the others go thirsty.

26th November
Towards the end of the day, the party at last arrive at their destination: a cave entrance leading down to to the vanaran city of Kishkindha. Hrothgar climbs down the thick vine into the vast cavern where the city is located, followed by the others. At the bottom, the PCs are greeted warmly by the guards who direct them to the comfortable Heron and Lotus Inn. Here, the PCs are welcomed by Mathur, the inn’s vanaran owner who serves them vegetable curry accompanied by Lotus Heron, an exotic intoxicating drink made from mangoes and jungle spices. Mathur recounts that an evil sorceress has taken up residence in some nearby ancient geomancer ruins and this is making it impossible for his sons to harvest the spices they need to make the drink.

After the PCs have rested and eaten, they are escorted to see King Narinda, the ruler of Kishkindha, who asks if the party will get rid of the sorceress in exchange for a large emerald. When they ask about the Arrows of Hanuman, the king tells them they are a priceless holy relic of the vanaran people. The Juma Associates decide not to push the point, although Juma offers to slay the sorceress in exchange for a glimpse at the arrows before the others hastily shut him up. After some deliberation, the PCs agree to the mission. King Narinda promises to send Zakti, the only survivor of the patrol that went after the sorceress, to the Heron and Lotus to tell the PCs what he knows.
St George

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #59: Messing About on the River

Here's what happened in this afternoon's game. Each PC gets enough xp to reach 18th level.


17th November

After a good night's sleep for everyone except Hrothgar (whose chicken sacrifice does not appear to have done any good), the Juma Associates board Prandesh's kettuvallam bound for the village of Madhwa upriver.

The first day passes uneventfully but Hrothgar is not impressed with the vegetable and fish curries at mealtimes. Ulthar tries to get Pradnesh to tell him what the strange crocodile shrines are along the river without success but Jenma has more luck with Jayanti, his wife, learning that they are there to protect the villages from the evil jungle goddess Magar-Mach.


18th November

The PCs' kettuvallam comes under attack from a boatload of Magar-Mach cultists led by a whip-wielding priestess who shapeshifts into a giant humanoid crocodile when Hrothgar leaps over to attack her. Juma finds himself surrounded by cultists and is shoved overboard twice into the mouths of the waiting crocodiles in the river. Ulthar heals the bloodied genasi and also jumps over, attacking one of the cult enforcers and the priestess. Meanwhile Gil and Jenma are casting spells from their boat. Hrothgar does an impressive 129 hp damage to the priestess in one round but it's Ulthar who delivers the killing blow, much to the gnoll's disappointment. Gil and Jenma join their companions on the enemy vessel, arriving just in time to be set on fire by Juma's seed of war spell which doesn't quite work as he intended it to. Jenma pushes a cultist overboard to be torn apart by the crocodiles, then Hrothgar slays the last one standing.

The PCs search the cultists' boat, finding a chest of Parsantine gold coins; Ulthar dons the priestess' ostentatious headdress of swift punishment. With no one alive to interrogate, Gil casts speak with dead on a cultist, learning that a well-dressed Parsantine with a beard hired them to attack the party.

Hrothgar sets fire to the cultists' boat, dedicating the pyre to Mormekar in the hopes the offering will be enough to stop his nightmares. It isn't.


19th November

The PCs harvest blue lotus flowers growing in a ruined temple by the side of the river. Dried and crushed to dust, the flowers can be used to extend the range and duration of arcane spells (+5 squares or no action to sustain).

Later, the boat passes a tributary where the vegetation is diseased and dying. Pradnesh tells them a terrible beast known as the catoblepas lives there. Because the monster has a connection to Mormekar, Hrothgar is determined to visit its lair when the PCs return this way after recovering the Arrows of Hanuman to see if he can win the god's forgiveness by killing (or even talking to) the creature.

Later that day the boat arrives in the jungle village of Madhwa. After getting rooms at the Nutmeg Inn, the PCs do some last minute shopping for supplies and hire a vanara guide named Balachandra to take them to Kishkindha.


20th November

The Juma Associates head into the Vyaharaja Jungle with Balachandra leading the way. Travelling through the jungle is hot, sticky and unpleasant and several PCs suffer because of the heat. Hrothgar, Gil and Jenma also catch jungle fever, although the gnoll manages to shake it off with help from Ulthar that night when the PCs camp. Unfortunately for Gil and Jenma, their fever gets worse (progressing to stage 2). Balachandra suggests the party keep an eye out for yellow jungle flowers which can help cure the disease.


21st November

As the PCs continue towards Kishkindha, they are ambushed by a jungle girallon alpha who lays into Ulthar with his mighty fists, bloodying the warlord. Although Gil's summoned stormstone fury doesn't do much damage, the rest of the Juma Associates' response is swift and terrible - Ulthar's warmaster's assault gives everyone an attack. Jenma criticals, then finishes the four-armed ape off with her dragon breath.

St George

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #58: When Rakshasas Attack

Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Each PC gets 5,000 xp.


14th November

The PC spend the day shopping in the markets of the Mercantile Quarter: Gil buys a skeleton key, Hrothgar buys boots of levitation, Jenma buys a helm of languages, Juma buys a mask of the impish grin and Ulthar buys a pair of quickling boots. Juma asks around about how he might learn the recipe of Parsantine Fire to repay his debt to Sheikh Babak al-Hasid but none of the stallholders are much help.


15th November

Gil, Jenma and Ulthar head to the Library of All-Knowledge to research the information found in Vishaka’s journal. Meanwhile, Hrothgar and Juma go to their old stomping ground of Flotsam to try and find out where Avishandu is based.

At the library, the PCs pay their 20 gp research fee and are shown to a room on the third floor by one of the grey-robed priests. Their study is interrupted by the return of the priest who had been assisting them, accompanied by another priest and a pair of burly minotaur librarians. They enter the room, closing the door behind them, and attack the party. As Ulthar moves in to confront the minotaurs, the first priest grabs Vishaka’s journal and moves back to the entrance, while the other one attacks the PCs with misleading visions, sliding them away. To make things worse a rakshasa appears to join the assailants! Jenma and Gil launch spells at the rakshasa, minotaurs and priests, but only succeed in dispelling illusionary duplicates of their attackers. The priest over by the doorway responds with visions of terror in the form of a swarm of burning monkeys!

Down at the docks, after a conversation with Glyn Merryfield (the Juma Gang’s old landlord) at the Fat Grouper, Hrothgar and Juma head to the Floating Palace to see if any of the newly reformed Golden Scimitars know Avishandu’s location. En route, they run into three men with Golden Scimitars tattoos but these thugs aren’t what they first seem. One fires a deadly necrotic bolt from his crossbow at Hrothgar as the other two advance to attack the gnoll with their longswords. Juma does his best to defend his friend but Hrothgar is soon down to 10 hp. He starts raging and uses his seed of war to summon a metal soldier to help. As with the attackers in the library, the PCs find themselves striking illusions, rather than warm bodies.

Back in the library, it looks like the priest with the journal has somehow escaped, but the two invisible minotaurs reappear to attack Ulthar. The warlord’s tempest of triumph takes down one minotaur – who turns into a tiger-headed rakshasa on dying. This allows Jenma to make a basic attack which kills the second minotaur and in turn, Gil can launch a magic missile at the remaining priest. With all three attackers dead and revealed to be rakshasas, the PCs search the bodies for Vishaka’s journal without success, before the corpses turn into puddles of foul-smelling goo.
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In the Dock Ward, the tide turns: Juma scores a critical hit on one thug, then teleports to hit another, allowing Hrothgar to take down the first one – again, the assailant turns into a rakshasa on dying. Then, the bloodied gnoll and the genasi finish off the other two. Hrothgar is still raging, though, and has to restrain himself from striking Juma with his axe once all three rakshasas are dead.

The PCs in the library are startled by the arrival of a naga with the face of a beautiful dark-skinned woman. She doesn’t attack but is babbling to herself in Primordial which Jenma can understand, thanks to her new magic helm.  The naga, Vashnawi, explains that the PCs have appeared to her in troubling dreams involving the Rajah and invites them to her tower in the Scholasticia that evening so she can find out more about them. Soon afterwards, Zenodotus the Custodian arrives, utterly discombobulated by the kerfuffle in his library. Ulthar reassures him no books have been harmed and the PCs agree to speak with the Watch who are on their way. Once they’ve done this, they are able to complete their research, learning much useful information about Samael, Srivatsa’s Bow and the Arrows of Hanuman.

Meanwhile, Hrothgar and Juma visit the Floating Palace and interrogate a couple of Golden Scimitars who don’t appear to know Avishandu’s whereabouts. After hamstringing them, Hrothgar throws them overboard. Juma buys some pesh from a dealer and takes it.

Reunited later that evening, the PCs head back to the university district and climb the steps to the top of Vashnawi’s tower. Here the naga asks them about their adventures, focusing on their role in inadvertently freeing the cursed rakshasas who had been transformed into cows to make sure they are enemies of the Rajah, rather than his allies. When the PCs explain what they have learned from Vishaka’s journal, she starts babbling in tongues again and says that the rakshasas and yakfolk must be plotting to free the Rajah using Srivatsa’s Bow and the Arrows of Hanuman. If the arrows are cursed in a special ritual in the Vale of Descending Stars then fired into the ice trapping Vrishabha, the Rajah will be free. Vashnawi asks the PCs to go after the bow and the arrows so they can be destroyed – the bow can be found in the City of Brass, and the arrows are in the vanaran city of Kishkindha in the jungles of Sampur. The suspicious Hrothgar asks why the party should trust the naga and bring the items back to her. Vashnawi explains that she can open a portal to both locations from the teleportation circle in her tower which the PCs can return to with the ritual scrolls she gives them. Then, they can travel to the Vale of Descending Stars with her to destroy the artefacts. The PCs decide to head for the jungles first and go back to their apartment to rest.

That night, Hrothgar is troubled by a new dream; he is back in a yurt on the Great Grass Sea at a gathering of the gnoll tribes when he sees red and a terrible fight breaks out. He wakes up screaming in a cold sweat.


16th November

The PCs return to Vashnawi’s tower and use her teleportation circle to travel to the Sampuran port city of Surivata, gateway to the jungle. Here, they hire a river trader named Pradnesh to take them in his boat to the village of Madhwa. From there, they will be able to hire a guide to take them to Kishkindha. Pradnesh isn’t leaving until the following morning so the PCs rent expensive rooms at the Jasmine Dream inn and head off to explore the floating bazaar, buying jungle gear including insect repellant, mosquito nets, and oil to keep their armour for rusting, as well as a telescope for Gil and caged parrots for Gil and Jenma (one red, one blue). They are tempted by a bargain-priced elephant too but manage to restrain themselves. While floating through the market, Gil notices a small shrine with an idol depicting a crocodile-headed woman. When he asks about it back at the Jasmine Dream, he is rebuffed and told not to speak of such things again.

That night, before going to bed, Hrothgar steals and sacrifices a chicken to his patron god, Mormekar the Grim Wanderer, in the hopes that his troubling dreams will end.
St George

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #57: The Kundali Crypts

Here’s what happened in last night’s game. For defeating the undead kundali, finishing the adventure and rescuing the seven girls each PC gets 6,000 xp.


10th November (contd.)

The PCs search around the temple and try and talk to the drugged girls but they don’t get much sense out of them. Ulthar picks up the two severed heads of the slain girls and puts them in his sack to be returned to their families – he’s see a lot of heads in his time. They set watches and settle down for an extended rest; the drugged girls sleep too.

When the party wake up, the girls are still fast asleep, so they decide not to disturb them while they explore the rest of the dungeon. In Vishaka’s chamber, Juma manages to trigger a poison dart trap on a chest which whistles past his ear and strikes Hrothgar, poisoning him. They take the treasure inside while Gil grabs an interesting looking journal from the melshanti’s desk.

After trying to shove open the enormous stone doors behind the statue of Manasangra, the Juma Associates give up and check out the doors in leading off from the large chamber with the cobra statue in the centre, finding living quarters for Ciceria, Jagadamba, the medusa, the broodguards and the tainted ones. The PCs take Jagadamba’s dress as evidence of the Witch of Flotsam’s involvement in the Cult of the Black Mother but wisely decide not to take Ciceria’s robes just in case they are caught with it.

Next, the party find the cells where one girl is still being held, watched by four broodguards. Jenma’s azure talons spell takes out two of the misshapen serpentfolk, then Hrothgar charges in to make short work of the others. Ulthar unlocks the door to the cell and talks to the girl inside, Pasara. When she explains that she was told she wasn’t considered a suitable sacrifice because she had a boyfriend, the warlord suggests she might like to talk to another female about such matters and gets Jenma to come over. Unfortunately the dragonborn’s plain speaking fails to make Pasara feel better (“We’ve saved all but two of your friends and we’ve got their heads!”).

After Hrothgar has snacked on a few tasty white rats he found in the serpentfolk larder, the PCs take all seven girls to one of the bedrooms and tell them to stay put. Gil casts an eye of alarm on the door as an additional precaution, then the Juma Associates return to the ominous-looking doors carved with skeletal snakes they had left until last.

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The doors lead into the crypts, a dusty, undulating corridor with stone tomb doors on both sides. Hrothgar and Juma take point; when they round the last bend, the corridor opens out into a round chamber with a bone naga, coiled and ready to strike. Jenma is first to attack with her spitfire furnace spell, as the naga begins to sway hypnotically as it closes with the party. Then, unsurprisingly, tomb doors open on both sides of the corridor and more undead appear: a mummified abomination attacks Juma, grabbing him in its coils and pulling him into its crypt, and Gil is attacked from the back by a pair of corrupted incanters. Ulthar issues tactical orders to his comrades, telling them to attack the mummy, and uses his inspiring word to heal Gil. The wizard dominates the two incanters, getting them to attack each other. Hrothgar delivers the killing blow to the bone naga (88 hp critical hit with fortune’s favour) and finishes off the mummy too; Juma drops the last incanter. As the mummy dies, it shrieks its terrible curse, inflicting mummy rot on Hrothgar and Juma.

With the battle over, the PCs search around for loot, finding some jewellery and gems. Thinking there might be more treasure in some of the tombs, they smash five of them open but there is nothing inside apart from mummified serpentfolk corpses.

Juma examines the great stone doors in the temple again and declares that they are sealed magically; opening them requires a dark ritual involving human sacrifice, presumably the one the PCs interrupted when they entered. Deciding there is nowhere left to plunder, the Juma Associates get ready to return to the city above, bringing the seven rescued girls with them. Now that the girls can speak coherently again, the party ask the ones they don’t recognise their names – they had already identified Appia from her portrait and also Lucretia (the girl Jagadamba had lead down the trapdoor in the deul).

Ulthar leads the victorious PCs and rescued girls out into the Street of Many Gods, proclaiming that the Juma Associates have triumphed yet again to all and sundry.  A growing group of curious onlookers follows the party as they head into the Garden Ward to the Old Palace of the Sultan where they are granted an audience by Murad al-Rumi, Tribune of the Old Quarter. The tribune listens to the PCs’ rather garbled story of serpentfolk, witches, and bloodthirsty cults plotting below the city streets and promises he will send some of his men to investigate the secret temple. The party and the rescued girls are treated to refreshments, baths, and a change of clothes before carriages take them to the Imperial Quarter to be returned to their families.

Hrothgar and Juma recover from mummy rot after a good night's sleep.


13th November

A few days later the PCs meet with Lady Viviana Megaris at the White Swan and are paid their 10,000 gp reward for rescuing Appia; the other grateful noble families have rewarded the Juma Associates’ efforts too with gems and gold. Gil tries to start a rumour that Ciceria is dead among the patrons, without much success.

Gil translates Vishaka’s journal. As well as describing the Cult’s plans to awaken Manasangra’s sleeping incarnation, Vishaka writes of a rakshasa plot to free Vrishabha, the imprisoned Rajah.