Comic 194 - Head into the tunnel

30th Jul 2018, 8:15 PM in High Roads, Low Roads, Threeroads
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes) Rate this comic
Head into the tunnel
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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 30th Jul 2018, 8:15 PM edit delete
You decide it's high time to head down the ladder, and into the tunnels to deal with the snake.

Inzo... makes a few attempts to get his mech down the ladder. When it becomes clear that no amount of forceful squeezing will get his giant crab down there, he attempts to dismantle it in pieces, and move it down a segment at a time. However, his goblin engineering is a little TOO good, and taking the robot apart proves a challenge unto itself.

You finally get an idea; with Inzo out of the mech, you just... put it back in your inventory. You all head down the ladder... and then you remove the goblobster from your inventory.

"Inzo not grasping fine detail of how this workses."

"Yarr, th' inventory system..." Mangobeard trails off for a moment, "she be a strange mistress."

"Does anyone need light?," Hemingway asks.

You... realize that you don't?

It is noticeably darker down in the tunnel, but your eyes seem to adjust well enough.

"You got the mage's eyes," Hemingway says with a grin. "That subtle glow--y'never noticed, mate? S'not perfect darkvision, but you'll adjust quicker'n most."

"Orcs see in the dark," Sheila states firmly.

"And I'm not entirely certain how I see in the first place," Emerald points out, "but it seems to be working out."

Mangobeard nods. "That jus' leaves me an' th' goblin, then. I know these tunnels well enough, I ain't worried m'self... might need to be leadin' that big crab around for a while, though."

And thus, you all commence your journey through the dark--with Hemingway and Emerald helping to steer Inzo's mech from behind it.

The tunnel is long, as is the walk through it. Along the way, you ask the pirates about the thieves' guild, and the catacombs that lie beneath it.

"Aye, was never real fond o' th' guild m'self," Mangobeard replies. "Thieves in cahoots with th' local law? Not th' type o' thief I wanna be, if'n yer savvy. Good to sell to, don't like to be hangin' out there."

"They're a nice lot an' all," adds Hemingway. "I just prefer life on a ship--far more interesting. I have seen those old labyrinths below, though... and they are an adventure to be had. Relics from before the archmages, they are."

"Full of monsters," Sheila mentions. "Gargoyles. Old slimes. Ghosts. Dangerous."

"Old slimes...?" Emerald asks, her interest piqued.

"Real old," affirms Sheila. "Weird, old slimes. Not dumb like regular slimes. Tough."

Emerald squints, but manages to hold her tongue. You're... not sure the pirates have picked up on the fact that Emmy's a slime. Her human shape, and the clothes, do a pretty decent job of hiding it; most people wouldn't assume the walking, talking girl in the robes is a king slime in disguise. She could be a lot of OTHER things, but a slime isn't a super logical conclusion.

You also ask Hemingway if familiars are limited to animals--or if something like a fairy could become a familiar. Or a goblin.

"Gobs not familiars!," Inzo exclaims. "Inzo make humes HIS familiars."

Hemingway chuckles. "It sounds ridiculous, but I think it could be done. Fairy familiars, at least, aren't that unusual... well, about as unusual as fairies are."

Lastly, you suggest a temporary trade--you have an anchor that your grandpa left behind, one that can be used by nautical types as a weapon. You want to lend it to someone with the strength to swing it--like Sheila, maybe? ...But you also know these pirates are pirates, and you want something as collateral before you go loaning it out.

"Aye, a wise decision," Mangobeard says with a grin. He digs around in his beard for a moment before handing you... a bottle.

A bottle that looks empty.

"It be a bottle o' air," he says.

A confused and almost offended look crosses Emerald's face. "Why, that's not an equitable trade at all!"

"It be a bottle o' air forever," the captain clarifies. "It never runs out. I use it when I'm havin' to be underwater for a while."

You temporarily trade the bottle of air for Grandpa's anchor+.

Sheila looks over the anchor for a moment, seeming to admire it, before nodding quietly.

After a very long walk, you all stumble upon...

a group of kuo-toa.

...And a snake that, while certainly big, isn't as intimidating as you were picturing in your head.


"Bloody hells, where'd this lot come from?," Hemingway mutters under his breath.

"Had to have swims up, like snakeses," whispers Inzo.

The kuo-toa don't hear you, or even seem to notice your approach--too busy chanting... something at the serpent.

"Yarr, they be worshipin' it," Mangobeard whispers. "Praise be to... somethin' 'r other, I can't make out th' last word."


Krylo 30th Jul 2018, 9:21 PM edit delete reply
They haven't noticed us and they worship a horrible snake.

I say we make a sneak attack with paralyzing consentacles, followed up by murder most foul upon the snake with tornados, exploding bubbles, anchors, and whatever else the pirates do.
ZincFingers 30th Jul 2018, 9:55 PM edit delete reply
Perhaps we could try and hook the serpent with the anchor, drag it on to the land where, hopefully, it’s effectively crippled.

Further note: if we have to pick a single kuo-toa to target, the one up front with tattoos is possibly a caster, so I’d say prioritise that one.
Korsha 30th Jul 2018, 10:30 PM edit delete reply
I think they might be scars? Which could in turn mean it's more of a fighter, and worse, a survivor
ZincFingers 30th Jul 2018, 11:06 PM edit delete reply
Looking again, they could be scars, and they may have manacles on, it’s hard to tell... could be that we have stumbled on a sacrifice?

But then I think Morg would have specified that one one was cuffed and only two were chanting (I know I wouldn’t join in chanting if they was throwing me to a snake-thing).
Hambone 31st Jul 2018, 10:38 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, i think you're right that they are scars. Look on it's arm and face, you can see pink marks there too. Could still be some type of "priest" though, if these are as odd as Lagrand lets on, ritualistic self-mutilation could be a possibility.
Gandalf 31st Jul 2018, 2:42 AM edit delete reply
For all we know their chanting is to subdue the snake.
MakePeaceAndLove 31st Jul 2018, 7:01 AM edit delete reply
I'm in agreement with Krylo here. Try to paralyze these Kuo-Toa and focus our firepower on the snake.

And if that one in front really has manacles on, let's try to push it slightly out of the way so it doesn't get caught by the collateral damage of everything we throw at the snake. >.>
Korsha 30th Jul 2018, 9:39 PM edit delete reply
I'm a little worried the last word is child.
As in, there's a much bigger snake underwater
The chicken guy 30th Jul 2018, 9:49 PM edit delete reply
Just throwing it out there, we could try talking to the kua'toa.
Krylo 30th Jul 2018, 9:50 PM edit delete reply
Ehh, maybe if Justice were here, but we don't speak Kuo-toa. And, remember, Lagrand was pontificating about how they MOSTLY eat people and are pretty evil in general, like, a few pages ago.

I'm pretty sure that's a hint for us to maybe not try negotiating with them.
ZincFingers 30th Jul 2018, 9:51 PM edit delete reply
I had the same thought, but then we give up the element of surprise. If we do try to talk only one or two people should approach whilst the rest remain hidden, that way if it does go belly up we still have something along the lines of a surprise attack in reserve.
Gandalf 31st Jul 2018, 2:43 AM edit delete reply
Mangobeard seems to speak at least some kuo toa.
MakePeaceAndLove 31st Jul 2018, 7:03 AM edit delete reply
I'm against talking. Even if we can communicate with them, if they're worshipping this snake they won't let us kill it without a fight. Better to hold onto our element of surprise.
Gandalf 31st Jul 2018, 8:39 AM edit delete reply
Yes exactly, if. We have no idea what's going on here, and I strongly object to taking lethal action based on guesses and rumours.
Krylo 31st Jul 2018, 3:06 PM edit delete reply
Well my suggestion was to paralyze the fish and kill the snake.
pwzysk 30th Jul 2018, 9:54 PM edit delete reply
First, let's make sure this snake IS the same one, and not a separate, less intimidating one. Second, these Kuo-toa are different than the one we saw fishing. They may be less amicable, especially about a group of strangers barging in on their ritual. I would suggest we take out the Kuo-toa first, as I think they're more likely to come to the serpent's aid than the other way around.
Rent 30th Jul 2018, 9:55 PM edit delete reply
From the bestiary: "Kuo-toa worship old and forgotten gods, and are rumored to sacrifice kidnapped innocents to those obscure deities."

I don't see any innocent sacrifices at the moment. And if this snake is an old god, I'm not sure we're at god-killer status yet... Maybe hold back and see what happens before rushing in? So far, our experience with kuo-toa has been largely positive, and we've made friends with a bunch of other seemingly hostile species (slimes, goblins, etc.)
Gandalf 31st Jul 2018, 2:44 AM edit delete reply
MakePeaceAndLove 31st Jul 2018, 7:17 AM edit delete reply
Appearances can be deceiving, in Greek myths the gods could change shape into various animals, as Zeus often did when fooling around (and spawning lots of monsters this way >.>).

The other thing that crossed my mind is, maybe this isn't an old god but just the herald of one? So it's still somewhere in our level range and we can handle this... but potentially anger the one who sent him.

Either way though, the only way we'll find out is if we try. We have a huge party this time so I'd give it a shot.
Korsha 31st Jul 2018, 8:23 AM edit delete reply
Yo, how scary would it be if we decapitate the snake, go yay, then find out it's actually just part of a snakebeard on a giant Cthulhu-esque creature
Devus 31st Jul 2018, 10:28 PM edit delete reply
I see six innocent sacrifices.

Well, three.

Okay, maybe just Emmy and Nast.
Vilem 30th Jul 2018, 10:08 PM edit delete reply
Notice the Kuo-toa in the front is different and wearing bracelets. Propably the cleric or magic user or chief. Attack him first/most is our upcoming supprise attack.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven
A time of war, a time of peace
A time to negotiate, a time to sneak attack the human-eating human-sacraficing evil spawn
To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven
Lapdragon 30th Jul 2018, 10:26 PM edit delete reply
Also from the bestiary: "They abhor sunlight" - can we crank Hemingway's light spell up to 11 to temporarily blind them or at least run them off while we deal with the snake?

Our Kuo-toa friend from earlier said that he dislikes how bright and hot it is on the surface - if we can turn up the heat (metaphorically) then we can maybe thin this herd a bit.
Ghest 30th Jul 2018, 11:50 PM edit delete reply
Ghest 31st Jul 2018, 12:12 AM edit delete reply
Ask Hemingway if he can conjure fire. Pyrestorm would certainly be hot and bright.
MakePeaceAndLove 31st Jul 2018, 7:18 AM edit delete reply
Good idea Lapdragon. +1 from me.
YetiOlwen 30th Jul 2018, 11:30 PM edit delete reply
In the famous words of Deckard Cain, "Stay awhile and listen." We could just listen and get a fuller scope of what's going on. I mean this could just be the kuo-toa construction crew coming to fix the tunnel collapse. Or they could be chanting "Praise be to peace&love" and are getting ready to hold the sea serpents bar mitzvah.

I mean for goddesses sake there was a giant spider that was actively trying to murder and eat us and our response was to have a pleasant chat with it. Why are we so blood thirsty with this lot.
Gandalf 31st Jul 2018, 2:38 AM edit delete reply
+1 to listening, and not arbitrarily murdering anyone just yet. We've already encountered plenty of characters that started off looking like momsters but turned out to be pretty cool once we got talking.

I'd have no problem preparing to defend ourselves though, or being ready to Return all six of us somewhere safe.

If this lot turn out hostile I'd even consider backing off and seeking advice or mediation from our fishing buddy kuo toa, rather than escalating the situation straight into combat.
V.V.V. 31st Jul 2018, 4:20 PM edit delete reply
+1 to Gandalf's advice. We've got a kuo toa buddy, so just running in like bloodthirsty maniacs isn't an automatic necessity.
ZincFingers 31st Jul 2018, 6:50 AM edit delete reply
Hanging back for a bit longer is a decent idea, so long as the pirates are willing to go along with it
MakePeaceAndLove 31st Jul 2018, 7:20 AM edit delete reply
+1, with the same caveat ZincFingers said.
YetiOlwen 30th Jul 2018, 11:53 PM edit delete reply
And really we're are just going up take Mangobeard's word that this is a magic empty bottle? No identify spells the moment we touch it to see if we can at least detect any magic on it? No just sticking it under water to see how long it bubbles? Nothing. Just the word of a pirate at face value... urg
ZincFingers 31st Jul 2018, 7:01 AM edit delete reply
We weren’t (as “players’) given the opportunity to assess the bottle before accepting the deal, we can cast Identify on it now (subtly like, if it is just a bottle we don’t want to let on that we know right away).

But I gotta say at this point in time, I’m willing to trust Mangobeard; they had a numbers advantage when we first walked in, and they let us talk instead of just pounding us into mulch. They’ve also been pretty chatty, about the thieves guild and the catacombs, if they were going to screw us over, I don’t see them engaging in small talk, they’d just try and shuffle us to the serpent as quick as possible.

I may be proven wrong, who knows (except Morg)?
MakePeaceAndLove 31st Jul 2018, 7:22 AM edit delete reply
I also trust this crew, for now.

Let's Identify the bottle first chance we get, discreetly. Keep an eye on Hemingway during it, in case he senses it.

If it turns out to lack magic powers, don't show that we know it, just act natural until we deal with this situation. We're gonna need the pirates on our side for this fight, after all.
JiggilyJoe 31st Jul 2018, 2:02 AM edit delete reply
Gandalf 31st Jul 2018, 2:45 AM edit delete reply
-1. Prepare to defend, maybe.
YetiOlwen 31st Jul 2018, 2:42 AM edit delete reply
It's feeling like diplomacy is pretty much off the table (you blood thirsty savages). How about this for a strategy...

Nast whispers to let him have the first attack then to concentrate attacks on the Kuo-Toa. He then drinks the sneaking potion and sneaks over to the leader Kuo-Toa. Then, using a Scaling Knife, slits its throat.

Hopefully the shock and surprise attacks from everyone else will finish off the other 2 Kuo Before they can react. Then the whole party will only have the one serpent to gang up on.

I suggest only that one whisper from Nast as the more talking and planning the more likely we are to lose that element of surprise. Also if Nast could use steal on anyone that would be a plus.

(P.s. I would still rather prefer a more peaceful solution)
Guest 31st Jul 2018, 7:26 AM edit delete reply
It might disturb the pirates but could Emmy mimic the serpent and try and confuse them into worshipping her? It doesn't look a particular complex shape and she could maybe make herself hollow to increase her size so she's bigger than the actual serpent.
Some Random Guy 31st Jul 2018, 12:41 PM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
I can see this idea working, since the kuo-toa seem to be a superstitious race already, but the other snake will probably realise that it is a hoax.

And, if we do go through with this plan, we'll have to hide the rest of the party, which is hard in a room like this.
Some Random Guy 31st Jul 2018, 8:18 AM edit delete reply
Some Random Guy
These are fish, so pulling out a Scaling Knife, which wpuld most likely do extra damage against fish, is a rather excellent choice.
GS 31st Jul 2018, 11:49 AM edit delete reply
We really should have used Identify on that bottle.

Ask Mangobeard if he can talk with kuo-toa as well as understand them. See if they're willing to take their snake idol home with them and out of the main underground thoroughfare.