As they enter the cavern of the clay and bronze statues, they notice a shiny silver box on the ground covered in dust laying there as if discarded. Despite the dust, the shiny surface gleams through in places. One of them picks it up (probably one of Karl's chars) and rubs of the dust to reveal a strange curly writing... it's... familiar. He realizes with a start that it's being held upside down. The symbol is a question mark. With this realization a bright light flares out and encompasses the entire band.. and just like that they find themselves somewhere else...
The heroes found themselves split up, each in the corner of what appeared to be an arena. Barnaby was chained to an altar at one end of the room. Various objects, including bubbling cauldrons, stacks of books, and medieval torture devices littered the area.
What follows is the groups own scattered recollections of the mysterious events:
The most recent session of our Tales of Blades and Heroes was a bit of a departure from the ongoing storyline. Jon and Josh put together a narrative session in the form of a nightmare interlude to challenge some of the heroes. This adventure took place in an enclosed arena filled with traps, puzzles and monsters.
To start, Juniper, Flatfoot, Dincaran, and Helga were spread across the arena with Barnaby chained to a sacrificial altar. We decided to start by attempting to meet at the altar and free Barnaby. This met with limited success as most of the heroes were confronted by various creatures. Oddly, there were various traps, scrolls, potions, etc... spread around to help the heroes, but nothing that could free Barnaby, despite several attempts.
Helga found a cauldron filled with a vile liquid and a pile of bottles. She carefully filled some bottles with what appeared to be a very powerful acid.
After confronting a couple of rounds of monsters, a massive werewolf entered the area to confront the heroes. This mighty figure required some cooperation to damage and proved to be a very difficult challenge. Helga distracted it with thrown acid vials.
Dincaran's sword was knocked from his hand, and he grabbed an executioner's axe from nearby. This managed to cause significant damage to the wolf. After Helga and Dincaran joined to defeat the werewolf, there was a short respite. Weapons were recovered, and the heroes got a moment of peace.
This was followed by another round of monsters- mostly mushroom men. The heroes worked together using found tools to quickly dispatch the enemies.
Finally, the heroes faced off against a hydra. This mighty beast did take some significant damage to most of its heads, but was eventually dispatched. Only 2 heroes were still standing.
Barnaby's bear form appeared, enraged, and killed everyone, including himself.
Juniper and Tamsin appeared at opposite corners of the arena.
Tamsin barely managed to tie down and eventually torque to death a slashing monster on a rack. It was a disturbing experience for the timid Platypus but was mitigated by the fact that after giving a horrible shriek, the monster disappeared, leaving no messy disjointed corpse to prey on his mind.
On the other end of the field Juniper popped into action, investigating a mysterious table of magic objects (which promptly caused the appearance of a monster) She wasted no time slaying the monster with her keen archery skills and went on throughout the game killing monsters left and right and generally making her quite useful. Throughout the battle she would slay 6 so of the various vermin. One of which was defeated by tricking it into following her across a giant mousetrap!
Tamsin proved his cleverness and discovered a pot of poison with which she coated the tips of some arrows that Juniper had dropped in a moment of uncharacteristic clumsiness. Juniper would go on to use them quite effectively. This sort of thing was quite redeeming for Tamsin as with the exception of the very beginning and very end of the game the novice mage proved unsurprisingly useless in combat. This was exacerbated when his animal-based spells proved completely useless against monsters who looked like animals but were apparently something else entirely.
As the plot thickened it began to seem more and more like the characters were in some sort of a game, as strange childlike cries and cheers were heard and enemies disappeared as they were defeated. As more powerful monsters began to appear Tasmin discovered a cache of what can only be described as grenades. Luckily there were pictorial descriptions and he discerned their use without much difficulty.
As the last monster approached Juniper managed to kill 2 of it's 6 heads with poisoned arrows.
Tasmin disabled one of it's legs before an errant grenade blew him to bits.
By the time the monster was defeated, Juniper was the only survivor of the two and when an enraged and transformed Barnaby appeared and defeated the remaining adventurers before slitting his own throat.
As for the scenario, it was fun and enjoyable. A nice bit of GM'ing by Josh. He and Jon clearly put quite a bit of thought into the various monsters, traps, features and treasures and the payoff was a game with some great twists and and quite a few discoveries that turned out to have very practical and immediate in-game uses. However, the video game aspect of the game was a bit incongruous with the fantasy feel of the campaign up until now. I'd definitely play such a game again in the future, though ideally a standalone rather than shoehorning it into a campaign.
Are our heroes deceased? Was it all just a dream? What repercussions might this have on the real world? Was this event even relevant to the story?!? Find out next time in the thrilling conclusion of our campaign!