Saturday, December 17, 2016

Session 18: Halloween Hobgoblins

Having taken out a ghost and several parties of hobgoblins and humans, Galathil and Flint were low on spells but confident the curtain wall of the fortress was safe for now. While Flint rested and Lynnya watched, Galathil was dispatched to find help from the more martial members of the party. She managed to give Dyn-bach and Volodemir good enough directions back to the fortress, before disappearing on some elven family business.

Lynnya signalled to Dyn-bach and Volodemir and lowered a rope for them to join with Flint on the top of the curtain wall. From here, they could see that the fortress had a large portcullis, seemingly allowing for space to crawl under, but there was a large muddy patch in front of it. Above the portcullis, two guardhouses were apparently occupied by groups of hobgoblins, and along the top of the fortress, two more groups, consisting of 2 hobgoblins and an unidentified humanoid shape patrolled. Not wanting to risk being discovered, Flint cast silence on a spot on the curtain wall that allowed the party to descend undetected to the ground by the corner of the fortress.

They decided to sneak their way over to the portcullis. Wary of getting stuck in the mud, Flint decided to sound the bottom before hopping in. Doing so, he struck something hard, and partially averted the surprise of an ankheg attack. He cracked at it with his warhammer while the rest of the party waited for it to emerge. When it popped out, it spat acid on everyone, was hit a few times, then started biting and clawing, and was taken down by force. Suspecting the combat had alerted the guards above, the party tried to scramble under the portcullis. Just as Volodemir was passing below, burning liquid came splashing down from above in the guardhouse murder-holes. Running across the small courtyard for the cover of an archway, the party was fairly riddled with arrows from the groups of archers in the gatehouses. Figuring that surprise was out of the question at this point anyway, Volodemir cast an ear-ringing shatter spell on one of the arrow-slits killing a couple of hobgoblins and leaving more slightly more exposed.

Eying up the developing situation and their pin-cushioned bodies, the party decided to push further in to the keep. Flint healed everyone and they moved through a large room with a fountain and some lovely shrubs to find a very stubborn locked door. With time of the essence, Dyn-bach slammed into the door with his body 3 times before it finally gave way. Closing the ruined door behind them the party was faced with a choice of two directions to proceed.

Heading to the left, they proceeded down a corridor to a large door. Listening at the door for danger, and hearing none, Flint opened the door. A huge silent bear lunged out from behind the door, but his quick reflexes prevented this from happening. However, at the same time, Volodemir disappeared. Volodemir had fallen into a hidden pit that covered itself back up. After some investigation, Flint found the seam from the pit's cover, and working together, Dyn-bach and Flint were able to lift the cover enough to let him crawl back out.

Examining the room they had found, they discovered the mechanism by which the bear had been rigged to fall, and they re-set the trap to slow down any guards who might have been following. The room presented them with two exits, one to the north and one to the south. To the south, they saw light beneath the doorway and decided to proceed. They saw a hallway lined with torches, and a large floor to ceiling mirror 20 feet down on the right. In the distance, mummies started shambling closer. A few pot shots at them seemed to be deflected off something in midair, so Flint examined the mirror to the right while they were still fairly distant. He spotted it was a secret door, and asked Volodemir to open it.

This foiled the plans of the 6 hobgoblins and their captain waiting to ambush them, but also opened them up to a flanking attack. The mummies turned out to be more hobgoblins in crude disguises approaching from around a corner reflected by another mirror. The ensuing battle was fairly difficult, between the highly armored nature of the foes, the ability of their captain to inspire them, and their pack tactics. After some sleeps and a shatter, there was room to attack the leader, and Lynnya damaged him and Flint took no chances and unloaded his wand of magic missiles on him, taking him out. Dyn-bach cast a shield of faith on himself and Flint blessed his companions. At one point, he channeled divinity to preserve the lives of his companions who were close to death. Eventually, all 10 hobgoblins were taken out. Around the same time, the sound of a bear falling on someone was heard from behind, so there was no time to hang around. The party had to keep moving....

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Session 17: Of things that are not medusae

Having agreed to the demand of the Crom-priest, but lacking companions, as Dyn-Bach chickened out (preferring to room near petrifying chickens), Volodemir sought some help for investigating Sculpter's Dale. He found two willing souls -- Biggly, a wizard, and Dench, a barbarian. They said they'd help him, in return for a fair share of the treasure.

The Dale itself was difficult to find -- if orcish children had indeed been playing here, Volodemir was at a loss to explain how they had arrived there in the first place. A single valley had some narrow passages, but these opened up into a plush meadow, studded with statues of various sizes. The statues nearest the entrance were classically inclined, but those further in showed people in differing states of terror. Exploring the dale further, Dench found a depression, in which was a defile leading up and around the obvious entrance to whatever lay beyond.

The defile led into an unworked cavern, where several spider lay in wait for the adventurers, but they were quickly dispatched. Moving up, they found a rectangular room with a large gargoyle head opposite a door with scorch marks surrounding it. Dench and Biggly went to investigate the head, and set off a trap! The head blow out a gout of flame, hitting Biggly in the face, though Dench and Volodemir were able to avoid the brunt of it. They examined the trap after that, and found it would require a refill of fuel before it could activate again. Behind the scorched door they found a squad of mercenaries, who surrendered after half of them were killed in the first round. Volodemir let them live if they left. Going deeper in, they finally found the lair of the master of this dale. The wizard let loose with a spell that unleashed a foul mist, but it did not prevent Dench from burying his weapon in the mage's skull. In the magic-user's study, they found sculpting tools, a half-finished sculpture of a maiden screaming in terror, and a diary detailing his attempts to craft a spell that would turn living flesh to stone. Once they returned to Crom's temple, the priest was able to heal both the lazy Dyn-Bach and Volodemir from their curse. Some time remained until Volodemir was to meet Galathil and Flint at the Slaver's stronghold, and so they decided to explore rumors of a wizard's tower 12 miles north of Darkshelf.

The tower was tall, topped with a large sphere and surrounded by iron spires. Lightning struck with some frequency. The party went up to the door, where Dench grabbed one of the handles to open it. The handle turned into a snake and bit him! Fortunately, he shook off the poison, after which Volodemir suggested knocking. Upon using the knocker, the door swung open. The first floor was largely empty. Biggly found a trap door leading to a basement, The first room was filled with mysterious crates, marked by labels reading "The spine of a soldier who sold butterflies." The next room appeared to be a workshop of some sort. It contained several corpses, mirrors to the north, and a door to the south. To the south was a line of cells, and as the party moved to investigate, several apparitions attacked, but were swiftly dispersed by Volodemir's cloud of blades. Investigating the cells, there was little remaining in them other than corpses. One corpse, strangely preserved, seemed innocuous until something leaped out of it into Biggly's mouth! It had no visible effect, so the party shrugged and moved back into the workshop. There, they examined the elevator for a long time trying to figure out how it worked, until they turned the dial to reflect which floor they were on. Once they did, a shimmering disc appeared.

They initially took the disc to the top floor, which was dominated by a large telescope. Dench noticed the levers, and he went to pull on them while Volodemir and Biggly were distracted. He managed to destroy the telescope by extending it while the roof was still closed. Biggly was upset, but Volodemir calmed him down, and they went down into the lowest level. They found a treasure trove, but were blocked by several force fields. After convincing Dench not to smash the levers, they began to experiment. For a long time they were plagued by shocks whenever the fourth lever was up; eventually, the put it down, and that led them to eventually access the treasure. After all the tricks, they decided to quit while they were ahead, and went back to Darkshelf.

The night after returning, they celebrated. Two days later, Biggly was dead. Dench found the body, and when he looked to figure out how his friend had died, something leaped out of Biggly's mouth into Dench's. Dench died two days later. Volodemir burned the body, keeping his mouth closed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Session 16: An Interlude in D Minor

After the party returned to the surface, they parted ways. Galathil and Flint went to the east to scout out further leads. Volodemir and Dyn-Bach, on the other hand, decided to spend some more time in Darkshelf to try and get in good with some of the extra factions. A priest of Fayon, also part-time barber, named Irenicus told them that there were some issues with a graveyard just outside of town. It appeared some graves had been disturbed. Dyn-Bach decided it was a good quest for a paladin to take, and so the two of them headed out to investigate.

When they reached the graveyard, it was nightfall. They were immediately attacked by skeletons, which were quickly dispatched. The graves yielded no clues, but there were two crypts on the grounds. One was empty, but the other contained a passage leading to an underground complex. Following the passageway left led quickly to a priest apparently performing some ritual before a minotaur skeleton. The priest caused a miasma to arise in the room, but despite that, was quickly killed.

On the body of the priest was a note indicating a secret room where the priest stored his treasure. Eager for enrichment, they went to where the note showed, and found the room as indicated. Inside the room was a sarcophagus. But upon opening the coffin, they found what awaited them was a curse! A cloud of black smoke billowed out of the coffin, leaving them with coughing fits. Despite the coughing, they continued to explore, finding three more zombie infested rooms and clearing them out.

They returned to Irenicus, who thanked them, but told them he lacked the power to cure their illness. Disppointed, they turned to the priests of Crom, who was more than happy to help for a price. They had mentioned a vale earlier, with mysteriously life-like statues. Perhaps the two could investigate that, and in return, the priests would cure their illness? So Dyn-Bach and Volodemir turned to investigate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Session 15: To the hills

After liberating the slaves from the slave pits under Darkshelf, Flint, Galathil, and Lynnya turned east, to investigate reports that the slave caravans were passing through a fortification there.Along the way, they spotted some masked dwarves ahead on the road. Having heard about "chaos dwarves" Flint was cautious, but asked them if they knew anything about the slavers. When it was clear that the
party was not pro-slaver, a fight ensued. The strangely masked dwarves fought briefly before two of their number were knocked out with a sleep spell, and the last one turned invisible in an attempt to flee. In a rare stroke of luck, Lynnya was able to both detect the invisible target and pinpoint it twice in a row, taking him down with a brace of arrows from long range. Examining the corpse and removing its mask, Flint noticed that the creature did not have a face, so much as a darkness that suggested a face. Disturbed, and not wanting to take any chances with more disappearing dwarves, the party euthanized the other two.

Some time after this, and after about a day of travel, they were face to face with a four story fortress with a large curtain wall and drawbridge. Spotting sentries actively walking the top, they decided that a frontal assault was not a viable option, and decided to wait in the surrounding woods, keeping a close watch for any parties leaving or arriving. In the middle of the night, Lynnya spotted a rope being thrown from a second story window and a malnourished, disheveled man came darting into the woods. The party surprised him and made their intentions clear. Though startled, the man said his name was Parzifal and that he had escaped his captors but he did not know much information about the inside of the keep. After accepting some food, he was content to run along and try to find his way to safety.

The party then stealthily crossed the remaining distance to the rope that dangled from the window and climbed into a dusty room. They backtracked Parzifal's trail in the dust through several rooms until they came to stairs going up and down. They decided to go up to work their way to the sentries. Passing through the third floor, they found abandoned rooms and heard the eerie noises of the din of an ancient battle echoing on the sound of the crickets and the wind. Undeterred, they came to a cobweb, bone dust and old blood stain filled room with a ladder leading up on the opposite end. Attempting to sprint through the room, they were set upon by a ghost haunting this area against trespassers. It was unresponsive to being turned, and proved resilient against the arrows that were fired through it. However, Galathil's magic took no notice of its incorporeal nature and soon had the unnatural creature destroyed. Upstairs, the party ambushed a party of three hobgoblins and three humans, including one barechested knife thrower. Putting the weaker humans to sleep and killing the hobgoblins was simple enough, but the barechested man gave as good as he got in the fight against Flint.

There was a door to the outside of the curtain wall above the gate, where two groups of hobgoblins were quickly dispatched with sleep and violence. At this point, running low on spells, they decided to lower a rope for their remaining companions. At this point, Flint also began to obsess over the schematics for the mechanical construct he liberated from the Harpell's library. He wonders if he can make sense of them with the help of the tinker's tools and the broken animated armor parts he took from elsewhere in that odd manse.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Session 13-14: Slave Pits of the Undercity

Feeling a bit put-off by the typical antics at the Golden Cockatrice, the party decided to go visit their old friend Kwon, Kwon mentioned that the Society suspected the abandoned temple on the outskirts of town was a front for the slavers. He gave them instructions on how to find the back door, so that they could sneak past the guards hidden at the front entrance.

Pushing into the first level, the party is ambushed by a feast of ghouls. They land a few solid hits, but are otherwise quickly dispatched. The rest of the level is mainly traps that they evade. There is a "pleasant" garden that is avoided, before they take one of the available stairs to go down into the lower level.

Once in the lower level, the Sinisters turn left. The rough-hewn, almost ant-hill like tunnels quickly turned into more worked tunnels, and the party came into a circular room. There was a small study in front of them, in which a man was working at a desk. They attempted to sneak up on him, but his weasels heard the Sinisters and attacked. The fight was stressful at times, especially when 10 orcs stepped out of the shadows and added their firepower. But the party was victorious.

Beyond the circular room, they discovered a number of slave pits. There were more orcs beyond the pits, so the party decided to rescue the slaves there and move on. The slave lord's desk contained a map to a fortress to the northeast through which the slave caravans passed. The Sinisters decided to briefly split up, most bringing the slaves to safety while Galathil and Flint went ahead to scout the fortress.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Of Vassa and Crom

The Second Demon War was long, and fought largely in Solaria and the Eastern Plains. But it was also fought in the North, and there the deeds of Søren and Vassa were sufficient to enshrine them among the Valharim, bringing the number of that august group to eight (nine, if you tally with them the dark one). Many stories are told of their deeds, but Crom's proposal to Vassa is less well known.

Crom, it is known, is the dark God of the orcs, seeking only to crush his enemies and hear the lamentations of their women. Yet he fought, for a time, with the free folk against the demons, for he had as little desire to see the orcs dominated by Hadeth as Fayon did for the free folk. But some of the orcs fought with the demons.

And it came to pass that the war against the demons went against the free folk, and evil spirits threatened to overrun the northern kingdoms. Vassa fought valiantly, and saved many from death at the hands of Hadeth's army, but it was not enough, as the main part of the Army of Law was in the south. Then Crom came to her, and asked for her hand in marriage. This, Vassa refused, seeing that Crom did not desire her, but merely to enslave the dwarves to provide arms to his orcish hordes.

Vassa took out her whip then, and Søren came to her aid. The battle was long, for Crom is puissant of arms, but Vassa and Søren were able to drive him north into the wastes. A remnant of that battle remains, as Vassa's whip tore a large canyon into the lands east of Darkshelf, which they call Vassa's Lash. And while the northlands fell under the occupation of the devil army, yet Vassa and Søren saved many, ferrying them to Avalon, and when Sean Halospear sacrificed himself to close the gate to the abyss, the occupation ended, nor was Crom able to return.

Session 12: The Harpells invade Arden Est.

Having returned the eggs stolen from the eagles, we journeyed back to Darkshelf and found ourselves at the Golden Cockatrice for rest and recovery. There was a fair crowd that evening and I sought to regale the crowd with tales and perhaps to join another minstrel already providing song to the patrons. I was met only with scorn and contempt by this so-called "entertainer", nothing more than a tone-deaf, borish fop with more arrogance than talent. I offered to provide accompaniment for his songs but was forced off the stage when the oaf used his influence with the barkeep to prevent me from joining.

Not only were my talents rudely suppressed, I was also accosted by a thief in front of everyone, and they did nothing! The thief thought to distract me with a copper piece on the ground while he stole my pouch. I was not so easily fooled and when the scoundrel tried to get away, I used a spell to halt him. When I called the barkeep's attention to thief's actions, the barkeep and the bar patrons dismissed the incident as normal. The thief was lucky. In my country, the thief would have had his hand removed and branded for his crimes but here, they let thieves run amongst them, doing their mischief without hindrance. And they call me barbarian.

As it grew late, the tavern began to settle and, having been fatigued from our travels, we sought our rest. It was just then that the Dwarf's tankard of ale began to speak to him as if it were a man. I was horrified at such unholy magics as this. Despite my protests to not encourage the tankard to continue speaking, the dwarf parlayed with it, coming to an accord of gold and a pet bird in exchange for a service. I was dubious of what service we could provide the talking mug but it's offer of a pet bird reminded me of my beloved Svetlana and I could not refuse. The mug instructed us to order an Ivy Port from the bar to be transported to our task. Begin fatigued we resolved to begin our task in the morning.

The next morning, we ordered the Ivy Port as instructed and after taking a drink, were instantly transported by some foul magic to a mansion. Immediately upon arriving, a painting on the wall began to speak just as the tankard spoke the night before. Truly we were in some witchery. The painting, calling itself Tristan Harpell, wished for us to put some chambers of the mansion in order, saying only that we would know what was out of place when we saw it. Two keys were teleported directly into my pocket by that son of Baba Yaga painting on the wall. It would have been better to burn that witch-house to the ground but we resolved to uphold our accord.

We entered a series of chambers belonging to "Tristan's" former uncle, Siegfried Vample. We were provided a useless map, that appeared to have been annotated by a child, by a large metal suit of armor that had been animated into some sort of guardian. The terrors of this evil place would not cease. We entered a chamber marked "Swimming Pool" on the map but found it to be a library. The library appeared to be very well furnished but for one shelf which was bare. The dwarf noticed that there appeared to be a lack of astronomical knowledge conspicuously missing from the library, though we found several tomes on the table that appeared to be astronomical in nature, hinting that it was a current subject of research for Siegfried. There also appeared a journal with a mess of writing regarding a telescope that Siegfried had built using some artifact of tempered glass.

Leaving the library, we entered into what appeared to be a mechanical workshop where a number of constructs were being maintenanced by some sort of mechanical caretaker. Upon entering the chamber, all of the constructs turned on us and made for an attack. Acting quickly, I cast a spell summoning a storm of knives that cut three of mechanical horrors to ribbons. The rest were dispatched easily enough by my companions and I.

We also happened upon a room taken over by the overgrowth of poorly maintained potted trees and plants. We were confronted by an elderly man who spat something incoherent at us about not disturbing his master before transforming before our very eyes into some sort of rat demon. Immediately, swarms of rats dropped out of the floral overgrowth to come of the creature's aid. I managed to lull the swarms to sleep with a spell while my companions fought the wererat, until, in a font of holy vengeance, the paladin smote the demon a killing blow.

Next, we entered what appeared to be some sort of bedchamber with a large mirror covered by sheet against one wall. Intrigued, I examined the mirror and discovered it to be a powerful magical artifact, though I was uncertain of its nature. Pulling the sheet down, the paladin found himself attacked by a sinister clone of himself. I called upon my magic to immolate the enemy while my companions attacked the doppleganger. Upon our victory, the creature simply disintegrated, like mist, until there was nothing left of it at all. Realizing the mirror's usefulness, we resolved to take it with us. We also happened to notice that a significant portion of the mirror had been cutout and surmised this was the artifact Siegfried has used to build his telescope.

Passing through a set of double doors, we came to a large chamber with Siegfried's telescope in one corner, strangely aimed at the wall. Nearby, an adamantine door stood slightly ajar. The entire chamber was covered in cobwebs and, as we tried to clear them, we were attacked by swarms of spiders as well some bewitched spider that appeared to shift in and out of existence. Luckily, the larger spider succumbed to my magic and began to laugh hysterically and uncontrollably. While my two companions dealt with the swarms, the ranger and I pressed our attack on the larger spider. The beast continued to laugh even as it was dispatched and the spider swarms abated soon after.

Following the spider attack, we investigated the adamantine door. Finding it ajar, we decided to open it and see whither it led. As we opened it, a voice issued from the depths of the stair case the vault door had hidden. It warned that it was coming and we began to hear footsteps moving up the stairs. Moving quickly, we staged the artifact mirror we had taken from the bed chambers. We tried to lock the adamantine door with the keys we had received but neither key seemed to fit and upon trying them, and a voice emanated from the key hole, cursing "Tristan" for mixing it up with a key in the pantry, again. A minute later, the footsteps on the stairs were upon us and an ogre mage emerged from behind the adamantine door. The creature first saw its own reflection in the artifact mirror and a moment later, the ogre was in battle with a clone of itself. To avoid unnecessary injury, we allowed the creatures to wage battle against each other while we waited to dispatch the winner. After some time, the spell blasts and sounds of war fell silent. We re-entered the chamber but could find no trace of the battle that had been waged here.

It was then that two sorcerers appeared and thanked us for helping clear the suite for Tristan They related that the ogre mage emerging from the chamber set off a contingency to alert the mages to the creature's escape, whereupon the mages came to banish the creature themselves. For our troubles, the sorcerers awarded us less than half the gold Tristan had promised us, saying that we were being billed for damages to the mansion created by the ogre mage's escape, which they blamed on us, even though it was Tristan that had given us the wrong key. They then transported us back to the Golden Cockatrice and disappeared. With any luck, we will soon find that mansion and burn it to the ground as we should have from the beginning!

While they cheated us of half the gold they promised, they did hold fast to their promise of a pet bird. They provided a silver figurine of a raven which can actually transform into a real raven. I have named him Sasha. So while some good did come of our stay at the Golden Cockatrice, I must quit that cursed establishment and its wiles. I look forward to moving far beyond Darkshelf and away from this ill luck and evil witchery.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Session 11: Aerieborne

Continuing on our journey to locate the mage and inquire about the eagles' eggs, our band encountered a small group of orcs attempting to set an ambush. We managed to surprise them and pick them off in small groups. From there we were able to pick up the trail of the mage that eventually lead us to an abandoned keep.

Approaching we were hailed by two sentries holding shields with ravens adorning them. This crest belonged to a group of expansionist Vikings from an island up north that we assumed were mercenaries. Inquiring after the mage and the deal he made with another group of adventurers we were told to wait while the mage, Halam was notified of our presence. After waiting a moment we were set upon by archers and the mage. As the fight began Dyn-Bach was paralyzed and unable to help his comrades. Then, the worst happened. A pillar of ice slammed down on Dyn-Bach and several of the mage's henchmen, killing Dyn-Bach. Nevertheless, through tenacity and a rock elemental, our group was able to defeat and incapacitate their attackers. The mage was able to escape on a nightmare during the course of the battle, leaving behind his guards and any valuables in the keep.

We let the remaining captives leave without their arms or armor and decided to wait at the keep for either the return of the mage or for the arrival of the adventurers bearing the eagles' eggs. After a few days the adventurers arrived with the eggs and asked for the return of their companion that we discovered had been turned into a statue. We negotiated the exchange of their stone friend for the eagles' eggs. Having had no encounters on our way to see the eagles we were rewarded with a pendant for our efforts in returning their children.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Darkshelf is a large town in the east hills, just west of the Spire Mountains. The city is dominated by the large walls of some forgotten Solarian fortress, sacked during the Second Demon War. It is ruled by a Council of Lords, consisting of one dwarf, one human, and one orc. The townsfolk are roughly 50% orc, 40% human, and 10% dwarf, with a smattering of other races. It is rumored to be a hub for the slave trade. Though slavery is illegal in Darkshelf, it is widely suspected that the Red Hand Slavers operate a base in town to transport slaves from the coast into the Spire Mountains.

The largest temple belongs to the priesthood of Crom, who is widely worshipped by the inhabitants of the town, orc and non-orc alike. His high priest is Xanathon, who came here from Morachi some years ago. Whispers say he is immortal and cannot be killed. On the outskirts of town, near the main gate, is an arena where warriors fight for the glory of Crom and themselves.

The Golden Cockatrice dominates the night life here, with its festhall welcoming party-goers from all parts of the north. It is rumored that an anti-slavery cabal has connections here, and all find the cockatrices in the courtyard to be an amusing, if dangerous, attraction. Other features are the manor house of the noble Arquestan, next to the entrance to the inner city, and the abandoned temple on the outskirts of town.

Map copyright Dyson Logos,

Session 10: Journey to Darkshelf

Having cleared out the quarry, the party convened to discuss where to go next. Kwon said he would take the slaves to the nearby town of Darkshelf, where he could either help them find their way home, or help them establish themselves in that town. The party decided that, to help make sure the former slaves did not find themselves back in slavery, they would help escort the slaves to Darkshelf. Once there, Kwon told them to look him up if they need anything, and pointed them towards the Golden Cockatrice Inn. A friend of his, Rance Norve, is there.

The Golden Cockatrice has a large festhall on the first floor, and rooms to let on the second. Outside the inn, another blink dog was waiting for them. He barked once at Volodemir, seemingly in recognition, and then appeared to go back to sleep. Two attendants man the door, and they let the party into the hall. There are two bars, and a number of people gathered at different tables. An elf woman sticks out, studying a series of handbills tacked to a screen next to the courtyard door. A man matching the description of Rance is playing cards at one of the tables. Poorly.

Ezral went up to play cards with Rance and his friends, and was welcomed warmly. Galathil meanwhile went to see what the elven woman was looking at. There appeared to be advertisements for jobs and the like, but her face told him she didn't like what she was seeing. As he approached the courtyard door, one of the bartenders called out "If you're going into the courtyard, don't forget to stay clear of the birds!" Vovon went to the manager to see about busking in exchange for a room, and struck a deal, while Dyn-Bach, Keth Vola, and Flint got a table and some drinks. The elven woman introduced herself as Lynnya, an elven ranger, looking for work after her last adventuring party fell apart.

Rance mentioned that a friend of his to the east could use some help. "He said something about eagle eggs," Rance tells the party, "But he wasn't very specific." The party figured this would be something to do, and the next day, they headed to Jorand's Inn, a fortified inn in the foothills of the Spire Mountains. When there, they met up with Rance's friend, a taciturn dwarf named Wuoldern.  Wuoldern told them that the eggs were stolen by three humans who matched the description of an adventuring party, of four people, who stayed at the inn not too long ago.

The party asked around the inn, and discovered that the party had been talking to a mage. They rejected some sort of offer he made the previous Thursday, but came back looking for him on Saturday. One of the guards mentioned seeing the mage ride east on Tuesday. The next morning the party left, and started tracking the mage on the belief that he was the one after the eggs. After about a quarter day of travel, the mage's trail turned into the woods along a path. Upon following the path for about an hour, a harpy swooped down and attacked, but the companions were able to drive it off. They then continued north along the path, wondering what they would encounter next.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Otto's Dance All Night Long

Most people know of the archmage Otto as the creator of the spell "Otto's Irresistable Dance," but the wizard was a dance maniac, and used to spend most of his time not adventuring at the local dance hall, cutting the rug to the latest tunes. To make sure he could keep going no matter what, he developed the following spell.

Dance All Night Long
3rd Level Abjuration

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V S M (a small amount of white powder, inhaled)
Duration: Instantaneous
Classes: Wizard, Bard

Description: When you cast this spell, you get a burst of energy. All levels of exhaustion are removed. In addition, any spells, effects, or restraints, including non-magical manacles, that would cause the caster to be restrained or paralyzed are removed. (Note that the spell has a somatic component, so these restraints may affect the caster's ability to cast the spell in the first place!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Session 9: The Caverns of Darkshelf Quarry

Having cleared the entrance to the caves nestled inside of the quarry, the party decided to head further in, to try and figure out what was going on, and what the slavers were trying to achieve. They quickly met some human miners, who did not appear to be enslaved. On speaking with them, they discovered that they were just there to work, and they did not seem to know anything about the slavers. To the north the party discovered a similar group of miners, but in between the miners was a ramp that descended deeper into the earth.

Upon entering the lower level of the caverns, the path quickly turned to the left and apparently ended in a T intersection. Flint's dwarven senses revealed that there was something off about the stone wall in front of them, and further investigation revealed a secret door. Behind the secret door was an L-shaped chamber, with a bed and a desk in each corner of the L. At one desk was a priest of Hadeth, goddess of madness and imprisonment. The party surprised the priest and quickly killed him. Searching the room, they found a small amount of treasure under one of the beds. Surmising from the fact of the two beds that there was a second priest, the party lay in wait for him for a couple hours, but he did not come. They then followed the corridor out of the chamber, and to what appeared to be a guardpost guarded by six kobolds, who were swiftly killed.

Past the guardpost, the party found what appeared to be a sanctuary dominated by a large dais bearing a stone pillar topped by a pyramid with four eyes. In this chamber, the other priest called for an attack, and two strange creatures he called 'mudtigers' crawled out of the ooze behind the dais to engage the party. They looked like a cross between a shark and an aquatic lizard. The party was shocked to find that the mudtiger emanated a magnetic field, causing metal weapons to be difficult to wield, though it had no effect on the priest's stone mace. They could also emit a burst of energy. But with difficulty, the party was able to kill the evil cleric and his pets.

The party continued down the corridor, past a trash chute, to a locked door. When they tried to pick the lock, a quickly stabbing spear convinced them it was a bad idea, and they went to find an alternate route. They found a passage leading south, into what appeared to be kobold barracks. The ten kobolds there were no match for the party, who were able to continue on to a ramp that lead into the deepest part of the caverns. In the next room, there were two doors, each one with three keyholes. While the party was trying to figure out what to do with the keyholes, they were attacked by a water weird. They defeated the water weird, and are now trying to figure out what to do next.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Session 8: Assault on Darkshelf Quarry

The party began where they left off, at the top of the tower. They found that the southern room was full of slaves so they freed them and left the wizard and paladin to tend to them and keep them from alarming the rest of the keep, while studying the elf's spellbook.

They proceeded downstairs, Flint leading the way and they ambushed a group of 6 human guards in their barracks. As they were finishing the last two, their sergeant came up behind Volodemir but he too was taken down. Searching the men they found some keys and then opened the footlockers of the various guards. In the sergeant's room, Flint noticed a false stone beneath the bed. Below, there was a chest which the sergeant's key opened. They gathered the treasure, then continued exploring. After finding many empty sleeping chambers and a door they deduced led to the outside bridge which crossed the moat. 

They found a kitchen with 4 women working and a large female half-orc with a whip and a cleaver menacing them. The party took out the beastly woman quickly and brought the slaves upstairs after asking them about the layout of the guardhouse. Unfortunately, the slaves knew little of what might lie below. The kitchen had a small trapdoor from which water was fetched via crank and bucket. Opening the trapdoor, there was also a ladder within leading down into water. Flint climbed down into the darkness and found the water to only be a few feet deep and a gentle slope leading out of the water. He signaled up to the rest to follow. Below, they found a large open cavern. The rear, where they emerged, contained a forge, and the bugbear attacked! The party was easily able to subdue him and his pesky goblin slave. The majority of the cavern was devoted to a stable, and the exit lead into the quarry proper.

Once in the quarry, they could see the opening to a mine on the western side. Exploring the underground cavern, they came upon a brace of goblins with a barely tamed warg. As the party was putting down the weak goblins in hopes of freeing/taming the warg, it snuck around behind them via an adjacent tunnel and started attacking Volodemir. Regretfully, they ended its life as well and began to reconnoiter the remainder of the cave system.

Monday, September 19, 2016

House Rule: Preparing Spells

The new Sage Advice from Wizards of the Coast came out today, and they noted something about spell preparation I dislike.
Can spellcasters prepare spells not all at once, but prepare spells at various times in the day? You prepare your list of spells only at the end of a long rest. You can’t prepare some spells at the end of the rest and then prepare more later.
This seems needlessly strict, and I don't know that there's any good in game reason for it. Sure, for clerics you can say that their deity wants prayers at dawn, or midnight, but that seems awfully small minded for most gods, and doesn't make sense for wizards. So here's the house rule:
Can spellcasters prepare spells not all at once, but prepare spells at various times in the day? Yes. During the day, a spellcaster can use a short rest to prepare new spells in slots she has available.
That should provide some flexibility, while the hour rest requirement prevents it from being misused. In my experience in 3rd edition, it was rare you wanted to leave a slot open in any case, so I'm not too worried about abuse.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Session 7: Gnolls among Knolls

Gylthiel and her goblin guards, in happier times
After reacquainting themselves with Elven wizard Galathil, and catching one another up on what they'd been up to, the party decided to continue tracking the orcs that had been involved with the slaving business.
Moving around the countryside, they eventually came upon a number of small hillocks that Flint recognized as barrows. Spotting a glyph but not being able to read the language, they decided that between the barrows seemed like a decent place to rest for the night. After Flint and Galathil waited through the first uneventful watch and had settled in for some rest, all of a sudden, Ezral Dawn shouted something about gnolls and the party woke up and started fighting.

The two sides seemed fairly equally matched, with a lot of swinging and missing on both sides, with Dyn-Bach and Flint seeming to find it difficult to shake off their slumber. Volodemir incapacitated a gnoll with laughter while Ezral was playing cat and mouse, firing and drawing another into a ranged battle. After several rounds of back and forth, during which Flint was repeatedly battered despite his shield of faith, the gnolls were dispatched and the party searched them, found nothing, and disappointedly went back to bed.

After researching the spell, Galathil cast comprehend languages and realized that the ancient rune warned of possible unrestful dead within. Flint suggested helpfully translating the warning to prevent less cautious souls from accidentally releasing something into the wilderness.

Back on the trail, they soon ran into a group of horsemen with large feathery standards. Drawing closer, the group identified themselves as knights of Fogelon, led by sergeant Sir Joseph. They were hunting a group of gnolls and were pleased to hear that the party had taken some out. The knights did not know where the orcs the party was tracking had gone, but wished them good luck. The two groups professed their appreciation for one another's missions and the knights told of their keep of the Falcon a week's ride to the west.

Picking up the trail again, the party came to a river, and the tracks continued North, downriver. Eventually, despite their quickened pace, they spotted a large gatehouse without being seen themselves. Deciding that reconnaissance was in order, and tired from the march, they rested until dark, then approached stealthily to give Ezral a chance to infiltrate and discover the defenses. Avoiding the bridge to the main gates, Ezral leapt the moat, scaled the wall and found himself atop the roof. He spotted 4 figures in the darkness looking out and some doors leading inside. Satisfied that he had found an alternate entrance, he returned to guide the party up the rope he had left hanging.

In a rare show of group stealth, the party managed to gain access to the roof without alerting any guards. What followed was a keenly organized and effective takedown of three groups of goblins who were serving as lookouts. First, Volodemir put 3 of 4 from the first group to sleep and Ezral killed the other with a single shot before the others hit the ground.

This was repeated on the second group of four to the south, with Dyn-Bach dealing a killing blow before the surprise was forfeited. Finally, the third group was taken out in similar fashion. With the roof secure, the party began peeping in some windows.

Entering the main hall, Flint peeked around the corner and found the room unoccupied. He opened the door to a room they were confident was unoccupied (via peeping) and had a bit of a rummage in the furs. He found a locked box that Ezral opened to reveal a great cache of platinum and gems.  Impressed with their newfound wealth, they explored further, and heard some noise behind one door. Flint opened it to find 2 bugbears. Erzal plugged one straight through the heart, and the rest of the group attacked the second. Unfortunately, it was still able to call out to warn someone "Gylthiel! Intruders!" before he too was silenced forever.

Waiting inside the room, ready to ambush whoever came to answer the call, the least hardy of the party felt the sudden need for sleep. However, one by one, the elven waking sleep of Galathil, Ezral, and Dyn-Bach kept them from succumbing. Volodemir, however, passed out. Someone, presumably Gylthiel, ordered the remaining members of the party to come out. After waking Volodemir, Flint armed himself with some zombie powder in order to effectively render the potentially powerful magic user feeble minded. He walked out to find an attractive female elf who asked him what was going on. In response he turned her into a mindless maniac. She clobbered him and was taken out by Dyn-Bach. Finding her spellbook, the party pondered who they had just attacked, why, and what to do next.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Session 6: Spider fiends and zombie frauds

The exploration of the cave was largely uneventful. There were spiders and goblins, but the part was able to fight their way through with little difficulty. In the rear of the cave, they found the beast they were searching for. It was a spider the size of a dog, and it had the head of a wolf. When it saw the party, it dropped a globe of darkness over them and proceeded to slash with its claws and bite with its teeth. The party, however, was able to quickly injure the spider fiend quite badly, and it teleported away, crying "My lord Miska will hear about this!" The party shrugged and headed back to Neufeld to tell the miner's that the mine was clear.

Once back in town, the party was accosted by a zombie running suddenly out of a house in the slums. Startled, they barely have time to grasp for their weapons before a woman runs out of the house yelling, "That's no zombie, that's my brother!" With the help of the party, Ulrike is able to get her brother back into the house. Hansel looks and acts just like an actual zombie, but on closer examination, he is still alive. Ulrike explains that Hansel had the pox, and a priest came by to treat him. Unfortunately, she doesn't remember the priest's name. Further investigation in the marketplace leads to the discovery that there were three other houses whose inhabitants had been treated for the pox recently.

In the first house lies Ernest, chained to his bed. His mother Nelda tells the party that the priest Bombulus came by to cure Ernest's sickness. At the next house, Michael says his wife had the pox, and a priest treated her with a white powder. Volodemir recognizes the white powder as not only a standard cure for the pox, but also was used on some southern islands as "zombie powder". He notes that the cure for zombie powder is rose hips. So the party was able to go to the market and get some rose hips, which cured the former pox patients! That being dealt with, they went to the temple to find Bombulus.

When they found Bombulus, he was deeply apologetic, and offered to give the party the zombie powder. However, when he brought it in front of him, he sneezed, and the powder went everywhere! Fortunately, Volodemir still had some rose hips, and so was able to cure Bombulus in short order.

Session Five: The Heist

This time around our adventures return from there preemptive scouting of the orc camp that lies a decent distant down the river. Finding their way back to the Sign of Xorn they turn in for the night. The rogue awakens to the sound of a note sliding underneath his door frame. The note reads “Steal a painting called The Betrayal of Haradon from the miner’s guild”. The rogue Ezral thinks carefully on the request and mulls over how he should proceed. The information that thieves guild could provide would be invaluable but there relations with the miner’s guild were also just budding, getting caught could jeopardize their future in the town. “I guess getting caught is not option” the rogue thought to himself. This job would naturally be easier with some help, Volodimir the bard was a natural choice. After discussing the matter some more, the two decided on a plan. Volodimir would find a way to weave himself into the good graces of the miner’s guild and that would give them a man on the inside. It was easy enough with the help of Flint Forgehammer the cleric to get Volodimir a job playing music and telling stories in the guilds common area. It was a good gig that payed and the layout of the guild was now open to his disposal. After a couple of performances, Volodimir was able to pinpoint where the art gallery was and knew when the guild would be the busiest. We needed a lot of potential suspects around so in this case the more the merrier. Finally the two decided on one particularly busy night to strike. Volodimir set out for the guild hall along with Flint and Keth the barbarian. Volodimir was set for a big audience and Flint had managed to arrange an interview for the barbarian for some potential mining work. Ezral waited at the Sign of Xorn pretending to drink himself into the midst of a hangover so that he would have a clean alibi.

At the hall a majority of the guild was in attendance. The hall was packed with miners of all shapes and sizes all marked by the typical shade of soot and ash that comes with their work. It only took minutes for the festivities to begin. Volodimir spouted off story after story as miners rapidly drained there flagons. Following along in the shadows, Ezral made his way to a secluded back door that Volodimir had noticed during an earlier stake out. After long hours of picking locks as a thieving runt in his past Ezral made quick work of this lock. The room that he stepped into was shadowy and dark. From  looking at the bags of flours, extra dining chairs and meat hooks around the small room it was apparent he had made his way to into the back room of a kitchen. Moving swiftly through the house Ezral moved from the kitchen into the dining area eventually stopping at a door that lead out into the guild lobby. Peeking through the cracked door way he could see two guards standing post in front of the arch that led to the hallway where Volodimir said the art gallery sat. With a flick of his wrist and some nimble feet it was all too easy to make it past as the two guards moved momentarily to inspect a single gold coin thrown ever so slightly so that it landed with a ding at the entrance to the guild. Slinking past the guards into the enclosed hallway Ezral could now see the four large statues that marked the entrance to the art gallery. Being almost directly under common area now, he could hear the heartily engaged miners upstairs.

“You whore!!!” he could hear Volodimir shout mid story.

“That’s what I said to that massive spider”

Ezral proceeded to the door of the art gallery, confident that the guild was distracted enough. Apparently the story distracted more than just miners though as a sharp jarring pain raced up Ezral’s hand that almost caused him to yell out. He had absent mindedly triggered a spring loaded needle trap rigged inside the lock of the door, next time he would remember to check the door for traps. Shrugging off the stinging feeling in his hand the rogue pressed forward into the art gallery. Inside he found all manners of classical paintings, carefully crafted dwarven carvings in marble and other trinkets but after an extended look he could not find the specific painting that had been requested of him. This baffled the rogue. Where could the painting be? Was there a hidden safe he was missing or had it been moved? His thought was interrupted by the pounding of the guild residents on the floor above him as dust rained from the ceiling. Then it came to him, where was the only other place that would be safer for a painting then the art gallery? … The guild master’s room. Ezral slinked back into the hall way and slowly made his way up the stairs. The sounds of the party were very distinct at this point. Once on the second floor it was not hard to find the guild master’s quarters. With a quick pick of the lock, making sure to check for traps this time around he made his way into the unoccupied room. There on the wall was the painting that had been requested buy thieves guild. Carefully pulling a dagger from its sheath he cut the painting from its frame and stowed it in his bag. Making his way from the guild hall, Ezral turned his prize into the fence that had helped broker his newly found relationship with the thief’s guild.

The next day the party made there exit from the town to take on their next quest. Rumor had it that a cave nearby was home to a demon. It was time to find out. On the way to the demon possessed mine, the group scattered a small gang of kobolds. They also encountered a pack of blink dogs that were clearly intelligent but did not share a common language with the party. Nevertheless they followed Volo west. They then arrived before the foreboding cave.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Session 4: You otter've thought twice

Flint and his daring companions once again found themselves back in Neufeld, nursing some gallantly gained wounds and seeking new wrongs to right. Some general questioning about who was actually in charge led us to four places, the thieve's guild, the temple of Fayon, the miner's guild, and the local land baron/founding farmer. Our acquisitive ally looked in on his underworldly counterparts, attempting to advance himself within their organization but came up short. One of the priests mentioned that a body had been found drained of blood to the east. The party found the body, and determined it had been attacked by a giant spider. The Daring Companions tracked the spider to its lair, a webbing filled hole in the plains. It was difficult to fight in that cavern, but they were able to defeat the spider and ensure it wouldn't kill again.

A request for an audience with the guild leadership of the miner's guild was all but rebuffed. They indicated they didn't have any trouble they were unable to deal with at the time. However, eager to gain influence, the keepers of the gate as it were asked us to do a favor for the farmers in their name.

Arriving at the Steinwachs' estate, which seemed pleasant if not opulent, the reward for a generation's worth of landscape taming. After rumors of this family's purchase of martial gear, the party was curious. Apparently, the sons of the patriarch were being beset by trouble from some kobolds and particularly a giant otter. One of the scions had apparently been taken by it of late and we were sent to determine his whereabouts and rescue him.

The other son took us down river on a raft ride which was punctuated briefly by a sling stone from a kobold who then shortly found himself punctuated with a full stop by way of an arrow to the face. This brief diversion was scarcely over when a giant wasp attacked the party, only to be fended off and fly away.

Arriving at the last known location of the son, we found some giant weasel tracks and a large cave. Deciding to skip the cave in favor of finding the possibly captive son, we pursued the tracks. Eventually we found a band of kobolds fighting some goblins. One appeared to be a shaman controlling the otter! Trying to sneak up on the groups while letting them kill one another, they were eventually alerted and the spells and arrows flew and the swords were swung. Eventually, when one of the kobolds of a more shamanic persuasion was slain, the great beast, freed from its control fled upriver faster than we could pursue. Searching the body of the shaman, the Companions found a note that looked like a request for the shaman to return to "the Roost".

On the way back, we explored the large cave only to find a giant spider laying in wait. After dispatching it, we found the corpse of the erstwhile monster hunting son of Steinwachs. Returning to the estate with the body in tow, Flint delivered an impromptu eulogy, and the party stayed the night with the mourners.

In the morning the party returned to the miner's guild, eager to find out what news this latest alliance might yield.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Session 3: House of Kobolds

We pick up as our lofty adventures head out from town to dispatch of another rumored nest of kobolds held up somewhere in the hills to the west. Before leaving town the party expends some acquired gold to purchase some oil, herbs that can stave off some minor poisons and physical wounds.

After about a 6 mile trek we make it to the remains of a left over manor marked by a shallow creek. Thanks to the dwarves long cultural relationship with stone we can tell that the foundation of this building was constructed by humans before the 2nd demon war, unimpressive by Dwarven standards but sturdy enough for kobolds. We don’t bother to knock. Instead our barbarian friend put his foot through the front door. Walking into the first chamber we see 4 kobolds spread throughout the corners of the room. The cleric, paladin and barbarian all manage to dispatch there kobolds without fail. The bard and rogue however both struggle momentarily allowing the 4th kobold to drop a chandelier on their heads before being cut down. The paladin and cleric quickly take care of everyone's wounds as we delved further into the manor.

Moving further into the manor we encounter more treacherous obstacles. The cleric falls into a pit inlayed with spikes right before we encounter three more kobolds. This time there is a shaman amongst them. Prioritizing defense against any potential magic assault we quickly dispatch the mage first via a volley of arrows from the party. A quick death is dealt out to the last two kobolds.  The shaman carried a scroll that referenced "the bird's roost" and appeared to lay out a secret path to another kobold lair.

Eventually the party is able to make its way through the manor out into a central courtyard. The courtyard is a wide open grassy space that has two buildings stationed at the center. Entering the first building after making sure to check the door for traps, we find a large open cathedral with a chest in the center. Taking point the rogue checks it for traps but fails to notice the skittering sounds coming from within. As the latch open, a large spider lunges out attempting to take a piercing stab at the rogue’s hand. Narrowly dodging, the party quickly squashes the threat. In the 2nd building a similar chest is found. The party learning from there recent experience opens this one more cautiously. Inside they find some gold , two apparently magical stones and a potion that cannot be identified.

Ready to leave the courtyard the party notices a large opening in the exterior wall of the manor on the opposite side of the courtyard. Scouting for danger they pick up the sounds of several kobolds along with what seem to be hunting dogs coming from inside the building. The cleric takes some of the oil purchased from town and spreads it across the floor of the entrance in preparation for battle. In an awkward display, the bard and barbarian combine there drum and pan flute skills to make probably the most notable performance that any kobold has been privy to. The party takes up ambush position around the entrance waiting for any curious kobolds. One kobold emerges….. Whack…. a second follows….. Whack again. The first one falls with easy as the barbarian clocks him before any warning can be sounded. We are not so luck with the second. The kobold manages to give out a warning howl before having his skull caved in. The response is immediate. Rocks fired from slings come flying through the hole in the wall skirting past different party members. The bard catches a direct hit that momentarily puts him unconcious. The paladin quickly brings him back into the fight as the rest of the part return fire unleashing more arrows into the dark of the building. Three large hound flood out of the building next racing towards the party. The cleric lying in wait ignites the oil that have preemptively placed and two of the three go up in flames as one makes it to the front line of the fight. All three dogs are quickly put down as the party pushes forward. Arrows and rocks are continuously exchanged until the bard cast his signature sleep spell to seal the victory for the party. The remainders are quickly put down as the party quickly clears the rest of the manor before heading back to the town to relay the fate of the kobolds.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Herbs and the Man

I don't like running a campaign where magic items are generally available for sale, especially in 5e. So when one of my players asked if potions of healing were available to be bought at the local temple. I told him that they were not, not unless the temple had a higher opinion of them than they do. I stand by this decision. It helps keep potions special, and gives them an incentive to help out the nice priests of Fayon. But some healing that didn't come from the cleric or paladin could be helpful. So, as I often do, I stole a page from Adventurer Conqueror King. The following herbs are available for sale at the local market for 10gp a dose. They may be used immediately after combat (or during combat), but only once per character. It requires a trained Healing or Survival check at DC 10 to gain the benefits of each herb.

Woundwort: After the First Demon War, the elves brought gifts to men to atone for their crimes. Among their gifts was woundwort, a balm for the injured. To this day, images of the plant are often used when elves and men undertake ventures jointly. When crushed and applied to a wound, it reduces swelling and quickens healing. Once per combat, an application of woundwort will heal 1d4 hit points.

Yellowroot: When Alexander was hunting the great wyrm Scatha, he of the
poisonous bite, a nymph maiden showed him this plant, which grew only in the deepest parts of the great swamp Gwaithe. Upon returning to Lyonia, he planted the seeds widely, and it can now be found across Arden Est. Once per combat, an application of Yellowroot will cure 1d6 hit points of poison damage. If given as a tea to an individual making saves against a poison, it will give them advantage on those saves.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Session 2: Ipso Cocklorum

Picking up where we left off, the party entered the next room and immediately came upon a kobold staring down at them from a ledge 10-20 feet above. When the little bugger didn't immediately run to raise an alarm, the party realized the kobold was already dead, though the rogue put an arrow in him for good measure. Upon closer examination, we found that the kobold had actually been ritually crucified, with his heart, eyes, and tongue removed. Very grisly indeed. We later found the organs in a bowl before a slab of black stone in the center of the room, where it appeared the organs had been harvested from the victim if the large knife there was any indication.

I'm still not sure how but the paladin somehow noticed a secret door to a hidden room. Inside, we found a small bedchamber. It was meager by any civilized standards but rather luxuriously appointed, with a bed, blankets, and a small chest, for a kobold. After a bit of a mishap with the spring loaded needle trap on the chest, the rogue was able to crack it open. Inside was a silver dagger, a gem, and a scroll written in some unintelligible undercommon tongue.

As the coterie was about to ascend the stairs at the far side of the room, we were ambushed by a pair of kobolds who appeared at the top. After a brief scuffle, the rogue managed to dispatch the two in short order.

Ascending the stairs, we found a set of cages where 3 of the farmer's chickens cowered. Unfortunately, several more cages were already empty. All indications, from the blood and feathers around the area, were that the missing chickens had met with some unfortunate end. Continuing onward, we found a corridor leading a large set of double doors. Contrary to the primitive construction in the rest of the cavern, the doors were well made and somewhat ornate. The paladin was good enough to alert us all to a pit trap en route to the doors by falling into it but came out of the pit relatively unscathed.

Reaching the doors, we opened them to find a long corridor lined with columns. At the far end, in a rectangular chamber, a kobold shaman chanted over a large sarcophagus and altar while fondling a terrified chicken. Five kobolds attended the shaman's ceremony along with what appeared to be 3 mutated, demonic chickens. Horrifying beasts.

No sooner had we entered the room than the kobolds and demon chickens began an all out assault. The dwarf, stalwart as ever, moved forward to engage the infantry while the rogue fired an arrow that caught the shaman in the shoulder. The shaman, in retaliation, croaked a spell to try to chain the rogue in place with his will alone. Luckily, the rogue was able to resist the shaman's feeble spell and kept his wits about him. While one of the demonic chickens pecked at the ground rather menacingly, the other two moved forward to attack the dwarf. As strong as steel he may be but the dwarf was nearly brought low by one of the chicken's talons that landed fortuitously against him. Acting quickly, the paladin managed to save the dwarf from the brink of oblivion by laying hands. And then I intoned a quick spell that managed to send all but one each of the kobolds and the demon chickens into magical slumber. The party quickly dispatched the chicken and kobold still conscious before putting an end to the others, save the shaman, who was bound for questioning. Approaching the altar, we were overwhelmed by the feeling of evil emanating from the shrine. While the dwarf set about desecrating and dismantling the altar, the paladin and rogue questioned the shaman and I comforted the terrified chicken rescued from the shaman, whom I have named Svetlana. It seems the shaman had been dedicated to some obscure demon which he was trying to summon into our world using the chickens as conduit. The three demon chickens we destroyed were failed subjects but the shaman was adamant that dear Svetlana would have been a fitting vessel for his abyssal patron had we not interfered. The shaman related that he had learned the bizarre ritual from the scroll we had obtained, which he said he received from an orc slaver in trade. We dared not ask him what he traded for such a foul instrument. On the shaman we found a note, telling him to return to Vulture's Roost.

Following his interrogation, for his crimes, we ended the shaman and withdrew from the cavern, Svetlana and her sister hens safely in our keeping. The farmer was overjoyed at the return of his flock, and though it was difficult to part with Svetlana, we could rest easy that she was in good hands. Staying the night at the farmer's homestead, we recounted our adventure and also inquired after reports of slavers in the area, as both the scroll and the attack in Neufeld seemed to be pushing us to address the slavery problem in the area. Unfortunately, the farmer was able to give no further guidance beyond stating the orc slavers were to the north.

Returning to Neufeld, we made further inquiries into the slave trade in the area and also heard rumors of another nest of kobolds to the west or southwest. The rogue managed to fence the gems and make connections to the local thieves guild in Neufeld, who had no great love for the slavers in the area. Unfortunately, so far, we have been unable to uncover much information about the slave trade but we're seeking the kobolds in the meantime.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Biography: Ezral Dawn

Born Earendel Mithrilvari, Ezral Dawn comes from a clan of wood elves that go by the name the “Taldori Moon”. The Taldori Moon is made up of a smattering of heroic elven families who participated heavily in the 2nd demon wars. Elven communities typical have a small population of elven children at any given time due to the long lived nature of their race so usually there child hood is carefully watched over but Ezral's generation is a special case. Ezral grew up in the midst of a war that threatened his people’s existence. As a child he watched many elves lose their lives including the live of his parents. The Taldori Moon are master spies and assassins at their core, well versed in the art of infiltration, information gathering, and the art of death. During the time of the 2nd Demon war the Taldori played a major role in gathering information and exterminating key individuals who left to prosper would surely mean more elven deaths. The philosophy of the Taldori states that for every Taldori that falls 100 more elven souls are allowed to live. Many Taldori agents found cruel untimely deaths that often (due to the nature of their work) would never make it back to the ears of the people they sought to protect. Ezral's parents were no exception to this rule, falling tragically during the war so that their son and many more could hold on to the future not promised.

This loss at an early age has very much shaped Ezral life. He holds his parents sacrifice deep in his heart and strives to live up to their heroic example even if the rest of the world lives on in blissful ignorance, a fact which deep down tears him apart. Any youth that lost family in that age was adopted by the clan and was provided a future. Taken under the wing of the clan elders Ezral sought to learn the path of the blade that his parents made legendary. He trained long and hard hours with his teacher Ilmadia Yelxalim (An elven woman who fought alongside his parents and took him under her wing in the absence of his parents) and soon came to established himself as a prodigy. Even though the war was over the death toll had left the Taldori fearful that any repeat of such an event could prove disastrous. With that mindset the elders set out to establish a far reaching network of spies across the land with the intent that should ever the scourge that provoked Demon Wars arise again they would know in time to warn the powers of the world and summon them to battle. Eventually he graduated to field work. He left Shadow Haven and adopted the alias Ezral Dawn. Over time he moved from city slum to city slum working as an agent, infiltrating crime syndicates and black market gangs, acting only when appropriate but always keeps his ears tuned for the most vital of information. After a decade of low level missions Earendel received a raven enlisting him to travel north to an area where elven ears failed to reach. Earendel under the guise of Ezral Dawn now travels into the unknown north to seek his fate.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Biography: Volodemir

Volodemir is not a typical bard. He hails from an island in the north famed for its skalds, but Volodemir sought a new tradition. From a young age, he traveled the free nations, learning what he could. Volodemir is charismatic and handsome, though he's easily marked as an outlander by his broad features and bright red hair. His presence and appearance, as well as his skaldic performance, so different from the typical bard in Arden Est, gives him an almost exotic, if rugged, appeal among the civilized. He's smart so he's been able to adapt to civilization but he still has many quirks, sayings, and superstitions, like spitting on his hand and flicking his fingers three times to ward off ill luck. Some say he has more in common with the orcs than the free nations.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Biographies: Galathil

Galathil, an Elven Wizard, is still rather young at just over 100 years. As a high elf he spent most of his early years reciting poetry, and learning the tradition elven arts of the sword and bow. While this training was often interrupted by a couple years of wandering or carousing here and there it was soon recognized that he might have a talent for the magic.

He then spent the next several decades as an apprentice to a sage, here he learned all of the basics the high elves consider necessary before starting learning any magic, history, medicine, and of course basic arcana. Then began his formal wizard training. Unlike some of the other young wizards he kept himself in practice with his sword, always finding it interesting to mix magic with the physical. And while some other races might find it tedious to train for so long, the high elves believe everything should be done in a very measured and methodical manner and as a bonus it keeps a young immature elf occupied for 20 years or so.

Once he demonstrated the mastery of basic spells he was no longer considered an apprentice and give more free reign to move about. Being cooped up in rather old musty library had put a bit of wanderlust into Galathil so he decided he'd try to find some other uses for his magic out in the world, and hopefully do some good.

He left his home and meandered helping out where he could, and although it may not have been the intended result, his spells did resolve the cat episode one way or another.

Biographies: Dyn-Bach

Dyn-Bach, paladin of Fayon, is possibly the youngest member of the group. As an infant he was found abandoned outside of a temple of Fayon. The brothers took him in and raised his as one of their own. Being smaller than a human boy of his age, the brothers gave him the name of Dyn-Bach and taught him the ways of Fayon. As a red-haired child, the brothers assumed that one of his parents might be from the lands beyond their borders but no one will ever know for sure.

Dyn-Bach has had a wander lust all his life but also the drive to be a paragon of his religion. When the opportunity arose for him to squire to a holy knight of Fayon he jumped at the chance. Sadly, this knight went missing before he could begin his training. The brothers and warriors of the area taught him all that they could in Religion, Medicine and Fighting. Reaching the age of twenty, Dyn-Bach decided that he would find the knight that has spread the word of Fayon across the land and help him in his quest to enlighten the world. Though he has no idea if the knight is alive or dead, he has received a divine calling that he must continue in his footsteps. Given the blessing of his leaders he has set off to accomplish this task.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Biographies: Flint Forgeflame

Flint Forgeflame is a graying cleric of Adreham. Flint spent about 50 years pursuing childish/adolescent dwarven pursuits, like exploratory mining instead of working an established vein in the hopes of getting lucky.

He then buckled down and spent 50 years as an apprentice blacksmith, making shoes for the donkeys that worked the mines and high end pots and pans. He spent his 100s as a journeyman, cranking out bulk orders of swords for the armies and overseeing some smaller projects, while sometimes being allowed to try making pommels and grips for masterwork weapons. When he became a master at 200, he joined the smith's guild, and over the years rose in the ranks, and even became an ambassador of sorts to the central guild for about a decade or two. At about 250, he began to train a student or two a decade. On the eve of his 299th birthday, he had a vision in a dream which caused him to rethink his remaining years. He has spent the last year liquidating his assets, donating most to the church after ensuring that his 3 children and 5 grandchildren are well taken care of.

Though he was always a believer, a combination of the vision and his impending old age have made him more devout. He has spent a great deal of time discussing his life and current situation with his local spiritual advisers and training to venture into the wild in pursuit of expanding civilization. He has learned the healing arts and though he's not as strong as he was in his prime, his hammering arm has learned new techniques more suited for crushing the skulls and ribs of the unholy than those untempered masses of red hot steel.

Chances are, his mark or the mark of one of his apprentices is on at least one piece of equipment floating around the party. If not, he knows he could fix their gear if he had the time and stability, but Fayon only gave him so many breaths, so he's going to make his mark on the world while he can by taming the wilderness in the name of Adreham.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Journey North Session One: Oh Gawd, my chickens!

The Temple of Adreham, aka La Cattolica di Stilo
[Note: unfortunately, due to last minute planning, I neglected to gather the names of the PCs, so this is going to be a little bit awkward. I'll have another post later this week with backgrounds from the players who sent them to me, and hopefully by next week I'll have them down.]

It started, as these things usually do, in an inn. The group had just arrived in Neufeld from Obertor, and found a place to stay called the Sign of the Xorn. It was on a small square in the middle of a maze of poorly built houses, but was itself surprisingly nice. Or, at least, snug and dry. At a loss for exactly what to do next, they split the party. Flint Flameforge and Dyn-Bach went to the temple of Adreham to see what the priests knew, while the bard busked in the market and the thief and the barbarian explored the warren of homes around the inn. The busking was uneventful, but the thief and the barbarian were set upon by slavers, apparently interested in "recruiting" them. The barbarian was able to occupy all three, taking hits like it was nothing, while the thief used his bow to take one down. He then spoke in thieves cant, telling the slavers to leave them alone. Already frightened by the death of their friend, they agreed, and ran off.

The two religious men had better luck at the temple. There, they met a young priest named Max, who asked for their help. There was a farm outside of town owned by Phineas Filson, and he apparently had his chickens stolen by some kobolds. When the party gathered at the Sign of the Xorn that night, they agreed that it sounded like a worthy quest.

They left the next morning and found Phineas's farm with ease. There, they met the young farmer with an excellent goatee, and listened to him tell about his plight. Fortunately, the kobold tracks were easy to follow, and let the party right to the cave where they were holed up. Once inside, they first went to the left, where they turned back after noticing a terrible stench. The other path led to a side cave where some kobolds had set up their sleeping quarters. These were quickly dealt with, and the party turned to go deeper into the cave...

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Arden Est: Journey to the North. Session 1.

The affair with the cats is one best forgotten, but it brought you to the attention of the local constable, who suggested that you head north to Obertor. "The Marschall is looking for good men, they're sayin'. Might be he could use some like you too." The town was feeling small anyway, and so you went north to seek your fortune. Or perhaps you were a wanderer, journeying across the lands still bearing the scars, now fading, of the Second Demon War, when you came across a fortress perched like a bird above a pass leading either into the lands of Fogelon, or the forested wilderness to the north. Or you were part of the army, and when the Marschall offered release from your vows, you jumped at the chance.

Whatever the case, you were in Obertor seven nights ago, and so when Feldmarschall Hubertus was looking for volunteers, you stepped up. "We have a problem, gentlemen. You know Neufeld, yes? It is a small town across the border, nominally part of our kingdom, but largely left to its own devices, as long as it pays its taxes. These payments have grown intermittent lately, and as of six months ago, have stopped entirely. We need men to go in and find out why, and ensure the taxes resume flowing south. Afterwards, you should stay in the north. We hope to have a more substantial presence there, and could use men familiar with the terrain. Questions." His tone did not suggest questions were welcome, and so one week later, you found yourselves in Neufeld.

It's not a bad town. The first thing you notice is the gate, which is flanked by two stone towers. The remainder of the palisade is still wood, but far more formidable than you would have expected. Your first sight on entering the town is a muddy field to the right, and a small farm on the left. About 100 yards from the gate, the first townhouses appear. These are two stories, and stone, with a square in front that leads to the Temple of Fayon. On the east side of town, the buildings are less nice, made of wood, and the way they lean in together combined with the narrow alleys suggests a warren of rats. You'd guess there are about 75 families living in the town, all told. You find a place at the Sign of the Xorn, and start to discuss your next move.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

New Campaign!

Ryanna, goddess of love and war
After running Princes of Elemental Evil for a bit, and playing in a very fun Castle of the Mad Archmage campaign, I'm going to start running my own campaign. It's set in a wild region north of Fogelon, reputed to be largely empty of civilization. Fogelon wants this to change, and so is sending adventuring parties to explore and map the region. There is one known village in the region, the village of Neufeld. Neufeld's mines are an important source of copper for Fogelon, but there have been few copper traders coming through lately. The party's first priority, then, should be reaching Neufeld and finding out what happened to the traders. Following that, they should explore as they see fit.

In addition to a lot of homebrew plots, I'm using the Slaver modules and the Rod of Seven Parts campaign to structure the adventure. There's plenty of room to explore, and the players are free to do as they see fit. On the other hand, areas are not generally labeled as to what levels they are intended for, so they'll need to make sure they don't bite off more than they can chew! If you are in the DC area and are interested, shoot me a line.