Cataclysm of the Primordial Orders

Home Dungeons and Dragons Cataclysm of the Primordial Orders

Session 36 – Chapter One

24th of Kythorn of the year 1492

With the meals and drinks mostly completed, the party began some information sharing with the two new members as well as with each other with what they had found recently.  Ace brought up that they had not seen nor heard about anything related to a fire cult but had about the other three assuming the Feathergale Knights were related to the air cult. Everyone had to pause as the sound of a huge storm outside started up.  They could hear the thunder and the bright light of the lightning was striking somewhat near.  The heavy rain drops smashed against the windows making for a loud constant noise in the background.

They also began to put together a set of questions for Dhelosk as well as where they might head off to in the morning.  Trying to figure out how small each group would break up into to cause as much confusion as possible. With those decisions completed most of the group went up to their rooms leaving Yllanys down chatting with Gwendolyn as well as Fwoosh and Ace playing cards and Dancer stayed in the dining area to see if he could catch any talk that was interesting.  

The only thing of interest he overheard was that it seems that the number of bandit attacks had decreased significantly in the last month, which made all the merchants happy because that made the roads safer, and they would be able to get their good through safely. Without any juicy gossip available, he also headed up to his room.

No matter which game they played, Ace was a horrible player and could not win a single hand. He lost all his gold, and then silver and every time he ran out of coin, Fwoosh would push over all that he had won from Ace so they could play some more. This continued for a few hours with the transfer of Ace’s coin back and forth several times until they too got tired and headed off to their rooms.

The discussion between Gwendolyn and Yllanys covered a lot of area, but she kept bringing the topic back to the Mirabar delegation and seemed less interested in the cultists that he had brought up. Yllanys was able to get a little more background on Dhelosk. Once Yllanys completed his flirting and headed over to the Helm at Highsun.

While there he got another drink and sat around listening in to any interesting conversation.   He was able to overhear some of the Dwarves grumbling in Dwarvish about Dancer and his ill treatment of the rescued Dwarves.  Nothing else seemed interesting, so he headed back to the Blackbutter and to bed.

With that everyone was in their rooms and finally in bed.

25th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Early in the morning Fwoosh, ISAC, and Yllanys headed down for an early morning meeting with Dhelosk. When picking up Yllanys he did notice that there was a set of wet clothes spread out drying in the room. With a few questions and odd answers later, they arrived at the bar for their meeting.  Dancer ran out quickly for a quick run to the bakery to pick up his order of five dozen bear claws, after which he went back to the Blackbutter Inn and waited for his magical quiver to be delivered. While waiting ho ordered some food and coffee.  His sharp eye noticed something odd bout the barkeep that had replaced Dhelosk.  When dropping off the drinks, there was an incongruency with it.  As if the person was actually much shorter than what could be seen.  When he paid, he held out the coin at a level of a very short person.  He was given a sharp look, and the image flashed to a well-dressed goblin taking the money, and then back to the barkeep.

Dhelosk led them into this back space by either opening a portal, or some type of magical door.  Going into a white corridor with several doors, they all went to one further down the hall and entered into a medium sized room with a round table and several chairs.  He gestured for them to sit down.  A little into the conversation Dhelosk gestured and the door opened with a tea serving being brought into the room, just floating across the space, and gently setting down on the table.

Dhelosk Quelbeard

He first handed Fwoosh an odd diagram of lines and explained he had spent a fair amount of time figuring it out and told Fwoosh that it was a celestial map interposed on a terrestrial map and that he might be able to align the diagram over a map and find things that are not on the current maps.

Celestial/Terrestrial Map

He then handed off Dancer’s magic quiver with a small note with the instructions on how to use it. Fwoosh then started working through the questions that Dancer had.

“How many bear claws would fit in a bag of hold?”

“Um, at least two maybe three thousand.”

“How long do you think they would last in a bag of holding?”

“The same length of time if you left it on a counter.”

“We were recently in a fight on the water, wherein the enemies were below us and we could not hit them.  Do you have any insights on what might be useful in a situation like that?”

“Magic, most spells will work, and water will not be a barrier unless it’s something specific like a wall of water.  There are also spell that will allow you to breath underwater and allow you to operate better while in the water.  If you were on top of the water, you must have been using something like a Water Walking spell.”

“Yeah, we have a friend who can cast that.”

That spell would prove to be very handy for crossing water, but not if you have opponents under the water because that would prevent you from doing much in the water.  If you had cancelled the spell, you could have swum down and attacked if you had piercing types of weapons or magic.”

Yllanys then asked about being trained by Dhelosk, and he seemed a bit unwilling, especially since their specialties were probably very different.  Dhelosk did say that he could provide spells when needed.  Finally, the meat of the conversation led to ISAC now asking his long list of things.

“Have you ever heard of orcs or trolls invading the valley and attacking Westbridge. There was a place known as Southkrypt.”

“This has happened numerous times over the years.”

“In 207DR, there was a large invasion of Orcs and a famous Dwarf died defending the Stone Bridge while an avatar of Moradin showed up to save the day.”

“In 932DR, The First Trollwar occurred, when a large population of trolls had been displaced from the Sword Mountains by orcs. The trolls attacked the city that would become known as Waterdeep. The retaliatory forces burned large parts of the Evermoors, purging it of all trolls.”

“In 936DR, the orcs of Uruth Ukrypt stream out of the Sword Mountains and attack Nimoar’s Hold, bringing an end to several small human realms clustered in the Dessarin Valley.”

“In 936DR, The Orcfastings War was a war between orcs of Uruth Ukrypt and the humans of the Sword Coast North and Dessarin in and around Nimoar’s Hold, which would later become Waterdeep. It took place in several individual battles and eventually it was won by the humans.”

“In 940DR, The Second Trollwar began and lasted until 952 DR. It was fought between the humans of Waterdeep, allied with cities of the North, and the trolls of the Evermoors.”

“In 942DR, Drow raiders plunder cities along the Sword Coast, enslaving many humans of the Dessarin Valley. The small realms of Harpshield and Talmost, which border the Ardeep Forest west of the ruins of Delimbiyran, are ravaged and burned.”

“In 963DR, the third Trollwar almost took place when the traitors Aviss and Fellandar led an army of trolls out of the Mere of Dead Men against Waterdeep. The trolls were survivors of the earlier Trollwars, and they believed the traitors could bring them victory in a third, and final, Trollwar, and so promised them power over the city.”

“It was around 1000DR that settlements started springing up around the Sumber Hills, creating roads and trails that bisected the hills.”

“In 1024DR, Uruth Ukrypt releases the Broken Bone orc horde, which emerges from the Sword Mountains bent on destroying Waterdeep.”

“In 1235DR, the largest orc horde ever sweeps from the north; many lands overrun. The orcs reach Calimshan before they’re scattered by hastily gathered wizards and local armies. Waterdeep besieged; Calimshan threatened.”

“Basically, the orcs breed like rats and their population increases push the small groups further out from their fertile area seeking good and new lands to conquer and live in.”  There is not any specific time frame, but it occurs, every few hundred years.  Not all of it goes through this valley, but also from the Spine of the World and south Waterdeep.”

“As far as Southkrypt, located underneath the mountains the dwarves called Maruutdin and the southern flanks of the Sword Mountains. It could be found east of the town of Leilon, northwest of the Stone Bridge, and north of the Kryptgarden Forest.  It has been ruins for a very long time.  There might have been Dwarves taking refuge there during any of the times I mentioned.  It was famous for being a silver and mithril mine.”

“There was a man from Westbridge named Claudius, he was very wealthy.”

“Unless he was famous for something that was historically important, or was in the field of magic, I would not know about any specific noble or merchant.  There are so many that come and go, so unless you have a specific name to go with it, I would not know anything.”

“Have you heard of a place called Drincuil ar Gurth?”

“Hmm, I remember by ex-wife had told me some of her Elvish mythology.  To the Elves, the name meant something horrible, something they would scare their children with.  To them, it represented some primal fear about having their souls stolen. It represented some sort of evil god stealing people’s souls for longevity.  But all of that is mythology thing dating thousands of years ago.  There might only be dragons left alive from then at this point, and the gods of course.”

“The man I speak of Claudius found this place.”

“And you know this why?  Especially if he was alive five or six hundred years ago?”

ISAC pulls out his broken blade and holds it aloft.

“This is a key to that place; it unlocked the door.”

“If that is the case, it is not very powerful magic.  Maybe because it is broken.  I see a bit of magic on it.”

“Have you ever seen this symbol?”

“A raven? The raven is a symbol used by many mercenaries in war torn places.  The raven is a bloodthirsty bird, a carrion eater, a battlefield scavenger, and some say, a stealer of souls.”

ISAC then drops the illusion on himself and reveals his real face and body, that of a mechanical man.

“When I was last here, I was attacked, and my body was destroyed.”

“That is what I heard and had gotten some type of impression that there had been some sort of planar instability that had been forced into the space where your group was.”

“The body that was destroyed was like this one.  When it happened, I woke up in a cave somewhere outside of Westbridge that was actually a cave that this man Claudius had discovered.”

“How do you know all these things about Claudius unless you are Claudius himself.  I find it hard to imaging you would know these things unless you found them in a book.”

“I have come to believe that I was Claudius. I have been told by a dragon that there are more like me.”

“A dragon outside of Westbridge?  It is said that the ancient green dragon Claugiyliamatar resides somewhere on the edge of the Kryptgarden forest and the Sword Mountains.  She supposedly moved there about 300 years ago.  She is well known for spying, conniving, and setting up nefarious plans to expand her influence, and to just sate her curiosity.  She seems to think she is a genius spymaster. She is famous for somewhat lack of magical talent and has wanted to turn into a humanoid for quite some time.”

‘Well, I saw her first as a young girl and then in her giant dragon form.”

“Oh, that does not bode well.  If she can now transform, or has found a way of doing that, it means she has grown stronger, enslaved a wizard, or found a source of magic items to correct her deficiencies. If you have met her, I am very sure she has marked you in some way since she let you live.  Good thing this space is isolated, and she cannot peer into here.  Be careful of what you say since she could be listening at any time.  Even writing something down could get compromised. She is known to have agents in many places.  There might even be one or two here in Red Larch.”

“So, this key sword is something important to me.  I would like to find a way to keep it or store it in some sort of extra-dimensional way like a bag of holding, but something more secure and binding.  So that if I lost it, I could summon it back to myself.”

“There are a few spells that would fit that.  One called Soulbound Strike, which is 3rd level but will only last 30 days.  A scroll of that would cost you about 200gp.  There is also Soulbound Guardian, a 4th level spell which would last for 90 days.  That one has an expensive component cost, so a scroll would cost 850gp, and then there is the Eternal Bond spell, it is 5th level and lasts until dispelled.  It has an even greater component cost, so that would cost you 1400gp.  All of these spells require the caster to make the binding to themselves.  If you are unable to cast one of those, if you purchase the scroll, I can assist you in the casting to help decrease the chance of failure, but the success or failure will all be on you.”

“You do not seem to be shocked by any of the things I’ve told you.”

“I have 300-year-old goblin Alchemist cooking meals for the Inn, why would a metal construct with a transferred intelligence surprise me at this point? We have not lived out here very long, only about five years, for some…. Fresh air and countryside rest.”

It was here that Dhelosk handed over a list of his current magic items in stock so it would be easier for the group to decide what they wanted.

Dhelosk Magic Item Price List

Yllanys used this opportunity to purchase some magic ink for his projects, while the others perused the list and the prices.

“Is there a way of making things last longer in the bag, like preserving our food.”

“There is something called a bag of colding which will freeze everything within, so there is some preservation, but it will all be frozen solid. We do have a couple in stock, they are 1500gp each.”

“Do you have anything to help disguising some one?”

“I’ll have nothing on hand right now, but I can get one in a few days.  Most of them are about 5000gp or so.”

With the three of them looking over the price list, ISAC was interested in the clothing of mending which as it is named, repaired itself if a hole got into it, or was ripped.  It is a common type of clothing the wealthier merchants buy. Asking about more dandyish clothing, Dhelosk suggested he head to the clothier, or he could order some, but it would be much more expensive than what was listed. Yllanys attempted to barter with some spellbooks he had for ink in a pawn store type of usage.  Dhelosk was not interested in that at all.

Fwoosh was quick to purchase a pillow of restful nights. Dhelosk explained several of the other items he had for sale. Once they seemed to be winding down, Fwoosh brought up the Drowish statue and tried to prompt ISAC into bringing it out and showing it to Dhelosk, but he seemed unwilling.  With everything completed, Dhelosk clapped his hands and the three appeared at the table with Dancer.

While Dancer was waiting, the rest of the party made it downstairs.  A quick bear claw and drink, and they all scattered to different parts of Red Larch leaving Dancer behind, still waiting on his quiver.  Vladimir and Angelica first went to Tantur Smithery to pick up his armor and to see if they could also get Angelicas, while Ace ran off to the sundry and general store.

With the three appearing in front of him, Dancer spit bear claw and coffee all over ISAC. They were quick to hand over the quiver and updated him about the questions they had asked for him.

While that was occurring, ISAC wandered off to the Clothier store to see if they had some nice dandy wear for him. Maegla Tarnlar was happy to assist, but when ISAC requested something a bit more special and nicer looking, she called for her husband to come back and help him. Halvor was very happy to have someone interested in the finer clothes and was quick to help. ISAC was measured up and the order was placed to be ready in five days. He then went back to the Blackbutter Inn meeting with those that had already arrived.

At the same time, Yllanys had made his way to Gut’s Full Tannery (formerly Luruth’s Tannery). He was met by the Dwarf running the place.  When Yllanys entered, the smell of the tannery almost brought him to his knees, but he was able to persevere and stay standing abet a lot whiter in the face from before. Asking about any special hides that the Dwarf might have, it seemed that there had been some, but they had been left in the vats for too long and had mostly dissolved. He did offer that if Yllanys could bring in some more exotic skins, he would happily tan them, and if they were good enough, might trade the work for the skins.  There did not seem to be any other sources nearby for skins of an interesting type. Since Yllanys was interested in this, he was given an apprentice book about how to skin different creatures in the hopes he might learn something and not ruin the skins as he was removing them.

Thastruik Oakgut

Vladimir and Angelica arrived at the smithery running through the rain trying to stay somewhat dry.  Within they saw Laefra Tantur who was behind the counter.  The doors behind her were open and the heat from the forges filled the room.  Vladimir was able to collect his armor and with a little cajoling Laefra was able to convince her husband to hurry and finish Angelica’s armor before closing. Asking about some medium weight armor for ISAC, she laid out what they had and the approximate prices.  She was pushing for them to purchase something of higher quality, but the prices were a bit more than they were willing to spend at that time.

Laefra Tantur

With their business completed, the two headed quickly to the Allfaith’s Shrine trying to not get too wet on the trip. Imdarr was inside and happy to see them. They chatted a bit and they found out that the new Dwarven smith had arrived and was setting up shop and that he was the grandnephew of Banmin Glehuruhr. The two purchased a very large pile of healing potions buying out the entire supply at the shrine. Angelica was also careful to hand a letter to Imdarr that was to be sent to her sister. Imdarr also let slip that a new priest was coming in at the beginning of the next month having traveled in from Waterdeep. The new priest was of a higher level than Imdarr, and he was surprised that such a high-ranking priest was willing to come to such a remote place. The new priest was named Gila Keneufeld.

Imdarr Relvaunder

Vladimir asked about a god of premonitions or divinations to seek help about the dreams he had been having. Imdarr was happy to tell him about the god Savras.  They did not have a shrine here for them, but Vladimir could use the general alter and offering bowl. Heading to the sundry store to fetch some additional supplies, they left the shrine. Arriving there they asked about rain ponchos, and they were offered up a chopped-up tent made into pull over ponchos.  One of the children grabbed a pair of scissors to the back room to handle the business. Also purchasing 25 days of rations, they did not have any other business and head back to the Blackbutter Inn.

At Vallivoe’s Sundry store, Ace met Endrith behind the counter with four or five young kids running around. Endrith immediately offered to sell Ace an umbrella since he arrived very wet from the storm that was still raging outside. Ace bought a second one to give to Angelica later. Ace was seeking a mortar and pestle as well as some spices, to hopefully improve Yllanys’ cooking. When he asked about reading material, Endrith offered up a selection from his spicier set of books.  As innocent as he was, Ace select a couple not really understanding the titles or what the content might contain between the covers of the book.

Endrith Vallivoe

From there he headed to the clothier in town.  As he headed out, he passed Vladimir and Angelica he stopped and gave them the few gifts he had bought for them.  For Angelica he handed off an umbrella, and for Vladimir he gave the two spicy books from the Sundry story. Arriving at the Tarnlar Clothier and going in, he was met by a dandy looking fellow. He had some fancy clothes and a fancy cane that he leaned upon. The room was filled with fine clothing of every sort. The man tried selling Ace on a doublet and hose as very fashionable, maybe include a double-breasted vest with it.  A hat with a nice tall feather would make the ensemble complete. Ace just wanted something durable, to which the man yelled for his wife and stomped off leaving Ace behind.

Halvor Tarnlar

Coming from the back of the room, a middle-aged woman approached Ace to find out what was needed. Settling for some tough linen, Ace was measured up and purchased two full sets of clothes. Ace thought that visiting the tannery next was a good idea, and into the rain he went, but the wonderful umbrella helped to keep most of the rain off of him.

Maegla Tarnlar

With an odd idea in his head, he headed back to the Sundry store. He was seeking any books in Dwarvish, but Endrith had already sold all the ones he had to the party weeks ago.  He did have an interesting book that might be fun, called “The Playwright’s Insults.”  Ace excitedly purchased that for Dancer. From there, he headed back to the Blackbutter Inn and joined a few other members of the party.

Now that everyone was finally together again at the Blackbutter, Ace used the opportunity to give out more of his gifts.  He gave some empty bottles to Fwoosh so he could smash them for the noise, the book of insults to Dancer who seemed very fascinated by them.  Vladimir handed out healing potions and ponchos.  It was then that Theldor Darkaxe came into the Inn and took Vladimir to the side for a conversation.  He handed him a sheet of paper and after a few words left the Inn.

Theldor Darkaxe

Vladimir brought the paper back to the table and showed it to the group.  It was a list of who was still missing from the delegation as far as the Dwarves could figure out.

Delegation Member List

There was some conversation about Dancer and his means of communicating with the Dwarves as well as the constable. He pled innocence and attempted to lay the blame back on those that seemed to be insulted.  It went around several times with almost everyone trying to get Dancer to back down a bit. Fwoosh was very upset of Vladimir that he ahd failed to bring bear claws to the children at the sundry store after he had so passionately told him to bring them. With his new quiver, Dancer was excited and ran to Feng’s to purchase enough arrows to fill up his new quiver. ISAC had followed to get a sheath for his broken sword. It was a quick transaction, and back to the Inn Dancer went, while ISAC went by the smithery to purchase some medium armor and settled on some a normal breastplate. As they did that, Angelica went back by the smithery to pick her armor which proved to be ready missing ISAC in all the running back and forth.

Feng Ironhead

Before breaking for the night, Vladimir told them about his new dream the previous night, but without and specific details. With all that conversation, dinner time rolled by.  Yllanys tried his luck with flirting with Gwendolyn again. That conversation went pretty the same as before, she seemed much more skilled at leading the conversation and extracting tidbits of information from Yllanys than he was from her. He was able to get out of her that she has been working for Dhelosk for many years including when he was in Waterdeep.  They had moved out here to protect his granddaughter Delillia since something had happened to her parents.

Gwendolyn Venelli

The dining room gossip was not any better tonight than it was last night.  Just merchants and their routes. When digging for more information the only real oddity seemed to be the weather, how it could change in an hour and then change again in the next hour from one extreme to the next. Those sudden changes were making it difficult for any agriculture and many of the crops were failing which could cause food issues all the way to Waterdeep since the valley and surrounding areas sent most of their food that direction to feed the massive population of Waterdeep.

With the food consumed and the conversations wound down, everyone headed to bed.

26th of Kythorn of the year 1492

While the storm continued to rage during the night it had abated mostly by the morning.  However, the sky was filled with swirling colors much like an aurora borealis. The outside was not as bright as it was normally, with the strange lights. Back inside, Ace purchased a decanter of endless coffee while the others once again pushed ISAC to show his statue to Dhelosk.  He finally relented and put it on the table.  Gesturing Dhelosk to come over and take a look, which seemed to make him a little disgruntled, but he still walked over.

“I wanted my friend to show you the statue.  We saw a portal and a portal into the water place.  We wanted to know if it did anything to the statue, but he dislikes showing it.”

“Where is this portal?”

“It is by this keep that the pirates were in charge of and there is an underground river that goes to a waterfall that leads to the giant floating portal above the waterfall.”

“That’s interesting, I’ll have to inform Dlara, she is very interested in those types of things. She has not been on this plane in a while.  She was concerned about the stability of the planes since there has been a lot of odds going on in the adjacent planes.”

“I had a vision of the other side of that portal.”

I which ISAC explained his vision.

“I usually do not give much credence to visions since any interpretation of them is very subjective.  You never know if it is a true sight into somewhere, a metaphor about something, or even a visual allegory, or even some combination of all those.”

“But at face value, it would seem you dreamed of the Plane of Water, or some very deep ocean location. A tunnel leading to a mysterious and malevolent temple sounds ominous, but again difficult to interpret.  Why would a tunnel exist to a location from the portal?”

“These are all places you have never been or know that you have been to.  I am not that familiar with the planes and will pass this all on to Dlara and hopefully she will be able to have a better answer for you.”

“The questions I have for you then, since you have been talking about elemental cultists and you found what appears to be a water portal, that would imply there are other portals hidden around the valley.  Your statue somehow seemed to have locked that one for some period of time. I would think that you would have a limited about of time before it unlocks, and the need to find the other three might be more imperative now.  Are they all linked?  Where do they lead?  Are the other portals the same leading to some temple?  Do they all lead to the same temple?”

“These are all things that you will have to search after.”

“I think that the statue absorbed some power from the portal and maybe changed the statue.  We are concerned from what you told us before. You said the artifact seemed to be awakening.”

“Well, I called it an artifact for several reasons.  One is its apparent age, those Drow symbols are very old, several thousands of years old, second was it impenetrability to identification.  Which is odd, cursed items will allow identification, it just shows an incomplete assessment until you trigger the condition to start the curse, and third its seeming ability to grow in power.  Not many magic items have this capability and any that do are very rare and unusual, and finally fourth, its apparent durability.  Magic items in general are very tough, but artifacts are nearly indestructible except under very specific conditions set during their creation.”

“All of those things implied it was an artifact of some sort, although when I saw it last, the amount of magic within it was fairly minimal and did not appear to be at the level of an artifact.  But if it had been damaged, there would always be some sort of criteria or activation to allow it to fix itself.  Your description of it absorbing something from elemental creatures matches those criteria.  Absorbing something from an elemental portal would also meet that.”

“Could it be influencing ISAC?  Possibly.  It could be nudging him to help it heal, it could be nudging him to do things that serve the purpose of its creation.  You have not seen any negative actions except for a certain amount of covetousness of the object. But then again, it might also require more growth.”

Dhelosk with his monocle began looking over the party.

“I see something very similar with the maul that Vladimir carries.  It meets the same criteria of being an artifact.  It is clearly damaged and maybe Vladimir just has not found the right activation method to start the repair.  It could also influence him in the future, but then it might now.”

“There is also his broken sword.  It has grown in a large magnitude from where it had been.  It is also physically broken, that does not seem to impede its growth. He did something to cause it to start growing.  From what you said it is a fairly new item, meaning that something caused its creation when he found it.  Gods, demons, or even some spirit watching over him.  Could it influence him in the future?  Sure.  Look at what magic it has.  I can see a lot of divination magic.  If it gives you a vision, is it real, is it true?  Could that vision influence what you might do because of that vision.”

“When I talked about influence, it was in general terms as something that could happen.  All very powerful magic items have the capability to influence their wielders.  If it is a weapon, it would tend to influence them to kill more creatures it was built for.  In the case of the statue, I can only guess.  It has something to do with the elements, it requires more to grow.  It has more magic in it than the last time I saw it, it is getting stronger, but it is still not on the level of being so strong as to be some godly magic item.”

“I see your amulet Fwoosh, it too is growing.  At a much smaller rate than all the other ones.”

Dhelosk keeps looking around and finally stops on Yllanys.

“Um…. I am confused.  I am not even sure how you did that to yourself.  I kind of understand why you wanted to talk more in private about your specialty.  Come back in a few days and we can have that chat.”

“There are many possible resolutions and more questions.  If you think it is having a negative effect, you can only attempt to stop the awakening.  Do not do what it is expecting., or you can attempt to speed up the awakening and find out what it wants if it can even get to that point.  It seems to have locked on to your group since it is only moving between you.  It would be interested to find out what the criterion for switching is, why does it choose a specific person?  As far as getting rid of it, it appears to be difficult since it auto-attunes and transports itself to wherever they are. I wonder if it could transfer between planes. Possibly, especially if it so much of an elemental connection.”

“Right now, I would suggest either attempting to feed it or starve it.  It sounds very useful in helping you at least temporarily lock down elemental portals.  It seems to have great defensive and offensive capability. It has seemed to be only useful right now.  Hopefully it stays that way for you.”

Yllanys brought up that it seemed odd that the elemental cultists seemed to be cooperating at some level since there are always pairs at odd with each other.  He suspects that there might be something guiding or directing them to cause them to work together.  He believes that this might be something the party can take advantage of in some way in the future.

When asked about the elemental planes, he explained.

“The four primary elemental planes at some point collapsed into the plane of chaos.  They all have demi-planes that separate them, but they are all much closer and connected.”

With that, Dhelosk went back to his bar while the party talked about what he said and what has happened.  They were also concerned at the complete lack of anything related to the fire cult and it seemed very odd they have been missing.  Of course, they still had to solve the issues of the possible air cult as well as the fortified earth cultists.

The party finished their meals and decided that the lure of the location called the Treasure Cave was too much for them to ignore.  Moving through the still somewhat wet weather it only took them a couple of hours to reach the location they had been given previously.  Going into a ravine they finally got to a cave entrance. It was a grand cave entrance.

As you approach the overgrown entrance of the cave, you’re immediately struck by its imposing height. The cave mouth looms nearly 30 feet above you, a dark maw set into the side of a hill or cliff face, surrounded by a tangle of vegetation. Vines and moss drape over the edges, partially obscuring the stone beneath and giving the entrance an ancient, forgotten appearance.

The size of the entrance suggests that this cave could house secrets and dangers of remarkable scale. The darkness within seems almost tangible, a palpable void that swallows light and promises unknown depths. As you stand at the threshold, peering into the gloom, the air feels cooler, a stark contrast to the world outside.

A musty smell wafts from the depths of the cave, reaching your nostrils and evoking a sense of decay and dampness. It’s the smell of earth long untouched by sunlight, of water that pools in unseen caverns, and of time itself having come to a standstill within these ancient walls.

They slowly moved in and to the left they found a small cave filled with skeletons and boxes that were rotting.

As you continue to investigate, you notice that their condition is peculiar. The bones are unusually brittle and appear to have a faint, dark discoloration. It’s as if the very life was drained from them, leaving behind these fragile remnants. Despite the clear signs of a grim fate, the exact cause of death isn’t immediately apparent to the untrained eye. No visible wounds or marks of combat mar the skeletons, adding to the mystery of their demise.

Carved into the skulls of the skeletons were different symbols of the bloody eyes.  Most had the simpler one. While one had a slightly more detailed one.

Simple Bloody Eye

More Complex Bloody Eye

When examining the skeletons, Angelica was able to determine that the black spots as well as their deaths seem to be from some sort of necrotic energy.  The more gruesome part was that all the carvings into the skulls occurred while they were alive, and time had passed when the carving had occurred.  No one had thought about skinning skulls to look for this before.

The party then moved further into the cave area.  The passageway opened up into a small lake and another cave to their left again.  At the end of the lake there was what appeared to be a large stone hand grasping a Dwarven skeleton who was holding on to a glowing great axe. The cave area to their left was filled with many more skeletons that had the same appearances as the first set.

Moving in closer a trio of greenish bird insects came out of some hidden nest and attacked the party. They proved to be tougher than expected since they would attach themselves to someone and start sucking their blood and when killed exploded into a gooey necrotic mess hitting anyone withing five feet while healing any of the flying critters that was within range. With a little effort they were able to kill them off.  

Necrotic Stirges

Without any rest or healing they were eager to get that glowing axe.  Vladimir had Benny his echo moves across the water and once at the hand, switched places with him and reached for the axe.  As he did so, the hand squeezed him and from the stone broken out a giant skeleton who then tossed Vladimir to the ground on the other side of the lake.

Giant Skeleton

And this is where the session ended.

Session 34 – Chapter One

21st of Kythorn of the year 1492

Several hours was used to discuss when and how they were planning on crossing the river again.  They were concerned about the pirates coming back and figured that daytime would be the best so that they would all be able to see any ships approaching as they crossed.

After storytelling and truth and consequences completed, they party did their normal routine of watches, except there was a problem.  It seems that Yllanys and Dancer had wandered away from camp and did not come back in time for the first watch.  Angelica did a Sending to Yllanys hoping to find out where he was.

“So, we are getting ready to do our watches and uh, we cannot seem to find you anywhere, um, but Fwoosh was kind of walking…”

The incomplete message as a shock to Yllanys who was not familiar with this magic and was not sure why Angelica’s voice was in his head replied out loud.

“Woah, what, what is this going on. Um, I’m, I’m just about done with what I’m doing I’ll be back as soon as I can…”

Angelica informed the group that he thought that Yllanys was being polite and had wandered away from the camp for a huge poop. It was not until the end of the first watch that first Dancer arrived and shortly afterwards from a different direction Yllanys also arrived, but with a warm pot of stew and mystery meat.

The rest of the watches all passed without any issues.

22nd of Kythorn of the year 1492

Getting an early start the group started across the wide river. Angelica cast her Water Walking twice to cover everyone in the group. The party was very careful in watching for any coming ships or any other threats that might be approaching. It was wise to be wary, but unfortunately the threat that did approach can from below them.

The 12 of them were moving carefully across when a 40-foot wide electrical struck knocking out all the dwarves, and almost taking out a couple of the party members. Large shadows approached from below and fish-type of people began attacking from below.

Fish People Warriors

Fish Person Caster

The battle was fast and dangerous.  With many members of the party falling unconscious at different times, they all managed to survive, although one of the five Dwarves that had been accompanying them took too much damage and died while floating on the water near them. The group was able to murder what appeared to be the four fish-men warriors, but the caster fled at some point.  Combat was difficult, particular when the opponents were underwater, and the caster was able to come and go from their visibility while staying deeper under the water.

 Angelica pulled out a scroll of Revivify and brought the dead Dwarf back to life before the body had time to cool. Trying to move more quickly across the river carrying the Dwarven members that were still not recovered, they managed to make it somewhat safely across the River Dessarin once again. It was not difficult to find their old trail back to their wagons and Vladimir was very surprised that their four horses were all still alive, hungry, and thirsty, but still alive.

Harnessing up the wagons and starting the journey back to Red Larch, the group began to find their way home. Traveling to an area just passed where they had found the shallow graves, they found a nice place to camp that was off the main trail hopefully hiding themselves to a certain extent.  The only item of interests was that at some point during the day, they were shadowed by flying creatures high above them.  Not knowing if they were just large birds, or perhaps the Feathergale Knights the group showed an overall lack of interested.

It was during the trip that Yllanys brought out the diary he had found in the church at the pirate keep.

Diary from Pirate Keep

Diary from Pirate Keep, Part Two

ISAC also used this time to discuss and describe his dreams of the portal, and how he thought that the statue had somehow locked it.  There was also the disconcerting thing that seemed to happen when certain creatures died nearby ISAC, and small colored balls of light floated from the dead bodies to the statue.  In this case, small blue balls of light floated out of the dead fish-people.

While the discussions were going on, Fwoosh and Ace repeated loss at cards to the Dwarves leaving them a couple of gold less than they started.

With something that had specific dates, they tried to start correlating different pieces of information and places they had been to attempt to get a better idea of the bigger picture of what has been happening.

And this where the session ended.

Session 33 – Chapter One

20th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Making their way across the river the party of seven and the five dwarves slowly walked across the water to the far side.  Looking back when they were a hundred feet away, they realized that the illusion wall blocking sight of the keep was still in place and did not end with the death of the inhabitants.  It was some sort of powerful magic that is hiding the keep. They moved as well as they could, but the fast-moving river pushed against their gains, but they were able to make across before the magic ended allowing them to walk across the water. The Dwarves were queried about their work and the party was told about how the sage new the most about what was under the Sumber Hills, but he had been taken by the earth cultists. When asked about the attack, the Dwarves relayed what they knew.

The day had dawned clear and bright, with the sun casting its warm glow over the rolling hills. The delegation, a caravan of seasoned travelers and skilled guards, made steady progress along the well-worn path. Laughter and conversation filled the air, mingling with the sounds of hooves and wagon wheels. But as the sun reached its zenith, a sudden, ominous change swept over the landscape.

Without warning, the tranquility of the journey was shattered. Massive boulders, hurled from the surrounding hills, came crashing down with terrifying force. I was caught completely off-guard, watching in horror as the caravan was thrown into disarray. Wagons splintered under the impact, horses reared in panic, and guards scrambled to form a defensive line.

Emerging from their hiding spots among the hills, the attackers revealed themselves – hill giants of staggering size and brute strength. With each earth-shaking step, they advanced, wielding clubs large enough to crush a man with a single blow. I felt a chill of fear, the sight of these colossal beings igniting a primal terror.

As the giants closed in, another threat joined the fray. From the shadows of the hills, men clad in heavy stone plate armor, spiked and formidable. The armor gave them an almost otherworldly appearance, as if they were creatures born from the earth itself. In their hands, they carried maces and hammers, the metal glinting menacingly in the sunlight.

The guards of the delegation fought bravely, their swords and spears dancing in the light as they tried to protect the caravan. But they were outmatched. The hill giants’ clubs swept through their ranks with devastating ease, while the men, protected by their stone armor, moved through the chaos with a terrifying purpose.

Caught amid the battle, I felt a surge of helplessness. The sounds of combat – the clash of metal, the roars of the giants, the cries of the wounded – filled the air, creating a cacophony of despair. Dust and blood rose in a grim cloud, obscuring the once-peaceful hills.

In the chaos, I found myself face to face with one of the men. The man’s eyes, visible through the slits in the spiked helmet, burned with a fanatical fervor. For a moment, time seemed to stand still, the gravity of the situation sinking in.

Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the battle shifted. The surviving members of the delegation were rounded up, the cultists binding their hands and leading them away from the carnage. As I was marched off, I cast a final glance back at the ambush site. The once serene hills were now a tableau of destruction, the ground littered with the fallen.

As I was led deeper into the Sumber Hills, my thoughts were a whirlwind of fear and uncertainty. What had started as a routine journey had turned into a nightmare, the hills themselves now a haunting reminder of the ambush’s brutality and the unforgiving nature of their attackers.

The discussion moved to the different cult groups and if the Feathergale knights were part of the air cultists or not. The party seemed to be unsure one way or the other but were leaning toward that they were just another knight society like the Knights of Samular. Fwoosh regaled them about the jumping from the spire adventure. Vladimir showed Fwoosh a note he had found in the keep on Jolliver’s desk, and then stashed it quickly back in his bag. When Ace asked about the Vale of Dancing Water, he and the rest were told that it was a Dwarven temple known for hosting marriages and probably not related to the water cult even though the name had water in it. But, without investigating they would never know for sure. When the original members started talking about dreams and prophecies, Ace and Yllanys began getting more worried about the others.

They came on to the shore and Dancer was able to see some carts that had been well hidden behind a boulder nearby.  Investigating them revealed that they were carts from the delegation.  They were a bit worn, but still functional even after being left sitting here for nearly a month in the weather.  The Dwarves confirmed that these were some of the cargo wagons that had been with their group.  None of the trade wagons were here.  It seems that after being captured, the cultists brought the cargo here and loaded it either on the pirate ships or carried it elsewhere without the need of wagons. Dancer, always on the search for some loot inspected the wagons hoping to find a hidey-hole of some sort, and he did pick up a small chest of gold that he found in a hidden compartment in one of the wagons.

Ace took the lead on finding the trail back to the ambush site with Yllanys pushing for them to hurry so he could recover his spellbook as quickly as possible. With the late start of the day, they were not able to get to their destination before darkness fell forcing them to make camp or likely getting lost in the dark.  Yllanys cooked up a cold meal for the group with some questionable mystery meat, but everyone seemed to like it. Their tent not large enough to hold everyone, they purposely left out the most farty dwarf in the group. The rest of the dwarven tradesmen all agreed to the arrangement.

The night went mostly unmolested until a group of bugbears were able to sneak up on those on watch.  The low number of bugbears proved to be only a minor and quick annoyance to the group.  The one dwarf left outside took advantage of the chaos and snuck inside the tent to sleep with most of the rest. The rest of the evening passed without too many issued beyond the tent having an odd permanent odor now. The only odd event was under the tree where Dancer was sleeping Yllanys started carving up the bugbears as if he was looking for something in or on the bodies.

While on watch with ISAC, Ace had questions, many questions.  He was interested in his nature and wanted to learn more. It proved to be interesting for Ace in many ways. Ace responded by giving some of his background and how he ended up here. During Vladimir’s watch he had a long and interesting conversation with one of the dwarven smith’s about his maul.  He had to dance around where he found it, but the smith reiterated that the maul seemed to be incomplete, or that it was so old it had lost some of its magic.

Bugbear

21st of Kythorn of the year 1492

Morning arrived with Yllanys cooked another wonderful meal of interesting meats. With the new day started, Vladimir did not wait to ask his broken sword a burning question he had.

“Where did Yllanys get the bacon?”

“No Dancer, that is not what I am going to ask.”

“Is Yllanys’ spellbook in the tree where he left it?”

“WEAL”

With that answer, they picked up the camp and marched forward with some confidence. It did not take very long to complete their trip to the ambush site once they started going in the correct direction.

The once-disturbed earth along the secluded path had settled, the upheaval of combat softened by a carpet of new growth. Fresh leaves and underbrush had sprouted, partially obscuring the ground where the struggle had occurred. Yet, beneath this veneer of tranquility, subtle irregularities in the terrain hinted at the desperate conflict that had unfolded. Faint indentations, now almost level with the surrounding soil, marked the hastily dug graves where the fallen were interred. The piles of stones that covered these graves had begun to blend with the natural landscape, though their arrangement was just too methodical, too deliberate to be the work of nature alone.

The passage of time had dulled the more immediate signs of the ambush. Rain and wind had erased the tracks of the hill giants and cultists, leaving only the most resilient traces of their passage. Broken branches and trampled undergrowth had mostly recovered, their damage concealed by new leaves and shoots. Yet here and there, the forest bore subtle scars: a tree with a barely healed gash in its bark, a bush whose growth was stunted and uneven.

Scattered remnants of the caravan itself lay hidden in plain sight, ensnared by the forest’s embrace. Rust-covered weapons, their edges blunted by time and the elements, lay half-buried under a layer of leaves. Fragments of torn cloth, once vibrant and colorful, were now faded and frayed, clinging to the underbrush like forgotten flags of a defeated army. Small, personal items – a broken wheel from a cart, a dulled piece of jewelry, a cracked leather strap – were strewn about, each telling its own silent story of the tragedy that had occurred.

Yllanys ran to a tree and recovered his spellbook.  Finally feeling complete again.  While the rest looked over the ambush site. The only thing that really stuck out were a couple of piles or stone that were similar to the graves they had seen before. Looking around they were able to find more evidence of the ambush, broken trees, a few boulders out of place, and just a general mess that should not be in the wilderness.

The trip back down to the river went far more quickly than the one up to the ambush site, mostly because they did not have to move as slowly to find the trail to get to their destination. Arriving at the coast by sunset they decided to camp and rest again. Before settling down for the evening, Fwoosh set up a Zone of Truth for an interesting game with the rest of the party. It was funny enough to cause the party to be interested in doing this more frequently.

The trip back down to the river went far more quickly than the one up to the ambush site, mostly because they did not have to move as slowly to find the trail to get to their destination. Arriving at the coast by sunset they decided to camp and rest again.

And this is where the session ended.

History Lesson

Good evening gentlefolks and cretins.  I am your host Dr Weedlebucket.  Your normal host Professor Bourgh-Ettin has taken a leave of absence to spend some time exploring the continent of Maztica.  Hopefully he will not be eaten and come back soon enough to do his damn job. While he is relaxing in some jungle being chased by hostile natives and giant lizards, I shall take you on a different path of education. Now that I have your attention, we will move on to our topic this week.  The Elemental Plane of Water.

The Elemental Plane of Water was an Inner Plane or Elemental Plane of the Great Wheel cosmology and the World Tree cosmology models. After the Spellplague, the Elemental Plane of Water collapsed into the Elemental Chaos, mixing with all the other Inner Planes. Water is one of the four elements and two energies that make up the known universe and therefore of great interest to cosmologists. This plane was abundant with life: native creatures born of the elemental nature of the plane itself, sentient water-breathing peoples, and most every species of aquatic life that could survive after being sucked through a vortex from their plane of origin.

Cosmology

According to the Great Wheel cosmology model, the Elemental Plane of Water could be reached via the Ethereal Plane, an adjacent elemental plane, or by an elemental vortex. The Pale River vortex on the Elemental Plane of Earth had its source here, and there was a vortex to the Plane of Air called the Bubble Net. If traveling through the Deep Ethereal, a green curtain of vaporous color indicated the boundary of the Plane of Water’s Border Ethereal region. Once in the Border Ethereal, a traveler could observe the Plane of Water and be detected by its denizens. Using the spherical model, this plane was adjacent to the para-elemental planes of Ice and Ooze and the quasi-elemental planes of Steam and Salt. Elemental vortices could occur wherever a high concentration or nearly pure form of an element was found, and could be temporary or permanent. Vortices to the Plane of Water could often be found in the deepest parts of the seas and oceans, in clear underground lakes, or as surface whirlpools in any large body of water. Temporary gates could be created by the plane shift spell or the abilities of high-level druids.

As described by the World Tree cosmology model, the Astral Plane connected all planes with the Prime Material Plane and the Ethereal Plane was only used for journeying between locations on the Prime. The Elemental Plane of Water was not connected or coterminous with any other elemental plane, however both the cross-planar rivers Styx and Oceanus were known to have vortices to the Plane of Water and there were known portals to the Fated Depths. The spell astral projection could be used to reach the Plane of Water via a dark blue color pool. Additionally, the gate and plane shift spells could be used to open a temporary portal to this plane, provided a lead fork tuned to the note of A was used as a spell focus.

It was said that portals to the Water Plane could be found in the cold, clear depths of the Moonsea in North Faerûn and the Riftlake in the Great Rift of South Faerûn.

Description

There was no deep or shallow, no dark depths nor wavy surface, just an endless ocean that felt as if you were submerged several feet in any body of water on the Prime Material Plane. There was no sun, yet the water itself seemed to glow dimly with a bluish green luminescence. Volumes of water at any temperature and salinity could be found if you knew where to look or had a guide. The Great Wheel cosmology model explained this by the proximity to the para- and quasi-elemental planes: water became cold and formed icebergs as you neared the Plane of Ice; water became brackish as you approached the Plane of Salt; water became silty and slimy as you neared the Plane of Ooze; water started to boil as you approached the Plane of Steam. The World Tree cosmology described this plane as having all varieties of water constantly in motion, influenced by currents and tides. Life that depended on conditions flowed along with their preferred environment or suffered the consequences. Impurities such as bubbles of air, chunks of earth, and even short-lived balls of fire could be found floating about due to elemental vortices or the workings of powerful beings. Habitats and settlements typically formed near sources of food and shelter, or near portals and vortices to facilitate trade.

Supporting the teeming life of this plane were the corals and plants that made their way here and found purchase. Huge drifting three-dimensional reefs and loose spheres of freshwater grasses, kelp, and seaweed were home to myriad species and were fertile fishing spots. Travelers had to keep in mind that large predators knew of these fishing grounds also, or else they might discover just how bite-sized they were. Just like a Prime Ocean, the Elemental Plane of Water seemed to have no limit on how large some creatures could be as giant squid, aboleth, and kraken were known to prowl the plane. Small creatures could be deadly too, with poisonous spines or barbed tails. The smallest of them all was perhaps the deadliest: algae that formed the infamous “red tide”. Exposure of the eyes or lungs to the red tide caused blinding sickness.

If the Plane of Water had any weather, it was the currents, whirlpools, tidal bores, and flows of ice, steam, or silt that could inconvenience a traveler or be a deadly surprise. Usually invisible, currents could be strong enough to pull visitors off in some direction for long distances before they were able to exit the current. Tidal bores were the most dangerous currents, hitting like a thrown boulder and carrying the unlucky creature away for miles (kilometers). Whirlpools were caused by countervailing currents that sucked everything in a tightening spiral, some of which led to vortices to other planes. Ice and silt flows were easy to spot before encountering, but steam flows were nearly undetectable and could cause nasty burns or boil the flesh from your bones.

Inhabitants

It is difficult to determine what type of creatures were the most numerous in the Elemental Plane of Water but presumably the water elementals had the upper hand because they were manifestations of the plane itself. They could take on any shape their fluid bodies could form but they were extremely hard to see, similar to the effect of a robe of blending, and therefore were often described as blurry versions of Prime Material Plane animals and monsters typically of the aquatic variety. Water weirds, an intelligent life form that could possess water elementals, were also thought to be native to this plane.

All other peoples and creatures are interlopers or inadvertent immigrants by way of being sucked through an elemental vortex. Those that made a home here and thrived included some jann, the marids, the nereids, and the tritons. Besides almost every species of salt- and fresh-water marine life, there were reports of sightings or encounters with many creatures including aboleth, charonadaemons, black and bronze dragons, eyes of the deep, mephits of the ice, ooze, steam, and water varieties, mud-men, sea hags, tojanida, varrdig, and will-o’-wisps, a a variety of monstrous creatures that would be able to dwarf mountains with their size.

Trade also brought many different races to the Elemental Plane of Water. Merchants that traded with the dao and the marids included aquatic elves, humans, kuo-toans, lizardfolk, locathah, mercanes, and sahuagin.

Survival

Basics: In many respects, the plane of water is the safest of all. Thirst isn’t a problem if you stay away from the salty areas. Light shines from all directions as if you were just below the surface of a lake on a sunny day in the Prime Material. No gravity except a slight tug towards anything bigger than a ship if you’re close. You can carry your food around: any wooden barrel with decent buoyancy weighs nothing and you can tie it to a rope. What’ll kill you is the overwhelming vastness of it. I had a friend who was swept off the deck of the ship by a freak current. Once he’d gone about 60 feet from us, we couldn’t see him anymore and there was no chance of finding him. He probably floated for days before starving. If he found a coral reef or a seaweed ball, he’d have enough raw fish to live for months or years. Until scurvy or slavers got him really. If he was lucky, he was swallowed by a kraken before he knew what killed him. The lack of fire is a problem though. Cooking, metal-working, keeping warm, reading, smoking, signaling, branding, all of that is so difficult, you just wouldn’t believe. It’s why everyone converges around the air pockets I suppose.

Breathing: Oh, breathing? Obviously, you can’t breathe, you dolt! It’s water! What did you think? Most are happy enough staying in the City of Glass or in some prosperous bubble in the Sea of Worlds. We travelers need to get Water Breathing somewhere. Not from the party wizard because it’s got a verbal component and I’d like to see her cast with her mouth full of water. Not from the Glass Nixies either: they can undo their spell any time they want so there’s a better than even chance they’ll keep you as a slave, dependent on them for your every breath. No. We’ll have to buy you rings of water breathing. If you can’t afford that, you’ll have to settle for decanters of endless air to make a bubble around your ship.

Hazards, combat, and “weather”: It’s not all smooth sailing and calm seas. Doldrums are dangerous but so are currents if you don’t know them. Some currents plunge you down to the Darkened Depths, others trap ships in century-long loops. That’s how you get Flying Dutchmen, ships maintained by the undead skeletons of the crew. Then there’s salt patches, ooze patches, steam, and whirlpools. Places that boil you alive and others that freeze you to death. Always be on the lookout for red tide or it’ll blind you and melt you. Finally, there’s the sea monsters. You can feel their pull long before you see them: aboleth, kraken, giant squid, leviathans, giant darkmantles, dragon turtles, dragons, giants, and -if rumor is to be believed- gods themselves and a tarrasque.

Don’t expect to be able to fight any of those or even the average sahuagin: ranged weapons fail, melee attacks become slow and ponderous and magic words must be pronounced differently underwater. Tridents, nets, sharks, and other swimmers on the other hand become deadly. You’ve been warned.

Locations within the Plane

City of Glass: The City of Glass is a great metropolis enclosed within a sphere of hardened water, a nigh unbreakable barrier that protects the city. Half is underwater, half is filled with air, depending on the districts. This inter-dimensional trading hub is filled with merchant ships and portals to every other plane. That’s where we’ll start our journey. Each race and each great merchant family have a “House”; every five years, each House elects their leader to sit on the ruling Council. It is highly cosmopolitan with every kind of air breather and water breather from halflings to giants, fae to merfolk.

Sea of Worlds: The great bubbles of air your “maps” come from. There’s too many to list them all and they’re far too varied to say much. Imagine a giant bubble of air the size of a planet with bits of rock and earth trapped on the edges by the surface tension, always half in and half out, with an air-breathing civilization living on one side of the “island”, trading with a water-breathing one under their feet. They’re littered with unexplored islands, coves, plains, beaches, and jungles. Many become wealthy because air lets you have forges and agricultural land. Metal and timber are so rare in the Plane of Water that they’ll trade for pearls and gold. Of course, fire, soil and metal attract wealth, but wealth attracts pirates, and some bubble-worlds are nothing more than raiding bases and hideouts.

Isle of Dread: We’re not traveling to the Isle of Dread. Out of the question. I’ve shipwrecked there enough times to do me a lifetime. It’s one of the largest bubble-worlds out there, a continent crawling with dinosaurs, undead, strange natives, warring kingdoms, and the odd lunatic trying to find the City of Gold. I came back from the Valley of Diamonds myself, but I repeat. It. Is. Not. Worth. It. Not unless you’re in desperate need of riches or have a desire to meet an exciting end.

Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls: “The Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls is the greatest of Marid communities and the seat of the Coral Throne. From this court emanates the wise rulership of the Great Padishah of the Marid, the Keeper of the Empire, the Pearl of the Sea, the Parent of the Waves, the Maharaja of the Oceans, Emir of All Currents, and so forth.” Which is to say, it’s a dangerous nest of backstabbing courtiers with a lot of wealth and magical power but no capacity to enforce their claim to ownership of the plane beyond their walls. Even other Marid only pays lip service to the Padishah’s edicts.

Floating outposts & sunken cities: Remember what I said about any large body pulling smaller things to it? A patch of coral or seaweed can snowball into a great reef or deep jungle with shoals of fish living in them. Some folks let ships or specially constructed wooden structures grow into floating castles; sunken cities or rocky “planets” become moving metropolises, messy amalgamations that house millions within their towered homes or interior caves. Obviously, it’s mostly merfolk and water-breathers but all the large ones have water-tight centers filled with air for guests, books, or artisans. In this manner, most of the plane’s inhabitants are nomads of a kind.

Deity Realms

  • Blibdoolpoolp, the Sea Mother of the Kuo-toa, once dwelled in the Elemental Plane of Water in her domain called the Murky Depths.
  • Eadro, deity of the locathah and merfolk, had his realm of Shelluria on the plane.
  • Istishia, The Water Lord, God-King of Water Elementals, once had a realm called Sea of Timelessness here. After the Spellplague he was revealed to be a primordial and he formed a domain in the Elemental Chaos called Cresting Spires.
  • Kalbari al-Durrat al-Amwaj ibn Jari, Padishah of the Marids, Pearl of the Sea, Mother of Foam, Mistress of the Rivers, Savior of Fish, Patron of Waterspouts, and many more titles, had a palace near the Bubble Net called the Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls.
  • Olhydra, Princess of Evil Water Creatures, once inhabited the ruins of a huge citadel made from black coral. She claimed it was the capital of a great empire that she destroyed long ago.
  • Persana, God of the tritons, shared the realm of Shelluria with Eadro.
  • Tefnut, mother of Geb in the Mulhorandi pantheon, was said to live here, though she also had a realm in Bytopia.

Campaign Notes

The party finally got to the delegation ambush site and while not finding anything new, but were able to recover Yllanys’ spellbook.

Sword Mountains

Description

North of Waterdeep, the Sword Mountains march north toward the Neverwinter Woods. Although not militarily significant, this range shields the Dessarin river valley and the High Forest from the
worst of the storms that blow in from the Trackless Sea. The western flanks of the range are home to
orcs, bugbears, kobolds, leucrottas and other dangerous creatures. Self-styled bandit lords, such as
Amalkyn the Black and the wizard Helduth Flamespell, have long-established holds in the region. The
southern peaks are home to stone giants and more fearsome menaces, as well as sylphs on the high ledges and peaks. The Sword Mountains is littered with ruins dating back to the orcish empire of Uruth Ukrypt and the dwarf and gnome clanholds that preceded it.

Geography

With an arc-like shape, the mountains were located northwest of Waterdeep and east of the Mere of Dead Men. Their western slopes led to the Trackless Sea in rolling foothills.

History

The mountains were home to orcs and trolls, but after the orcs were united by Wund and the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge in the Year of the Red Rain, 927 DR, a shaman named Wund arose among the orc tribes of the Sword Mountains. On the eve of the Feast of the Moon, as Wund had prophesied, blood red thunderclouds engulfed the Sword Mountains. For three days the slopes ran wet with blood, leaving behind the sickening stench of rot and decay. All manner of plagues quickly swept through the region. Many orcs (and other folk) died by the White Hand of Yutrus, including every tribal chieftain, but the spawn of Gruumsh who survived the crucible of plagues grew stronger.

In the immediate aftermath of the Blood Plagues, Wund established a monastic order known as the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge. Members of the order organized the surviving orc tribes into a united realm under the spiritual guidance of the brotherhood. The most powerful chieftain, a massive, unintelligent tusker named Uruth, was crowned king by Wund. This was a contributing factor to the Trollwars.

In the Year of the Sky Raiders (936 DR), the armies of Uruth Ukrypt swept down the eastern slopes of the Sword Mountains. The armies of Waterdeep battled the orcs of Uruth Ukrypt in a series of pitched battles known as the Orcfastings War. Early orc victories in the Battle of Whirling Blades, the Battle of Sarcrag, and the Battle of Withered Fields drove Waterdeep’s forces back to the gates of Nimoar’s Hold. However, a timely feint by the Duke of Calandor enabled Nimoar’s forces to break the orcs’ siege of the hold in the Battle of Burning Cliffs. They hatched another plan to attack in the Year of the Cold Claws, 940 DR, but this plan was ruined by the gold dragon Palarandusk.

Due to a raid on Ukrypt’s crypt by a human adventuring company called the Dawnbringer Company in the Year of Lathander’s Light, 1024 DR, the orcs of the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge formed a horde called the Broken Bone with the intent of destroying Waterdeep. Their plans were once again ruined by a dragon; this time Lhammaruntosz. Still determined to exact their revenge, the orcs formed another horde, calling it the Black Claw, and in the Year of Crimson Magics, 1026 DR they came from the mountains to attack Waterdeep. This attack proved unsuccessful, and they were defeated, causing the orcs to lose their unity and plunge into a period of tribal conflict and the orcs of the Sword Mountains disintegrated into warring tribes.

Sumber Hills

Description

Covering an area of some 2,600 square miles, the Dessarin Hills are lightly settled by remote, walled farmsteads, armed mining camps, and small trade posts supported by villages nestled in fertile valleys and trade along the Dessarin River. Thick woodland cloaks much of the hills, crisscrossed with old drover trails leading between higher moorland and hay meadows. Hundreds of small streams have carved valleys through the hills, supporting many fertile farms.

The Sumber Hills were a range of hills in the middle of the Dessarin Valley. The River Dessarin flowed through the hills, providing a source of water travel between Yartar and downstream communities such as Beliard, Bargewright Inn, and Womford. The Larch Path and the Dessarin Road provided passage through the hills.

  • Area: 2,600 square miles (53% woodland, 24% moorland, 13% meadows, 6% farmland, 4% other)
  • Population: 9,800 (59% human, 8% halfling, 6% half-orc, 6% dwarf, 4% half-elf, 3% elf, 14% other)
  • Allies: The Emerald Enclave is represented in this region by the Greywood Circle, a group of druids who are named for their place of meeting amid a tall stand of grey weirwood trees near the village of Three Waters. The Lord’s Alliance is represented by Mayor Cassandra Thorne of Three Waters, owner of the Three Waters Trading Coster. Sigrun Greyshield leads her dwarven clan, who have become wealthy from iron and silver mines throughout the hills. Various other leaders can be found amid the region’s other settlements.
  • Threats: Several goblin clans lair in caves up in the foothills, mostly serving a small tribe of hill giants that lack the tactical acumen to mount an effective attack against the folk of the valleys. A roc claims the tallest peak in the hills, occasionally swooping from the sky to snatch a cow or sheep in each of its mighty talons, but otherwise leaving humanoids alone. A few ettins also have their dens in the hills.

History

One of the first settlements in the Sumber Hills was the underground city of Tyar-Besil, a part of the shield dwarf kingdom of Besilmer. Tyar-Besil was abandoned and fell into ruin in −4190 DR, after the king of Besilmer died in battle. The Sumber Hills were left alone until the Knights of the Silver Horn started clearing the area of its native inhabitants in the Year of the Raised Sword, 893 DR. The knights attempted to set up fortresses in the hills but were stopped by Uruth Ukrypt. These events eventually played a part in the Orcfastings War, and the First and Second Trollwars. Around the Year of the Wailing Winds, 1000 DR, settlements started springing up around the Sumber Hills, creating roads and trails that bisected the hills.

Locations

Settlements

  • Red Larch
  • Beliard

Points of interest

  • Vale of Dancing Waters
  • Sacred Stone Monastery
  • Feathergale Spire
  • Rivergard Keep
  • Stone Bridge
  • Summit Hall
  • Tyar-Besil

Campaign Details

The Sumber Hills are windswept badlands sparsely covered in dry grass. Many of the hills have exposed rock faces or steep escarpments. While the hills are dry, countless tiny streams rise from hidden springs (usually clean and drinkable), then flow down to join the Dessarin River, which bisects the hills. Most locals only think of the wilder, higher hills west of the river when they hear “Sumber Hills,” because it’s there that once had rich quarries and good hunting. Some hunting lodges and keeps owned by wealthy Waterdhavians or adventurers remain-and in recent times have become homes to bandits and monsters.

Those who quarry the Sumber Hills for building stones and gravel often trade tales of finding gemstones and rich veins of ore in the hills-but for the most part, these persistent tales have never been more than talk. In the last few years, the infamous “Haunted Keeps” in the western Sumber Hills have all been reoccupied. Sightings of strange beasts and menacing figures have increased, too.

Sighing Valley

The Sighing Valley was a canyon that ran through the southern stretch of the Sumber Hills in the Dessarin Valley. It earned its name from the whipping winds that created a sighing sound as they passed by the canyon’s features.

Features

The Sighing Valley comprised a wide canyon floor dotted with several tors, rocky spires, and mesas. Winding between these features was a rather small waterway known as the Lost River. One of the more notable features of the Sighing Valley was Feathergale Spire, a tower that served as the headquarters of the Waterdhavian Feathergale Knights in the late 15th century.

  • Fog: At night, fog fills the canyon, limiting visibility to 100 feet. Beyond that range, creatures and objects are heavily obscured.
  • Light: The canyon is brightly lit during the day, and light varies at night from dim to dark.
  • Walls: The canyon walls are 200 to 400 feet high.

Rumors

There have been unsubstantiated rumors that there is an ankheg nest somewhere in the valley.

Sacred Stone Monastery

Description

A trail leads into an ever-narrowing defile between bluffs of wind-sculpted sandstone. Eventually the walls draw in so closely that you can reach out and touch either side, but then the narrow space opens into a hidden canyon in the heart of the hills. A sprawling monastery with dark, narrow windows and red tile rooftops stands in the middle of this natural amphitheater, ringed by sandstone cliffs all around.

Ahead, a weathered flight of stone steps leads up to the closed monastery doors. The plain doors are made of heavy timber with iron studs. A dusty footpath circles the building.

Ruined Moathouse

This is an old Dwarvish fortification used to supplement the defense of the valley.  Through the years it has been mostly forgotten, but it has been occupied, sacked, and reoccupied several times over the years helping its poor condition.  It was constructed in 1060DR (432 years ago) by Baron Kragrut Underforge.  He ruled the area for over a hundred years.

There are a few additions and repairs each time it is reoccupied, but the current occupant is not as interested in rebuilding a full fortification.

Getting There

Just getting to the keep is a difficult trek.  It is over ten miles off Cairn Road.  While the land around the road is mostly simple grasslands and some woods, the area around the Moathouse is a very damp and swampy area.  Movement is 25% formal for anyone moving through the area.  This is primarily to decrease the chance of falling into a bog or overly muddy area.

Description

A scrub of thorns, thistles, weeds, and shrubs grows thickly along the edge of the track which leads to the ruins. Even the track is mostly overgrown and cluttered with fallen branches and trees. Here and there it is washed out, in other places a mire.

Some game evidently still follows the pathway, however, for after a mile or so faint traces can be seen. But even considering this, going is slow, and it takes over an hour to reach the place on horseback, or two to trudge along on foot. Considerable hacking and clearing are necessary to make the way passable, so double the time required for the first trip. After two miles, as the track turns more northerly, the land begins to sink and become boggy. Tall marsh plants grow thickly where cattails and tamaracks do not. Off to the left can be seen the jagged silhouette of the Moathouse.

A side path banked high to cross over the wetland to either side, just north to the entrance of the ruin. The track here is only about 15 feet wide or so, with crumbling embankments making travel near the edge dangerous. The bogs stink. The vegetation appears dense and prolific, but somehow sickly and unhealthy, creepers and vines throwing their strangling loops over the skeletons of dead saplings and living bushes alike. The rushes and cattails rustle and bend even to a slight zephyr, and weird birdcalls, croaking’s, and other unwholesome sounds come faintly across the fen.

The Ruined Moathouse was set off the main road in the fetid marshes.  The track continues past the ruins for many miles.  It takes more than a day to reach the place via horseback from Cairn Road.  It would easily take several days by foot.  Considerable hacking and clearing are necessary to make the way passable. 

Fill was added to the center of a sluggish stream which now flows around the structure forming a natural moat.  The water surrounding the small castle is five to eight feet deep and choked with reeds and vegetation concealing the water’s edge.

The Moathouse walls are constructed of fitted stone blocks a full ten feet thick.  The tops of the outer walls are crenulated battlements, providing cover for soldiers standing on the parapet.  Arrow slits are indicated on the map.  These provided full cover to archers or crossbowmen that defended the Moathouse.  Several sections of the walls have been destroyed and can provide access to the interior. 

Rivergard Keep

Description

A small but strongly built castle on the banks of the Dessarin River, Rivergard Keep is one of the Haunted Keeps of the Sumber Hills. A taciturn mercenary lord named Jolliver Grimjaw and his band of sells words occupy the keep. They are repairing the old castle and protecting trade along the river from the depredations of monsters and bandits, or so they claim. In fact, Rivergard Keep is the secret stronghold of the Cult of the Crushing Wave. Grimjaw and his followers are the very outlaws from whom they claim to be defending trade.

Red Larch

Description

The town of Red Larch was a way stop on the Long Road seven days north of Waterdeep and was located at the intersection of three trails. One trail led to the Bargewright Inn, another to Kheldell, and the third ran into the hills to derelict, monster-infested keeps. The town was named for a stand of red larch trees that were chopped down about the time of the town’s founding.

Red Larch is a town on the Long Road, a few days’ travel north of Waterdeep and a few days’ travel south of Triboar. It’s a way stop for caravans coming to or from the cities of the North, with an inn named the Swinging Sword, a tavern called the Helm at Highsun, and many craftspeople who cater to travelers.

Hills partitioned into fields and pastures by fieldstone fences or hedges surround Red Larch. A mile or so outside the town, cultivated areas give way to unspoiled wilderness. Miles of hills, woods, and grassland stretch on as far as the eye can see, filled with plentiful wildlife.

The Swinging Sword and the Blackbutter Inn are the only inns, and the Helm at Highsun is a large tavern across the street from the inn. Locals gather at Guelker’s store or the tavern to gossip. Ironhead Arms is the best place to buy weapons and armor, and Halvor Tarnlar sells well-made clothing for travelers. Red Larch doesn’t have a mayor, but Constable Harburk keeps the peace. Characters affiliated with factions might know the names of faction agents and supporters in town.

Trade

Red Larch was known for its nourishing, though otherwise non-noteworthy food, called crumblecake. Crumblecakes were made into moist loaves from nuts, chickpea mash, chopped roots and greens, turkey, and wildfowl scraps, all baked together.

Defenses

Around the Year of the Staff, 1366 DR, the town had a militia of around 100 skilled archers, mostly younger boys, who train by keeping predators away from the poultry farm, Mhandyvver’s Poultry. This led raiding parties amongst the orcs to avoid the town.

History

The town was named after a small forest stand of larches that extended along the ridge. The trees, however, were felled by the first settlers in the region, who chose that location thanks to a natural water spring that fed into a small pond that could serve as drinking water for burden animals.

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