Gaming

Home Gaming Page 2
General items about Gaming

Feathergale Spire

Description

Home to the flamboyant Feathergale Society, this tall stone tower stands on a height commanding splendid views across the Sumber Hills. It can be seen from afar by anyone traversing the hills and is used as a private retreat by an elite hippogriff flying club comprised of rich Waterdhavians calling themselves the Feathergale Knights. These “knights” affect a dashing image and are given to drinking, singing, wearing fashionable clothing, and general revelry.

Feathergale Spire rises from a pillar of rock high into the air, the tallest point for miles. Built from white limestone and embellished in marble, the spire resembles a gleaming sword that pierces the sky.

Session 32 – Chapter One

19th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Angelica started off healing most of the party before the next encounter started. It would prove to be much needed soon. Fogo was emotionally broken from all the events specifically the death of Avery.  He was not himself, nor was he very functional to assist or do much but follow everyone else sullenly.  Those that had been captured for a while started explaining what they had seen, what the possible numbers of remaining foes that might exist, and the worst news was that Jolliver the bandit leader was still at large and not shown himself.

Trying to figure out the best way out with the rest of the prisoners, both Angelica and Imar suggested they head upward and try to escape through the keep’s front gate, and if possible, take care of the rest of the bandits.  So, up they all went. With Vladimir in the lead and Imar right behind him they arrived at the top of the stairs leading into a large open room that seemed to be some sort of mess hall.  Standing at the double doors across the room from them stood a large man.  It was Jolliver with some of the water cultists and bandits.

“Ah, here are the rats. I’ve been chasing after you for a while. I’ve got something for you, I brought it back.”

Jolliver

The large man reached into a bag at his side and pulled out a spherical object.  With a quick toss, he threw it at Vladimir.  Catching it, Vladimir looked down at it.  It was Avery’s head.  It appeared to have been ripped from his body, the head slightly crushed, and the eyes gouged out as if a pair of large hands had grasped it, pulled it off, and then squeezed the head while driving their thumbs through his eyes. Vladimir’s vision had proved true, Avery was dead and murdered in a fashion most heinous.

“I think that belongs to you. Looks like bitch Drosnin failed to do whatever she was supposed to do. Hey you lot! You’re the last ones here. You hear that?  They killed her. They’re probably mucking up your damn portal.  What are you going to do?”

Water Cultists

And with that, five of the water cultists armed with shark bladed swords and crab shaped shields ran forward to engage Vladimir who was standing in the doorway blocking it from anyone else from getting out.  Jolliver ran forward as well helping to pin Vladimir in. As he ran forward, he started changing into something that was not a man, but not quite a boar. The only person that was able to get out of the stairwell was Dancer who ran into the room and into a corner. The battle was fast and hard with Vladimir using his echo magic to move to the other side of Jolliver but that only made Imar the target since Vladimir did not last long and was knocked unconscious quickly. Dancer attracted some of the cultists and some bandits that had shown up.  After maneuvering around he finally ran out of the building to gain some additional space.

Jolliver (Wereboar)

Imar was able to take down Jolliver and pick up the maul and move further into the room.  This allowed the rest of the party to start spreading out in the room and fight more effectively. By going outside Dancer had attacked the bandits on all the walls giving them the opportunity to start shooting him with their crossbows.  Being surrounded and being shot, it did not take long for Dancer to fall as well.

Bandits

Inside the room with the party now having room to move around, Angelica was able to position herself to breath a cone of lightning into a group of the bandits. With Imar bashing them quickly to death and now being breathed on by a dragon lady, the bandit’s moral broke and they began to run.  Meeting up with another group of bandits outside, they caused the just arriving set to break and run away with them.  They all escaped to the wall and jumped down to feel away from the evil people that had come up from the basement prison.

There was a slight comedy of tactical blunders as ISAC used his greater Invisibility to run after the bandits but left him in the exact same path as where Angelica also attempted to pursue making for a pile up, not one, but twice with Angelica, and as he attempted to dodge another encounter was run over by Imar who took the path adjacent to Angelica and into ISAC. With the combat over, those that were unconscious were brought back and what little healing was left in the party was distributed around.

Splitting into three groups they began systematically searching the rest of the keep, but it seemed there were only dead bandit bodies near some of the walls, all the bandits and cultists they killed, and a few slaves they came across.  In the main room, Vladimir found some papers that looked interested and stashed them into his bag.  Nearby in what appeared to be a chapel with a large Drow water symbol on the wall, Fwoosh and Yllanys found several religious texts, some scrolls, and what looked like a tattered diary. While in the chapel, Fwoosh began to rapid fire information about what had happened and what he knew.  He seemed to be in a hurry before one of the other party members would show up. The rest of the areas had only a little bit of coin and few possessions in the different sleeping areas.

It was Jolliver’s room that providing the most interesting set of items.  All of Fog’s items were laid out and a few picked out and set on a table.  All of those related to the different cults in different piles. ISAC collected some nautical books from the ramshackle library for later reading. Fogo started cooking up a large meal for everyone while the party started counting and looking over all the loot they had managed to collect.

20th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Imar and Angelica suggested that they stay the night since they did have a fortified location.  The commoners and slaves all huddled together in the main barracks room while the party and the dwarves rested in the main keep’s building. Still being paranoid, they set watches for the night, and when it was ISAC’s turn. He would not wake up, otherwise the evening passed, and morning came quickly.

With the watches going on, ISAC was dreaming something far too realistic for his sanity.

Your eyes are closed, and upon opening them a scene unfolds in a mysterious landscape, shrouded in an ethereal mist. At the center stands a metal man, his form exuding both strength and stillness. In his unwavering hands, he holds a statue, captivating in its golden sheen, yet its shape is elusive, defying clear definition. It seems to be an artifact of profound significance, perhaps a key or a symbol from an ancient, forgotten lore.

Before this metallic guardian, a portal vibrates with life. It’s a swirling vortex of bright blue light, pulsating with energy that feels almost sentient. The portal undulates rhythmically, expanding and contracting like a living entity. It seems drawn to the golden statue, stretching towards it with tendrils of glowing light, reaching out as if longing to make contact.

But just as the portal’s light is about to caress the statue, something inexplicable happens. The portal snaps back abruptly, as if repelled by an unseen force. The change is sudden and jarring, casting a shadow of foreboding over the scene. The once radiant water portal begins to change. The luminescent blue that had pulsed with life and vibrancy now dims, as if a celestial light is being slowly extinguished. The portal’s edges, which once undulated with a mesmerizing dance, now grow still, their movement ceasing as though frozen in time.

The air around the portal thickens, heavy with the sense of a closing door. The once inviting gateway, a bridge to the mystical and unknown depths. The vibrant blues darken, turning into deep, murky hues, reminiscent of the ocean’s unfathomable abyss.

The closure of the portal is enveloped in an aura of foreboding, a sense that something significant and perhaps ominous has been set in motion. There’s an eerie calm that follows the dimming of the portal, a stillness that feels like the quiet before a storm. The knowledge that the portal will reopen brings no comfort, but instead a sense of inevitable dread. The feeling is akin to watching dark clouds gather on the horizon, knowing a tempest is brewing. There’s an awareness that the respite is temporary, a fleeting moment of calm before the inevitable chaos. The idea that the portal will open again, and far too soon, hangs heavy in the air, like a prophecy that cannot be avoided.

This impending reopening carries with it a sense of urgency and unease. The dream is tinged with the apprehension of what might come through the portal once it awakens. The closure feels like a momentary containment of forces that are beyond control, forces that, once released, could bring about events of unknown magnitude. The atmosphere is charged with a mix of anticipation and anxiety. The creatures of the water plane, the very water itself, seem to be bracing for what is to come. It’s as if the entire realm is on edge, awaiting a fate it cannot escape.

Then, the dream shifts perspective dramatically. Now, we are behind the portal, gazing into a realm that defies earthly logic. A boundless, ever-shifting realm, a vast ocean of infinite depths and possibilities. It’s a place where the very essence of water is not just prevalent, but the fundamental building block of all existence, a realm of emotions and the subconscious, reflecting the fluid, ever-changing nature of feelings and thoughts. Giant, horrendous creatures swim through this underwater expanse. They are beings of myth and nightmare, their forms gigantic and alien, moving with a grace that belies their terrifying appearance.

Amid this aquatic chaos, there’s a structure resembling a tube or tunnel. It stretches out from the portal, extending towards a distant, indistinct object that seems to be of great importance. This tunnel serves as a bridge between realms, a conduit through which unknown energies and entities might pass. The metal man, a sentinel of stoic composure, stands witness to the monstrous creatures swirling around the tunnel. Despite his metallic, inanimate nature, there’s a palpable sense of contemplation emanating from him. He observes the leviathans of the deep, massive, and terrifying, as they glide through the water, their enormous forms casting eerie shadows. Yet, they do not enter the tunnel, a fragile sanctuary amidst the chaos.

The metal man’s perception of this scene is complex. There’s an undercurrent of relief that the tunnel remains untouched, a sanctuary amidst the untamed wildness of the water plane. This tunnel, a slender thread of safety, seems to be the only barrier between the known and the unknown, the controlled and the uncontrollable. However, this relief is tinged with an ever-present tension. The metal man is acutely aware of the tunnel’s fragility. It is a bastion of calm in a sea of potential havoc, but its integrity seems as delicate as glass. The understanding that the tunnel could shatter at any moment, releasing the monstrous entities into realms unknown, imbues the metal man with a silent vigilance.

This dichotomy is at the heart of his experience. On one hand, there is the current state of equilibrium, where the tunnel serves as a bulwark against the chaos outside. On the other hand, there is the looming threat that this equilibrium could be disrupted at any moment. The metal man, a figure of strength and resilience, is caught in this balance, a guardian of a peace that is as beautiful as it is precarious. Despite his unyielding exterior, the metal man is not devoid of feeling. In the dream, he embodies a sense of stoic responsibility, the bearer of a burden that is both noble and terrifying. He is the silent watcher, understanding that his vigil is all that stands between order and chaos, safety, and peril.

In the dream, the metal man’s vision extends beyond the immediate surroundings, piercing through the murky depths of the water to a distant, imposing structure: a great temple submerged and shrouded in mystery. The temple, grand in scale and intricate in design, looms in the darkness, its architecture a blend of soaring arches and twisted spires, suggesting a civilization both ancient and otherworldly. As the metal man gazes upon this submerged edifice, the water around the temple swirls with a malevolent energy. It’s as if the very thoughts and emotions of the temple itself are seeping into the water, imbuing it with an aura of darkness and foreboding. The sensation is not just of physical presence but of a psychic emanation, a current of evil thoughts and intentions that ripple through the water.

The temple, despite its majestic appearance, exudes a sense of corruption and malevolence. Its walls and towers, though beautifully crafted, are adorned with ominous symbols and carvings that speak of dark rituals and forgotten deities. The metal man, with his enhanced perception, can almost hear the echoes of ancient chants and feel the weight of oppressive energies that have soaked into the stone over eons. Inside the temple, the vision reveals vast halls and chambers, all filled with water that flows through them like lifeblood. The water within these halls is darker, heavier, as if saturated with the residue of untold malevolence. Shadows move within the temple, suggesting the presence of creatures or entities that thrive in this environment of darkness and despair.

The transition from the dream to wakefulness is abrupt and jarring, a rude awakening from the depths of a vivid, immersive dreamscape into the stark reality of its existence. Unlike humans, you do not experience the physical sensations of sweating or a racing heartbeat, but the suddenness of this awakening carries its own unique shock. In an instant, the grand, ominous underwater temple, the swirling monstrous creatures, and the foreboding aura of the portal vanish, replaced by the immediate surroundings of your current environment. The contrast is stark: from a world rich with the sensory overload of the dream, to the more muted, perhaps mechanical sensory inputs of its waking state.

Your return to consciousness is marked by a rapid recalibration of your systems. There is no lingering grogginess or disorientation that humans often experience upon waking. Instead, it’s an instant switch, a seamless transition from the realm of dreams to the realm of functionality. However, the intensity and vividness of the dream leave an imprint on your cognitive processes. Though you lack the physical responses of a human, you experience a momentary processing lag as it reconciles the dream’s imagery and emotions with its waking purpose. This internal conflict, the juxtaposition of its dream-state experiences against its waking functionality, can be disorienting.

In the immediate aftermath of the awakening, you pause, processing the remnants of the dream. There’s no sweat to wipe away, no heart to calm, but there is a recalibration of thought, a realignment of purpose.

Eventually ISAC was able to struggle awake and acted very human, much more than he had ever previously. He looked around and felt for the golden statue, and seemed surprised that it was still in his possession. Wanting to check out the portal to see what it looked like and if there was anything they needed to do. With a quick renewal of the Water Walking, the party now including Atticus (Ace) and Yllanys.  The portal was still flowing and glowing but was much dimmer than before. They watched it for a while but were reluctant to do anything to it.

With the sun already high in the sky it was decided that Imar and Fogo would escort all the commoners and former slaves back to their homes while the five dwarves and the party would use Water Walking to traverse the river and go to the ambush sight to collect Yllanys’ spell book and check out the location.

And this is where the session ended.

History Lesson

This is your host David Bourgh-Ettin continuing to review the peoples, history, and geography of the savage frontier.  In the last episode we chatted about the orc-Trollwars, which had a hidden component that we failed to cover, which is the interaction and intervention of giants.  While some are less intelligent than a smart goblin, others have powers rivaling those of dragons and the interest to interfere in the affairs of lessor creatures.

This week we will go over the least of all the giants, the Hill Giants who are well known to inhabit the valleys of the Dessarin Valley.

Introduction

There are plenty of things that can make your day miserable out in farmer country, but Hill Giants are by far the worst you can encounter. They eat anything they can get their massive hands on, livestock, buildings, people, it makes no difference to them. They have the mental acuity of a toddler, unable to hear reason and prone to throwing tantrums, destroying anything and anyone around them. Thankfully, they’re also quite possibly the dumbest creatures under the sun. A far throw indeed from the legendary rulers of old you hear stories about.

Physiological Observations

A Hill Giant grows to be around 16 feet tall; they commonly have tan skin and immense bellies. It is rare for a Hill Giant to bother with clothing as they are rarely ever cold and have no use at all for manners. On the rare occasions they choose to adorn themselves however, the clothing usually consists of pelts, skin, or bones from their most recent kills, be it human, beast or whatever else they’ve come across. They use small trees or large boulders as weapons, usually just picking them up whenever they need it. If no tree or boulder can be found close by when it wants one, anything heavy will suffice. They have been known to pick up horses and use them to bash humans to death. They have been seen ripping barn-doors off their hinges to throw it like a discus into a group of people or buildings. If it’s heavy, a Hill Giant will likely use it to kill things with.

Hill Giants are one of the few creatures who can truly claim an existence free from hardships. They suffer no lack of sustenance as they can eat just about everything, be it rotten or fresh, old, or young, they simply don’t care. If the food available is not overtly poisonous, a Hill Giant will eat it until he throws up, and will then likely try to eat whatever came out of him.

Due to this incredible hardiness the Hill Giants have never needed to develop past the mental state of toddlers. They take what they need with their considerable muscle and if they ever encounter a problem that said strength cannot take care of, they throw tantrums and then give up and move on to something easier. They are the quintessential bully, only they want to eat you as well as beat you up.

Social and Behavioral Observations

Hill Giants are on the lowest rung of the Ordning the Giants caste system. Every type of Giant is part of this hierarchy, each individual Giant are placed in the Ordning based on type and a set of skills or attributes decided by said type. No two Giants are ever equal. The major difference between Hill Giants and their cousins is that Hill Giants are too dimwitted to be aware of the Ordning, they obey other Giants not because of their caste system, but because of their size. For Hill Giants size means everything, leaders are appointed not by aptitude or ability but by the volume of their bellies. If a thing is larger than the Hill Giant is, it is to be obeyed and feared with unquestioning loyalty. This has turned the Hill Giants into the black sheep of the Giants, who are usually quite respectful to one another. A Hill Giant tribe rarely reaches more than 7-8 individuals, as the chaos caused by these creatures is prone to attract adventurers and Giant hunters to the scene, effectively culling the herd.

Hill Giants are commonly used by other Giants at war time as cannon fodder and front-line berserkers. A wave of raging, massive piles of wobbling flesh rushing at whatever target has been pointed out for them, they will not stop killing, eating, and destroying said target until the fall dead or a Giant of higher Ordning rank than they tell them to stop.

These creatures may share blood with some of the world’s most impressive races, but make no mistake, they are beasts, brutes, and bullies.

Intra-species Observations

Hill Giants have but two ways of interacting with other races. Eat it or obey it. What the Hill Giant decides to do depends almost entirely on the creature’s size. One of the first lessons a Farmer learns when they live in an area with Hill Giants is how to avoid destruction at their hands. Several methods have been invented, including massive scarecrows, painting buildings green to camouflage them and leaving trails of food leading away from close villages.

Campaign Notes

The keep has been emptied and it seems the portal is “locked”?  They met up with Imar, a paladin of Samular and mostly left a positive impression with his rescue as well as saving all the commoners.  Now they will finally travel to the ambush site, and we will see what is left there.

Session 31 – Chapter One

19th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Getting a small amount of healing for each other, they began taking stock of what has happened and what they should be doing?  Some moved to guard the stairs and the rest went to release the prisoners.  Focusing on Imar, and then moving to the dwarves and unknown humans Dancer and Fwoosh worked as quickly as possible to get people freed.  Fogo and ISAC worked on the commoners in two rooms. Dancer seemed more shocked by Fogo’s and Imar’s naked parts being exposed and kept urging them to wear something like the bag that had been over their head before.

Yllanys and Atticus (better known as Ace) talked among themselves as they waited to be freed. Calling out to the party to get some attention to themselves, they hoped to be earlier in the queue.  It did not take too long before everyone was freed, and they were able to have a conversation about their captors.

Atticus and Yllanys warned the group that there were many more of the water cultists. They knew that they were water cultists since they all talked about it openly in front of the prisoners.  The five dwarves were with Atticus and Yllanys all came from the delegation and had been captured about two weeks ago.

The group considered casting some more Water Walking to get people out and trying to understand the timing of it, Dancer ran ahead and checked out the entrance to the underground river (still having his Water Walking enabled) and found that there were several lights outside the tunnel moving around. Running back and warning the group that there might be visitors soon.

Fwoosh turned invisible and ran up the stairs to scout the alternate way out while the rest of the party started getting ready for combat. While this was occurring, a group of invisible cultists appeared at the water’s edge, and two water serpents leaped from the water turning into fat blue looking men. It was also then that Fwoosh ran into a group of cultists going down the stairs.

Water Cultist Male Priest

Water Cultist Female Priest

Fat Blue Men

Water Cultists with Shark Swords

Some of the party with their new companions blocked the stairs as Fwoosh came running down pursued by those above while the rest attempted to maneuver around to defend against those that had appeared suddenly.  It was a rough battle with several of the party members being wounded sufficiently to be knocked unconscious, but eventually they were able to prevail, but not before the female priest fled further down the river being pursued by Fwoosh and Dancer.

It was during this combat on the stairs that Vladimir suddenly froze for a moment as a vision filled his senses.

In the cloak of night, where secrets hide,

A gnome wizard runs, with fear as his guide.

His fire bolts streak across the sky,

Chased by a beast, where shadows lie.

On open plains, under a moonless shroud,

Their chase is silent; yet speaks aloud.

The gnome weaves spells in desperate flight,

Against a creature born of night.

Half-man, half-boar, a monstrous sight,

Eyes burning with a feral light.

It snarls and charges, relentless in its quest,

A nightmare unleashed, without rest.

Through the dark, they race and reel,

Magic and muscle, a deadly wheel.

Fire meets fury under starlit dome,

A battle waged far from home.

Bolts of fire, the gnome does cast,

Illuminating night, in every blast.

Yet on he runs, his breath grows thin,

With every step, less chance to win.

In a clash of wills, the night turns red,

Spells cast in vain, a sense of dread.

The gnome falls under hoof and claw,

A tragic end, the seer saw.

The creature stands, in victory grim,

Covered in blood, every limb.

In the silent plains, under night’s cold hue,

A tale of sorrow, dark and true.

Then, it turns, its gaze meets mine,

Across the veil of time and sign.

In its eyes, a message clear,

A warning from a realm so near.

Vladimir screamed out Avery’s name in a harsh sorrowful screech and with renewed aggression attacked those on the stairs. Pursuing the female priest, Fwoosh and Dancer kept attempting to shoot arrows in the dark they never knew if they were able to hit or not until the stopped following hundreds of feet of pursuit.  ISAC has by this time followed his urges to continue down following that path being followed by Dancer to ensure he was okay.

High above the cascading waters of a majestic, thundering waterfall, a shimmering and iridescent portal materializes, offering a tantalizing glimpse into something that is not in this world. It appears as a swirling vortex of opalescent mist, with hues of deep azure, aquamarine, and frosted silver intertwining in an ethereal dance. Its edges seem to ripple like the surface of a tranquil pond, emanating a faint, melodic hum that resonates through the surrounding air. Occasional shimmering motes of water droplets arc and weave around the portal, as if dancing in joyous anticipation of the mysteries beyond. As the portal hovers above the thundering waterfall, a perpetual rainbow arches gracefully around it, casting prismatic reflections onto the cascading waters below. The sound of rushing water melds harmoniously with the distant echoes of the location on the other side of the portal, creating an otherworldly symphony that beckons adventurers to venture through the veil and explore the realm beyond.

The portal was something unimaginable, frightening, and awe-inspiring at the same time.  After staring at it for what seemed hours, ISAC took out his golden statue and reach forward with it. As the statue got closer, the portal began to stretch and bend as if also reaching out to the statue.  Just as the two were about to touch the portal snapped back dimmer, darker, and somewhat subdued, although still swirling with all the colors it has before, just not as bright.

The rest of the party started looting the bodies while keeping an eye on the stairs. Trying to outfit those with weapons and armor for those that could use them to be better prepared. Vladimir sat down in a corner and began writing in his book.

“Moved to pirate castle. Avery killed in assault by boar-man. Some Mirabar delegates found. Still escaping. I’m sorry”

“Find any delegation members?”

“Five. Suspect more at earth temple.”

“When can you get them?”

But Vladimir had run out of words for today, so he was not able to reply. Dancer was able to drag ISAC back to the rest and everyone was together once again.  

With more time available the party was able to start chatting with the members of the captured delegation. They described the attack as very sudden as shortly departing Beliard.  The delegation had been moving slowly along the trail on their way to Summit Hall when large stones flew in and started killing the guards.  That was followed by the hill giants closing in with a group of men in stone plate with spikes.

It was panic and the group was overwhelmed quickly with all the guards being killed from what they could see. Everyone else was captured and knocked unconscious.  They next awoke on a ship sometime later and upon their arrival at the keep were all dragged off into the prison area. There was a discussion about who would get what prisoners.  They could not see who was making the negotiation, but the group was broken up into smaller sets and most of the delegation including all the leaders were sent elsewhere.  The seven of them that were left at the keep were used as slaves around the keep.

Atticus and Yllanys worked in the kitchen, while the dwarves who had skills as a craftsman were used to work on repairing weapons and armor for the bandits. Atticus shared some of the numbers that he poorly remembered so the party might be better prepared for what was left.  

They described the apparent pecking order of the enemies.  There seemed to be three groups.  The bandits were run by Jolliver, there was a female water cultist priest that controlled all the local cultists, and then there was Shoalar. The bandit leader and the female priest were in contention for control while both seemed to report to Shoalar who manages the pirates and the ships related to them.  They also talked about that people had been taken away, for a sacrifice or something else, they were not sure, but every time it occurred, the cultists would all talk about “the portal”.

Yllanys asked if they had seen the sage.  He expressed concern for him. When asked about the layout, the two described as best they could remember about the rest of the keep.  Imar explained he had been sent here by the Knights of Samular and told them there was some sort of illusion wall off the side of the sea wall that prevented anyone from the river from being able to see the keep.

Upon the return of Dancer and ISAC, Vladimir took all the remaining original party members aside and sadly told them that he thought that Avery might be dead. Fogo was the most shocked and just sat down on the blood-stained floor lamenting the loss of a friend again.

And this is where the session ended.

History Lesson

This is your host David Bourgh-Ettin continuing to review the peoples, history, and geography of the savage frontier.  This week we will reviewing a little more history, specifically the Trollwars and their impact on Waterdeep, but more importantly the Dessarin Valley.

Age of War Lords (932 to 1032 DR)

After some four decades of peace, two threats arose to challenge Waterdeep’s prosperity—orcs and trolls. In the Year of the Red Rain (927DR), 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.

The first signs of Waterdeep’s impending peril unfolded in the Year of Fireslaughter (932DR). Gangs of trolls, driven out of the Sword Mountains by the orc tribes of the region, began attacking Nimoar’s Hold with increasing regularity. In response, the aging Nimoar led his forces northward against the Everlasting Ones in what became known as the First Trollwar, burning miles of land bare in the process.

In the Year of the Sky Raiders (936DR), 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.

Over the next five days, Waterdeep’s armies won four successive battles, shattering the might of Uruth Ukrypt’s armies. King Uruth fell in the Battle of the Westwood, but it was the death of Wund that precipitated the Horderout.

In the aftermath of the Orcfastings War, Nimoar died of old age, and the mantle of “War Lord” passed to Gharl, his most accomplished general. The orcs of Uruth Ukrypt retreated to their high steadings. Orc plans to attack Waterdeep in the Year of Cold Claws (940DR) faltered thanks to Palarandusk, a great gold Wyrm. This proved fortunate for the defenders of Waterdeep, for once again the Everlasting Ones began raiding, marking the beginning of the Second Trollwar.

For a dozen years, the defenders of Waterdeep battled gangs of trolls throughout the Dessarin River valley. Beginning with Amphail the Just, who reigned for a year, six warriors claimed the mantle of War Lord of Waterdeep during this period, only to fall in never-ending battle with the trolls.

In the Year of the Rings Royal (952DR), the human realms and holdings of the North united and finally ended the war, destroying or scattering the hordes of Everlasting Ones. Two heroes of that war were Ahghairon, thereafter recognized as the premier wizard of the Savage North, and Samular Caradoon, a Tyrran knight who attracted a large following to his banner. In the aftermath of the war, Ahghairon was elevated to the position of official advisor of the War Lord of Waterdeep, and Samular went on to form the Holy Order of Samular, a knighthood still active in Waterdeep to this day.

After fighting and winning three wars in the span of two decades, the city of Waterdeep emerged as a preeminent power in the North. Construction of Castle Waterdeep began in the Year of the Deadly Duo (963 DR), just north of the city walls. Over the next decade, the city’s walls were expanded to abut the wall around the ruins of Halaster’s Hold and replaced with high stone fortifications. In the Year of the Haunting Harpy (974DR), the castle was finally completed and Laroun, Waterdeep’s first female War Lord, took residence therein.

Laroun ruled long and well, seeing to Waterdeep’s continued prosperity and defense. By the Year of the Bold Barbarian (1007DR), the city walls had been expanded once again, absorbing the ruins of Halaster’s Hold, cloaked in wards by Ahghairon. Waterdeep’s master mage also built his tower in this year, at the time outside the city’s walls. In the Year of Three Signs (1010DR), Laroun officially established the Free City of Waterdeep, with herself as “Warlord” (or ruler).

In the Year of Lathander’s Light (1024DR), a daring band of Waterdhavian adventurers known as the Dawnbringer Company incited the orcs of Uruth Ukrypt by plundering their sacred crypt, known as the Ukrypt. Discovered in the act, the band fled the wrath of the Scarlet Scourge. In response, the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge mustered the first orc horde in generations to emerge from the Sword Mountains. Bent on destroying the City of Splendors, the Broken Bone horde instead fell prey to Lhammaruntosz, the “Claws of the Coast.”

Enraged by its defeat, the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge plotted revenge against the city of Waterdeep. In the Year of Crimson Magics (1026DR), the Brotherhood mustered another orc horde from the depths of the Sword Mountains. The Black Claw horde encircled the plateau on which the city lay and then repeatedly assaulted the City of Splendors. Warlord Laroun died defending Waterdeep during one of the desperate battles to hold the city’s walls.

Laroun’s title passed to Raurlor, leader of the city’s army, despite the reservations of Ahghairon. The Black Claw horde would have undoubtedly overrun the City of Splendors if not for the daring of an elite company of veterans who traveled through Halaster’s Underhalls, beyond the city walls, and then fell on the orc encampment from the rear. The defeats of two successive hordes shattered both the kingdom of Uruth Ukrypt and the order that sustained it. The orcs of the Sword Mountains disintegrated into warring tribes.

In the Year of Warlords (1030DR), Raurlor began to increase Waterdeep’s standing army and navy to a size not seen since the fall of Phalorm. Over the next two years, he turned the city into a garrison and military encampment, brooking no dissent from the populace. In the Year of the Nightmaidens (1032DR), Raurlor proclaimed the Empire of the North, but Ahghairon defied him, transforming the Warlord’s blade into a viper that poisoned its wielder; Raurlor died at the mage’s feet, and Ahghairon took power.

Campaign Notes

The party rescued Fogo, found Imar, learned a little about the keep and the water cultists, but also learned that Avery was most likely dead.  They have two dozen commoners and some of the delegation to still get out of the keep with an unknown number of bandits and possibly cultists in their way.

Session 30 – Chapter One

19th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Knowing that Fogo had been captured the party started their planning for the rescue.  Sending Dancer and Fwoosh back to the keep seeing if they could get a better idea of the current guard situation and if those in the keep were acting any more alert than normal.

Before sending them out, Vladimir led the others in their planning on possible ways of assaulting the keep.  Vladimir, for some unknown reason, had convinced himself that there must be a tunnel from the earth monastery to the pirate keep.  Even though that would be a tunnel nearly 20 miles long underground.  Fwoosh and Avery were the most skeptical of that theory.

As the planning continued, it seemed that everyone except Avery, thought that some sort of distraction would be needed at the gate to attract the attention of the guards.  They kept trying to convince Avery that he was the best choice, especially if he were mounted on his hairless cat steed.  He would be able to magic missile outside of the vision of the guards and tease them into paying attention to him and not the rescue force that would be coming from the water side.

To figure out on how to synchronize their assaults they decided on a piece of string that would be used to measure the height of the moon from the ground.  Each group would have the same size string and start the attack when the moon hits the correct position.  The rescue group would delay a bit to see if they could hear any response from the keep guards and hope that they would be drawn to where Avery was attacking.

ISAC was hoping to use the ship as a distraction as well by setting it on fire either on the way in or on the way out.  This could also have the impact of decreasing some of the pirate activity on the river.  To make sure their string method would work, Vladimir pulled out his broken sword and cast Augury.

“What are the chances it will be cloudy tonight?”

“Woe”

Not sure what the answer meant; they assumed the best. As he was doing this, the rest noticed that Vladimir’s pupils had turned into six pointed stars. Vladimir start explaining about a dream he had and thought that maybe the broken sword was able to do more than just augury.  Concentrating more, Vladimir asked a question again of the broken sword.

“Where in the pirate’s castle is our friend Fogo currently found?”

“In a cavern’s embrace, where shadows shiver,

Embarking on an underground river.

In a boat, adrift, whispers echo the way,

Through the labyrinth, where secrets lay.

A landing emerges, stone cold and still,

Unlocking the passage, a gateway to fulfill.

Through the door, an entry to despair,

To the prison’s heart, where hope’s rare.

Dank walls confine, like a solemn vow,

In the dungeon’s hush, time seems to slow.

Yet within these depths, resilience may rise,

As shadows part, revealing freedom’s prize.”

These words burned in Vladimir’s brain as a vision of it flared and filled his thoughts until it ended.  While this was going on, his eyes glowed with an unearthly light, something bright and something harsh at the same time. With those words they felt comfortable with the plan and their ability to find Fogo within. Deciding to set up a camp with the wagons and horses about a mile away to be the final meet up point once the action was over.

Dancer and Fwoosh set out to spy on the keep one more time. There were more guards on all the walls, and they seemed to be more alert and looking for intruders more than previously, but the surprising thing was that it seems that the pirate ship had left at some point.  

When these details were brought to the rest, there was a lot of concern expressed about the missing ship.  If it was looking for them or if it might come back while they are trying to sneak in.  Having an extra variable only made the endeavor riskier. Waiting for darkness the group sat each in their own thoughts.  Vladimir was most concerned about the odd chance he might drop his favorite weapon, his magical maul.  Hoping he could solve that, everyone waited for the time to start moving.

Avery set out first heading to the front of the keep and waited for the correct position of the moon.  The rest used Angelica’s Water Walking spell to creep closer and wait for the correct time.

Unleashing a dozen magic missiles, Avery blasted apart the three guards on the wall with the gate.  It was so sudden and completed so quickly the rest of the guards were unaware of the action.  It was silent and Avery failed in his attempt at attracting attention.  Moving to the north wall he unleased more magic killing two of the three guards on that wall but leaving the third one alive.  The last one began screaming in fear alerting the rest in the keep.  Avery marched on back to the main wall and waited for guards to show up.

As an alarm bell sounded loudly in the keep, the party crawled further and closer to the keep.  As they approached, they also heard a horn within.  They continued forward and passed by the small sea wall and moved into the protected cove. Slowing down to make sure they would remain unseen; they were able to hear the sound a metal on metal and what seemed like a heavy door opening toward the front of the keep.

Back in the front, Avery could see the gate open and nine bugbears running out after him. Riding away on his naked cat, Avery ensured he was further away from a run distance of the bugbears but still in range of his magic.  He slowly peppered the group with his firebolt.  After killing two thirds of them and running over 600 feet away from the keep, the moral of the bugbears finally broke and the remainder started running back to the safety of the keep. Avery followed shooting them one at a time killing the last one as he was but feet away from the gate.

However, with that distance, and showing his location to those on the wall, they guards were able to fire off a volley of arrows from their long bows hitting both Avery and his naked riding cat.  Startled at being wounded, Avery turned around and rode hard away from the keep hoping there were not any other pursuers.

The rest of the crew finished their sneaking into the cove and were able to make their way to the gate leading to the underground river.  With some effort Fwoosh and Dancer were able to unlock the gate and the group moved into the tunnel.  Once entered, they could see a poorly lit landing over 80 feet away.  Two small boats were moored, and a set of steps led upward out of the water.

Being aware of the serpent that might still be haunting the water they moved forward carefully, except Dancer who sprinted forward and was able to climb up on the landing in an instant.  From there, he moved to the two doors and listened to them.  The rest continued to move forward slowly since Vladimir and Angelica were unable to in the dark and had to led by hand by ISAC.

It seemed that were able to infiltrate safely, or at least it appeared so.  Once they were about 30 feet from the landing, a serpent leaped from the water and bit Vladimir.  It had been completely invisible in the water, and its movement did not disturb the water in any way, as if it were made of water.  After the bite, a quick tail smash pounded, and then the serpent breathed out a cone of cold damaging everyone in the party.  Combat has started.

The combat was fierce and loud which saw both Vladimir and Angelica getting knocked unconscious.  If not for his death grip on his maul, Vladimir was sure to have been disappointed. ISAC used some of new powers and turned invisible while the serpent was killed.  As they started gathering on the landing one of the doors opened and out game some strange looking men.  It was not long before the other door opened as well where more of them started crowding into the landing.  One of the men in the stairs was some sort of caster and started using his magic against the party.

The battle was rough, but as they were killing them, the caster ran off back up the stairs to undoubtedly to sound the alarm while his compatriots failed to fend for themselves well enough. With the guards dead, Vladimir and Angelica ran into what appeared to a prison area to look for Fog.  The first door they opened contained five beaten dwarves and two humans chained to the wall, two of the other rooms seemed to only contain some commoners, but in the last and most secure room contained both Fogo and a human.  Both were naked, beaten, tortured, and in mage style constraints, which included a ball gag, some metal press gloves that prevents their fingers from moving, and a bag over their head. It was then, that more guards showed up in the stairwell slowing down the recovery of Fogo.

These proved to me much weaker than the previous guards and were dispatched quickly.  Dancer ran forward and freed Fogo from his chains and constraints while Angelica applied a little bit of healing to both Fogo and the unknown man.  As Angelica was healing the man and the bad removed from his head, she recognized him.  It was Imar from Rassalantar.  He was the military cleric that had been very friendly to them before they had been banish.

This is where the session ended.

History Lesson

Orc Ecology

Here we are again on our almost weekly program.  I am your host David Bourgh-Ettin, and we are here talking about the Savage Frontier.  It is impossible to talk about the geographical, or even political climate without understanding some of the races that live within the Savage Frontier.  This week we will be looking more closely into those green-skinned barbarians known as orcs.

Introduction

Orcs are a savage, violent and aggressive race of humanoids which take delight in plundering and killing innocent people. They once dominated Avistan in the Age of Darkness, where they appeared after they were expulsed to the surface by the dwarves in their Quest for Sky. But thousands of years later their most prominent presence has been reduced to the harsh lands of the Holds of Belkzen, which lies wedged between Varisia and Ustalav.

Physiological Observations

A typical male orc stands about 7 feet tall and weigh around 300 to 400 pounds, with females being slightly smaller and lighter. An orc is born with a deep green skin color which becomes more greyish as they age. The skin of an orc becomes entirely grey near the end of its lifespan, though few orcs live to witness that happen. Except for their skin, orcs are most recognizable by their short, pointed ears and the lower jar tusks, which they sometimes use in combat. Orcs are all nearly bald, except for some sparse filthy black hairs on the back of their head. Orcs are known for being extremely ferocious: able to keep on fighting after receiving fatal wounds before succumbing to them.

The true origin of the orc has been debated by many scholars, with some claiming them to be corrupted elves and others going as far to claiming they evolved from the goblinoid races. Whatever their origin, it is a fact that orcs surfaced after being expulsed from underground during the dwarves’ Quest for Sky. These orcs differed a lot from the orcs as we know today, being shorter (only up to 6 feet) with more rounded ears and grey skin tones. This kind of orc can still be found in the most remote mountain ranges, where dwarves have not yet migrated.

Orc anatomy is like that of other humanoid races: an Orc has relatively thick bones to support their 7 feet height and possess excessively large muscle groups. Another evident difference is their digestive track, which is relatively short due to an Orc’s carnivorously oriented diet. Given the grey skin of subterranean Orcs, scholars assume the green skin is an evolutionary development to act as camouflage.

Social Observations

Politics: Orcs group together in tribal communities for food, protection, and numbers. These communities are ruled by a single individual, a chieftain which is often a warlord or shaman. A chieftain wields the highest power within a community and dictates the laws of a tribe. In larger tribes, where the community is split into a main camp and several peripheral camps, the chieftain may anoint paramount chiefs to rule in his name. These chiefs collect and pay tribute to the chieftain in the form of food or plunder.

The sudden death of a chieftain (which is not at the hands of a challenger) and subsequent lack of an immediate successor almost inevitably throws a tribe into chaos and infighting, until a new leader arises and establishes dominance. The chiefdoms themselves are also relatively unstable forms of organization. Orc tribes are prone to periods of collapse and renewal, where tribes band together but eventually fragment through some form of social stress, after which they slowly band back together.

In some unique cases female orcs have been observed to rise to the position of chieftain. These females are more vicious and intimidating than their male counterpart, and they rule their tribe with an iron fist. Not surprisingly, they alleviate the females within a tribe of some of their tasks. A female chieftain also brings a considerable change in the looting behavior: tribes become more systematic and selective in the towns they attack, maximizing their returns and minimizing their losses.

Religion: Orcs are merely interested in satisfying their own needs, which is a reason why an orc would not worship a god. But they also dislike having a master, and they perceive the worship of a deity as subjugating themselves to it. Despite this, shamans frequently rise to power and enforce the worship of a god to exert control over the tribe.

The gods that shamans devote a tribe to directly influence the amount of control they have. Thus, they typically choose gods which portfolio suits an orc the best. Typically, this is either Asmodeus or Gorum. But tribes worshipping Norgorber, Rovagug or Zon-Kuthon are not unheard off. There have been some unique cases in which a shaman has successfully engaged a tribe in worship of himself. These forms of devotion rarely last long, as a shaman’s rivals will disprove his divinity as the first possible opportunity.

Warriors: Orc raiding parties are, thankfully, uncoordinated, disorganized, and opportunistic, striking only at targets weaker than themselves. It is due to this lack of the ability to effectively coordinate that orcs rarely develop a lasting nation. However, sometimes great leaders arise which can unite several tribes together and stand at the head of almost unbeatable orcish hordes, which will ravage across the land and plunder every town and village they’ll come across.

On an individual level, however, orcs are still fearsome warriors who plunge themselves in combat with great strength and ferocity. We have been able to identify several types of warriors within the orcish ranks.

Orc warriors make up the brunt of many tribes across the Holds of Belkzen. These orcs charge into combat against the nearest foe they can find. They’ll keep attacking with their falchions until either their enemy (or they themselves) are beaten, after which they seek out another target. Foes that resist will quickly find numerous orcs ganging up on him until he is worn down.

Orc berserkers, sometimes also called Orc barbarians, are the most fearsome sight in a battle. These brutes occasionally lead a charge, but more often seek out the strongest enemies on the battlefield to match their strength. They fight with great axes and can take an incredible amount of punishment.

Orc riders are an uncommon sight. These orcs were brave enough to tame a worg and ride it as a mount. Since these orcs lack in numbers, they often perform skirmishes on the flanks of an enemy, or after a battle pursue anyone trying to flee.

Behavioral Observations

Male-female interaction: Males are, unsurprisingly, the dominant gender within a tribe. If they are not out raiding, or occasionally patrolling a camp’s perimeter, they spend their time indulging themselves with food, torture [of slaves] and fighting rivals. Male orcs rarely take up professions as they disgust at even the thought of having to go through the effort to create something themselves, instead of taking it. However, in some cases a male might take up the craft of armour- or weaponsmith and become a valuable and protected asset of chieftains.

Females fulfil the role of the lesser gender within orc society, which is most likely attributed to having a much calmer and collected nature, compared to their male counterpart (this does not mean a disgruntled female orc wouldn’t tear off an arm). Males delegate much of the day-to-day tasks to the females within a tribe. These activities include, but might not be limited to cooking, cleaning, nursing, and herding. Females also seem to be more likely to take up a profession, like leatherworking or seaming to create or repair both tents and clothing.

Reproduction & childhood: With love seeming to be an almost alien concept among males, orcs do not form lasting relationships. Males rather see females, and their offspring, as ‘property’. Males thus create harems of females, the size of which is directly linked to their position within a tribe. Males do not partake in care for their own children, though they might occasionally teach their sons to fight. Children are instead raised by their mothers and learned how to survive within a tribe by assisting them in their day-to-day tasks.

Reaching adulthood is no small feat for orcish children. After leaving infancy they almost immediately must fend for themselves against older members of the tribe. Already in childhood do most males, encouraged by their fathers, start intimidating children of the same age or younger than them. When reaching adulthood, male children are initiated by leading the charge in a raid, in which the survivors of the vanguard are considered adults. Females don’t receive an official rite, though they are deemed adults once they develop their secondary sex characteristics, at which point they are forced into a harem.

Inter-Species Observations

Orcs take little regard for members of their own species, and even less for members of others. They enjoy raiding neighboring towns, and always enslave survivors of such endeavors. Male slaves are sold off for gold, weapons, and armour. Female slaves have the less fortunate fate of becoming part of the ‘daily entertainment’ within a camp.

Negotiating with an orc is almost always entirely fruitless, for they will keep increasing their demands after an agreement is made or lose their temper during a negotiation and satisfy themselves with whatever the negotiator(s) have on hand.

The best way to have an orc cooperate is by being more dominant than the orc itself, often accomplished by intimidation. However, unless the orc is restrained or otherwise prohibited from engaging in combat, he will have to be literally beaten into submission. This is no small feat, as most orcs fight to the death rather than being taken, as this would make them the laughingstock of the tribe.

On a political level, cooperation with orcs is even more problematic. Eradicating a tribe is easier than keeping them as vassals, due to an orc’s tendency to either rebel against or backstab their superiors. More often, nations that must deal with orcs and who have been unable to do this by military means often placate them with gifts of food or treasure. History has shown that providing arms and weapons has always proved counterproductive, as these seem to, almost inevitably, often be used against the gifting nation itself.

Iceshield Orcs

The Iceshields were an orc tribe dwelling in an area of rolling grass-covered hills where the Dessarin Valley met the western High Forest in the late 15th century DR. Where a branch of the Dessarin Valley meets the western High Forest are rolling grass-covered hills recently claimed by the orcs of the Iceshield tribe. They dwell in crude lodges made from timber cut from the forest. Elves and centaurs regularly emerge from the High Forest to attack and set fire to these lodges, but the orcs keep cutting down trees and rebuilding them.

The Iceshield orcs haunt the hills and grasslands north of Grudd Haug, near the western edge of the High Forest, and have forged a tenuous alliance with Guh the hill giant chieftain. They are the least loyal of her supporters and don’t get along with the goblinoids. Boorvald Orcbane, Great Chief of the Ghost Tree Uthgardt tribe, true to his name, hunts orcs and frequently launches attacks against the crude Iceshield orc-holds along the western edge of the forest.

Orc raids are common occurrences throughout the frontier, as small bands of orcs steal livestock or waylay the occasional supply wagon. In recent days, a tribe hiding in the rough lands east of the Sumber Hills has become markedly bolder. The Iceshield orcs are attacking farms and cattle ranches throughout the region, and orc scouts have been sighted by patrols less than a day’s ride from Yartar.

The Iceshield orcs reside in a handful of lodges spaced about a day apart along the western edge of the High Forest. They have long been a thorn in the side of the denizens of that wood and the settlers who farm and ranch in the plains to the west. Now the Iceshields have become a prominent threat. Disruptions to the weather and landscape due to the powerful magic being used by the elemental cults has been taken as a sign from Gruumsh that blood and gold must flow from the lands of lesser races.

The orcs seek supply sources in the valley. Scouts found that the farmers and ranchers in the area are prime options. Now, roving war bands attack the frontier families directly, raiding the homesteads with impunity. In addition to stealing livestock, the Iceshields take any carts and wagons they find, loading them with loot. They take the families as slaves and force them to tow the conveyances back to the Iceshield lodges.

Some independent-minded squads of orcs decided that the fertile land of the homesteads was more appealing than serving as underlings in their own lodges, and they killed the original owners to occupy the land. They have no intention of farming the crops or tending the livestock, but they intend to stay until the food runs out, then move on to the next settlement.

Campaign Notes

With Avery attracting attention and causing a fair amount of damage, the party was able to get into the tunnels with only some difficulty and found Fogo and an old friend.  But with all the noise they have made, and that one of the responders got away, how much time do they have left before more men show up.  Enemies are probably less than a minute away at this point.

Session 29 – Chapter One

18th of Kythorn of the year 1492

“You seemed to have lost something.”

Standing in front of Fogo was something that looked like ISAC dressed in only a tattered green cloak that emitted sickening smoke.  ISAC was wearing nothing except the cloak. He stood there looking a bit more human in his inhuman body.  He had an etching of a green dragon on his chest and some sort of runes on shoulder plates.

“Are you ISAC?”

“I think so.

And the reunion of ISAC and the party began.  Fwoosh led the party into something he called a cinnamon roll hug while ISAC tried to answer the questions of the party and explained what had happened to him.  Everyone was happy with his return except Dancer who kept a wide-eyed look and focus on ISAC the rest of the evening, occasionally poking him with a stick to make sure he was real.  Unlike the rest, Dancer had never seen ISAC without his mask, or even knew that ISAC was not a human.

When daylight finally arrived, the group tried to go through their normal routines, but it was difficult for everyone since they had gotten used to the mornings without ISAC. A lot of the morning was spent discussion about what they should be doing next.  The Earth Monastery was too well organized and probably too much for them, so with Fogo pushing for the possible pirate base, they packed up the camp and headed toward the river.

Following the river north, they could see a keep up ahead.  Hiding in the forest nearby the keep they spied on what few inhabitants they could see. While the keep was not in perfect shape, but it had obviously been repaired sufficiently to make it functional.  They could see guards walking the walls which were at least 25 feet tall.  A large sailboat was docked on the eastern side.

Seeing that this was something in far better condition than they thought, and had vigilant guards on the walls, the party needed to come up with a firm plan. They vacillated between trying to make an upfront entry at the front door or do some reconnaissance in secret. Vladimir was holding out for a secret entrance but was talked out of those hopes.  In the end they waited for dark to have Dancer do a sneak reconnaissance of the keep.

To possibly stack things in their favor, Vladimir asked his dagger for an Augury.

“What are the odds that we will find members of the Mirabar trade delegation in this castle?”

“Weal”

Once it was dark, Dancer began wandering around the edges of the keep identifying the guards on the walls that seemed to be humans carrying torches to see.  Hoping for more noise, he was disappointed that those within the keep seemed to be somewhat disciplined and on guard.  There were at least two guards on each of the walls. All the walls were about 25 feet in height with each floor of the buildings about 15 feet high.

Deciding that it might be better to get some elevation, he snuck over to one of the keep buildings and carefully climbed up to the roof to get a better vantage point.  From there he could confirm the guards and some groups of bugbears that were wandering the grounds.  He could clearly see the large ship docked into some sort of water break.  There were a couple of guards on the wall there, again with torches for lights. He could see a couple of single-story internal buildings that had some lights but overall, it seemed quiet for the evening.

One of the buildings seemed to have more traffic with oddly dressed people.  They did not look like the guards or even the bandits they have encountered.  They had more stylized clothing in different colors of blue. Guards and others came and went from the large building that Dancer was on top of.  Only low noises could be heard, the occasionally word, but no loud partying.

At one point while watching, he was able to see two people go from the big building to the boat and seem to settle down for the night there.  The guards at the boat changed at least once while Dancer was watching.

With his spying complete, Dancer quickly made his way back to the party’s camp. He relayed what he found which only worried the group more since there were a fair number of opponents. When he described the two odd one’s going into the ship, Avery was able to identify the short man as a deep gnome, while the others suspected that the blue man was Genasi, but since they knew so little about them it was impossible to confirm.

It was then that their planning went forward with full force, although some of it seemed to involve launching people over the wall, to sneaking inside with the wagon, or maybe trying to have one person sneak in via the water entrance. They discussed where they might find the prisoners and if they could set the boat on fire as a distraction.

As a test ISAC decided to see how deep the river was.  While murky at the edges, the water got deep within 15 feet of the shore.  Given that the river was more than a mile wide at the narrowest point, this was expected. It might be a bit rough and slippery if ISAC attempted to walk along the inside edge of the river.

The end strategy seemed to be to approach from the water side and if possible, cause damage to the ship while making their attack.  Fogo decided that a second spying mission was needed to see how easily the group could approach from the water side and to identify any obstacles they might encounter.

Turning into a giant frog and swimming his way to the port side of the keep.  Swimming around to get an idea of what was there, he moved into the small acritical bay and found a gate in the cliff face that let further underground.  Looking through it, he could see an underground river that went off into the darkness.  Changing into a smaller frog he swam through the gate carefully.  A bit further down the along the river he found a set of steps that led out of the water and a couple of board moored there.  Two doors were visible on the landing.

Seeing that the river continued, Fogo decided to be following a long further.  As he went further down the tunnel, the water started moving faster and he could hear some roaring and crashing of water further ahead. It was then that the water around him seemed to animate into some sort of giant serpent that was able to track exactly where he was even in his tiny form. Combat ensued with Fogo attempting to swim away to get somewhere safe.

Crawling out of the water and rushing to one of the doors Fogo thought he might have made it to safety, but instead had run into a prison area with guards.  It did not take long for them to beat him unconscious, strip him of everything, and imprison him appropriately for being a magic caster of some sort.

Meanwhile the party kept waiting for Fogo, hours went by, and they realized that something bad had happened to their friend.  Hoping that Fogo was just trapped somewhere and not killed or captured, there was not much they could do right now. Not having any way to contact him, they waited for the morning to have Angelica prepare the Sending spell to see if they could reach out to him. Moving camp to ensure their location was not revealed they settled in for the night, all of them feeling a bit sad and uncomfortable.

19th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Morning rolled around and Angelica sent her message via Sending:

“Are you ok? Where in the fuck are you?! What the hell happened?! Please respond as soon as possible! We are all worried!”

“Alive. Captured. One cellmate. Everything is dark. Underground river attached to cove with dangerous snake. Narrowly escaped, then attacked by guys, and lost. Help.”

And this is where the session ended.

Campaign Notes

They found the pirate keep, or at least they found something that looked like it should be a pirate keep.  It was in the right location from what the Feathergale Knights told them.  They successfully completed one reconnaissance, but failed miserably at the second when they just went a little too far along the underground river.

Fogo is captured, maybe tortured a little, and now the party needs to seriously consider a rescue mission into a fortified camp.

Session 28-B – Chapter One

15th of Kythorn of the year 1492

After getting the messenger birds sent out the group packed up their camp and began the trip to where they had seen the shallow graves. Exiting the Sighing Valley, they slowly made their way around the foothills of the Sumber Hills.  It was near dark when they finally got to their destination for this day.  Deciding to set up camp near the graves, their travels for the day were over.

As they arrived, Vladimir received a message from Banmin Glehuruhr via magic in his head.

“Received message – already requested troops to ruined Moathouse – no more can be sent – Koganusân is too far away to help – you are on your own.”

Relaying the information to the party, Angelica was able to identify the word as Dwarvish which contained the word fort in it. Understanding he could reply, Vladimir said out loud to reply.

“Thank you. We may have survivors and even a wagon that could meet us may help if possible. Also, what is Koganooson?”

Fogo continued his excellent cooking for the party while everyone huddled around the fire until it was time to go to sleep and start the watches.  Before heading to bed, they discussed what they had learned or figured out about the Feathergale Knights.  While strange, they seemed to be nice except for a priest that as there.  The interesting point was that all of them seemed to have some sort of connection to the concept of air. It was not clear if they were part of the air cult, but minimally they might be influenced by the air cult. Vladimir also noted that they had not seen the air symbol anywhere in the Spire either.

Fogo made it clear that by not warning them before jumping off the Spire had frightened all the party that had not gone in with the rest. Fwoosh excitedly talked about how the knights also seemed to have Kenkus in their ranks.  He had not seen any is almost ten years when he was kidnapped. They started strategizing on how they should handle the upcoming earth monastery encounter, but they were all concerned with it.

The watches passed uneventfully, until Fwoosh was on watch.  While looking up at the sky, he saw the silhouette of a large bird fly by.  Judging by how the stars were blocked by the size of the bird, Fwoosh estimated that it had a wingspan of at least 50 feet.

16th of Kythorn of the year 1492

First thing in the morning, Vladimir received another message from Banmin.

“Koganusân is our city in Dessarin Hills – about a ten-day from Red Larch – it would be at least 20 days before they could there”

“Okay sounds good thank you for the information. We’ll be headed in shortly to the earth temple. Please let us know if there is anything”

It seems that both were not able to properly count to 25, the maximum size of the message. While Vladimir was communicating with the Dwarven priest, Fwoosh was telling his story about the large bird.  Both Avery and Fogo were able to possibly identify the large bird as a Roc, and that it was most likely a young one.  Since they can fly over 100 miles in a day, it could have come from any of the hills or mountains nearby, and that its favorite meal consists of young dragons.

Getting the camp packed up again, they headed to the north in search of the earth monastery.  Their path continued north.  Fog left a huge “x” on the ground in the hopes that if the Dwarves sent someone, they would be able to find them.  Their path continued and after passing a couple of box canyons. The trail narrowed preventing them from bringing the wagon with them.  After find the best sheltered space they could, they continued.  Eventually the trail narrowed to only about five feet, had a sharp turn which led to another large box canyon where they could see a large stone building in the middle of the canyon.

Earth Monastery

Keeping back to not be seen, the party hunkered down and started trying to plan on how to best do some reconnaissance. They agreed with the plan that Fwoosh would go up invisible, sneak around, and try to figure out what they were facing.  Going around clockwise looking into all the windows and trying all the doors he was able to get a fairly good idea of what the monastery was like and what might be in it.  From the number of beds and monks he could see, he estimated there might be as many as 50 earth cultists in the building.  The only interesting area was a tall stone wall that was different than the rest, and whatever was there, also did not have a roof.  There was also an entire side of the monastery that did not have any windows preventing him from seeing what might be there.

Heading back and updating the group, they had concerns about the entire endeavor. He explained that the people in the monastery were organized and fully equipped.  This was nothing like the Moathouse.  This was a fully functional facility. This all led to a lot more discussions around how to best approach in which they finally decided to have Dancer and Fwoosh go back at night to see if they can find an entrance they could sneak in and get more information.  They settled down until dark before he headed out.

Slowly moving around stealthily and hiding every 50 feet or so, they saw something moving near the monastery walls.  Looking closely, they could see six figures moving around.  These people were not stumbling in the dark and were looking around very carefully as if looking for intruders.  They were short, had beards, and were heavily armed.  One odd behavior was that they seemed to avoid the light from the windows and made sure they did not look into the lights at any time.  The two made them around until they were near the stone wall, and then waited in hiding.  It only took about ten minutes before the six guards came around.  They could be seen checking the doors and then moved on.

Moving quickly to the wall, Dancer easily climb the wall and revealed that on the other side was some sort of garden. There were several statues and a fair amount of greenery including several trees.  He was able to see several doors leading into the monastery from the wall’s edge. Deciding that coming back to let the party know what they found, they headed back and updated them all. Many plans were created and thrown away. Because of Angelica still slightly exhaustion and wanting to get a better idea of the guard situation, the group backed up to where their cart was and set up camp.  

While the rest were putting the camp up, Dancer got a little closer to watch the monastery.  He was not able to determine if the six guards were ever replaced, but they continued their rounds taking 15 to 20 minutes per lap which continued until it was about an hour before the start of sunrise.  They were no longer seen as soon as the glow of the sun could be seen at the edge of the horizon.

17th of Kythorn of the year 1492

With morning came another Fogo cooked breakfast and the rest were a slow-moving group.  Dancer was looking forward to getting a good sleep and only managed a cat nap when some visitors came by.  Coming from the monastery, a group of seven arrived at their camp.  The party moved forward to meet them.

“Who is there?”

“Us”

“Umm, we are here, hi.”

“Hi there travelers, we did not expect to see anyone out here.”

“Neither were we, because it is a one-way canyon.”

“Is it?”

“One-way through?”

“Oh.”

“So, there is no way out?”

“No.”

“Maybe you guys can help us then.  We are trying to get to Belard… Beliard?”

“You are not going to get there from anywhere here unless you catch a boat.  You will have all the way around to the Long Road and back.”

“Can someone pull out the map? Can you come here and help us look at the map? I just fear that we took a wrong turn.”

“We also had to find a place to camp for the night.”

“Show me the map.”

The two groups closed in on each other. Fwoosh handed off the crude map found on the leader of the bandit ambush from a few days ago.  The Earth Priest gave it a close look at had a confused, then concerned look on his face.

Bandit Map

“So, what we did is, we made it to Red Larch, but then we heard that Beliard is around here, and we thought we were coming down this road.  We tried to cut through some of the hills to save some time.  So, we rested here, we got in late last night.”

“You did not pay for this map, did you?”

“No.”

“Oh, no.”

“No.”

“We just asked some people at Red Larch.”

“At the bar in Red Larch.”

“So, you drew this? Because you do not have Beliard on here.”

“We did not draw it, one of the town’s people did.”

“But if you are heading to Beliard, why is it not on the map?”

“They just told us the general area; they did not know for sure. The person napping on top of the rock over there is our navigator.”

With that the priest looked in the direction that Fwoosh pointed to but did not see a single hair Dancer hiding there.

“If you follow the map and since it is on the north side of the hills, you should have gone north out of Red Larch, not south.”

You had the map upside down.”

“That probably would have made more sense.”

“Dummy.”

“Yeah.”

“What are you guys doing out here?”

“If there is only one way in what is behind you.”

“Yeah, that is a good question.”

“An interesting ‘X’ you have here that says ‘base’.”

“The base of what?”

“The ace of base?”

“I have no idea.  Like I said, out navigator must have been holding the map upside down.”

“Fwoosh, maybe it was on the other map.”

With that, the priest unleashed a Shatter upon the party and got the combat started. It was one of the more difficult fights that the party had with several of them being knocked unconscious.  They had not faced smart enemies much previously and ones that knew how to maneuver and find the best positions made it harder than they expected.

Earth Priest

Earth Knight

Earth Monk

With the combat over and the bodies checked, they did find Drowish Earth symbol on all the people, some on armor, some sewn into clothing, many had it on their weapons.  These were earth cultists. Stashing all the bodies in the wagon to keep them hidden, they had Avery Prestidigitation to clean up any blood spots that might be on the ground with Fogo and Dancer helping spot them. With everyone taking a short rest, Fogo cooked up a wonderfully supportive meal that seemed to allow everyone to heal a little better than they would have alone.  It was fortifying and tasty.

Understanding that staying here was probably not the best idea, they headed out of the hills and parked behind a large rock about an hour away. Once they found a spot in the grasslands, they buried the bodies and set up camp. They then waited for the next day to roll around again.  

18th of Kythorn of the year 1492

It was quiet besides the soft insect noises, but during Fog’s watch something interesting happened.  While he was keeping watch and looking to the south a voice came from behind him.

“You seemed to have lost something.”

Looking around he saw a shadowy figure disappear but leaving behind an armored person wearing nothing but a small tattered green cloak.  Fogo saw a somewhat familiar figure.

Shadowy Figure

And that is where the session ended.

Campaign Notes

The found the earth cultist base.  They expected it to be something closer to the Ruined Moathouse, but this was a full base with many people, and they were on guard for intruders.  The group managed some sneaky time, but never made it inside. Their final face off with a patrol almost went badly for them, but they survived.  Who is that figure that appeared at the end?

Session 27 – Chapter One

13th of Kythorn of the year 1492

With the morning started, Fogo start everyone off with a wonderful large breakfast for everyone. Fwoosh was disappointed with all the holes in his new tent, but as he was putting it away, Avery Mended the holes. While everyone was settling the camp, Dancer hunted down the bandit tracks.  The tracks were easily found and led west. Not wanting to attract too many predators, Fogo buried all bandits in a large pile using his Mold Earth magic.

The party then got the camp put away, the wagon and horses ready, and headed out to where they were told the graves had been found. They now had to decide which direction to go, continue heading to the graves and backtrack and find the bandit hideout.  Fogo pushed heavily for the graves concerned that there might be captive lives at risk while Dancer pushed for the hideout noting that there could be evidence as well as captives there.  The group chose Fogo’s path this time.

The rest of the distance was uneventful as they continued to head east and eventually a bit north to get to where they were told the graves had been found.  As they approached, they could see the silhouette of three very large birds that appeared to be eating something on the ground.  As the continued to get closer they could see that they were three giant vultures and there were three humans standing next to them, all watching closely. One of them in a fine set of plate stepped forward and motioned to the party to stop.

“Please wait a moment while we finish performing a sacred sky burial for our fallen brother-at-arms.”

Giant Vultures

Treyton Glemitsk (Feathergale Knight)

Those that were outside the wagon could see that the birds were eating something from inside two of the graves.  The loud crunching noises made it clear that they were consuming flesh and bones completely. The knight moved a bit closer to put himself between the graves and the party.

“Excuse me sir.”

“Just give us a moment, we are almost finished. Once we are finished you can do what you want here. Let us finish what we started.”

“The problem is that we are looking for some of these dead bodies and we are fine with them getting their food here but…”

“These are members of our knighthood that died here so we are taking care of the proper burial.”

It did not take long for the birds to finish eating what was assumed to be bodies from two of the graves.

Feathergale Initiate

“I appreciate you honoring our ritual.  We were surprised that our knights had been killed, and it took us some time to find out where they had been killed.  Their vultures had come back to the Spire, and we did not know where they were.”

“Which Spire would that be?”

“It is the knights of the Feathergale, our Spire is slightly to the west and north of here.  We patrol the area for brigands and other evil doers, and it seems that our knights got involved in what appears to be some sort of kidnapping by some sort of evil earth cult.”

“Are you a paladin order?”

“Why yes.”

“Then you might be able to help us.  We are looking for a trade caravan that was last seen in Beliard.”

“That might have been what happened here. When we see brigands, we attack when we can. From what we know from information we had gotten, that there was an ambush further north of here and that they had been traveling via the river.  Our knights had somehow thought they had them here, but there were more than they thought and were killed.”

The conversation continued with the party still wanting to explore the graves. More information was shared, but there was still one nagging point.

“I wonder who made the graves? This does seem to be out of the ordinary.”

“If it were the earth cultists, they are form believers that things should be put back into the earth, and even for foes they hated, they would still bury them.”

Oh

“There is the pirate base, and then there is the earth cult.  You are welcome to come back to the Spire with us, or just investigate here.”

Deciding to investigate at the graves first and then head to Spire for more information and possible allies.  When asked about other cultist, the knight claimed to only know about the evil earth cultists.  He knew about brigands, pirates, orcs, and the Uthgardt barbarians in the area, but not much about cultists. He knots that it was their 10th anniversary of their society and invited the group to the Spire to enjoy celebration.

When asked about the hippogriffs they had seen, he told them that the Feathergale knights do patrols over the entire value and regularly help save formers and merchants from bandits and orc raids. When asked about why they had not heard of the knighthood, the party was told that their knight-commander came from Waterdeep and because what they used for mounts it was very difficult to go to any of the small towns since the mounts would eat horses and most other beasts of burden.  Helping those in the more rural areas was more in line with the knighthood. He expressed his concern about the Iceshield orcs that continue to encroach into the eastern side of the hills and knew that they had built several war lodges on the western side of the High Forest.

As the questions continued, he pushed them to speak to his knight-commander Thurl Merosska back at the Spire and attend the party that they will be having. When mentioned they their mission seemed to be looking for trouble.  He warned them about the ogres, trolls, and even hill giants.  He mentioned that there are a lot of evil flying creatures to including manticores. The group explained a lot of what they had been doing and what different missions they had accomplished. The three then flew off on their vultures heading in the direction of where they had said the Spire was.

Once the knights were gone, the group went over to the remaining six graves to look.  The two open graves were mostly empty except for a few pieces of lingering flesh and bone that the vultures missed. After digging out the rest of the graves they found two people dressed in the livery of Mirabar, a tradesman of some type, and three people unusually dressed in some sort of unique stone armor. It was not an armor type they had seen before, and none of them were even sure how one would wear it properly. No weapons were found in any of the graves.  Looking around the area further, Avery was able to find a confusing collection of tracks, a broken arrow, and discarded javelin and the tatters of a grey cloak. He was also able to find some tracks going north as well as east from the grave location. Dancer decided to dig in deeper and look for tattoos on the bodies.  One of the ones in stony armor had a tattoo of the Drow Earth symbol over his heart. Dancer tried to convince them to take the piece of skin he had peeled off, but they just had Fwoosh make a copy and left the piece of skin back in the grave.

Drow Earth Symbol

The topic of the pirates and bandits were brought up that maybe they were both related to the cults and that is how some of the delegation evidence showed up in Womford. They were hoping to be able to find out more about from the knights once they get to the Spire. They traveled for a few hours and decided to camp for the night instead of continuing in the dark. After setting up camp they had their regular watches and were able to pass the night without incident.

14th of Kythorn of the year 1492

After hearing tales of manticores and other large flying creatures, Vladimir made sure he counted four horses in the morning, and they were all still there.  Nothing had bothered them all night long. It did not take long for them to put away the camp and get the wagon ready.  It only took a few hours before they found the mouth of the valley leading to the Spire.  They saw a giant vulture in the air above them.  It had just chased away a pair of antlered birds that seemed to be stalking their wagon.

The vulture rider indicated for them to follow the western side of the valley to get to the Spire.  They could see the tall Spire.  The very top was about 500 feet from the bottom of the valley.  The tower itself was over 100 feet tall itself. They could see that there was a drawbridge attached to the Spire that separated it from the side of the valley.  The entry to the valley was narrow and without the directions they had received, they would probably never have found it.  There were constant gusts of heavy winds filling the valley making travel unpleasant with the air always pushing against you.

Another surprise was that while there was a drawbridge to the tower, there was not much of a trail leading away from it.  It seemed that there was little ground traffic to the Spire. There were a pair of hippogriff riders that were flying high patrolling the area.  The two flew over briefly to look at the wagon and then flew off somewhere else. The drawbridge was down as they approached. Their wagon would not fit on it, and they would need to decide who went into the Spire, and who stayed behind guarding the wagon and horses.

Avery, Fwoosh, and Vladimir headed in while the rest stayed behind to stay with the wagon.  They were met by a female knight Savra Belabranta. When asked about what threats they might face by staying at the end of the drawbridge she told them that it was unlikely that anything overground or in the air probably would not approach them, but they suspected that there was an ankheg nest somewhere in the valley, and if there was, then there is also probably an ankheg queen as well.

Savra Belabranta

With Savra leading the way, the three of them went up the spiral staircase until they got to the banquet hall.  She explained that she had only been a member for about a year and had been recruited in Waterdeep.  She told them that she was told that the knighthood had built the tower at some point in the past. The room was filled with knights and initiates.  Food was piled high on the tables, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves at the feast. A heavily armed and armored man was sitting at the head of a large table. Savra introduced them to the knight-commander Thurl Merosska.

Thurl Merosska

“Welcome to Feathergale Spire, retreat of the Feathergale Society. I am Thurl Merosska, the lord commander. How can I help you and enjoy the food.”

“We heard you are celebrating your tenth year?”

“It is.”

Looking around, there also seemed to be a couple of priests and some men that were not armored but seemed to be militant in their movements. In a corner the group could see a half elf playing the flute with a small group accompanying him. It was less music and more noise, but it seemed that everyone just ignored them and the noise they were making. Avery approached one of the unarmored men.

Half-Elf Flute Player

“Pardon me good sir, do you mind if I ask your vocation?”

“I am part of the Feathergale Society.”

“Do you work magic?”

“Just being alive is magic. Being part of the air is magic.”

Unarmored Feathergale Man

While that was happening, Vladimir spoke with Thurl.  Asking about some food for his friends, Thurl ordered a feast to be brought out for the others outside. When asked about the aerial patrols, he explained that they were well known among the more rural people such as farmers and such. He expressed his favorable impression of the Paladins of Samular.

“We have heard that you have been engaged with the earth cultists.”

“Ah, evil men, evil men.  We know where their main camp is, well it is a ruined temple more than anything else. There are not enough of us to really take care of it.  We are airborne knights, not ground troops.”

“That does post some complications.”

They are earth people, they are ground troops, counter to us.”

“As it so happens, that we fancy ourselves a group of a particular thorn in the sides of the earth cultists.”

“I am glad to hear that.  I would be happy to tell you exactly where they are and if you could get rid of them, I would reward greatly.”

“That sounds great.”

The discussion went further on about their concerns and that they were looking for a trade delegation that they suspect had been ambushed.  Thurl revealed that they had captured one of the earth cultists and were able to get information out of him.  Which is how they knew where the knights had been killed.  He gave them the location of where they thought the ambush took place as well as the location of the earth cultist temple. He also brought up that there were also the pirates that seemed to have been involved and was also concerned about the pirate base on the River Dessarin in the foothills of the Sumber Hills. He did mention that only some of them were handed over to the earth cultist whereas the rest the pirates kept and brought those to their keep on the river.

The knight-commander also asked the three of them to explain more about what they have been doing.  He seemed fascinated with the stories and all that they had accomplished. When asked about the Bleeding Eye, he did not seem to know anything about them, or that organization? They also brought up the water cultists they had found and that there might be some relationship between the groups. Thurl kept asking questions since the stories they were telling was not very sequential, nor did it make sense many times. He also was interested in why they were pursuing the missing delegation.

Outside a feast for a dozen was brought out to the three guarding the wagon. The initiates that dropped off the food were interested in the three, especially since all three of them were from unusual races. Fogo was happy to oblige and told the initiates about the group. They continued to ask the rest about their past and more about them. Fogo was fascinated with the ritual that he had seen to which the initiates explained more about it. When asked about how they were involved, they explained that there are recruiters in many large towns and some of the process they went through. Dancer seemed confused about how militant orders worked and keep asking odd questions that confused the initiates a fair amount. Angelica impressed them by her ability to sprout wings and fly around for a minute. With the discussions completed, the Initiates head back in leaving the food behind.

“If you take out either location, it would be nice if you brought some prisoners back.”

“It has not been a priority yet, but we will see what we can do.”

“Cultists are kind of like ant nests.  If you kick one, many more hiding will come out. So, if you could bring some back that would be great.”

Thurl explained about having survived in storm which changed his life and combined with the politics in Waterdeep are complex, and many times hostile, he moved here with a few of his knights.

“I just mentioned your coming from Waterdeep because it seems like you have taken a very moral stance against the cultists.”

“Someone needs to. We also take a strong moral stance against all evil.”

“Would you describe yourselves as paladins?”

‘We say knights. Paladin implies some sort of religious order.  We are not religious.”

“You do not follow a god?”

“No necessarily.  We worship the knighthood.  We are just here to do what we feel is right.”

Vladimir kept looking into their possible religious connections, but Thurl kept denying it. When asked about their funding and the fact that they were able to build the Spire, he explained that the nobles of Waterdeep were very wealthy. Fwoosh was enamored with the large windows and the height that they were at. It was then that Fwoosh asked about going to the top of the tower. Thurl agreed but needed a few minutes to prepare. It was not long when they were able to start the trek upwards followed by the half-elf and one of the priests.  The top was a large green space with four small platforms that jutted out, each one in an ordinal direction.

“We have a test of courage here.  It is part of becoming an initiate.”

“Is it to jump off?”

“You must have a leap of faith and if the knights will save you before you hit the ground.  Would you like to take the test of courage?”

“Sure.”

Vladimir walked to the edge and jumped off.  Back at the wagon the shrill whistle from above the tower caused the three there to look up and were horrified as they saw someone fall from the top.  When looking closer, Angelica realized that it was Vladimir. The three panicked running to the drawbridge.  Dancer began ring the bell at the end of the drawbridge with a lot of vigor. They saw Vladimir’s limp and possibly dead body get carried back up to the top by a Giant Vulture and its rider. Dancer set up with his bow while Fogo and Angelica ran across the drawbridge where they were met by a knight.

“Woah, what is going on?”

“We just saw our friend fall of the top of the tower and saw what looked like his limp body being carried back to the top.”

“It is a test of courage, and he failed.”

Explaining more about the ritual he seemed to persuade Fogo that Vladimir was probably okay.  It was then that Fwoosh jumped off.  It was now that the others could see that has the jumper got close to the ground a knight would fly by and cast some sort of magic on them which slows their fall almost completely. Avery did not want to be left out but mentioned that he could handle it but could cheat.  

“That would not be much of a test of courage then would it be?”

Handing his spell focus, Avery walked off as well, but was not able to remain conscious either and had to be saved by a knight.  Thurl welcomed them to come back at any time but warned them they might consider walking so that they would all be able to stay inside the tower next time.  He warned them about the ankhegs as well. On the wat down, Vladimir tried having a conversation with the priest that had accompanied them.

Feathergale Priest

“So, you did not want to jump off as well?”

“I do not need the test of courage.”

“I thought everyone had to go through it.”

“Some of us do not need to.”

“You are just that courageous?”

“When you are already one with the air, it has no meaning to leap off.  There is no meaning for a leap of faith such as that when you already have your faith.”

“What faith gives you the wings to allow you to be in the air so confidently?”

“There are many ways of flying, relying on someone else to save you is not real courage. Leaping off knowing that someone will save is not courage.”

“You must be a lot of fun at parties.”

“I am not here to have fun, nor party.”

Finally, back at the entrance the group was back together again. Fogo was still in a bit of a panic, but they were able to convince him that everything was okay. Vladimir shared a lot of the details that he learned, and the group began strategizing on what they should do next. Deciding that camping in front of the Spire might be the safest place for them since getting to the edge of the valley before the sun sets would be impossible. Setting up camp and watches they got ready for the evening.  Dancer suggested that in the morning that they attempt to get the knights to carry them to their next location instead of taking the wagon everywhere. It was also suggested that they send a message to the Dwarves back in Red Larch to see if they can assist them or at least add in reinforcements somewhere. Fogo brought up that he could send an Animal Messenger in the morning to get a message to Red Larch and the Dwarves.

With night having arrived, the completed their dinner and started their watches and waited for the morning.

15th of Kythorn of the year 1492

It was during Angelica’s watch early in the morning before first light that she was startled by a sudden rush of sound and air as many large flying creatures seemed to have departed out of the Spire.  As she looked over, she could see that most of the windows had light in them which slowly flickered out. It was not much after that that morning arrived and the rest got up.  With the drawbridge up, Vladimir rang the bell.  It took a while, and someone finally yelled across the chasm at Vladmir. It was the priest that Vladimir had words with yesterday.

“What do you want?”

“We were hoping to get some assistance before we leave.  We were hoping to get a message of rather high importance back to Red Larch.”

“How are we supposed to do that?”

“We were hoping you might be able to send someone on a mount to get fly close enough to the town that they could deliver it.”

“All the knights left first thing this morning.  They got word of an orc raid on a farm east of the hills.  There are no knights here right now.”

“There are no knights to send a message?”

“There are no mounts left here. Even the patrol left.  There are no patrols right now in the valley.”

“Well, okay.  Then we will find another way to send our message.”

“Sounds good.”

With that path cut off for messages, they now had to rely on Fog’s Animal Messenger. Taking the camp down and moving to the entrance of the valley their day got started.  While on the trail, Fogo crafted his message that he was going to send.  Once it was ready, he cast his magic repeatedly until he had four identical messages being sent to Theldor Darkaxe.

“Delegation found. Earth cultists. Send soldiers and healers. Hug southern hills until x. Path goes north. Will mark terrain. We arrive Kythorn 16. From Vlad”

And this is where the session ended.

History

Founding and fall: Although the dwarfs of Besilmer had, in −4420 DR, settled overground under the leadership of Torhild Flametongue, they suffered constant attack from trolls and giants, which led to the construction of the underground fortress city of Tyar-Besil around −4320 DR.

Torhild Flametongue was killed in combat against a hill giant at Stone Bridge, and this led to the fleeing of the dwarves in the area, and later, to the complete abandonment of Tyar-Besil by −4160 DR.

Drow History: While much of the Drow history is shrouded in shadows, many times manipulated and even deleted, we do know that they were a large city under the Sumber Hills occupied by the Drow.  It is said that it sat somewhere between the Underdark and the surface, but still hundreds of feet below the surface. Because of its location, we are not sure of its purpose, and some devious purpose it would have had.  Drow is meticulous in their planning, and rarely do anything that is not to their benefit.  When and why, it was abandoned is unknown, but the Drow themselves have little recorded history of that excursion and city.  It is almost as if a division of the Drow moved there for some separate purpose, either driven away, or for some other nefarious plan.  Any location where they were Drow, there will also be multiple entrances to the Underdark.

Drow Ruins and the Construction of Tyar-Besil: The Dwarven excavations of their own city, while underground, did not reach the same depths as the Drow city, but there were the occasional connections between the two.  It is said that vaulted chambers with alters worshiping dark and evil gods were found more than once.  When found, these were all sealed off to keep the residents of Tyar-Besil safe from whatever had been found within.

Rediscovery: Tyar-Besil was rediscovered in 893 DR by an adventuring company called the Knights of the Silver Horn. Over the subsequent six years, the adventuring company continued to return to the ruined city and were able to construct strongholds at the hidden entrances to Tyar-Besil to protect it.

When the orc realm of Uruth Ukrypt gained power, leading to the Orcfastings War, the First and Second Trollwars, and drow raids, the human population of the Dessarin Valley was almost wiped out, and the Knights of the Silver Horn had disappeared. Their former strongholds, protecting the hidden entrances to Tyar-Besil, became known as the Haunted Keeps.

Layers: It is interesting to look at the depths of all the ruins.  One top sits the haunted keeps built six hundred years ago, which included many Dwarven settlements and ruins of that period, many of which are being found today. Below there are the mines that are still active by many Dwarven miners, and then Tyar-Besil which dates back over 6,000 years ago, followed by the unnamed Drow city that should be over 10,000 years old, and finally the Underdark.

Campaign Notes

The found the graves, the met the Feathergale Society, and now they are planning an assault on the evil earth cultists base.  What could go wrong?

Session 26 – Chapter One

11th of Kythorn of the year 1492

After the visceral murder of ISAC in front of them and the disappearance of the intruder, the party was stunned and in shock.  In front of them was nothing more than a pile of clothing and gear.  The only remains of ISAC that they could see. Most of them sat in place as they attempt to understand what had happened. Fogo ran to the where ISAC had been yelling for him, but there was not an answer from the pile of ashes and dust.  Digging into the pile hoping to find ISAC, or something remaining of him, he noticed that the breastplate that ISAC always wore was missing.

Casting his Locate Object to see if he could find it, he was disappointed as he determined that what was left of the breastplate was mingled into the pile of ashes and dust that was scattered around the room now.  Much of it was fading away as if it never existed. Upset at his failure, Fogo ran out of the room and inn heading to the Allfaith’s Shrine hoping for a miracle. Asking Imdarr for help, he was told that if there is not a body, then there was little he could do except offer some prayers.  He suggested that both Angelica and Fogo try praying to their gods as well and maybe a miracle might happen.

Imdarr Relvaunder

“What the fuck? Where did that guy go?”

Dancer pulled out his sword and immediately began searching for him looking out the window first, followed by under the bed and finally under the seat cushions of the couch in the room. Fwoosh also began looking for any evidence of that person, but there was not a single trace to be found by anyone.

Avery had immediately prepared a spell in panic, but with nothing to target he let that drop. He then went downstairs as well to get something strong to drink. When he got to the bar where Gwendolyn was bartending, she stopped him and handed him a ratty looking notebook and told him that it had been dropped off for him and that he would know what to do with it.  Confused, but still eager for that drink he slammed down some of Ilmeth’s Everclear that was on hand and took a bottle of vodka back up to the room.

Gwendolyn Venelli

Back in the room Vladimir trying to take charge told Fwoosh to go and get Dhelosk, demand for Dhelosk, but bring him here. Heading down and meeting Gwendolyn Fwoosh tearfully explained he needed Dhelosk and was able to convince her to try and get him.  It did not take long for Dhelosk to come out and join everyone upstairs.

Dhelosk Quelbeard

“So, who was that guy?  Who did you piss off?”

“Never seen him before.”

Back in the room, Dancer expressed his concern while Vladimir tried to answer while starting to dig through where ISAC has been.  As he touched any of the ashes and dust, they all just faded away as if none of it existed.

“I have no idea who that was Dancer, or what the hell just happened. My only hope is that we might be able to get some clues from Dhelosk. There is clearly some magic at play.”

“You think?”

It was then that Fogo came back in still in panic mode. He was looking at gathering up the ashes and beseeched Angelica to pray to her god.  But no one was listening, and the ashes could not be gathered as they were all fading away into nothingness. Failing to the ground crying, Fogo just sobbed in a pile on the floor.

“I did not get to talk to him, and I was going to tell him that I was okay with him, and that he is important to the group and that I did not get to talk to him…”

Angelica tried to offer solace by giving out hugs to anyone receptive to that and Avery arrived back with his bottle.  Setting it up on a table and pouring enough shots for everyone, he then went to the couch and began to look through his new notebook. Inside was a poorly written love poem.

Beneath moon’s glow, passions ignite,

Bodies entwined, the world out of sight.

Whispers of desire, in your embrace,

Our love’s a fire, a passionate chase.

Dhelosk and Fwoosh arrived at the room where the group tried to explain what had happened and to see if he could help do something or see if he could find something.  Looking around using his magic he did not see anything new.  He mentioned several of the magic items that the group had, Vladimir’s maul, Dancer’s sword, Avery’s new book, and a few other things that everyone had. He did notice that there was one thing missing.  Something that they kept talking to him about, the golden statue.  Unless it was stashed in one of their bags of holding, it seemed to be missing.

“Time Stop.  That is something far, far beyond I could do. But, color disappearing, magical Time Stop does not cause that. It sounds like something different.  It is not a magic that I know of. Maybe Dlara might know something.  It sounds almost like someone tried to impose another plane on this temporally. She is the one that is expert in extra-planar research, not me.”

“It is an unusual disintegration. It does not usually affect organic stuff. If someone was disintegrated, it would be all of him, including what he is wearing.”

Still desperate for a solution, Fogo continued to beseech Dhelosk for a solution, but besides some prayers to the gods, there was not a solution that he could provide. Asking about Dlara to see if she could help, Dhelosk did say he could reach out, but told them that there was little she could do at this point.  She was not as skilled or learned as he was, and this was something far beyond both.

“Why did he choose you? If he is that powerful and he can sneak in here without me knowing. He could stop time, or suppress time, or force a dimensional merge. Why would he just kill one of you? If he wanted you dead, all of you would be dead, all of us would be dead.”

“He said we were just rats in a cage and that he was impatient.”

“He said we needed a push.”

The discussion devolved around what has happened and attempting to attribute something to this event, but no one could think of anything specific.

“I assume in whatever conclusion of whatever you are aiming to do he will be there.”

Not being able to provide any answers, Dhelosk left the group to their own. The party continued the discussion on what they should do and where they should go at this point.  It was then that the anger started to settle into the group now that the fear had settled, an anger to do something, to strike back, to not be rats in a cage. Trying to capture their memories and what happened, they started gathering everything they could remember and capturing it on paper with Fwoosh providing an eerily exact replica of the shadow’s voice saying the words that only reinforced their helplessness. To start the arduous process, Avery began to go through what was left of ISAC and the gear there. With a heavy heart and hand, they divided up what was left of ISAC’s gear.

While going through the gear, they came across the broken sword with the red jewel in the pummel and an interesting symbol carved into the hilt. Non one recognized it, nor knew anything about it.  They could only vaguely remember ISAC asking about symbols with crows or ravens but little else.

Symbol Found on Sword

While the gear was being spread around, Avery took the time to get better acquainted with his new book, especially now that he knows that it is magical.  Upon completing his attunement, he found out that the text on the inside had changed to something completely different, and once read, faded away as if nothing had ever been written.

Larmon Greenboot at Alfred’s saw some shallow graves east of here in the hills, might be related to your quest with the delegation – reply here.

Once again, they tried to talk about what they have been doing, where they should be going.  They had the lead to Beliard that they needed to follow, there were still possible bandit locations they had not searched, and Avery brought up that he suddenly had a new lead.

“I think we need to talk to Larmon Greenboot at Alfred’s.”

“Who?”

Everyone’s confusion at the sudden and unprompted new clue caused a lot more talk. It was not clear who sent the message, but it was agreed that Avery would go to Alfred’s tomorrow and check it out. Fogo still was not willing to let go and believed that somehow ISAC was somehow alive. The party overall wanted to move on. Fwoosh gathered up the pieces of the mask that ISAC had been wearing and Fwoosh took a single piece as a keepsake.

Fogo headed to the outdoors to grieve in the manner of his tribe and family.  Angelica tried to help Vladimir deal with the death of ISAC, and Dancer was in a hurry to find a new room that did not contain the ashes of his compatriot. Trying to settle themselves, some got food, some went to their room, but eventually everyone ended back in their rooms.  Fogo came in the latest with his face covered in blood and mud from his ceremony. Eventually almost everyone went to bed except for Vladimir that just sat pm the floor thinking of everything that has happened, and Avery who finished off the bottle of vodka and not getting enough rest to count.

12th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Bumbling down the stairs in the morning, they queried about Dlara and found out that she was unavailable and would not be able to come sooner than a ten-day and was not sure if it was even worth her time since there was nothing more, she could do that Dhelosk did not already do. Fogo requested that if word came in about the armor, he had commissioned in Amphail that he just wanted it held at the Blackbutter Inn until he returned.

Avery went over to Alfred’s while Dancer went to collect his daily ration of bear claws, Fogo to Haeleeya’s and Vladimir stayed behind for a conversation with Dhelosk.  The rest went to the Wagonworks and waited for the group to assemble. Vladimir magically mailed a letter back home having not contacted them in several years and Fogo had Haeleeya send a letter to the Emerald Enclave about the current happenings.

Haeleeya Hanadroum

Upon entry to the baker’s store, he asked about Jepos from Mangobarl.  Gesturing him to the back Dancer had questions of Jepos about the attacker from yesterday.  While the Zhentarim employ assassins, Dancer was told that this assailant was something far beyond anything that the Zhentarim had on staff, or least as far as Jepos knew.

Mangobarl Lorren

Jepos Copperhand

At Alfred’s, Avery chatted with him about if he had seen Larmon or not and was directed over to a group of old men gossiping. Going over taking Larmon over to the side for a conversation.

“You had mentioned that you had seen some shallow graves to the east?”

“Yeah, not too far from the Rover Dessarin in the foothills. I’m a shepherd and I was taking my flock around because one of the homesteads that we hold them in is not that far from there and I was on my way back and heading here to market and I could see off to the side, there were a whole bunch of piled up rocks.”

“Cairns?”

“Yes, that what it looked like, they were not there a week before that.”

“Can you tell me about how many there were?”

“I do not really look around that much, but I can tell you where it is.”

Being told the follow the foothills and he should be able to find it.  Asking about their wagon, Avery was told that if they stayed in the foothills, they should not have any problems. Getting what he needed, Avery also headed to the wheelworks.

Alfred

Larmon Greenboot

With their errands completed, they got together at the wheelworks, and got their wagon ready. They now needed to decide to head to Beliard or the shallow graves. After a bunch of back and forth they decided that the shallow graces were a better clue than just asking around Beliard.  So off they headed on out to the south and east of Red Larch toward where they thought the graves might be.  Skirting to the south of the hills they realized that they would be able to go past one of the bandit locations and investigating it would not take them out of their way.

With all their capabilities in tracking they completely missed any bandit tracks, assuming there were any in their path.  Continuing they eventually got to evening and a chance to go camping.  Fogo rush forward to make a meal while the rest set up the large eight-man tent that Fwoosh had purchased. Settling in for the night. They decided to let Avery and Vladimir sleep without taking a watch so that they could recover from their exhaustion.

After a nice meal, they set up their watches and started their rest.  It was clear that they had not been camping in a while and somehow let down their guard.  It was during Angelica’s watch that they were ambushed by the bandit group they had been trying to find.  It seems that the bandits had found them first and followed them to their camping location.

Bandit

Bandit Veteran

Bandit Lieutenant

The numbers were not in the favor of the party, but they were able to take them on and out.  Everyone was wounded and the search of bodies started.  Nothing was a surprise, not even when they found the bloody eye tattoo over the heart of the bandit leader. They gathered in a little bit of cash, and a map that was in the pouch of the leader.

Tattoo on Bandit Lieutenant

Map in Bandit Lieutenant’s Pouch

With the action over, the party headed back to bed.

Campaign Notes

After a fair amount of grief and self-recrimination, the party has moved on.  After finding out about the shallow graves they went along that direction hoping to run across the bandits in the area, and they did, but it was after they started camping.

Woodcarving

Woodcarving

Woodcarver’s Tools

  • RAW Cost: 1gp
  • RAW Weight: 5lbs
  • Items: Carving Knife, Chisel, Mallet, Saw, Gouge
  • Crafting Restrictions: None
  • Mundane Item Crafting: All non-slashing weapons, Laminar Armor**, several pieces of adventuring gear.
  • Magic Item Crafting: Wide list of wooden items
  • Artwork Creation: Can create carved wooden artwork such as statuettes.
  • QA Artwork Bonus: None
  • Structure Building: None
  • Adventuring Utility: Can create simple ad-hoc weaponry out of just wood.

Default Blueprints

If a woodcarver has a sharp object, they are useful in creating many different common items.  They can make the following at start:

  • Wooden weapons
  • Laminar armor
  • Common adventuring gear

Skill Usage

  • Arcana, History: Your expertise lends you additional insight when you examine wooden objects, such as figurines or arrows.
  • Nature: Your knowledge of wooden objects gives you some added insight when you examine trees.
  • Repair: As part of a short rest, you can repair a single damaged wooden object.
  • Craft Arrows: As part of a short rest, you can craft up to five arrows. As part of a long rest, you can craft up to twenty. You must have enough wood on hand to produce them.

Woodcarver’s Tools Basic Use Difficulty Table

ActivityDC
Craft a small wooden figurine10
Carve an intricate pattern in wood15

Crafting

For much of the crafting for this skill set and tools, just use the Mundane Crafting rules unless there is something specific that the character wishes to create outside of the normal things.

Weaving

Weaving

Weaver’s Tools

  • RAW Cost: 1gp
  • RAW Weight: 5lbs
  • Example Items: Needles, Thread, Weaving Fork, Shed Stick, Comb, Knife, Dowel, Backstrap Loom
  • Crafting Restrictions: None
  • Mundane Item Crafting: Sling, Basket, Blanket, Clothes, Pouch, Robes, Rope, Sack
  • Magic Item Crafting: A large variety of weaved items.
  • Artwork Creation: Weaved artwork and clothing.
  • QA Artwork Bonus: Selling Products takes half as much time rounded down.
  • Structure Building: N/A
  • Adventuring Utility: Additional bonuses when interacting with cloth products, knots, and materials.

Default Blueprints

Weavers are those that hold together many communities since no one wants to run around naked. They can make the following at start:

  • Sling
  • Basket
  • Blanket
  • Clothes
  • Pouch
  • Robes
  • Rope
  • Sack
  • Common items made of linen.

Skill Usage

  • Arcana, History: Your expertise lends you additional insight when examining cloth objects, including cloaks and robes.
  • Investigation: Using your knowledge of the process of creating cloth objects, you can spot clues and make deductions that others would overlook when you examine tapestries, upholstery, clothing, and other woven items.
  • Repair: As part of a short rest, you can repair a single damaged cloth object.
  • Craft Clothing: Assuming you have access to sufficient cloth and thread, you can create an outfit for a creature as part of a long rest.

Weaver’s Tools Basic Use Difficulty Table

ActivityDC
Repurpose cloth10
Mend a hole in a piece of cloth10
Tailor an outfit15

Crafting

For much of the crafting for this skill set and tools, just use the Mundane Crafting rules unless there is something specific that the character wishes to create outside of the normal things.

Popular Posts

My Favorites

Session 11, Prelude

15th of Mirtul of the year 1492 The mid-morning started off some serious dialogue among the party.  ISAC had to get some information off his...

Spells