Monthly Archives: June 2015

2-11. Drop-in Visit

Dice-bag-banner11. Drop-in Visit – 6th & 20th February 2015

On the road back to Winterhaven, the group’s spirits were high after the triumph over the undead. Although they had gained no monetary wealth from the battle, battling so many undead in such a relentless pace had focused their minds on the enemy and had gained a greater understanding of battle techniques. The experience itself had had a reward it seemed.

However, whether through negligence or merely through the very well hidden nature of the site, the group did not notice the unstable ground on the trail back to town. All but Adrie fell into the depths below, though she soon followed them in to what appeared to be the basement level of a ruin of some manner, long hidden by the undergrowth.

Not only this, but the group found themselves sprawled about alongside, or on top of some other adventurers who had likely fallen into the same trap as themselves: Quelanna, an Eladrin war wizard, a strange manner of Genasi female who made herself known as ‘Lady Knuck’, and a Kenku seeker by the name of Corvar.
drop in mapDeeming it wise to stick together in this unknown location, one that smelled distinctly of Kobolds and drakes, they edged forward while nursing their bruises from the fall.

What became clear from the outset was that these Kobolds had not only set themselves up in a previously abandoned basement area of a building, but that building had had defenses, or ones that that the Kobolds had adapted, far beyond that which had been seen by the adventurers before, such as the water-based traps that knocked down intruders and could only be turned off by the use of a well-hidden control panel. A number of the group fell foul to this trap, as well as others the kobolds had made with collapsing ceilings.

Early worries about drakes was also proven well-founded, and while initially the motley group seemed to defeat the kobolds and their draken allies, it was the ill-judged exploration of Adrie that brought down the combined forces of the Kobolds and drakes upon them. The group were soon trapped in a room trying to hold off not only kobolds and drakes, but extremely dangerous fire beetles, something the group had never come across before.

Well, you can imagine that at this point I was severely concerned for the health of our heroes, but one by one each of the drakes, and then the kobolds were taken down until only the hearty fire-beetles remained. Their fire breath devastated the group, and our hardy dwarf Ulrik fell foul to their breath, though his companions managed to stabilized him and the combined efforts of the group managed to take down the rest of the beetles.

Exhausted but triumphant the group took to exploring the rest of the underground lair. Various traps were set off, many of which were by Gwenn who charged off to explore, much as Adrie had done earlier, without the rest of the group. However eventually all the loot was gathered, and the party met up outside and headed back to Winterhaven to get some rest and resupply.

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2-10. Circles of Cleansing

Dice-bag-banner10. Circles of Cleansing – 23rd January 2015

Rested and refreshed, the group of adventurers set out the long journey from the Temple of Pelor with it’s High Priestess back to the small Hamlet. The goblin canyon was deserted except for the slaughtered remains of its previous inhabitants (now starting to smell). All in all, they decided it was best to hurry on past and get to their destination as quickly as possible.

So it was that they once more reached the Hamlet, and took the southern path they had neglected to search before, for the High Priestess could tell immediately where the origins of the necromantic power was coming from. 

HamletMap2circles on map

The High Priestess told the adventurers that once the artifact had been obtained, it was likely to try and defend itself by raising the dead, even though it was in the middle of the day. Because the ritual itself could not be disturbed, they would have to hold off the waves of undead while she cast three rings of wards around the artifact before starting the ritual. If the wards were damaged before all three were cast, they would have to be re-cast.

Fortified with some extra potions, they cautiously went into the tomb and pried open the lid of the sarcophagus that she pinpointed as holding the source of the necromantic power.

Immediately the dead started to stir and they rushed outside to gain the best strategic positions for the oncoming battle.

The battle was hard fought, with more undead coming from through the trees, though the light of day seemed to slow them.

It was as the skeletal remains of the two most powerful of the dead were bearing down upon the group and things looked increasingly bleak, that all the skeletons suddenly fell to the ground, all animation from them gone as the cleansing ritual was completed. Triumphant, the group took some time to heal and rest before heading back towards Winterhaven.

Continue to Chapter 11

2.09. To the Temple continued

Dice-bag-banner9. To the Temple continued – 16th January 2015

The battle had been dangerous and unexpected, and our heroes took a moment to rest, gathering their energy and binding their wounds while deciding what route they would take onwards towards the Temple of Pelor. On one hand, the path ahead through the canyon seemed to be visibly unguarded, but to their right the goblin caves sat, largely undisturbed, any futher goblins within heedless of those that had so casually slaughtered their counterparts.

After some discussion, it was decided that the goblins posed enough of a threat to travellers that they should indeed delve deeper into the caves and eradicate the threat. However, I noted a certain amount of bloodlust in the eyes of the Minotaur that sat with me not at all well.

Into the Goblin Caves

The first of the Goblin Caves that they came across on the west side was already free of goblins, having been called by their comrades earlier with the horn into battle, where they had been felled. The cave and passage beyond stood empty and the group crept along it, fully intending to take any further goblins by surprise.

map3Initially the battle went astoundingly well, for the goblins were taken almost entirely by surprise. Gwenn charged in and roared, and this posed such a shock to the goblins, some of which had been asleep, that one actually keeled over in what must have been a heart attack, and died instantly. One cannot fully appreciate the ferocity of a Minotaur’s bellow until it is heard.

However, as the battle progressed, the group seemed to lose some cohesion, Gwenn going off along a passage, initially with the Goliath Orag, then continued on even when the call from the others alerted to a deeper cave and yet more goblins past some traps. Unaware of their fight, fully intent on the one they were currently engaged in, Gwenn continued on with their own fight, ignoring all that was happening behind them in the caves.

Orag, having heard and responded to the cry for battle, showed an amazing amount of dexterity in leaping over traps, as nimbly as any mountain goat that one would certainly not think came from such a vast muscled form. But still, the fight was dangerous, for Gwenn was usually the one to charge into battle, drawing the enemies’ ire while the rest of the group responded in other ways. It was now Orag who took the lead, leaping in with his axe held high, crashing into the ferocious goblins as they had sat huddled around their fires, aided by Ulrik’s healing and Aurora’s stealthy shots. No hexes could stop Orag, who shook them off as if his stone-like skin bore no wounds, smashing their skulls while Aurora’s daggers and Ulrik’s spirit companion aided in battle.

Exhausted, but triumphant, the heroes regroup and rest there amongst the slaughtered remains of the goblin community, before they would force themselves onwards towards their goal: the Temple of Pelor.

The Temple of Pelor

The temple came into view through the trees at last. The ground around it has been cleared of lumber and the Temple building rose majestically high, the spire rising like a white beacon in the air. The main building was glazed with stained glass, and in the dying light of the day the lamplight shines out with multifaceted colours as if in welcome. The grounds that surround the main temple were made up of smaller buildings joined together to make a courtyard, all in clean crisp white.

pelor-pendantGwenn knew from her own training as a Paladin that this is one of the more remote Temple locations of Pelor where the Clerics, Druids and sometimes even Paladins are initially trained.

The group was met by a white robed cleric who leads them into the temple to where the High Priestess can be found. Upon finding the High Priestess, the heroes would tell her of the woes of the Hamlet, handing over the amulet given to them by the ghost of Lord Rhmal.

Welcome supplicants. It seems indeed that you bring grave news about the Hamlet, for Lord Rhmal was a student of mine, dare I say a friend, and it weighs on my heart to hear of such ill tidings. That the light of Pelor shines upon them in such a dark time gladdens me. It is of course imperative that we travel back there to undo the dark rituals set upon the artifact to free those people to His bright embrace.

First however, I must insist that you take time to cleanse and rest yourselves and spend time in prayer to ease the burden of your work, for while Pelor asks that we smite evil and the undead, He urges us to remember that excessive attention to things of evil can blind you to the truly important things in life: compassion and goodness. Only when your hearts are once more calm of such dark callings may we start on our journey lest more than merely the Hamlet is tainted by the darkness.

Be aware that your thoughts in this holy place carry more weight than when without.”

Mindful of the Priestess’ words, the group settle themselves down to contemplate within the temples walls, their thoughts seeming more focused than before, their contemplations drawn towards the religious significance around them as well as their own paths in life.

Aurora contemplated the fate of her brother, who had been lost some years. I cannot say what she found, but it was clear that she gained some insight in the temple, for her mood visibly improved and her gaze took on a determination that had not been quite as sharp before.

Meanwhile the rest of the group tried to help the ever-conflicted Gwenn with her contemplations, for her own thoughts had seemed to jumbled of late. Ulrik in particular saw this as his goal within the temple, and was fast by her side during the contemplations.
Sadly despite their help, Gwenn seemed to gain little insight into her life and goals and religion, only a vague sense that her actions had not been in line with that of the temple of Pelor that she had grown up believing in and following so firmly. Indeed, even after seeking more insight from the High Priestess so jumbled were her thoughts that only some understanding of just how cut off from Pelor she had become was seen. Her mood seemed to drop visibly after this, having seemed to gain no insight really how to rectify it.

Despite this, each of our heroes seemed to gain some insight into what would make them happiest in the short term.

Gwenn: Being prepared has its own happiness. Spending time making sure all your gear is in good working order before the next trip out would be a good use of time.

Ulrik: It has been a while since you had time to yourself. You realize that spending the evening alone in quiet contemplation would be pleasing.

Aurora: You realize that you would love to own a small pet to take with you on your adventures.

Orag: These temples tend to keep a stock of good ale and mead. If you ask nicely they might be willing to share it with you.

Thus with as much insight as they were going to get, they settled down to rest before the journey back to the Hamlet the next day.

Continue to Chapter 10

2-08. To the Temple

Dice-bag-banner8. To the Temple – 16th December 2014

After an extended rest in which the heroes revived their fallen comrade, Adrie, they decided that they would indeed go and seek out a High Priest or Priestess of Pelor to attempt to lift the curse upon the Hamlet.

Thus fortified with purpose, they set out with the directions given by the ghost on what might prove to be a far more lengthy trip than they had initially surmised.

map 0It was during this journey that their path led them into a canyon, whose sides were around 20 feet tall. Most of the heroes became wary, suspecting ambush, and rightly so. 

It was with the rather strange action of Heskan tossing a bit of trail food up into the air that sprung the trap, but the heroes were ready as Goblins sprung up on either side of the canyon walls, shooting bolts down upon them.

The druid Adrie certainly proved her worth in the group in this dangerous terrain, for her ability to conjure vine whips to tangle and drag foes towards her proved invaluable in an area where the enemies were otherwise out of reach. Many goblins fell to her skill, and indeed fell from the 20 foot high ledges. Though many of the creatures fought on, they were no match for the group.

The only worry was when one of the goblins, previously hidden, managed to get to a horn situated on one side of the canyon and called in reinforcements from the caves beyond. It was lucky that the blast from it didn’t alert the rest of the caves it seems, only the outermost one.

Traps were triggered and avoided and soon the heroes were given a chance to rest briefly before continuing on either further through the canyon, or to delve deeper into the goblin caves.

Continue to Chapter 9

2-07. The Haunted Hamlet continued

Dice-bag-banner7. The Haunted Hamlet continued – 27th November 2014

After a short rest, the group decided to try and sneak up into the highest floor of the tower keep in order to try and get some combat advantage. Unfortunately many of the heroes do not seem to have the stealthy skillset that one might hope for such a task, and it failed, and they were soon beset with multiple skeletons.

Keep_floor3Although the group were initially successful, and took down a couple of the less-sturdy undead, it soon became apparent that the rest were by far more challenging, not the least of which was the skeleton of the Lord Rhmal, the leader of the Hamlet. The heroes seemed increasingly concerned and worried at the power of this undead, especially when Adrie fell unconscious from the brutal assaults.

It was only through skill and courage that these brave heroes managed to take out the rest of the skeletons, leaving only the Lord himself, and as time went on, the unknowing savagery of the skeleton slowly gave way to a more aware mind as his earthly remains were damaged.

It was finally Ulrik who managed to speak with the skeleton and get a response. It seemed as if they had worn away the creature far enough that his spirit was finally able to gain some manner of consciousness within. Although many of the heroes were close to death, and their success was in question, this turn of events allowed them to gain the aid of the spirit in restraining the physical body of the skeleton for a time. Time enough for them to destroy it.

When the body was destroyed, falling to the ground in a heap of bones and old cloth, the spirit of the man became visible, causing some cries of dismay, but they need not have been worried. The Lord, in this state, and outside the light of day, was able to give the heroes the information they needed.

Stop Adventurers, you will not get what you seek here. Merely slaughtering our earthy remains will not stop this blight upon Pelor’s will, for tomorrow we will but rise once more.

If you truly wish to put this town to rest, as it should be, you need to seek out a High Priest or Priestess of Pelor, for they will know the rituals to perform to set things right.

It was all my blasted uncle’s fault. He sought items of power to extend his life, getting more desperate as the years went on. Nothing worked however, or it didn’t work as intended. When the necromancer Kalarel spread his power to the land, it seemed to awaken one of the artifacts my uncle had gathered, and to terrible effect. The whole town began to get sickly and weaken. By the time we realized that this was no ordinary sickness it was too late. My uncle, and most of the town lay dead overnight, and only the fact I had some rudimentary shielding up saved me long enough to fashion some barriers, keeping the effect from spreading.

Do not try to undo the wards I have put up around the edges of the town, for as the artifact feeds, so to does it get stronger and spreads, like a plague.

I called upon Pelor to save us, but he could not, not with the power of another god getting stronger by way of the artifact. So, because we were trapped here, unable to move onto his realm, he gave us the daylight hours of our restlessness to have the simple joys of living, unknowing of our fate or that of the village. Only when the artifact is dealt with will Pelor be able to finally take our souls and give us true peace and joy.

pelor-pendantThe group asked the ghost of Lord Rhmal several other questions about the location and message they were to pass on, including, it had to be said, questions about monetary compensation and looting of the corpses of the fallen skeletons. The latter did not go down well, and it was extremely clear that the Lord did not look kindly on this sort of question. He made no answer as to reward, but he did allow them to take a small amulet representing the Pelor faith from his bones as a way of corroborating the story to the High Priest or Priestess they were to go and see.

Thus the conversation was completed, the heroes left the room without (thankfully) scavenging anything from the fallen people, before moving outside the hamlet’s boundaries to the forest once more, taking the fallen Adrie with them, so that they might rest and heal properly before the long journey ahead of them.

Continue to Chapter 8

2-06. Haunted Hamlet

Dice-bag-banner

6. Haunted Hamlet – 14th November 2014

Upon returning to the tavern after the altracation with Master Valthrun, the group, it had to be said, received a somewhat less enthusiastic welcome at the tavern. One could only assume it in response to the intimidation and forced dancing they imposed earlier that day.

Still, some of the group did seem in better spirits, and indeed stories did start circulating. Both Gwenn and Ulrik in particular sharing stories with each other. It seems that Gwenn, having overcome her initial denial of circumstances has come to fully realize and lament her minotaur form, which I am led to believe has not always been hers, much to my surprise. It seems that once she was a human paladin! Not a small change, indeed. Ulrik seemed to pay close attention to this, his usual good humor stilled, and a more serious note coming to his eyes and voice as he pledged to help her be rid of such a curse. He seemed to take it as a sign that he was to help the female (as one might assuredly think a hero of stature would), having been searching for a reason why the Gods allowed him to live through the slaughter of his village. He seems to have taken it upon himself that Gwenn’s plight was one he should offer his aid to.

It has to be said that I was much heartened by this, for I had begun to wonder of the path that this group of heroes (if group it could be called) was going down. But my fears had not been realized, and I look on the situations as being merely the catalyst for change the group was needing. Was this sort of trial and struggle the norm for heroes? It seems to me that it must be, for what if not such dire circumstances how could true heroism ever emerge?

Lord Padraig and the Haunted Hamlet

Later that evening, Lord Padraig came to the tavern. Ever a clever ruler of men, he had likely heard of the unfortunate circumstances earlier in town and, ever shrewd, had devised a way to give our heroes purpose. It seemed that a Hamlet to the north-west had been heard of being still plagued with rumors of undead. Both Gwenn and Ulrik were determined to go and pursue this goal, especially the latter, who had an understandable hatred for the undead. Hesken, who had joined the group on occasion also agreed to join the group in this quest, having need of extra funds that might be brought by the exploration of such a place. A new hero also joined the table at discussion of the trip, a shifty looking woman named Aurora who explained that she would join, looking to explore the region better in search of her brother and could do so more safely within a group.

Journey to the Haunted Hamlet

So it was that the four heroes set out towards the north-west along the roads that would lead to this Hamlet. It took several hours, and although they left fairly early in the day, they didn’t get there until the afternoon. Thankfully the roads seemed clear and they were not accosted en route.

Upon getting to the town, it became clear that the place was acutely infested with ghosts. As I looked around the place, I was struck with a longing for the quiet lives that they appear to have had, for it was the scene of domestic harmony that the heroes found, not the malevolent presence they might have expected. Indeed, the scene before the heroes seemed to baffle them entirely, constantly looking for danger where none existed, though considering their previous battles with the undead that I had heard of, it could not be too surprising.

HamletMap

Their explorations showed a town that was still, on the main, standing, although the forests had grown thick in places, making the part of the town dedicated to the ancestral family tombs inaccessible except for returning to the road and making a route around it.

The ghosts in the town seemed to be somewhat less aware of their current surroundings than I myself am, which surprised me. They would often get confused, and it soon became clear that they were both unaware and likely not able to be made aware of their own demises, continuing their lives, supposedly safe in the knowledge that the local mage, whose tower sat upon the hill beside the hamlet, kept them safe as he always had.

Much suspicion on the side of Gwenn was given at the knowledge of the town’s mage leader, believing him to be some manner of necromancer. Going to the keep, it was clear that the normal procedures of such an important man went on as it had when alive, and the heroes were turned aside when trying to gain access to the man. They went in search of more information, going into a shop and purchasing a small bag of carrots from the ghostly vendor for 10gold. They were however unable to pick up such ghostly produce, and it was left to me to take control of the bag. The carrots, to me at least, were delicious. It had been a long time since I had been able to eat anything, and to me, these carrots were as real as any food to them might have been. Ah, but I only wished they had a fresh bakery as well, but I would not push for such a selfish request when the heroes had more important matters to attend.

In time, they searched the family crypts, but found nothing, other than to notice the faint aura of necromantic magic that hung around the town, one that kept within the borders of the town walls.

Upon returning to the keep, the newest addition to the group, the female Aurora sneaked into the keep and up the stairs, seeing the layout. What was surprising was that all the residents of the keep were ghosts, even the Mage leader of the keep. It seemed also that, for the moment at least, the ghosts could not harm or touch the heroes, for their ghostly forms merely moved right through the woman when she revealed herself.

Confused as to what to do, the heroes devised to wait until dark, as they had heard that ghosts could change sometimes once darkness had fallen. With Ulrik keeping watch, the rest of the group took a nap, only to have a somewhat rude awakening once darkness had fallen, and arrows rained down upon them from the upper floors of the keep.

Once more given purpose, they ran towards the keep, thankfully unharmed, to face their foes.

In place of the placid ghosts of the courtiers, the first floor of the keep had six decrepit skeletons, which the group laid low with much ease. However upon ascending to the second floor of the keep, their luck seemed to turn against them as they took greater and greater damage. Many of the heroes, whose skills were well known and practiced, became somewhat fumbling, almost as if there was some manner of curse that beset them as they ascended the tower. Hesken, usually so skilled with the bow, was taken down unconscious, as the others also struggled to remain alive.

Thankfully the group was able to stabilize the dragonborn and take down the last of the skeletons, whose fiery attacks had put them in such peril. Truly, this trip had become far more dangerous than they had once thought, and as they took a short rest many worried about what lay on the floor above where the ghostly mage had been seen.

Continue to Chapter 7

2-05. Taming the Beast

Dice-bag-banner5. Taming the Beast – 20th November 2014

[ Although this campaign scenario was played after the start of Haunted Hamlet, chronologically in the story it came directly after The Old Master’s Lesson]

Al’right, I have had enough! Your blasted mountain lion has pissed over my floor and customers for the last time! Either you train him properly or you leave my Inn! “ The angry tavern keeper, already dubious about the group after the altercation in his tavern earlier, seemed to have got to the point of no return with the group. His voice was loud and it jarred people’s attention. Trails of mountain lion pee littered the floor in it’s joy of greeting customers.

Gwen, the instigator of the earlier problems, was nowhere to be seen, perhaps thankfully, for her recent temperament seemed ill-suited to putting up with such a brash dressing-down to the group. However, she was not there, and after some discussion it was decided that the best thing to do would indeed be to go and find some way of dealing with the incontinent mountain lion, not wanting to lose the convenience of free rooms at the inn.

The tavern keeper was ill-disposed to helping them with information, but he did suggest speaking to either Master Valthrun who may have had books on pet training or the Stablemaster who was used to training unruly beasts. Obviously they could not approach Master Valthrun so soon after the earlier trouble, and so it was to the Stablemaster that the group went.

Although the Stablemaster did not know of anything himself, he had heard of an item that might be used for training and sent the group to a hunter to attempt to find such an item.

enconter 02It wasn’t long before they came across a fallen tree across the road. They were ill disposed to trying to cut their way through the underbrush, and paused a moment to consider the options. However a sharp eye noticed that not only were there cutting marks on the tree, but that there were also kobolds waiting in ambush.

Needless to say, the heroes had no trouble with the kobolds and they all lay dead and the group moved on with a little extra gold in their pockets.

It wasn’t that much later that they found the hunter that they sought in the hopes he knew of the item of pet training they were seeking.

Ah, yes, I do know of the item that you seek. A trapper by the name of Bilus had it, but he died some 2 years ago, eaten by goblins. Feel free to go poke around his cabin if you like though, who knows, it might still be there. Wouldn’t bet on it though.”

Despite the poor outlook of the trip, the group decided that they might as well go and look at the cabin further down the track. And thus it was not too much later that they came upon the derelict cabin.

enconter 03Perhaps after previous experiences, and perhaps also devoid of the more impulsive Gwen, they proceeded with caution, understanding that a trapper may well indeed have left a hidden and trapped storage area within the cabin that may not have been ransacked by goblins and other travelers.

Despite their caution, they found no traps initially, but they did find very large, and very violent rats.

Orag, ever brave, managed to round up the rats into a large group around himself and the rest were able to kill them at leisure. While the fight was bloody, the heroes did triumph.

Upon entering the building, it was soon discovered that there was indeed a hidden area within the cabin, under one of the floor tiles, and indeed, it was trapped. They managed to take care of the trap successfully and they were rewarded by a good deal of treasure for their efforts, including the special training belly-band for the mountain lion.

Triumphant, they headed back to town and returned to the tavern.

Continue to Chapter 6