This site is an online accumulation of the Post Reports for my current ongoing D&D Campaign - for anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Meet 60, Adv 7, 3/21/09

I had to refamiliarize myself with Dargan's Folley as the adventure had not been run to what course I had originally expected the party to get to the first time around, and 4 months in game had passed.

Most of the window dressings remained the same, but the underlying movers and shakers on the 2nd level I had tweaked accordingly from the original way I had written it out mostly because the party had made it down there, made their presence known, attracted the attention of Sakath the gnoll lord, made a nuisance of themselves to what Duergar (dark dwarves) do commerce here, and both acquired one of the important keys to get the treasure and lost said key of the treasure!

It was nice to force speed through the party through the shop/train/equip/travel stage and under normal circumstances I don't do that - I would hate it as a player to be railroaded so obviously - however the consensus around the table was that they wanted to get back to adventuring and to make it happen it required a hand and some time dilation.

There wasn't much left of Level 1 to explore, two small sections. One was spider heavy with a weaker phaze spider as the boss and the other just had some goofy stuff in it I wanted to make them think about (some of it is red herrings, others are odd beasties, others are just strange junk).

During this meeting they blew through over half of what they hadn't explored and even though the leader Karis was not happy about it, the other 3-4 party members were enjoying it. And that's what matters.

Write up follows:

During the remainder of the winter the party took care of what odds and ends were necessary. Selling off treasures to wanting vendors and buying new equipment, getting our existing gear repaired. There were small visits to friends and family and most importantly a longing look at deeds long undone and places under the ground for us to return to.

We discussed hiring people to come with us and went through our needs and whatnot. Some names were brought up and others discarded. But we settled at long last on two more to come with us: Flarg and Asgirda from the Drywood Clan of bugbears that we had befriended. Both were tough and resilient fighters, capable of handling their own needs and we had journeyed with them before. The usual deal of 25 crowns up front, 1 full share each, and 25 crowns for funerary rites should the unthinkable happen.

As it came closer to the days for us to leave we found ourselves summoned to sit with Sir Walter Slaine. Originally the 3 remaining founding members of the Sundered Chains were requested for (Karis, Gwynwyhver, and Detheron) but the other two were called for at longer length for discussion purposes. The year and a day long bondsmanship was coming to an end and Sir Walter wanted to keep the Sundered Chains at and near Orihalcus. He offered to make them vassals for revolving 1 year contracts, the cost eventually settled on would be: room and rent (at our existing locale), stablery/feed/shoding of our steeds and mounts, 50 crowns every month (for food).

There was a matter of how to alert the party that they are needed should they be out on an adventure and Sir Walter had an answer for that. Adeptus Bjorn had procured signet rings for the party and would give them to the Sundered Chains to wear – each ring enspelled with a single beacon style spell. If Sir Walter needed the party, the rings would impart a one time message to them upon his enacting of the enchantment, alerting them of their need.

The party agreed to this last piece but only on a 100 crown per man fee on the assumption that being if they are not at Orihalcus, then they are on an adventure and would have to depart in the midst of it. All parties accepted this matter and on Plantmonth the 5th, 175 of the 30th age, the Sundered Chains accepted vassalage to Sir Walter and had their former bondsmanship pact ended.

We geared up that night and said our goodbyes to town the following day – our new wagon, 4 horse team, and mounts already waiting for us. Upon arrival at Ponyboro a trip to Vermyzier’s had the bulk of our adventuring gear already prepared for us and we set off toward Deep Lake and then southwest for 2 days to the monolith. We camped at its base and then traveled west for a single day until we came to the former grove of the Circle of Thorns.

It wasn’t until we were attempting to scale the great hill to Caer Dargan that we realized something was amiss. A number of small tents, campfires, and a wagon and half a dozen mounts were up there! As we rode closer a bear of a man with unruly orange hair and a maul across his shoulders stepped forward and asked, “Are you the Sundered Chains? I am Roulix of the Red Clouds. We’ve been anxious to speak with you!”

Turns out there were 5 members of a 7 person adventuring group here, identified as the Red Clouds and they wanted to see us and get our measure. They were doing research on Dargan’s Folley and were even looking for books to purchase, knowing enough about it to identify Mulholland (the man who sold us the 3rd volume in Cymbarton) and wanted to know if we had the books and would be willing to sell it to them. Karis told them that the site was STILL ours and Roulix informed us that it was true – but only for another 39 days – and then no one owned it.

Karis then threatened the other leader and words were exchanged but no blows were delivered and we went on to the Caer itself, giving them a backwards glance.

Goloriana was happy to see us and told us we were late. We apologized and learned that this group had been here for a week, and 2 of the members had left some time ago. One of them was a druid. Lovely. There was ANOTHER group that had visited here before this group, 4 of them and swarthy. Goloriana had to engage them and chase them off.

She agreed to watch our wagon and mounts and assured us that nothing would happen to it while she was here.

It was about 4:15 on Plantmonth the 10th at this point and decided to go on in and visit. We broke out the gear and split up what we could on everyone (Asgirda and Flarg taking their own burdens as well) before taking a trip down into the Stronghold level. Coruth’tae placed an illusion over the entrance area so that if the druid was nearby, it couldn’t see us use the Lyreth medallions to open the ward. Fabambus used a scroll of Run on himself and Gwyn, giving the gnome and dwarf a much needed boost in speed for a number of hours should they need it.

And then down we went. Lantern was lit and we reentered the long gone entrance hall. From here we discussed our options and the party put it to a vote – to finish clearing out the Stronghold level before going down to the 2nd level and the dwarven city. We went back towards where the map room was on the Southwest portion of the level and from here drew weapons and readied ourselves. We went down the hall further and further, passing a set of stairs on the left, until we came to a door.

The reek of vermin and filth was strong, cloying on the back of our throats. The floor was in horrible shape and coated heavily with droppings and the sounds of squealing rats was getting louder. Karis snuck up and using his infravision looked in, spying several hundred rats as well as a 3 count of the over-sized hairless osquips. We talked when he returned and we came to the conclusion that we did NOT have to go in there and could give this place a bye for now.

We went instead to the side corridor and set of stairs and went down slowly, Fabambus and Coruth’tae looking around carefully – the two of them discovering a secret door near the base of the stairs where the corridor “T”’ed. Karis opened it and out spilled bones. Lots of them. Enough for almost 30 humans. Who put them in there and why?

Detheron looked them over with more care, the druid realizing that most of them had torturous damage to their joints – and that every one was here for decades. Vanir and the ritual? Or was it Dargan? We filed it away and cleaned the hall, eventually deciding on going to the right.

Corridor meandered for a bit and then ended up down a set of stairs to a door that was torn and eaten along the bottom. A quick look and listened revealed the place was clear but Detheron called on Frey to help him find any animals nearby, specifically spiders, and got a 4 count of pings some distance away but not in the next chamber. We entered and found what was once a dwarven barracks.

Most of what was still in here was useless but there were a couple of items that we did take, a weaponsmith’s kit and a thin vial of Keenedge Oil. Beyond here was another door and a larger amount of spider webbings barring our way. We picked past and went on, Karis and Flarg leading the pack, the bugbear brawler lighting what webs were ahead of us. We came to another chamber, this one time a set of cells but most of them rusted away to nothing. 4 large spiders the size of dogs skittered forward.

Karis went to engage them head on but his blows were too slow for the speedy arachnids and two of them leapt upon him, one on his chest, the other on his head and shoulders. Detheron dropped a Flaming Sphere on Karis’ front, burning the one on his chest free and another too close. Gwyn and Flarg smacked the one on Karis’ helm aside. The large spiders were made short work of and we cleaned our weapons and checked out the room, finding nothing of interest.

With nowhere else to go we back tracked to the closet area with the skeletal figures and went left this time, Gwyn advising us that the strange fungus was in there in the coal bin and it was very active with fire. Fabambus informed us it was most likely brown mold and any heat source would set it to growing and engulfing its food – ie, us. We went in and doused the lantern, making our way beyond the coal bin to the other side of the forge room and looked at our options.

We could take a corridor right or there was a door on the left, the party opted for the open corridor. It was long, some 30 paces, and there were odd smeary black patches here and there. It lead to a door and after checking it for traps and deciding it was clear, Karis pushed it open. Whatever the room was used for at one time was unclear but something had been using it not too long ago. Old blankets, simple tin buckets, smears that might have been food, goblin markings here and there.

The half ogre entered and slipped a bit on something slimy in the door frame, he ignored it until the gnome was telling him to check his boots. He looked and sure enough, the leather soles were smoking! He shucked out of them fast and dropped them and the boots were slowly dissolved into a thin puddle of green slime. Using flame we burned the slime and then carefully looked over the room while Karis made impromptu footwear out of old sacks and thongs.

The blankets revealed nothing and what furnishings were in here were also nondescript. There was a single door out of here and it led to a short 10 pace hall with another doorway. Gwyn went forward to check it out but stepped on a hidden plate and the ground opened beneath him, dropping him 20’ straight down and by BLIND luck not landing on any of the spikes sticking out of the pit’s bottom!

Asgirda and Karis used the climbing harness to get Gwyn out of the pit while Detheron used Spider climb to get around the pit and check out the door – finding it to be a closet with a lever to lock the pit open of closed – he left it opened.

We back tracked to the forge room and went down the door there. A set of stairs went down and then the corridor detoured to the left and wandered a bit. Coruth’tae informed us that we were coming to a dead end area according to the map he was making. Eventually the corridor “T’ed” left and right, left went nine paces to a door, right went 5 paces to a blank wall.

The party had misgivings about it but Karis went toward the door, mentioning that Fabambus should follow him to check out the door but he never got there as he stepped on a pressure plate and the party watched the door carefully. But the trap came from the BLANK wall behind as 6 slots opened up and spears were hurled down the corridor. Every one of them hit Karis dead on. One of them blew through his armor plate and pierced his lung!

The knight went down in agony, too filled with pain to summon up even a simple spell. He ground his teeth and enacted his healing ring, but he could still feel his life force ebbing away. Detheron dropped low and crawled up to Karis, struggling to stabilize him but with the shaft of wood and iron in his lung, there was nothing he could do. Gwyn came forward and using his scimitar hacked off the back of the spear from Karis’ chest as Detheron pulled the other end through. The half ogre blacked out briefly. Now able to see the wound, he poured the power of Frey into his healing and the deadly wound was closed.

Fabambus went to the door to verify it was a trap, and in there he found a lever to neutralize the danger. Once it was done the party pulled Karis back into the hall and stayed with him till he woke us. Meanwhile the 6 holes in the wall closed and we could hear shifting wood and metal – it was reset.

Coruth’tae went back to the closet, avoiding the pressure plate area, and removed the trap’s safety, coming back to the group.

Once all were better we were getting hungry and tired, but wanted to move on to one more chamber. We pressed on after back tracking a bit, until we arrived at another barracks long abandoned. It had signs that it had once been used by goblins or kobolds but not too recently. We ate and decided that we would go on for a bit longer.

The door from here led to a short corridor and then to the left and right, the left opening to a small closet like room with a 3’ wide, 1’ tall @ 4’ mark clear stone window looking beyond (former dwarven bolt hole), the right going a short while to a set of stair leading down and a plethora of spider webbings.

We opted to go to the spider webs and Flarg was on burn the web duty. Beyond it was a door and a room that a pair of long ancient tables, a basin, and hundreds of squirming spiders and larger dog style sized ones. The group decided to seriously assault the arachnids and taking most of the 8-legged menaces on the first assault with sleep spells and direct damage. It was over fast and beyond here was another corridor that lead to a room with a door torn off its hinges.

Detheron called on Frey and got a number of feelings of spiders beyond that doorway and one REALLY large return.

We ended it here, debating on the merits of assaulting the “queen” spider and its minions or just leaving it behind and going somewhere else.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meet 59, Adv 7, 2/28/09

This was a maintenance meeting to say the least, and it was made worse because we started late (later than usual!). Add it to the fact that the party had been meandering about without staying on a direction or a course for a while.

One of the things I do is prep an adventure months in advance and park it - I don't tweak it and make it level friendly and try to make sure that everyone gets a goodie or two in it - some things found won't work for them, some monsters or encounters might be over powered - nothing is perfect - and that is fine because it forces the party to play and roleplay - not min/max (although that always happens no matter what you try - chuckle).

The wyverns were an aside - a chance for the party to fight them in a controlled setting since I had foreshadowing them for months on end. There will be much greater wyvern fights as time goes on, but for this point it was a small encounter and a chance for them to get some hard earned coin.

It also allowed me the opportunity to think about what I wanted to do concerning the existing adventure which had ultimately gotten no where. As will be seen in the next post report I took a bit of advice from my favorite show "Heroes" as well as one of the players who comes over often and early and did a little reset after this meeting - forwarding time 2 months plus and shuffling the game deck a bit.

But that's for the other post report to come. ;)

Write up follows for this night:

The party deliberated on the merits of transporting the now full 4 wine barrels to Ponyboro where according to Gwyn we could net 75 crowns per barrel. We had no idea what it would cost to get the services of Deathspeaker Yondal, but we assumed that this would be more than enough. Coruth’tae was going to go to Cymbarton to Tower Arcane to train and take his Test, journeying with us to Ponyboro and then moving on from there.

We rented the use of a wagon and small horse team, taking the postal bags with us as well. Loading up the wine barrels we ventured onward to Ponyboro and had a safe, uneventful journey. Upon arrival they tendered the wagon and cargo to the stablers and made their way to the Daernhorse Demesne, hoping to sell their wares to the friendly Lord Artis first.

It wasn’t long before we were given audience and Lord Daernhorse filled us in on what was new, learning from us the same. Conversation meandered on until the subject of the wine was broached. Some haggling and back and forth went on its way until Lord Daernhorse agreed to purchasing the 4 barrels at the expected price.

The venerable lord then offered us a job. Being close to the Dusty Mountains, there was often the problem of wyverns to combat. The draconic lizards fondness of horseflesh and with a good expected foaling this year, Lord Artis was hoping to head off a problem. There was a rookery (wyvern nesting area) that was not too far away and if the party was willing to take the nest out and bring back the adult stingers as proof of the deed done, they would be paid for the job as well as a bounty on each adult wyvern destroyed! The party agreed and after some prompting, got Coruth’tae to put off his trip to Cymbarton a few more days so the grey elf could help out.

We left the next morning with a small scratched map in tow and camped some distance from the rookery. The following day had us scouting it out and getting a feel for what was in store for us.

The rookery was on the rocky outcropping of a small foothill, heavily wooded except for the top where the 35’ long lizards had felled saplings and other trees, dragging them into a depression they had dug out and mounded with stones. There were two adults and what seemed to be 4 young just hatched wyrmlings in the nest area.

We waited and one of them went off to presumably hunt and the party hatched a plan. Karis was made invisible and holding a coil of rope crept his way up to and into the nest. The one remaining wyvern sensed him but was confused as it couldn’t see him. With a heave he hurled the rope at the wyvern’s neck, turning visible in the process. Fabambus then animated the rope, having it entangle the wyvern around one wing, neck area, and part of the tail. Missiles were fired and spells slung and Karis drew forth his sword and attempted to hack the wyvern who was screaming in terror – alerting the other one to return.

The wyvern was fast, but hampered by the entangling animated rope it was unable to take to the air and its movements were hampered. It did strike out though with claw, bite, and tail. And eventually the tail struck, delivering a deadly dose of venom into Karis’ shoulder – the half-ogre staggering under the impact, his vitality drained to half!

Detheron tried to race forward to help and Fabambus did likewise, Gwyn firing more arrows and quarrels at the close wyvern as well as the one returning. The fight raced on until the entangled wyvern was slain, just a moment before Karis was accosted by the flying one. The party struggled and swung and fought, dodging tail and bite where possible, Detheron daring to jump into the nest and accord the half-ogre a swift heal.

But eventually the last wyvern was slain and the battle was won. We harvested the stingers from the two wyverns and slayed the young. The group tried to extract the virulent poison from the stingers, getting a few precious doses in the process. Meanwhile the rookery was knocked over and the logs and rocks scattered. In the process the gnome discovered some old chests that the wyverns had in the nest, the contents filled with some treasures in the form of crowns as well as a stout polished black rod than when held gave the gnome the appearance of royalty, his clothing well tailored and in good repair, and gave his a aura of confidence and allure. A rod of Splendor!

We carted the treasures back with us to Ponyboro, gathered our reward for the bounty, and decided to stay for a few days before heading back for home. We spoke with Deathspeaker Yondal learning that the “being” at the heart of Fengarth’s Tower was at one point Magrath, but had become a spellwraith, a powerful incorporeal spell using and magic resistant (not immune) undead creature.

Coruth’tae left us the next day, arrived at Cymbarton where he presented himself to Tower Arcane and volunteered to take the test. It was noted that he passed and garnered what respect and prestige it awarded him.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Meet 58, Adv 7, 2/21/09

It's nice when a group uses their brains instead of their swords or spells to solve a problem.

Fengarth's Tower was on the map and had been visited many times before, but it was not originally set up to be explored again and again and again. However the group had come back many times, testing the waters and getting further as their skills and prowess grew.

But the assault on the tower would and could be decidedly deadly should they have made the choice to "kill everything and loot it". It would mean many deadly battles with superior foes, in a narrow confined area that negates any larger group fight, and against enemies that require certain weaponry to hit or damage. It would also mean that enterprising groups might miss out on getting a fully stocked and placed tower at their behest should they somehow take their time and learn what is needed to take it over.

Happily, they have grown as a party and are much less likely to race in and "whack whack whack". Which I take as good testament to better gameplay for all involved.

Write up follows:

The group readied their weapons, prepared themselves, and ran through their tactics. Then with a mighty heave the door was forced open, Fabambus webbed the area where the imp last was and Karis and Flarg charged in with weapons raised…

Seeing nothing. The imp had gone.

The group spread out, checking the chamber high and low for any sign of the small creature, both Fabambus and Coruth’tae staying in the hall. The room was circled and still nothing, until Detheron noticed that Fodder was growing agitated near a section of the southern wall.

The druid called the rest of the group over and the imp reappeared just as it finished whatever enchantment it was performing. A tear rifted open in the air in front of it, the reek of sulfur and brimstone billowing out. And stepping free from the strange rent in space was a demonic presence standing 7’ tall, thin skinned, cherry red, horned, and its shoulders and arms were bathed in 4” flames. A dretch!

Combat ensued with both the warriors engaging the demon. Flarg was using the enchanted battle axe “Blaze”, the weapon firing to life but the weapon seemed to have no effect on the demon. Karis’ own sword was turned aside and the creature struck back with definitive strength and power, hurting the front line fighters.

Spells were cast, holds and missiles; nothing seemed to have much of an impact. At one point the dretch was ignoring blows and attempting to channel the flames on its shoulders but Fabambus’ well placed magic missile ended that with a pair of violet streaks.

The dretch was not giving ground and Flarg gave up on Blaze after seeing many of his blows turned aside, pulling his morning star out and battering the demon with much greater results. Karis shifted his blows from the dretch to the imp, thinking that if he was able to dispatch it the demon would disappear. When his own sword was ineffective he drew out Kysoth’s Bludgeon and the ensorcelled mace did deadly damage against the imp.

The imp siphoned some strength from the dretch to rejuvenate its wounds but it wasn’t enough and the party made short work of the imp with Smokey tearing the little beast to shreds. Once dead the dretch went down under a barrage of blows and spells and then gated home. The imp had dissolved to a smear on the ground and the party took stock of the area.

The gargoyles did come to life when we tried to once again leave with the books and we were unsure if battling a dozen of the flying stone menaces was the right answer. It was during conversation with them (where Fabambus said he was the new tower master) that we learned of Ssisska again, who had something called Fengarth’s Charm – a gold wrapped black crystal sister to the one we were carrying in silver (identified as Magrath’s Charm – Magrath being Fengarth’s apprentice).

We conferred and decided that if we could convince Ssisska that Fabambus was the heir to the tower, we would not have to fight the gargoyles and other denizens in here – possibly taking them all over in a single fell swoop!

We left the books and went upstairs to the 7th level, beyond anywhere we had been before. The 7th floor had a spellcrafting chamber, with rolls and racks to make stretch and dry parchment. Tools and presses to make inks, a writing desk with quills and inks and a silver key. And along the southern curve of the wall was a life sized armored knight cast in marble and painted in blues and greens.

Almost CONFIDENT that the statue would come to life the party inched into the room and then thought better of it, opting to move on from here and explore further upstairs. Onward to the 8th level!

Here was an alchemy lab with beakers and vials and yards of glass tubing and braziers and burners (all cold). 8 matching bound books sat on a shelf near the counter with a locked iron box tucked just underneath. A fireplace and cauldron stuck near the eastern wall but the party got the feeling there was something else in the room. Something that danced beyond their vision and seemed to disappear if it was looked out.

Nope. Let’s not disturb this place either! Chuckle.

We went to the 9th story where there were shelves and racks covered in a number of boxes, tins, jars, and containers. A breeze blew from above, faint but steady which made the party think they were near the parapet area they had seen from the ground below (almost 150’ up). In here they took some time to explore lightly, a search for magic centering on one thing only. Crossing over to it carefully Detheron tried to detect poison and did – but NOT on the tin box that was glowing!

Examining where the poisonous residue was coming from he discovered a vial marked as green dragon’s chlorinous extract. Whoa! Priceless stuff! Inside the tin though was a stout crystal that seemed white but where raised into the light sent rainbow patterns flowing everywhere. It took some thinking and examining of it but Karis deduced that it was a crystal from the Bifrost Bridge. Very very nice!

After this we readied ourselves for a potential combat with Ssisska on the next floor and climbed it. 3 quarters of the level was open to a parapet, an iron ladder and rungs leading up to a warded door above. The creaking of wings filled the air and 3 humanoid figures with 10’ stony wings swooped into view, demonic heads and curved talons. A 4th one appeared much larger than the others and sporting a row of stony spikes coming out of its back. A trio of ravens trailed behind it. It settled on the edge of the parapet, clutching the stone lip with its feet and stared at the group.

It identified itself as Ssisska, one of Fengarth’s apprentices. It seemed to know little of the passage of time. Where was Fengarth? Would he be returning? Magrath seemed to be dead and hadn’t responded to Ssisska’s summoning. There had been visitors steady over the last 3-6 years, who were they?

We spoke honestly and carefully near the gargoyle and his retinue, taking care to say nothing to upset him or cause him concern or alarm. The gargoyle admitted that there was something leeching life from the tower and had been doing so for the last 6 years. If it wasn’t stopped the last of the wards and protections in the tower would fail and the place would crumble.

If Fabambus wanted to be tower master and get the charm (which it admitted it had hidden inside itself) as well as the command words (who – command words?? We NEEDED to get them!) to control the tower’s guardians he would need to remove the blockage over the tower’s heart.

Tower’s heart? Where was that? The basement – the roots of Yggdrassil that poke up through the soil there. Something above it was blocking the flow of magic into the tower.

And then Karis went both cold and angry. There was a room on the 1st basement level, in the center of the tower – and it had a wooden door with a rune (that Puck had identified as imprisonment long ago). And in front of that door, 9 courses high, 6 wide, were blocks of stone, and each block had a rune of imprisonment on it.

And something that was trapped behind it needed to be taken care of and destroyed. We would have to open that room.

And Ssisska feels that the thing inside that area might be the remains of Magrath – the last defender of the tower and Fengarth’s assistant.

Damn it.

We thanked Ssisska and told it we would return at another time, working our way down and talking about what we would have to do. Firstly, we needed to know WHAT we were dealing with – and that meant finding a divinicist. And the only one we knew of was Deathspeaker Yondal in Ponyboro.

Secondly we needed money to outfit an assault on whatever it is below us. And so far we have not been so lucky regarding that matter. It was while going through Fabambus’s and Coruth’tae’s spells that the group stumbled upon a solution to their dilemma.

They went into the 1st level of the basement (avoiding the chamber with the wards) and grabbed 4 of the best barrels they could find, emptying them. Then they lashed them to the sledge and dragged everything back to Orihalcus.

At town they went to their home where Karis and Detheron in secret cast a number of mending spells (over 40 of them!) for 5 days on the barrels, fixing them and making them sound. Then they created water and filled the barrels to the top. Finally they had Fabambus use his spell Metamorphosis Liquids to turn the water in all 4 casks into wine. Specifically the 11 year old Darkwater Valleyborne Elven wine we had (since he could only change it into something he could place on his tongue). Their goal? Take the wine barrels to Ponyboro and sell them there, using the money to pay for a reading from the Deathspeaker and possibly outfit themselves a bit should there be any coin left over.

And that is where this meeting had ended.