Wilderlands Age of Worms

Session 35: Kings of the Rift
Fire Giants and Phylacteries

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Session 34: Kings of the Rift
The Mother of all Crawlers

Thanks to some scheduling snafus, we only had two players for this session: Ed and Eric. We went forward with the full party anyway.

Fireday, 19th of Sunstrong, 4433 (continued)

The party approached the building that Ekeria, Bugbear Pirate Queen of the Undercity, told them was the last known location of Charlgar, leader of the Riftcrawlers. As the approached, they noticed that the stench of the Undercity grew stronger, the closer they got to the designated building. The party studied the stains on the floor and determined they were remnants of dead and rotting flesh, but they could not identify what creature, or creatures, had made them. Anmor cast the spell Energy Immunity: Acid upon Kullen before they continued.

The party moved cautiously up the human sized steps, checking for traps as they moved upward. Though cov—ered in rust, the iron door leading into the building appeared to be functional. Kullen tested the door but found that it barred from the other side. The party debated briefly about what to do, but ultimately they called upon Chresin to use the spell Dimension Hop to transport them into the building immediately beyond the door opening.

Session_34_1.jpg

The party arrived in a foyer area just inside the Rift Crawler’s dwelling. The party was immediately assaulted by the acrid stench of an open cesspool. The entryway, however, was in complete darkness, so only, Kullen and Anmor were able to see anything. Before the party had time to react, they heard the clanking sounds of a mechanical device while unseen portcullises separate members of the party as they descended across every opening in the room.

Session_34_2.jpg

Kullen and Granuel were caught in the trap while the rest of the party was trapped between a portcullis and the iron entry door. As the last portcullis fell into place, a thick goo shot out of holes in the ceiling, hitting Kullen and Granuel directly and splashing on Ulm, though the iron bars. Kullen resisted the effects of the liquid, but both Granuel and Ulm were immediately paralyzed. As the splashing ended, dozens of troglodytes carrying long spears swarmed towards the portcullises.

Anmor cast the spell Grace, providing light by which the rest of party could see. Chresin cast Dimension Hop again and moved the party out of the trap and into the corridor to the left of the entry door. The troglodyte leader ordered the gates raised. As the doors cleared, the foot soldiers filled the room vacated by the party. As they began swarming forward, Anmor cast Flame Strike, killing instantly all ten troglodytes who had entered into the trapped foyer.

Chresin shouted: “Halt or Die” at the remaining troglodytes! Meanwhile, Anmor determined that the paralyzing fluid was derived from Carrion Crawler poison and its effects would end in a few rounds. The party deciding to stall until the Ulm and Granuel recovered. Attempting to intimidate them, Chresin cast the spell Dancing Lights and shouted “Valignat” (the draconic word for Fire) at the troglodytes. The creatures cowered in fear and looked to their leader for guidance.

Once freed, Ulm began speaking to the troglodytes (in draconic). At the same time, Anmor cast the spell Comprehend Languages and touched Ulm while he spoke, thus allowing them both to communicate with the troglodytes. Ulm ask the leader, “Who are your leaders and where can they be found?”

The Troglodyte leader responded: “You go away. Our masters do not want you here. Please go away terrible, terrible fire mages.”

Ulm replied, “We are the ‘Dragon Slayers’. We have killed fifteen of the filthy worms that have darkened your skies. We are here to protect Kongin-Thulnir and we have urgent business with Charlgar, King of the Rift Crawlers!” (OOC: Diplomacy: 32).

The leader of the Troglodytes said, “Charlgar told us not to let anyone in … so we’re going to go downstairs if it pleases the Dragon Slayers. Please do not kill us with your fire magic.”

Anmor said, “We will not kill you, but we must know where we can find Charlgar. We must speak with him immediately!”

The troglodyte leader directed the party down to walk down the nearest corridor. He then motioned to his guards and they all trotted down the staircase to the lower levels of the building. The party allowed them to leave before moving down the hallway to indicated hallway. Listening at the door, they heard nothing, so Kullen opened the door.

Charlgar’s Sleeping Quarters
What may have once been a fairly well organized bedchamber has been crudely redecorated. All of the furniture has been swept aside and piled at one end of the room. In another corner lays a huge pile of furs that looks to have been used as bedding. And the remains of several vile meals are strewn about the room.

Session_34_3.jpg

Having heard some commotion in the foyer, the party did not surprise Charlgar. As the doors flew open, a hill giant with a bedsheet tied around his face (i.e., Charlgar) flung an object at the party, striking Kullen. Upon impact, the object burst open and a purplish ooze coated Kullen. This ooze was similar to the fluid that feel upon the party from the foyer, but once again, Kullen shook off the ill effects.

Granuel cast the Spell Light on Ulm’s weapon. Then speaking in the Common tongue, Chresin says, “Charlgar, we come to speak with you. Put away your weapons.” Anmor repeated the same in the Terran language. Hearing that Anmor and Chresin were attempting to parley with the giant, Kullen stood fast. Anmor then uses Dark Knowledge to utter a “Dread Secret” at Charlgar (OOC: Charlgar was dazed for one round).

The party had a moment to make preparations and ready themselves. Chresin cast Swift Haste on himself, moved beside Charlgar and attempted, unsuccessfully, to disarm him. Kullen flanked Charlgar and struck him with the flat of his axe (OOC: non-lethal) while demanded that he drop his weapon, “You drop weapon and listen to what these mighty clerics have to say!” Granuel withdrew the Rope of Climbing from his pack and moved adjacent to the hill giant. Ulm and Anmor moved into the room and prepared to cast spells if Charlgar took any aggressive action.

Despite being outnumbers and complete surrounded, Charlgar prepared to swing his great axe. However, the party’s actions stopped him before he could finish his backswing. Anmor cast Sound Lance, Chresin and Kullen struck him with their weapons, before Ulm successfully cast Hold Monster on Charlgar. Over the course of the next few rounds, the party tied him up and stripped him of his bedsheet and all of his magical possessions.

Anmor and Ulm searched the room but found nothing of interest. However, as the moved to the southern corner they saw an opening into a vast cave.

Carrion Crawler Cavern
A great stench wafts in from the enormous cavern just beyond the opening. Extending outward, into the cavern is a great cage consisting of iron grillwork. The cage measures forty feet in height, length and width and the grillwork makes for uneven footing along its surface. Through the gaps in the floor, only darkness is visible. The cage, suspended against the side of the massive cavern, is secured to the near wall by iron support studs below and heavy anchoring chains above. A burning bundle of small tree trunks are strapped together to make a massive torch in the corner of the cage. The dimensions of the cavern cannot be determined from this vantage point, but is descends for many feet into darkness below the cage. The most startling aspect of this strange tableau is the seething hordes of writhing green worm-like creatures. These fat, tentacle covered monsters swarm along the cavern walls for as far as the eye can see and along the exterior of the cage. Anyone close by can hear the nauseating, slithering sounds of these shuffling creatures.

OOC: Everyone in the party contributed to the following conversation, however, only Ulm could speak giantish, so he translated the various questions and comments to Charlgar.

Charlgar: “Masters, I wish nothing to do with you. It is true that I stole the key with the help of my friend from the Tiamikal Nul-Shada, but I have thrown it into the cavern, so I cannot really retrieve it.”
Ulm: “You threw it into the cavern? Why?”
Charlgar: “Yes I did. It was all part of the plan, you see. I just didn’t expect dragons to attack.”
Ulm: “Who was your partner?”
Charlgar: “My partner’s name is Vercinabex Tor. He aided me…”
Ulm: “And he is one of the Fire Giants?”
Charlgar: “No! He is a Frost Giant. Please let me go and I will never bother you again. I will go far, far away…as soon as it is safe from the dragons.”
Ulm: “Who is this Vercinabex Tor and where is he now?”
Charlgar: “He is the wizard that lives in the Tiamikal Nul-Shada castle. I can only assume that he is there now. He is very interested in the treasure inside the Tiamikal Nul-Shada stronghold and that is why he agreed to help me.”
Ulm: “He told you to throw the key in the chasm?”
Charlgar: “Well, no. He told me not to let anyone take it, so I thought that would be the best place to hide it. You certainly cannot steal it from me, now can you?”
Ulm: “What exactly was your agreement with Vercinabex?”
Charlgar: “He told me to keep the key safe until we had control of the castle. Once we had control, we would use the key to unlock the doors to the treasure.”
Ulm: “So how did you plan to retrieve the key after you threw it in the cavern?”
Charlgar: “Well, I didn’t care that much about the plan to retrieve the treasure. I planned to rule the city. You could help me rule the city. You are very powerful…”
Ulm: “Where is the rest of your Rift Crawler clansmen? Are there more who are ready to take over or are you planning to do this alone?”
Charlgar: “Oh, there are many, many Rift Crawlers. They are all in the tower right now, fending off the dragon hordes.”
Ulm: “Have you heard from the recently?”
Charlgar: “Well, no, it’s been several days. But I have not heard any reports of trouble. I could rally many forces to your aid, mighty lords. And I would be happy to do so if you will spare my life.”
Ulm: “When did you first meet Vercinabex and when did he share his plan with you? How did you know that you could trust him?”
Charlgar: “Vercinabex and I have negotiated for ages because he had tired of the giants who were in charge of the Tiamikal Nul-Shada. Vercinabex Tor is a Rift Crawler! He has magical powers. He told me that together we would unlock the treasure. Of course, my idea was that I would listen to him as long as it suited my goals.”
Ulm: “When did you first meet this frost giant?”
Charlgar: “Vercinabex has been the second in command at the citadel for quite some time. I heard of him around 30 years ago, but I first met him about 2 years ago. It was then that we began our discussions about how we could overthrow the status quo.”
Ulm: “Was there a mention of the key 2 years ago?”
Charlgar: “No.”
Ulm: “When did that occur?”
Charlgar: “Well, not too long after we started talking. He talked about the keys and how if I could take over the Rift Lords, then together we could take over the citadel and then we could work on getting the vault open. I don’t know…he’s very obsessed with the vault.”
Ulm: “Where is he now?”
Charlgar: “He still lives in the citadel.”
Ulm: “When did you last see him?”
Charlgar: “Oh, it’s been a month or three.”
Ulm: “Have you seen him since the dragons attacked?”
Charlgar: “No!”
Ulm: “So you stole the key before the dragons attacked?”
Charlgar: “Well, yes, but I did steal the key; Vercinabex stole it and gave it to me.”
Ulm: “And he told you to keep it safe.”
Charlgar: “Yes!”
Ulm: “And you used the key to rally more of the Rift Lords to your cause?”
Charlgar: “See, here is the genius of my plans. I told everyone who would listen, including bugbears and goblins, that the Rift Lords had stolen the Tiamikal Nul-Shada’s key and therefore they would soon be at war with each other. Then we, as the underclass, would rise up and take over the ruins. It’s an ingenious plan, really.”
Ulm: “Until the dragons attacked?”
Charlgar: “Yes, the dragons ruined everything. I hate dragons!”
Ulm: “So how does the cage over there work?”
Charlgar: “We capture crawlers in it. They drop in through the opening in the top. We can also drop the bottom out of it to get rid of people we don’t like. I suggest you hop in and I’ll show you.”
Ulm: “No thank you. Where is the trigger for the cage?”
Charlgar: “Oh, it’s upstairs, of course.”
Ulm: “You go outside and climb?”
Charlgar: “It is an easy climb, just use the cage.”
Ulm: “Then let’s go upstairs. Show us the way.”
Charlgar: “I don’t want to go out there, they have stinging tentacle. I send others upstairs.”
Ulm: “What other people?”
Charlgar: “Wilmot is in charge. He operates all of this and makes all of the delicious carrion crawler loads. He makes them highly poisonous and explosive.”
Ulm: “Who is this Wilmot? Is he a Rift Crawler? Did he help you and Vercinabex steal the key?”
Charlgar: “Wilmot is my subject, so yes, he is a Rift Crawler.”
Ulm: “Is he a bugbear? Is he a giant?”
Charlgar: “Psft, No. He is a little person, sort of like him,” he says, pointing towards Anmor.
Ulm: “How many others are upstairs working with Wilmot?”
Charlgar: “I don’t go up there, so I do not know. I’m sure it’s less than a hundred.”

The party talked amongst themselves for a moment and decided they had learned all that they could from Charlgar. Unsure how well he they had tied him up, they decided to take his magic items with them. Anmor identified the items listed below:

  • Belt of Giant Strength +6, value 36,000 GP (Kullen, gives Belt of Giant Strength +4 to Chresin)
  • +1 Great Axe of Speed, value 32,000 GP (placed in Ulm’s Handy Haversack)
  • +5 Banded mail, value 25,000 GP (placed in Ulm’s Handy Haversack)

CarrionCrawler.jpg

Kullen climbed up to the opening above the cage. Looking through, he saw an empty room. A single lever was affixed to the wall beside the opening. Manipulating the lever in an upward motion caused the top of the cage to open, allowing a carrion crawler to drop into the cage below. The Carrion Crawler repeatedly swatted at Anmor with its tentacles, but was unable to penetrate his armor. Granuel and Chresin moved forward and squished the creature into a pool of goo. Kullen move the lever back to a horizontal position and the top of the cage returned to its normal position.

After double-checking the ropes used to bind Charlgar, the rest of the party joined Kullen on the second floor. With Ulm in the lead, searching for traps, the party made its way down a winding, narrow corridor. The party traveled about 45 feet down the corridor opened before coming to an opening that lead into what appears to be a workroom of some sort.

Alchemy Laboratory
A strong acrid odor fills the atmosphere of this room. Alcoves along the wall hold large stone vats from which the odors seem to emanate. Stone bins and tables covered in beakers, alembics and burners provide the rest of the furnishings. To the south, a mine cart, attached to a chain and small wench, has been pulled up beside a small blockade. The tunnel on the far side of the chamber slopes downward into a deep darkness.

Session_34_4.jpg

Ulm countered by successfully casting the spell Power Word Blind then moved behind some equipment to gain cover. Granuel took a running jump and landed in the mine cart beside the dwarf. Kullen used his composite bow and hit the dwarf with two magical arrows. Chresin used Swift Haste to close on the cart and anchor the Rope of Climbing to one of its handles. Anmor cast Sound Lance and hurts but does not incapacitate the Wilcot.

Blindly, Wilcot reaches for and releases the cart brake. Chresin, holding the Rope, was unable to stop its progress and it went careening down the ramp, crashing into a barricade 60 feet away. Both Wilcot and Granuel ended up prone in the cart. Granuel grappled and then pinned Wilcot. Ulm cast haste on everyone except Granuel. Kullen and Chresin closed on the cart and then beat up on the dwarf, killing him with a flurry of melee blows.

Anmor, using the Nethertome of Trask, cast speak with dead, but Wilcot’s Coldtooth’s soul was unwilling to give up any secrets. Casting Detect Magic on the corpse, Anmor identified the following magic items:

  • +3 wounding spiked chain
  • Wand of Cure Moderate Wounds, 32 charges (Granuel)
  • Wand of Scorching Ray, Level 8, 27 charges
  • +5 Mithril Breast Plate (Anmor, party will sell Anmor’s +1 Full Plate)
  • Gloves of Dexterity +6 (Anmor, Anmor’s Gloves of Dexterity +4 to Chresin, party will sell Chresin’s Gloves of Dexterity +2)
  • Ring of Protection +3 (Kullen, party will sell Kullen’s Ring of Protection +1)
  • Periapt of Proof Against Poison

Searching the room, the party also found the following items:

  • A focusing crystal (i.e., a large diamond) worth 1,500 GP
  • A rack of vials full of poisons
  • A second rack of vials with a label, Cure Serious Wounds, but is actually another poison

Finding nothing else of interest in the alchemy lab, the party moved back to the opening above the cage. Anmor and Chresin, using items that allowed them to fly, moved out into the cavern and began searching for the key. Their assumption was that the key was magical, so they used Detect Magic spells as the reconnoitered the area. They circled the entire cavern for the better part of two minutes but found no magic. Anmor, however, discovered a tunnel sloping sharply downward.

The tunnel was very wide and caked with refuse and rubbish as if Carrion Crawlers had been scurry along its length for a hundred feet or so. After that, the tunnel began spiraling sharply downward, ending on a small ledge just above an even larger cavern.

Primeval Worm Lair
This massive cavern of sloping floors and several colossal stalagmites is lighted by phosphorescent fungus clinging to the walls and ceiling. Mats of rancid and decaying fungus bubble and seethe in a thick carpet on the cavern floor, filling the air with a hazy green taint of spores and stink. Here and there huge mounds of fungus rise like hills, and scattered throughout are the bones and skulls of long dead giants.

Session_34_5.jpg

Anmor and Chresin quickly learned that the air within this cavern was not very health (OOC: Spores required FORT save), though neither were overcome by them. As they circled the room, an enormous worm rose from the crusty floor of this room.

Although at first glance this chamber appeared empty, it is in fact the lair of a primeval carrion crawler of immense proportions. This worm may be the progenitor of the entire aberrant species. This behemoth is an ageless monstrosity known in legends as the Mother Worm. She awakens when she senses intruders enter her lair.

Chresin decided that he and Anmor were ill equipped to handle this beast on their own and cast Dimension Door to return them to the room where the rest of the party was waiting.

The party spent several minutes trying to determine what is going on here. Testing a theory, Anmor threw a coin into the upper cavern and watched as the carrion crawlers swarmed over it. Anmor told the party that he suspected that the swarming carrion crawlers are carrying items to the bigger beast below. Unfortunately, the coin was too small to see that happened after they swarmed, so he decided that they should try a larger object.

Kullen climbed down to the Charlgar’s bedchamber to retrieve something large, only to find the hill giant had gone. After sharing this news with the party members above, Kullen got a large piece of furniture and placed it in the cage. Anmor manipulated the lever and the item dropped to the cavern floor below. The crawlers once again swarmed towards the item and it becomes clear that they are indeed moving it towards the spiraling tunnel that leads to the lower cavern.

The party decided that they should rest before assaulting the Mother Worm. Kullen rejoined the group and they made camp for the night in the second floor entryway.

Spiritday, 20th of Sunstrong, 4433

The party spent he first part of the morning preparing spells and planning strategy. They began the execution of their plan with Chresin casting Dimension Door, teleporting the entire group to the landing in the lower cavern. Anmor cast Eyes of the King to summon four dire bats and then used a wand to cast the spells Fly on Kullen. The spell casters prepared the party for the ensuing encounter. Thirty seconds after the dire bats began circling the chamber, the Mother Worm rose from the fungus. The party was ready and unleashed a hell storm upon it. Kullen attacked, but quickly learned that his “Greataxe of Stuff” was not very effective (OOC: DR 15/Epic) against this enormous creature. The Mother Worm’s first attacks struck and paralyzed Kullen and along with all of the dire bats. Chresin cast the spell Regroup to bring Kullen back to the ledge with the rest of the party. Granuel removed the paralysis and healed some of the damage.

The Mother Worm was only able to see Kullen, so she began climbing the ledge to try to reach him. Attacking him again, Kullen once again succumbed to the Mother Worm’s paralysis effect. Ulm cast Greater Invisibility on Kullen, effectively making everyone in the party invisible. Fearing the outcome of more melee attacks from the Mother worm, Chresin tells everyone to prepare to fly, then casts Dimension Hop, carrying all of the party members to a spot, in mid-air, well out of the monster’s reach. (OOC: The mechanic were a bit kludgie here. Chresin delayed until Anmor could activate his boots. Granuel locked arms with Kullen (who was already flying) and Chresin locked arms with Ulm. He then cast Dimension Hop to move everyone en masse).

Ulm cast Swift Etherealness to free himself from Chresin’s arms. Chresin then flew away from the rest of the party and again cast Polar Ray and the creature. The Mother Worm retaliated by casting a ray at Chresin’s square, but did not hit thanks to the Invisibility effect. Chresin and Anmor continued to cast spells from their new vantage points. Unable to protect herself, the Mother Worm finally perished from the unrelenting onslaught. The party moved back to the ledge and collapsed in exhaustion.

OOC: Summary of spells cast during this encounter

RoundCaster Spell Target
0Anmor Eyes of the King
0Ulm Invisibility Sphere Ulm & Granuel
1GranuelResistance Kullen
1Anmor Fly Kullen
1Ulm Haste Self + party
2Anmor Recitation All allies
2GranuelBless All Allies
3GranuelShield of Faith Chresin
3Ulm Greater Invisibility Anmor
4Ulm Greater Invisibility Chresin
4GranuelResistance Anmor
5GranuelResistance Chresin
6ChresinPolar Ray (Empowered)Kaiju Worm
6Anmor Evasculate Kaiju Worm
6Ulm Repulsion Self
7ChresinRegroup, swift cast Kullen
7ChresinPolar Ray (Empowered)Kaiju Worm
7GranuelRemove Paralysis Kullen
7Anmor Sound Lance Kaiju Worm
7Ulm Power Word Stun Kaiju Worm
8ChresinDimension Hop
8Anmor Flame Strike Kaiju Worm
8Ulm Greater Invisibility Kullen
9ChresinDimension Hop
9Ulm Swift Ethereal Self
10ChresinPolar Ray (Empowered)Kaiju Worm
10Ulm Power Word Stun Kaiju Worm
10Anmor Flame Strike Kaiju Worm
11ChresinPolar Ray Kaiju Worm

XP totals at the end of session 34:

* Anmor 165,230
* Ulm and Chresin 163,391
* Granuel 159,993
* Kullen 163,453

Everyone remains level 18. Ed and Eric earn dork cards for wrangling multiple characters each.

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Session 33: Kings of the Rift
Giant-Sized Politics

This was the historic session where Zoe Saldana threw herself at every man in the house.

Matt was not present (probably much to his relief, considering how much talking went on), so Ulm was played by Andy.

In addition to character sheet preparation and prior session recapping, the group discussed several topics at length before actually starting the adventure.

• First, there was a discussion as to whether or not it was worthwhile to spend two days to unlock the greater effects of Nadroc’s Tribute. Ultimately, the group decided not to do so because they did not currently have the rare materials required.

• Second, the party discussed stalling (for up to 41 days) until the commissioned magical items would be ready for pick-up in Ut Prandur. The group decided that they could maybe take things slowly, but could not afford sit around and do nothing (or worse yet leave Lighthedge Canyon) at this point.

• Third, the party discussed finding the lair of the Fang Dragon, Xyzanth, that they fought on the ledge. After researching their available spells at length, the party decided that they did not currently have anything that would allow them to pinpoint its location.

• Fourth, Balakarde left for the rift 16 years ago. Chresin is convinced that he is not dead, but rather has been captured by Drazzoroth or one of its minions. The party discussed trying to scry on him using his journals. They also discussed using the Sending spell in an attempt to communicate with him. They also discussed using the spell find the path to determine his exact location. Despite the lengthy conversation, no further actions were taken at this time.

• Fifth, The party discussed the fact that Bragi Harthgar had not been completely honest when he told the party that the King of the Khargakhan, Achaime Silvereye, was “tired”. They considered whether or not they should find this king and see if he could unite the giants against the host of dragons. However, since the party had already left the palace, they decided not to follow-up initially.

Reminder: The dragon’s siege started approximately 6 to 10 days before the Reprisal Squad first came to Lighthedge Canyon.

DM note: for ease of future reference, I moved the following “things the party knows” items into separate wiki entries:
* What the party knows about the various factions of giants inhabiting Kongen-Thulnir
* What Anmor knows about Dracoliches
* What Anmor knows about Carrion Crawlers

Waterday, 17th of Sunstrong, 4433

Click to ExpandAs the party regrouped on the bridge (location “R”), they viewed the swarm of dragons in the sky. Despite have killed 13 dragons themselves, the balance of power does not appear to have shifted since they arrived. The dragons were focusing most of their efforts on the one remaining tower in the gorge (location “J”).

The party decided to try to talk to the fire giants who were guarding the entrance to the citadel. The party decided to let Ulm speak for the party and Granuel cast Eagle’s Splendor on him. Everyone sheathed weapons and slowly made their way to across the bridge. The following conversation occurred:

Fire Giant: “Halt! No one may pass. Be gone!”
Ulm: “Hail and curse these worthless dragons. We have been sent on a mission by the Druids from the Island of Last Resort to speak with Kagro Thundersmiter. We are here to help you.”
Chresin: “Hail mighty Tiamikal Nul-Shada!”
Fire Giant: “Go away little person. We know that you are spies. Spies for the dragons or spies for the Rift Lords. We care not. Go away. We want nothing to do with your kind.”
Chresin: “You saw us destroy three mighty dragons, right here on your own bridge. Therefore, you know that we are not working with the Dragons.”
Fire Giant: “Ha. Gnome tricks. I know you are a gnome. I saw you fire spells into mid-air and then dragons appear and disappear. Your illusions do not fool me.”
Ulm: “Fire Giants as smart as yourselves would definitely see through any gnome tricks. So you know that I am telling you the truth when I say that we must speak with Kagro Thundersmiter and woe to anyone who would prevent us. Kagro will be very displeased if you delay the sending of our message.” (OOC: Diplomacy Check: 21, i.e., fail)
Fire Giant: “We have our orders. Be gone! Or we will smite you.”
Ulm: “I think there is a possibility that your orders did not expect this. We can wait…briefly…while you go and check your orders. That would be the best scenario for all of us, because we guarantee you that Kagro is going to want to speak with us.” (OOC: Diplomacy: 25)
Fire Giant looks to his partner then replies: “Nah. We’ll call you…maybe later.”
Ulm: “Is there some sacrifice that we can offer you that will prove our intentions?”
Fire Giant: _“Ha! No! No one is worthy small persons. Especially not gnomes.” He picks up a rock and shouts, “Go, go, go away.”
Chresin: “We will return tomorrow. Make sure Kagro knows this.”

Frustrated, the party returned to Rift Lord’s Palace and spoke to Bragi. They asked about the condition of King Achaime Silvereye. Bragi once again replied, “He’s very tired. You cannot see him today.” (OOC: Sense Motive: 34) They realized that Bragi was still being evasive so they offered to try to heal Achaime. Bragi declined their help, but did agree to let the party to rest once again in the courtyard.

The party devised a plan to get Ulm into the inner area of the damaged stronghold (location “P"). They waited until dark and then Ulm used a combination of spells to form a telepathic bond with the rest of the party and to create an illusion of himself sleeping. While the rest of the party pretended to sleep, Ulm cast invisibility upon himself and sneaked through the foyer and into the deeper realms of the castle. After about an hour of searching, he found the throne room.

King Achaime Silvereye was sitting on the throne, unaware of his surroundings. A bit of drool dribbled from his lower lip. Ulm looked for documents, letters and missives of any type, but found nothing. Next, he cast Detect Magic and determined that King Achaime was wearing some magical items, but was not under the influence of an enchantment.

Telepathically, the party discussed ways to gain information from Achaime. Ulm cast Project Image, to make himself look like Bragi. He then tried to talk to King Achaime, but got no intelligible response. Stepping behind him, Ulm placed a circlet of intellect on the King’s head.

King Achaime’s eye blinked a few times as he looked around the room in surprise. He saw Bragi/Ulm and asked hoarsely what was going on. Bragi/Ulm told the king that dragons had been attacking Kongen-Thulnir for the last several days but there were brave adventurers who have come here to help. He asked the king if he knew what the dragons might be looking for and the king responded that is must be whatever the idiots in the citadel are protecting. The King ordered Bragi/Ulm to “rally the troops” and he marched out to the courtyard and demanded to speak with the “humans.”

OOC: This is our first confirmation that the phylactery is located in or under the citadel.

As the king entered the courtyard, the Bragi/Ulm projection disappeared. The real Bragi was asleep, but as the king approached, someone yelled out, “My King” and everyone in the courtyard took a knee. The following conversation ensued:

King Achaime: “So these are the little ones you let in. Tell me, dragon slayers, what is the situation outside?”
Chresin: “The situation is grave, your grace.”
King Achaime: “Yes, tell me more.”
Chresin gestured towards the sky and explained: “the flames that you see in the distance represent but a fraction of the forces that have amassed against us. A host of dragons have laid siege to Kongen Thulnir.”
King Achaime: “Well let’s rally the troops then.”
Chresin: “That is what we have been trying to do, but there is no leadership at the moment. It seems that the Tiamikal Nul-Shada, the Khargakhan, and the Khargak-dwergun are at odds, and we have been unable to unite them.”
King Achaime: “Who are these ‘Khargak-dwergun’ of which you speak?”
Bragi: “You have been under some sort of spell. While you were recovering, a group of lesser giants has rebelled against you.”
King Achaime: “Then we should kill them too. There shall be no rebellion! Tell me the position of our troops.”
Bragi points to the various giants in the courtyard and bemoans, “These few are all that remain.”
King Achaime: “Where are the rest of my people?”
Bragi: “A handful of our people have gone to the depths…traitors all of them. And there have been many, many deaths to the dragons. I do not think we have the forces, even with these ‘gnomes,’ to stop the dragons. I think we should wait here until someone wins.”
Ulm: “Is it possible that we might join forces with the Tiamikal Nul-Shada…at least we defeat these dragons?”
King Achaime: “I have found them to be quite irrational. They prefer two things, to fight dragons and to hide in their citadel guarding their treasures.”
Granuel: “What are they protecting?”
King Achaime: “I do not know, but I assume it is a great treasure.”
Chresin: “We have encountered several hill giants, perhaps they are your brethren, holding some of the towers along this side of the rift. Most of these positions are no longer defensible. Would it make sense to try to gather them all here?”
King Achaime: “Yes. Bring my subjects under my banner. Once I have an army, we will go forth and slay the dragons and then we will deal with the traitors.”
Chresin: “Your people have not been very receptive to our conversations so far. Is there something that we can tell them or something that we may show them that will let them know that we speak with the voice of the king?”
King Achaime slipping a ring from his finger and handing it to Chresin: “You go to those locations and show them the ring. Tell them that we rally here and then we will fight all of the dragons.”

OOC: Everyone thought this sounded good, like they were getting somewhere. But of course, they were so wrong!

Bragi: “My king, the giants at the gates leading into Kongen-Thulnir are still loyal to you. But the Mid-Point Tower (Location ‘K’) has been taken by the traitorous Khargak-dwergun. They will not bow to you, so it is worthless to try to summon them.”
Chresin: “Bragi, do you know who leads these Rift Crawlers…these Khargak-dwergun?”
Bragi: “My former partner, Charlgar, leads the Rift Crawlers but he is nothing but a treacherous worm.”
Ulm: “If he were to die, would the rest of the Rift Crawlers lose hope and really to the true King’s banner?”
Bragi: “Well, I don’t know. None of them are worth very much…they are not the best of us. The best of us are here, obviously.”
Chresin: “They may not be the best, but every army needs giants who will lead the charge and absorb the initial waves of battle.”
Bragi: “If you wish to go out and recruit more giants, if that is what my king wills, then you should do it.”
King Achaime: “Yes, this seems like a wise plan. As the ’morrow downs, you little people take my ring and bring to me my army. Upon your return we will mount an attack on those dragons who foolishly dare to attack us. I will command the defenses here until you return.”

The Reprisal Squad slept without incident for the remainder of the night.

Earthday, 18th of Sunstrong, 4433

As the day dawned, everyone in the Rift Lord’s Palace was startled awake by a terrible cracking sound. The party wormed their way between a throng of giants in order to peer out the gate. As they looked on in shock, they witnessed the collapse of the Mid Point Tower (location ‘J’). As it crashed to the ground, giant could be seen falling to their deaths in the canyon below. For many minutes a horde of black, blue, and green dragons circled in triumph above the crumbled remains. After a time, several of the dragons broke off and settled on top of the ruins.

Chresin: “Alas, we agreed to parlay with the fanatics across the bridge. We will conclude our business with them and the make haste to rally the rest of your forces under your banner here.”
King Achaime: “Excellent! I expect nothing less than complete success with your mission.”

Anmor performed his morning rituals and everyone partook of the Hero’s Feast. He then cast False Life while the others donned their armor and prepared to leave. They crossed the bridge and approached the citadel gates much as they had the day before, with Ulm leading the way. As he neared the gates, he called out to the Fire Giant guards.

Ulm: “As we promised, we have returned to speak with His Majesty, Kagro Thundersmiter.”
Fire Giant: “Go away little people…oh crap!”

The fire giants turned slightly to their left and the party members quickly glanced in that direction. They spied 3 green dragons Swooping down toward the citadel. Granuel, thanks to his Robe of Eyes, spotted 2 invisible blue dragons sneaking towards them as well. Anmor assessed the age of the dragons, the green dragons were adults (20 HD) and the blue dragons were mature (24 HD).

The fight began with Ulm casting Glitterdust on one of the invisible blue dragons. They retaliated be using their breath weapons (i.e., cones of acid by the green dragons and lines of lightning by the blue) making all of the dragons visible to the rest. Kullen offered to help the Fire Giants guard the gate, they agreed and he joined them on the wall. Anmor used the spell Lion’s Roar and caused one of the blue dragons to fall from the sky. Through a series of spells and physical attacks the Reprisal squad and their new fire giants allies were able to kill four of the dragons. The last blue dragon, though badly injured, was ultimately able to fly away and join the remaining dragons at the fallen tower (location ‘J’).

OOC: After the battle ended, Anmor, flying, travelled to the floor of the canyon to search the bodies of the slain dragons for treasure. I have no record of him finding anything, however.

We learned that the maximum possible damage from falling is 20d6.

Fire Giant: “You small people are no joke when it comes to fighting dragons. However, Kagro Thundersmiter is also no joke. And he has told us none shall enter. So you understand our predicament here.”
Ulm: “Is it possible…”
Chresin: “You must go now and tell him of our mighty deeds. We will await his reply.”
Fire Giant: “I will go and tell my king of your worthiness right now if you will guard this place in my absence. I fear more dragons may be coming and I cannot leave my post unattended.”
Chresin: “We agree. Now go and make haste.”

The Tear-Stained Portal
These double doors are made of stone and stand 20 feet high. The doors are set into the natural stone walls beneath the castle. Bas-relief carvings adorn the doors, depicting dragons falling from the skies, slain by great arrows and rocks, and broken dragon bodies lying on the ground below. Faintly visible above all of the other images are five dragon heads, each in a different color (red, green, blue, black, and white), looking on in anguish. The stone of the doors is damp with rivulets of water weeping from the eyes of these dragons.

kagro.jpgThe party regrouped as they waited in front of the massive double doors. They agreed that Ulm should once again speak for the party. After a few more minutes pass, the guard returned with another, larger fire giant. Everyone in the party took a knee at his approach.

King Kagro: “Small persons, your help in defeating the dragons is appreciated. Go and murder the rest of them.”
Ulm: “By your leave, great king, we have been sent by the Druids of the order of the Storm; Tylanthros, Beskawahn, Thadimar, and Sayren-Lei.”
King Kagro: “Stop saying words that have no meaning to me! Go and kill dragons!”
Chresin: “May we at least come inside and rest before we embark on this task?”
King Kagro: “There will be no admittance to outsiders in the Citadel of Weeping Dragons!”
Anmor: ““Kagro Thundersmiter, I would have you know, that it was more than assistance that we provided. We saved you from the dragons that were about to destroy the bastion that you have protected for many long ages! We have been sent by the very people who created this place and charged the Tiamikal Nul-Shada with its safekeeping. Do you see this door? We were here when it was set, hundreds of years ago! Dragons will continue to come; they will be relentless. For they know, as we know, that which you protect…even if you do not! We have been sent here by the Founders to help you safeguard their treasure against the evil that is oppressing you from all sides!”
King Kagro: “You talk in fancy words, little dwarf, but I do not care.”
Anmor: “But they are true and you must understand.”

The party quietly talked among themselves for a brief moment. (OOC: Chresin, Sense Motive: 29) Chresin told the others that Kagro did not understand the talk about the founders. In general, he seemed a bit bored by what was being said. However, he did appear to grow angry and suspicious at the mention of treasure.

Chresin: “Highness, what is your relationship with King Achaime Silvereye?”
King Kagro angrily replies: “Those thieves! They have stolen from us! My minions say you come from them. Are you their friends?”
Chresin: “We are indeed acquainted with them. We have drawn no alliances, but we think that either you or they are being quite foolish in not joining forces to stop these dragons.” (Diplomacy: 18)
King Kagro: “You will not call us fools!”
Chresin: “Then I call them fools! But you must work together.”
King Kagro: “Those thieves have stolen from us! Bring back what they stole and I will entertain your questions.”
Chresin: “Then give us guidance. What have they stolen, that we might be able to identify and bring it back to its rightful owners.”
King Kagro: “They hold one of my keys and they will bring it to me or else they will be destroyed.”

Granuel became increasingly frustrated during the conversation. As the King began to walk away, he grabbed his bow and began to nock an arrow. Chresin noticed the activity and placed Granuel in a bear hug. King Kagro looked back over his shoulder and shouted mockingly:

King Kagro: “Ha! You fight among yourselves. Now go away.”

The party argued for some time over what to do next. Granuel suggested that they should ignore the dragons and make a direct assault on the fire giant’s stronghold. Anmor agreed that their ultimate destination was probably the citadel, but thought that a direct assault would be a suicide mission, not to mention that the party would then have two enemies that they would have to contend with simultaneously. Chresin wanted to honor their commitment to fetch the surviving hill giants before looking for the stolen key. Anmor suggested that, since they were still close by, they could go back to Bragi and ask him if he knew about the stolen item that had King Kagro so upset.

Ultimately, the party chose to try to unite the surviving hill giants. They made their way to the front gate and hailed the giants inside the guard tower. They showed the King’s signet ring/bracelet and told the hill giants that King Achaime was rallying his troops under a single banner at the Rift Lord’s Palace (location ‘P’). The hill giants were convinced and agreed to follow the party back to the palace. As the party and the surviving giants made their way south along the rift they observed several black dragons sifting through the rubble atop the crumbled tower.

We probably didn’t discuss numbers at the time, but if it matters the party recruited 12 hill giants from the front gate.

King Achaime greeted them at the gates of the palace. He congratulated the party on their success and welcomed his kin into the palace. As they settled into the courtyard, the party told King Achaime about their meeting with King Kagro and asked if he had any knowledge about the ‘stolen’ key. Bragi indicated that the Rift Crawlers had stolen a ‘magical’ key and that it was something that they used to recruit other giants to join them. Bragi told the party that the Khargak-Dwergun made camp in the undercity, accessible from the base of the canyon.

OOC: Sense Motive: 29, Bragi was lying. He was simply telling the party what they wanted to hear.

Important DM note: I’m not sure why I said Bragi was lying. Sense Motive 29 should have told you that Bragi absolutely believes: the Rift Crawlers stole the key, were using it to recruit other giants, and have a camp in the undercity. Maybe he added something else that was a lie?

Once again, the party spent the night in the courtyard of the Rift Lord’s Palace. Before resting, Anmor healed all of their wounds. During the night, Ulm retrieved his Circlet of Intellect from King Achaime.

Fireday, 19th of Sunstrong, 4433

brazzemal.jpgAgain, Anmor performed his morning rituals (False Life and Hero’s Feast) and everyone ate a hearty breakfast. Chresin suggested that they should attempt to scry on the Ominous Fabler. Anmor set up the ritual and successfully found the Ominous Fabler, appearing as a goblin, standing amongst some ruins talking to an enormous red dragon. The Ominous Fabler told the dragon that he thought “it” might be under here, but he admitted he was unsure. He indicated the ‘others’ should keep digging and if they didn’t find it here, they could go to the other big place and ‘get it all’. As that conversation ended, the party saw the red dragon, Brazzemal, winging away from the collapsed tower in the center of the canyon.

ominousfabler.jpgAfter a bit of discussion, the party decided they needed to eliminate the Ominous Fabler. They believed that he was an enemy and was most likely working on Drazzoroth’s behalf. They decided that since they appeared to have the element of surprise, they would take this opportunity to dispose of him. Their plan was pretty simple; cast silence on Kullen and then use the Dimension Door spell to jump the entire party beside the Ominous Fabler. Once there, Kullen would grapple the spriggan, preventing him from escaping and the rest of them would kill or disable him.

Anmor cast Detect Magic through the scrying font and determined that the Ominous Fabler was surrounded by several magical auras. However, he observed, as the Ominous Fabler moved around, that the dragons projected no magical auras. He also provided Dark Knowledge (foe), giving everyone in the party information about of the physical vulnerabilities of the Ominous Fabler (OOC: +3d6 damage).

Note: Barbarian Rage provides a “rage” bonus to Strength and Constitution; therefore, it stacks with Animalistic Power or Bull Strength, which utilize an enhancement bonus.

Invisibility Sphere versus Mass Invisibility. Movement – Sphere: everyone must remain within 10 feet of the spell caster (Ulm) or they become visible, Mass: Individuals must be within 180 feet of the nearest person effected by the spell. Combat — Sphere: If an individual attacks, only that creature becomes visible, Mass: If an individual attacks, all creatures effected by the spell become visible. Vision Sphere: Everyone effected by the spell can see see one another, Mass: No one can see anyone.

After the party cast all of their buffing spells, Chresin used Dimension Door to relocate them, invisible and silenced, onto the pile of rubble beside the Ominous Fabler (Grezzilfek). The Fabler was completely surprised. Kullen immediately grappled him and then, since the Fabler was undead, Granuel used his Positive Energy Burst ability to deal damage to him. The Fabler used his at-will ability to change his size to that of a large creature, but was unable to escape. Chresin and Anmor bludgeoned him, Ulm successfully cast Power Word Stun, and Granuel finished him off with a two-handed power attack using his morning star. One of the dragons noticed something was amiss, but was unable to do anything before Chresin whisked them all back to the safety of the Rift Lord’s Palace.

It took over an hour to plan the ambush, but the actual fight only took two standard rounds (plus a surprise round), including the Dimension Door back to the Rift Lord’s Palace.

Having no way to communicate with the dead, undead Fabler, the party simply divided up his possession. The following items were recovered:

  • 2 Potions of Fly, given to Kullen, value 1,500 GP
  • Wand of Invisibility (42 charges) given to Ulm, value 3,780 GP
  • Leather Armor +5, placed in Handy Haversack, value 25,160 GP
  • Shortsword +3 Defending, placed in Handy Haversack, value 32,310 GP
  • Light Crossbow +1, placed in Handy Haversack, value 2,335 GP
  • Helm of Teleportation, given to Granuel, value 73,500 GP
    Note: This item is CL 9th, therefore it will only teleport a maximum of 4 party members.
  • Ring of Chameleon Power, placed in Handy Haversack, value 12,700 GP
  • Gloves of Dexterity +4, given to Chresin, value 16,000 GP
  • Vial of scented oils (non-magical), placed in Handy Haversack, value 500 GP

The party Used Dimension Door to go back to the base of the collapsed tower and Ulm went ethereal to examine its interior. Sadly, it had completely collapsed and Ulm spotted numerous hill giants and bugbears dead within the rubble. Ulm returned and the party walked to the undercity.

The Undercity
This cavern, unlike the dwellings above, is filthy and reeks. However, this area has not been attacked by the dragons…at least not much…therefore it looks more structurally sound than the areas above. The city itself looks like a hive of overlapping walls, zigzagging alleys and claustrophobic tenements. The ceiling of this cavern is only about 60 feet tall and most of the structures appear to be made for creatures of a smaller stature as opposed to the giant-sized buildings above.

The party casually scanned the city but saw to signs of activity. It was also notably quieter in this area. Anmor suggested that the area was probably the living quarters for the bugbears (i.e., slaves). While examining the area, Ulm and Anmor spot a head ducking beneath a window.

With weapons sheathed, but at the ready, the party slowly walked over to the building where the movement was observed. Peering into the window, they party saw a bugbear attempting to hide from view and pretending not to see them. Anmor called out a casual greeting in the common tongue. Ulm, standing on a box and looking over the window sill, said that the party is trading mass quantities of gold coins in exchange for information. The following conversation ensued:

Ulm: “We mean you no harm; we simply want information.”
Bugbear: “Hello, I would appreciate mass quantities of gold please.”
Ulm, handing the bugbear 10 gold: “Let us start with this.”
Bugbear: “My name is Ekaria, what is it that you wish to know, mighty gnome?”
Ulm: “We are lead to believe there are three factions of giants here, the Tiamikal Nul-Shada, the Khargakhan, and the Khargak-dwergun.”
Bugbear, laughingly replied: “You obviously do not know the language of the giants. The groups you speak of are the Slayers of Tiamat’s Kin, the Rift Lords, and the Rift Crawlers. The important thing that you do not seem to understand that the none of these names have anything to do with the type of giant.”
Ulm: “Yes, yes, we do understand that.”
Bugbear: “Well good, may I have some more gold, please?”
Ulm: “Sure.”
Chresin: “No! no. no. When we finish our conversation you will be rewarded based upon the information that you have provided.”
Bugbear: “Alright, that is all the information I have. I would like more gold now.”
Ulm, handing the bugbear 5 gold: “Let us continue.”
Anmor: “Where are those three tribes, factions, located within this Kongen-Thulnir area?”
Bugbear: “That is hard to say. I don’t know if you noticed, but recently some dragons came and messed things up a bit. But what I do know for sure is that the Rift Crawlers live down here in these drafty houses. The ‘important’ one lives over there.” she said while pointing to a spot deeper within the cavern city.
Anmor: “Are they here now?”
Bugbear: “I don’t know. I saw a bunch of them running towards there when the dragons invaded but I haven’t seen them since. And, they have not come here to tell me to do things, which is to my liking. I would like more gold now please.”
Chresin: “Do you have plenty of food?”
Bugbear: “No. I would like more food now please.”
Chresin: “Give me a large pot.” Taking the pot, Chresin fills it with warm porridge (OOC: not turducken) using his magic item, Murlynd’s Spoon, then passes it back to the bugbear.
Bugbear, frowning at the pot said: “Uh, I thank you for that porridge.”
Chresin, after Granuel hands the bugbear 5 gold: “What is the name of the leader of the Rift Crawlers?”
Bugbear: “Charlgar”
Ulm: “The Slayers of Tiamat’s Kin say they have lost a key. Do you know anything about that?”
Bugbear: “There has been a lot of talk about a key. Lots of rumors about a key. I don’t know why a key is important to anybody.”
Ulm: “Have the Rift Crawlers talked about this key?”
Bugbear: “I haven’t heard anyone down here talk about a key. More gold please.”
Ulm, handing the bugbear 5 gold: “Where are your fellow bugbears?”
Bugbear: “They are probably hiding in their homes, like me. But they don’t know as much as I do. I am the smartest bugbear in the entire undercity! Certainly, they will fall in line if you have enough gold (ooc: or more turducken).”
Ulm: “If you took us to meet the Carrion Crawlers… I mean Rift Crawlers…would they welcome us? I mean, with you, with us.”
Bugbear: “Ha. The Rift Crawlers have many carrion crawlers, and I don’t want to have anything to do with any of them. If you want to talk to them, you go up those stairs and then around the corner and knock on their door. I will not go with you. More gold please.”
Chresin: “Have you ever seen a dead carrion crawler head harm anyone?”
Bugbear: “Well it’s icky, so I don’t want to mess with one.”
Chresin: “Yes, yes, but have you ever seen it have any other effect?”
Bugbear: “I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s wise or not. I haven’t seen anything, but the giants like them.”
Ulm: “Do you have any idea what the dragons are looking for?”
Bugbear: “They seem to be intent upon killing all of the giants.”
Chresin: “How long have the dragons been here?”
Bugbear: “I do not know. Probably between 6 and 14 days.”
Ulm: “We thank you for your time.”
Bugbear: “If you give me more gold, I will answer more questions. I am very good at answering questions.”
Ulm: “No, we have everything that we need for now.”

The DM’s notes on this exchange simply say “Ekaria, Bugbear Pirate Queen of the Undercity, ate some turducken from a spoon.”

The party left the bugbear and followed the path that she had described, towards the last known location of the Rift Crawler Lord, Charlgar.

The Red Door
Back in the recesses of the undercity, a winding stair climbs amid the tumbled and ramshackle buildings. The stone stairs have three-foot risers, hinting at the inhabitants who made them. But there is also a narrow section, beside the main risers, for smaller creature to walk up. The steps are stained with dark substances of unknown origin, and the general stench of this whole cavern seems to be stronger in this area. Atop the stairs stands a single, fifteen-foot tall iron door. Its facing is completely coated in a patina of reddish rust.

XP totals at the end of the session 33:

* Anmor 160,730
* Ulm and Chresin 158,891
* Granuel 155,493
* Kullen 158,953

Everyone remains level 18 and I don’t expect any leveling up in the next session. Ed and Eric earn dork cards for their work on this adventure log entry. Everyone gets a dork card for murdering the Ominous Fabler.

View
Session 32: Kings of the Rift
Deeper into the Rift

Ed and Eric provided the notes that form the basis of this write-up. Dork cards for each. Andy was not present, so the part of Kullen was played by… someone, I can’t remember whom.

Spiritday, 15th of Sunstrong, 4433

goblin_MM35_PG133.jpgThe party began the session standing on a pinnacle of rock jutting out of the floor of Lighthedge Canyon, the site of a ruined tower (location “D” the on the map of Kongen-Thulnir). The action starts with a familiar scene as two invisible blue and three green dragons begin swooping in the direction of the party. Chresin casts dimension door and then re-groups the party inside a nearby building. While they wait for the dragons to fly away, the party spots a goblin cowering behind some rubble outside the building. As the dragons approach, the goblin flees and leaps through a window into the very same room where the party is hiding. Kullen grapples the goblin and the party beguins to question him. The goblin says his name is Egglak and indicates that his job was to “scoop poop” for the giants. He says he is from a northern tribe near Goblin Hill. He also indicates that he has been a slave for less than one moon.

The DM does not recall mentioning Goblin Hill, but it would certainly explain why Anmor became suspicious. Goblin Hill is around 600 miles to the north and across an ocean, so it makes for an unlikely story.

ominousfabler.jpgAnmor becomes suspicious and sees through the goblin’s (illusionary) disguise. The goblin is, in fact, The Ominous Fabler. Furthermore, Anmor notices that the spriggan now has worms crawling out of his eyes. Chresin casts dispel magic, at which point everyone sees him as an undead Favored Spawn of Yog. The Fabler spits a worm onto Kullen, then teleports away, like he did last time. Chresin chastises himself for being “a terrible Duskblade,” believing his impatience was somehow responsible for the Fabler’s escape. The party is left wondering what the Fabler really wanted from them.

Not sure if this came from someone’s knowledge check, but it’s in Ed’s notes so we’ll keep it here: spriggans are fey, similar in appearance to an elf. They can change their size at will. They are friendly with the giants and are shape changers.

The party uses invisibility to move from building to building, as quietly as possible. They make their way past a fortress-like tower manned by hill giants (location “K” on the map).

Round House
This heavily fortified tower rises to a height of 60 feet and is outfitted with two ballistae and one light catapult on the roof, this bunker. Although it appears to have been targeted a few times by the dragons, it remains undamaged for the most part.

Fang_Dragon.jpgAvoiding detection by the giants in the tower, the party continues in this manner until they reach a ledge (location “L” on the map). At this point, they see two dead hill giants. Chresin hears a greater invisibility spell being cast just below the ridge. He informs the rest of the party. While they prepare, he hears displacement and mirror Image being cast as well. The party soon finds out that the spell caster is actually a fang dragon named Xyzanth.

Not sure if Anmor shared what he knows about Xyzanth with the party, but here it is for reference: Xyzanth is a particularly rare dragon known as a fang dragon. Denizens of the most remote mountain ranges, fang dragons lack the distinctive breath weapon attack of most dragons, yet their bite can drain away life at a horrific rate. Xyzanth dwelt in the depths of the Overdoom Mountains, where he warred endlessly with the cavemen and dwarves of the mountains.

As the party prepares, so does the dragon, casting numerous buffing spells. When combat finally begins, the dragon engages Kullen and inflicts massive damage from a single attack.

218 HP to be exact! See what I mean by “their bite can drain away life at a horrific rate?”

Chrisin responds with a polar ray and a pissed-off Kullen pounds the bastard with his greataxe of stuff.

Chresin’s polar ray is a critical hit for 159 HP! He’s not bad at draining away life either, I guess.

A series of spells are cast and one of the Gifts of Sayren-Lei is employed. Eventually, Xyzanth takes enough damage that he decides fleeing is a good idea. Someone uses (wastes?) a dork card to prevent his escape and the party eventually slays the fang dragon.

Here’s the series of spells from Ed’s notes, since he says they seemed significant at the time: spell turning, greater dispel magic, haste, fly, displacement (probably on Kullen), sound lance, bless, heal, stoneskin.

Detecting magic on the dragon’s body, the party finds three magic items: an amulet and two rings. The party decides to rest overnight. Before sleeping, Anmor tends to everyone’s injures and casts the spell mass heal to get everyone back up to normal.

Here’s the list of magic items:
* Amulet of natural armor +5 (from Xyzanth, taken by Kullen)
* Ring of evasion (from Xyzanth, also taken by Kullen)
* Ring of resistance +5 (from Xyzanth, no indication of who took this, maybe it is an item to sell?)
* Amulet of natural armor +2 (from Kullen, taken by Ulm)
* Ring of force shield (I believe from Kullen, listed as an item to sell, but also noted as taken by Ulm?)
* Amulet of natural armor +1 (listed with items to sell, maybe from Ulm?)

Airday, 16th of Sunstrong, 4433

The next day, the party moves south to a large gate (location “M”) that is now destroyed.

King’s Gate Tower
This forty-foot-tall tower stands alongside a twenty-foot-high set of heavy wooden gates built into a stone gatehouse. The tower and gatehouse now stand partially ruined and empty.

As the party examines the area, it becomes obvious that this area had been manned by both hill and fire giants. All are now either dead or have fled from this position. Evidence of dragon bites and breath weapons are seen everywhere. Though the area is largely destroyed, some guy-wires are still intact. Continuing southward, the party comes upon an arch made of blood red stone (location “Q”).

The Blood Arch
This arch of blood-red stone rises 60 feet above the ledge. Its eastern surface is painted with ochre and inscribed with runes. Beyond the arch stretches an unsupported natural stone bridge, 10 feet wide and 10 feet thick.

Anmor studies the runes covering the arch for a while and indicates that the markings are “warnings against enemies and praise for the valor of allies in combat." Among the runes, the word “worm” is used numerous times. It is unclear whether the word is in reference to dragons or to actual worms.

The party notices that many of the structures to the east have collapsed. They decide to continue southward when they hear a voice calling from the ruins. “Help me. Please, help me,” cries an ogre (near, but not exactly at location “P”). They approach and the ogre exclaims “I am Blessed of the Giant Gods! I have been saved and I will save you all.”

The DM only vaguely remembers this encounter with the ogre. Perhaps it was just a means to get the party moving towards some place interesting, because the DM does remember, in detail, the encounter at the barricade that followed.

Finding nothing of interest in the ruins, the party moves up to a barricaded entrance (the actual location “P”). Anmor speaks for the party and, although he manages not to start a fight (surprisingly), the giants behind the barricade have no interest in letting the party inside. He does manage to learn that the giants call themselves the Khargakhan, which is giantish for “Rift Lords,” and that their leader (who is not at the barricade) is named Achaime Silvereye. Anmor recalls something Eligos said (box text repeated below for reference):

eligos.jpgKongen-Thulnir is the home of the Tiamikal Nul-Shada or “Slayers of Tiamat’s Kin” in Giantish. These giants fancy themselves dragon slayers. Curiously, although Kongen-Thulnir has changed hands among giant tribes over the centuries, the giants who live there have always called themselves Tiamikal Nul-Shada, regardless of the specific tribe or type of giant.

Curious about the conflicting tribal names, the party asks about the Tiamikal Nul-Shada and learns that those giants are “religious fanatics” who live in the big castle across the narrow bridge. Their leader is named Kagro Thundersmiter.

blue_dragon_MM35_PG72.jpgAs this interaction is going on, two invisible blue dragons try to sneak up on the party. Ulm and Granuel see them approaching and alert the rest of the party (so they didn’t get a surprise round). Someone uses glitterdust so the dragons are visible to all of the party members. A combination of some powerful spells (i.e., evasculate, channeled pyroburst, and polar ray) and Kullen and Granuel’s tactical brilliance lead to a quick defeat of the two dragons. The giants behind the barricade also throw rocks at the dragons, with little effect.

The party’s impressive defeat of the blue dragons convinces the giants behind the barricade that these little people are allies. Their captain, a hill giant named Bragi Harthgar, allows the party past the entrance into what turns out to be a sort of palace.

Riftlord Palace
The façade of this imposing edifice is heavily damaged, but its interior remains sound. The giant-sized chamber just past the barricade has several vaulted exits and these appear to extend deeply into the wall of Lighthedge Canyon.

Talking to Bragi, the party learns a few things:

  • There are other, less impressive entrances to Riftlord Palace, but they have also been sealed since the dragons attacked,
  • Achaime Silvereye is not available to meet with the party because he is “tired.” Bragi tells the party that he (Bragi) speaks for all of the Riftlords.
  • There is yet another faction of giants in the Canyon. They are called the Khargak-dwergun, or Rift Crawlers in giantish. Bragi says they are “low-class scum.”
  • In addition to the other defenses used against the dragons, the giants also have dead carrion crawler heads that they employ as ammunition in their catapults.

Thanks to Bragi’s permission, the party is able to rest through the night in the entry chamber of Riftlord Palace without incident.

Waterday, 17th of Sunstrong, 4433

vermirox.jpgThe next day, Chresin goes to the Red Arch and carves Bragi’s name into the stone. Then, with larger, bolder lettering, he adds “The Reprisal Squad.” The party starts to cross the bridge (toward location “R”) but Granuel stops them. He points out two invisible blue dragons hovering underneath the structure. The party buffs (protection from electricity, resist energy: electricity, and true seeing). Granuel and Kullen use bows to annoy the dragons and Ulm successfully casts feeblemind. A third blue dragon, named Vermirox, attacks using an unheard of effect, a cone of electricity. A weird spell kills the feebleminded dragon, but the other two survive. A short, fierce battle ensues, but in the end, Vermirox and the other remaining dragons were defeated.

It appears I didn’t give Anmor the handout about Vermirox, but I don’t think he could fail the knowledge check, so here it is now: Vermirox the Vociferous is a loud and obnoxious old blue dragon that has dwelt in Lighthedge Canyon for nearly 500 years. Rumor holds that his lair is an immense cavern known as Wraithkeep near the western end of the canyon.

To end the session, the party begins crossing the bridge towards the Citadel, a massive structure that towers on a pinnacle of rock a thousand feet above the Canyon floor (location “R,” refer back to the map).

XP totals at the end of the session 32:

* Anmor 157,490
* Ulm and Chresin 155,651
* Granuel 151,888
* Kullen 155,713

Everyone except Granuel should already be level 18. Granuel will likely level up sometime next session, but I already have a level 18 sheet for him.

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Session 31: Kings of the Rift
Where in the world is Kongen-Thulnir?

This session’s writeup is entirely thanks to Ed, who put it together with input from Matt and Eric. This makes my life much easier, since I just had to add some links and pictures and such. Dork cards to all three.

133splash.jpg

Earthday, 8th of Sunstrong, 4433

The session began with the party on the Island of Last Resort, on the material plane. The permanent storm that surrounded the island no longer exists, though everything thing else about the island appears as the party remembers it. Kendra’s wrecked ship is washed upon the shore and remains unusable.

Recalling the things that he had seen and heard during the battle with the undead army, Anmor taps into his font of knowledge and shares what he knows about Lighthedge Canyon and Kongen-Thulnir with the rest of the party.

DM: I turned knowledge check details into wiki pages for future reference, as linked above.

The Reprisal Squad realizes they don’t have enough information to safely proceed. They decide to go back to Ut Prandur to re-equip themselves and to meet with various allies. Worried that they may not have a lot of time, the party uses sending spells to notify several of the people that they believe might be able to help.

Several members of the party debate whether or not they should share anything with Lashonna. Anmor and Chresin, out of earshot from Granuel, discuss what they know about Lashonna. They ponder her motives and whether or not being undead means (beyond doubt) that she is evil or has evil intentions. Anmor acknowledges that it is possible for an undead creature to be something other than a purely evil creature and the Lashonna, so far, has not lied to them. He agrees that she might be useful to the party in the future and therefore, they agree that she should be included in the “sendings.”

Having decided their next steps, the party sends their messages, which are listed, with replies, below:

lashonna.jpgTo Lashonna:
We saw you die by Drazzaroth. Going to Ut Prandur. Meet us there as soon as possible

Reply from Lashona:
Death is sore subject. I am not welcome in Ut Prandur. Did you find phylactery? If so, destroy it.

manzoriansquare.jpgTo Manzorian:
Went back in time. Saw Drazzaroth win! May know where phylactery is located. Urgently need your knowledge. Will arrive today.

Reply from Manzorian:
Good work. My advisors will meet you when you arrive.

eligos.jpgTo Eligos:
In Ut Prandur today. Need information on Yog Sothoth, Drazzaroth, phylacteries, and ancient city Kongen Thulnir.

Reply from Eligos:
Already working on Drazzaroth and phylactery. Will look into Kongen Thulnir.

phylactery.jpgHaving sent messages to all of the important people that they know, the Reprisal Squad teleports back to Ut Prandur. Moments after their arrival, Eligos meets them in their Inn. He questions their use of sending, given they were about to teleport right to him. Still, he gives them what information he has been able to learn regarding Drazzaroth and the phylactery. The party describes that they have seen and discuss what type of information they need. They indicate that they will be leaving town the next day, so Eligos sets off to do his researching.

For the remainder of the day, the party set about town, buying and selling items.

  • Sold inventory from Kendra’s group, total value 144,455 GP.
  • Bought an animated heavy steel shield +1 (9,170 GP, Kullen)
  • Purchased a scroll of undeath to death (2,215 GP, Granuel)

Comment from Ed: Houston, we have a problem. I marked the Robe of Eyes as having been sold, but during the adventure, Granuel was clearly using it. That means that the deposit made at the Temple of Nethilis is only 52,080 (i.e., approximate 30,000 GP less that what I mentioned during the session). Please note that we currently do NOT have enough gold to pay the remaining balances for the delivery of the final commission items. We will need to come up with an additional 33,830 GP.

Comment from DM: By the time you get back to pick up your items, it is likely you will have enough treasure to pay the balance, if you don’t already…

Fireday, 9th of Sunstrong, 4433

The next day, an exhausted Eligos comes back to their apartments. He and Anmor talk for several minutes.

eligos.jpgThis doesn’t make any sense. I was cross referencing an item in this book and found a whole new chapter about the Order of the Storm (a druidic order). They, along with their allies, the stone giants, are the ones who hide the phylactery in Kongen-Thulnir. There’s even a detailed picture of the city’s front gates that should be accurate enough to use in conjunction with a teleport spell. And I also found these long lost formulae for the creation of several rare magic items.

The formulae can be found at the Forgotten Magic wiki link.

necronomicon2.jpgAfter Eligos leaves, the members of the Reprisal Squad convince Anmor that it would be best of the party if he spent the time and money (43,000 GP) to unlock the “Greater” powers of the Nethertome of Trask. This task requires the party to remain in Ut Prandur for a week. The rest of the party indicates that they will spend that time commissioning the creation of some of these new, old magic items. They agree that no matter what, they will depart the following week.

Each morning when he wakes up, Chresin feels a strong desire to examine the Arm of Angall. And each day, he takes it from his haversack and places on the table beside his bed. He takes measurements with the Arm and writes coded entries into a small journal. Likewise, he measures the length and diameter of his left arm and adds that information into the journal. Realizing that something is not quite right, Chresin approaches the rest of the party: I fear this arm may be having a strange effect on me. Ulm, would you mind preparing a message for me.

Ulm agrees and the following message and reply are made with Manzorian:

manzoriansquare.jpgTo Manzorian:
Captured “Arm of Angall”. Now feeling odd. Any ideas?

Reply from Manzorian:
I will be right there.

manzorian.jpgManzorian offers to place the Arm of Angall in his vault. He also offers to provide up to 50,000 GP worth of magic items. Anmor and Chresin ask about the possibility of acquiring powerful amulets to help the mental acuity (i.e., Amulets of Intellect +6). He agrees to provide the party with 2 of them in exchange for the Arm of Angall plus an additional 14,000 GP (the difference between the 50,000 GP offer and the actual value of the items, 64,000 GP). A bargain is reached and the gold and amulets are exchanged.

During their week in Ut Prandur, the party commissions the creation of several new magic items. A summary of the transactions is outlined below:

  • 2 scepters of the dragon lords (5,500 GP each)
  • 1 corporeal lodestone (deposit 3,900 GP)
  • 1 doomslayer bow (deposit 5,090 GP).

Chresin deposits the remaining balance of the party treasure in a new account at the Temple of Nepthtyls.

I really ought to create a wiki entry about Nepthtyls…

Also, during the stay in Ut Prandur, Chresin consumes 4 Knowledge Worms. He successfully overcomes the ill-effects of the worms and gains inspired knowledge (i.e., +2 points each, Knowledge: Local, Knowledge: Arcana, Knowledge: Planes, Knowledge: Religion).

Spiritday, 15th of Sunstrong, 4433

Eligos arrives the day the party is scheduled to depart and shares the following information:

eligos.jpgKongen-Thulnir is the home of the Tiamikal Nul-Shada or “Slayers of Tiamat’s Kin” in Giantish. These giants fancy themselves dragon slayers. Curiously, although Kongen-Thulnir has changed hands among giant tribes over the centuries, the giants who live there have always called themselves Tiamikal Nul-Shada, regardless of the specific tribe or type of giant.

DM: I added a little more detail to the above…

Eligos leaves and the party teleports to the front gates of Kongen-Thulnir.

The Reprisal Squad appears outside the closed city gates. A booming voice tells the party to go away. The party tries to convince the guards that they are here to help, but are unable to change their minds. Chresin grew tired of the exchange and simply dimension hopped a few feet beyond the gate and the regrouped the rest of the party alongside him. Despite the awesome display of magic, the giants remain cowering in their tower.

gatesofkongenthulnir.jpg

Looking around, the party notices a significant amount of structural damage to the buildings near this gate. Some damage appears to be recent while other damage may have been due to neglect. To the right of the gate was a cliff the plunged downward to a gorge some 1,000 feet below. In the distance, a battle rages between dozens of chromatic dragons and some kind of giants. The battle is mainly focused on a fortified tower rising up out of the gorge and a portion of the city several hundred meters ahead of the party. Ulm notes that there are at least a dozen large black dragons, ten huge green dragons, and six huge blue dragons.

As the Reprisal Squad is taking stock of the area, Ulm sees a huge black dragon winging towards them. Anmor identifies the huge green dragon as Necrozyte, “The Fiendish.”

necrozyte.jpgNecrozyte the Fiendish

This fiendish old green dragon hails from the Nine Hells, where she served as a guardian over one of Tiamat’s hoards. When a particularly sly adventuring party recently stole a Book of Infinite Spells from this hoard, Tiamat exiled Necrozyte to the Wilderlands, where she has maintained a relatively low profile.

Ulm casts the spell mass invisibility and the party scatters. And then a somewhat chaotic battle follows. Necrozyte breaths on the party and then performs a wing-over attack on Kullen. Ulm tries repeatedly to hit the dragon with a lightning bolt from one of his wands, but has little success overcoming its spell resistance. Granuel uses obscuring mist to provide cover (which unfortunately limits some of Anmor’s actions) and then moves closer to make melee attacks. Chresin performes a massive channeled pyroburst, drawing the ire of the dragon. Necrozyte, _hasted+, then proceeds to pound Chresin into a pulp. Anmor delays death and Granuel performs some healing while Kullen deals the death blow (I loves me some AoOs).

OOC from Ed: On one hand, scattering was a good choice, since spreading out limited how many party members could be hit by a single use of the dragon’s breath weapon. On the other hand, it made limited the usefulness of some spells, because of their area limits and when someone got into trouble (i.e., like, I don’t know, Chresin going to -10 on a single attack), other party members were too far away to help.

The party carefully examines the dead body of the dragon and finds two magical items, an amulet of mighty fists +3 and a ring of invisibility (In Chresin’s handy haversack). Afterwards, Anmor uses his healing feat to get everyone half of their hit point back and then uses a wand of CMW to heal the remaining damage.

ominousfabler.jpgWhile they are recovering, an old “friend,” the Ominous Fabler, wanders out of the rubble and speaks to the party. He tells the party what they already know, that he is a spriggan. He also tells them that he doesn’t really work for Khouligan the Grief-Giver, the Satrap of Lenap. His real master is a stone giant. He thinks the party members are great heroes and would like to chronicle their adventures in song.

Chresin determines that the Fabler is lying through his teeth. Nonchalantly, Chersin bids him to join the party. When the Fabler moves next to him, Chresin successfully grapples him and Granuel ties him up with a rope. Unfortunately, they do not cover his mouth, and he is able use the teleport spell (verbal only) to escape the Reprisal Squad’s control.

Despite a bit of searching, the party was unable to find any sign of the spriggan. They decide to try to coax the giants out of the tower. They hope that they can attain a few allies against the soaring dragons as they move deeper into Kongen-Thulnir. Chresin tries to convince them that the Reprisal Squad is a mighty adventuring group and that they will protect the giants, but he is unsuccessful. Chresin determines that these giants are unwilling to come out because they are petrified. The giants appear to be more impressed by Kullen so he begins to talk to them. The giants share that the current siege began approximately two days earlier. When he suggests that the giants join the party as they try to get to the besieged island, they basically tell the party to buzz off.

Hill-giant_Lokansir.jpgChresin gets tired of the puny excuses, so he makes himself invisible then dimension hops into the tower. Once inside, Chresin finds four hill giants on each level of the tower. They have clubs and piles of rocks that are obviously way too large to be tossed through the arrow slits in the tower. Frustrated, Chresin tries to shock them into action and commands them to open the door. In hindsight, he realized that he should have said this and then moved to a new location. In reality, the frightened giants’ immediate reaction was to swing great big clubs at the precise location from which the voice originated. Two swings missed, but too swings landed.

Chresin was not happy with the results, having wasted two spells and a cure moderate wounds potion.

The party gives up on the giants and begin to walk deeper into the city. Shortly after crossing the aqueduct Ulm looks up and see a group of five dragons approaching: three huge green and two huge blue dragons. Deeming the terrain unsuitable for any kind of defense, the party decides to seek cover. Chresin casts dimension door and lands inside a stone building a few hundred feet away then regroups the party alongside him. Just before being regrouped with the others, Granuel catches a brief glimpse of the Ominous Fabler, but cannot find him again when he glances out of the building. Having nothing visible to attack, the dragons peel off and go back to the main fray.

The party decides to brave the outdoors once again and choose to explore the ruined tower nearby. Ulm looks up at the dragons and notes that an extremely large red appears to directing the group. Anmor studies the dragon more closely and realizes that this dragon is none other than Brazzemal the Burning. Anmor shares the following with the rest of the party.

brazzemal.jpgBrazzemal the Burning, Patriarch of Banzot and Scourge of Krazandol

Brazzemal is a notorious ancient red dragon. Hundreds of years ago, his fury brought an age of fire down upon the fabled dwarven city of Krazandol, as he led his kin, the Dragons of Banzot, in a three-day battle that drove the dwarves out. Countless adventurers have since perished in attempts to locate lost Krazandol through the abandoned caverns of the formerly great Northern Kingdom of Dwarves. Brazzemal himself, however, hasn’t been heard from in nearly two decades.

Hoping to catch sight of the Ominous Fabler, Chresin uses the ring of invisibility, then drops back about 30 feet behind the other party members. The party travels to the cliff wall and examines the damaged bridges. Anmor determines that, while severely damaged, the bridge should be sturdy enough to allow the party to walk across and back without incident. Anything more than that would put them at risk of falling.

greendragon.jpegAs the first party member approaches the bridge, five dragons (four large black and one huge green) swoop down upon the party. Ulm spots them and, therefore, the party is not surprised. Everyone except Chresin gets hit with the dragons’ breath weapons, but little actual damage is sustained. The dragons were foolishly clustered during their attack, so Anmor decides to pull out all of the stops and cast his most powerful spell, weird, at them. All of the black dragons fail their saves and are killed instantly. The green dragon succeeds but is stunned for 1 round. Ulm successfully casts repulsion to prevent the remaining dragon from approaching and the Chresin casts polar ray and shatters the dragon’s heart.

Danger avoided, the party examines the ruined tower. They find nothing of interest though they do learn a little bit about the tactics that they giants are employing against the dragons. First, they use ballistae bolts with chains attached to catch the dragons and prevent them from flying away. Second, they have draped chains from the cliff wall to the base of the tower to entangle any dragon that might try to swoop too low on their attack.

From this vantage point, the party can also see most of Kongen-Thulnir, including another section built lower into the cliffs than the main section.

Comment from DM: And, therefore, a map laying out the city is included on the Kongen-Thulnir wiki page.

Comment from Ed: Down one player and unsure what steps to take next, we called it an evening at this point.

XP totals at the end of the session 31:

* Anmor 151,930
* Ulm and Chresin 150,091
* Granuel 145,598
* Kullen 150,153

Everyone except Granuel will likely level up mid to late next session.

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Session 30: The Library of Last Resort
Kendra Dies

This session was really just three long battles, although the party learned some important information as a result. Information the players probably don’t remember now, four months later. So, the writeup will consist of battle summaries plus boxtext. Hopefully, the boxtext will remind everyone what they learned, as well as refresh their memories as to the whole point of this excursion to the Demi-Plane of Last Resort.

Airday, 6th of Sunstrong, 4433

Having completed the Claiming of Krathanos’s Golden Belt, the PCs decide they will finally have to confront Kendra in order to capture the Living Feather of the Roc King and complete the Trials of Tilagos. Knowing that she, likewise, needs their prizes (the Belt, the Thornavale Nightmare’s horn, etc.), they decide to set a devious trap for her. Ulm creates an illusion showing that the titan Krathanos has killed or captured their entire party. Anmor sets some glyph traps around the ruined fortress and the rest of the group takes up defensive positions to see if Kendra will fall into their snare.

KrathanosKeep.jpg

kendra.jpgThe party’s devious plan works fairly well, to a point. When Kendra does her morning scrying on the party, she sees Ulm’s illusions. She’s only too willing to believe it and, therefore, prepares spells appropriate for battling Krathanos (a very different set of spells than she would have prepared to battle the party). Her group arrives at the keep by mid-morning. In addition to Kendra herself, it includes:

  • Krekie, a ravenfolk (a.k.a. kenku) assassin
  • Malhazar the Exiled Flame, an efreeti fighter, and his mount, Black Fire, a cauchemar (or really big nightmare)
  • Jalagar and Sabir Sinfire, demonbrood (a.k.a. tiefling) monks
  • Nalhazzarath, a cornugon devil

Kendra’s team arrives invisibly, but at least some of the party can see them approach. The PCs wait, hopefully, for their enemies to attack the lllusionary titan, but that doesn’t happen. Malhazar and Nalhazzarath can see through the illusion and communicate telepathically with the rest of their group that things are not what they seem. Kendra decides to attack anyway, in spite of being improperly prepared. This will prove to be her undoing.

Malhazar and Nalhazzarath put up a good fight, but the rest of Kendra’s group cannot make their saves against Ulm’s illusion. Kendra also fails in her efforts to dispel the illusion. Frustrated, Malhazar grants her one of his wishes, which she uses to “remove all illusions in the area.” This wish causes Ulm’s illusion to go away, but also dispels Kendra’s group’s invisibility, putting everyone on equal footing. However, our heroes are better positioned and better prepared, so the fight goes their way from this point on.

Kendra extends the action a bit by using another of Malhazar’s wishes to completely heal her group. This wish is too late, though, to save Nalhazzarath, who’s already fallen to Chresin and Kullen. Granuel and Anmor take down Malhazar and his horsie. The Sinfire twins try to guard Kendra against a charging Kullen, but are pretty useless. Kendra tries to touch Kullen with the Arm of Angall, but he survives and, ultimately, strikes the blow that brings down the party’s long-time nemesis!

krekie.jpgPoor Krekie, who’s turned invisible again, is the last survivor of Kendra’s team. He’d been doing nothing useful, because he was paralyzed for most of the fight by one of Anmor’s ghoul glyphs. When that wears off, he tries to avenge Kendra and moves into position to use his death attack on Anmor. Unfortunately, he stumbles into another ghoul glyph, paralyzing him once again, long enough for the party to take him down at their leisure.

Although climatic and very long, this fight may have been the easiest of the session for the party, as we shall see.

The party loots the corpses and finds the Living Feather of the Roc King. Believing they have now satisfied the requirements of the Trials, they set out back across Tilagos to the entrance portal.

I don’t recall what, if anything, the party did about the Arm of Angall. We might need to revisit that, because it could be a big deal…

Earthday, 8th of Sunstrong, 4433

wildwatcher.jpgUpon arriving back at the Portal of Storms, the party finds the wild watchers waiting for them. The wild watchers already seem to know that the PCs have endured the four trials, and three of them (Tylanthros, Beskawahn, and Thadimar) are pleased. The fourth watcher, Sayren-Lei is not. While the other three fey congratulate the PCs on their accomplishment, Sayren-Lei explodes into an angry rant:

“You have proved nothing, slaughtering beasts and Inanna-worshipping dogs. Worse, you allowed the Roc King to perish! The trial asked specifically for his living feather, yet he was nonetheless killed! You are no heroes and I declare that none of you shall taste the waters of the Fountain of Dreams. I contest your doubtful accomplishment, and demand trial by blood. Only if you pathetic mortals can defeat me shall I consider you worthy of the final secrets of the Order of the Storm!"

Tylanthros sighs at this outburst, but informs the PCs that Sayren-Lei does indeed have the right to make such a challenge. So the other three wild watchers step back to a respectable distance to observe the battle between the PCs and Sayren-Lei.

In spite of just being one guy, Sayren-Lei proves much tougher than Kendra’s team. He seems very hard to hurt, with weapons or spells, and is surrounded by an annoying swarm of insects at all times. Although the party is beginning to think they might not prevail, they eventually do enough damage that Sayren-Lei yields. The fey is genuinely impressed with their skill and humbly apologizes, regretting the disparaging remarks he hurled at them. He also grants them his elemental banners (those four flag things on his back in the picture; click this link for details) in thanks as a way to atone for his outburst.

After this apology, the rest of the wild watchers return to the group. Tylanthros gestures silently to the Portal of Storms, and the obsidian platform shimmers and transforms into a remarkable obsidian fountain, its waters cool and sparkling with a rainbow of scintillating light. As the fountain manifests, all of the PCs experience a nearly overwhelming rush of nostalgia for things they’ve cherished in their childhood and a strange gnawing fear of long-forgotten nightmares. As they gaze at the fountain, Tylanthros speaks one final time:

“And so you have earned the right to return the lore of the Order of Storms to the world. The Age of Worms is upon us, and what the powers of old began so long ago now falls to you to complete. Drink deep and remember. Dream the dreams of the ages.”

One of the PCs drinks from the fountain and, as soon as he does, stuff happens:

Descent into Dream

All members of the group become overwhelmed by the sudden rush of alien yet strangely familiar memories. The world around them swirls away into a vortex of lightning and wind, fire and rain, ending in the utter darkness of nothingness. For several moments, they float adrift in this silence, yet it is still long enough to feel the cold perpetuity of the infinite weighing upon them.

Suddenly, the PCs realize they’re standing on a windy bluff overlooking an immense canyon. The din of distant battle finds the PCs’ ears, and as if rising from the ground on ledges and mesas both near and far, armies of creatures fade into view. In the distance, cities smoke in ruin, and the sky is cast with a dark pallor. The cacophonous moans of the undead ride the wind. Although their immediate vicinity remains clear for now, the PCs can see that the armies consist of huge numbers of humanoids fighting against what seems like
an endless wave of undead.

Anmor recognizes this location as LIghthedge Canyon in the Ghinor HIghlands, although it seems somehow less barren than expected. Various party members also recognize some of the undead creatures in the immense battle. There are legions creatures the PCs have fought before — shoggoths, wormcallers, morhgs, eviscerator beetles, overworms, and ulgurstastas. Yet there are other, stranger creatures as well, like enormous worm-dripping centipedes who cause the ground they walk on to boil, immense black scorpions whose mere presence seems to turn the living on their allies, and horrific wormlike dragons who breathe out swaths of writhing green worm swarms. And wheeling in the distant skies above, attended by numerous smaller dragons, is a horrifying shape—a skeletal dragon of great size. obviously Drazzaroth. For all of numerous humanoids that opposed these monsters, it is obvious that they fight a losing battle.

wormmonsters.jpg

The PCs discover that all of their wounds from the battle with Sayren-Lei are healed and that all the spells and other abilities they used in that fight are recharged. Before they can figure out exactly what happened, a voice rings out behind them: “You have arrived.”

A small group of somber druids stands before the PCs. The four druids at the forefront of this group of several dozen look very familiar. Their faces strongly resemble those of the four wild watchers, although younger and more human. The man who addressed them is the one who resembles the wild watcher Tylanthros. His face is gaunt with hardship, and his robes matted with blood. Despite his greeting, he gives no indication that he recognizes the PCs. As he approaches the heroes, he speaks.

phylactery.jpg“The heroes of prophecy. Your timing is perfect. We can hold them no longer, but we have been successful in our task.” The man indicates the dozen or so druids who stand behind him. These druids cluster around a large package, a strange container with its sides carved in the shapes of leering demonic and draconic faces. “Drazzaroth’s phylactery is ours, yet at a great price. His minions even now come for us to reclaim it, and soon he himself shall learn of its theft. We must hide it forever from his reach, for I fear its destruction at this juncture would only drive him to an unstoppable frenzy. But if we can take it from this land, he will sense its loss. He will abandon the army of Yog and they will be lost, without leadership. You must hold off the spawn that even now scramble at the edges of the cliff s around us. Our trusted ally will stall his aerial forces while you must hold off the rest of his spawn long enough for us to transport the phylactery.”

lashonna.jpgAs the druid mentions an ally, a familiar figure steps forward, a young and vivacious woman dressed in ornate silver armor who can be none other than Lashonna, her eyes bright and burning with determination. She speaks to you, but there is no sense of recognition in her eyes. “I shall engage Drazzaroth and his children myself, but I cannot defend against his Swords. They come too, scrambling up to our location even now, along with—something else. Something most unnatural—an abomination. You must hold them off , for all is lost if you fail.” With that final pronouncement, Lashonna spreads wide her arms and transforms into a magnificent silver dragon. With a single tremendous beat of her wings, she launches into the air and soars off toward the distant dracolich.

As she wings away, Tylanthros speaks again. “We go now, to hide the phylactery within its cradle in Kongen-Thulnir. Save us from the Swords of Yog, or the Age of Worms shall doom us all!”

If it’s not clear, the key thing the PC’s learned here is the bit in italics: “to hide the phylactery within its cradle in Kongen-Thulnir.”

As the druids retreat, the PCs fight a couple of waves of Swords of Yog. These creatures channel negative energy to heal themselves and hurt the party, very badly. The PCs only survive because, by some magic or divine intervention, they themselves do not die at -10 hit points. For example, Ulm drags a should-be-dead Anmor out of harms way and feeds him a potion, allowing the archivist to re-enter the fight. Then a horrific undead menace rises up over the edge to join the fight—a creature called a boneyard. This snakelike monster has a body made of thousands of bones, with a head fashioned from an immense dragon’s skull. It swallows Kullen, who also somehow doesn’t die, before the party is able to bring it down. Just as the PCs are about to finish their own desperate fight, they see Drazzaroth deliver a killing blow to Lashonna, whose body falls from
the sky to be lost in the mists of LIghthedge Canyon below.

fightingthedead.jpg

Just after they witness Lashonna’s fall, the PCs experience another gut- wrenching vortex as they return to Tilagos Island. Again, their wounds are healed and their spells restored. Even Anmor and Kullen show no ill effects from their near-death experiences.

Just to clarify, the Tilagos Isle that you have returned to is no longer on the Demi-Plane of Last Resort. So teleportation magic will work again, something that will be important as you decide what to do next.

XP totals at the end of the session 30:

* Anmor 148,615
* Ulm and Chresin 146,776
* Granuel 142,283
* Kullen 146,838

Everyone should be 17th level.

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Session 29: The Library of Last Resort
Gnome versus Titan

Matt was not present this session, so the part of Ulm was played by Andy. Ulm himself got to really shine when he faced off against a titan, which we decided must be the natural enemy of gnomes everywhere.

Spiritday, 20th of Warmshade, 4433

girallon.jpgAfter resting up from their conflict with the Thornvale Nightmare, the Reprisal Squad departs the Beast’s lair and continues southeast out of the Vale. They do not get far before they hear a mighty bellow. Just upslope from them, they see a 35 foot tall four-armed ape (a girallon behemoth) chasing several man-sized devils (bone devils). The devils also spot the party and rush to attack, resulting in a three-way fight as the pursuing giant ape joins in. Only the party survives.

Osyluth.jpgA search of the dead devils turns up a map of Tilagos Island with three (I think) locations marked. The first is the entry portal and the second is marked “Krathanos.” The third is marked “enemies” and corresponds to the party’s location! The map makes the party suspect the devils were sent by someone to spy on them, probably Kendra.

I painstakingly created this map and printed it out as a handout, but apparently forgot to save an electronic version. Thanks to Ed for uploading it. I’ve added it to the Demi-Plane of Last Resort Page. Dork card for Ed.

kendrasquare.jpgNow convinced that Kendra is on to them, the party decides they need to prevent her from using resurrection to duplicate their victory over the Thornvale Nightmare. They return to the cave, cut the horn off of Harrodroth the Nightmare Beast’s body, and push the corpse into a crevasse. They then spend the rest of the day making their way southeast out of the Vale.

Airday, 1st of Sunstrong, 4433

The next morning, as the party prepares to set out, someone spots a magical scrying sensor. The party concludes it is Kendra’s work and Ulm uses a screen spell to make them all seem injured. The group also conducts a fake conversation intended to convince Kendra (or whoever’s watching) that they were unable to defeat the Nightmare Beast. After the sensor winks out, Anmor uses two discern location spells to find first Kendra and then the efreeti they saw with Kendra in Lashonna’s scrying. Both are located near the north coast of the island. The party continues southeast, in the general direction of the location on the map marked “Krathanos,” reaching the middle of the plains between the vale and the forest.

Waterday, 2nd of Sunstrong, 4433

Ulm uses a screen spell to make their campsite look like it’s actually located in the mountains, hoping to deceive Kendra into thinking the party is backtracking on its loop through the mountains. This trick proves worthwhile, since in the morning the party once again spots a scrying sensor. Discern location shows that Kendra has reached the Nightmare Beast cave. She’s traveling with a swiftness that seems beyond the party’s capabilities, but at least she seems to be falling for their ruses. The day’s travel brings the party into the creepy forest once again.

The Forest
This particular forest is a lonesome, alien landscape. Its black, monolithic trees appear to shift unnaturally without the aid of wind. The canopy blocks out the dim light provided by the overcast skies, and the forest is dark as night as a result. The drooping trees continuously weep a thick black ichor. This sap is oily and foul smelling.

Earthday, 3rd of Sunstrong, 4433

Ulm continues to use his screen to make it look like the party is backtracking. Again, this tactic seems useful, since the morning brings another scrying sensor. Discern location shows Kendra is still loitering at the Nightmare Beast cave. Winding their way through the forest, the party soon stumbles upon a huge clearing. From the edge of this space, they can hear an eerie noise. This sound emanates from a huge tree at the center of the clearing.

The Night Twist
No other tree grows near this 50-foot-tall monstrosity. The menacing tree sways hypnotically, its many black branches undulating like serpents, dancing to the tune of its mournful melody. To some, it’s tune sounds like the weeping of a woman who has lost her beloved, while to others it sounds like the cold baleful wind blowing over a desolate graveyard. The tree is obviously old and unspeakably evil.

In the ensuing battle, the tree nearly slays Kullen, but some fortunate divine intervention (specifically, the last minute use of a dork card) saves the barbarian. After a mighty struggle, the party defeats the tree. The party, quite reasonably, concludes that they have completed another of the Trials of Tilagos Island, the Silence of the Doomshroud’s Mournful Song. They stop to rest. Granuel discovers that, because he struck the killing blow on the Night Twist, he is now subject to its death curse. He is afflicted with horrific nightmares each night, suffering 1d10 damage and becoming fatigued and unable to prepare spells for the next 24 hours. The party does not currently have the means to free Granuel from this curse, so he complains a lot.

Fireday, 4th of Sunstrong, 4433

In the morning, Ulm casts another screen spell, the party spots another scrying sensor, and Anmor uses another discern location on Kendra. It seems Kendra is on the move again and, as usual, has traveled much farther than seems possible. Ignoring Kendra’s location for now, which is beyond a day’s travel. The party makes its way out of the forest, continuing towards the location on the map marked “Krathanos.”

Spiritday, 5th of Sunstrong, 4433

gargoyle.jpgLather, rinse, repeat: another screen spell, another scrying sensor spotted, and another discern location on Kendra. It looks like she’s moving around at random. The party continues on its route towards Krathanos and soon spots a group of gargoyles circling in the distance. One of the creatures descends and hails them. It claims it was sent by “Krathanos the Conqueror, exiled by the gods for his designs to rule all of creation, and shackled by the treacherous druids of Tilagos until such time as brave stalwarts arrive to free him.” The gargoyle promises the party food, lodging, and respite if they will follow it to its master’s keep.

Keep of the Shackled Conqueror
The weathered walls of the keep are torn and ragged. They appear to have been battered down on more than one occasion, their chipped stone blocks rebuilt haphazardly into makeshift structures with little integrity. Four crumbling towers overlook the outer courtyard. The archway providing entrance into the compound looms empty, its iron portcullis now nothing more than a heap of twisted black metal lying on the ground nearby. In one corner of the ruin are makeshift cages containing a number of (normal-sized) girallons. They shriek and roar as visitors enter, but cannot escape from their iron barred prisons.

krathanos.jpgDwelling in this ruin is Krathanos the Conqueror, who turns out to be a titan. He stands nearly 25 feet tall, his towering frame sculpted to perfection, with bulging cords of muscle lining every foot of his gigantic torso. His weapon is an immense spiked warhammer. He wears an enormous belt of solid gold encrusted with fist-sized emeralds. Obviously, this is the belt mentioned in the title of wild watchers’ final trial.

Krathanos proves to be more than a bit mentally unstable. He greets the party as if they are honored guests, but seems to expect them to provide the food and spirits. Anmor uses some magic to appease Krathanos’ hunger and Chresin begins asking if the titan’s had any other recent visitors, particularly ones inquiring about his belt. Krathanos laughingly reaches into a discolored sack next to his throne, produces the severed head of a minotaur, and asks if this is the one Chresin’s asking about. The titan says the minotaur came to purchase his golden belt on behalf of some lady with an impressive title, but Krathanos hates things whose heads don’t match the rest of their bodies so he pulled the minotaur’s head off.

In spite of this warning, the party begins politely trying to negotiate for the belt. Krathanos at first seems open to a bargain if the party can find him a way off the island, suggesting a plane shift or gate spell. The party explains they don’t have access to that kind of magic and the negotiations meander around a bit until Krathanos suddenly becomes enraged for no apparent reason and decides he’s going to crush his “honored guests” into paste. There follows a very pitched battle.

Krathanos begins by sweeping the stone lids off the tops of the girallon cages. The girallons climb out and attack the party, while at the same time trying to avoid the crazed titan. Fortunately, Krathanos’ gargoyles minions stay out of it at first. The girallons prove to be only a minor annoyance, but Krathanos himself does some considerable damage with chain lightning and his huge hammer. Granuel has to hide in the walls of the ruined keep when Anmor refuses to be his pet heal-bot. The party somehow manages to chase off the girallons and do a bit of damage to Krathanos without suffering any fatalities.

The tide of battle turns when Ulm uses power word: blind on the injured titan. Krathanos orders his gargoyles into the battle, retreats to the ethereal plane, and begins healing himself. The gargolyes prove to be a dangerous menace, but the rest of the party holds them off while Ulm chases Krathanos into the ethereal plane. Ulm manages to greater dispel the blinded titan back to the Prime, not just once, but twice, allowing the party to do just enough damage to bring down the Shackled Conqueror. So, the party completes the Claiming of Krathanos’s Golden Belt, and also collects a lot of other treasure.

XP totals at the end of the session 29:

* Anmor 138,117
* Ulm and Chresin 136,278
* Granuel 129,983
* Kullen 134,538

Anmor, Ulm, and Chresin should level up to 17th for next session. Kullen and Granuel will reach 17th early during Session 30 (assuming everyone doesn’t die, which is a distinct possibility).

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Session 28: The Library of Last Resort
Chasing Kendra

Even though I finished Fallout 4, this post still didn’t get done for two months. Blame Handsome Jack.

Fireday, 9th of Warmshade, 4433 (continued)

mazeofmenhirs.jpgIn the Maze of Menhirs, after defeating the rune-covered ropers, the party examines the glowing green crystals that grow at the base of a stalagmite in this area. Anmor (or Chresin? or Ulm?) determines that the crystals are vaguely magical, but cannot discern their purpose. To be safe, the party gathers up every last one of the crystals and stuffs them into backpacks and bags. Anmor also deciphers the runes on the dead ropers and the stalgmites. They are written in Druidic—their topics vary wildly. Some of them detail aspects of the natural world like local weather patterns or the eating habits of sharks, while others are simply gibberish. The party continues wandering through the maze, until they come to a flooded area.

Pool of Red Crystals
A murky tidal pool thick with moldering driftwood and clumps of seaweed fills this bowlshaped opening in the ruins. Growing from this tangle of wood and water is an immense black plant. Its roots coil out through the surrounding water and its twisted trunk supports eight rubbery-looking dark branches that sway gently in the wind.

The strange and ominous plant floating on this pool’s surface turns out to be a dangerous predator called an octopus tree. It tries to eat some party members while screening others off with a wall of thorns. It also calls lightning. The party prevails and dives in the pool to find a bed of red crystals at the bottom. Still unsure of the crystals’ purpose, the party gathers up every last one, then continues wandering through the maze.

The PCs recognize a McGuffin when they see one, particularly when they are different colors. Anyone remember the Whispering Cairn?

Hidden Camp
This section of the ruin seems more dilapidated than the rest; an entire section of wall to the south here has collapsed into a sizable mound of broken stone at some time in the distant past.

kendrasquare.jpgSomeone, still detecting magic from examining the crystals, recognizes that the pile of rubble is an illusion. Disbelieving it reveals simple campsite consisting of a bedroll and an unlit campfire. Searching the campsite, the party turns up some black feathers, but nothing else. Certain this campsite has something to do with Kendra, but unable to do anything about it, the party continues wandering through the maze.

Crystal Pedestal
What once may have been a collection of four impressive statues of marble and basalt has been reduced to a pile of shattered rubble. Fragments of the statues lie in heaps throughout this area.

Absolutely certain the statues are going to come to life, the party proceeds carefully. They are pleasantly surprised when they aren’t attacked. A search of the area reveals traces of blood sheltered from the constant drizzling rain by an overhanging rock, indicating a battle took place here. Furthermore, someone notices a strange flickering blue glow coming from below the fallen torso of one of the statues. Although the statue weighs 500 pounds, a little effort from Kullen is enough reveal a swath of shattered blue crystals on the ground below the statue. The party gathers up all of the broken pieces and continues wandering through the maze until they come out in an open area on the other side.

Portal of Storms
A circular disc hewn from obsidian lies here, its rim decorated with strange runes. At three points around the disc’s circumference, stylized eyes have been carved, each with a shallow hollow carved within to represent the pupil.

Anmor translates the runes on the disc. They repeat a simple phrase in Druidic: “Return my eyes to me, and I shall gaze through the storm.” Detect magic reveals that the platform exudes teleportation magic. Even without these clues, the party’s sure of what they need to do: stick the crystals in the eye sockets. But, of course, the broken blue crystals are in pieces, and no amount of puzzling will put them together enough to fit perfectly in the socket. So Anmor greater teleports back to his school at the Citadel of Tomes (or to Ut Prandur or Tula or somewhere) to get a scroll of make whole. The rest of the party waits, prepared to be ambushed by Kendra while Anmor is gone.

Spiritday, 10th of Warmshade, 4433

Anmor returns with his scroll and is pleasantly surprised to discover that Kendra did not show up. As a result, his party was not murdered in his absence, nor did they rob him of his righteous vengeance. He fixes the crystal and the party sticks the variously colored McGuffins in the eyesockets, guessing as best they can about which one goes where. Doing so causes the runes along the disc’s rim to glow with the colors of the gemstones, these colors fading into each other as the runes wind around the circle toward the next crystal in line. As expected, a portal opens atop the pedestal. At the same time, the portal exudes a powerful aura of Neutrality, causing the (highly Lawful Good) Granuel to turn away from it and refuse to go near. Somehow (Dispel magic? Tying him up and dragging him through? Bashing him on the head?), the party manages to get him to enter anyway.

The Demi-Plane of Last Resort
The sudden shift in environment is shocking and overwhelming for a moment. The sound of the raging tempest is gone, replaced by a gentle wind carrying birdsongs and the drone of buzzing insects. The sky above is overcast, yet it doesn’t seem ready to storm.

The edge of a sprawling black forest, dense and overgrown, fills the view in one direction. Tall trees sag with branches heavy with moss, their dark eaves dropping to the ground in some places. From within comes a cacophony of insects and singing birds. Now and then, a ghostly green glow appears within, only to fade moments later, as if whatever creature was generating the light was afraid to be seen.

In the other directions grassy hills rise. Opposite the forest, these hills eventually become a range of rocky, barren mountains. A flash of brilliant lightning ignites the sky above the mountains for a moment, and the distant peal of muted thunder echoes down the slopes a few moments after.

tilagos.jpgThe party is now on the Demi-Plane of Last Resort, which consists of Tilagos Island as it was before the Order of the Storm hid it away (see here for a refresher). Anmor is disappointed to see that there’s no immediate evidence of a library of any kind. The DM is kind enough to give them a map, which they will use to plan their further explorations. Before they can examine the map in detail, a group of four enigmatic figures emerges directly from inside the trees at the edge of the woods (transport via plants, for the record). One of them introduces himself.

wildwatcher.jpg“I am Tylanthros, guardian of this realm. We are the Last Resort, as surely as the trees and stones and sea and air around you. We protect the secrets of this island from all trespassers. You have mastered the portal of storms, and therefore must be brave, but it remains to be seen if you belong here at all. Why have you come to Last Resort?”

The party explains they’re looking for a library, so Tylanthros and his friends launch into a scripted dialog, which the party refrains, for once, from interrupting.

“You seek the Fountain, although you do not yet realize it. The Fountain of Dreams is linked to all things in Last Resort. The earth, the dark trees of the Doomshroud, the clouds above, my life and that of my brothers are a part of it. If the waters are consumed, the Order of the Storm’s rite is undone. The secrets kept from the world will be released, and the great creatures of legend imprisoned here on this isle shall be unleashed upon the Prime once more. You say you are heroes? This remains to be seen. Accomplish four tasks and prove yourselves to be the heroes of old returned. The Fountain shall not be despoiled lightly.”

The strange creature looks at his four brothers, then back to you. “The Fountain of Dreams shall know those destined for its gifts in but one way. It will know them by the Trials of Tilagos. Survive these trials, and you may slake your thirst on what you seek. Fail, and Last Resort shall be your grave. I am Tylanthros, and the first trial is the Claiming of Krathanos’s Golden Belt.”

A second of the quartet of creatures speaks up next. “I am Beskawahn, and the second trial is the Silence of the Doomshroud’s Mournful Song."

The third speaks. “I am Thadimar, and the third trial is the Death of the Thorn Vale Nightmare.”

Finally, the last creature speaks. “I am Sayren-Lei, and the final trial is the Harvest of the Living Feather of the Roc King.”

Tylanthros speaks again. “These trials complete, return here and we shall show you the Fountain of Dreams. Until then, we shall watch. And wait.”

The party then asks about Kendra, to which Tylanthros responds:

“You speak of the woman with the rotting hand? She has come to Tilagos with her flock, seeking knowledge as you do. Even as you linger, they seek to complete the tasks we have named. If they outspeed you, then the secrets of the Fountain are theirs. Who claims the secrets of the Fountain matters little to us, for once these secrets are claimed our role in Last Resort has come to an end.”

Given their priorities, I’m pretty sure the party asked their questions in the opposite order: Kendra, then the library, but I’m too lazy to rewrite the boxtext script to reflect that.

The party tries to ask more questions, like about what exactly the trials entail (e.g., Who’s Krathanos? What’s a Doomshroud?), but fail the diplomacy check required to get the Wild Watchers to answer. The enigmatic quartet merges with the trees again and disappears.

Anmor tries some divination magic and confirms that Kendra’s here. She seems to be at the edge of the mountains to the north. The party loads up on buff spells and Anmor tries to teleport them right to her. His teleportation fails and the group soon discovers that teleport spells don’t work on this plane. Therefore, they start walking, cutting through the woods to head in Kendra’s direction.

The Forest
This particular forest is a lonesome, alien landscape. Its black, monolithic trees appear to shift unnaturally without the aid of wind. The canopy blocks out the dim light provided by the overcast skies, and the forest is dark as night as a result. The drooping trees continuously weep a thick black ichor. This sap is oily and foul smelling.

Airday, 11th of Warmshade through Waterday, 12th of Warmshade, 4433

In spite of the unpleasant surroundings, the party goes unmolested and makes reasonable speed through the forest. Anmor’s divination magic shows that Kendra is leaving the mountains and heading toward the forest. The group continues on a course to intercept her. By the end of the third day in the woods, however, Anmor’s magic shows that Kendra is now out on the plains and moving much faster than expected. In fact, she’s like on the other side of the woods now and their intercept course is ruined. The group will surely not to be able to catch her, so they decide to try and continue north and look for some of the trials instead. They figure the Roc King’s probably in the mountains, right?

Earthday, 13th of Warmshade, 4433

packlord.jpgAt the start of the day the party emerges from the north side of the forest. In spite of the more pleasant environment, it is here they find themselves attacked. A group of extra-big displacer beasts (Pack Lords) assaults the party, but the group defeats the creatures rather easily. The party continues northwest towards the mountains, using restoration spells to negate their fatigue and make double the progress.

If an entire displacer beast pack is made up of Pack Lords, what is the lord of the pack called? The Pack Lord Pack Pack Lord?

Fireday, 14th of Warmshade and Spiritday 15th of Warmshade, 4433

The party skirts the edge of the mountains then ascends, climbing to the top of what is obviously the highest peak. Though the climb is harrowing (did I forget to ask for climb checks?), the party ascends to the top without trouble. Here they find a huge nest that, unfortunately, contains a very dead gigantic roc, sprawled in a shallow lake of blood. It looks like Kendra’s been here already and has prevented the party from Harvesting the Living Feather of the Roc King. Discouraged, the party descends the mountain.

Airday, 16th of Warmshade through Earthday, 18th of Warmshade, 4433

The party struggles west-southwest through the mountains towards the top of a valley that could offer easy descent to the plains in the direction where they now know Kendra to be. They reach the head of this valley to discover that it teems with wild underbrush bedecked with vicious irony thorns growing as long as six inches each. The thorns grow to a height of 10 feet in the vale, and no trail or track leads through them.

“Vicious irony” thorns is a direct quote from the module. Isn’t that ironic, don’t you think? Given that the party thought the valley would be easier going?

Fireday, 19th of Warmshade, 4433

When wake in the morning, some of the party members report suffering from horrid, vivid nightmares of being stalked and killed by monsters, demons, cruel enemies, etc. Shrugging off this odd occurrence, our heroes continue their travels.

I’m fairly certain I either forgot to have the nightmares happen or that everyone made their save. But they make what happens next more interesting, so I’m retconning them in.

MM35_PG30.jpgThe party starts pushing its way through the thorns and is soon assaulted by an extra-large bullette (Landshark!). They defeat it in a battle so forgettable that I completely forgot to include it in my first pass through this writeup (even though I had it in my XP accounting).

The party decides to continue along the side slopes of the valley, preferring the rugged terrain to the pointy (ironic) thorns at the bottom of the valley. This route proves a fortunate choice, as the clear view allows them to spot a cave some distance up the slope on the side they’re traveling. Clouds of steam constantly vent up from the cave opening. The party investigates.

nightmarebeast.jpgThe cave is filled with steam, so Anmor summons some creepy giant bats and sends them in. He can see with their senses and, as the bats fly through the cave, notes two wide crevasses that nearly cross the cavern. The crevasses constantly vent the thick clouds of steam that waft along the ceiling to escape via the cave mouth. Reaching the other end of the cave, the bats find a nightmarish creature known, appropriately, as a nightmare beast and engage in battle. Some party members (Kullen at least) blindly leap the crevasses to join the bats and the group eventually defeats the creature (whose name was Harrodroth, not that it matters).

Strewn about the far end of the cavern is a tangle of corpses and some treasure. For now, though, the party stops to rest, satisfied with the reasonable conclusion that they have achieved the Death of the Thorn Vale Nightmare, preventing Kendra from completing that trial.

XP totals at the end of the session 28:

* Anmor 125,637
* Ulm and Chresin 123,798
* Granuel 115,583
* Kullen 122,058

Kullen should level up to 16th now. Granuel will reach 16th sometime during Session 29 (if he survives).

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Session 27: The Library of Last Resort
Arguing with Undead Dragons

lastresort.jpg

This write up was greatly delayed by Fallout 4. Blame any inaccuracies on The Institute.

Earthday, 3rd of Warmshade, 4433

blessedangel.jpgHaving ruined Satrap Khouligan’s dinner party, the party flees back to their suite of rooms at the Deluxry to retrieve their stashed loot. While Anmor dons his armor, they discuss what to do next. Their discussion continues until they are interrupted by a serving maid from the bar below, who comes up into the corridor leading to their rooms to announce they have visitors. When party members enter the hall to question the serving maid, three Blessed Angels come crashing through the windows of their suite. The serving maid also turns out to be a Blessed Angel, magically disguised. After a struggle, the party defeats the “angels.”

Deciding that they need to either talk to (as originally planned) or fight (based on the discovery that she’s undead) Lashonna, they attempt to dimension door directly inside her mansion, Mistwall Manor. Chresin’s spell fails completely, blocked by powerful magic. Based on the nature of the blocking magic, Chresin suspects that more powerful teleportation spells would not be blocked, but instead diverted, perhaps to somewhere bad. Given this difficulty, the party goes back to discussing what to do next.

lashonna.jpgTheir discussion continues until they are interrupted by four more Blessed Angels, who appear out of thin air in their rooms! Rather than repeat the last fight, Chresin dimension doors the party out of the city, back to the half-finished mansion near the Traitors’ Graves. Tabling their discussion for a while (because Blessed Angels seem to show up whenever they talk for too long), they decide to take a rest. During the night, Granuelreceives a sending from Lashonna herself. The sending says something like “Heard you want to talk. Truce? If so, come to Mistwall Manor midnight tomorrow night. Safe from Blessed Angels.” To the rest of the party’s surprise, Granuel agrees.

Midnight, Fireday, 4th of Warmshade, 4433

The party teleports to the front gate of Mistwall Manor. They are greeted by a tall, gaunt half-orc named Kelgorn who walks with a limp. He escorts them through a luxurious courtyard of fountains and topiaries, into the front parlor, and then up a spiraling marble staircase to Lashonna’s private study and reading room.

Lashonna’s Parlor
The walls of this spacious, tastefully decorated study are filled with shelves of leatherbound tomes on a wide variety of topics. A large desk sits against the far wall, its surface empty save for a stack of tattered pieces of yellowed paper. The carpet is a deep shade of crimson, and arrayed on it in a semicircle before the desk are several high-backed chairs fitted with velvet cushions.

lashonnatall.jpgLashonna waits here for the party, wrapped in a gold-trimmed gown of the very latest fashion and cut to accentuate her near-perfect figure. As the group enters, a delighted smile dances upon her scarlet lips before she dismisses her manservant. “You won’t be needed any longer Kelgorn, I’m sure I’ll be quite well attended to, with such pleasing guests to keep me company. Good night.” Lashonna apologizes for the late hour but says that, if the party’s reasons for consulting her are what she suspect they are, their discussion is “…not something the sunlit world wants to hear.”

balakardesquare.jpgThe conversation starts out politely enough and compliments are even exchanged. The party explains that they have come to Lashonna looking for information on the whereabouts of Balakarde. Lashonna is unsurprised; this topic is what she guessed the party wanted to dicuss. She hands over several tattered pages and says, “Balakarde’s journal, or what’s left of it, in any event. You’ll see he’s quite mad. Obsessed, the poor dear, and with worms no less. Tiresome. But please, look it over, and then we can talk.”

Balakarde’s journal fragments can be found here. Once the party has digested the contents of the journal, Lashonna explains what she believes must be done to prevent the Age of Worms.

Or rather, she attempts to explain. Anmor interrupts her (about every third sentence) and forces her to digress into various arguments about her intentions and what the party’s actual priorities should be. I have not attempted to recreate that dialog, although I have alluded to Anmor’s objections following the summary of Lashonna’s side of the story.

dragonflight01.jpgThe full text of what Lashonna said (or would have said, if not interrupted) can be found here. For convenience, here’s the synopsis:

  • Drazzaroth intends to release Yog-Sothoth and start the Age of Worms.
  • Drazzaroth is a lich, so if you want to defeat him, you should destroy his phylactery first.
  • Thanks to the Order of the Storm, no one, not even Drazzaroth, knows where his phylactery is.
  • The Order of the Storm had a hidden library located on Tilagos Island in the Sea of Five Winds.
  • This hidden library might contain an account of the hiding place of Drazzaroth’s phylactery.

Lashonna goes on to point out three problems:

  1. Tilagos Island is guarded by eternal storms, wrecking all ships that approach.
  2. The library itself is actually no longer on the material plane, although lore suggests the Island has a way to reach it.
  3. Heskin, a former employee of Lashonna’s, has revealed all this information to the Triad of Sixes; even now, he could be guiding their agents to Tilagos Island and the Library of Last Resort.

Anmor is suspicious and does not want to go along with Lashonna’s plan. During his arguments, he explains that what he really cares about is getting revenge on Loris Raknian and Kendra. In response to this, Lashonna explains that he should really have a peek at Heskin and his new friends. She produces a small lock of hair tied with a gold wire on a fine gold chain—she explains she “procured” this bit of hair from Heskin’s barber—produces a scroll of greater scrying from her desk. The party watches along with her as she scries on Heskin.

Scrying on Heskin and His New Friends
A tumultuous scene fades into view in the middle of the room for all to observe, along with the howling sound of an oceanic tempest. The image clears to show a deathly pale man lashed to a ship’s mast with several coils of rope. Although details beyond a ten-foot-radius around Heskin are hazy and unclear, it’s obvious that the ship is caught in a tremendous storm—the decks are awash in foamy water as both waves and driving sheets of rain torment the terrified man. Sounds of gruff sailors shouting commands and curses in Orc can be heard under the raging tumult of the storm, and now and then, frantic orc sailors move quickly into view and then back into obscurity as they busy themselves at securing the ship.

At one point, two lithe, cloaked figures drop to the deck from the rigging on either side of Heskin. They are identically dressed in tightly wrapped silken scarves, small devilish horns sprouting from their heads. The cloaked figures spare condescending glances at Heskin, their eyes glowing faintly with infernal fire before they move out of sight toward the ship’s unseen bow.

Soon thereafter, a blazing red-skinned humanoid with an immense, bulging frame strides almost casually through the scene. The rain sizzles into steam as it strikes his burning skin. As he reaches Heskin, he looks down at the man and then looks toward the bow, crying out, “Mistress! It looks like your pet might be taking on water!” With that, the creature explodes into a tremendous belly laugh.

A few moments later, another two figures step into view. The smaller of the two is a shifty eyed humanoid bird who wears a hooded cloak and carries a repeating crossbow. The other is a woman in robes trimmed with eye designs. Her cowl protects her face from the wind and her hands are obscured by long, rainsoaked sleeves. She squats before Heskin and speaks to him in a low voice, “Only a few hours more, lover, and we shall see if you live or die.” Suddenly, the woman’s head whips around to look directly into the scrying sensor. It’s Kendra!

kendra.jpgHer face twists into a snarl as she stands. “It seems we have guests, my friends,” she says. “Perhaps allies of this cur?” She turns back to the bound man, and as she does she pulls back her left sleeve, revealing a rotten, black-nailed appendage that seems to writhe and twitch with its own life. “We can’t have your friends watching us, so it seems your journey comes to an early end, Heskin!” The putrid hand unfurls and reaches out to caress Heskin’s brow. Heskin shrieks in mortal pain as the fingertip freezes the skin it touches into an angry black scar. Kendra then makes a fist and utters a single unintelligible word. As he utters the word, Hesken’s eyes bulge, the cords in his neck throb, and he slumps against his bonds, dead. The scrying link is broken, and the image fades from view.

Anmor recognizes that Kendra’s corpse-like hand is none other than one of the two notorious Hands of Angall, severed from his human form before his ascension to godhood (in case you didn’t remember from the vision you saw at Kuluth-Mar). The Hand is capable of creating a blasphemy effect, which explains what happened to Heskin.

After the vision, Lashonna returns to her seat, obviously a little shaken by the revelation that one of the Hands of Angall has entered play. She’s quick to recover, though, and uses this knowledge to try to convince Anmor to make haste in the party’s journey to Tilagos Island. She (and the DM and the rest of the party) expects him to be persuaded because of the opportunity to pursue Kendra. He continues to be stubborn and argumentative. Some of his objections include:

  • Lashonna is undead and, therefore, probably evil and not to be trusted.
  • Satrap Khouligan is a bad man and probably involved in all this somehow.
  • There’s a ziggurat being built right here in Lenap and ziggurats are always involved with attempts to summon Yog.

Lashonna counters that:

  • Undead, evil, or whatever, she has no interest in the world being consumed by the Age of Worms. Specifically: “What I am shouldn’t matter. I’ve spent years getting where I am, and I’m not about to see all that washed away by Drazzaroth, and neither should you. Take care of Drazzaroth, and if you still feel that I can’t be trusted, you know where to find me.”
  • Khouligan is a proven enemy of the Triad of Sixes. Although he’s easily manipulated, Lashonna’s the one doing the manipulating, not the Triad or the Cult of Yog, so he’s no threat.
  • She is working behind the scenes to slow construction of the “Great Project” and assures Anmor that the ziggurat will never be completed. Opposing it directly, though, would upset the delicate political balance she’s built here.

Anmor remains unconvinced and continues to argue. The rest of the party becomes bored and wanders off to find some food. Lashonna finally gets frustrated with Anmor’s recalcitrance and charms him. Because of the magic, he instantly becomes pleasant and agreeable and sees the wisdom of her plan. He gathers the party and begins to lead them off on their new quest. On the way out of Mistwall Manor, Chresin, suspicious of Anmor’s sudden change of heart, casts some dispelling magic. With the charm effect gone, Anmor becomes angry and smashes a priceless antique vase in the foyer. But the party exits the mansion and goes ahead with Lashonna’s plan anyway.

Spiritday, 5th of Warmshade through Earthday, 8th of Warmsade, 4433

The party teleports back to Ut-Prandur and prepares themselves for their journey. After a bit of discussion (not interrupted by Blessed Angels this time), they decide to try teleporting to the ship they saw in Lashonna’s scrying.

I have no recollection of what they did there or whether they told anyone about what happened in Lenap or what they planned to do next. I suppose it doesn’t matter very much.

Fireday, 9th of Warmshade, 4433

Teleportation brings the party to the ship where they saw Heskin die. They find themselves standing on the slanted deck of one half of the gigantic sailing cog, which lies broken in two against a jagged rock on the beach of what is obviously Tilagos Island. The broken ship itself, along with the beach and a portion of the island further inland exist in a sheltered dome of relatively calm winds and constant rainy drizzle. However, a maelstrom of hurricane force winds rages all around the area outside a circle of about 400 feet in diameter, including above at a height of about 60 feet.

Shipwreck Beach
The beachhead is littered with driftwood and the splintered ruin of well over a hundred ships. These skeletal wrecks crowd the rocky shoreline, a veritable city of barnacle-claimed vessels peopled with dead sailors. Broken skeletons wrapped in threadbare rags hang out of yawning breaches in the ships’ hulls, and tattered sails whip in the fierce winds sweeping the shoreline. Beyond the shore, the rocky beach angles up
slightly to an ancient maze of ruined walls and standing stones.

Not liking the looks of the beach one bit, the party dimension doors (or dimension hops or something) right into the ruins, avoiding the beach altogether (and an encounter in the process). They make their way through a veritable “maze of menhirs” until they come upon a somewhat open area.

The Forest of Stony Teeth
The ruins here are complicated with a new feature; numerous spindly stone stalagmites fill the area. The rocky growths are carved with strange slash-like glyphs along vertical lines, but seem to have no other purpose. A small tangle of green glowing crystals grows from the base of a stalagmite near the center of this area.

The party proceeds through this area carefully, but is attacked anyway. The stalagmites turn out to be ropers, unusual because they are covered in strange runes, but otherwise typical of the species. The PCs defeat them without too much difficulty.

So, with a bit of effort, the party was kept on the railroad. XP totals at the end of the session:

* Anmor 120,447
* Ulm and Chresin 118,608
* Granuel 108,983
* Kullen 115,458

Anmor already has enough to reach 16th and Ulm and Chresin probably will have enough by the time the party stops to rest, which could happen mid-session.

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Session 26: The Satrap of Lenap
How to Ruin a Dinner Party

Warned ahead of time that there would be more socializing than fighting this session, our heroes lasted quite a while before becoming fed up and trying to start something. Still, they brought the Satrap’s anniversary celebration to a premature end, causing exactly the sort of diplomatic incident I expected of them.

Airday, 1st of Warmshade, 4433 (continued)

We find the party as we left them: minus Granuel, staring down a deep well, wondering about a creepy statue. They decide to spend some more fly charges and make their way down to the bottom.

The Overgod’s Court
The well empties through the ceiling of an immense chamber, its domed roof a full fifty feet over a black floor worn smooth by the passage of countless creatures. Alcoves in the north and south wall hold wretched statues of worm-like monsters coiled around pillars of skulls and bones. A single object occupies the room’s eastern half—a huge statue of a humanoid monster. The thirty-foot tall statue seems to be made of some strange black stone that looks almost like leather in some places. It has breasts, two arms, two tentacles, and two stumps where two more arms should be. One of its upper arms wields a big axe.

To everyone’s (by which I mean no one’s) surprise, the moment someone touches the floor, the statue comes to life. Anmor is relieved when he realizes the statue is actually an evil outsider, an avatar of the Triad of Sixes’ hypothetical overgod, instead of a construct. This means his dark knowledge will work on it. Still, with axe, claw, and tentacle, the overgod nearly makes mincemeat of Kullen before the party destroys it.

This was the only planned combat of the session and Buddy, who wouldn’t arrive until later in the session, wasn’t even there to see it. Although, it was a good, long fight, I was skeptical that it would be enough to satisfy the party’s bloodlust for the whole night…

A search of the chamber reveals that one of the walls seems hollow. Finding no obvious way to open the wall, Chresin teleports the party past it. They find themselves in an airless vault. Ulm immediately turns ethereal to escape, while Kullen batters down the wall, providing air before anyone can suffocate (which takes forever in D&D anyway).

Inside the vault, the party finds four chests the size of steamer trunks, full of lots of excellent treasure. More significantly, they find a leather-bound ledger bearing no title. It appears to be nothing more than an out-of-date list of the vault’s contents, but detect magic reveals it to be something more. By dispelling the magic, the party finds that it is, in fact, a list of names and locations. They recognize some of the entries: Theldrick Rastingdrung, Faceless One – Rastingdrung, and Ilthane Lenap, Traitor’s Graves. These names, however, are crossed out.

Two other names they recognize are not crossed out: Loris Raknian and Kendra. Their locations, however, have been crossed out and replaced with question marks. The last recorded location of each is Tula. The party does not recognize the rest of the names, but given the association of those they do know with the Triad of Sixes, this information will likely be valuable in the future. It could be a tool to help find and defeat the Triad. Anmor uses a spell to copy the data.

Ding, bonus XP for finding and translating the ledger…

Surmising from the recent information about Ilthane’s status that someone must update the ledger frequently, the party debates leaving behind some kind of calling card or trap. They ultimately decide against it.

Before departing the place, Anmor takes the time to magically translate and copy the avolakia runes on the walls of the deep well (The Well of Triptych Knowledge). They prove enlightening, at least to him (see the entry for Runes in the Well of Triptych Knowledge in the plot-related clues section of the wiki).

Ding, bonus XP for translating the runes. Also, it will not be much of a spoiler if I point out that the runes make mention of a dragon called Drazzaroth.

Waterday, 2nd of Warmshade, 4433

The rest of this summary was written three and a half months after the session, so some things may be out of order from when they exactly happened. However, I believe it to be accurate on the key points.

After returning to the Deluxury and resting (and leveling up to 15th level), the party begins preparations for tomorrow’s celebration. Specifically, after donning their fancy noble attire, they assume the guise of Granuel Starmane and his entourage and march out into the common room, making a spectacle of themselves. The proceed into the streets of Lenap, intentionally drawing a crowd, and march their way back to the Sinners’ Sanctum (the sickhouse underneath which last night’s activities took place).

Once there, Anmor announces to the crowd the party’s intentions: to honor Satrap Khouligan by healing the unfortunate wretches here in the sickhouse. He and Granuel then set about doing so. It turns out they have exactly enough spells and potions or whatever to cure everyone in the place. Furpotia, the crazy old woman who runs the Sinners’ Sanctum is at first suspicious, but grateful when she sees the results. She says she’s known for years now that her beloved Satrap would eventually send the help her charges so richly deserved. The party does nothing to disabuse her of the notion that the Satrap had anything to do with the healing. The party heads back to the Deluxury to further rest up for tomorrow’s celebration.

For healing the victims in the sickhouse, the party receives another “authority point.” As discussed in the summary for last session, this is useless now, but will become important much, much later in the adventure path (like a couple years from now). Running Authority Point Total = 2. I’ve also decided that the good aligned party members deserve a dork card for this activity (Anmor, Granuel, and Chresin), since it’s very much in keeping with their alignment.

Earthday, 3rd of Warmshade, 4433

As the next day dawns, our heroes the characters are wakened by a tremendous din. The peak of Satrap Khouligan’s “Twenty Years of Joy” celebration has been timed to coincide with the annual Midsummer Festival day (something that I just conveniently noticed in marking off the campaign progress; let’s pretend it was intentional). Trumpets sound across the city, every drum, horn, and bell in every place of worship call out (as instructed) to announce that the Day of Great Rejoicing has arrived. The streets throng with happy, smiling faces, the locals cheer and rejoice, babies are held aloft and patriotic songs about the divine mercy of the Satrap are sung at every corner.

The party bathes (I assume, except maybe for Kullen) and dresses in their finery. Two hours before sunset, an official banquet carriage arrives to bring them to the palace. The carriage is almost shocking in its decadence—a gold-plated vehicle of incredible size and garish ornateness. A group of four trolls serve as “horses” for this ostentatious monstrosity, each dressed in ill-fitting suits designed to call out their hideous countenances all the more. The carriage itself is driven by a lanky, wide-mouthed man with black robes and a tall black top hat. A sizeable crowd gathers and gawks as Granuel Starmane and his entourage board.

The carriage interior is incredibly sumptuous. The leather seats are padded with down and gold lanterns burn pleasantly-scented oil. A tray contains several crystal decanters of wine and silver salvers of sweet-meats. The driver never speaks, and once the PCs are aboard takes them directly to the palace.

blessedangel.jpgWhen the party disembarks inside the palace courtyard, a servant informs them “The Satrap has no gladiatorial fights scheduled for today. Leave your weapons in the carriage.” After much arguing and complaining, the party eventually complies. Several of them spot one or two “Blessed Angels” perched on the palace walls, which makes them all the more nervous about leaving their weapons behind. The group is then led to the Vertiginous Terrace.

Gathering in the Vertiginous Terrace
Beyond the gates of Khouligan’s Palace is a steep rising path, flanked by polished skeletons in gibbets. The path winds up the rocky promontory upon which the palace and its grounds are constructed. Atop this height is the Vertiginous Terrace—a lawn that overlooks a 200-foot-drop into the Eel River. Other guests have already arrived, and they mill about in small groups, talking quietly.

Several of the guests carry wrapped gifts for the Satrap. Although the party didn’t realize this was expected, they choose not to do anything about it at the moment. Instead, they mingle with the other guests, drink, and make small talk. It appears most of the guests have already arrived (with the exception of a few who arrive later and are identified below, I’ve described the party guests in a single entry on the character list).

professormarat.jpgThe party members immediately note that food and drink are being passed around by an odd assortment of servants: fat ladies, pinheads, men without legs, women without eyes, and all manner of deformity is on display. Examples include Afus, the Man with No Head (whose face in his chest), Madam Hog, the Pig Woman (whose face is more akin to a sow than a human), and Ekestra, the Half-Man (who walks on his hands as he has no lower body). Some of the freaks are familiar to Anmor and Kullen, who realize these servants came here from Rastingdrung. Professor Marat introduces himself, explaining that he’s responsible for bringing the servants here, then getting them hired into the service of the Satrap.

hoff.jpgWhile waiting for things to get underway, the party mingles a bit. Loitering by the food and drink, Anmor makes friends with a dwarf named Hoff Ropehammer. Although Hoff seems gluttonous and possibly crazy, the two engage in a friendly drinking contest.

toris.jpgUlm befriends the only other gnome there, a mustachioed fellow named Toris. Toris is the representative of some outlying gnome town (a town I didn’t bother to look up a name for, because it really doesn’t matter). He’s here to try and keep his town under the Satrap’s protection, but seems out of place and taken aback by the whole scene. He begins following Ulm around like a puppy.

Chresin attempts to strike up a conversation with Lord Malaven Kilraven, Captain of the west border watch. Kilraven is fairly reserved (i.e., suspicious) and only offered up a few bits of information. He has served under three generations of leaders of Lenap. He is currently tasked with pushing the Satrap’s rules westward. They have secured the lands for about 50 miles west of the city. Chresin senses that something is troubling Kilraven, but the captain does not elaborate. Chresin suggests that he might be able to influence the house of Starmane to provide assistance but, while is he polite, Kilraven does not pursue the offer.

Because they made friends with Hoff and Toris, the party gets 2 more authority points. Running Authority Point Total = 4.

mahuudril.jpgOur heroes’ banter with the other guests is interrupted by the announcement of a late arrival. This guest is introduced as Merchantmistress Mahuudril, apparently some kind of VIP in Lenap. She makes a spectacle as she arrives leading a fiendish-looking black horse whose feet don’t seem to touch the ground. This horse (and its magic horseshoes) are apparently her gift for the Satrap. The party still doesn’t seem concerned about not having a gift.

avolakia.jpgBecause he cast True Seeing (or something like that), Anmor realizes that Mahuudril is, in fact, some kind of hideous worm monster (an Avolakia). He wisely chooses not to raise a stink about this and keeps it to himself for the time being (although at some point he alerts at least Ulm to the information).

hemriss.jpgThe next VIP to be announced does not arrive from the courtyard like the other guests, but from the palace itself. Introduced simply as Hemriss, servant and advisor to the Satrap, the party is quickly informed by friendly guests that this woman is rumored to be Khouligan’s secret daughter by an erinyes devil. Hemriss is a strange combination of the beautiful and the grotesque, with a misaligned face and the stumps of broken wings protruding from her hunched back.

khouligan.jpgAfter a few more drinks, the guest of honor, Satrap Khouligan the Grief-Giver, arrives amid great fanfare, accompanied by his fool, a strange man of only two and a half feet tall, known as the Ominous Fabler (a spriggan). Flanked by his deformed servants, the Satrap stands quietly while his fool steps forth, clutching a mummified raven, and blows on a strange horn to attract everyone’s attention (a needless
move, since by this point everyone’s attention is already focused on the Satrap).

The Satrap’s Introduction
ominousfabler.jpgThe Ominous Fabler clears his throat, and then speaks in a surprisingly strong and deep voice. “My lords, ladies, and other honored guests! Satrap Khouligan bids you welcome, and I trust you will enjoy the hospitality of his humble home!” The strange little man looks around, leers at some of the guests, then flaps his free arm and lifts the mummified raven up on his shoulder. Using the dead bird as a ventriloquist’s dummy, he chirps out in a raspy voice: “You may now present your gifts to honor the satrap!” and then steps back, giggling quietly as the other guests reach into folds in cloaks and pockets.

The gifts from other attendees include jewelry, bottles of rare wine, exotic caged animals, a fine gem by Toris, and in the case of Mahuudril, that fiendish horse. When the party’s turn to present gifts arrives, they try to explain how they healed the peasants at the Sinners’ Sanctum sickhouse in the Satrap’s honor. When Khouligan seems nonplussed by this as a “gift,” Anmor presents one of the empty adamantine vials the party acquired in Ilthane’s lair. The Satrap accepts this without comment, though he whispers something to the Ominous Fabler.

Though he didn’t show it, Khouligan was offended by this gift. It was not valuable enough for even one guest, and certainly not enough to account for “Granuel Starmane’s” entire entourage. So he whispered to the Fabler to make sure to have the PC’s poisoned during the banquet. This, ultimately, would make no difference, since Anmor had cast Heroes’ Feast to make them immune.

At this point, one VIP guest is notable in her absence: the Satrap’s chief advisor, Professora Lashonna Laggan (at least the party should have noticed this, if they didn’t, since she was the whole reason they attended this silly event). The Fabler announces that the Satrap has heard from Lashonna and regrets to inform the partygoers that business will be keeping her from the day’s events, but that she plans on arriving in time for the feast this evening. Immediately after the gift giving, servants appear with padded chairs for each guest and beg them to be seated.

The Harlequinade Mortificatio
ominousfabler.jpgThe fool appears again and blows his strange horn. “My masters! We beg you to enjoy our little tale—‘tis a small thing I penned myself, a tale of menace, revenge, lust and death which I have called ‘The Harlequinade Mortificatio.’” The fool moves back, and as he does, the servants arrange a small stage with a backdrop of a town street at night. A wooden moon wafts over the scene, and suddenly a host of animated skeletons dressed as clowns march on stage.

skeleton.jpgThe play is performed in silence, apart from guests applauding as the skeletal clowns perform particularly ridiculous stunts, such as drinking wine. The entire play is a curious affair, and it soon becomes obvious that the whole plot recounts how each of the skeletons is acting out its own death, always by suspicious circumstances that aren’t quite accidents. The rest of the party barely manages to restrain Granuel from jumping up to destroy the skeletons, explaining that they need to take care of their business here, which is to make contact with Lashonna, before they get kicked out. They can always get rid of the offending undead later, perhaps after they’ve had a chance to scout out what other evils exist in this place.

During the play (which lasts for an hour), servants flutter about with wine and trays of lightly roasted almond biscuits of exquisite taste. At the play’s end, the curious actors bow and, though no one seems to enjoy the play, everyone (except Granuel) applauds. The Ominous Fabler appears, now dressed as a scarecrow on stilts and with a hare’s skull where his head should be. He leads guests across the grounds to the next event, singing a song about boiling sparrows as he goes.

p(comment)Shortly after the play, someone in the party casts detect magic and then examines the Satrap. I believe the party was attempting to determine if the Satrap was being manipulated, or if he was acting on his own accord. The spell showed that there was no compulsion type of magic on the Satrap. It did show that he wore various magic items but nothing out of the ordinary.

Eventually the guests arrive at the Balcony of Expectorance, a wide deck jutting from the cliffside about twenty feet down from the palace. The Balcony is sheltered from the wind and the view of the Lenap coastline along the Eel River is even more magnificent than that from the Vertiginous Terrace.

The Handsome Slaughter of Curious Avians
ominousfabler.jpgThe fool trundles up onto the balcony railing, somehow managing to balance there on stilts as he addresses the guests. “And now, welcome to the Balcony of Expectorance, my friends, and the Handsome Slaughter of Curious Avians!” Two deformed servants march out, carrying between them a large rack of repeating crossbows. Another group of servants wheels out a number of cages filled with brightly colored red birds. “Please, select your weapon, and make ready to…” The Satrap cuts the Fabler off with a dismissive slap as he steps forward. The fool teeters, but manages to catch his balance and clambers down from the ledge as the Satrap selects a magnificent-looking crossbow and says, “I’m feeling particularly lucky today. If anyone can bring down more than me, I’ll give the lucky soul a thousand gold coins.”

Once everyone has selected their crossbow, the guests take turns as the Fabler releases ten of the bright red exotic birds into the air. Anmor identifies them as corollaxes, harmless animals that have the ability to generate color sprays. There is some debate among the party about whether they should put a stop to this, too, but cooler heads prevail.

khouligan.jpgOn each guest’s turn, the corollaxes immediately scatter and begin flashing sprays of color as they wheel in the air. Each guest has three rounds to shoot and bring down as many of the corollaxes as he can before the birds escape around the sides of the cliffs. The Satrap goes first and manages to take down six; the other guests do their best (or in some cases, they obviously deliberately do worse than the Satrap), but none beat Khouligan. As the shoot progresses, servants pass roasted corollax glazed in honey and mulled spice wine amongst the guests.

Finally, it comes to the PCs’ turn. Granuel announces that his servant, Kullen, will be shooting for their entire group. Kullen beats Khouligan’s score pretty handily, then greedily collects the 1,000 gold piece prize. Khouligan seems pretty upset about this, but hands over the money.

Winning this particular contest, and gloating about it, actually gives the party minus one authority point. Running Authority Point Total = 3.

After the slaughter of the curious avians, the fabler leads the party back into the house, through a maze of doors and halls, and eventually down into the extensive basements. He does so by walking on his hands the entire trip, finally leading the group into an underground miniature arena. The guests are directed to sit on the curved benches surrounding the sunken fighting pit (which contains two four-foot-square bird cages swathed in dark silks), while the Fabler explains the nature of the event.

B’Kruss pulls Kullen aside as they leave the Balcony of Expectorance.

*So you think you’ll get his attention like that, eh? Good luck!

Some Lively Sports and Baiting
ominousfabler.jpgThe misshapen gnome retrieves a small oak box from a locked chest and opens it, withdrawing a pair of silver rings. “And now, we come to some lively sports and baiting, my friends! These rings are ensorcelled with magic such that those who wear it can direct the actions and movements of one who has been… specially prepared, as a receiver.” He hobbles over to the Satrap and hands one of the rings to him. “The Satrap would like to challenge one of you to an honest fight, utilizing what lives at the other end of these rings as proxies. Are there any of you brave enough to meet the Satrap’s champion on the field of battle?”

None of the other guests immediately rise to the occasion, so Anmor (I’m pretty sure) decides to try his hand. When he puts on the ring, he is struck by an odd sensation but manages to resist being overwhelmed with the disorienting feeling of seeing, feeling, and hearing through the body of … whatever it is he’s supposed to control. The Fabler pulls a silk cord and releases a dozen kittens, puppies, and other cute animals into the arena.

cockatrice.jpgThe Fabler raises his voice over the rest of the crowd and announces “If you can create more ornaments than the Satrap, and if you can survive his champion’s wrath, you’ll win a most fabulous prize indeed!” With that, he pulls a second cord and cages in the pit below open, allowing two cockatrices within to escape into the arena. It turns out the object of the games is to control one’s cockatrice and petrify more cute animals than the other cockatrice. Once all of the animals are petrified, the two cockatrices are to fight one another for the win.

During the fight, dishes of eggs are served—boiled ones of unusual size, eggs scrambled with fine meats, and even a strange cocktail of egg mixed with rum. It is a close battle (because both sides use the cockatrice’s statistics), but Anmor’s dice are better, so he pulls out the win (Anmor had 4 throphies to the Satrap’s 3, but the Satrap’s champion wins). Nonetheless, Khouligan graciously hands over his prize: a golden egg of great size (valued at 1,000 gp).

Winning this one is apparently acceptable and gives the party an authority point. Running Authority Point Total = 4.

After the cockatrice fight, the Fabler leads the guests back upstairs and out into a long, narrow garden on the north side of the palace. By this time, twilight has fallen, and the garden has been lit by numerous differently-colored continual flames cast inside skulls hanging from delicate silver and golden chains. Here, a curious game has been prepared. A mound of differently colored human skulls has been arranged at one end of the garden, and the Fabler takes pains to ensure the guests are arranged in a semicircle around this mound of skulls.

Bowling the Devious Heads
ominousfabler.jpg“And now, my beautiful friends, we come to the final game of the evening. I present to my wondrous Satrap an unfortunate criminal named Jack,” announces the Fabler, as he hands the Satrap a human skull that has been painted black. “And to the rest of you, I present these delicate treasures!” The Fabler indicates the stack of differently colored skulls. “The Satrap shall throw Jack to the far end of the garden, and the rest of you shall toss a chap of your own. The thrower who comes the closest to Jack shall be declared the winner!”

miszenmitchwillow.jpgKhouligan makes his throw, and Jack lands near the far end of the garden, about 50 feet away from the party-goers. Each guest selects one of the colored skulls from the pile and then makes a throw to try to come as close to the skull as possible. During the sport, servants pass around gingerbread men without heads. All of the PCs participate in this game. Chresin does very well, but is edged out by Mahuudril. Kullen then beats her and it looks like he’s going to take the prize until a halfling woman, Miszen Mitchwillow, throws a leaner against the black skull for the win. She collects the prize, a necklace with a small silver skull with ruby eyes.

In game, we chalked this up to innate halfling throwing skill, but it was actually a natural 20 that took out Kullen’s attack roll total of 19 (everyone was throwing at a -14 due to awkwardness and distance). In any case, no authority points are gained or lost.

bkruss.jpgThe evening grows late as the game ends, and the sun sinks behind the horizon. At this point, the rowdy hobgoblin B’kruss (who Kullen had encountered last session while playing drinksmash) becomes frustrated at being outdone in all these contests. He decides to pick on the biggest guy in the yard and challenges Kullen to a duel right in front of Khouligan. Although his comrades advise him that he can refuse the challenge honorably since it’s somewhat unseemly to fight at a party, Kullen accepts. Amused, the Satrap orders the Fabler to bring his guests to one of the gardens he uses for dueling.

The Fabler announces that the rules of the duel are up to Kullen (as the challenged) to decide. Since he doesn’t have his Adamantine Greataxe of Stuff with him, Kullen chooses a wrestling match. B’kruss makes some braggy noises about how great hobgoblins are at grappling, but is soundly thrashed by the barbarian. There is some polite applause.

B’kruss’ behavior here offended the Satrap. Thus, he would also be poisoned during the feast. Without the benefit of heroes’ feast, he would end up dying later that night. The PC’s probably won’t ever find this out, but there it is, nonetheless.

After the duel, the peal of an unseen gong sounds the call for dinner—the feast is ready! The Fabler leads the guests back into the palace and thence to the Great Banqueting Hall.

The Great Banqueting Hall
A massive, cylindrical chamber rises through the heart of Khouligan’s Palace. A tremendous round table of polished mahogany dominates the room, the walls of which are decked with portraits and landscapes of great quality. A large number of these feature the Satrap himself, although the enigmatic Lashonna, a silver-haired, pale, remarkably beautiful woman, dominates one prominently placed portrait near Khouligan’s place at the table. A vast stained glass dome depicting what appear to be angels at play arches gracefully above, its perimeter decorated by a ring of severed heads mounted on iron spikes some twenty feet above the polished marble floor.

The PCs discern that the “angels” in the window are, in fact, erinyes devils, and their “play” is anything but something one would normally associate with angels. Also, the mounted heads are no mere mortal decapitates—Granuel detects they have been animated. Once again, its all the party can do to keep him from bringing an end to the festivities.

The Fabler bids the guests to be seated. Each setting bears a name on a card and a dazzling array of cutlery, including ten different spoons. Some party members sit at the table. Others, playing the role of Granuel’s servants, rather than guests, decline. At this point (I’m pretty sure), Ulm turns invisible and wanders off to do his own thing. Anmor finds himself seated between the disguised worm creature Mahuudril and his buddy Hoff Ropehammer.

lashonnatall.jpgOne chair, the one directly opposite Satrap Khouligan, remains curiously vacant—at least until a few moments after everyone has seated. At this point, one of the deformed servants announces the arrival of the final guest, Professor Lashonna Laggan. As Lashonna enters the Great Banqueting Hall, everyone rises from their seats. The woman is dazzlingly beautiful, with alabaster skin and long silver hair set back with a tiara of black diamonds. Everyone in the rooms feels her gaze settling upon them. Lashonna greets Khouligan with a nod but says nothing, and gracefully takes her seat at the opposite end of the table from the Satrap.

First Course: The Feast of Worms
khouligan.jpgSatrap Khouligan the Grief-Giver stands and silence falls upon the banquet hall. “My dear friends,“ he begins, and as he does, the decapitated heads above echo the word “friends” in a ghoulish tone. “I bid you enjoy this feast, eat and drink your fill in my humble abode.” He claps his hands once. An instant later the great doors to the kitchen swing open and a trio of manticores enter to the ghoulish hoorahs of the heads. Yet these are no wild monsters—the fire is gone from their eyes, and their wings have been cruelly severed. Even the once ferocious barbs of their long tails have been surgically removed. Each manticore carries great platters on its back, and a host of distorted servants trail behind them, eager to begin serving food.

ominousfabler.jpgGranuel is upset by the undead talking heads, but manages to keep his cool for now. Each guest is given a small covered silver goblet—the PCs notice flickers of disgust and trepidation flashing on the faces of other guests. When all have been served, the Fabler stands and tells the guests of a proud Lenap tradition. One of the founders of Lenap was a desperate pilgrim who washed up on the harbor shore. He had not eaten for many weeks, and he fell upon the moors to die. As he did he saw a worm emerge from the ground, and he realized the worm was a gift from the gods that he should live—and so he devoured it. In Lenap, therefore, it has always been the tradition to start a feast with such a celabration of thanks. The Fabler bids that the guests now do the same.

hoff.jpgInside the silver goblet writhes a fat, greasy worm, its glistening flesh a nasty shade of green. Because they’ve seen Worms of the Outer Darkness before, the party members can tell immediately that this grub, while similar in appearance, is not one of these vermin. Anmor further identifies his worm as a relatively harmless green scrubgrub. Still, he’s suspicious, and questions Hoff about the Fabler’s story. Hoff says the tale is true as far as he knows; he’s had to eat worms before. So Anmor and the other PCs (at least the ones who sat down, I think) suck down their worms. The worms are surprisingly tasty, and (to everyone’s surprise) bring no ill effect once consumed.

dryad.jpgAfter the first course, the Satrap commands the Fabler to tell a tale. The Fabler clears his throat, stands upon his chair, and tells an amusing story about a dryad whose tree is unknowingly transplanted into a bitter noble’s garden, and of the delightfully ironic fate she devises for the man. When the tale is done, the Fabler bows and takes his seat, at which point the Satrap opens the floor to any other guests who may have a tale to tell. No one volunteers.

mahuudril.jpgWhile the storytelling goes on, Anmor begins a rather creepy flirtation with Mahuudril the disguised worm-monster. Although at first vaguely receptive to the dwarf’s advances, Mahuudril soon becomes suspicious. She feigns illness and excuses herself from the banquet. Invisible Ulm follows her and discovers that, as soon as she’s out of sight, she teleports away. Ulm immediately suspects that she’s going to come back with an ambush and heads back to the carriage to gather the party’s weapons.

Second Course: Four and Twenty Blackbirds
For the second course, a single domesticated manticore enters. It carries an enormous pie on a silver dish of great size strapped to its back. Pastry beaks of birds cover the pie, and as everyone watches, the crust is opened and 24 blackbirds emerge, flying around the room in terror.

Anmor recognizes that the flying blackbirds are a programmed illusion, but the birds baked into the pie are not. The blackbird pie has a delicately sugared and almond crust that tastes surprisingly good. As the pie is served, the servants bring in huge tureens of vegetables, along with plentiful supplies of a locally produced spiced white wine called Lenap Lumassina, This wine is particularly potent.

The PCs all made their saving throws against the wine’s Wisdom penalties, but the wine could be a convenient excuse for what would happen soon after…

ominousfabler.jpgAfter the second course is complete, the Satrap asks the Fabler for a song. The spriggan bows and stands on his chair again and proceeds to perform a catchy little tune on his pan pipes. And again, after his performance, Khouligan asks if anyone else at the table has a song to share. No one does.

In the palace courtyard, Ulm has reached the party’s carriage. However, he notices one of the “blessed angels” looking right at him, even though he’s invisible. So he adds some kind of fog or mist spell and, under cover of that, retrieves the party’s weapons from the carriage and scurries back into the palace, where the third course is about to be served.

Third Course: Tojbasarrirge
ominousfabler.jpgThe Fabler announces the third course as a concoction of the Satrap’s own—delectable tojbasarrirge for all! He explains that tojbasarrirge involves an entire tojanida, stuffed with numerous basilisk steaks, which are in turn stuffed with arrowhawk breasts, which are finally in turn stuffed with an entire boned stirge with three olives impaled on its proboscis. The tojbasarrirge is brought out on a huge platter slung between two manticores, upon which rests a great tojanida shell, halved and filled with a descending mass of meat.

lashonna.jpgAs this dish is being served (never to be eaten), Ulm arrives and begins slipping the party their weapons under the table, putting each of them more on edge than they already were. At some point, Anmor’s true seeing had told him that Lashonna was not a grey elf, but in truth some kind of undead silver dragon! He hadn’t bothered to alert anyone to this, but now Granuel’s dislike of this place gets the best of him and he begins detecting undead. When he realizes that Lashonna has the most powerful undead aura he’s ever detected, he cannot help but act.

Granuel shoots a searing light spell (I think, or something else that hurts undead) at Lashonna. This causes her some discomfort, but she seems more amused than injured, so Granuel does it again. When she starts to seem maybe a little annoyed, Satrap Khouligan rises from his seat to demand an explanation for Granuel’s strange actions (I think I must have decided that the spell was not obviously an attack to someone who’s not a spellcaster). In response, Kullen (and maybe also Chresin and Anmor, I don’t remember) jumps on the table, flaming greataxe in hand, to defend Granuel.

blessedangel.jpgThe whole banquet hall erupts in chaos. Most of the guests leap from their seats and flee for the exits. The more militant guests rush to defend the Satrap, who calls for his guards. A couple of Blessed Angels come flying in. The party decides discretion is the better part of valor and flees the banquet hall, covered by Ulm’s mist and fog spells. Chresin uses Regroup and Dimension Hop spells to extricate the party. The party eventually makes their way back to the half-finished mansion near the Traitors’ Graves.

So the party brought an abrupt end to the banquet, as expected. What they missed:

* Two more courses of increasingly silly foods
* The opportunity to earn a couple more “Authority Points”
* A big XP award for making it all the way to the end of the feast

I didn’t really think they’d get that last one, though they lasted longer than I expected. XP totals at the end of the session:

* Anmor 117,447
* Ulm and Chresin 115,608
* Granuel 105,983
* Kullen 112,458

Plus, they have a total of 4 authority points, which are useless until much later in the adventure path. If they live that long, now that they’ve pissed off the ruler of a city-state (and possibly his undead silver dragon advisor).

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