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Rise of the Slave Lords (5th Ed)
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Overdog



Joined: 08 Jan 2013
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The assault on the Goblin Hillfort...



Last week we left our adventurers on the periphery of a Goblin stronghold tasked with freeing the women and children of the Blackblood barbarian clan. Seeing the fort from the safety of a treeline some 200 yards away it was clear that approaching the hillfort would be difficult as the Goblins had clear cut all the cover between the forest line and the fort. The Blackblood barbarians had made a feint at the fort to draw off as many of the Goblins as they could to ensure the party would have a better chance of assaulting the Goblins. As they sat and discussed their options they could see that that fort had a wooden palisade 15 feet high and was set on a small rocky hill with little or no cover so their only option was to cloak Talgren in invisibility and have him scout out the fort. Invisible, Talgren approached the fort cautiously up wind of any possible worgs that the Goblins might have as allies. As he made his way through the dark moonlit terrain he spotted several Goblin scouts but made his way easily to the fort's wall. There he activated his boots of spider climbing and walked right up and over the wall (thoughts of how amazing these boots were and the possibilities pouring through his mind). As he entered the compound he immediately saw 3 cages full of the prisoners he was sent to rescue and 20-30 Goblins guarding the for and some raised archer platforms but most of the Goblins were milling about gambling, farting, and eating sometimes all of these at once. He also noticed a small hill in the center of the fort that was adorned with short spears with humanoids heads on it with fetishes and charms. The goblins seemed to steer clear of the mound. As he continued his scouting he found one warrior Goblin boss and one shaman Goblin boss and the main gate locked by a bar on this side. Thoughts of how to distract the Goblins running through his mind as he scaled the walls and slipped past the guards to meet back with his friends.

Their plan was to let Talgren slip back into the fort invisible and create a distraction and when the party heard the distraction he would make his way to the gate and open it. The party in position and Talgren back in the compound he looked around for ways to distract the Goblins and saw his opportunity as he looked at the sacred mound. Smiling to himself he made his way over to it and retrieved one the fetish laden spears and while still invisible raised it above his head making "scary noises". He then made the spear "float" over to one of the fire pits, the goblins scrambling to get away from it, as the one Goblin boss was yelling to get the attention of the Goblin Shaman. Talgren lit the spear on fire and intended to through the spear in a high arc to hit one of the Goblin tents but as he drew back to throw it his sweaty hand slipped and the spear went up in the air directly over his head and almost speared him. The party hearing the jeering and cries of the Goblins rushed out of the darkness to assault the fort. Sufficiently distracted, the goblins cowered away from the spear as the shaman came out of his tent to investigate. At the same time Talgren was able to open the gate to see his friends rushing towards him under a hail of goblin arrows. Talgren then fell back in an attempt to kill the Goblin leaders but as he was standing next to the sacred mound Gurgrit (the Goblin Necromancer) began chanting "Grisnak, Grishnak, Grishnak" and suddenly the mound near Talgren stirred and he saw a massive foot come out and then arms and legs and then the massive form of a Zombie Hill Giant erupt from the mound.



At this point all hell breaks loose as the Zombie Hill Giant thunders towards the party, Goblins continue to fire arrows and the rest of the compound rallies around Gurgrit to defend their home. A fireball from Maelin and the Lightning bolt from Gorstag's axe make short work of many goblins but many still remain. The fight continues as Kromm is compelled by the magic of Hordebreaker to go headlong into a group of goblins ignoring the bigger threat of the Zombie but with multiple called lighting strikes from Lucan and Gorestag and Mealin's assault the Zombie finally falls dead at the front gates. Hindered by the Sleet Storm and Rays of Enfeeblement from Gurgrit the Necromancer the party finally prevails and secures the prisoners with no lose of life on their side.

As they return to the Blackblood village they are greeted by the remaining barbarians and hailed as heroes. The chief tells them they are always welcome in their village and offers to guide them to where ever they want. They ask the chieftain if he knows anything about the slavers and he says not only does he know exactly where their keep is but one of their escaped slaves made it to his village just before they encountered the adventurers. He relayed a tale of how the slave escaped and it seemed likely they could use the same way to get into the keep as the section from which the slave escaped was all but abandoned.

Guided to the keep by Blackblood scouts the party sees the Slaver's Stockade for the first and realizes why the slavers are so secure in this savage wilderness area. The keep is over 200 feet wide, 350 feet long and 30-40 feet high and is patrolled by many Hobgoblins. They approach under the cover of night and a misty rain and make their way to the curtain wall of the keep and they still see the rope the slave used to climb down from open dark window. First up is Talgren who spider climbs up the wall and enters the dark window. Inside he sees a strange pale light at the end of the room with a swirling mist around it and the room is deathly cold. As the rest of the party makes it into the room they all notice their shadows seem to take the form of fallen warriors but they are able to control their fear as the mist forms into the form of a gaunt man with pale white lights for eyes, arms outstretched towards them. The light and mist dont seem to be moving any closer so the party leaves the room through a door trying to find a way to get deeper into the keep. In the next room they find skeletal remains of someone and Talgrens thinks that these might be the remains of the apparition in the other room and offers them to it. Instead of releasing the spirit as he thought, it tries to posses Talgren who manages to resist it. After a smite from the paladin and few eldritch blasts from the Warlock the entity dissipates for a short time but begins to reform.

The party quickly leaves the area and finds a bricked up stairway leading down that has been broken through by the escaped slave. They stand there pondering their purpose here and press bravely on, very Sir Robin like.




Last edited by Overdog on Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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Overdog



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After their encounter with the haunt they have two options to go up the stairs to the parapets of the outer keep that is assuredly manned by hobgoblins or down through the broken bricked up stairway that seems to lead to the inner courtyard of the stronghold. They decide to proceed down and into the main courtyard under the cover of night and rain. As they survey the courtyard they see a single entrance to the inner keep has a mass of churned earth in front of it that Lucan thinks might have been created by some subterranean creature. They then decide to avoid that area and they quietly take one of the ladders in the courtyard (presumably used by the goblins to reach the ramparts of the outer keep to avoid the haunt) to climb up to the one of the watch towers of the main keep. Talgren takes the lead and stealthily makes his way up to the watch tower and surprises two hobgoblin guards manning heavy arbalests. As the fight continues the guards from the adjacent tower fire their heavy arbalest narrowing missing Talgren. After reaching the top of the ladder Maelin summons powers better left undisturbed and a writing darkness engulfs the hobgoblins on the other guard tower and muffled screams from the hobgoblins can be heard and Talgren sees one of the hobgoblins trying to claw his way over the tower only to be ensnared by black tentacles and ripped in half. The last remaining hobgoblin looks in terror at this (and so does the rest of the party) and retreats from the party and drops down a trap door in the floor of the tower. The party follows only to be surrounded by no less than 16 well armed hobgoblins but they win the desperate battle through practiced teamwork.

As they are about to make their way along the parapets of the inner keep they notice a black rat watching them from a windowsill who seems to be staring intently at Maelin who seems entranced by the creature. After a few moments Maelin explains that this rat's name is Vex and he was a former familiar of the keeps master a wizard named Markessa. He tells them that she forsook her life long companion in return for a dark pact with a demon and Vex wants her to pay for her betrayal. He volunteers to lead the group through the keep following the quickest route if they agree to kill her. After much deliberation they agree and take Vex's lead. In the meantime Maelin ponders the secret agreement he made with the "rat" telepathically and wonders what price he will have pay for forsaking his patron, Yerraz the god of slaughter in order to pledge himself to Vex's true master.



As Vex leads them safely through the stockade they approach a mess hall where Vex telepathically tells Maelin to let the others lead. As they open the door they are confronted by 6 Hobgoblins, two savage looking barbarians who transform before their eyes in bipedal Man Boars and an imposing figure in full platemail, greatsword in hand (apparently not surprised to "see" them) whose black helmet completely covers his eyes and face.



As the battle rages on the party appears to be in a dire situation because this warrior (Icar) is beyond any martial foe they have faced before and even the might of the half-orc barbarian and paladin are beat back by his skill with a blade. In desperation Kromm calls upon his extra planar ally and summons the Moon Dog "Razzix" to his side. A heartbeat later a gate opens up and Razzix appears and lets loose a howl that fears all the enemies in the room including Icar. In short time they dispatch the enemies and take a short break while they search Icar's personal chambers. In the room they find only mundane items of the warrior but find a locked door that Talgren opens only to find a deadly surprise. A snake headed woman chained in small room guarding a large iron chest.



Vex warns Maelin of this creature and bids him to turn his gaze from the creature and Maelin tells the party to follow his example. This saves all but Talgren from the stony gaze of the Medusa who isnt fast enough and is sadly permanently turned to stone. As the battle rages on the party tries their best to fight the Medusa without gazing upon it and it nearly fells the barbarian with its poison before being smited, burned, and blasted with force bolts to death. As they lament over Talgren they desperately search through the treasure horde of Icar and find several magic items including a ring of warmth an amulet of proof against poison and many scrolls and potions among them a scroll of resurrection. They theorize that if they destroyed Talgrens statue they might be able to use the scroll to resurrect him but decide against it since none in the party could use the scroll. With heavy hearts they move on after locating a secret tunnel under Icar's bed into the lower dungeons. As they are proceeding down the ladder Maelin touches one of the rungs that is coated with sleep poison and starts falling down the 60 foot shaft but luckily Gorestag catches him on his way down and Maelin is jarred awake. As Gorestag continues down Maelin starts back up the shaft only to grab another poisoned rung and this time with no Gorestag to catch him he plummets 60 feet to the bottom of the shaft. "chuckles erupt around the table"

Assuming this secret way is secure the party spends the night in Icar's secret passage and recover their strength before proceeding to their encounter with Markesssa.



Again following Vex's lead they enter Markessa's laboratory and inside the massive cathedral like room they see a human abomination on an operating table that has been grafted with a claw like appendage and another table with a humanoid dragon like creature strapped down. They dont immediately see Markessa as they are assaulted by 9 Elite Goblin Archers and 2 Owlbears. As they enter the room the dragon like creature calls out warnings in perfect common as the fight begins. The Goblin Archers are on a balcony 20 feet high and they pepper the party as the Owlbears ravage them. As Maelin enters the room Vex whispers that Markessa can blend into the shadows and become invisible and Maelin immediately spots her with his Devil Sight and alerts the party. The battle rages on for some time and Markessa proves to be a powerful fighter warlock wielding a greatsword nearly dropping the barbarian with the help of her goblins. Kromm frees the dragonman and it joins the battle wading through the goblin archers with ease but suffering grievous wounds in the process as he is fighting without his armor. In the end the party prevails and they are introduced to Helvor Baneblade a Dragonkin who was experimented on and created by some dark wizard many years ago. He was purchased by the Bandit King Aurelius Immendar many years ago as an indentured warrior but recently had finished his service. The Bandit King asked him for one more favor which was to help pay a debt he owned to the adventurers who freed his brother from the slave pits of the undercity and he sent Helvor to join the party at the Slave Lords Stockade. Unfortunately Helvor was captured trying to find the party but luckily they found him before Markessa started her experiments on him.


TBC...


Last edited by Overdog on Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:40 am; edited 1 time in total
Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:00 am View user's profile Send private message
Iguana



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Wow Jeff - I just noticed this! Very impressive - you're a madman! I wish I had time to do more blogging about our games like this but it can be very time consuming and I've got too much going on at the moment to do it. Cool Wink

Is this a 5th Ed series of modules or did you port it over from the original or something?

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From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
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Rhollo



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I second the "Wow Jeff", this is awesome.

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Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:45 pm View user's profile Send private message
Overdog



Joined: 08 Jan 2013
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Iguana wrote:
Wow Jeff - I just noticed this! Very impressive - you're a madman! I wish I had time to do more blogging about our games like this but it can be very time consuming and I've got too much going on at the moment to do it. Cool Wink

Is this a 5th Ed series of modules or did you port it over from the original or something?


Thanks guys. This is a combination of homebrew (50%) and a tweaked A1-A4 Scourge of the Slave Lords I am running in 5th Ed.
Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:41 pm View user's profile Send private message
Overdog



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As the party rests in the laboratory of Markessa they decide to look around for valuables and find several things. First they find an alchemical lab laden with strange elixers and concoctions from a small vat of acid, to well preserved body parts of many different types of humanoids and a strange pair of metallic gauntlets that appear to be Adamantite. It looks like the tips of the fingers are razor sharp and are coated with blood and they appear to be some sort of surgical instrument that Markessa used on her victims. They also notice that after they were finished looking around it seems that the body of Markessa was disturbed and her eyes had been ripped out by some unknown force. They all remember her eyes being intact when they killed her so suspicions rise as to the cause. Rolled up in the back of an unobtrusive book they also find several documents that include merchant slavers names, a list of captives, and a caravan map to some stronghold in the mountains to the north. Soon after they decide to carry on while Maelin stays to study Markessa's notes and recover his strength.

As they exit the far door in the room they see a large junction of passage ways with many doors and as they are approaching one it opens before them a 7 foot tall human with gaunt features staring back at them and he says "so who is this I see here, buyers or are you the trouble makers that have been plaguing the slaver lords?". Gorestag bark back at him "we are here to kill any slave lords." The tall figure looks them over thoughtfully and sees the open door to Markessa's lab and says "I am assuming you slew Markessa and are here to free the slaves." Kromm looks at the figure as says "are you a slave lord?". The man only laughs and says "no, I am but an adviser to them but I am allied with." Gorestag says "tell us where the slaves are and we will kill you quickly." The figure laughs and says "I tell you what, I assume you looted Markessa so I am assuming you have some valuable items on you. If you pay me 3000 gold I will show you where the slaves are being held and leave you to your business." After some not so quiet debate where Gorestag says "lets pay him the gold and then when we get the slaves we kill him." The man obviously hearing this just laughs quietly to himself. They agree and after the figure takes the gold he leans in close to Gorestag and says "I would like to see you try and kill me tiny." This sends the barbarian into a rage and he goes for his axe. A moment later the tall man is replaced by a 12 foot tall blue skinned giant who proceeds to unleash a Cone of Cold at the group. Luckily Gorestag's ring of warmth allows him to shrug off much of the damage but Lucan and Kromm were not so lucky. As the blast is about to hit Lucan full on Kromm manages to slam him to the side allowing him to avoid much of the freezing blast. As the fight rages on the creature (later to be identified as an Ogre Mage) is assaulted with many seemingly mortal wounds only to have the wounds heal up. But alas in the end the concentrated attacks of the 3 are too much for even an Ogre Mage and he falls dead.



They decide to take a short rest in the hallway only to be immediately interrupted by a pair of men coming out of a another door who immediately convulse and turn into bipedal wolves and attack the party. The werewolves end up being more than match for the party as the werewolves tear into the them. Several of the group are bitten by the slavering maws of the creatures and as they finally dispatch the monsters they all wonder if any of them are infected. Realizing there isnt much they could do at this point they continue on. After listening at the door the Ogre Mage pointed to they hear whips cracking and cries and moans. Lucan transforms into a small mouse and slips under the door to see many cages filled with nearly a 100 slaves guarded by hobgoblins and gnolls. He comes out to the party and Gorestags uses his speak with animals ritual to find out what Lucan saw and they plan to have Lucan move back in and get into one of the cages and casts spells from the relative safety of the cages. This works well as the party slaughters the overseers of the slaves but the last two hobgoblins point their longbows at a cage of children and tell the party to drop their weapons or they will the children. After Kromm intimidates them they hesitate long enough for the fighters to engage them but not before one of the hobgoblins fires and hits one of the children who falls unconscious. After slaying the hobgoblins Lucan manages to get a heal on the child who awakes and thanks him. The child seems to be very well spoken and well groomed for a slave and tells them he is the son of a very powerful lord in Karnish and asks for Lucan's name and tells him he will be richly rewarded. As the party looks around the slave pens they see humans, dwarves, barbarians, halflings, men and women and children and some very hot scantily garbed female elves.



After they stop drooling over the elves one of the slaves tells them that he heard the overseers talking about an exit on this level where they meet up with caravans from the underdark. They gather up the slaves and proceed to scout ahead hoping to find this exit. Soon with Gorestag in the lead they come upon a cavern with two large wagons being pulled by subterranean lizards and 5 drow (4 male drow warriors and a drow high priestess). Gorestag unleashes the lightning bolt from the Black Cleaver and slays one of the Dark Elf Warriors but they others survive. Gorestag is then peppered with drow hand crossbows and is poisoned while the Scourge wielding dark elf priestess summons two giant spiders to attack Gorestag. Lucan and Kromm rush to his aid and Lucan entangles the drow fighters and Gorestag. The priestess seeing her opportunity rushes up and flays the skin off of Gorestag with her scourge which oozes an acidic poison. A second hit and Gorestag is barely on his feet as Kromm rushes to his side to bear some of the brunt of the Priestesses vicious attacks. In the end it was Lucan and his Spider Staff that saved the party from death or worse being captured by the Drow. He was able to invoke the power of the staff and hold the priestess no less than 3 times as Gorestag and Kromm assaulted her immobilized form. In the end it was the Giant Spider that Lucan summoned that killed her. After gathering up the Drow gear and wagons they finally make it out of the complex into a peaceful glade and lead the slaves on the long trek to NyKruKru to meet with their allies. The players level to 7th finally and are giddy with power.



So ends A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade...Epilogue coming soon...


Last edited by Overdog on Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:38 am; edited 1 time in total
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Overdog



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And so begins A3: Assault of the Aerie of the Slave Lords.

Enter Darius Immendar...brother of the Bandit King of Nyrkrukru and former slave of Highport.

As Darius stands on the rain soaked and wind swept deck of the Red Fist he looks westward toward the coast, his fist clenched on the wet deck railing. Lost in his own musings he doesn't notice his brother approach and tenses as Aurelius puts his hand on his brother's shoulder. "Why so tense brother, you are freed from your captivity and we are heading home to Nyrkrukru?" Aurelius exclaims. Darius, without looking back to his brother, simply states "those slavers must pay, brother. They tried to break me and when they couldn't they tortured and butchered my men before my eyes. If not for sheer luck and those adventurers from Taran, I would surely be dead or worse." Aurelius stares at his brother for a minute and says "you know I would not have left you in there, we would have sieged that temple and fought our way to you." After giving his brother a sidelong glance Darius says "but at what cost?" "I cannot help but think about how many others these slave lords have hurt. I cant just stand by and let them continue their marauding, they must pay and pay dearly." Aurelius forcibly turns his brother to face him "Do you want me to send my army to destroy them? You know I cannot risk the safety of Nyrkrukru, especially with the rumors of the war in Karnish and the infernal denizens that stalk our lands." Darius stares at his brother intently and says "Of course not but I cannot stand by and let them go unpunished I must go and do what I can to stop them." "Alone?" Aurelius states. Darius says, "No, if I can track down the Taranians I can work with them to stop the slave lords. They were obviously powerful enough to do what we could not in Highport." Aurelius visibly bristles at this comment and says "Fine, I know I wont be able to change your mind but you wont go alone take Caelus and his hunters. They should be able to track the Taranians." With that Aurelius waves his hand the preparations begin. Within a few hours Darius, Caelus and the other 3 hunters are rowing one of the Red Fist's longboats hard against the wind and rain heading towards the Untamed Lands, the Red Fist's crimson sails fading in distance.



Far away in Suderham valley, Stalman Klim stands on the balcony of his tower in Drachen Keep. From here he can see the whole valley, the farms, the city of Suderdam, the extinct volcano, all of it slipping from his grasp. As impenetrable as this base was there are always dangers that lurk in the shadows. His control over the slave lords inner council of 9 was tenuous at best and Edralve, that drow whore was making it harder every day. He knew she had other plans in the works and that the other slave lords believed their success hinged on bolstering the slave lord army and therefor on her "relationship" the giants. Not only keeping the giants in line but using them to continue the slave lords plans for dominion. He had plans of his own and they didnt include allying with the giants or the Drow. His forces were strong but against any real army they would not stand a chance which is why his plot to take control over Taran was so critical. If Esmardin Blackwell kept to his word, he would have the military might of the army of Taran at his disposal and then nothing could stop him and he wouldnt need the Drow or the giants. In the meantime he needed to find a way to rid himself of Edralve without raising too much suspicion and from the reports of the sacking of the Slaver Stockade he had the perfect plan but he needed to set things in motion quickly and quietly. They would be here soon.




Last edited by Overdog on Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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Overdog



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Edara standing in front of the knight's tomb for hours is still unsure how to break the magical seal protecting the fallen knight’s sarcophagus. Ever since they had discovered the tomb in these ancient ruins her mandate was to retrieve the magical items buried with Lord Kreegar. It was said that before his fall and the murder of his family he bore some potent items of power and Edara's master wanted those items. Suddenly she is awakened from her thoughts by Tredelle, her lieutenant, bowing he says "Mistress Edralve seeks an audience with you mighty one." Edara, knowing Edralve was not patient, skitters past Tredelle and makes all haste to the camp. As she approaches the camp she sees Edralve's smokey form turn towards her above the camp fire as it says in a commanding tone "Report!" Edara quickly replies saying "We still have not breached the sarcophagus." The smoky form grows menacingly large and says "Enough of that for now. Markessa has been slain by interlopers, the same ones who raided the temple in Highport we believe. They must be stopped at all costs. I fear that Klim is planning something behind my back and somehow it has to do with them. Go to the Stockade and find out what you can and report back." "Of course mistress, I will not fail you", Edara states confidently.

Days later Edara is standing on the ridge line leading into the caves underneath the Slavers Stockade below her she sees her prey along with a train of slaves, her master’s slaves in tow. Her shock at seeing Nezznar the Spider Staff in the hands of a traitorous Wood Elf makes her take a step back and as she does one of clawed legs pierces a fallen log with a crunch. She stands perfectly still but that foul Wood Elf’s head snaps up towards her as does an imposing human barbarian and both of them spring into action. The barbarian climbing the cliff towards her and the Wood Elf invoking the power of the Spider Staff as green smoke pours from the obsidian spider at the top of the staff to take the form of a large black hunting spider with tack and harness. The elf springs into the saddle and commands the spider to climb the cliff towards her position. The heresy of a surface elf commanding the power of the noble bloodline of house Shh’Starm Nasadra almost sends Edara into a rage but she calms herself knowing that the only way to defeat this prey is to divide and conquer and she knows just how to do it her gaze settling on the one the barbarian called Caelus an evil grin crossing her jet black flawless face. With arcane invocation she cloaks herself in invisibility and darts through the trees her massive spider form easily navigating the dense forest. At times she curses Edralve for transforming her into this monstrosity but at other times she is thankful she is still alive and this form does have its advantages. It was her punishment for allowing the death of Edralve’s sibling and the loss of their hereditary heirloom Nezznar, the Spider Staff. Now she could redeem herself and she would soon be feasting on Wood Elf heart and present the staff as a prize to her mistress. Her pursuers easily evaded Edara made her way back to the Stockade and found her first victims a trail of slaves led by the one they called Caelus and a handful of other soldiers not much of a match for her power but just in case she rendezvoused with Tredelle and his scouts and set out to deal with the slaves and Caelus.



As the party continues to follow to remnants of an old forgotten stone road that leads them deeper into the wilds of The Untamed Lands the path widens as it makes its way through the hardwoods and cottonwoods of the region. Suddenly, Lucan holds up a hand to command the party to stop as he peers through the dense trees only to see a massive humanoid face with a dull look on its face watching them through the trees. It’s face turning to hatred and rage as it sees the party he yells out “Bigun, NOW!!” From the far side of the trail the party hears another booming voice reply, “You got it Biggot!!” Then suddenly two boulders about 3 feet wide come sailing over the treetops. The first one misses everyone sailing past their heads and shattering a tree behind them but the second one slams into Kromm’s chest knocking him down, the crunch of ribs shattering and the air from this lungs escaping his mouth the only sound he makes. If not for the ancient plate armor Dragonsguard he would have surely been dead. At this the party springs into motion, Merrick calling upon his Shadow Monk training stepping into the deep shadows of the forest and transports himself from that shadow to 60 feet away to another shadow near the monstrous humanoid. As he looks up he sees the massive creature (a hill giant) standing 12 feet tall weighing easily a 1000 lbs. and looks for a weak spot. His eyes immediately see a weak spot (one all men have) under his loin cloth and focuses his chi and strikes the Hill Giant in the jumblies, and audible “woof” coming from the giant as he bends over in pain. The rest of the party arrives to dispatch the stunned giant as the second one approaches to help his brother. After another sack shot that one falls to the blades and spells of the party.



A few days later as the party continues their journey to the Slave Lords stronghold they see the mountains looming above in the distance as the tree lines change from deciduous to coniferous as massive pine trees replace the oaks and maples and the undergrowth of the forest thins out considerably replaced with low shrubs and rocky soil. The path changing from intermittent rocky road to forest trails, several times the party became lost only to get back on the trail with the help of the druid the two barbarians. In addition, food seems to be scarce but water is plentiful but with the Druids help they are sustained with magical berries during their journey. As they bed down for the night in a rocky outcropping Darius and Kromm take first watch. Most of their watch goes by uneventfully until Darius catches a glimpse of something shining illuminated by the moonlight hanging from a tree nearby. As he approaches it cautiously he sees it’s a necklace with Troll Boar teeth. He freezes in horror as he realizes it’s his best friends (Caelus) necklace and it’s covered in blood. He cries out in rage and rouses the party and they set out to track whomever or whatever left this grisly message. As they make their way through the rocky terrain an hour later they come upon a small hill in the middle of nowhere on top of which stands the barely visible remnants of a long forgotten keep, only the foundation still visible. As they get closer an unspeakable horror confronts them in the form of dead slaves and Darius’s friend Caelus. All of them with arms and legs severed and their rib cages splayed open and split and stuck into the ground giving them the appearance of bloody gruesome spiders, with their ribs cages simulating the spider’s legs. Merrick recalls a master of his describing this as a torture that priestesses of Lloth the Spider Queen did called “True Legging”. This is too much for Darius and he pushes past the carnage to see an entrance into an underground tomb and blindly rushes in.


Last edited by Overdog on Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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Overdog



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Upon entering the tomb, Darius beyond reasoning at seeing the gruesome death of his life long friend, rushes headlong into a maze of traps designed to slay interlopers and grave robbers. They trigger hidden magical glyphs on the floor and are assailed by poison and fire traps but manage to make their way through without any deaths. As they round the final turn they see a long dark hallway. Ten massive stone sarcophagi, five on each wall, line this crypt. The sarcophagi are granite and contain relief images of human warriors in plate armor. To the east, the crypt opens into a higher, wider area from which a starry glow emanates casting the shadowy form of a dragon on the floor.

Silvery-white light from above suffuses this wide section of the crypt. A dome above the area depicts a fantastic, regal dragon with silver scales in flight across an endless sky. An altar stands on either side of the area, inscribed with elaborate script. Relief images of soldiers in plate armor on their knees in prayer appear on the walls behind each altar.

On each sarcophagus is written in draconic.

“The Platinum Dragon is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. He is my stronghold, my refuge, and my armor against the foes of life—I need only kneel and offer him my praise.”

As the characters stand in awe at this magnificent tomb they are beset upon by hidden drow as the twang of hand crossbow bolts sing down the passageway. As the drow attack them the door at far end of the crypt opens up and a bolt of lightning streaks down the hallway seriously injuring some of the party. As they finish off the drow an Ice Storm slams into the party as they realize their final foe is an invisible spell caster of some sort. Lucan manages to disrupt the invisibility with a Dispel Magic and they are confronted with the horror of a half spider half drow female...a Drider. The fight continues on some time as the Driders massive form is able to absorb much of the fury of the party but in the end she falls to their might.

As she dies they notice the raised dais in the room beyond and in this old crypt holds a single coffin. Carved on the lid of the coffin is a warrior in plate armor with a sword laid across his chest, the point toward his feet. They sense very powerful magic inside but are unable to breach the coffin. They suspect that the Drider was also trying to obtain what was contained inside. As Gorestag is inspecting the coffin his hand runs over the inlay on the lid and suddenly the heavy coffin lid explodes in a flurry of dust. A humanoid skeleton girded in plate armor rises from the cloud. Its breastplate is emblazoned with a stylized dragon’s head, the symbol of the god Bahamut the Platinum Dragon. In it's hands it holds a massive bastard sword that appears to be composed of a smokey quartz like substance the pommel and hilt once pristine platinum now tarnished and dull and 3 diamonds are inland in the handle that have long since lost their luster.



At that it's voice booms "State your intentions, or prepare to die." They ask the creature who it is and what is guarding and it states "“I am Sir Keegan. I was commander here in Nightfall Keep. When I was alive a madness overcame me. I was possessed! In a rage, I drew my sword and slew my wife and children. From that bloody deed I moved outward, attacking my captains, one by one, killing them even as they stared in shock. I had become a murderous fiend! Finally the alarm went up, and what remained of the legion banded together against me. Even in my rage, I knew I couldn’t best them all, so I fled into the crypts to hide from vengeance and only then did the madness lift. I realized what I had done and despaired. I had killed my love and broken my oath. More than that, I had done so with my sword, Aecris, an implement given to me by King when I was knighted. The remnants of my legion sealed the passage and trapped me here. I selected this as a fitting place to spend eternity.” With the characters ask if there is anything they do for him. He replies “I am past redemption. But perhaps I can grant you aid. I cannot leave this crypt, but Aecris can. Perhaps this once elegant weapon, unlike me, can be redeemed. I give it to you that you might cleanse the blade and allow it to again fight against the darkness of this world. Bath it in the blood of a high priest of a dark god and then seek Bahamut’s boon at the altars outside and perhaps he will restore it to it's former glory.” With that they he gives the blade to Darius and they rest and continue on their hunt of the slave lords.

Days later they finally break through the forested highlands and enter a secluded valley, before them looms the massive granite walls that they suspect hides the stronghold of the slave lords but the many campfires that liter the valley floor pose a problem they must first overcome. Lucan transforms himself into a small dog and scouts out one of the camps and finds 2 dozen Bugbears and makes a hasty retreat back to the group. They suspect the other campfires are similarly inhabited and they discuss ways of bypassing them. Merrick suggests that he cloak the party in an obscuring spell that will not only make them difficult to detect but they wont be able to be tracked. With that are able to bypass the patrols and camps but as they pass them they hear something(s) massive making their way through the forest. Stone giants – 8 men, 4 women and 6 children loaded for travel carrying their supplies on their massive stony backs. The party decides to try and talk to them and they find out that the giants are leaving the area for fear of the dark creatures they have seen in their mountain caves. They are aloof and cautious but suspicious. They do not attack immediately and their leader says “Manlings I am Grazzcyk, speaker for the Brotherhood of Granite, there are forces that are moving today and beyond. Fear what will come. We will mind our women and children. You are wise to do the same thing. Someday we may meet again." When asked if they know of a way into the slave lords aerie they tell the party of a secret entrance in the mountain wall but it is guarded. The party thanks Grazzcyk and his clan and forage forward to find the secret entrance. They find the passage and follow it for a mile where it ends when suddenly the floor of the cave drops out beneath their feet and they slide down a stone shaft in the lair of awaiting Gnolls and Hyenadons.


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Overdog



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As the party gathers themselves up from the long slide down the stone chute they immediately spring into action as they are faced with 4 massive Hyenadons the size of draft horses and about 18 Gnolls with readied longbows behind barricades. It appears the party is not the first interlopers that have fallen down the chute trap. The group splits up tries to divide and conquer the gnolls superior position. Maelin starts off the party with a well placed fireball that vaporizes half of the gnoll forces as the Hyenadons move in for kill. The fight is quick and decisive and the party moves on with confidence in their stride. As they travel down passageway they are confronted with a heavy stone door that is locked. Merrick successfully unlocks the door with thieve's tools as everyone gives him the stink eye and checks all their gold pouches they door is swung open. Inside they see a very narrow stone bridge (12" wide) that crosses a long room. Bisecting the bridge from wall to wall is a sheet of blue lightning and they also notice stairs leading down to a pool of white bubbling goop that covers the entire floor of the room. As they study the sheet of lightning Merrick shoots an arrow through it and it harmless passes through and strikes the far side of the room near another exit door to the room. Lucan casts detect magic and discerns that lightning is magical and attempts to dispel it. It is successful and he urges the group to hurry across the bridge. Merrick darts across and inspects the far door as the others proceed. Lucan summons and mounts his Giant Spider from his staff and rides it across the wall to safety on the other side. The rest of the group is all lined on the bridge with Kromm and Gorestag tied together in case one falls and just as they start to move Gorestag bends down to tie his shoes for some reason and Kromm bumps him and Gorestag goes spiraling off the bridge towards the goo. Kromm manages to brace himself in time and grabs the rope secured between them and stops Gorestags fall right above the goo. He climbs back up and they see the lightning wall reform only inches from them. Lucan with a sigh of exasperation dispels the field a second time and the party barely manages to get past it before it reforms.

The tunnel winds through the mountains another half a mile or so until the passageway opens up into a large cavern with no apparent way out. The cavern is 40-60 feet high and is riddled with stalactites and stalagmites. As they move in one of the stalactites falls from the ceiling and almost tears Kromm's arm off and as it hits the floor they realize it is some sort of creature...a Piercer. Then all hell breaks loose as one of the largest stalagmite formations on the floor comes to life and they see a massive stony looking monstrosity with a single massive eye, a maw of razor teeth and flailing tentacles...A Stroper.



Suddenly the Stroper's tentacled lash out and snag Gorestag and Merrick and drag them underneath the other concealed piercers in the room inflicting heavy damage. In addition the Stroper injects a vile poison into them.



Merrick's monk training allowed him to purge the poison but Gorestag fell victim to it and was under the control of the Stroper. As Kromm moves to engage the monstrosity he is subjected to another Piercer and is critically injured. The fight draws on as the party deals with a charmed Gorestag, the Stroper and the Piercers. The battle was won but just barely. From the remains of the Stroper they find a secret passage underneath its mass in addition to some precious gems including a Gem of Seeing.



They make their way down the hole and rest a day to recover their resources.


Last edited by Overdog on Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:34 am; edited 1 time in total
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Overdog



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After their recovery they press on for another half a mile until they reach another stone door. This time they cannot pick it or force it open and they are forced to batter it down with their magical weapons. This takes the better part of an hour and when they open the door they are faced with a massive 100' x 70' room with 4 rows of pillars, 2 on each side of the room and at the far end of the room is massive bronze throne and sitting upon it is a 12' tall emaciated gnoll with eyes that glow like amber and bearing a huge 7' long 3 headed flail. To the right of the throne are six tall Gnolls with Halberds and to the left are six leering ghouls. As the party moves into the room a burst of multi-hued lights erupt all around them are temporarily dazzled by the lights but press on. Maelin, to his shock, says this creature looks like an incarnation of the gnoll god Yeenoghu and advises caution and then shakes his head as Gorestag runs headlong at the creature. He is immediately met by the gnolls and ghouls and is quickly surrounded. Maelin throws a fireball in the back ranks and kills all the ghouls and realizes they were illusions and suspects the gnolls are too but Gorestag thinks they are real and takes psychic damage from the phantasmal forces evoked from the spell. As the other members move up they are immediately aware of real gnolls hiding among the pillars including a Fang of Yeenoghu which are very real. Lucan summons a pack of 8 wolves and sets them upon the gnolls as the Avatar of Yeenoghu opens a gate behind Lucan out comes an old enemy long since dead, Venomfang the green dragon. Lucan is terrified and moves away from the beast ready to bolt at any moment. No one else sees this new threat but Lucan just points and yells "it's Venomfang, cant you see him, we are all doomed". Gorestag still beset by illusionary gnolls and a very real Fang of Yeenoghu fights for his life but manages to slay the fiendish creature. Kromm presses up with a Misty Step spell right in front the Gnoll Giant and smites the beast several times. The Avatar of Yeenoghu rushes past him and Gorestag to attack Maelin and Lucan as Kromm hears unseen footfalls moving away from him. Lucan finally shakes off the Phantasmal Killer spell and the rest of the party focus on the Avatar while the wolves finish off most of the Gnolls. As they bear down on the Avatar none seem to be able to hit it and finally it laughs at them says it will see them soon and disappears. Confused and wounded the party searches the room but initially find no other exits. Kromm manages to located a secret door and Mealin finds a key under the throne to the secret door. Lucan casts detect magic and alerts the party that the throne is emanating very powerful magic. Mealin sits on it and feels illusionary magic focused into him. They discuss destroying the throne but they are unsure if there will be a magical backlash and they instead go through the secret door.



After another half a mile they finally exit out into a forested glen. As they scout the area they find that they are on an island in a lake that is in the crater of a massive extinct volcano. Before them see they a shanty town sprawled around a fortified city of steel and stone. Walls 30 feet high, guard towers 50 feet tall patrolled by heavily armored humanoids. On the other side of the lake they see tracts of farmlands and a ferry from the other side to this island. They also see a stone fortification near one of the cliff walls that seems to be letting caravans through into the valley. They decide to recon the shanty town and as they are walking through the town they are actively avoided by the townsfolk except for one man sitting on a porch with a dirty leather smock widdling away.



He tells him his name is Oric and he appears to 40 but looks like he is 60 with many battle scars. He sees a patrol coming and ushers the party into his humble home. He offers them remarkably good brandy (which Kromm scoffs down hungrily) and tells them he was once a sergeant in the self styled king of this region, Olarek the Mighty. Sudderham (the fortified city) was once only a small fortress before the Slave Lords and their humanoid allies besieged it and slew the king, his skull still adorning the outer wall of the city. They enslaved those they captured many of whom are now common workers for the slave lords and started building the city proper. When asked about the city he tells them the only way in is if you have proper papers and only the slave lords or their vassals have them. But some times slave caravans or slave merchants come into the town and they will usually have papers also. He says the people of "Scumslum" will not interfere if they decide to waylay a slave merchant. He also tells them that "the Nine", the slave lords, have a citadel in the city but no one has ever seen them leave or enter but the slave lords do appear from time to time in the city to make their presence known but usually only one at a time. He says if they can get into the city an old war buddy of his named Ciro maybe able to help them. He is now a one legged beggar but he is tolerated in the city.

The next evening they set out when they are alerted to a merchant slaver that is coming through the town. They setup an ambush and they see 10 soldiers wearing loose fitting robes and wielding scimitars and a veiled litter being carried by 6 slaves. Maelin starts off the combat by dropping the Hunger of Hadar, a spell that opens a gateway to the dark between the stars, a region infested with unknown horrors. A sphere of blackness and bitter cold appears. centered on the litter and is filled with a cacophony of soft whispers and slurping noises as it tears those inside it to pieces. Lucan casts a spell of confusion on the remaining guards who in their mentally clouded state wander into the cloud and get devoured. When the mist clears everyone is pleased and horrified as they recover the belongings of the slaver merchants, which includes the proper papers.


Last edited by Overdog on Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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Overdog



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The next day the party discusses how they will infiltrate the city. The final plan ends up being as follows:

1. Kromm will take lead as the "face" of the party and will not disguise himself.
2. Gorestag and Darius will appear as his guards, undisguised.
3. Lucan will transform into a mangy dog being led by Kromm
4. Merrick will use his freakish monk abilities to shadow port to a shadowy section of the wall and stealth over and meet them at a predetermined part of the city.

As they approach the city they see the entrance to the walled city of the Slave Lords. A massive archway guarded by a huge iron double door (now open) and a raised portcullis and flanked on either side by 50 tall stone guard towers. At the far end of the gateway is a lowered portcullis with two heavily armed men on sentry duty standing before it. Beside each sentry is a smaller door one, set into each side of the gateway. They are stopped and asked for their permits to enter the city as a dozen soldiers on the wall with heavy crossbows look on. Kromm hands them their papers as they admire his Dragonguard armor and ask them where the rest of their party is? The papers indicate they should have 10 guards and 6 slaves. Kromm convinces them that Stone Giants attacked them in the pass and their current group are the only ones who survived. The guard nods knowingly and calls for the doors to be opened and allows them to enter. As they pass through the main gate and take their first steps into the city they notice that the streets are relatively empty with most shops closed and the main thoroughfare ahead them is dominated by some great coliseum over 100 feet wide and 50 feet high. They decide to skirt around the edge of the city to meet up with Merrick.



*cut to a group of rakes standing idly outside "The Wild Cat" a house of ill repute*

Zedar looks to his left as he notices some merchants coming around the corner of the street. A strange lot they seem and armed to the teeth, and suddenly his eyes are locked on a half orc carrying a blacksteel battle axe that is crackling with electricity. Zedar turns to Illick as he fingers his longsword and says "hey look over there, now those are some nice juicy newcomers, and that axe, I must have it." Illick turns to Zadar (the groups leader) and says "I dont know, they look pretty rough." Zadar snaps a dangerous look back to him says "not as dangerous as I will be if you dont follow my lead." Illick turns pale and only nods. Zadar steps up and looks menacingly as the half orc carrying Zadar's new axe gives him a dark stare back and says "go ahead and try it, the last thing you see will be my axe in your forehead." Zadar pauses at this as the other Half Orc leading a dog says "Friend, we dont want any trouble, we are simply here to buy slaves and be on our way." His tone was cordial but with undertones of menace barely below the surface. Zadar, knowing the slave lords would not take kindly to losing money if these slave merchants were killed thinks better of the confrontation and steps back begrudgingly. Gorestag says with a grunt "I thought so." The entire time another member of rakes party, Denarim, quietly watches the party as they pass by. He was payed well to keep an eye out for anything suspicious especially any groups entering the city that seemed out of place and this group certainly fit the bill. As the players continue down the street Zedar and his lackeys head back into the tavern for some nights and revelry but Denarim hangs back and slips into the shadows and follows the party. As he keeps to the darkest points on the street he sees the group meet up with another cloaked figure and continue on down the street. They seem to be looking for something or someone and he shadows them as they turn the corner towards the Thieves Quarter. He is about 60 feet from the turn when he sees a flash of blue light around the bend and hears the crack of lightning, screams of pain, and the splintering of wood. He doubles his pace and peers around the corner and sees the group fighting a guard patrol. Already 5 guards lie smote on the grounds their smouldering bodies splayed open by what he can only assume was the source of the bolt of lightning he heard. He stays where he is and watches quietly. Suddenly the mangy dogs transforms into the form of an elf bearing an obsidian staff with a massive spider on the top with green fumes leaking out of the spiders mouth. The elf looks around intently as if looking for onlookers (but doesnt see Denarim from his vantage point) and points the staff at a fleeing guard and the guard is encased in spectral webs and is held fast. The rest of the guards are easily dispatched and the party runs deeper into the Thieves District a wall of impenetrable darkness masking their escape. Denarim steps back around the corner and thinks to himself that is a good thing that Zadar didnt tangle with this group or he would have quickly met a similar end as they dispatched the 10 guards with ease. Then a grin comes across his face as realizes that this information could bring him some nice coin and he heads away in a dash to meet with his agent of the slave lords.


As the party races away from the destruction and carnage of slaying the guard patrol they run deeper in to the Thieves District trying to elude more guard patrols. As they enter a long wide street they see several Inns and Taverns bustling with activity and one establishment with blacked out windows and three red roses painted on a plaque above the door, assuming that this is another den of ill repute they quickly make their way inside and are met with a beautiful madame who offers them refreshments and ladies (or boys). Gorestag, Darius, and Lucan all agree to participate while Merrick and Kromm sidle up to the bar for more drinks. Darius opens a conspicuously empty room looking for his escort but sees nothing of interest and moves on. Before Merrick goes to the bar he and the Madame exchange knowing glances and subtle gestures ensuring that their group is not to be disturbed by any authorities.

*Cut to the Slave Lords citadel, as Stalman Klim sits at his desk pouring over status reports*

He hears a quiet knock on the door and says "enter." In comes a squat fat picture of a man, balding hair, and sweating as always. Stalman sighs at the interruption and asks "what is it Wimpel?" Wimpel Frump bows awkwardly and says they "They are here. The ones you asked me to keep and eye out for, the ones I fought in the Caves of Drachensgrab and barely escaped with my life." Stalman visibly perks up at this news and says "where are they and are you sure its them?" Wimpel says with a shakey voice, "its them, the account I heard described both the half-orc with the axe that spits lightning and the elf with Edralve's brother house staff." Stalman's face turns from concern to revelation and says "this is perfect, go report to Edralve and continue to pretend to be her man and report this to her. She wont be able to resist confronting them alone and if all goes well maybe they will destroy each other or at least severely weaken each other and then I move on them both. Find out where they are holed up and report all of this her." Wimpel bows awkwardly again and stumbles our the door. Stalman quietly says to himself "two birds with one stone."

*Cut to Edralve, also pouring over status reports in her private chambers.*

Standing in the open door to her room stood one of her house guards, Jaris Shh’Starm Nasadra, gleeming black mithril chain shirt catching the light, single edge short short (undoubtedly coated in the best injury poison) strapped over his back, and a drow hand crossbow at this hip. Joran had been her house guard and consort for some time, their blood ties distant enough for her to tolerate. Looking up to him she says coldy, "Yes? this better be important." He replies, just as coldly, "Oh it is. Someone has spotted the wood elf here in the city and he brazenly carries, Neznar, the Spider Staff." At this Jaris's hair stands on end as the arcane power flowing from her rage is almost unleashed at him. She stands up and says "gather my guard, I need to have a one on one talk with this elf. I am sure he will see reason or I will True Leg him. I will probably just True Leg him anyway."


In the first hour no guards show up and Merrick makes an acquaintance with a seedy bartender who he believes is part of a local thieves guild. He tells them they were recently involved in a scuffle with the town guard and ensures the bartenders silence with a fistful of gold. The bartender tells him that the thieves guild operates independent of the slave lords and they are a thorn in their side. Another hour passes and the bartender tells Merrick that he has word that the guard is on their way to raid this establishment. As the group gathers their gear and gets dressed they leave and are confronted on either side with 10 guards with heavy crossbows aimed at them blocking their escape. Suddenly they hear a voice on the roof above them and look up to see the silhouetted form of a beautiful drow women a viscous whip at her side.



"Greetings, I am Edralve, and this is my city and you have something that belongs to me. I will offer you a deal. Give me my house staff and leave the city and promise to never return and I will not only let you all live but I will give you back one of your fallen companions. I have a stone statue that I can transform back to life if you agree to the exchange." The party looks at each other and realizes she is talking about Talgren, their comrade who was turned to stone by a Medusa in the Slavers Stockade. After a short discussion they decide to attack Edralve. Merrick attempts to cloak the party in a Darkness spell but Edralve was ready and was holding a Telekinesis spell ready to snatch the staff if they didnt take her offer. Her will is too strong and Neznar flies from Lucan's grasp to her waiting hand. At this point all hell breaks loose as Kromm, Darius, and Gorestag bravely run out the darkness into the ranks of the soldiers surrounding them. Merrick shadow ports to the roof and Lucan summons giants wasps to assail Edralve. The fight on the street is fierce but the soldiers are no match for fury of Kromm, Darius and Gorestag and they fall to their blades easily. Merrick and Edralve (and her hidden house guards) dance back and forth as Merrick tries to take her down. He unleashes fists of fury on her over and over again but is unable to land any blows as her magical shield repulses his attacks. With staff in hand she tries to fly away but Lucan dispels her flight and Merrick attacks her again but still cannot land a punch. Merrick, correctly, retreats under the threat of her Drow house guard and Edralve and her guard escape. The party gathers back outside the brothel with 20 dead guards lying all around wondering what they will do next?

At that they hear a hushed voice in a nearby alley and see a older man on crutches begging them to follow him and they realize this must Ciro the beggar they were looking for.
Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:38 am View user's profile Send private message
Overdog



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This is just a brief summary of events that have taken place from the encounter with Edralve to the current point. I will add more detail later.

They party meets with Ciro only to realize that in fact he is their old ally Escott, the Twisted Blade Assassin. He tracked them down after killing the Order of Ixion Wizard Dostra Ziri and as promised has brought them his head and his staff of fire and he disappears as suddenly as he appeared.

The party soon finds a trap doors in one of the rooms of the brothel they are staying at and this leads into the catacombs beneath the slave lords citadel. They fight their way through Minotaurs, an assassination attempt from the slave lord Nerelas, Hell Hounds, devious traps, Gelatinous Cubes, and Shambling Mounds to confront the slave lords in their throne room. Inside they face the 3 remaining senior slave lords.

Stalmin Klim - Human High Priest of Orcus
Eanwulf - Human Fighter and Admiral of the Slave Lords Fleet
Ajakstu - Human Wizard wielding a Staff of Power

The battle is a cheek tightener but they manage to best what they believe to be leadership of the slave lords. As they are policing the bodies for loot a beautiful woman strides down a metal spiral stair case from the keep above and surveys the situation and seems pleased that the slave lords are dead. She tells them she will allow them to take the belongings of the fallen slave lords but the treasury will be hers. The party initially balks at this but she tells them that she had a deal with the slave lords and asks the party if they are the new slave lords and when they say no she suggests they leave immediately. A courtesy she is giving them for destroying the slave lords. Merrick peers at her through his gem of seeing and sees an immense red dragon that is polymorphed into the woman. He tells her that they will leave in peace and leave her alone and she agrees and walks back up the stairs. As the party escapes they see an Ancient Red Dragon dive into the volcano that the slave lords city is built beneath and the ground shakes beneath them and the volcano erupts.



A desperate flight starts as the party flees the city and the dragon and the volcano. They reach the docks and the only way off the island and fight their way to the slave lords ship. There they battle the remaining slave lords, Theg Narlot (Half-Orc Fighter Assassin), Ketta (a human female monk of the 5 spires), Wimpel Frump (Human Illusionist) and a half dozen Ogres. The party slays Theg and the Ogres but Wimpel and Ketta escape. They party brings aboard as many refuges as they can (including some fisherman who can sail the ship) and escape the volcanic fury.

After fleeing the aerie of the slave lords with refugees in tow they fight a fire giant, a band of mercenary gnolls, and make it back to the tomb of Sir Keegan, hoping to get the knight to finish the ritual and cleanse the blade Aercrist. They find that the tomb is now engulfed in a globe of extra planar darkness and deduce that is a rip to the plane of shadow. They enter a shadowy version of the tomb and fight shadows and other guardians to find an ancient shrine to orcus that was buried with the undead knight. In a strange turn of events it is Keegan, the undead knight who is being subjected to some ritual to open a portal to the shadow realm. After fighting shadow mastifs, a shadow wizard, a shadow demon, and a wraith the party closes the portal and with the help of lord Keegan restore Aecrist.

They continue south trying to reach Nyrkrukru, Darius's brothers city and arrive to find it in a state of alert. Apparently the war to the south with Karnish and Hith has spilled over to neighboring lands and demons roam the forests around city. They find out that Sildar and their ship and ride home to Taran left a week ago. Some troubling news from Taran arrived in the city that apparently Esmardin Blackwell, one of the merchant princes has seized control of the city with the help of a slave lord army and has a naval blockade around the city. They are given a warm welcome and when the party asks the kings wizard to identify the staff they recovered from the slave lords he refuses to give them the key to the staff. He tells the king it is a staff of power which is an extremely powerful staff that could reek havoc on the city. They king agrees to let them have access to the staff if they can find a missing sea captain of his. They agree and track him to a see cave north of the city where some demonic harpy has charmed a group of lizard men. They slay the harpy and free the captain and he agrees to take them back to Taran.

As the characters travel the month long journey to Taran the party debates the actions of Maelin the Warlock. His seemingly callous attitude towards innocents has become a concern as is giving him access to such a power item such as a Staff of Power. The concern rests on the fact that Vex, his demonic familiar, is manipulating him. After almost coming to blows the group decides to trust Maelin and they give him the command word to the staff. The rest of the journey is basically uneventful and Maelin stays in his cabin.

During the trip to Taran, Maelin stays in his cabin reflecting on events and continuing to study the Staff of Power to master its secrets. On the 4th day of the voyage he realizes that Vex has been periodically absent and when asked what he has been doing Vex becomes visible and replies that he has been watching and listening to his companions and has uncovered a plot to kill Maelin and take the Staff for themselves. Maelin, not wanting to believe this, continues to query Vex on their plans. Vex lays out a detailed plan that starts with them poisoning his food and taking him while he is drugged and unable to defend himself. The half-breed Paladin Kromm plans to destroy Vex by locating him using his Paladin senses once Maelin is incapacitated and though they claim that they will talk to Maelin first, secretly Talgren and Gorestag plan to kill him either way as they see him as too great of a threat.

He tells Maelin that if he can destroy his companions he will have passed the final test and his master will reward him with the power he has promised for so long. Maelin's research into infernal pacts has taught him one thing, nothing is free and this is too high a price to pay for power. Gorestag of all people has been by his side from the beginning and he knows he would never betray Maelin but he has been so entranced with Vex's dark whisperings he has lost his path but he is not willing to make the sacrifice needed. Suddenly he realized that Vex has been lying to him and that he has been manipulating Maelin all along and his promises of power are false. At this realization it becomes obvious that Vex suspects that Maelin has seen through his machinations and with a word of power Vex opens a portal to hell. Maelin reacts instantly and channels his power through the Staff of Power and attempts to close the portal but it is a clash of wills between him and Vex. As the battle of wills rages on for what seems like hours Maelin hears a voice, well more like feels a voice, and it tells him that death holds no sway over him and that if he wishes to unlock the secrets of everlasting life and power that he should turn from his current master and pay fealty to Ixion the Deathless. It tells him that he has secrets of life and death to share with him and although most think he is dead only a chosen few know that Ixion cant die, for he is death. He asks Maelin to pay fealty to him and he will close this portal and end the Imp.

Maelin agrees and in an instant he feels every bone in your body shattered and then reformed over and over again. Through force of will alone he maintains his focus on closing the hell portal and suddenly he feels his link with Vex break and for the first time he sees terror in its dark eyes as the portal closes and he is alone with Maelin in the room his rage and power fixated on him. As Vex tries to escape in a panic (even forgetting to go invisible) Maelin levels the Staff of Power at Vex and creates a force bubble in the room surrounding them both and protecting the ship from what he is about to do next. He taps on one of the runes of power on the staff and triggers a massive lightning bolt and it strikes Vex full on and after his screams are done only ash remains.

He hears a deep chuckle in your head, "Well done my child". "Now on with the work at hand" as he feels something burn into your head and as he looks in the mirror he sees a symbol emblazoned on his forehead of a clenched fist holding a burst of brilliant energy and he realizes this is the symbol of Ixion and only he can see it.
Mon Feb 15, 2016 3:26 pm View user's profile Send private message
Overdog



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Here is a quick summary to bring everyone up to speed.

As the party makes their way north through the Sea of Gadmanmom towards Taran they are pursued by grey warship manned my Minotaurs. They out distance the ship and in an attempt to board the long boat some plummet into the rough seas near Taran and are almost devoured by Dire Sharks.

The party makes their way overland to Taran and arrive at the Singing Traveler Inn hoping to meet up with their contact Gerarda the Innkeeper. But to their dismay she has been taken off my Inquisitors of Ixion. They also find out that Sildar and the other leaders of the Grey Alliance were tried and hung for all to see at the docks. Unsure where to go next Talgren suggests they lay low in his secret sewer hideout. As they make their way through the dark of the city they enter the sewers only to come face to face with some demonic horrors called Chasme. These loathsome demons resembles an unspeakable crossing of humanoid and fly. A chasme shuffles about on four spindly legs that can find purchase on walls and ceilings. A droning sound precedes the approach of a chasme, inflicting foes with a terrible lethargy that leaves them open to attack. Most of the party falls victim to the droning and Gorestag alone stands against them but even he cannot withstand their terrible assault as they drain his life with necromantic energies and he falls dead to their attacks. Kromm and Darius manage to gain their senses and slay the creatures before the rest of the party falls victim to these creatures.



Talgren decides to try to use his network of street urchins to see what else is happening. He finds out the following.

With the aid of an extremist branch of the Order of Ixion called Godbloods and the Slave Lords Esmardin Blackwell has engineered a coup and taken over Taran. He was opposed by the merchant princes Onarin Case and Braxin Warblood both of whom were slain in their beds by inquisitors of the Godbloods. Any other opposition quickly fell away as a fleet of Slave Lords ships entered the harbor and deterred any resistance of the Taran fleet and any captains loyal to their slain Admiral Braxin Warblood.

The standing Army/Militia has been absorbed into the ranks of the slave lords and they now serve out of fear of what might happen to their families.
Esmardin has promised that once everything has calmed down things will return to normal with the new regime change and things will be better. Most people go along with this mainly out of fear that things could get worse.

The Godbloods are worshippers of Ixion and each has drank of the dead god’s blood and the remnants of the energy of the god contained therein has given them power. They don’t fool themselves into thinking that their god will ever rise so they believe that pacts with infernal creatures only strengthens their power and they openly worship devil powers. They are considered heretics by the core members of the Order of Ixion who feel that their worship of the evil outsiders will only bring them destruction. This dichotomy within the order only fractures their numbers. Currently the Godblood’s and their inquisitors are fully supporting Overseer Esmardin and the Order of Ixion is looking for ways to thwart this.

With the Grey Alliance sundered the only hope of rallying any of the remaining members is to free Gerarda, the Inn Keeper of Singer Travelling Inn and last remaining living senior member of the Alliance. She is currently being held and interrogated by the Godblood’s at Stormlight Isle.

The party travels to the island (narrowly avoiding a battle with an Adult Blue Dragon) and fights their way through Inquisitors, Knights of Ixion, and Chain Devils to finally find a free Gerarda. They also find Ademious Case son of Onarin Case and the Archwizard of the Order of Ixion, Thaluud (who has had his hands sawed off during torture).

He tells them the only way to defeat the Inquisitors (who apparently posses incredible psychic powers) is to poison them with the blood of a Hunting Horror. They are remnants of battle between Ixion and the Old One Nyarlathotep and possess a piece of the Old One. The problem is they feed on magic and are immune to any magic invoked by those who worship Ixion. They wander the dreamlands, a realm where the spirits of dead can linger and be trapped. To reach the Dreamlands, a sleeper must find an unusual stairway in a conventional dream and walk down the Seventy Steps of Light Slumber to face the judgment of powerful gatekeepers named Nasht and Kaman-Tha whose temple - the Cavern of Flame borders the dreamlands. If judged worthy (i.e., able to survive the dangers of the Dreamlands), the dreamer is allowed to descend the Seven Hundred Steps of Deeper Slumber and emerges in the Enchanted Wood. Time flows at a different rate in the Dreamlands; each hour on earth represents a week or more there.

The party agrees and Thaluud tells them they must reach his sanctum within the Temple of Ixion and he can show them how to make dream elixirs that will allow them to travel to and from the dreamlands. They use a scroll of teleport make it to his sanctum undetected.


TBC


Last edited by Overdog on Thu Apr 28, 2016 12:47 pm; edited 2 times in total
Thu Apr 28, 2016 9:56 am View user's profile Send private message
Overdog



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As they drink the Dream Elixirs they find they walk down the Seventy Steps of Light Slumber to face the judgment of powerful gatekeepers named Nasht and Kaman-Tha whose temple - the Cavern of Flame borders the dreamlands.

Nasht and Kaman-Tha appear to be twins thought Nasht is slightly taller and Kaman-Tha is slightly more muscular. They both bear white linen skirts embroidered with silver threads depicting images of sea motifs. They both are bald and have their nails and teeth stained red with henna. They both wear leopard skin sashes with Nasht's on his right shoulder and Kaman-Tha's on his left shoulder. Both have long black beards held in check with a coiled snake of gold inlaid with lapis lazuli.

They see and comment on Maelin's brand of Ixion.

They asked them the following questions.

1. What is your purpose in the Dreamlands?
2. If you see a creature that does not fly or float, without webbed feet, not spider spider like, not bipedal, it has eyes that are not toad like, and emits no light, has a humanoid torso with the lower body trailing off into a tentacle...what is this creature and where does it dwell? The Gnor and they live in the salt seas of the Dreamlands.
3. If I were to tell you to go north of the cold wastes through the Kadath Pass and seek a stronghold at the highest peak, what would you say? I would say that death and madness await.

Once past the guardians they find themselves on the Plateau of Leng a landscape of almost porous sponge-like ground surrounded by black tornadoes. They approach a gate guarded by a Capra Demon, a being almost 30 feet tall with machete like blades 15 ft long. After a desperate fight and a well placed wall of force to block the gate from closing on them the party makes their way through into the Pass of Leng.



In the pass they are assaulted by Spiders of Leng, massive spell casting spiders with a hideous intelligence. It is said that they travel to other worlds and conquer them for food and that the largest of their kind is over 200 feet long.



Barely escaping them they find themselves in the fields of slaughter at what seems like the end of recent battle between two armies and in the distance they see the Hunting Horrors. In another pitched battle they managed to defeat the other worldly monsters and obtain the blood they need.



After drinking the Dream Elixirs again they return to Thaluud's sanctuary and he agrees to help them if they can find a way to regenerate his hands. Lucan offers to kill and then Reincarnate him and he agrees. After the spell Thaluud comes back as an orc but he also has all his spell power and the shock of the Reincarnation disorients him and he almost slays the whole party before they can convince him what has happened.

As the party makes their way through the bowels of the temple (with directions from Thaluud) they encounter Green and Blue Slaadi and come within a hairs breath of being transformed into a Slaad. They find the well of the temple and poison it with the blood of the Hunting Horror. After returning to recuperate in Thaluud's extra-dimensional sanctuary they decide the next step is to kill Esmardin. With Thaluud's magic they are teleported into his manor house.

TBC
Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:44 am View user's profile Send private message
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