View Full Version : Journal The Land of the Endless Sky [Pathfinder Campaign Journal]

2014-10-25, 12:45 AM
I recently began a new session after taking a break from DMing for a while (finally got the chance to play, in three different sessions at once no less!) so I feel refreshed and ready to sit back behind the screen to take on a massive campaign in a homebrewed world. I've attempted this in the past, and while the campaign was ultimately fun and long-lived (from level 3 to level 16), both setting and story suffered from a severe lack of theme and planning. With my past mistakes in mind, I've decided to plan out the whole shebang for the first time ever in a hopefully epic adventure! Hope it works out!

I'll be writing up sessions as they progress, although the group requested the write-ups to all be in one place, so here we are. Some relevant stuff will be in this post for anyone who feels like reading along. I've updated this post quite a lot and it is simply bursting with NPC's and setting information. Be warned that some of the information below may contain spoilers for the campaign!

I like to think I'm a pretty lax GM, allowing for fun first (after all, that's the reason we're playing, right?), but I've certainly written out a 50ish page campaign bible in the past. Noone was required to read it, but even those who did only took in setting descriptions from the actual game, not the massive notebook. So I'm trying something else; the players know nothing about the world. Everything they learn will be on a slow drip as everything is introduced, naturally they can roll to see what their characters know and ask questions. Anything they write in their backstories will be incorporated into the world's canon, with a caveat that they're all from relatively small settlements.

For rules, anything first party Pathfinder is automatically approved, third party, 3.5 material, and homebrew will be looked over first, but are probably fine (just so I have an idea of what I'm dealing with). At the first session, they will have already been travelling together for an undisclosed amount of time, and they can work out the details if they want to. As you'll see below, they certainly did!

I'm using a number of houserules to help the party out, especially since we're starting at level 1:

Double Max HD at 1st level
Each level, you can reroll for HP once, but must keep second result
+1 to two different abilities every 4th level
+1 to all abilities at level 10
Also using traits and hero points

Members of the Crystal Order Current Level: 8
(These are my abridged interpretations of the backstories. Several of them are far more detailed)

About a month prior, Beinlein Bubblepot and his eidolon capture the fugitive Lago with minimal resistance, despite his rather impressive bounty. The three encounter a lost Nualia some two weeks later, who Beinlein notes bears a strong resemblance to a bounty on two young girls who recently accosted a village. The description is vague, but Beinlein remains suspicious. A week after, Garo travelling alone, encountered and took a liking to the group, somewhat to their chagrin, and two nights back an injured Vosen is offered help by Nualia who notices that Vosen is the only one she's ever met with similiar eyes.

Azrael (Human Vampire Harbinger*)
Azrael was born several years before the current time, only retaining a few dream-like memories of his childhood. Following the rise of Illium and the Gods of the Tower, the young man known as Artorias became one of the first Voyagers, dedicated to Morndred and becoming one of the most efficient undead hunters. While investigating a particularly heinous necromancer, Artorias stumbled upon the vampire Abaddon who killed Artorias' companions and turned Artorias into a vampire himself. Taking on a new name, Azrael has wandered the land, exiled from his homeland and hunting the creatures that lurk in the night.

*Uses Dreamscarred Press material

Beinlein Bubblepot (Gnome Summoner)
The Bubblepots are known far and wide as a prolific, if not always prosperous famliy of alchemists. Beinlein, however, sought out to learn the arts of magic and landed himself with an increasingly abusive and deranged master. Forming a deep bond with the powerful outsider his master contained, the two escaped and became bounty hunters, always keeping in touch with Beinlein's family.

Allied Eidolons: Groot, Irivati, Vasuk

Garo Magmaeye (Dwarven Fighter)
Born to a prosperous dwarven family, Garo still a young lad with his beard just reaching his knees (70) decided to venture out into the world to both broaden his horizons, and perhaps discover other outlets for his family's trading business. Garo has two siblings who are currently taking a more active role in the family as merchants.

Lago (Human Vialist*)
Lago has no memory prior to several weeks ago. Emerging into the world with strange crystals jutting from his forehead, odd things began to happen whenever he begins to focus. Unfortunately, whoever once knew Lago apparently wants him back, and his bounty has been posted in every city he has ventured to making him struggle just to survive (Lago doesn't know he can actually manifest powers).

*Uses Dreamscarred Press material

Vosen Dunkelzagel (Tiefling Rogue)
Born to commoners, a tiefling father and a human mother. Moving around frequently, the family was staying at a tavern one day when a band of clerics appeared following reports of Vosen's father who had been shunned from yet another village. Young Vosen hid in the attic of the inn while his parents lured the clerics away. They caught up and murdered Vosen's parents as he crept away heading the opposite direction. He fosters an extreme prejudice towards clerics and religion in general.

Retired Members
Nualia (Aasimar Sorcerer Bloodrager/Dragon Disciple)
Nualia has had a hard life, but has always had her older sister. Their father beat their mother to death when they were both young and the two left forever that night. They avoided the big cities and learned to fend for themselves, for the two draw fear from the locals (both have strange eyes and hair, Nualia's sister is a tiefling, although she does not know about their heritage). Now separated, Nualia seeks to learn more about her natural skill with magic.

Ravelston Radcliff (Aasimar Psion [Kineticist])
A skilled crafter, Ravelston spent several years under the heel of a abusive apprenticeship, before setting off on his own to dedicate his life to restoring the lost art of magic item creation. Despite being rather down on his luck the past few years, Ravelston has made great strides in his research held back by only one key element; the elementals themselves. Upon meeting the party, Ravelston was aside himself with joy after encountering the fire sprite Brim and believes he can finally bring the power of wondrous items back to the world.


Book 1: Water

Chapter 1: The Elemental Shrine
Chapter 2: The Gods of the White Tower
Chapter 3: Darkness in the Depths
Chapter 4: Onward to Blink Bay
Chapter 5: The Voice of Darkness
Chapter 6: A Night of Demons

Book 2: Earth

Chapter 7: The Undercity
Chapter 8: Fortress of the Ebony Syndicate
Chapter 9.1: The King of the Inner Earth
Chapter 9.2: Gar-Grothak
Chapter 10: The Demon, the Portal, and the Clocktower
Chapter 11: Death of a Shadow
Chapter 12: Downtime
Chapter 13: A Very Awkward Dinner Party
Chapter 14: The New High Cardinal
Chapter 15: Raid on the Bandit Stronghold
Chapter 16: The Scourge
Chapter 17: The God of Death
Chapter 18: The Tower of Andarxen
Chapter 19: Deeper into the Tower
Chapter 20: Sin

Book 3: Fire

Chapter 21: Village on Fire


Days since start of Adventure: 76
Current Day: Thursday (Thurion)

Major NPC's and Monsters (Spoilers for the story within!)
Smiling shadow that may be following the party. Possibly the Dark Queen, Hurŏn, or some other entity entirely.

Arlessa Whitelock (Female Aasimar)
A Voyager of Sune, Arlessa is a demon hunter who was saved by the party from the dark caller Drax and his band. She revealed herself to have celestial blood while accompanying the party to recover the Sea King's Gem. After bringing the Sea King's Gem to Illium, Arlessa was allegedly healing due to injuries sustained on the road but was instead tracking down Sin secretly and was responsible for capturing the demon. Currently back in Illium, helping to prepare Carn for his journey as High Cardinal.

Brim (Male Fire Elemental)
A helpful fire elemental with a penchant for terrible puns, Brim is actually over a century old despite his child-like demeanor. Previously inhabiting Garo's hammer, he appears to have vanished following the party's encounter with the mysterious shadow.

Carn (Male Human)
A 16-year old priest, Carn initially introduced himself as an attendant of Sune, but appears to serve all seven gods of the tower equally. Exceptionally friendly and wise beyond his years, Carn is the party's primary contact within the cathedral. On his 16th birthday, Carn was bestowed the title of High Cardinal, despite his young age. Currently preparing to begin his journey to Illium's surrounding lands as part of his new position.

The Dark Queen (Female Deity)
An evil and mysterious entity who true motives are unknown but likely spell doom for the world. While she has yet to appear directly, she has announced her presence to the world and acts through her Dark Caller followers and a Harbinger who serves as her personal minion, one of whom she used as an anonymous threat to Sune in the past. If Sin's word is to believed, she somehow holds control of the elementals and has slain the greatest fiends of the Pit, bringing the lesser demons to her service. The party has fought her minions many times and have destroyed several of the strange symbols etched around the world that seem to grant her power.

Gregor Abendroth (Male Human)
A grizzled mercenary, Sir Gregor Abendroth encountered the party within the elemental shrine and seems to have a good amount of respect for their talents. Based out of his mercenary company, the Drift Blades, Gregor provides the party with occasional work and leads. After uncovering his rival, Lord Elrath's, dark secret and exposing him to the public, Gregor handed care of Abendroth manor to the party, only keeping his small room to himself. Accompanying the party to Boldur in pursuit of Sin, they split ways as he offered to take the captured bandits and refugees to the nearby town. He managed to save a few villagers and guards them on the way to safety in Illium.

Lucius Clay (Male Human)
Leader of an outlaw band primarily including himself and his wife Terra, Lucius is a smooth-talking practical man who encountered the party during one of the Clay's heists. After an intense fight, he called a truce and split the money with the group before parting ways. Lucius met with the party again when he revealed himself as the wand maker and proposed a partnership with him supplying the party with magical wands. Following the almost total annihilation of the Ebony Syndicate, Lucius has consolidated power in Spire and is currently serving as the undercity's de facto leader.

Maester Emella (Female Human)
The head of biology at Seigson University, Emella was sought out by Lago to examine the sample of Sin's blood. Her experiments ran awry when a dark symbol revealed itself to the blood samples, causing them to explode, killing Emella in the blast. Fortunately, the good Maester ,resurrected by Sune as a Chaste has redoubled her researh efforts after having her lab moved to the Grand Cathedral.

Maester Tyrannus (Male Half-Elf)
The most esteemed expert on the history of magic items at Seigson University, Tyrannus has taken Nualia under his wing to instruct her in the arcane arts. He offered to supply her with occasional magic items to test and research during her adventures abroad.

Sin (Male Demon)
Claiming to be the Harbinger of the Dark One, Sin ambushed the party outside of Illium, showing a proficiency for fire magic and an incredible disdain for mortals. Apparently, Sin is continually reincarnated by the Dark Queen, and harasses the party continually. To add insult to injury, he delights in never keeping anything valuable on his person, and leaves rude notes to the party upon his deaths. After his imprisonment in Illium (and third death at the hands of the party) he awaited the party in Andarxen's tower for a final battle. Was defeated and lost his powers. Unconscious but alive, he is being taken to Illium.

Sune (Deity, Gender Unknown)
Sune is one of the seven gods of the Grand Cathedral in the center of Illium. Like the other deities, Sune is incapable of leaving the structure, but has significant power within. Sune appears to each individual as how they appear to themselves, always dressed in long white robes. Also among the deity's abilities is the ability to appear multiple places at once and resurrection (although those revived, known as the Chaste, can never leave the tower). Sune has assisted the party and has requested help on various occasions and is the staunchest opponent of the mysterious Dark Queen.

Minor NPC's and Monsters (Spoilers for the story within!)
Abaddon (Male Vampire)
A powerful vampire responsible for both the turning of Artorias into the vampire Azrael and the roaming undead terrorizing the badlands surrounding Bald Mountain.

Adalbert Abendroth (Male Human)
Gregor's nephew and Marlecia's son, Adalbert died over a year ago but mysteriously returned to life no worse for wear thanks to the god of death Morndred who used Adalbert as a willing conduit to speak to the party.

Andarxen Ignatious Fellheart(Male Human)
A powerful wizard who serves as the protector of Boldur. Died of old age years ago and his tower was overtaken by Sin who was summoned by the wizard as one of his final acts.

Arros (Male Air Elemental)
An air elemental whose life was saved by Lucius Clay. Arros taught Lucius magic and the art of crafting wands with the two taking on the guise of the wand maker.

Bronce (Male Half-Orc)
Owner of Bronce and Brass, Bronce is a skilled blacksmith who has taken on several commisions for the Crystal Order. Notably, he is able to work rare materials such as orichalcum and has acquired much of the metal courtesy of the party.

Calem (Male Human)
Foppish and a bit of a dandy, 'Lord' Calem was the leader of the Narrow Valley Bandits before being overthrown by the party. Currently being taken to Boldur for imprisonment.

Cassius Delaine (Male Half-Elf)
Former leader of the Ebony Syndicate. Studied one of the dark symbols that appeared in his headquarters in Spire. Currently incarcerated in the Boldur prison.

Drax (Male Human)
Leader of a small band of Dark Callers, Drax was encountered and killed by the party and Arlessa.

Elrath (Male Elf)
Former head member of Blink Bay's council, Lord Elrath stepped down allowing the sub council to take control of the city, following the failed attempts at sabotage by his fellow council members. As part of his retirement, Elrath moved to Illium to purchase the abode of his former rivals the Abendroth family, whose business he was responsible for destroying. Currently incarcerated and pending trial for unnatural acts after his public exposure at the hands of Gregor and the party.

Fundin (Male Gnome)
Fundin is an older gnome and a Voyager of Sune who met the party while helping Korble Bubblepot and Kuga stop the plague in Blink Bay's lower wards. According to Arlessa, Fundin is one of the more powerful members of her sect. After bringing the Sea King's Gem to Illium, Fundin was immediately sent out on unknown business.

Gamil (Male Devil)
A fairly typical imp who claimed to be fleeing the Pit due to the Dark Queen's destructive campaign. Assisted the party to leave the Inner Earth after demanding a sample of Nualia's blood for unknown reason before vanishing completely. The cowardly imp returned as an adviser to The Lady in Green but was killed mercilessly by Nualia.

Gar-Grothak (Male Half-Orc)
Beinlein's abusive former master and Groot's captor, Gar-Grothak was driven half-mad by decades-long ambitions of vengeance over the summoner and eidolon. Meeting them both in an unexpected reunion in the Inner Earth, Gar-Grothak passed on the tome The Nature of Divinity to Beinlein before passing away in his sleep.

Grimnar (Male Half-Orc)
Voyager of Sune stationed in the small village of Archdown.

Hera (Female Human)
Deposed council member of Blink Bay, Hera employed the villainous Kuga to sabotage her own workers in order to frame Lord Elrath and Lord Kraghammer. Her trail is awaiting a vote by the new council.

Hilda (Female Halfling)
Responsible for the bounties in the area around Illium, Hilda was saved by Lago after strange creatures in rags attempted to abduct him from his cell. In gratitude, Hilda has promised to provide information on current bounties and possibly get the party out of legal trouble should it arise. She has enlisted the party's help to capture the bounty killer Israh.

Hurŏn (???)
Dark entity following the party. Has the ability to summon voidlings. Seems unable or unwilling to appear while the party are in heavily populated areas. Seemingly slain by the party outside of Archdown.

Israh (Male Halfling)
Little is known about Israh, other than his description as especially short, even for halfling standards, with long pointed ears and a large crescent scar across his face. Bounty posted for $5,000 gp.

Jade (Female Human)
One of the sisters with an open bounty in Illium posted at $1,500 for Blackmail, Theft, and Inciting Rebellion. Captured by the party under Hilda's supervision.

Jensen (Male Human)
The youngest Drift Blade recruit, Jensen is an orphan who was practically raised by the mercenary band. He was instrumental for finding a chink in Lord Elrath's respectability and bringing down the jaded elf.

Jezebeth (Female Angel)
An angel working for Sune, Jezebeth disguised herself as an erinyes to spy on Sin's interactions with the fiendish allies of the Dark Queen.

Kern Magmaeye (Female Dwarf)
Garo's twin sister, she is a skilled merchant and operates the sea trading of the Magmaeye clan. She is a member of the ruling council of Blink Bay following the deposing of the former merchant council.

Keto (Female Medusa)
Keto was Nissa's second-in-command of the Scourge before its disbanding. Currently making her way back to Tarraskon to rejoin a thieves guild and has invited the party to visit.

Keziah (Female Human)
Voyager of Tuskanna and the only member of the Voyagers in Spire. She assisted the party in destroying the dark symbols in Spire.

Korble Bubblepot (Male Gnome)
One of Beinlein's many cousins, Korble owns a modest branch of the Bubblepot potion brand with his fiery wife Triza and two daughters Milli and Shaza. His altruistic efforts tend to hurt the business financially and keep it from growing further in the Blink Bay. Had a reunion with Beinlein while helping to cure the plague in Blink Bay.

Kraghammer (Male Dwarf)
Deposed council member of blink bay, he employed privateers to attack businesses he was supposed to be representing, such as the Magmaeye Trading Company, in order to frame Lady Hera and Lord Elrath. His trial is awaiting a vote by the new council.

Kuga (Male Ratfolk)
Disguised as a halfling doctor, Kuga infiltrated Blink Bay to spread misery, releasing disease after disease only to provide the cure shortly after. Worships a god of plague known as Pithos.

Lyra (Female Halfling)
A rogue working with the Clay's.

Misery (Male Tiefling)
Misery helped Nissa create the Scourge and assisted her as her most trusted servant. His whereabouts following the disbanding of the Scourge are unknown.

Morelia Abendroth (Female Human)
Gregor's cousin and Adalbert's mother. Killed during the raid on Boldur.

Niloras (Male Elf)
A mage following Lord Calem, Niloras gave the party valuable information to raiding the stronghold of the Narrow Valley Bandits. Currently being taken to Boldur for imprisonment. Currently incarcerated in the Boldur prison.

Nissa (Female Aasimar)
Nualia's older sister of eight years, separated from Nualia prior to her meeting with Beinlein. During her time apart from her sister, Nissa inadvertently formed the Scourge, a cult of that invited all manner of rebels, misfits, and monsters where she took on the title of The Lady in Green.

Rankine (Male Human)
Noble of Tarraskon who purchased the party's orichalcum store for a large sum of gold. Rankine told the party to contact him if they discover any more of the rare ore.

Rhaag (Male Fire Drake)
Encountered by the party in Narrow Valley and later in the Scourge camp, Rhaag had been discussing an alliance with The Lady in Green. He proclaimed himself as the son of a red dragon named Vorelchar.

Rhinestone (Female Human)
One of the sisters with an open bounty in Illium posted at $1,500 for Blackmail, Theft, and Inciting Rebellion. Has seen apocalyptic visions of the future. Captured by the party under Hilda's supervision.

Rylus Clay (Male Human)
One of Lucius's six brothers, Rylus was encountered beneath Illium, and summoned Hurŏn after sacrificing himself.

Terra Clay (Female Half-Elf)
A juggernaut of a warrior, Terra is a central member of the Clay outlaw band, and is married to Lucius. She doesn't talk much.

Valdur (Male Demon)
Fiend working for the Dark Queen who served as Sin's lieutenant.

Zorna (Female Tiefling)
A loyal member of the Scourge, Zorna was captured by Lord Calem and rescued by the party.

Campaign Setting Information

NG Metropolis
Corruption -1; Crime +2; Economy +5; Law +6; Lore +8; Society +3

Qualities: academic, counterculture movement, hardened, holy site, monastic order, on the shoulders of giants

Danger +10


Government Autocracy

Population (50,000 humans; 20,000 halflings; 10,500 dwarves; 6,500 elves; 8,000 other)

Noteable NPCs
Mayor Delise Avara (NG human aristocrat 7)
High Templar Bali Steelborn (LG dwarf paladin 14)
Head Maester Ryllia (LN halfling wizard 12)


Base Value 16,000 gp; Purchase Limit 100,000 gp; Spellcasting 7th

Minor Items 10d4; Medium Items 1d4; Major Items None (unlimited potions and scrolls)


Inner Circle (Highcrest)
Middle Circle (The Boroughs)
Outer Circle (Waypoint)

Embassy District
North Market

Tavern/Inn District

Red-Light District

Theatre District
The Smalls*
Guildhall District

Civic District
South Market

City Park
Agricultural District

Caravan/Warehouse District

Highcrest Locations

Embassy District: Abendroth Manor
Garrison: Bounty Office, Driftblade Headquarters, Entrance to Spire
Necropolis: Entrance to Spire
University: Siegson University

The Boroughs (Dominant Population/Secondary Population)

Brightston (Human/Halfling)
Makora (Human/Halfling)
Feygate (Human/Elf)
The Smalls* (Halfling/Gnome)
Rassaring** (Dwarf/Gnome)
Varnasly*** (Elf/Half-Elf)
Crystalhearth (Human/Dwarf)

*Human slang for Tiali (Halfling for "Birdsong")
**Human slang for Rasur Hring (Dwarven for "Hearth Home")
***Human slang for Varyna Suylie (Elven for "Ivy Glen")

Waypoint Locations

Caravan/Warehouse District: Entrance to Spire
Inn District: The Disgruntled Owlbear, The Sly Minstrel
North Market: Bronce and Brass, Ophelia's Oddities
Red-Light District: The House of Heavenly Delights
South Market: The Shriveled Owl

Other Settlements
Archdown (Small Town): Located East of Illium, named for the large stone arch protruding from the center of the town.

Blink Bay (Metropolis): Located Northeast of Illium, named for the strange phenomenon of ships teleporting randomly in the bay. Ruled by a council of major merchant lord families.

Boldur (Village): Located West of Illium, built onto the face of Bald Mountain.

Crescentfall (Large City): Located far Northwest of Illium.

Spire (Small City): A very literal undercity, located far beneath Illium.

Tom's Town (Hamlet): Southwest of Blink Bay, this otherwise normal settlement is protected by Old Tom, a grey render with chameleon-like color changing abilities.

Tarraskon (Metropolis): Located far Southeast of Illium.

Gods of Illuim and other Deities
The Seven/The Gods of Illium/The Six and One/The Gods of the Tower

Day Manifest

Healing, Luck, Protection, Travel
Compassion, Individuality, Redemption
Sune appears to an individual how they see themselves, with the same voice and appearance, but clothed in robes of white. Sune is kind and soft-spoken, and can appear multiple places at once to give personal attention to each and every petitioner.

Death, Glory, Protection, Repose
Death, Life, Protection

Destruction, Liberation, Strength, War
Bravery, Conflict, Destruction, Loyalty
Tuskanna takes the form of a gigantic woman composed of fire. She speaks bluntly, directly, and seems to revel in her divinity more than the other six gods.

Artifice, Charm, Knowledge, Rune
Art, creativity, dreams, music
Wendolia appears as a female composed of swirling colors and is always surrounded by music.

Community, Healing, Nobility, Repose
Knowledge, Mercantilism, Trade
Thuroin appears as an older male member of a particular race, varying each week. He is stern and is difficult to talk to one-on-one.

Animal, Plant, Sun, Weather
Agriculture, Nature, Weather
Firras appears as a gigantic constantly-shifting animal composed of various plants. Firras speaks fiercely and is very direct, although he is kind to those who speak to him with respect.

Knowledge, Magic, Rune, Trickery
Magic, Stars, Secrets
Satorias appears as a multi-armed woman garbed in dark blue whose face is constantly obscured. She "speaks" cryptically though a chorus of voices telepathically.

A follower of Illium's gods can worship a god individually, or worship the pantheon as a whole, gaining access to all of the seven deities' domains and the Good, Law, or Chaos domains. None of the seven are listed in "The Nature of Divinity"

Other Deities

Known Details
The Nature of Divinity

Lord of the Pit and the Hells, allegedly killed by the Dark Queen

God of war, laid an unsuccessful siege to Illium over fifty wears ago

God of disease

The Dark Queen/The Dark Mistress/The Dark One
God of darkness and shadows, can create shadow creatures and designates a minion known as a 'harbinger' to do her bidding.
Not Listed

The Solstone
God of the Void
Not Listed

Bubblepot Family (Alignment LN/NG)
Notable Members: Beinlein, Korble

Checker Guild (Alignment CE)

The Crystal Order (Alignment Mostly Heroic)
Notable Members: Azrael, Beinlein, Brim, Garo, Groot, Lago, Nualia (formerly), Ravelston Radcliffe (formerly), Vosen

Dark Callers (Alignment NE/CE)
Notable Members: Drax, Rylus Clay

Drift Blades (Alignment LG/LN)
Notable Members: Jensen, Sir Gregor Abendroth

Ebony Syndicate (Alignment LE)

The Eternals (Alignment NE)

The Infamous Clays (Alignment CN)
Notable Members: Arros, Lucius Clay, Lyra, Terra Clay

Magmaeye Clan (Alignment LG)
Notable Members: Garo, Kern

The Scourge (Alignment NE/CN/CE)
Notable Members: Keto, Misery, Nissa, Nualia, Zorna

Siegson University (Alignment N)
Notable Members: Maester Emella, Maester Tyrannus, Nualia

Voyagers (Alignment CG/NG/LG)
Notable Members: Arlessa, Azrael, Carn, Fundin, Grimnar, Keziah

Materials for Players
An exceedingly rare ore found only at ancient ruins, orichalcum has a hue of tarnished greenish gold. Flexible but still able to hold its shape, orichalcum is suitable for armor, shields, and firearms, but weapons made from orichalcum are inefficient.

An item made from orichalcum weighs 3/4 as much as the same item made from other metals. Melee weapons made from orichalcum inflict a -2 penalty to attack and damage rolls. Armor and shields made from orichalcum decrease the armor check penalty by 2 (to a minimum of 0) and grant the wearer Electricity Resistance 5.

2014-10-25, 01:31 AM
Chapter 1: The Elemental Shrine

A Storm Approaches
Amid the rolling hills of a vast grassy plain Beinlein Bubblepot and his faithful eidolon haul a bound prisoner, a human by the name of Lago with crystals jutting out of his temple, to the city at the base of a distant tower to collect bounty. Joining them on the journey is a young human girl with strange red eyes named Nualia, a mysterious human rogue with a tail named Vosen, and a stalwart dwarf of the Magmaeye clan, Garo. Their destination has been in sight for several days, for the white tower on the horizon rises far beyond the clouds.

As stormclouds gather in the distance and a thunder clap pulses across the plains, the party seeks shelter. A lone tree on a hill looms over a cave opening, large enough for the group, but small enough that Beinlein’s cart must be left outside. Garo and Vosen can see the flickering light and burning smell of a campfire from within the cave. Venturing within, a large human man with a scarred lip and closely cropped hair greets them cautiously. Introducing himself as Gregor Abendroth, the party is shocked to learn that Gregor’s right arm and lower leg have been turned to stone, the result of a bloody fight with a pair of basilisks. Gregor has a delivery to make in the city, but has made little progress due to his injury. Regardless, he invites the party to join him as a bolt of lighting strikes the tree and collapses the entrance in a heap of rubble!

Behind the Door
Fortunately, the cave extends past the comfortable alcove, ending at a stone door that has now been opened! A dark hand pushes the door open as a beast made of shadow crawls out and roars in challenge. Vosen and Garo flank the beast, as Beinlein's eidolon charges forwards. A green flash emits from the crystals in Lago's forehead as he trips, and envelops him and Garo. Thinking quickly, Nualia casts a Sleep spell on the creature, as Garo makes short work of silencing it.

Vanishing in an inky mist, several smaller creatures burst from the shadows. Different from the larger beast, these creatures, identified by Beinlein as voidlings, boast sharp claws and an erratic twitch in their movements. However, they pose no significant trouble for the party and are quickly dispatched.

Hidden Shrine
Venturing inside, Gregor realizes that the cave was the entrance for an elemental temple, a shrine to the four elements from an archaic cult long since past. Coming through a descending tunnel, the party emerges on the top floor of an abandoned main hall, still strangely lit from a source-less light. Four stone doors, two on each side of the top floor bear an insignia of one of the four elements. Two iron wrought spiral staircases descend to the ground floor with two more doors, each unmarked, a serene meditation pool with floating silver incense burners, and a massive door on the opposite end of the tunnel. Four spherical holes sit, two on each side of the door, as a strange barrier of light prevents the door from opening.

The Four Chambers
The first room entered, bearing the earth sigil, is roughly carved from natural stone, embedded with glittering gemstones. Stone pews form two rows across from a raised dais below a mural depicting mountains, valleys, and deserts. However, more pressing are the half dozen voidlings loitering in the room that immediately assault the party! Quickly defeated, one drops a clear orb, small as a human's fist, filled with a brown-grey smoke. Upon touching the orb, the holder experiences visceral imagery of the essence of earth, as they feel pulled through the loam and rock into the center of the earth for a few seconds. The gem appears to have been set into an indention on the dais.

The room bearing the water sigil holds no voidlings, but ankle-deep water with more silvery incense burners. The walls appear to have been worn away by rushing water, but the stone pews have been worn away from some sort of acid. A quick study by Beinlein reveals that the water is corrupted and must be crossed in order to reach the blue orb on a pedestal at the opposite end of the room. Or to be a clever arcanist and just cast mage hand. Again, the orb induces feelings of plunging into the deepest oceans.

The fire room seems perfectly preserved, yet empty aside from the pews and two iron floor sconces, one holding a lit flame, the other knocked to the floor. Garo, who entered the room first, feels a slight resistance upon entering, as if passing through a protective veil. Seeing another orb in the standing sconce, the dwarf reaches for the orb.

"Stop" calls a weak, whispered voice from the fire, "are you the ones corrupting this temple?"

Garo realizes that it is indeed the fire talking, being a young fire elemental. Explaining to the elemental that they are not, in fact, the ones who have corrupted the shrine, the fire sprite, introducing himself as Brim, asks to come with them.

"I have been alone here for over two centuries, but there is nothing left to protect. The faithful are long gone my master is no more." Brim can leave with the party, but only through a temporary enchantment, decided to be Garo's lucerne hammer, and let his warding on the room fade away. Brim quickly warms up to the party.

A Forgotten Age
Following the pattern, the party comes to the air chamber, only to find it locked. Vosen steps forward, and determines the the door is not locked, but blocked by something on the other side. Garo and the eidolon force the door open a crack with all their strength, but a small trickle of gravel empties through the opening. Brim recalls a booming noise, "possibly an earthquake perhaps?" that happened some decades ago. They all reason that the room may have collapsed into the one below.

The ground floor rooms contain the remnants of the collapsed air room and orb as well as a workshop for creating magic items (Brim again explains that the art of making magic items has been lost with the decline of the elementals, for the greatest of their kind could enchant items with a piece of their essence, literally bestowing an aspect of their divinity to followers). The opposite room is a library, filled mostly with empty, ancient tomes. Again explained by Brim, over 300 years ago, some event apparently wiped out all knowledge and history, erasing the minds of beings and the words straight out of books.

Back in the main hall, each orb is placed in the appropriate slot as the door opens, revealing stairs leading upwards. Sneaking ahead, Vosen spots voidlings surrounding a ritual circle written in the floor, at the base of a long-dead ancient earth elemental of huge proportions. Overseeing the ritual is an undead once young girl missing her lower jaw.

An intense fight ensues as the ritual is determined to be Abjuration in origin, strengthing the power of the shadow creatures. A bubbling black acid sprays from the undead’s throat that nearly wipes out the party. Barely victorious, the party carefully breaks the circle as Lago memorizes the ritual just for good measure. Investigating the undead (which strangely did not turn to ash), he removes some samples of the acid and recalls a single, ominous word from the back of his mind “Harbinger”

And that's the first session! The party immediately levelled after; don't want to keep them squishy for too long :smallwink:

2014-11-03, 12:39 PM
Chapter 2: The Gods of the White Tower
It seems we get a lot accomplished in a single session, so sorry if these get wordy. The more detail I include, the less likely I am to forget that detail if I need to reference it later.

Back on Track
After spending the night at the foot of the dead earth elemental, the master of the shrine, the party ventures through a mile long tunnel and emerges into a wooded glade. Seeing a path leading towards the white tower, and a campfire rising above the treeline, Vosen sneaks ahead. He finds a camp at the base of several small cliffs, with a stream running through the middle. On the opposite side are several humans in black armor lounging around the fire, while half a dozen voidlings silently patrol the camp.

Oblivious to the rogue's presence, the black-armored men greet another human emerging from down the path, hauling Beinlein's cart (a remarkable coincidence, I know, but I didn't want to be a jerk and take the cart away from Beinlein, especially since he sunk some gold in equipping it). The man with the cart reports to a fierce looking fellow, apparently the group's leader, with a wild black beard. One of the man's followers questions him,

"Why do we have to work with these creatures anyway? They give me the creeps."

"Harbinger's orders, that's why" the bearded man growls, "and her orders come straight from the Dark One, so we follow." The bearded man's lackey shrinks in submission at a glare from his superior. Seeing enough, Vosen silently retreats back a ways to report to the party.

Back down the path, Vosen quickly gives a report to the party at what just transpired. The party debates what course of action to take, for noone in the party is especially capable of stealth, especially Garo and Gregor. Beinlein, understandably, also doesn't want to leave without his cart. After hearing the description of the men, Gregor gives his opinion,

"Sounds like the Dark Callers. They're a band of brigands that have been wreaking havoc to farms and estates around the city. My men and I have dealt with them several times, they're a nasty bunch, although I've never heard of them consorting with the shadow creatures before."

That seemed to settle it, but before they could take action, a shout is heard from the camp. (Hearing this, the party rushes back in time to witness the following exchange)

"DRAX!" bellows a woman from the top of the cliffs. Clad in pale green and white, her long hair is a white-blonde, but she appears heavily injured, leaning heavily to her right side as a stream of blood pours from a gash on her forehead. Despite her injuries, she issues a challenge to the bearded man seemingly named Drax, and his followers with her longbow trained on their leader.

"Final warning! Throw down your weapons and come quietly, or I'll pay you back for the farmers you slaughtered ten-fold!"

Retorting with a hearty laugh, Drax raises his arm as a blazing flame of black and red flares from his opened hand. "It's their own damn fault for living so far from the safety of the city, Voyager. They're in out territory and we'll butcher them however we wish-"

Drax's taunt is cut short as a gleaming light emits from the woman's bow, an arrow shooting forward and impaling Drax in the chest. Laughing again, Drax hurls the flame at the woman, as his men turn to face the party as they run into the clearing.

Lago, having his bonds released right before the battle, immediately runs frantically into the woods to the right, a glow from the crystals surrounding him and Nualia (Lago's character actually didn't realize that part of the battlemap represented woods, but it was hilarious and strangely still in character). Beinlein takes a shot with his crossbow and dispatches a voidling as Garo and the eidolon charge head on into the fray, Gregor limping behind with an axe borrowed from the dwarf. The Dark Callers engage the party, the man by Beinlein's cart hopping in to take cover as he shoots the party with a crossbow, the bolt narrowly missing Nualia.

Several rounds pass as the Dark Callers and their shadowy minions fall one by one, and despite considerable damage from the white-haired woman, Drax finally takes her down with a fiery blast. With Drax the only one remaining, Nualia intimidates him for information, and learn of the Dark God whom they follow. Lago dashes up the cliffs to revive the woman, who gratefully introduces herself as Arlessa Whitelock.

The Grand Cathedral
Now able to stand, Arlessa reveals herself as a ranger/paladin, a Voyager of the White Tower. Thanking the party for their assistance, she requests their help to gather the bodies of the farmers slain by Drax in his men, a dwarven family called the Stoneholds. Arlessa explains that the lord of the tower is known as Sune and can apparently bring the Stoneholds back to life.

This naturally raises some questions, which Arlessa answers to the best of her ability for she knows little of Sune's true nature, and it would be ideal for the party to meet her directly (it is also discovered that Gregor and Arlessa have fought together in the past). In the mean time, the party reaches the destroyed farm to load the bodies of the farmers onto the cart, while Garo recovers a silver heirloom of the family to return upon their revival.

Heading towards the base of the tower, the city of Illium is a fantastic spectacle to behold. Surrounded by by three massive walled tiers, seven towers rise from above each gate into the city, each topped with an orb that glows a different color to mark each day of the week. The tower of the Grand Cathedral shoots into the sky beyond the clouds as far as can be seen, while the feathered wings of angels hover amid the highest spires.

The God of the White Tower
Leading the party through the walls of the city, Arlessa takes the group up one of the main avenues up to the open doors of the cathedral. At this point, Gregor parts ways, saying he needs to return to his mercenary company, the Driftblades, and offers to come up with a job for the party if they come to him in two days or so.

Entering the cathedral, which is less church and more massive civic center, the party follows Arlessa up to a floor with dozens of identical wooden doors. Walking over to a seemingly random door, Arlessa states that Sune will meet the party inside. Entering the room, a comfortable lounge with a pleasant smell of incense, each member of the party sees themself in white robes standing in the middle of the room, and hearing their own voice,

"Greetings, I am Sune."

Sune thanks the party for their role in stopping the harbinger, and much time is spent asking Sune questions about his nature. Sune reveals that he always takes the form of whomever he is addressing, as they see themself to make them more at ease. The party learns that Sune has almost absolute power within the cathedral, can appear at multiple places at once (and is, in fact, having a private meeting with hundreds of others at this very second), and can even bring the dead back to life, but only once. Becoming the Chaste, these souls live full, unaltered lives but can never leave the cathedral, their lives being bound to Sune’s. Sune, however, only manifests in the cathedral once a week, with each other day hosting a different deity in the temple. Following him at the behest of Sune’s personal attendant, a young boy named Carn, the party moves to a different room and witnesses as the Stonehold family is returned to life.

Adventures in Illium
Having been paid for their service and supplied with free lodging at a local inn (The Disgruntled Owlbear), the party splits up to investigate the city. Nualia travels to the university district and meets with Maester Tyrannus, the arcane tower’s expert on magic items, as the master takes a liking to her curiosity and extends an offer to supply her with some experimental magic items in the future to test in the field. Garo meets a half-orc smith named Bronce who agrees to forge him masterwork armor/weapons after meeting his fee. Noting that the city would be a great place for his family business, Garo also sends a message to his older sister in Blink Bay to the north. Vosen practices his sleight of hand by performing knife juggling to an enthusiastic crowd. Beinlein and Lago head to the garrison district to return Lago’s bounty (with a plan to spring him later and keep the money).

Meeting a tough-looking halfing woman with a patch over her left eye who heads the bounty office, she takes Lago into custody. However, the promised fee is not delivered upon, it seems that the mysterious entity who placed the bounty insisted on collecting Lago personally, then grant the reward, the strangeness of which is not lost upon the halfling.

Later that night, Lago hears several creatures enter the halfling’s office, and a muffled thump. Approaching his cell are three small creatures completely covered in black robes and now have the keys. Preparing himself, Lago knocks down the creature opening the cell, and revives the halfling as they take the fight to the streets. When defeated, the creatures poof out of existence in a bright flash, leaving only their robes behind. With his captor distracted, Lago escapes and dashes back to the inn, bursting through the doors to the party's room!

I'd say it was a very successful session! The latter half was completely improvised, as it mostly had to do with backstory stuff. I think an index of relevant info might be a good idea, so I'll probably add that in later.

2014-11-08, 08:52 PM
Chapter 3: Darkness in the Depths
This was a big session, and one I'm glad to say went pretty well! In retrospect, I should have used Pathfinder's Chase rules for the latter part, but the big fight went swimmingly (literally in some respects) and I got to set up some dark foreshadowing for the next game!

A Stroke of Good Luck
The party jolts awake as Lago barrels into the room, frantically explaining his escape at the hands of the mysterious strangers in dark rags. Garo begins to belt on his armor as the party decides what course of action to take, with Lago becoming increasingly uneasy. It’s finally decided that Lago should take some money and head to a tavern in a different district and lay low for a while.

However, the crash of a door bursting open downstairs reveals that the party took far too long! Now thoroughly panicked and with nowhere to run, Lago opens up the window and hangs down the sill, prepared to drop two stories if necessary. Following the heavy thump of armored boots on the stairs comes a knock on the door. The halfling woman, now with two burly guards stands in the hallway,

“’Evening Bubblepot,” speaks the halfling curtly, addressing the bounty hunter, “you wouldn’t happen to have heard anything from your bounty, would you?”

“No, why would I?” responds Beinlein, giving his best bluff. During the exchange Garo, not to be caught in a combat unaware, pushes his way into the hallway, his hand hovering over his hammer.

“We had a bit of a break-in. Whoever-whatever they were, they weren’t there for the money, but for Lago. I’d guess that the folks that put up that bounty had no interest in compensating either of us, and I don’t like being cheated.”

Upon hearing this, Lago loudly expresses his relief and pulls himself back into the room. The halfling, formally introducing herself as Hilda, tells Lago and Beinlein that as far as she is concerned, Lago’s bounty is void, and she’ll work to take down any remaining posters immediately. Further, as a show of her gratitude (for she would likely be dead without Lago’s assistance), Hilda offers to waive a bounty if the party gets a price on their head in the future, and provide information on bounties as best she can. With that, Hilda excuses herself, and bids the party good night as an annoyed Garo goes through the process of removing his armor and heading back to bed (and as a joke on my part, tells Lago to find a better spot next time; she had three archers trained on him the whole time. Naturally, looking out the window revealed nothing but an empty street).

Morning Errands
The next morning, the party again splits to explore the city. Beinlein and Lago travel to the North Market in search of any available magic items, and with a recommendation from a helpful passerby, decide on the Shriveled Owl, an older establishment wedged between the other buildings. Inside, they are greeted by an ancient owl with a whispered “HooOOoo,” that sends a shiver down their spines. The cheerful shopkeeper, a male gnome by the name of Dempton, proves to be a stark opposite, and greets the two warmly, assisting them to purchase some scrolls. When asked about the titular shriveled owl, Dempton explains that Harrold was his familiar that died while adventuring, and he had it revived as an undead. Necromancy is indeed frowned upon in the city, however a small owl is seen as harmless enough. The two leave the shop with another whispered hoot from the reanimated owl.

Several districts over, Nualia again meets with Maester Tyrannus who gives he some beginner lessons on the arts of arcane magic to compliment her natural skill, while Garo writes up a letter to his sister in Blink Bay with the intent of opening up a branch of his family’s business in Illium. On errands of his own, Vosen heads to a seedy tavern in the inn district, orders a drink, and spends several hours trying to overhear any quests from the chatty patrons. The tiefling picks up that, in addition to the frequency of raids on local farms, bodies have disappearing from mausoleums in the necropolis. He also catches rumors of contraband being smuggled into the city, crime in the undercity, and how Sune’s Voyagers have been spread far too thin to adequately regulate the areas outside the town. At the sun begins to set, Vosen and the rest of the party head back to the Disgruntled Owlbear for some rest.

Missing Bodies
The following day marked the second since the party arrived in the city, so everyone opted to visit Gregor to take him up on his offer for a job. Heading over the Driftblade’s headquarters in the garrison, the party meets Sir Gregor, now cured of his partial petrification. He confirms what Vosen heard the night before in the tavern; that corpses are indeed disappearing from the necropolis. There appears to be no pattern for what bodies are abducted, time since death, race, or even location of the burial seem irrelevant to whoever or whatever is taking the bodies. And aside from whatever the corpse was wearing, no valuables have been removed from coffins, and there have been no undead seen of late. With the town guard unable to turn up any leads, his mercenary group was contracted, although Gregor’s men have had no more success. Accepting the job, with a significant fraction of the reward, the party is hired to find the source of the missing bodies in the Driftblade’s name.

Gregor sends a recruit to escort the party to the latest abduction, a small wayshrine located in the center of the necropolis. The small stone room has a spicy aroma of plants growing from planters near the ceiling, and seven clear orbs of different colors are arranged in a ‘V’ formation in a room to the left of the entrance. The caretaker of the shrine, an elderly halfling named Dempton, greets the adventurers, and gives them the details of the latest abduction and offers to lead them down into the catacombs (after explaining the orbs: one for each of the seven gods, with a clear one in the middle representing Sune through which the other six can be seen).

The catacombs are arrayed in a geometric formation, with alcoves in the wall three high and three across, allowing for a door at each end, leading into an identical room. Possessing ample knowledge in dungeoneering, Vosen and Garo begin to explore the rooms, eventually coming across one where the lowest alcove has been blocked off. Garo deduces that the block can be moved inwards, but Vosen stops him, and quickly checks for traps. Disabling a small dart trap, Vosen removes the Greenblood oil from the darts and keeps it in his possession.

Into the Sewers
Deeming the block safe, Garo pushes it inwards, revealing a slide that appears to descend a good ways before dropping off to a larger room. Dripping water can be heard at the far side. Hopping down first, Garo botches a climb roll and slides out into the other room, falling twenty feet before landing hard on a walkway. The party follows as they find themselves in a very large sewer, with walkways on either side of an artificial river flowing southward. Lago strikes up a torch to light the way as Beinlein checks for signs of magic; everburning torches appear to have once lit the tunnel, but only the sconces remain. Getting an idea, Beinlein checks the duration of the residual magic energy, and determines that the torches leading southward were removed before the ones leading north. Assuming someone must have taken the torches and travelled northwards against the water flow, the party follows in the direction.

The tunnel complex is massive, and the party walks northward for a good twenty minutes. During this time, Lago periodically checks the water, and after some time, sees a severed arm floating down the stream! He also has a strange feeling that something is ‘off’ about the water, and after a knowledge check, identifies it as similar to the corrupted water from the elemental shrine, with the corruption growing further up the stream. Exercising caution, Beinlein uses Mage Hand to retrieve the arm, which indeed appears to have decayed, but not from the acidic water (they guess the corruption is not quite as strong just yet).

The adventurers hurry to the end of the tunnel, where a waterfall pours from twenty feet above, with steel ladders on each end of the walkway. Climbing upwards, two doors are on either side of the walkway, and a small iron grate in the middle blocks entrance while allowing the water to flow forth. Garo opens the left door cautiously, but halts at a warning from Beinlein (he declared to be casting Detect Magic throughout the tunnel) who sense an Alarm on the other end of the door, specifically, an audible alarm. The party debates what to do, and finally decide to trigger the alarm and off-set the alarm with a Ghost Sound of the opposite frequency (I opted to allow this, assuming Nualia could make two pretty high DC rolls; a spellcraft to adjust the spell just right, and a reflex to time it). As Garo tripped the alarm, Nualia’s attempt fails as two different bell noises chime through the chamber. Flinging caution to the wind, Garo bursts into the room!

The Infamous Clays
Through the door is a huge chamber, roughly octagonal in shape, water churning below walkways alongside the walls of the room. Water flows gently through pipes and grates high up on each wall. In the center, is a steel platform support by catwalks on the east, west, and north sides of the room. Well-dressed human on the platform stands below a ladder leading into a hole in the ceiling, and turns toward the party, then shouts to someone up on the ladder,

“Honey! We have guests!” Looking back the party the man, continues “Now, what would y’all be doing trespassing in these parts, friends?” To which the party asks if he owns this place. “No, we’re trespassing too, and as long as you have no business with us or that door back there,” he gestures to the north end of the chamber, “we’ll have no problems.” He stops to grab a bag that falls down the hole, jingling as if full of coins or metal. Following the bag, a tall muscular half-elven woman slides drops down the ladder, a glaive at her back.

Beinlein suddenly recognizes the two from wanted posters as Lucius Clay and Terra Clay the ‘Infamous Clays,’ a husband and wife duo known for their elaborate thefts. “Are you the ones who have been taking the corpses?” asks the gnome summoner as Vosen and Nualia slowly inches across the walkway to the catwalk.

“Nope, that’d be our companion, paying us, I might add, to guard his back while he performs some ritual to his god. And it doesn’t hurt that this location is positioned beneath a famous jeweler’s” Lucius answers, prompting a chuckle from his wife.

“And which god would that be” queries Vosen.

“Something with darkness, the shadow god or something’.”

“It wouldn’t happen to be the Dark One, would it?”

“Yeah, that’s the one,” exclaims Lucius.

Trying to resolve the situation diplomatically, Vosen continues, “How much is your companion paying you? We could arrange to match that, if you allow us to pass.”

Clearly dropping into his business-speak, Lucius responds, “Now, you see, our companion happens to be my brother, and blood runs thicker than water as they say.”

“How do you know I’m not your brother?” shouts out Lago as Vosen steps right up to the catwalk.

Pulling a wand from the bracer on his arm, Lucius points it at the tiefling, “You don’t come any closer, now. You’re no family of mine, friend.” A missile of force explodes from the wand and hits Nualia hard in the chest as the party engages in hostilities.

A Raging Battle
Immediately, Terra swings her glaive into use, and adopts a fierce battle stance as she braces herself on the platform, facing Vosen (and goes into rage). Lucius casts a spell on himself and grabs a metal lever (readying a move action to pull it). Vosen looses a knife and tosses it towards Terra, but falls just short. Garo, ready to go as soon as they entered the room, dashes across the walkway. Lucius was apparently waiting for this, and flings the lever, causing a flood of water to burst from the pipes! Reacting just in the nick of time, Nualia dodges out of the way and Garo thrusts his hammer into the floor to hold himself, as water surges over his head. Beinlein, the eidolon (who we named Groot), and Lago move closer, but are unable to pass the water engulfing the dwarf. Beinlein shoots a crossbow bolt at Lucius which bounces off the steel grating around the platform, and Lago casts a buffing power.

Having dodged the blade, Terra rushes forward and slashes at Vosen, narrowly missing, as Lucius shouts out, “Now Lyra!” as a female halfling drops from an alcove above the entrance! Long sword in hand, she plunges it into Lago’s back (with sneak attack damage)! Focusing on the Clays, Vosen dodges past Terra and steps right up to Lucius (readying an action to attack). With all his might, Garo pushes through the torrent of water, and emerges dripping and furious, while Nualia claws at Terra. Beinlein and Groot react quickly to the new combatant, although she easily dodges their attacks.

Terra’s next attack hits Nualia hard, but Vosen manages to foil Lucius’ spell, stepping up as the caster moves back. Thinking quickly, Beinlein castes Grease on Lyra’s shoes as Groot pushes her back into the water! Terra steps back towards her husband and slashes Vosen, as Lucius casts Hydralic Push, knocking Nualia back over the railing and into the churning water.

“By the way, my brother did give us a little extra help!” Lucius taunts, as a decayed fin pops out of the water and speeds towards Nualia! Garo reacts quickly (delaying his action to Nualia’s turn), and holds out his hammer, using it to help scoop Nualia out of the water just as the zombified shark’s jaw leers close! Despite injuries, Nualia and Vosen press their advantage against Lucius, as Vosen tosses another dagger straight into Lucius’ chest (Critical hit! It nearly dropped him)!

“Alright, stop! I’m calling it,” gasps Lucius as Terra reluctantly holds back her polearm, Lyra pulling herself back out of the water. “This job officially became too dangerous,” the injured outlaw continues, “We’ll let you pass; honestly, Rylus was my least favorite brother.”

The party accepts the surrender, taking half the jewelry from the store (tossing one of the bags to Lucius) as well as the outlaw’s wand of Magic Missile. Lucius warns the party to be careful around the water; the shark’s only orders were to attack everyone except the Clay’s. With that, the Clays leave the party to their own devices.

Darkness Rising
Opening the door in the north end of the room leads to an unworked stone tunnel in an enormous cavern, appearing to be an underground lake. Again, a path extends slightly from the wall, and a single small peninsula extends from the far end of the cavern, where torch lights can be seen, as well as the shadow of many figures standing on the small strip of rock. The party realized they can be seen, for they are still bearing torches, but there appears to be no response from the figures in the distance. As they walk towards the rocky outcrop, Beinlein, Garo, and Vosen notice something on the ceiling out over the water. A decayed body drags its way out of the earth, and drops loudly into the water. Beinlein takes not that the necromantic energies possessing the corpse leave once it hits the water. This event happens once more before the group arrives at the strip of land, and worsens the corrupted water.

Animated skeletons stand idle on the path, as a man in black robes works on a runic circle on the ground. Even from this distance, Lago can tell it’s a variation of the symbol from the elemental shrine. The man in the robe, still preoccupied calls out,

“Did you have any trouble, brother? You certainly made enough of a commotion.”

Taking advantage of their momentary surprise, the party rushes the skeletons, bones flying in all directions, moving halfway across the rock in a few seconds.

“Lucius you bastard!” exclaims the hooded man as he frantically draws on the circle. The party reaches the circle just as the man holds a dagger to his throat, “Too late!” he says, slitting his throat as his lifeless body crumples to the rock. Still beset by the skeletons, Lago notices that the torches around the walkway can’t be seen, as if something is blocking them. Suddenly, the darkness forms into a cloud of black energy centered on the circle, barreling past the part, spawning voidlings in its way.

The fastest members of the party, Groot, Garo, and Vosen take chase, with the rest of the party dispatching the voidlings behind. Approaching the mass of darkness past the large chamber and into the tunnel, Vosen and Garo get a crazy idea. Garo holds up his arms as Vosen jumps on, hurling the tiefling as far as he can manage. Hitting the ground running, Vosen lands ahead of the cloud, connected a blow with the dark mass. Unimpeded, it speeds through the tiefling, who hears a deep feminine voice chuckle,

“Foolish half-breed.”

Daylight streams into the tunnel from the bars at the southern end, and the cloud hits it with full force, seeming to manifest wings and take into the air! The party bursts outside, just off from Illuim’s gates to see poisoned water stream from the grate, as the black orb hovers above them in the distance!

And with that, DING! level up! I'm extremely satisfied with how everything turned out. Hopefully, we can keep up this momentum :smallcool:

2014-11-15, 02:59 PM
Chapter 4: Onward to Blink Bay
Pretty good session, although it seemed rather short. Also, I added in a list of notable NPC's/Monsters so noone forgets anyone important :smalltongue:

Bringers of Bad News
Standing by the steel barred exit to the sewers, the party stares cautiously at the ominous dark cloud hovering far overhead (at this point, Beinlein's player asks if they can re-stat their characters in the vein of Elder Scrolls Oblivion :smalltongue:). Quickly recovering from the frantic chase, the party heads towards the cathedral with haste. Upon entering the city gates, however, they find that the dark cloud has seemingly disappeared. Lago confirms this by dashing back through the gate to take a glimpse outside. Somewhat unsettled, the group walks up through the tiers of the city to the base of the infinite tower. Passing through the threshold into they find themselves in the central innermost chamber, a vast circular room with no apparent ceiling, for the tower ascends beyond sight. In the middle of the room, floating several feet above the ground is the goddess Wendolia. Over seven feet tall, the deity's skin swirls with interchanging colors of all hues, her long hair tumbling almost to the floor. Music resonates throughout the chamber, not just from the goddess, but from the surround crowd of artisans. Painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, and crafters of all disciplines cluster around the goddess, drawing inspiration from her very presence.

Picking out a familiar face from the crowd, Nualia gestures Carn over. The young priest greets the party, but his cheerfulness turns to dismay at the party's grim tidings. Pushing through the throng of artisans (and disrupting a painter and a man carving a wooden duck in the process, fixed by a quick Mend from Beinlein), Carn leads the group to the goddess,

"Greetings Carn my dear," speaks Wendolia in a musical voice, "and greetings to you all! I am Wendolia, how may I help you?"

The party quickly relays the incident in the sewers, how the missing corpses led into a plot to poison Illium's water supply, and unleash a dark force. Her expression grim, Wendolia instructs Carn to lead the party to the library archives before teleporting away in a burst of color and music. The priest knows the cathedral like the back of his hand, and quickly brings the party to a huge library, with Wendolia floating above a pile of books. Tomes fly off the shelves before the goddess' eyes, flipping through their pages before landing to the floor. Lago offers his information about the symbols in the shrine and in the sewer, as Wendolia reveals she may know what has occurred, and possibly how to fix it.

The geography of the world fluctuates constantly, land shifting outwards centered on Illium, and occasionally pushing smaller settlements out, or swallowing them completely. Another primary function of the Voyagers is to map out new land, for when areas of the world are forgotten by mortals, a darkness flows in to cover it. The symbols found by the party are intended to draw the dark unknown closer, and a strong enough presence of the marks could engulf the entire world. It stands to reason that this Dark One resides in the unknown beyond the fringes of the world, and has sent forth the dark callers and the harbinger to spread the symbols.

However, continues the goddess, the symbols represent a long-term problem and the city's water supply is being poisoned as they speak! Wendolia instructs Carn to gather every willing cleric in the city to begin creating water, and to shut down the waterworks immediately. Turning to the party, the goddess states that her research yielded knowledge of an artifact, the Sea King's Gem that resides in a temple near the northern port of Blink Bay, that could prove to be the city's salvation. During this conversation, the artisans have begun to file back into the library to again approach the goddess. At the mention of the gem, Brim flares up from Garo's hammer (at this, the man crafting the wooden duck gawks at the elemental, his jaw dropping in surprise) to explain that the fire sprite recalls the name as one Water's holy artifacts. The gem can purify any amount of water, and a fresh water sea supposedly surrounded Water's palace. Wendolia requests that the party travel to temple to recover the gem, along with the sole remaining Voyager in the city. At this, the man carving the duck interrupts, introducing himself as Ravelston Radcliff, and beseeches both the party and the goddess to accompany them on their journey. Having dedicated his life to learning about elementals, he could prove to be a powerful asset in the journey to come. Accepting his request, the party hurries to complete unfinished business in Illium before departing.

Sensing the need for urgency, the party sets out to make preparations to depart the city before dusk. Beinlein meets with a familiar face in Arlessa, who is the Voyager who will accompany the party due to her notable tracking skills. Arlessa has prepared a horse-drawn cart stocked with supplies for the use of the party. Lago meets with Gregor to receive their reward for solving the case of the missing corpses, and brings back a thousand gold. Garo and Vosen meet with the smith Bronce to reclaim their masterwork arms and armor. Nualia returns to the university where Maester Tyrannus gives her a necklace with limited and unpredictable teleportation powers, with the task of comprehensively documenting its abilities. Bidding her master farewell, Nualia meets with the party at the north gate, travelling northward with the city to their backs.

The first day is completely uneventful, as the party passes through a well maintained road surrounded by farm on all sides, seeing other travelers along the way. However, after noon on the second day, the party spots a billowing column of smoke in the distance, and a dark omen as the black cloud again hovers in the sky overhead, having appeared out of nowhere. Urged on by Arlessa, the party investigates the farm, coming to a field of wheat across from a barn and farmhouse steadily burning. In front of the barn, the stalks of wheat have been firmly flattened, except for a small central patch. Suddenly, a demonic creature jumps on a platform behind the central patch, humanoid in appearance except for red hair, sharpened teeth and crimson hair. In an excited voice, the demon greets the party,

"Hello mortal flesh bags! My name is Sin, Harbinger of the Dark One and Greatest of Demons! I've been waiting for you! And besides, they're all burning alive in the barn, don't you want to go save them?" Smiling a toothy grin, the demon sets the central stalks on fire with a blast from his hand, as several dretches emerge from the surrounding field!

Ambush! - This will probably change. I tend to get details wrong in the combat sections and my group will correct me
Reacting quickly, Garo moves forward into position to engage one of the dretches as he hears a clanking metallic noise from under the flattened wheat. Suddenly, steel teeth sink into his leg revealing a bear trap hidden beneath! The dretches storm forth, slashing Garo, but missing the rest of the party. With a pulse of psionic energy, Lago uses Expansion to increases the size ofhimself, Nualia, and Groot who strikes at the lesser demons along with Vosen, as Beinlein casts a Long Arm spell on his eidolon (whose reach is a stupidly effective 20 ft. His most recent evolution turned his arms into tentacle-like appendages). Nualia uses her newly-acquired wand to send a magic missile at Sin, which dissipates on a shield of force. Arlessa focuses and takes out a dretch with a well-placed arrow, as an energy ray from Ravelston shoots astray from Sin (Ravelston does peg the demonic traits of Sin and the Dretches with a Knowledge(Planes) roll).

With the center of the battlefield ablaze, Sin hops off the crates he was standing in, directly into the flames! Pushing through the stalks, he emerges to breath a cone of fire onto Garo and Vosen. Dodging out of the way, the tiefling rogue analyzes the trap, and realizing it would take too long to disarm, chooses instead to attack Sin. Vosen's rapier almost makes contact, but a shield of electricity arcs off of the demon, zapping the rogue. The rest of the party steadily fend off the dretches, while carefully choosing their movements until Vosen, Nualia, and Groot position themselves to engage Sin. Their attacks reflected off his shield, Sin skillfully dodges out of their reach and retreats back to the center of the blazing wheat field (several very impressive Acrobatics rolls), calling out in Abyssal (and unknown to the party, uses the round to recast one of his spells),

"It is time Hurŏn, cast your shadow!"

The winged darkness responds far above, as a wave of darkness passes over the field. From it emerge two voidlings for every dretch slain! Unfettered by the appearance of more combatants, Ravelston, Groot, Garo, and Arlessa quickly dispatch several voidlings. Lago attempts to circle around, but steps into the iron maw of another bear trap, as Vosen follows Sin into the burning field. The tiefling thrusts with his rapier and connects, triggering the electricity spell which reflects harmlessly against his natural fiendish resistance. Retorting, Sin swings his handaxe hard into Vosen's right shoulder, and leans in close,

"I could smell your tainted blood a mile away halfbreed," as Sin sinks his jagged teeth into Vosen's neck! Ravelston manifests a power to raise Sin's body temperature as the rest of the party gangs up on Sin and the last of the voidlings. A final blast from Ravelston pushes Sin out of the field as the demon's limp form crashes into the crates. Checking his body, Garo finds nothing but the armor on Sin's back, the demon's rusty handaxe, and a folded up note of parchment reading,

"Dear mortal meatsacks, on the off chance you have manage to best me in combat (Ha!), you will find nothing of note in my possession. Enjoy the pitiful remnants of your meager existance before my Master destroys you all. -The One True Sin, Harbringer of the Dark One and Greatest of Demons."

Disgusted, Garo stomps hard on the demon's face as the party searches for survivors.

A Quiet Moment
Despite Sin's claim, the party finds noone on the farm, and no signs of recent habitation. On the stone floor of the barn, another symbol, identical to the one in the shrine is carved into the stone. Garo looks closer at the stonework, determining that it was carved not more than two days prior, before destroying it completely. With that, the party leaves the smoldering farm to continue on their path, still stalked from above by the dark cloud Hurŏn.

Five days pass uneventfully, as Arlessa informs the party they're making good time, and should reach Blink Bay in two more days. That evening while the party makes camp, Arlessa pulls Vosen aside and asks if she can talk with him for a moment. Stepping away from the rest of the group, Arlessa reveals to Vosen that she knows he is a tiefling, and wants to assure him that it will cause no trouble with her occupation as a demon hunter. In fact, Arlessa has strong celestial blood in her veins, so she knows a little of what it's like to be an outsider (puns!). Rather awkwardly, Arlessa thanks Vosen and offers that if is resolve ever wavers, he can come to her directly as the party prepares to turn in for the night.

Attack on Blink Bay
After eight days of travel, the party arrives at their destination, the northern port city of Blink Bay. Standing on a hill, the group has a good vantage point to take in the whole city. Positioned in the middle of rocky formations that form a curved bay, half of the city sits on a slope descending towards the water, while the other half is built on a number of small islands forming a section directly out over the sea. Most of the buildings are built of brick and low to the ground, with flat roofs often decorated with tropical plants. In the bay are several ships, and as the party looks onwards, one disappears from sight, only to reappear an instant later several hundred feet back! A strange phenomenon surrounding the city, ships are teleported back and forth within the bay, seemingly at random, although it has defended the city in the past by teleporting raider ships out of the bay entirely.

Entering the city along with other travelers and traders, the group asks around to see if anyone knows about the Sea King's gem. Strangely, the gem is being kept at the temple in the center of the city on display. Once an elemental shrine, it was abandoned and has been re-purposed as a civic center, and is where the city council holds meetings. The temple sits over the water in the lower half of the city, and the party follows the directions given.

Suddenly, a tremor shakes the city streets as a building to the party's left begins to sink into the water! Reacting quickly, Beinlein orders everyone to keep calm and evacuate the area, which almost immediately alerts the town guards (using the settlement rules, it was an impressive Diplomacy check). Hearing screams from the building, Lago, Vosen, and Nualia immediately rush inside and follow the shouts up the stairs to the roof. On top of the building are three water elementals, holding several civilians hostage half-drowning them in their watery grasp. They attack the water elementals as the building starts to collapse downwards. Groot stands to the side of the building as a living ladder, hoisting Garo and Beinlein upwards, and taking the civilians down to safety after being freed.

In an attempt to be diplomatic, Brim tries to reason with his 'brothers' to no avail, somberly declaring that they are lost, as the elementals haven taken the color of the now-familiar corrupted water. With another resounding boom the neighboring building starts to collapse as well! Now ready, Arlessa and the town guards dash inside and save the remaining tenants of the building, Arlessa bursting through the second-story window (now almost at ground level) holding two young children. Ravelston, remaining on the ground, emits several psionic blasts at the remaining elementals, finally forcing them back below the street level as the entire block sinks into the sea. Looking downwards in the aftermath, the party sees dozens of water elementals swim out of sight into the darkness below.

Shorter session this time around, the combat in the middle took longer than I had expected, but I suppose it's to be expected since the crux of Sin's strategy was to keep the party at a distance. Sure enough, once they got close he went down in less than three rounds. But I got everything accomplished and set up some foreshadowing for later sessions.

2014-12-16, 01:13 PM
Chapter 5: The Voice of Darkness
Another long session, although possibly less to write. At this point in the adventure, I planned to go into a bit of Garo and Beinlein's backstory, and play around with some different ideas.

Council Meeting
Following the destruction of an entire city block, the party is escorted to Blink Bay's civic center housed in the re-purposed elemental temple. There, they are introduced to a young elf gentleman named Orlai, who brings them before the city's ruling council. The members of the council are the elven Lord Elrath, the dwarven Lord Kraghammer, and the human Lady Hera, who thank the party for their assistance in saving people from the disaster, but are rather taken aback by the request to take the Sea King's Gem to purify the corrupted water in Illium. Following some convincing and the presence of Voyager Arlessa, Kraghammer and Hera seem amiable, but are rebutted by Elrath who is the primary member of the council. During the dispute, Orlai quickly explains that the city is governed by a council of merchant lords, chosen from a sub council of around thirty members who all represent the most prominent business owners in Blink Bay. Elrath does eventually concede if the party manages to fix a large number of the city's problems: pirates are attacking certain businesses, there is a plague in the lower wards, and of course, the water elementals attacking the city need to be stopped if you-have-the-time-thank-you-very-much-goodbye. The party ultimately agrees, but asks Orlai if he knows where the gem is being kept. He leads them into a central atrium where the gem is being kept behind glass and above a tall decorative fountain some thirty feet up. A cursory scan from Beinlein shows some security detecting the gem, the the actual carved blue stone isn't radiating any magical energy, leading the party to suspect the actual gem is held elsewhere.

During this time, the party is linked telepathically through Lago's network and holds much of their conversation over the link, resulting in very long awkward pauses where the NPC's just sort of look at the party confusedly. The network isn't powerful enough yet to include Arlessa as well, who as a result, decided to go along with this bizarre tendency of the party by nodding and giving occasional affirmative comments, to pretend she knows what's going on :smalltongue:

Family Reunion
The first thing the party decides to investigate is the pirate attacks, who they learned from Kraghammer are being focused largely on a Magmaeye Trade Company, with the branch in Blink Bay being operated by Garo's twin sister Kern. Garo gets directions to Kern's new office from Orlai, and their meeting with Kern is especially joyous, with Kern leaping over her desk to give Garo a powerful bear hug. Inviting the party to stay the night, she tells them of her troubles, with pirates attacking her ships once they leave the safety of the bay. The party reasons that they should focus their efforts on whoever is hiring the pirates, since they are only attacking ships with businesses under Lord Kraghammer's jurisdiction. Further, Lord Elrath may be the culprit behind both the attacks and the plague, since the diseases are largely affecting the workers of businesses affiliated with Lady Hera. Unfortunately, they cannot hop on a ship to fight the pirates directly, since delivering the Sea King's Gem is a matter of highest priority. Garo also requests any rare items his sister may have encountered, and she begrudgingly parts with a Belt of Giant's Strength under the condition that that will cover Garo's birthday presents for the next decade.

The following morning, the party walks to the lower wards out over the water, which were most heavily affected by this plague. With a tip from Kern, the party plans to meet with Beinlein's cousin Korble Bubblepot, who is using much of his potion shop's resources to help the afflicted. They are able to enter the section of the city, although they are warned against it by two guards on standby, and get directions to Bubblepot's Potion Emporium. There, they are greeted from a angry female voice coming from an above window, "Beinlein is that you! Why don't you ever write or visit!" Korble's wife Triza shouts at them. A warmer reception is offered by Korble, who is tending to several of the sick aside Arlessa (who had split up from the party) and another Voyager paladin, an older gnome named Fundin. Korble tells them about the disease while his two young daughters Milli and Triza run outside to play on Groot's branches. Apparently the plague is actually several diseases, all of them known if not necessarily common. They flare up for about a month, only to die out shortly afterward and be replaced by another affliction. Korble only has the talent to give patients the strength to fight off the disease on their own, but Fundin is a powerful enough healer to completely cure one or two patients a day. They are also being assisted by another alchemist named Kuga who has a clinic set up by the docks. The party gets directions and proceeds to meet Kuga.

Smells like a Rat
Kuga's clinic is formed from a modest pavilion close to the docks of the city, a single guard stands outside and rather rudely questions the party of their business before allowing them to enter. Within, around two dozen cots are set up, almost all full with those afflicted by the plague. In a separate section of the tent near the back, a small humanoid around three feet tall stands over a cauldron of glowing liquid. The humanoid wears a plague doctor's mask, hat, and cloak, not acknowledging the party's presence until they walk right up to him. Beinlein detects magic again on the cauldron, which appears to be of the Conjuration (Healing) school, while everyone questions the strange man, introduced as Kuga. Vosen takes an immediate dislike to Kuga, who stares at Nualia throughout the conversation. With a gut feeling that Kuga has been lying to them about his story of coming here to cure the various plagues with Korble, Vosen picks up Kuga by the collar and tries to takes off the mask. The guard outside hears Kuga's shouts, and dashes in, only to be sent out (albeit still suspicious) by the party. After a second bout of interrogation, Vosen takes Kuga's mask off, who panics again saying he will get sick, and stabs Vosen in the chest with the lance of a syringe. Unveiled, Kuga is a ratfolk instead of a halfling or gnome. The guard comes back in, saying he's had enough and draws his sword. Vosen senses that the two are working together, and Nualia pierces the guard in the chest with her claws killing him instantly. The party intimidates Kuga to come clean. The ratfolk concedes, but still retains a defiant attitude, "I worship plague. Misery." Kuga says, "The god of disease, Pithos. I have been infecting this town with different diseases only to cure them later. It is a grand sacrifice for my god." The ratfolk smiles with an evil bliss.

Suspicious that foul play is afoot on the half of the town guards, the party quickly takes Kuga back to the town center, and brings him before Lady Hera, seeing as her workers were most affected by the plague, likely the result of Lord Elrath. Shocked at this revelation, as well as a guard working with the ratfolk, Lady Hera accompanies the party down to an interrogation chamber deep within the building, accompanied with a trusted guard, while another fetches the captain. Kuga is manacled to a chair, stripped of his possessions and is interrogated by the guard and the party. Surprisingly, Kuga cooperates, up until a knock is heard at the door. In comes the captain of the guard, along with half a dozen other soldiers! "Unfortunately, it seems I am not as powerless as I might appear," Kuga smugly says with an evil grin. Combat breaks out with the guards, one of which rushes over to unshackle Kuga and give him a bag of possessions. Vosen immediately moves over to the guard and Kuga while the others deal with the guards and protect Lady Hera, who is also being attacked. The fight is short, and Kuga is taken down without much difficulty, after which the captain of the guard bolts back out the door and the remaining guards surrender with no further casualties. Reacting quickly to the fleeing captain, Ravelston incapacitates the deserter with a blast of ectoplasm.

Interrogating one of the captured guards lets out a surprising revelation: Lady Hera was sabotaging her own efforts alongside Lord Kraghammer, to frame Lord Elrath and depose him from his seat on the council. Eager to cut down on time, we quickly resolve the traitorous actions of the council members, as the council is dissolved and the sub council will take over while things settle down. The new leaders of Blink Bay allow the Sea King's Gem to be lent on to Illium (fresh water will be quickly stockpiled), taken by Arlessa and Fundin alongside an escort. They depart right away while the party remains in the city to discover the cause of the water elemental's attacks.

Blood on the Water
The party heads to the destroyed block of buildings and decides to lower themselves down below the city level by way of Groot's long arms. Below the pillars that support this section of the city, they see several unattended boats and decide to use them to follow the water elementals, after Vosen and Garo spot a trail of corrupted water leading closer in-land. Three boats are taken for Nualia, Garo, Ravelston, Lago, and Vosen, while Beinlein rides atop a submerged Groot. Suddenly, several waves of water surge towards the boats from all sides! Several water elementals and three mephits emerge from the tide and attack the party! Brim frantically tries to speak with his brother elementals, but to no avail. The water elementals attempt to knock the party out of their boats and succeed with Ravelston, beginning to sucking him down to the depths! The mephits focus on breathing acid at the party, but again, they are all quickly dispatched.

The party paddles on, following the trail of corrupted water until they find a partially submerged stairway leading up to a stone door nearly identical to the one found in the elemental shrine. Garo and Vosen use their dungeoneering skills to tell that they have reached the lower sections of the old shrine. Garo asks Brim if he can sense any more elementals nearby, and Brim responds feeling something powerful behind the door. After checking for traps, the party pushes through the stone doors.

The Smiling Shadow
The door enters into a short hallway before opening into a large chamber. A half flight of stairs leads down to the floor covered in ankle deep water. But more pressing is a familiar symbol carved into the floor, larger than any of the others! Two quietly churning elementals, one water, the other storm, stand at the far side of the room, and a half dozen voidlings are scattered on the floor. None of them seem to notice the party's presence, except for a shadow standing above a cloaked skeleton within the symbol. The shadow (not the monster, an actual 2-D shadow standing up in the circle) is feminine in shape and staring at the party, but otherwise makes no response. Unnerved, the party quickly casts some buffing spells on themselves, with no reaction from the monsters. Lago enlarges himself, Nualia, Garo, and Groot, while Ravelston levitates up forty feet, and Beinlein casts mage armor on Groot. The second they step into the water, all of the monsters immediately notice them and attack!

Remembering that the symbols slow movement, Garo positions himself as far as he can towards the elementals, followed by Nualia, Groot, and Vosen. They take out several voidlings, however the rest all scatter towards the shadow, and are seemingly absorbed by it. The shadow begins to smile, an upturned crescent-shaped hole appearing where the mouth should be and walks menacingly towards the party. Garo reacts, calling up Brim to slam his hammer into the shadow...with no response. Brim appears to be gone! Furious, Garo swings as hard as he can, his attack meeting no resistance and arching right through the shadow. Nualia claws at the shadow as well, also having no apparent effect. Now, the elementals have converged upon Groot and slam at the eidolon dealing massive damage, while being peppered with attacks from Beinlein and Ravelston. After almost defeating Groot, Vosen launches up onto the water elemental, lodging his rapier into its back and flinging himself upwards to cleave the creature in half with his dagger as he and a massive surge of water hit the floor. The storm elemental takes flight and races towards Lago!

The shadow at this point has still taken on offensive actions towards the party and, still smiling, steps towards the edge of the circle and disappears entirely. Nualia attacks the storm elemental, which is ultimately destroyed by a psionic blast from Ravelston! The symbol suddenly cracks the stone it is engraved upon as magic seems to leave the area.

An Ominous Proclamation
Mourning the disappearance of Brim, the group explore the room. A mural covers the walls, telling a story through images of an ocean, a figure rising from the water, creating the land, then emerging back into the sea. An inspection of the body yields a protective amulet, and looking upwards, the ceiling seems to ascend into nothingness. Curious, Ravelston levitates up with Vosen, leaving a trail of rope down for the rest of the party. The roof doesn't ascend as high as it appeared, and they find themselves in a tower with several chests of treasure, documents, and what appears to be the resting place of the true Sea King's Gem, now removed. Opting not to steal money from the city, they proceed down to the chamber, out over the water, and back outside.

The party meets with the new council and is rewarded for ridding the city of the elemental threat, and everyone prepares to leave. The sun is setting outside as they notice something strange; their shadow have disappeared and have been replaced with the smiling shadow! Darkness covers the sky for a brief moment as they all hear a booming female voice within their skulls, "I will make myself known to the world; the Dark One rises!"

And we're done! I really should stay away from anything even remotely political; I'm really bad at it. But the fights went well, even though I had expected for Kuga to stay alive long enough to actually do something interesting. Oh well, that's what villains are for. And the Dark One has made herself/himself/itself known to the party formally! What dangers await for our heroes? :smallwink:

Kol Korran
2014-12-18, 06:02 AM
Hey there Lappy9001! I've just finished reading the log so far, and I'm quite enjoying it. I must say I'm quite intrigued by your world- the City of Illium, it's enigmatic yet present gods (The part about being able to resurrect a followers, but then they have to reside in the cathedral- oozes flavor and roleplay opportunities! Also the gods following the days of the week, and appearing only in the cathedral. Quite unique, very intriguing!) I am also intrigued about the role of elementals, their.... disappearance? (And return?) and the role of Brim in the party.

I like the short adventures with the build up you make. It's quite nicely done. Buildup is an art that is not easily accomplished. The rituals also feel as... intentional rituals, and not just "something that happens, let's call it a ritual" that so many DMs do. They feel to have a sort of purpose.

I would lvoe to hear a bit more about what the roleplay and conversations of characters, or major decisions. For these are topics that specifically interest me, but it's not really necessary. I like the log as is.1 :smallwink: I loved their "cutting the loot in half" with the Clays. And if we're on that subject- I love your naming of NPCs, places and such- short, to the point, and memorable (The infamous clays! Pure awesome!). I am really bad at naming, so it's a talent I appreciate.

Your structure resembles a few of my logs, although thankfully you are shorter (I go on and on... :smalltongue:) So it's very neat and easy to read, and dividing it into sections helps to come back if one withdrew for awhile.

When the party finds out more about some of the stuff in the world (Like the gods or nature of elelmentals or such) I'd love it if you can add the info in the log somewhere as well.

Also- naming an eidolon Groot? Give thumbs up to whomever came up with that one!

Keep up the great work! Sounds like a really fun game!

2014-12-20, 01:48 AM
Hey there Lappy9001! I've just finished reading the log so far, and I'm quite enjoying it. I must say I'm quite intrigued by your world- the City of Illium, it's enigmatic yet present gods (The part about being able to resurrect a followers, but then they have to reside in the cathedral- oozes flavor and roleplay opportunities! Also the gods following the days of the week, and appearing only in the cathedral. Quite unique, very intriguing!) I am also intrigued about the role of elementals, their.... disappearance? (And return?) and the role of Brim in the party.

I like the short adventures with the build up you make. It's quite nicely done. Buildup is an art that is not easily accomplished. The rituals also feel as... intentional rituals, and not just "something that happens, let's call it a ritual" that so many DMs do. They feel to have a sort of purpose.

I would lvoe to hear a bit more about what the roleplay and conversations of characters, or major decisions. For these are topics that specifically interest me, but it's not really necessary. I like the log as is.1 :smallwink: I loved their "cutting the loot in half" with the Clays. And if we're on that subject- I love your naming of NPCs, places and such- short, to the point, and memorable (The infamous clays! Pure awesome!). I am really bad at naming, so it's a talent I appreciate.

Your structure resembles a few of my logs, although thankfully you are shorter (I go on and on... :smalltongue:) So it's very neat and easy to read, and dividing it into sections helps to come back if one withdrew for awhile.

When the party finds out more about some of the stuff in the world (Like the gods or nature of elelmentals or such) I'd love it if you can add the info in the log somewhere as well.

Also- naming an eidolon Groot? Give thumbs up to whomever came up with that one!

Keep up the great work! Sounds like a really fun game!
Wow, thank you for your kind words! Some of the guys suggested that I record future sessions so I can actually recall how conversations went.

Everyone seems to be having fun so far; Nualia and Ravelston really want to bring magic item creation into the world, so it will become a major plot point down the line. The organic world building is working very well. It helps that there was a lot of back story from the players.

Glad you enjoyed it! We've actually had a session since chapter 5, so I might have the new one up in a couple of days.

2015-01-05, 04:17 PM
Chapter 6: A Night of Demons
Short session, but I got to a big reveal I've been waiting on!

A Town on Hard Times
A moment of silence falls over Blink Bay as the shadows of the residents return to normal and the darkness fades from the bright sky. The party decides to leave the city before any panic ensues, and treks out into the wilderness following the trail of Arlessa, Fundin, and their escort. Again, the party is followed by Hurŏn, hovering far above. Vosen and Garo easily pick a path back to Illium, although it quickly takes a different route than the one they traveled with Arlessa several days before. Two days out from Blink Bay, they start to see traces of travelers; footsteps, wagon tracks, hoof prints, although no actual people are seen. As the sun begins to set, a town appears on the horizon surrounded by woodlands. Curiously, the town shows no sign of life, but the tracks meandering through the dirt streets are fresh. Assuming a ghost town, the party decides to travel the path leading right through the town center. Abandoned wooden carts litter the avenues around the town square, and suddenly spring up, forming a barrier between the buildings! Archers appear on the roofs of the houses surrounding the square, bows drawn and pointed at the party. A single human man steps on a crate behind a cart and questions the party grimly, "Who are you, and what is your business here?"

A quick glance about at the archers reveals that they are the villagers with simple bows, not trained soldiers. If a fight were to break out, it's unlikely the town could adequately defend themselves. Interestingly, Beinlein picks up an air of Illusion magic coming from behind on of the carts. They explain to the man that they are just passing through, and the mention of the Voyagers they are following seems to calm the townsfolk down slightly. The man asks what that thing (gesturing to Hurŏn) is and what the party has to do with it. He tells them that something happened two days prior; everyone's shadow disappeared and was replaced with a smiling female shade, as a voice rang in their heads proclaiming the appearance of an entity called the Dark Queen. To make matters worse, demon-like creatures have been seen in the surrounding woodlands. Inwardly, the party questions the name "Dark Queen" being different from what they heard back at Blink Bay, however they are able to placate the man and the townsfolk. "Well, if you were trouble, I imagine you would have started something before now," speaks the man, "besides, Old Tom seems to trust you enough, and that works for me."

Behind the carts where Beinlein sensed Illusion magic appeared a grey render, apparently a variant species able to camouflage itself. The man explains that gray renders bond with small settlements or individuals, and Old Tom has guarded the town for generations. With the townsfolk calmed, they agree to assist the party, who in turn, agree to hunt down the demons in the woods.

A Familiar Face
The party relaxes while Vosen and Garo search for a trail of the demons with the assistance of some townsfolk and Old Tom (Nualia actually takes the time to draw a bath), and quickly rouse the rest of the party when they find a trace of the creatures (and interrupt Nualia's bath, much to her chagrin). The sun has set as the party treks out into the woods, following prints of a bipedal creature with hooves and several clawed imprints in the dirt. Vosen, being the most quiet, with the rest of the party following behind. Old Tom also travels them a ways until the group gets too far from the town, after which the creature quietly lumbers back.

Eventually, Vosen locates a forest clearing with a small fire. Opposite of the flames is a goat-like schir demon, keeping guard as it gnaws on the head of its halberd. Across the camp are three cacodaemons, taking order from a creature in a black hood and robe. Vosen is able to pick out the conversation being spoken in Abyssal, "...and make sure the townsfolk keep seeing traces of you, keep them afraid before they're wiped out." Silently, Vosen creeps back and alerts the rest of the party.

Taking position, the party plans to attack the demons with Nualia, Groot, and Garo charging in, Ravelston, Beinlein, and Lago providing support from the trees, and Vosen sneaks in behind the hooded figure to take him out quickly. However, their plans go awry when the hooded figure speaks to them, alerting the other demons, "Please come into the clearing, I only wish to talk," speaks the raspy voice from behind the hood. The party cautiously walks into the clearing as the cloaked figure throws back the hood to reveal the demon Sin! Garbed in similar gear, his unclothed torso reveals all the scars of the previous fight, seemingly healed and covered in a black waxy substance.

"Hello again, mortal worms, Hurŏn has been keeping good tabs on you. Do not worry, I only come with a message from my master," Sin takes out a scroll from his side and speaks with an over-exaggerated 'ah-heh-hem', "Rejoice mortal scum, for Hell has fallen as the hands of the Dark Queen. Asmodeus has been slain, I was there myself, materialized by my Lady after you killed me the first time," he add, glancing up from the scroll at the party, "I watched her rip his head from his shoulders."

"That's not even possible," challenges Nualia as Lago quietly reaches for a stick on the ground as part of a plan he just formulated.

Sin ignores them and continues, "The Dark Queen asks for nothing in return, for she is coming for you all next." Sin pauses and looks at Beinlein, his jagged teeth showing in a sinister grin, "And I'm a liar. This scroll doesn't say anything like that. Dismissal." The scroll burns up as its magic assaults Groot! It costs a Hero Point, but Groot makes his save and is unaffected by the spell.

"Ah well," speaks Sin with a sigh and turns to the other demons, "can't win them all. Kill them."

Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger
The fight is quick and brutal; the schir charges Groot as the cacodemons confuse Garo, and attack the fuddled dwarf. Lago holds his stick out to Sin and shouts "STICK 'EM UP," and immediately enlarges Groot (who takes a total defense), Garo, and Nualia. Vosen engages with Sin, but with each strike black blood pours from the demon's flesh, hardening into armor solid as iron. Sin's tactics are clearly to take out the party tanks as quickly as possible, and prevents charging by casting the Spiked Pit spell, alongside blasts from his fire breath, his lightning shield, and his rapidly increasing AC. Lago's attempts to psionically knock Sin prone fail, Ravelston takes out a cacodemon along with Nualia, and Garo comes to, killing the schir with Groot's assistance. Eventually, Sin is the only one standing, but is practically untouched with all attacks bouncing off his hardened blood.

"Yes, break my bones, draw my blood, the Dark Queen will not be stopped, and I will only return stronger than before," Sin taunts with a rough laugh. Finally, Nualia strikes Sin with a killing blow as his limp body falls back, "I really hope you kill me next time," Sin rasps, "such anger...."

Exhausted, the party quarters Sin, keeping his head to prevent him from resurrecting. Lago fills three vials with samples of Sin's blood. Again, nothing is on Sin except for another rude note and a rusty hatchet, although the schir provides a small bag of coins in a bag made from a rat's skin. The party returns to the town before continuing their journey, and Nualia finally is able to take her bath.

The next morning, the party sets out for Illium, it takes another week total, ever-followed by Hurŏn. On the fourth day, Sin's head evaporates into an acidic substance, leaving no trace behind, although the blood in Lago's vials remain. Two days from Illium while the party rests, Garo senses a telepathic whisper at the edge of his mind, revealed to be Brim! The fire sprite apologizes for leaving, he sensed the shadow was the cause of the elemental's disappearance, and is controlling him. He feels if he reveals himself while it's presence remains, he will fall under the shadow's control. Garo tells Brim not to worry, and to come back when it's safe. Brim 'departs' again with a ,"be cool my friends!" before fading away.

And the party will reach Illium on the next day. The fight with Sin went just as planned, and the reveal was suitably awesome! I'm excited to get into the next part of the story!

2015-01-14, 01:40 AM
Design Notes: I mentioned these to the players, and Kol Korran requested it, so I'll post some design notes as I go regarding the campaign and the setting.

The Seven Gods
I wanted divinity to be a big theme in the game, and being to able to personally meet the gods seemed like a good way to make that happen. Naming each of the seven after the days of the week is a bit punny (although technically, the days of the week are named after them in the setting) but it does help everyone remember their names, and who will be appearing in the grand cathedral and at what time. It also lets me establish the basis for how gods are handled in the setting and what they are capable of. Sune is especially important as he/she embodies what I feel a Good deity should truly be; forgiving, humble, and willing to help any mortal on a personal level.

The Elemental Shrine
The shrine was meant to be something of a 'thesis statement' for the campaign, and establishes the themes that the characters will be seeing. The water room would always be the first room entered (unless the PC's decide to be jerks and open the doors all at once, heh), followed by earth, fire, and a ruined air room. This sets the 'books' that each chapter will take place, and what element will be most prominent in each book (we finished book 1 after chapter 5). Religion, the disappearance, and subsequent resurgence of the elementals are also important to the story, which is why the first session takes place in a ruined elemental shrine (and why Brim is the only one left). Taking place in a secluded temple also lets me start giving out information about the setting before the players really need it. And yes, I'm a big fan of Avatar the Last Airbender...

I've always heard that the best way to create a setting is to start small and build up from there. I thought it would be neat to have the world literally extend from that initial settlement, so that's what I went with. Shifting geography is something I've never seen before (the weather, however, mimics A Song of Ice and Fire's to a degree in that seasons are extremely long) and gives me an excuse to have the players arrive in a given place exactly when I want them to.

2015-01-28, 05:15 PM
I'm really looking forward to your next session's log:smallbiggrin:
It's a really neat campaign so far, with some fun and unusual ideas.

2015-01-31, 09:33 PM
I'm really looking forward to your next session's log:smallbiggrin:
It's a really neat campaign so far, with some fun and unusual ideas.Hey, thanks a lot, glad you like it :smallsmile:

We're finished with the next chapter, and I'm working on the write up now!

2015-02-11, 01:54 AM
Chapter 7: The Undercity

Return to Illuim
The party enters through the familiar gates of Illium and heads straight to the cathedral, not wanting to waste any time. A cursory glance reveals that city leaders have done a good job of containing the crisis; clean water was being distributed by low-level clerics to the townsfolk. Entering the cathedral, Sune immediately appears before the party and bows low before them, expressing his thanks. (A god bowing before them was a bit of a shock for the group, and of course the question was raised "A bow of thanks...or fealty?" (complete with ominous expression). Gratitude, good try though :smallamused:) Sune lets the party know that Fundin and Arlessa returned with the Sea King's Gem a few days ago; Arlessa is recovering from some injuries she sustained on the journey, and Fundin has been sent out on another task. This is followed by another request from Sune (who appears displeased at having to ask so much of the party) to investigate sightings of dark symbols appearing in the undercity, and to destroy them.

Unfortunately, the Voyagers are not welcome in the undercity, which is controlled by several gangs, and direct involvement by Sune could be seen as an act of provocation towards the gangs. It's a delicate situation, and one that the party could completely avoid and still destroy the symbols. Plus, at this point, they have the most experience dealing with the marks. Sune does have one contact below, a female Voyage by the name of Keziah (yeah, that's the same name as my PbP character. I like to reuse names and the concept for the NPC was set long before I planned the character out. Aside from being female and having a thing with fire they're completely different). Before the party departs, they bring up a question to Sune: does he know anything about Sin's resurrection? Sune answers that Sin has likely become the Dark Queen's avatar and is channeling some of her divine power directly. Lago shows Sune some of Sin's blood that he had collected in his vials and while Sune is unfamiliar with the substance, the deity does direct Lago to Maester Emella at Seigson University who takes the sample to study.

The party departs the cathedral to run some errands; Vosen leaves for a seedy tavern to gather information, Lago and Nualia go to the University to meet with the Maesters, Garo speaks with Bronce at Bronce and Brass to put in an order for a masterwork weapon, while Ravelston and Beinlein depart to see Gregor (who they find out is currently out on a job with several other mercs). Vosen overhears some interesting gossip at the tavern, including the Voyagers being called back into Illium from far and wide, a mysterious wand merchant dealing in the undercity, as well as the recent purchase of the Abendroth manor by an unknown patron. When the party regroups at the Disgruntled Owlbear, they are surprised to learn that Gregor is apparently of noble blood and decide to meet with him once he returns.

Entering Spire
The next morning, the party heads over to one of the four main entrances into the undercity, located at the base wall of Highwing, Illium's third tier. Two city guards stand at both sides of the wide tunnel, revealing stone stairs leading down below, and tell the party to be cautious below. The party enters the tunnel and down over a dozen flights of stone stairs before the flat ceiling is replaced by more stone stairs mirroring those below. Handholds carved into the stone wall appear on either side, as the party's progress is stopped by a roped off section of the stairs. Stepping closer to investigate, they are pulled towards the ceiling! The gravity shifts the further they progress, and everyone climbs upwards to the stairs on the ceiling before continuing downwards. The dead silence of the tunnel is replaced by the bustle of an urban city as the party emerges into the undercity. Built on a massive stalactite beneath Illium, the undercity of Spire is built into and around the stalactite, which in turn shares the ceiling of a massive underground cavern with thousands of other stalactites. In addition to the lanterns that light the city, a thick black mist obscures the bottom floor of the cavern, as small speckles of light shine through the cloud, creating an illusion similar to a cloudy starlit night. A successful Knowledge (local) check from Vosen reveals more about the burg, in that the unnatural gravity only extends some fifty feet from the stalactite, and flying or walking too far along the ceiling can have dire consequences. Three gangs control the city, the Ebony Syndicate members don dark green and control the upper third of Spire with their significant financial backing, the Eternals wear armor of a shining blue control the central third of the undercity, and the oddly-named Checker Guild rules the bottom and largest third, wearing red and black in a checker pattern.

The tunnels from Illium appear to be common ground, although the party immediately draws negative attention simply by way of being heavily armed individuals appearing from the surface. They also notice two dark cloaked figures watching them from an alley. The party proceeds cautiously to a small shrine to Sune close to the middle of the Spire, and are introduced to Keziah, a human Voyager of small stature and long straight blond hair. She tells the group of the symbols that have been sighted in the undercity in six different locations and reaffirms her negative standing with the gangs. The party leaves on their own to the closest location in an abandoned apartment several blocks away. The apartment is built into the stone, a shabby building consisting of only a hallway and several doors on either side serving as living quarters for the former tenants. The mark of the dark symbol here is clear; carved into every inch of the hallway are the sprawling lines of the ritual circle! Garo opens a door to reveal an empty room, with smaller versions of the symbol carved all around the room, instead of being part of a larger mark. The door across actually appears to host some squatters, two filthy gnomes, one of whom appears to be caring for the other. Beinlein and the group ask what they are doing here, and the gnome tells them noone else will live here since the marks appeared, and the shadows appear to do strange things in torchlight, which is why the gnomes were sitting in the dark. The party immediately becomes on edge, and decide the most effective way to remove the symbols is to take the building down. They send the gnome along to Keziah at the shrine for healing, as well as give them some money to help them out. Garo and Groot start with the systematic demolition of the building with the party by the entrance, and Lago waiting on the stoop outside.

Hired Goons!
Out of the corner of his eye, Lago sees one of the hooded figures peering at him from the alleyway across the street, and immediately appears not to notice. He alerts the rest of the group through his network and as the figure turns to leave back through the alley, Vosen immediately follows behind silently. The alley actually tunnels behind a row of buildings, and four other hooded figures wait for the party to leave. Still connected through Lago's telepathic network, he informs everyone else as they exit the now collapsed apartment, Nualia and Lago making Bluff checks to appear as conspicuous and unknowing of an ambush as possible. The hooded men take the bait, and two of them rush out to attack Nualia as Vosen strikes from behind! As the fighting starts, Lago gets an unnerving feeling of someone lurking behind him and glances over his shoulder to see the smiling shadow behind all of them! Despite having the initiative, the men are tough, three melee combatants and two archers, who almost manage to overpower Nualia, although the combination of Garo's long reach and Nualia's deadly close range proves to be too much for them. In the alley, Vosen finds himself surrounded although Groot lumbers over to provide support, followed shortly after by Nualia. Lago forces one of the men surrounding Vosen to collapse to the floor as the archer initially struck by Vosen's sneak attack triumphantly pulls our a fire arrow and shoots at Vosen point blank with a cocky, "Let's see how you deal with fire!" Being a tiefling, very well actually, and the shot deals minimal damage. Shortly after the battle began, the attackers fall one by one, until that last archer remains, and surrenders.

The party interrogates the man, reluctantly introducing himself as Kepler, a hired mercenary. His reluctance is short-lived as Nualia violently stabs an arrow through his kneecap, breaking his resolve! He tells them what little he can: the mercenaries were all hired anonymously and had not met before with instructions to follow the party and prevent them from destroying the symbols, without killing them if they can. He also tells them where to find some things in Spire, where the wand maker lives, and shows them the note from his client which reads as follows:

I've included the description of the targets, keep an eye on them, rough them up a bit, but don't kill them unless they try to take out the circles. You've been paid in advance, so don't mess this up. Again, DO NOT take anything of value with you.

Below that is scrawled in Abyssal, immediately identified by Vosen:

XOXO If you kill them I'll be sure to see you soon - Sin

The party decides to let Kepler the "fighter" go, but not before Beinlein places an Arcane Mark on his person (and Lago secretly heals some of his wounds).

The Wand Maker
Before returning to Keziah and the task of the remaining symbols, the party opts to find this enigmatic wand maker and possibly purchase some magical items from him. Kepler's information leads them to an intricate wrought iron gate before the small pebble yard of a manor near the center of Spire. Ringing the bell at the gate summons a portly halfling butler who greets them in a bored voice and asks their business before inviting them inside. Through the yard and two large doors the party stands in a large foyer with doors and four heavily armored hobgoblin guards as the butler leaves them to request his master's presence. They wait for an uncomfortably long time as Garo glares at the hobgoblin guards as both growl insults at each other. Before any fighting can start, the butler returns and brings the party through a large study, lined with bookshelves and expensive art pieces. At the far end of the room sits a fine mahogany desk with a finely dressed man of short stature behind it. The party immediately recognizes him as Lucius Clay!

"Well hol-y dang. I'm certainly surprised to see you here...what can I do for you?"

We had to cut this one slightly short, so most of the interaction with Lucius will be in the next session. I forgot something super critical here...which will hopefully be made apparent next time. Still a good session, and I'm excited where things are heading!

2015-03-16, 02:07 AM
Chapter 8: Fortress of the Ebony Syndicate
First off, we say goodbye to Ravelston as of this session. His player played through Skype which worked out fairly well, but the 5 hour time difference made things too difficult for his study schedule. Goodbye Ravelston, we'll miss you! Second, I'll have a new job soon which means more sessions, which means more write ups, hurray!

I generally make different contingency plans for when something unexpected happens. A certain part of this session...did not go as planned. Just...just read it.

Business Partners
The party engage in conversation with Lucius Clay and are surprised to learn that he harbors no ill will towards the incident in Illium's sewers and the death of his brother Ryles ("Technically, he killed himself" Nualia adds ever so tactfully). When the party inquires about the supposed wand smith in Spire, Lucius offers them a business transaction, for he knows the wand maker personally. In fact, Lucius' proposal is more binding, and he questions the party about why they were in the sewers in the first place and who they are truly working for. They correctly guess the motivation behind Lucius' questions: he feels remorseful for the corruption of the city's water supply. As Lucius states, he's hardly a Good person but he never wanted the potential deaths of hundreds or thousands on his hands (and Rylus was his least favorite brother anyway...). Plus the matter with the shadows has terrified a close friend of his.

With that a small burst of wind bursts from Lucius as a diminutive air elemental swirls forth before vanishing. Lucius introduces Arros, and explains that the two of them are the wand maker, for the air elemental taught Lucius mastery over wandcraft and the majority of his magical talent. Arros has sensed the dark presence and much like Brim, has gone into hiding. Using information from Arros and rumors from around the undercity, Lucius has identified the locations of all six of the symbols scattered across Spire. In fact, Terra has been busy destroying the symbols and has already broken four of them. The final symbol, however, is in the headquarters of the Ebony Syndicate. Both the Clays and the Syndicate are powerful members of Spire, although Lucius himself has no interest in the politics of the undercity, and the groups tend to leave each other alone. Lucius explains that he has no interest upsetting that balance, however, he has no problems in supplying the party with some wands (one each, specifically) to help them in their quest. Walking over to a back room lined with wands on display racks, the party chooses (or rolls randomly) six wands each, with an additional wand being purchased at normal price by Vosen (the rogue also puts in an order for some mithral to be sent to Bronce and Lucius is happy to accomodate). The party spends the night before leaving the next morning, with Lucius expressing his hope for their business venture and promising to help them in their future endeavors as best he can.

Making an Example
Taking their leave of Lucius' mansion, the party travels towards the tip of Spire where lies the headquarters of the Ebony Syndicate. Their path takes them along one of the outer walkways on the side of the stalactite where they pass by many individuals of the undercity going about their daily business and surprisingly, a dwarf and human members of the Checker Guild in Ebony Syndicate turf hassling a commonly dressed third man. Vosen makes a successful Knowledge (Local) check, and relates to the party that although the gangs are involved in a perpetual power struggle, they have no qualms with their rivals tracking down someone who has failed to pay protection even if it means temporarily entering opposing territory. Not wanting to get involved, the party began to casually walk by...until the human thug pulls out a red-hot iron brand crafted in a checker pattern with clear intent to make an example of his terrified victim!

Intervening quickly (slightly to Nualia's chagrin) the party charges in, Garo parrying an attack from the dwarf thug, as Beinlein uses Mage Hand to throw the brand towards Nualia. Bringing the iron handle down fiercely, Nualia partially brands the dwarf who collapses to the ground in pain. The human thug falls quickly and Garo steps on the fallen bully, calling him a disgusting excuse for dwarf. Beinlein brands the dwarf with an Arcane Mark as Lago speaks to the victim. The man apparently has a gambling problem and owes the Guild a momentous sum of 50 gold pieces. Rolling his eyes, Lago hands the man the gold after completely and thoroughly scaring him out of his bad habits with a high Intimidate check.

Sure, why not?
Approaching the headquarters of the Ebony Syndicate, the party stands before an impressive fortress surrounding the very tip of the stalactite. Beinlein observes the half dozen guards patrolling the walls, and the party walks up to the two guards at either side of the main doors. Now, at this point, I had planned for the party to either attempt some variation of pitting the gangs against each other, or just waltzing in and kill everyone. However, they had different plans.

"Hello, we're here to fix your wall," Nualia bluffs casually with an impressive 30ish Bluff check (Hero Point bonus and all). Okay, so they convinced one of the guards to check with a superior inside, no problem. The party immediately gets behind this plan, even adopting pseudonyms ("Chief" for Lago) and making use of Lago's collapsible ladder for an attempt at a favorable circumstance bonus. I opted to roll the d100 with a 5% chance that there was actually something wrong with one of the walls inside. The dice roll a 5. The guard cheerfully walks out and offers to lead the contractors inside to the offending wall section, and even offers to bring the party some refereshments (might as well go full-on with the silliness). The guard takes everyone to a bed chamber with a hole several feet in diameter in the wall dividing the room from a storage closet. The guard says the hole was caused by the guild's leader Cassius Delaine who has been acting somewhat strangely of late. With that, the guard departs and leaves the """contractors""" to their business. Lago's player took the time to draft several names for the party's business including "The Crystal Order" and "The New Justice Team."

Vosen wastes no time in investigating the room for valuables, although presumably anything of worth was moved when the room became uninhabited. Garo and Nualia, go out to search for the symbol, under the appearance of looking for structual weaknesses. Vosen and Lago follow suit, taking notes in Celestial so the guard's can't actually read what they are writing. Beinlein, and Groot stay at the hole, working to repair it as best they can to raise no suspicion (mostly involving Groot placing pieces of stone back into place for Beinlein to apply a quick Mending). Over an hour passes and the search party finds no sign of the shadowy mark in the fortress. However, a chamber carved of natural stone with a cylindrical tower structure leading to the ceiling remains off-limits. Four impassive guards stand at attention before the entrance to the tower and barely entertain the party with conversation, much less entrance to the tower. Cassius Delaine has been inside for several days, having given explicit orders not to allow anyone to enter under any circumstance. Reasoning that the symbol must be within, they pick up the rest of the party and regroup at the door.

The party stands before the guards at the door, still clinging to their increasingly dubious plan (Lago "the Chief" puts up the ladder at the wall opposite to the door under the pretense of checking the quality of the stonework). The guards don't flinch at the party's efforts to negotiate or intimate, so everyone jumps the guards at once. Within the first round, Lago enlarges the party fighters as three of the four fall and the fourth only manages to pound on the door behind him before being slain. However, his actions were not entirely in vain, for when the party managed to kick in the door, the Ebony Syndicate members on the other side were ready.

The room at the base is circular, with a staircase running up the side wall, and crates underneath (Beinlein immediately notices an Illusion effect with his Detect Magic). In the middle of the room is a slight depression filled with sand and iron cages containing two velociraptors and a dimetrodon, surrounded by wooden benches for onlookers and a bar at the side opposite of the stairs. Five warriors armed with axes, and a robed mage behind the bar attack the party. The mage immediately casts Mirror Image as the warriors use melee and ranged attacks, with one pulling the lever at the back of the room to release the dinosaurs (Garo senses that the dimetrodon is frightened, but non-aggressive). Garo takes out a guard and cleaves another as Vosen hops up on the counter to attack the mage. A quick Grease from Beinlein sends the mage to the ground as Vosen follows up, causing several of the images to vanish. Suddenly, the party gets an unsettling feeling as their shadows spring up to attack them! Appearing as voidlings with a shifting, unstable appearance with wide grins much like the smiling shadow, each voidling seems to be immune to the attacks of each shadow's respective owner. While unsettling, the voidlings prove to be a minor nuisance (aside from inciting the raptors into a frenzy) and are taken out along with the guard with a few attacks from the group. The lone dimetrodon returns to its cage after the fight.

Now alone in the room, Beinlein immediately takes a closer look at the illusion magic in the corner, as Nualia too detects magic and tries to grab the object. With a startled yelp, an imp appears in Nualia's hands! With a shaky, sniveling voice the imp introduces itself as Gamil, and offers to serve the party in exchange for protection. Questioned by the party, Gamil tells of how he fled from the Pit through the portal that opened up in the fortress. The Dark Queen as he calls her has slain Asmodeus and most of the more powerful demons and has thrown hell into chaos. However, upon his escape Gamil found himself trapped within the tower as the Ebony Syndicate's leader locked himself in the tower to investigate the symbol to harness it's power. This was several days ago (he had difficulty keeping track) and had no means of leaving the pit fighting room. While the party does not trust the imp, a few Sense Motives reveal that he is telling the truth, at least in regards to his story. Questioned further, Gamil tells the group that there is a locked door at the top of the stairs where the symbol is located within. During this conversation, Garo takes stock of the fallen guard's items and appraises their value. With Gamil at the lead, Vosen and Nualia ascend the stairs as Lago dismisses his Expansion power to allow them the narrow staircase. At the top, Vosen quickly picks the lock and the two gesture for the rest of the party to join them as they open the door.

Inside, a half flight of stairs climbs into a small circular chamber, with open air windows, presumably an observatory for Spire and the cavern. Crates and barrels have been pushed to the edges of the chamber with the large symbol carved into the stone floor. Three dead bodies lie in the chamber, with one in the center of the symbol fitting Lucius' description of Cassius Delaine! The smiling shadow stands above Cassius grinning gleefully at the party. Cautiously, the group investigates the bodies as the shadow watches. Nualia ventures into the symbol as Cassius' body begins to rise, slouching upright before the shadow's outstretched hand. A strained gurgle emits from the corpse's throat and slowly forms into recognizable words, "It's futile," groans the corpse as the shadow's other hand stretches and is raised up. Massive vibrations shake the room, threatening to topple the party. The rumbling is followed by a shattering crack as the tip of the stalactite begins to hover up into the air before hovering momentarily and free falling into the darkness below...!

The party loses consciousness. But at least they gain a level!

Great session. My favorite moments were the party's ridiculous plan (and the fact that they pretty much pulled it off) and the look on Lago's player's face when he realized what was happening in the finale just a few seconds before it actually happened!

2015-05-11, 03:35 AM
I really enjoy reading these. Nualia in particular sounds pretty awesome. Keep up the posting, and for god's sake, stop slacking.

2015-05-17, 11:05 PM
I really enjoy reading these. Nualia in particular sounds pretty awesome. Keep up the posting, and for god's sake, stop slacking.Lose 500 XP """"Nualia""".

And I believe you mean "Sune's sake" thank you very much.

Working on Session 9 write-up now, so should be up in I dunno, 30 minutes?

2015-05-18, 12:03 AM
Chapter 9.1: The King of the Inner Earth
The party awakens bruised, battered, but decently well rested, and having defeated one-third of Spire's gangs by default. Success? They start the session technically rested, but fairly beaten up after the collapse of Spire's tip (10% max HP plus the normal HP for resting. Groot got booted out of the Material plane by the fall, however)

Warm Awakening
The party gradually comes to, lying on the ceiling of the collapsed Ebony Syndicate tower. The first thing they notice is the heat, and immediately become worried that they may have fallen into an underground chamber of lava. Before they can get their bearings, however, reassurance comes from an unlikely source as Gamil the imp glides down from the open-air window above. True to his word, the imp kept watch over the party while they were unconscious and expresses his concern over the noises of large creatures in the distance.

Beinlein begins the ritual to summon Groot back onto the Material plane as Vosen nimbly climbs up to the window to get a glimpse at their surroundings. Curiously, he finds that the party seems to have awaken in a lush tropical jungle based around a hill rising in the center tipped with a partially collapsed tower. However, Vosen is not sure they are actually outside, for there is no 'sky' with clouds or syb, just a brilliant shining light that illuminates the large cavern. The party concludes that they must have fallen past the dark clouds far above (technically below) Spire's cavern. With Groot materialized, the eidolon uses his branch-like arms to help the party climb up to the window and back down to the ground below. Already decided in their destination, the group moves towards the tower in the center of the jungle.

Nualia instructs Gamil to fly above and continue to keep watch for the party, as Garo and Vosen leads the party deeper into the foliage, avoiding several pitfalls that surely would have proved fatal to less-experienced trackers. While the roars of the gargantuan beasts in the distance continue (and are are identified as dinosaurs by the party), they see no sign of wildlife in the jungle, except for a few birds, suggesting an unnatural origin to this place. After over an hour or so of travelling, the dense jungle begins to thin into a plain of tall grass divided by a flowing shallow river.

The party has noticed two things being able to see the sky again: Huron has not appeared to haunt their progress, but they are still being watched! A bizarre snake-like creature with shining black scales, rows of horns and scythe-like arms is seen in the distance and the party decides to pursue. The snake creature crosses the river with surprising speed, with the party not far behind. However, as they get close, the creature lets out a shreiking cry, summoning a stampede of rampaging dinosaurs!

The fight is quick and brutal, although the dinosaurs possess strange mutations, shimmering scales that reflect light and attacks, hallucinagenic spittle, and acidic blood. Once the beasts are dispatched, Garo and Vosen split from the party and catch up to the snake. They succeed with several attacks, but the creature is clearly acting defensively, drawing them closer to the thick underbrush of the jungle. Suddenly, a figure emerges from the trees, wearing bright colorful robes and an elaborate wooden mask, holding his hand to the snake's forehead, apparently communicating with each other. The man turns to the duo, tells them the creature's attack was a mistake, and that he will explain when they meet with the rest of the party.

History and Deception
After regrouping, the party is lead to the man's home, a cave decorated with many ornate treasures, as he introduces himself as the King of the Inner Earth. He speaks with a commanding voice from behind his mask which seems to cover a deep weariness. He tells the party that the dinosaurs here are the forgotten ancestors of dragons, who devoured elementals in an age past to gain their powers (at least, according to his theory). Furthermore, poachers which would come to his land, taking its wildlife to the city above as curiosities and it was he who destroyed the tower, for it was the only way into the Inner Earth from Spire, as far as he knows. Despite his seemingly noble intentions, his tone is cold and the party gets the sense of someone keeping intruders off their property rather than defending nature. When they ask how they might return, the man queries why they do not ask their imp, for surely he must have sensed the planar gate within the tower.

Under the glares from the party, Gamil explains in a sniveling voice that he felt travel through the gate would be too dangerous, as only a non-native outsider can activate the gate, traveling through its native plane to another gate above ground. With that, the party formulates a plan to travel to the tower and have Gamil activate the gate.

The man agrees to let the party rest in his home, but the party first asks him a few questions about his identity, to which he turns to them and asks simply "Why don't you tell them, Beinlein?"

I've decided to start splitting the entries up occasionally to allow me to post more often, and maybe to make them easier to read through. Apologies for the delay, we've hit a dry spell in game time, although it's little excuse on my part as this is still 1.5 sessions behind. But hey, another entry, and more to come!

2015-05-18, 02:10 AM
After regrouping, the party is lead to the man's home, a cave decorated with many ornate treasures, as he introduces himself as the King of the Inner Earth. He speaks with a commanding voice from behind his mask which seems to cover a deep weariness. He tells the party that the dinosaurs here are the forgotten ancestors of dragons, who devoured elementals in an age past to gain their powers (at least, according to his theory).

Wow I either missed that in the session (likely considering how sleep deprived I was that day) or forgot itthats a pretty cool theory. Lago subscribes to it.

2015-05-19, 08:09 AM
Wow I either missed that in the session (likely considering how sleep deprived I was that day) or forgot itthats a pretty cool theory. Lago subscribes to it.I sort of mentioned it off hand. If you're curious, he theorized this from what are essentially cave paintings and pictographs in the Inner Earth (which were notably not erased by whatever happened that wiped everyone's memory). One of the Maesters at Siegson University probably knows more.

2015-05-19, 10:49 AM
I sort of mentioned it off hand. If you're curious, he theorized this from what are essentially cave paintings and pictographs in the Inner Earth (which were notably not erased by whatever happened that wiped everyone's memory). One of the Maesters at Siegson University probably knows more.

That's interesting enough on it's own, so whatever wiped out the books (maybe excluding the nature of divinity that book is still a mystery) ignored or forgot about these paintings. Maybe those nerds at Siegson would like an expedition funded with that money Lago never spends.

2015-06-07, 09:25 PM
Chapter 9.2: Gar-Grothak
In this session, I sought to subvert some expectations about a decades-old vendetta and a character who could have easily been a recurring villain. I plan for each character to have a Big Event involving their backstory, and Beinlein gets the first one (and also a homebrewed magic item that only makes a summoner more powerful…because I’m an idiot. But darn if it isn’t a fun idea!)

+10d6 Cold Damage
Some of the color drains out of Beinleins face as the King of the Inner Earth lowers mask to reveal the face of a venerable half-orc wearing the cold expression of a haunted man. Groot immediately stands at the ready, his wooden face contorted in rage. "What are you doing here?" is all Beinlein asks calmly, although dripping in menace "I want nothing from you any more Beinlein, I will not harm you or It here," the half-orc states calmly, as the rest of the group cautiously awaits to see if the exchange will come to blows. At the behest of the party, Beinlein quickly explains some of his past with the half-orc before them. The man calling himself the King of the Inner Earth is known to Beinlein as Gar-Grothak, and was his master decades ago.

Eschewing his family heritage of alchemy, Beinlein sought to understand the magic of the planes, harnessing the power of realms far beyond his own. He found Gar-Grothak, and after much convincing, became an apprentice summoner to the mysterious hermit. For a time, their situation worked just fine, at least until the day Gar-Grothak summoned a powerful being by accident. Sent away for longer and longer periods of time on various tasks, Beinlein became suspicious of his master’s motives and one night discovered that Gar-Grothak was subjugating the outsider for his own nefarious purposes. Peering into his master’s hut from outside, Beinlein and the outsider became bound to each other in an instant and overpowered the sadistic summoner. The duo fled and had not seen Gar-Grothak since…

Despite the deep sense of apprehension filling the room, Gar-Grothak waits calmly for Beinlein to recall their history. Still enraged, Groot storms out of the cave and past the serpentine eidolon (for the creature apparently serves Gar-Grothak willingly) but remains close enough to help Beinlein if their former master turns unexpectedly.

An Empty Life
Beinlein asks Gar-Grothak directly what he is doing here, and why he doesn’t seem to care that the gnome and eidolon have returned, leaving it no secret that the duo have been trying to hunt down their old master for over two decades. The half-orc responds first that he spent years doing nothing but seeking new ways to find and destroy his foolish rogue apprentice who stole his most powerful ally. He sought to summon demons and fiends of incredible power to smite the two, but was always unsuccessful. Half-mad with his anger, he sought ancient secrets buried beneath the earth and after several years of living with nothing but darkness, rage, and his own ineptitude, he finally conjured a powerful outsider ally before stumbling into the massive cavern beneath Spire.

Upon summoning this new eidolon, however, Gar-Grothak had an epiphany; he had wasted years of his life on vengeance and was so consumed by old hatreds that he was left with nothing but emptiness and regret. The aged summoner imparted a piece of wisdom upon his former apprentice: “Don’t become like me. The outsider is a friend, not a tool. Never forget this, Beinlein.” Resenting advice given to him by someone so cruel, Beinlein responds that he never has taken Groot for granted and never will, much less become like Gar-Grothak. The half-orc merely shrugs, and tells the party that they are welcome to stay the night in his dwelling, and that he has one other thing he wishes to give to Beinlein before rising and ushering the summoner into a room at the back of the cave.

The Nature of Divinity
The room in question is filled with scrolls and a wooden display case with clear glass showing a massive tome that appears to be plated in gold. Gar-Grothak opens the case and removes the book, as the gold casing ripples like water at his touch. Without a latch or fastener, the tome is completely cased in the flowing gold and parts effortlessly to reveal the pages within. The first page shows only a title, “The Nature of Divinity” without any mention of an author. Gar-Grothak states that he plans never to leave his home in the Inner Earth, and maybe the group can find some use the knowledge in the tome for some greater purpose. Beinlein is surprised that the tome reveals no trace of magic despite its clearly magical nature. Gar-Grothak found the tome in the tower several miles north, and shockingly, seems to have forgotten knowledge hundreds, possibly thousands of years old!

The party immediately reads through the book, with Lago showing particular interest. Each page after the title is filled with Gods and Goddesses, their names, portfolios, aspects, but none of the names are familiar. Pelor, Vecna, Tiamat, and thousands of other unknown deities are listed in the tome. Nualia searches for Asmodeus and finds his entry among the others, although with a mention that while he has divine powers, he is a fiend and not a true god. In fact, the only names that the group recognizes are Pithos, the god of plague worshipped by the Ratfolk alchemist Kuga, and Garnaron the god of war that attacked Illium some time ago. None of the seven nor the Dark Queen is mentioned in the tome, but there is a single page that has been torn out. Somewhat overwhelmed by the day’s events, the party rests for the night.

In the morning, the group makes preparations to depart, but sees no sign of Gar-Grothak. Entering his chambers, they find the half-orc dead, apparently of natural causes, lying silently in his bed. Beinlein and Groot share a bittersweet moment at the death of their former master as the rest of the group appraises the summoner’s worldly possessions in search of anything useful. Upon leaving the cave, they are approached by the serpent eidolon who introduces himself as Vasuk and gives Beinlein a talisman and saying that he will accept Beinlein as his new master as the last wish of Gar-Grothak. The talisman has the power to hold the spirits of willing eidolons who no longer serve a summoner, allowing them to grant Beinlein their power for a time. Disappearing into the amulet, the serpent vanishes, leaving the party free to explore the Inner Earth and to again travel to a tower in the distance.

And here is the item:
Phantom Eidolon Talisman

This silver amulet bears a summoning insignia with gems of varying sizes and colors inlaid within the lines of the symbol. The talisman is capable of holding the phantom spirits of unbound eidolons using its gems as a focus. A gem containing an eidolon spirit glows dimly and contains the eidolon's symbol inside the crystal.

A summoner can make use of the talisman in one of two ways, but the amulet can only be used once per day:

If the wearer's eidolon is slain, the summoner may immediately summon an eidolon spirit from the talisman as an immediate action. An eidolon spirit summoned this way remains on the same plane for a number of rounds equal to the wearer's Charisma modifier plus any levels in summoner they possess.

Additionally, a summoner may dismiss their eidolon for 1 day to summon an eidolon spirit from the amulet in a ritual that lasts 1 minute, and the eidolon spirit remains until dismissed. Summoning an eidolon spirit from the talisman does not use the same power as a summoner's Summon Monster ability.

An eidolon spirit summoned from the amulet follows the wearer's orders to the best of its abilites, but the summoner cannot make use of abilities related to eidolons except for the Life Link class feature. An eidolon spirit summoned from the talisman retains its own abilities and cannot have its evolutions or appearance modified by the summoner. Each eidolon possesses a unique symbol which appears on the summoner's forehead as well as the eidolon's.

Except where mentioned above, eidolon spirits function like other eidolons and must give themselves willingly to the amulet; eidolon spirits cannot be stolen or captured.

Beinlein now has a side quest to Catch 'em all!

2015-06-15, 11:38 PM
Chapter 10: The Demon, the Portal, and the Clocktower
After an appropriately somber moment following the events of the last session, the party embarks to the tower in the distance!

Mystery Metal
After an uneventful hour-or-so long trek through the jungle, the party makes their way up to the severed tower in the distance. Ever the appraiser of exotic stonework, Garo immediately investigates the tower and finds that its architecture is unfamiliar and presumably very ancient. Cautiously, they enter inside the open stone doors to find a largely empty room strewn with tracked in dirt, dinosaur egg fragments, and nesting material, although fortunately they do not find any territorial beasts. In the far back wall of the tower is a staircase that spirals upwards, and upon inspection, a trap door is discovered some distance from the base of the stairs.

The group opts to investigate the trap door first, and once Vosen declares the door unlocked and trap-free, they open it to reveal a basement floor littered with crates upon crates of a strange greenish-yellow metal. Noone is able to identify the strange material, boxed up as both ingots and clockwork parts, but Garo concludes that it must be valuable, and at least very rare, so they manage to drag around as much as they can carry (which turns out is about a half ton). Laden with potential treasure, the party proceeds up the staircase.

The staircase leads the group into a long stone hallway, forming a valley of sorts, with the ceiling giving way to a much larger room concealed by darkness. Yet another iron staircase at the far end of the hallway climbs up to the landing above. Gamil, instructed by the group, flies upwards with a torch, showing a convulted amalgamation of clockwork parts, all composed of the metal found at the tower's base. Seeing no immediate threats, Vosen ascends the stairs followed shortly by the rest of the party.

Clockwork Sentinels
The landing is largely barren, but they quickly locate three dead bodies and a the remains of a makeshift camp. Judging by the cages, traps, and cracked dinosaur eggs, it is likely the dead men were poachers seeking to capture dinosaurs for pit fights and curiosities back in Spire. A quick examination of the bodies shows crossbow bolts lodged into their flesh, probably an ambush while they slept. Several 'X' marks lead the party to a metal lift, large enough for all of them with room to spare, and a single lever. With no other plan, everyone gets onto the lift and pulls the lever.

The machinery above immediately whirls to life, churning and spinning to an unknown purpose as the lift is tugged upwards with alarming speed. As the elevator stops at its destination, the party sees a thin catwalk above the deathtrap of spinning cogs with several suspended platforms supporting clockwork humanoids! One of the constructs hops nimbly onto the catwalk, crossbow-like weapon pointed at the party, and communicated in a garbled speech. Beinlein tries to communicate, but even with a Comprehend Languages spell, is unable to avoid confrontation (the machine's 'voice' was damaged and was not producing any actual language).

The clockwork constructs seem to be divided into humanoid archers and two humanoid casters, with several spider-like constructs that fling nets and heal their fellow units. The party, unwilling to leave the catwalk for the precariously thin support beams, is left without any cover, and comes under heavy fire from high-powered bolts and blasts of lightning. Groot, in particular, finally takes enough damage to send him out of the material plane! The party makes short work of the constructs on the catwalk, and Vosen takes out the others with some masterful acrobatics, and with a well-placed Silence spell from his wand. However, Vosen loses his short sword after being disarmed by one of the constructs before destroying the machine, and dismantling its arm-mounted bolt gun for his own use! Hearing reinforcements approach, the party (minus Groot) quickly leaves the catwalk to the door at the far end, leading to the top of the tower.

The Portal
The party reaches the roof of the tower and out into the open, seeing a large portal some twenty feet across. With clockwork guardians in pursuit, they order Gamil to open the portal. Almost instantly, it seems as though the imp's entire demeanor has changed; no longer snivelling and cowardly, Gamil holds himself higher and speaks slowly through a wide grin, "First, I need something of yours. I need someone's blood. Hers," he points to Nualia, "in particular." Puzzled by his requests, the party begrudgingly decides to allow Gamil a drop of Nualia's blood, who then flies over to the portal and places his hand upon the stone. A swirling maelstrom of muddy red flows through the portal as the party braces themselves to step through. "I will warn you, the trip may be a little...rough," Gamil sneers. Not trusting the imp a bit, Lago readies himself to subdue the fiend the second things go awry.

With a strange tugging sensation, the party is pulled rapidly through the swirling mass, witnessing strange and horrific images in a split second. Fire and brimstone, moaning forsaken souls, and strange emptiness permeate the hellish landscape as Gamil whispers, "They were all once like you," before the party is thrown out of the portal onto cobblestone.

Looking around, the group finds themselves in the square of a small town, apparently build around a large arch, more than double the size of the portal they escaped through. Gamil is nowhere to be seen, but the familiar darkness of Huron above quickly materializes. The party manages to pacify the alarmed passerbys (somehow) before getting their bearings. Vosen recognizes the town as Archdown, a town a few hours from Illium.

Garo finds a shop to sell some of the party's recently acquired riches, as a hooded figure passes the party and ascends the arch. Built with steep stairs on either side, the arch appears to be used to conduct town meetings, or in this case, a sermon. The figure throws back his hood to reveal a handsome half-elf with blonde hair who begins to speak the praises of the Dark Queen, preaching freedom from all things and singing the blessings of the dark cloud above.

Spotting a half-orc in Voyager armor keeping a watchful eye over the procession, the remaining party speaks to him as Lago and Nualia decide to get information from the preacher by pretending to be very enthusiastic listeners. The Voyager introduces himself as Grimnar, and once the pleasantries are exchanged, he alerts that a Message went out to all Voyagers that the group is wanted back in Illium immediately for some extremely important business. Grimnar states that he can provide transportation, if need be. Before they decide to leave, the party opts to track the preacher, who has managed to convince a half-dozen people (plus Lago and Nualia) to follow him for recruitment into the Dark Callers. After promising to return shortly, Grimnar agrees, and begins travel preparations.

Definitely wasn't expecting the party to grab all of that metal, but oh well. Vosen's new weapon is seriously cool, and can function as a shortsword, hand crossbow (with 4 bolts), and disarming weapon with a flick of the lever that fits over the arm. The bit about the Dark Caller preacher was meant to be merely descriptive, but I decided to roll with it and fast-track an important event to the next session.

2015-07-16, 11:17 PM
Chapter 11: The Death of a Shadow
Doing some work on the first post; now updated to include the party's official name, with a map of Illium and a full guide to all mentioned deities. Check it out!

The party follows the preacher to his meeting place in the wilds outside of Archdown. Lago and Nualia join the procession directly, under the guise of eager potential converts, while Beinlein, Groot, and Garo remain as far behind the group as Lago’s telepathy allows. Sneaking through the dense forest on either side of the path, Vosen keeps close to his allies and the Dark Callers alike.

The journey from Archdown takes a little over an hour, in which Lago and Nualia attempt to discuss theology with the preacher who remains in a mostly tight-lipped state of quiet meditation, mostly telling the two that their answers will be revealed to them once they reach their destination. As the sun begins to set, the path opens into a large forest glade with large waystones bearing runes that Garo identifies as the Giant tongue. A run-down barn sits at the far end of the field, surrounded by standing torches and several of the waystones moved into a circular shape, an impressive feat given the massive size of the ancient rocks. Two cloaked individuals are slowly moving from stone to stone, leaving a trail of ashes in a straight line to form (as Lago quickly notices) the Dark Queen’s symbol.

The preacher is met by a third man wearing the same cloak, but with his hood pulled back revealing the face of an older human man with a close-cut brown beard who greets the preacher and his new followers with a jubilant tone and a wide smile, gesturing them to enter the building. Nualia attempts to disrupt the symbol by “tripping” over one of the trails of ash, but is noticed by the preacher who kindly asks if she is alright and directing the other cloaked individuals to fix the break in the line. The preacher gestures for the two to enter, and they very cautiously enter through the door.

Lit dimly by candles in iron sconces, the inside of the barn has been converted into a shrine to the Dark Queen, complete with wooden pews and a walkway paved with small stones, each one bearing the infamous symbol. Three cloaked figures appear to be sitting on pews, heads bowed in prayer, as an altar stands opposite to the entrance, right behind the mysterious smiling shadow! Immediately sensing danger, Nualia drop all pretense, alert the rest of the party and attack the cultists!

As Nualia slashes at the Dark Callers, Vosen leaps out of the shadows to take advantage of the surprise. However, his sneak attack doesn't work against the cultists, who retaliate with a draining claw attacks characteristic of undead! The rest of the party regroups outside the barn and begin to make short work of the cultists. Inside, one of the cultists stands from his seat and runs to bow at the shadow's feet, who slashes at his throat, killing him instantly. Nualia focuses her efforts on the shadow in vain as Lago buffs the party.

Suddenly, Hurŏn descends from the sky and lands atop the barn, dust falling from the rafters as the wooden boards creak under its wake. Hurŏn breathes a noxious gas upon the party which renders Garo nauseated and barely able to stand, as the party's shadows again arise to harry them. More blows are exchanged as Hurŏn bursts through the roof, sending debris crumbling down upon Nualia and Lago, killing the remaining cultists and all of the villages who followed them except for one terrified man, huddling in the corner. An injured Lago breaks a hole in the wall to escape the shadowy monstrosity now blocking the entrance, while the rest of the party tries to gang up on Hurŏn and the shadow. Every attack again passes right through the shadow's form with zero resistance, and the shadow in turn seems to ignore the battle, taking dainty steps across the symbol stones on the walkway. Once she reaches the entrance of the barn (now reduced to a mere door frame), the smiling shadow takes a single tentative step onto solid ground as two eyes appear on her face to match the smile. The shadow raises her arms and begins to rise into the air.

After several devastating rounds of combat, the party manages to bring down Hurŏn, as its shadowy body disappears revealing a convoluted writhing mass of flesh which strikes at the party slower, with less intelligence but increased ferocity. The shadow disappears before the final blow is landed, as Hurŏn falls to the ground, by all appearances, completely and utterly dead. Not sure whether to call the fight a victory, the party investigates the remains of the barn, finding a trap door behind the altar. Lago and Beinlein climb the ladder leading to a cellar below the floorboards, which seems to be a makeshift laboratory filled with massive quantities of a black substance that is identical to Sin's blood! Lago grabs as much as he can to bring to Maester Emella before the party leaves for Archdown, reporting in to Grimnar and taking up his offer for travel to Illium. Two Drift Blades accompany the party, who rest inside covered wagons leading them back to the city.

2015-08-23, 08:11 PM
Session 12: Downtime
From this point, we enter a bit of downtime that I had planned for the party. Unfortunately, it stretched too long and might be the weakest point of the story so far, but I hoped I learned from the experience; the campaign has a distinct sense of urgency, and spending too long in town seems a little...odd.

Also, the map of Illium has had some issues, should be fixed now.

A Nasty Surprise
The party arrives in Illium early on Thursday morning and proceed straight to the Grand Cathedral to meet Thurion about this “urgent business” and maybe find out some information about the mysterious tome they acquired in the Inner Earth. As per usual, Carn meets with the group promptly to introduce them to Thurion, although Carn notes that the god is difficult to get an audience with. Walking amid the bustle of the Grand Cathedral, the party sees a crowd surrounding an extremely tall middle-aged half-orc adorned in impeccable finery. He seems to be speaking brusquely to individuals in the crowd, signing and reading various documents. The party shares the information about the Nature of Divinity with Carn, who catches Thurion’s attention with an uncharacteristic shout across the hall. The crowd parts as they pass and a clearly annoyed Thurion asks Carn (my boy) what is the meaning of this? Nervously, Carn gives a quick introduction as Lago procures the tome to show to the god. Thurion holds the book in one hand and points at it the other as the pages quickly turn reading the massive tome from front to back in a mere minute. The god reveals that he only recognizes the names Asmodeus, Pithos, and Garnaron, and notes the missing page. He suggests that they show the book to Satorias and tells them to meet with Arlessa at a prison in the Garrison. Clearly impatient, Thurion gives the party a nevertheless polite farewell before resuming his business, and asking Carn to come with him. Carn silently mouths “I’m sorry” before taking off with Thurion and the crowd.

At the Garrison, the party stands before an imposing three-storied square structure build of solid stone, attended by guards at the front entrance. Upon seeing the Crystal Order approach, the guards nod and call for the iron entrance doors to be opened. Inside, they are directed down two flights of stairs through several more guarded iron doors. Before the final threshold, four heavily-armored watchmen stand in a spartan room with only a wooden bench and lighted sconces. One of the guards speaks to the party that Voyager Arlessa is taking a break from interrogating the prisoner, but they are free to give it a shot themselves. Somewhat confused, the party agrees as the door is opened. Inside is a square cell with four more men attending to the other side of the door. Chained to a wooden chair, bound and gagged, is Sin!

A wide grin spreads across Sin's bruised face as he sees the party enter. They immediately and aggressively question what he is doing here and his motives, to which he replies, "It's all part of my plan of course. I'm here to spy on Illium. Or I'm to kill my enemies. Or I've come to turn around my evil ways. Or maybe I'm just on vacation, who knows?" Arlessa arrives a moment later and wearily tells the party of how she was tracking Sin's whereabouts under the pretense of a secret mission, and encountered the demon who surrendered immediately without a fight. Knowing of his seeming immortality, Arlessa brought him into custody (not without some rough treatment, she admits) but is positive this is some sort of trap. The gods she has questioned have apparently been at a standstill on how to deal with this; Tuskanna wants him killed, while Wendolia and Thurion feel it would be better to keep him alive. Arlessa admits that she agrees with the latter, at least they know that he's not killing people if he's locked in one of the only anti-magic cell in the city.

Beinlein posits that Sin may have fallen out of favor with the Dark Queen, and fled to the safest place he could think of to escape her wrath. Or even worse, something big might be coming that he hopes to stay safe from. Regardless, Sin continues to be infuriatingly difficult and reveals no further information despite the intimidation of Nualia and Garo, or the motive sensing of Vosen and Beinlein. This is, apparently what Arlessa has been putting up with for three days. She tells the party that they are welcome to help her interrogate Sin if they want, but can go about their business in the city; she will contact them if she learns anything. Disgusted at their demonic nemesis, the party leaves the prison.

The party quickly splits up to run some errands; Vosen and Garo bring the orichalcum to Bronce, who is commissioned to make them some armor out of the material and maybe find a buyer while Nualia returns to Maester Tyrannus at the university. Beinlein and Lago search for some bounties to claim. At the bounty office, the front room appears empty, with the back door leading to the cell block propped open with a rock. Lago can hear voices in the other room, and the two cautiously proceed inside. They find Hilda and a large human male standing before a cell with a dead body, splattered with blood. They catch the end of a conversation "-and we have to catch that bastard at all costs." Seeing the two familiar faces, Hilda introduces them to her partner Skylar and explains her predicament. A halfling named Israh has been killing bounties brought in, denying Hilda payment from the parties who took out the bounties. She thus far has been unable to catch Israh in the act, or even find out how he's getting inside. Beinlein proposes that they stake-out the night to guard the only bounty currently in custody, a dark-skinned elf named Sabulla. Even more, Lago will serve as bait, since he technically still has a bounty on his head. Hilda agrees, and offers them the entire 5,000 gp reward for Israh if they are able to catch him (but to let her kill him herself). Beinlein also picks up a few more bounties including a 3,000 gp bounty on the sisters Jade and Rhinestone, last seen in the Smalls, wanted for Theft, Blackmail, and "Inciting Rebellion"; a 1,500 gp reward on an otherwise unidentified man named Dorc wanted for Kidnapping; and a 4,500 gp reward on a dwarf named Khurukthizid wanted for Horse Theft and Murder.

The party regroups at the bounty office that night with Lago imprisoned, Beinlein and Hilda in the office, Vosen and Nualia watching the perimeter, and Groot posing as a tree alongside with Garo at the entrance. The hours pass by uneventfully until late evening when Garo hears singing in the otherwise abandoned streets. The singing is coming from the tall silhouette of a man, drunkenly sauntering through the streets. When he comes into the light, Garo sees that the man is Gregor! Noticing the dwarf, Gregor loudly greets him a good evening and invites him to have a drink. Garo declines and asks what Gregor is doing this late at night. Gregor tells Garo of his family mansion which is being sold to Lord Elrath who has moved into the city. Belonging to a noble family, the house can only change hands to another set of nobles, even though Gregor lacks the money to maintain the manor. Normally, he wouldn't mind having it fall into the hands of another noble family, but Elrath was apparently responsible for driving his family's fortune into the ground, and indirectly causing the death of Gregor's parents, his father being lost while adventuring to recover money and his mother committing suicide. Gregor beseeches Garo and the party's help to discredit Elrath, causing him to lose face publicly which will affect his status. Gregor has even discovered some dirt on the noble which will help in their endeavor. The present party agrees, and Garo helps Gregor back home. Realizing their stake-out may have been ruined in the commotion, Lago and Vosen take up the watch for the remainder of the uneventful night.

2015-09-09, 11:12 PM
Session 13: A Very Awkward Dinner Party
In this session, I open up a pretty nasty can of worms with Elrath's actions, but I try to handle it as tactfully as I can and to not go into detail. I wanted to really make the PC's hate this guy, so I came up with the most deplorable thing I could thing of. Just a warning if anyone reading finds it to be offensive (although again, aside from mentioning Elrath's actions, I don't go into detail). Just to be safe, skip the 'Unexpected Guests' sub-chapter if you're worried about it. I'll sum up everything else relevant in the bottom of this post.

Firras, God of Nature
Early Friday morning, an exhausted Vosen and Lago take to the temple to meet with Firras, the god of animals, weather, and nature. They are led to a multi-storied wing of the cathedral reminiscent of an indoor park, well-tended and designed to give peace to injured animals as well as to give the Chaste inhabitants of the cathedral the feeling of being outdoors. Overlooking a healer tending to an injured horse is a simply massive owl seemingly compromised of brilliant tropical flowers. Approaching the beast, Vosen and Lago are introduced to Firras, who continues to take animal shapes composed of plant life during their conversation. The god sadly provides no new knowledge after perusing through the Nature of Divinity, but cures the duo's fatigue from the night before in a brilliant flash of light before flying off. Fully refreshed, Lago and Vosen meet the others back at the Disgruntled Owlbear.

Mad Science and Bad Luck
Having agreed to meet with Gregor that afternoon at the Drift Blade Headquarters, Nualia suggests that the group use the rest of their time trying to unravel the mysteries of the Nature of Divinity by bringing the tome to Siegson University. Arriving at the school, an assistant informs the group that Maester Tyrannus is in a meeting and can't be disturbed at the moment, but Maester Emella is available so everyone decides to meet with her to see if any progress has been made on examining the samples of Sin's blood. And indeed, progress has been made, although not in a way that had been expected. Emella informs the group grimly that the blood samples are very volatile and highly toxic, killing living subjects almost outright when injected into the blood (she assures everyone that her living samples come from monsters captured from under and around Illium). However, two samples deceased samples (a dire rat and a carrion crawler) have been revivified by injection of the blood into a bizarre undead-like state. The monsters are caged in Emella's lab and two guards are on hand to keep watch after one of the undead monsters tried to take a bite out of the Maester.

Unfortunately, Emella's research has yielded little else and she asks the group for advice. Lago, with his knowledge of the dark symbols, sketches one of the marks in a notebook and shows it to the beasts, who react violently. And an even more volatile reaction comes from the massive vials of blood which begin to shake uncontrollably as the symbol is revealed and shatter, showering the group in acidic ichor. For a split-second, the smiling shadow can be seen rising from the smoke as Lago reacts quickly, recapturing only a few ounces of the remaining blood as the rest evaporates. While the party survived the explosion only a little worse for the wear, it was too much for the fragile Emella who was killed in the blast. The party calls up the guards and explains the situation to them and the shell-shocked Maesters who need to regroup to discuss these recent events. The tragic events leaves the party feeling dour as the meet with Gregor later that evening.

Unexpected Guests
At the Drift Blade headquarters, Gregor explains to the group the 'dirt' that he has uncovered on Lord Elrath. As it turns out, Elrath is one of the few individuals to have lived through the event that erased all memory. Gregor theorizes that Elrath has become jaded in his old age and at this point, any new experience becomes a rare commodity. The elder elf has engaged in all manners of debauchery over his long years, but has recently shown an interest in unnatural relationships with young boys. Gregor learned this unsettling information when some of his men were hired to oversee Elrath's move into Gregor's family mansion, an act he despised seeing as Elrath's cutthroat practices led to the utter destruction of the Abendroth's business. Gregor's father found himself drowning in debt and was murdered by gangsters and his mother took her own life after a long battle with depression. The decision to accept Elrath's job offer gave Gregor the chance to spy on his rival since Elrath assumed Gregor died long ago. At any rate, it was a young recruit named Jensen who attracted Elrath's attention and the frightened lad came to his mentor about the situation. Gregor posits that if Elrath's habits become public, he will lose most, if not all reputation he once held. Jensen is equally focused on Elrath's downfall and has agreed to remain at Elrath's home (as a personal assistant) in the hopes of bringing the elf down.

The party agrees and begins to slander Elrath's name in a number of ways. Garo spends time at the local taverns, spreading rumors about Elrath's promiscuity. Beinlein with Groot and Hilda's help takes out a bounty on Elrath thinking that the bounty will likely go unsuccessful, but no self-respecting noble would have a bounty on their head. Nualia, Lago, and Vosen focus on a more direct approach and visit Elrath's manor where the elven lord is holding a house-warming dinner party. Despite being uninvited, Lord Elrath delights at their company, having remembered their assistance in Blink Bay which assured his political holdings and allowed him to retire to Illium. The dinner is an intimate affair, with only a half-dozen other guests coming from the families of Illium's merchant lords. Most of the guests seem content to agree with Elrath's impromptu invitation, except for a haughty noblewoman who clearly takes offense at these...these...commoners presence (most unorthodox!).

The Abendroth Manor is of modest size for a mansion, giving it a cozy feeling, although only the main hall and dining room have been fully furnished as Elrath is still in the process of moving in. Noting the large balcony on the second floor, the trio conducts a plan to get Elrath heavily intoxicated and trick him into confessing outside, since the balcony has a very clear view of the streets below. After dinner, Lago takes great joy in irritating the haughty noblewoman until she leaves in a huff, and engages Elrath in a drinking game of dubious rules ("You take a drink when I say to take a drink!") and the party moves from the dining room, to the study, and finally outside as Elrath becomes more and more intoxicated. During one of the moves, Nualia fuming with rage excuses herself and meets with Jensen who mentions that Gregor is close by outside and will arrange for bystanders to be present for the eventual display, but rejoins the party to bring Elrath more wine so as to not lose his cover.

On the balcony, Vosen entertains the guests with juggling, sleight of hand, and impressive acrobatics involving a grappling hook (and upside down juggling) when Nualia and Jensen rejoin the party. At this point, Lago has taken one for the team and is almost as far gone as Elrath, but managed to position them as close to the balcony railing as he could. Jensen goes to Elrath's side as the drunken elven lord makes an inappropriate move on the lad. Nualia, having kept a close watch shouts out and delivers a smack across Elrath's face so strong that the lord stumbles off the balcony and lands heavily onto the street, to the shock of several bystanders and the town guard. Having witnessed Elrath's actions (Vosen's act had drawn some attention with some subtle manipulation by Gregor) the guards ask the disgraced lord what he has to say for himself. Arms held between the two guards, Elrath looks up...and vomits onto the street. Vosen and Nualia see Gregor in a nearby alley, looking up and saluting them for their efforts.

Since the party helped Gregor out, and he hardly uses the mansion, he appoints them as official caretakers, which in game terms means that the Crystal Order gets a base of operations! Now, here's where I goofed by essentially forcing the party to remain in Illium for 2-3 weeks to work on the home (using the downtime rules). Everyone went with it, but after the next and third downtime session, thought that this bit had gone on too long and the urgency of the Dark Queen's mysterious plans didn't lend too well to sitting around in the city arranging furniture. This session, the previous session, and the next session originally took place during this several week time span, but were reduced to a weekend when I realized my error. But the session still worked out great, and Elrath lost all credibility in a very satisfying way!

2015-09-12, 11:08 PM
Chapter 14: The New High Cardinal
Pumping out these campaign logs; we're actually about to start session 18 and I'm trying to get caught up! This session brings the downtime to a close, although due to my retcon, the improvements to Abendroth manor and a custom orichalcum armor/weapons for Vosen and Garo are ready early.

The Morning After
Following the excitement of the night before, the party awakens back at the Disgruntled Owlbear, eager to commission improvements to their new home. Lago had a particularly exciting evening after drunkenly stumbling into Sin's cell declaring that the demon "broke his heart!" before vomiting all over the floor. With a new god present at the Grand Cathedral, everyone opts to visit Satorias, residing in the central hall of the tower. Floating half a dozen feet off the ground is a large woman in a dark blue robe trailing down to the floor. Satorias has four arms and a blurred face; no matter how hard the party looks at her visage, they can't seem to focus on her features. The god of secrets and knowledge 'speaks' to the party with a cacophonous chorus of whispering voices in their minds; the conversation is held with the voices that are the loudest and heard most clearly.

Satorias also (quite frustratingly to the party at this point) knows nothing about the gods mentioned in the tome The Nature of Divinity, despite the fact that she learns new knowledge from everyone who enters into the Cathedral. She does know one thing very relevant to the party: Nualia's sister had come by two months ago asking about Nualia's whereabouts. With this information in tow, the party asks around town and Beinlein finds three individuals who had come across Nualia's sister Nissa. None of them knew very much, but remembered her appearance and a very 'powerful aura' about her. Nualia renews her vows to reunite with her sister.

During their investigation a messenger for Vosen and Garo approach the party, saying that Bronce has already managed to procure a buyer for their stores of orichalcum! The two follow-up at Bronce and Brass, meeting with an elderly human in military garb who introduces himself as Rankine, a noble from the southern city of Tarraskon. After some haggling, Rankine purchases the full remaining sum of metal (almost a half-ton) for 25,000gp! A good amount of this money ends up being invested in Abendroth Manor.

The House of Heavenly Delights
Even though after receiving such a large fund of cash a bounty of several thousand gold isn't quite as much, Beinlein and the party still decide to hunt down the sisters Jade and Rhinestone. Although their bounty poster pointed to a base in The Smalls, Beinlein manages to hunt the two down to a brothel in the red-light district called the House of Heavenly Delights. Scouting out the two-storied building, Vosen lies in waiting by the back entrance in an alley behind the building, Beinlein and Groot stay outside in the street, all three ready to provide back up if needed. Garo's player unfortunately had to miss the previous session, but I ruled that he was close by having spent the whole day in bars continuing to slander Elrath's name. Following an rather ill-thought out plan (granted, it was spur-of-the-moment), Nualia and Lago meet with an attendant of the brothel and they try to arrange a meeting with Rhinestone once they find out about her rebellion and claim to be supporters (as representatives of their elusive 'boss'). The two are left alone in the room for a few minutes as a fit human women of olive complexion, long black hair, and facial tattoos comes from the back and joins them at their table. She introduces herself as Rhinestone and seems unconvinced that the two are truly here for her apparent cause. Lago quickly alerts Beinlein outside through the network to letting him know that things are going poorly and he should step in. Beinlein does so, under the guise as their enigmatic boss, but Rhinestone sees through their bluff, calling them out as bounty hunters! At that moment, they see two women standing at the upstairs loft, who match the profile as both Jade and Rhinestone!

The sisters dash through the outside window, Jade taking flight magically and Rhinestone crashing to the ground. Nualia attacks the woman masquerading as Rhinestone who reveals herself to be a doppleganger and surrenders. The fight begins as everyone rushes outside except for Beinlein, who casts his buffs from the safety of the building. A cloaked assassin steps out of the shadows and attempts a death attack on Beinlein which the summoner barely survives, although he is left paralyzed. The group outside is having equal trouble, with Rhinestone going into a rage, shattering the ground around her and pummeling Nualia as they fight toe-to-toe. Jade casts spells from the air, but a quick thinking Vosen manages to snag her with a grappling hook to keep her in place, but can't pull her down. Lago, sensing Beinlein in trouble, swaps the gnome's place with an enraged Groot who proceeds to bash the assassin into the ground. Things aren't going great with Garo shows up, having heard the trouble.

Now, I had drawn the street on the map and as an afterthought, drew a well for detail. Garo's player asks if Vosen can get closer to the well and runs in, grabbing the rope and falling down the well, dragging Jade down violently with over 700 lbs of dwarf and gear. Jade is stunned, but surrender and Rhinestone's rage ends, causing her to fall unconscious, ending the fight.

The sisters are brought to the bounty office as Jade explains that while the two of them often partake in various illegal activities, Rhinestone has visions of terrible things to come that have been increasing in frequency. It is due to this criminal background that Rhinestone's attempts to increase Illium's security have gone on deaf ears; when they can reach anyone important at all. After speaking with Hilda back at the garrison district, she agrees to hold them indefinitely as "bait" for Israh. After Rhinestone is partially recovered, she begrudgingly tells the party her visions of war with the elements and then nothing but silence as well as a more recent vision of a demon with a torn body laughing maniacally in a dark hall. Israh ends up making no appearance that evening, however, despite Lago also playing the bait, just in case.

Carn's Birthday
The next morning, the party awakens early to attend Carn's birthday and head to the Grand Cathedral, surprised to find crowds of people congregating around the cathedral, even more than the normal Sunday rush. Inside (after finding some fancy clothes, just in case), they are ushered to the central chamber where seats have been set up for the hundreds of attendees, with front row spaces arranged for the party next to Arlessa and several other Voyagers, all in ceremonial armor. The people become quiet as an aged dwarf garbed in the colors of the Voyagers enters the center of the hall, brightened with a single beam of light. The dwarf, High Templar Bali Steelborn addresses the crowd as Sune appears next to him, now appearing as a humanoid of indeterminate race or gender. The High Templar quiets as Sune begins speaking praise of an individual who will assume the position as High Cardinal on this day, the day of his adulthood, Carn. The center floor opens as Carn is raised up from below, looking incredibly nervous but determined. The ceremony goes on for several more minutes before finishing in a flash of light from Sune. In that brief moment, the most eagle-eyed of the party can see all seven deities (including a pale thin man finely dressed that they assume is Morndred and a beautiful woman made of fire that must be Tuskanna). Afterwards, they congratulate Carn on his new position and offer to take him out into the world (an essential duty of the High Cardinal), but Sune assures them Carn needs a little more preparation for that step to begin. Sune reveals nothing new about the tome, but suspects someone who might know; the Solstone of Crescentfall. The Solstone, Sune explains is a mass of stone that fell from space into what is now the city of Crescentfall. People began to worship the stone to the point where it obtained a spark of divinity (although Sune suspects it may have been something more to begin with). Not wanting to burden the party, Sune agrees to send some Voyagers to speak to the Solstone as soon as possible.

Sin's "Escape"
With the ceremony completed, the party leaves the Grand Cathedral but receive an urgent message that Sin, of all people, wants to speak to them. Cautiously, they leave for his prison to speak with the demon. Sin finally begins to talk promising not to lie (yeah, right), saying that he was here researching a theory, and asks the party if they have become more powerful during their stay here. The only way Sin can rationalize that the party has become stronger than him, a regenerating demon powered by a god, is if they have become heroes of destiny. The party is dubious, to say the least, but take advantage of his offer to tell the truth to garner some insight to the Dark Queen's plans. Sin states that he knows little; he is merely a mad dog sent to cause damage and destruction to usher in her rise to power. He does, however, say that the party should meet him in Bald Mountain, where they should finally be able to kill him for good, delivering this information with a smug smile. Having enough of Sin, Nualia finally snaps and murders him outright, severing his head almost instantly.

The party remains in Illium to try to speak to the remaining gods, having no luck in meeting Morndred, although Tuskanna provides just a little information. The goddess, taking the form of a gigantic woman made of flames, is more interested in the battles the party has had with the Dark Queen. Despite their lack of insight towards The Nature of Divinity, the party prepares to leave for Bald Mountain and is met by Gregor who states his intentions to join the party on their trip. It seems Gregor has a cousin in the village of Boldur, right on Bald Mountain, who has recently requested him to visit. Having shown his proficiency at combat, and his knowledge of the way, the party agrees and heads out for Boldur the following morning.

Finally done with the downtime! Sorry if the last few posts felt disjointed; the story gets back on track right away. At any rate, the party feels that meeting Sin is almost certainly a trap, but if there's a chance to take him down for good, they're willing to take it. With some luck, the Crystal Order may be marching towards their final confrontation with Sin!

2015-09-27, 02:50 AM
Chapter 15: Raid on the Bandit Stronghold
Back to adventuring, the Crystal Order runs afoul of bandits and learns of a powerful group operating in the surrounding lands.

Trouble in the Family
Fully provisioned for their journey with adventuring essentials, including horses and some magical curiosities found at Ophelia's Oddities and The Shriveled Owl, the party embarks Northwest towards Boldur and Bald Mountain. By Gregor's estimation, the trip to Boldur will take approximately eight days, providing the geography hasn't changed too much. The first three days of the trip are uneventful, with the group keeping their eyes to the road as the farmlands around Illium change into vast rolling planes that becomes drier and more desolate as they travel Westwards. While chatting with Gregor, the mercenary reveals his deeper concerns and reasons for returning to Boldur. Gregor's cousin Morelia Abendroth had a son named Adalbert who died of mysterious circumstances over a year ago. Within the past week, however, Adalbert returned fully alive and seemingly no different than the day he expired. Gathered with undead sightings in the surrounding countryside, Morelia is understandably concerned and sent for Gregor to return as soon as he is able. Gregor lets the party know that he does not expect the party to involve themselves in his family business and insists on not bothering them further.

Ambush! Again!
On the fourth day, the arid landscape shoots up suddenly to sheer cliffs topped by flat, dusty plateaus. The path winds through a pass aptly named Narrow Valley as Gregor leads the party through, warning about bandits that have been known to haunt the area. After a half hour or so, the party's path is blocked by two large boulder with a space between large enough only for an average human to walk through. Standing before this path is a heavily armed man idle leaning on his sword. As the party approaches the man calls for them to halt, drop their weapons and belongings, and to walk away unless they want to be killed. When the party shows they are very much not intimidated by him, he shouts out for help and takes a defensive stance.

On a rocky shelf fifteen or so feet up, archers pop up from behind cover and fire upon the party. Nualia, Groot, and Garo converge on the man and his ally who steps up from behind the boulders, although they hear chanting from behind the rocks. Vosen opens fire upon the archers who scored several shots and Lago and Beinlein provide support with Haste and Expansion. Gregor surprises the group by adopting a strange stance and teleporting up to the archers above in an attempt to take them out. With the party clearly having the upper hand, despite an airborne mage dealing significant damage, one of the bandits throws a switch causing an avalanche of rocks to topple onto Vosen, Beinlein, and Lago! As the shower of stones rains down, only Lago fails to doge the wave of rubble and is knocked prone and partially buried by a pile of debris. More concernedly, however, is an opening from the rockslide uncovered, with a vicious growling emanating from within. From the shadows leaps out a basilisk, clearly malnourished and ready to hunt. Lago manages to avert his gaze as Gregor hops down to attack the beast (leaving two bandit archers who run away at top speed), and the two manage to take the large reptile down.

Across the battlefield, the rest of the party cuts a swath of destruction through the enemy ranks, culminating with an enlarge Nualia biting down on one of the bandit warriors, gruesomely tearing him in half. The bandit mage, horrified at the carnage, breaks rank and flees the fight. Seeing the last remaining brigand fleeing, Vosen casts Silence on the caster with a wand as Beinlein grants Groot a fly speed. The eidolon gains on the mage, grabbing him with extended branch-like limbs and tackling him to the ground. Groot carries the mage back to the rest of the group, a look of silent horror imprinted on the bandit's face.

Questioning Niloras
With the bandits routed, the party questions the mage; an easy feat since the young elf is clearly utterly terrified of Groot and Nualia. Introducing himself as Niloras, the mage reveals the location of the bandit's headquarters and sheds some insight on their strategies. It seems that the bandit leader, a man known as Lord Calem, is engaged in a power struggle with a band of united outcasts and monsters calling themselves the Scourge. The Narrow Valley Bandits themselves are outnumbered by the Scourge two to one, with the bandits being just over a dozen strong. Since Boldur is protected by a wizard named Andarxen and therefore out of the bandit's reach, Lord Calem has stepped up attacks on travelers to gather enough resources to eventually disperse the Scourge. Niloras agrees to lead the party to the Bandit's base but warns the party to be on their toes since the archers will likely have arrived and alerted the guards.

When the party does reach the entrance to the bandit stronghold, an inconspicuous crack in the cliff walls, they ask Niloras about what defenses and oppositions they should expect. Niloras tells the party that the crack opens up into a large cavern divided by a deep chasm. The stronghold proper is built into the stone at the far side of the cave only accessible by a rope bridge, although Niloras warns that destroying the bridge isn't an option as Lord Calem has at least one secret exit from the cave, although the mage doesn't know where it is located. Heeding his advice, Vosen ties up the Niloras outside and the party buffs themselves, preparing to have Nualia and Gregor rush the bridge. With that, they enter into the cave.

The Forces of Lord Calem
Charging head first into the cave, Nualia and Gregor immediately come to a halt when they see that two people have been tied to the bridge; an elderly human man and a young human woman, both dressed in rags. Archers positioned behind cover opposite of the party take advantage of the momentary lapse and open fire. Not missing a beat, the party quickly frees the prisoners and bring down most of the archers. Garo follows a dwarf bandit into the the base but is stopped in his tracks by a spell from his opponent. Outside, the last archer throws down his bow and surrenders, lamenting as Vosen throws it into the chasm that the bow was a family heirloom before being tied up. After defeating the dwarf caster, the party is lead upstairs to a large room filled with fine rugs and other luxury items, as well as two doors revealing staircases leading upwards (and spike traps, learned after some trial and error). Noises of some beast roaring in the cavern puts the party on the watch for danger and they decide to split with Lago, Nualia, and Gregor taking the left door; and Garo, Vosen, Beinlein, and Groot taking the right.

The right stairway leads to a block of cells holding a single prisoner, a very emaciated woman in loose rough garments. The other door in the room is blocked and is easily over-powered by Garo and Groot who bring down the bandits who were blocking the door and subsequently scattered by the force of strength. As the fighters clearly have the upper-hand, Vosen stays back to unlock the cell and break the woman free. She timidly tells him that her name is Zorna and that she is a tiefling and a member of the Scourge who was captured several weeks prior. Vosen picks the lock without trouble and helps Zorna to her feet. She tells him of the Scourge's camp just a day's travel Northwest and speaks reverently of their enigmatic leader, the Lady in Green.

The left stairway leads to a unlocked door, opening into an office decked with all sorts of finery. As they walk inside they see a foppish human man dressed as a noble arranging chairs in front of a grand wooden desk. The man looks up surprised, then clumsily runs over behind the desk and grabbing a wine glass made of a human skull, sloshing wine over himself in the process. Regardless, the man attempts to maintain his noble demeanor and addresses the party with his best attempt at eloquent speech, "So...I see you have arrived. I am Lord Calem and I have been awaiting you." Taking a swig of his wine, Lord Calem chokes slightly and gives the party his most piercing gaze.

Undaunted by his failed attempts to be mysterious, Lord Calem continues, "I admit, I have just been stalling, for I am allied to a fire drake who should be down to save me...now, ha-ha!" Silence follows 'Lord' Calem's statement. "Damnable drake! Must have flown off when he realized we were pushed back. No matter, I'm sure we shall prevail-" Clearly pushed to his limit at this point, Gregor strides forward, grabbing the man by the cuff and slamming him into the desk, shattering it completely. With Calem buckling under the pressure and clearly not much of a threat, the party takes him into custody. Back outside, Gregor and Garo volunteer to take the bandits and Calem as prisoners to Boldur with the two refugees following. Zorna, however, stays with the party who decide to travel to the Scourge and meet with the Lady in Green.

2015-11-18, 12:38 AM
Chapter 16: The Scourge
Another big session with a surprise reveal! Garo's player was unable to make this session, so he's off still off with Gregor escorting the refugees and prisoners to Boldur.

Mist on the Stone Forest
Having split from Garo, Gregor, their prisoners, and the refugees, the main party continues northward across the desolate landscape following Zorna's lead. Only a couple hours pass until the party stands before the Stone Forest, an ancient marvel of trees preserved from a distant time immortalized as hard as rock. Venturing into the imposing forest of once-living trees, the party immediately senses that the forest simply feels "dead," as the haunting calls of crows seem to only emphasize the dreary domain. Understandably wary, they question Zorna who assures everyone that she knows of no monsters or bandits that operate within the stone forest; even the Scourge maintains a respectable distance from the dark depths of the lifeless monoliths.

Their path takes a turn downward as the elevation sharply declines and the party quickly finds themselves immersed in a dense fog. Barely able to see in front of them, Zorna states with concern that she hasn't heard of such weather normally occurring in the Stone Forest...nor the tortured moans that begin to emit from within the thick sheet of mist! Bracing themselves for a fight, Zorna takes refuge behind one of the ancient trees, well over 10 feet in diameter. Several zombies begin to filter in through the mist and the group hears chanting from further away, ceasing as the air around them explodes in a fiery burst, scorching the group and dispersing some of the mist. Nualia splits up from the group and tries to flank the undead group, only to find a bubbling tar pit obstructing the path. Lago spots a small cliff (about a ten foot drop) and after buffing his allies, slides to the bottom as undead converge on the party.

Eventually, they clear out the majority of the zombies, leaving four of the undead forming an unliving barrier between the small cliff and one of the giant trees. From behind the wall of zombies is a death knight who disperses some of the mist to reveal a symbol of pain imprinted on the giant tree! Fortunately, Lago, Nualia, and Zorna avoid the symbol completely due to distance. While powerful, the death knight is no match for the combined forces of the party (even debuffed) and is quickly brought down right before Nualia catches up with the rest of the group. Knowing that they have found some of the wandering undead Lord Calem spoke of, the party keeps their guard up until they eventually leave the petrified flora of the Stone Forest.

Among Monsters
The massive petrified trunks of the Stone Forest give way to more rocky wasteland broken up by the occasional rough patch of desert plantlife. The party hikes across the landscape for over an hour until they see the Scourge's encampment in the distance. Positioned atop a defensible plateau is a fortification defended by a palisade wall that looks half military garrison and half refugee camp. Still in the distance, the faroff silhoutte of a red drake can be seen flying to and landing somewhere within the camp. The party postulates, with some concern, that this may be the red drake who was supposedly allied with Lord Calem.

Approaching the plateau, the path the party follows leads to a ramp of pressed dirt that rises to a threshold guarded by an intimidating-looking ogre in a full suit of spiked armor and several armed orcs. Approaching the ogre, Zorna cheerfully greets him, introducing the guard as Arug. The ogre grunts his acknowledgement and eyes the party suspiciously. Lago, again showing his lack of social cues, clearly insults Arug with his rudeness and although the ogre leans in close and growls a warning for the party to be on their best behavior, he allows them to enter at Zorna's reccommendation. As they enter, Zorna asks if she can see the Lady in Green to which Arug replies that she is currently meeting with someone of importance, although he will send someone to inform her and the party when the Lady is available to be seen.

Zorna splits from the party saying that she has some catching up to do with other members of the Scourge and encourages everyone to do as they will inside the camp. The party decides to kill some time by finding a merchant and taking stock of the beings that make up the Scourge. They notice a few dwarves and humans but the Scourge seems to mainly consist of monstrous races such as orcs, ogres, gnolls, harpies, and maybe even a minotaur. Several dogs and wolves hang around the camp, with the wolves appearing to have an intelligent gleam in their eyes. Eventually, the party finds a gnoll merchant wearing fine colorful clothes and a small pair of spectacles. His nose is black with a splotch of white, his ears are frayed and torn, and he smiles a wide grin as he notices the party, revealing white teeth tipped with gold.

The gnoll introduces himself with a flourish and a bow as Rory Whitesnout and trades with the party in some minor magic items he has procured, being a purveyor of oddities. Once they finish trading, the party finds a fire unattended except by a sleeping wolf and spends some time 'people watching.' It seems the Scourge functions with a fairly loose structure regarding living areas, despite its militaristic appearance. Most buildings in the fortification are small basic wooden structures and tents, with a huge green pavilion in the back of the camp, opposite of the entrance. Across from their fire, a harpy meditates within a makeshift shrine who catches Lago's eye as he decides to go over to chat. The harpy mostly ignore's Lago's presence until she eventually tells him to go away, which is when Zorna reappears, excitedly telling the group that the Lady in Green is ready to meet.

The Lady in Green
Almost giddy with anticipation, Zorna leads the party through the camp straight up to the entrance of the massive green pavilion. Another ogre in full armor stands guard and bids them to wait until Arug comes from the entrance to meet. This other taciturn ogre, who simply grunts out his name "Arok" is Arug's brother and the duo flank the party as they enter the pavilion, a fact not lost upon the tactically-minded members of the party. The entrance opens up into the interior of the massive pavilion, four wood beams support the center of the tent, with dozens of others holding up the sides. The dirt floor is draped with rugs and carpets, aside from a modest lit fire pit in the center of the room. Awaiting the party are four orc archers, two to each side, arrows nocked to their held bows. Several chairs are arranged on their side of the fire, across from two other chairs sitting a blind-folded medusa and a thin black-robed figured crouched on its chair, arms hugging its legs. However, the most striking figure is a young woman sitting on a couch adorned in light green, long white hair, and piercing red eyes who bears a stunning resemblance to Nualia! An imp sits on the back of the couch and it doesn't take the party more than a second to recognize the cowardly face of Gamil!

Recognition immediately dawns on Nualia who calls out to the Lady in Green by her true name, "Nissa!" as she runs over to embrace her long-lost sister. Holding up her hand, Nissa coldly commands for Nualia to halt, which Nualia does, stopping confusedly in her tracks. The party is completely taken aback by this revelation and braces themselves for the worst, especially after they see the red-scaled face of a drake appearing from the partition behind Nissa's couch. Nissa's guards clearly feel the tension as well, eyeing their leader and ready to attack at her command. Crimson eyes never leaving her sister, Nissa asks Nualia to show her "mother's ring." Nualia glances down to the ring inset with a red gem that she never removes, and uncomfortably reveals it to Nissa. Inspecting it closely, Nissa's entire countenance changes to sheer joy exclaiming "Nualia! It really is you!" as she runs over to embrace her younger sister. The entire room relaxes (except for the bored-looking drake who snorts disdainfully) although the rest of the party isn't quite sure how to handle this unexpected family reunion. Nissa showing no sign of her previous suspicion, cheerfully invites everyone to have a seat, sitting herself on the couch and patting the spot next to her for Nualia to join. The party seats themselves across from the fire (aside from Nualia who joined her sister) as Nissa addresses them, speaking with remarkable confidence.

"I'm terribly sorry for our wariness; there was an attempt on my life by an assassin disguised as you Nualia," Nissa looks over to her sister and pulls down the neck of her dress slightly revealing a scar just beneath the neck, "and they were almost successful. I suspect they mimicked your appearance from our wanted posters and were coming for the bounty." Beinlein fidgets uncomfortably in his chair at this remark but makes no comment himself; noone seems to notice except for Lago who smiles mischievously. Nissa continues, "I instructed everyone in the camp to pay you (or anyone who looked like you) no remark as not to raise your guard so that I could see you for myself. But you are you and you're really here, I'm so happy!" Nissa closes her eyes for a moment to regain her composure, "Again, I'm sorry we began with such a rough start. I am Nissa, Nualia's elder sister by six years but everyone else her," she pauses for emphasis, "refers to me as the Lady in Green, leader of the Scourge."

Tea with the Lady
Nissa offers the party some drinks, which they accept, but Nualia asks Nissa why Gamil didn’t tell her of Nualia’s presence. Nissa remarks casually, “Gamil has provided me with some very useful information…but he is a snake and a coward.” She gives the imp at her side an icy stare, “Why didn’t you tell me that you met my sister and that she was alive, Gamil?” A look of fear flashes over Gamil’s face as he answers in a sniveling tone, “I…didn’t feel it was relevant, my Lady…” at a loss Gamil looks to the intimidating bloodrager sitting next to his master, “I agreed to serve your bloodline, I could feel power in your blood!” Nissa swiftly holds up her left hand, tapping Gamil’s long nose and is enough to unbalance the wiry imp, “Silence Gamil. We shall discuss this later. Until then, I believe proper introductions are in order.” “Yes, my lady,” mutters a thoroughly cowed Gamil.

Nissa reveals the name of the medusa seated to her left as Keto who serves as her impromptu second-in-command, and of the robed man to her right introduced as a tiefling named Misery. Keto nods to the party and says her greetings in low sultry voice while Misery makes no response, although his eyes dart toward them and back. Nissa speaks for him, “Misery is a tiefling and the only Dark Caller in the Scourge. He’s a special exception; no one else of their kind is allowed.” When asked why he follows the Dark Queen, Misery finally speaks in a jittery, nervous tone, “Silence. Her greatest gift. Silence. From the voices,” he rapidly taps his head, “The Dark Queen. Makes everything. Silent.” Clearly annoyed by the pleasantries, another grunt comes from behind the partition and Nissa introduces the drake as her guest, who interrupts "Rhaag, son of the great Vorelchar!" Vosen vaguely recalls the name referring to a powerful female red dragon which he shares to the party through the mindlink.

Nissa speaks again as if she expected the interruption, "Yes, Rhaag and I have been talking about a potential partnership and his entry into our little family." Beinlein feels obliged to interject at this telling Nissa that Rhaag was previously aligned with Lord Calem's bandits and is likely to be a turncoat. Rhaag objects furiously, saying that his alliance with the bandits was temporarily and he would never work for such a pompous fool! Lago is particularly amused at the comment. With introductions aside, Nualia asks Nissa the question on everyone's mind: "Where have you been? How did you become the leader of the Scourge?"

Nissa starts with a short sigh, "It's a bit of a long story...."

Origin of the Scourge
Nissa begins her story several years ago when Nissa was fourteen and Nialia six. Their father had always harbored ill-feelings toward them and their mother; he did not believe they were his true children as they had none of the features of either parents. In a drunken rage, their father beat their mother to death and Nissa snuck away in the night, taking Nualia with her and never returned. For years the two wandered as vagabonds, doing whatever necessary to survive, sticking to country roads and avoiding big cities. And although they acquired bounties for their occasional forays into theft, the sisters did well, for a time.

Cut to half a year ago, their father still alive, saw the wanted posters with his daughters’ faces upon them. Having amassed significant debt over the years, he made a deal with a cutthroat bounty hunter to help track them down with his knowledge of the sisters and to split the profit between them. Nissa soon caught wind that they were being tracked and decided to leave the pursuers away, telling Nualia to flee and promising to meet up with her later. While successful in leading the hunters away from Nualia, Nissa could not shake themselves and she was pursued farther and farther away, eventually enlisting another girl to masquerade as her younger sister who was separated from Nissa and murdered by her father and the mercenary who saw through the deception.

Tired and desperate, Nissa encountered a band of Dark Callers and challenged their leader to combat for control of the group. The men laughed at her challenge but stopped when the young woman brutally murdered their former chief. Using their newfound few to her advantage, Nissa sprang a trap and caught her hunters, ending their threat for good. With her pursuers finally gone, Nissa decided to use the band to acquire information on Nualia and the charismatic woman attracted quite a following among monsters, rebels, and outcasts. The Dark Callers, however, balked at Nissa’s refusal to resort to banditry and staged a coup which Nissa discovered and ended through the only remaining Dark Caller left in the Scourge, a tiefling named Misery. Misery helped Nissa discover the fiendish blood in her veins which led her to the conclusion that Nualia is touched with the blood of an outsider as well.

Finishing her story, Nissa closes, “As for my title, well, I didn’t have much clothes at the time aside from a green dress. It’s odd what people choose to latch onto, isn’t it?”

The tent is silent for a moment as Nissa finishes her story. She looks at her sister, “Yes, I am a tiefling, and you are an aasimar. But you are my sister and that’s all that matters. Come, I have a gift for you.” She invites the party to follow her outside of the pavilion to a small stockade just next to the large tent. She nods to a gnoll and dwarf who guard the entrance and opens the door to reveal a disheveled man with a dirty beard bound and gagged. “This pathetic waste of human flesh,” Nissa gestures to the bound man who looks up to them with fear in his eyes, “is father.” She takes a scimitar from the gnoll and puts it in Nualia’s hands, “and this is my gift to you.” Nissa kicks her father over to a block keeping him kneeled with her foot on his back. The onlookers are silent as Nualia looks into the eyes of her father, then brings the sword down, beheading him in one swipe. Only Lago notices the momentary flash of utter hatred in Nissa’s eyes before she politely invites them back inside, helping Nualia wipe the blood off her hands.

Back inside, the party explains to Nissa their goals and Beinlein asks about the Scourge’s position with the people of Boldur. Nissa lets out a humorless laugh, telling him that no one in the town would accept anyone in the scourge. “We are monsters, after all. Besides, even without the bandits, undead are roaming wild, and there someone hunting both us and the undead. One of our scouts saw him in Voyager armor, although I have not met him myself,” she says, showing clear distaste, “whoever he is, he’s powerful and smart. I suspect he has been herding the wild undead towards us to eliminate two groups of monsters at us. Even without any of those problems, our numbers are growing rapidly. I try to keep us away from towns but the more warlike members of the Scourge will eventually demand blood and I doubt I’ll be able to stop them, of course unless some other zealous group decides to purge our presence first.” The strain of leadership, while natural to her, is clearly taking its toll on Nissa.

Changing the subject, Nissa offers the party assistance, “I can grant you some resources that you might need, maybe some of our warriors will be willing to join you, after Nualia stays here with me.” An abrupt silence follows her statement, and Nualia is clearly conflicted. The party begins saying that they couldn’t possibly leave without Nualia, although Lago acquiesces that he wouldn’t want to keep Nualia from her only family, further conflicting the group.

Nissa pipes up with a proposed solution. If the party allows Nualia to join her, she will disband the Scourge but give them one last command to take out their rage on the undead haunting the badlands. She will tell them to keep to small groups but no larger, as not to warrant hostility from nearby settlements. Furthermore, she will gather them up again if Sune has need of their martial forces. Nissa suggests for the party to seek out the rogue Voyager to join them in Nualia’s place if they can convince him to leave the disbanded Scourge alone. Noone can think of a better solution and the party agrees, spending the night with the Scourge, and Nualia, for one last time. As the sun sets, Nissa calls upon the Scourge and gives her final command and the party sees the power of Nissa’s remarkable charisma and the effect it has upon those she leads.

The next morning, the party wakes to find some of the Scourge already disbanding, with the two sisters having slipped out in the night. The medusa Keto is taking command of the final preparations and kindly suggests that the party make their way. When asked what she will do, she tells them that she used to run with a thieves guild in southern Tarraskon and tells Lago to visit her if he is ever down that way. Inexplicably, she and Lago seem to have taken a liking to each other, and Lago accepts the invitation.

With their business done, future conflicts averted, and now short two party members, the Crystal Order resumes their path to Boldur to defeat Sin once and for all.

Session Epilogue
Having packed lightly, Nissa and Nualia leave the camp silently and wander out into the wastes. Happy beyond words to be reunited, their solitude is broken by Gamil who appears by Nissa’s side. “My lady-er, ladies, I am ever at your service,” speaks the imp in an oily tone, bowing as low as his flapping wings allow.

Nissa looks to her sister, “What do you think, Nualia?”

Nualia extends her hand to Gamil, who bursts into excitement, “Oh thank you so much Lady Nualia, I knew you had it in your heart to forgive your humble serv-” Gamil pauses at the fearsome expression on Nualia’s face. Before he can flee, Nualia crushes the imp’s body with her bare hand, only allowing the imp a tiny squeak of pain. The sisters look at each other and laugh together for the first time in months, and walk away into the night.

The Lady in Green was probably one of my favorite NPC's thus far and I put a lot of work into this interaction. As with each of the characters, I want to use their backstories throughout the campaign but I realized that if I introduce Nissa the main thing her and Nualia would want is to leave on their own (since I have no intention of Nissa joining the party as a DMPC). Nualia's player has had a back-up character ready to go for some time and we decided to play this session by ear. If anyone could think of a better reason for Nualia to stay, we would go for that and save the back-up if Nualia dies. I figured this would either end in combat (worst-case scenario and a very likely TPK), Nualia staying with the party, or Nualia leaving with Nissa to have super sister background adventure time. Of course, the latter happened and Nualia's player is out a character, at least until the next session. The rest of the party had no idea and I was very happy with how everything went (after assuring everyone I would never work a character out of the story without discussing it with them first!)

Goodbye Nualia! You've left a wonderful bloody legacy behind you!

2015-11-28, 05:24 AM
Chapter 17: The God of Death

An morning passes as the remaining members of the Crystal Order: Lago, Beinlein, Groot, and Vosen (along with Zorna) venture across the badlands from the former Scourge camp to the town of Boldur and Bald Mountain. After a quick break and several more hours of travel they find, much to their surprise, the tip of Bald Mountain appear over the horizon. Never one to doubt his tracking ability, Vosen is baffled at this occurrence as Bald Mountain is still over a three day journey away! The party takes a moment to regain their bearings, and when they look back up to the horizon they find that Bald Mountain is closer than before, a cloud of brown dust obscuring its base. With a sudden terrible revelation everyone understands the reason for the mountain's sudden appearance: an earthshift. While the lands move constantly, always away from Illium but sparing the larger settlements and city-states, the movements are sometimes rapid and extremely violent, swallowing up entire villages or pushing them leagues away from their original positions.

The party doubles back to find cover as Bald Mountain and the accompanying dust storm move towards them at an alarming pace! They find refuge under a small hill and everyone buckles down. Suddenly, the earthshift is upon them as the ground beneath their feat sunders and cracks with large chunks of earth moving as one. Everyone maintains their position for several minutes, when Vosen hears the moaning of undead nearby! Almost out of nowhere, the undead strike; several zombies shamble at a rapid pace, pushed forward by the earthshift. As they retaliate, more sounds of battle reach their ears as the party spots Garo, Gregor, and the refugees battling skeletons on a hill being vaulted across the plains. Groot and Vosen make for their allies, while Beinlein, Zorna, and Lago stay behind.

The fight is chaotic and dangerous as Gregor and Garo fight furiously to protect the refugees (and the useless Lord Calem) from the danger of the skeletons and two shiny onyx skeletons whose eyes burn with red flame. Hills and mounds of earth swirl around as clouds of dust block everyone's sight. Lago gets buried under a collapsing hill as two of the zombies. However, the party receives assistance from an unknown figure, also thrown into the vicious storm; a grim human in Voyager armor wielding a greatsword. The man quickly teleports to Garo and Gregor after finishing off several undead in the process. With the cautious alliance born of mutual enemies, the undead are eventually finished off as the earthshift finally subsides.

With the dust still setting (literally), the now-reunited members of the Crystal Order (and friends!) introduce themselves to the mysterious stranger, who in turn, introduces himself as Azrael. Much questioning ensues where they find that Azrael is a Voyager of Morndred and is indeed the man who was hunting down the Scourge and the undead roaming the area. When told of Nissa's proposal, Azrael seems to find her terms adequate and agrees to cease his pursuit of the now disbanded organization. The party tells Azrael they are on their way to Bald Mountain under orders from Sune which seems to convince the Voyager to join them, at least for a time especially considering the dire threat of the Dark Queen that may loom on the horizon.

The Crystal Order has a moment to take in their oddities (involving the giant tree-man Groot balancing Lago and Lord Calem on chairs) in front of a stranger but nonetheless ally with Azrael. With Bald Mountain in sight, they decide to press on, planning to arrive before the end of the next day. The party takes time to analyze their new travelling companion who, while amiable, seems...off. When questioned about his armor, different from the current Voyagers, he reveals that is the an emblem known as the First Year Crest, used since when the Voyagers were first founded. He has vague dream-like memories of the time before and reluctantly shares with the party:

Amid an empty field, hundreds of faceless humanoids are staged. Enormous shadowy beings stride in the distance. His eyes burn as he watches their advance and he feels his knees buckle. He can feel cuts open across his face as if caught in a brutal sandstorm, just as someone covers him with an embrace. He does not see their features either, but remembers their warmth and the smell of fear.

The rest of the journey to Boldur is traveled in quiet contemplation.

Call From Beyond
Late afternoon the next day, the party stands before the trail leading up to Boldur. The town is perched on sheer cliffs of Bald Mountain and the path winds up the cliffside before entering the town. A spindly tower is barely visible past the village. As the party starts on the trail, they hear the scream of a child close by. The blood drains from Gregor's face as he quietly murmurs, "Adalbert." Shouting his nephews name, Gregor charges in the direction of the scream, followed by the party. They quickly find the young boy, cornered by three skeletons with weapons drawn. But before the party can attack, Adalbert's eyes glow grey as a pulse is emitted, turning the skeletons to ash. Undaunted, Gregor runs over to the boy and embraces him with the party cautiously advancing behind.

Looking to the members of the Crystal Order with a serious face, an adult voice quiet yet powerful, speaks from Adalbert's mouth. "Greetings Crystal Order, I am Morndred." The god of the tower speaks quickly to the party, and Azrael in particular, calling him Artorias, and telling him that the Voyager's old enemy Abaddon is lurking nearby to the Northwest in the area known as Hell's Razor. Azrael is completely taken aback to see his deity, who reveals that he 'bent the rules' to resurrect Adalbert who had been killed in his sleep by a vampire, the calling card of Abaddon. He is using Adalbert as a willing conduit to speak to the party but cannot do so for long. While Morndred agrees that the party should continue their quest for Sune, they must make way for Hell's Razor as soon as possible. With that, he departs from Adalbert's body, telling Azrael that he is, "sorry for what happened."

A Warm Welcome
Gregor is beyond himself with joy to see his nephew alive and well, leading the party triumphantly up the path into the town. Entering beneath the arch over the natural walls that surround the village, Gregor directs the party to The Forest Glade, the tavern owned by his cousin Morelia. He volunteers to take Lord Calem, Norlas, and the other bandits to the local prison to which Calem protests greatly. Beinlein opts to go with Gregor while everyone else visits the tavern. The Forest Glade is a stark contrast to the dry rocky environment of Boldur, with a live tree in the middle of the common room and all sorts of plantlife growing at every unused surface. With the afternoon well on into the day, the tavern is picking up in business with patrons from all over town.

The party is greeted by a cheerful dwarf woman (who Garo takes an immediate liking to) and are brought to a table. After serving them some drinks, Garo offers to buy the woman a drink, insisting that she join them. As the party enjoys some much deserved R&R (Vosen notices curiously that Azrael doesn't order a drink), a stern-looking human woman with graying hair and a noticeable scar on her face approaches their table. Arms crossed, she addresses Garo's new friend Kara, why she is not serving the guests. Garo charismatically tells her that Kara is, tossing the woman an inordinately large sum of gold. The woman hides her surprise well, bowing low to the party and refilling their drinks.

Shortly afterwards, Gregor enters the tavern with Beinlein and goes into the back to fetch Morelia. He comes back a minute later with the human woman who attended to the party before. They all converse for a time and Morelia tells everyone about the Andarxen the Great who lives in the tower just a mile outside of town. She reiterates what they have heard about him being the town's mysterious guardian but also that he might know about the man they are looking for. Morelia goes on to advise the party that Andarxen doesn't appreciate being bothered for anything less than matters of dire importance and that if the party wishes to see him, they should go alone. However, she guesses that the wizard would certainly make time to see them if they are there on a divine mission. The party decides to take her advice and after resting for a while longer (and leaving Zorna at the tavern), regroups and makes their way toward the tower of Andarxen.

2016-01-07, 02:09 AM
Session 18: The Tower of Andarxen
The party ventures to a wizard's tower to seek the advice of the Andarxen the Great. What awaits them inside?

Entering the Tower
The party stands before an ancient spindly tower built unevenly of large stone bricks, built into a cliff face of the mountain and overlooking a shallow muddy lake. Several barred windows high up the tower reveal only darkness within, and a conical dark red roof with a large silver crescent star tops the tower. The only entrance is a simple wooden door built into what looks like a stone hut that has been incorporated into the greater tower. The party sees a brown mat made of rough fibers before the door and a metal plate with an inscription that reads:

“Within this arcane hall of stone,
Lie secret magics and arcane feats,
But before you enter my hearth and home,
Please be kind and wipe your feet.”

Andarxen Ignatious Fellheart, Maester of Runecraft, Last of the Calceri, Weaver of Orichalcum, Finder of Stars, Breaker of Vases, and Discoverer of the Blue-Spotted Wrenling”

Both curious and amused at the laundry list of titles the wizard holds, the party wipes their feet on the mat before entering the door.

When Beinlein enters, Groot follows and immediately vanishes after crossing the threshold! A quick Knowledge: Planes check revels that the interior of Andarxen’s tower lies in another plane, likely a small demiplane, possibly of the wizard’s own creation. This makes sense considering the sheer size of the entry hall.

Constructed of polished stone, six massive pillars are held up by stone pictures of magical creatures, each with a metal plate beneath them. The creatures are a griffin named Crius the Sad, a unicorn named Queen Yoriara, a bronze dragon named Zordnu, a wolf named Baltroff the Loyal, a tuskless troll named Gruum the Toothless, and a mundane rabbit with the curious title of Drolkon the Despised. Although not all the names ring a bell, more knowledge rolls tell that these are Andarxen’s companions who joined him on his many adventures.

The door across the hall leads to a well-lit cozy room with a small fireplace, cushy chairs, and several bookcases. Across the door the party entered is a bricked-up doorframe, likely a portal that opens at Andarxen’s command. The party then hears a powerful, yet tired voice of an older man ring through the room “Welcome guests, I’ll be with you shortly. You don’t seem to be from the town and let me tell you if you’re thinking of causing trouble, you’d best leave now because I’ll be sure to make it not worth your trouble to make…trouble. Troublesome…err, I’ll be with you shortly.”

They wait for a minute or two as Garo peruses the books on the shelves. A door appears in the blocked doorway, which the party opens to reveal, Sin?! Vosen quickly strikes but his blades pass right through Sin’s disfigured body, completely covered in the black waxy substance. Sin croaks out a laugh as the door to the entry hall disappears. “You’re on my turf now. Let me tell you about a wizard who sought immortality. Near the end of his life and desperate, he summoned a demon into his tower to learn the black hearts. Then the fool up and dies of old age leaving a certain, and very handsome demon in control of a tower all to himself! Sure, I have to appear disguised as the old fool to maintain that Andarxen still lives to the townsfolk, but it was well worth the deception. I'll be waiting for you at the end.” The demon laughs as the illusion vanishes.

Nonplussed (and honestly more annoyed), the party figures that between Beinlein and Azrael, they can likely teleport or pass through the wall to return to the entryway if need be. Eager to confront Sin once and for all, they pass into the hall beyond.

The Gallery of Lovers
They enter into a fine gallery with paintings of beautiful woman, each between two arching columns that extends down this long corridor. The room is lit by blue continual flames from silver sconces on the wall. The final six portraits before a door opposite the entrance are of note, as each are placed above a pedestal with an item encased in glass (Pearl, Fake Rose, Broken sword hilt, Dragon Bone Charm, Jar of tiny bones, and a smaller portrait of the woman and young Andarxen). In a plaque under each of these six portraits is a short poem. The poems are as follows:

River: “Calm as water, my River song, flowing through the riverbed,
Mesmerized by your moves, dancing circles ‘round my head.”

Autumn: “My darling Autumn met in Winter, always longed for Spring, not Fall,
I made the flowers bloom through snow, so that she may have them all.”

Gloria: “O dearest shield-maiden, the adventures we shared,
The beasts we slayed and the lives we spared.”

Cordelia: “Remember our ventures to the burning plains? The people there so pained and hurt,
We freed the slaves and broke their chains, and left their masters scarred and burnt.

Emella: “Always in search for the purpose of life, heads together hand in hand,
We pooled our staggering mental might, And though you may have left my life,
Your research here still stands.”

Kymm: “Artist of my heart, you gave vision to my thoughts, haunting wondrous and beautiful,
I’ll ensure your work is never forgot.”

Curiously, the woman depicted as Emella appears to be the younger self of the Maester at Seigson. Lago is sure to memorize all of the poems before the group opens the next door.

Dedications to River
This room is largely bare except for a river running through the middle of the room, about 15 ft. across. A walkway of rounded stones provides access to the other side of the room. Light music chimes from a metallic instrument extending from the water next to the stones, and the stream of water jumps over the stones onto the chimes to produce airy notes. Azrael notices that iron grates protect the source of the flowing water, although the grate on the West end of the room is worn with notable cracks.

He shifts through the grate and follows the current which flows upwards into a small alcove lit with magic lantern underneath the water, creating a shimmering effect on the carved stone. A field of magic dries the water from Azrael as he climbs up, and the alcove contains an oak chest (unlocked) elaborately painted in blue and silver containing some treasure and a lock of white-blond hair, tied in a periwinkle blue ribbon.

Dedication to Autumn
The next room is a domed chamber where snow dances from above as a sweet pungent odor wafts through the chamber. Dying flowers grow uncontrollably through the chamber, as well as creeping vines, fungi, ivy, weeds and a single dying tree with pink buds that sits in the middle of the room by a tiny shallow pond. Twelve carved stone statues of beautiful women stand aside the cobblestone road winding around the room (Upon investigation, the statues have cracked alcoves where gems appear to have been pried out).

Azrael, having shifted his stance to see invisibility, notices a phantom fungus lurking across the room. As Vosen tries to unlock the next door, the fungus attacks, followed by the flowers, revealed to be xtabays. An assassin vine climbs down from the tree and narrowly strangles Beinlein, but is crushed by an enraged Groot. Having defeated the vicious plants, the party is rewarded with red spinel gems found in the pond, likely the ones pried from the statue’s eyes.

Dedication to Gloria
The next room is a simple enclosed gladiatorial arena, with a sandy floor and raised seats 20 ft. up, lightly populated by various demons. Two large chairs sit in a booth across from the door, one of which seats Sin who greets the party with exaggerated hand gestures. The party quickly notices an invisible wall that separates them from the spectators, and engage in six fights with monsters transported in through a summoning circle. Two of these ‘monsters’ are servants of Andarxen captured by Sin, gagged, and dressed up in dark cloaks with weapons bound to their hands. While the party makes the mistake of killing one, they are not fooled twice and save the second servant.

The final monster is a blue wyvern, parlayed with by Lago, but still apparently counts as a victory as a ladder ascends from the summoning circle up to the booth. Sin swears as the images of him and the demons all vanish in a flash. Below the ladder is a small compartment with a chest revealing Pauldrons of the Watchful Lions and a metal plate reading:

“Sometimes in the heat of battle, mercy is the best weapon.”

Dedication to Cordelia
The next room is covered in chains stretched from wall to wall, ceiling to floor, and wrapped in a tangled mess above. Shattered pieces of plaster litter the floor with some of the chunks resembling facial features from destroyed statues. Other busts resembling members of different races are suspended from the ground, bound by the rusty links of chain. In the center of a room, a large circular pillar partially obscures the opposing wall. The pillar rises from the floor and descends from the ceiling half-way leaving an opening in the middle in which a hovering flame burns. It looks like something fled this room and the chains still rattle, unsettlingly.

An eagle-eyed Lago notices a covered plate beneath the flames that reveals several gems and a Headband of Deathless Devotion, claimed by Garo.

Dedication to Emella
The next room is a personal office/laboratory alight with an eerie green glow of preserved creatures in jars. The party finds some scattered notes on a coffee table by the fireplace, as well as some burnt scraps within that detail a rather messy break up between a young Emella and Andarxen. Sensing there is more to the room, they find a hidden room behind a bookcase with a single red lamp. Within are more bookshelves packed with ancient blank books and a glass device holding a single torn page of parchment. On the piece is a depiction of a shadowy humanoid figure in shining armor surrounded by a golden aura. Judging from Emella’s scattered notes, she was trying to find the answer to why no memories or written accounts exist beyond all those years ago. Excitingly, it looks like the piece might belong to the missing page in The Nature of Divinity! The page is kept in the glass device and placed gingerly into the bag of holding.

Dedication to Kymm
Next, the party finds themselves in a messy art studio, with a table of busts, shelves of art tools, easels, and a large splotch of colored paint on the floor. While examining the paint, it comes alive and starts to attack! In fact, everything they touch seems to animate and struggle against the party, from easels to paintbrushes. Eventually, they simply leave the room and find themselves in a hall that branches out in three other directions. In the center is a large statue of three humanoid soldiers standing upon a dark marble pedestal fitted with six gems, five of which are glowing.

The Statue of Lost Soldiers
Before further investigation can ensue, a familiar voice is ‘heard’ in everyone’s minds. It’s Brim! The fire elemental tells the party that this device is capable of enchanting mundane items with magical energy! He recognizes it innately and wagers that he too can fabricate magic items with some work. In addition, he decides he will no longer hide from the Dark Queen, for better or worse, he declares that he will stay with the party until the end, with some absolutely wretched puns:

"Oh goodness! I’m so sorry for giving you guys the cold shoulder. I’ve really warmed up to you these past couple weeks. How about you all just chill for a few minutes while I work up some really hot new items for you? Don’t worry, I feel the ancient knowledge permeate through my being! I might as well have a few degrees in arficicery!"

This dungeon was an idea formed before the campaign; the idea of entering the lair of the enemy in a wizard's tower where I could do whatever I want "because wizard." Each room had a mini puzzle that was alluded to in the rhyme and combat could be avoided in every room except for Gloria's. The party figured out the first room easily. The flowers can be made to bloom in the second room by feeding the xtabays, causing the other plants to not attack. Gloria's room only awards the treasure if every slave is not killed. Cordelia's room has a combat with a potential combat with a kyton if the other rooms did not have combat, since they didn't, the kyton was called to Sin and left in a hurry. Emella's research is still in the room, which the party found. They had the most trouble with Kymm's room which is admittedly abstract. The current state of the room is the art being displayed, so the 'puzzle' is simply to not disturb anything or face animated objects and a painted ooze.

One of the players told me he thought this was a published module, so I'm pretty happy with the results :smallbiggrin:

2016-01-07, 05:34 AM
Chapter 19: Deeper into the Tower
The party finds themselves inside a wizard's tower taken over by their nemesis. Will they be able to escape alive?

The Gallery of Madness
After spending some time deciding on the magic items they will have Brim make (later, because time is of the essence), the party heads down the door to the left of the way they entered. This room is a gallery of pottery and ceramic art pieces that have all been broken to various degrees. Some are completely shattered, leaving nothing but pieces, others are just cracked. The pots, vases, and urns are of all sizes and designs. Suddenly, the party hears a *click* in the ceiling above as Sin’s voice rings through the room.

“Having fun mortal worms? This is the gallery of madness.” Suddenly portcullis slams down to block the only door. “Andarxen has a strange phobia of vases that caused him to smash them on sight. He always paid for the broken artwork, but collected them in this gallery to never forget his own weaknesses…or something, I don’t really remember and or care,” Sin continues but Groot extends his-branchlike arm to close the mechanism that allowed Sin to speak, much to the amusement of the party.

Vosen goes to unlock the trap, but noxious gas pours out of the bars, enveloping him, Beinlein, and Groot in a mind fog that completely dazes them. On cue, three allips emerge from the walls, unleashing a maddening wail! Garo’s attacks are ineffective, but Azrael is able to hold them off while the dwarf and Lago rouse the rest of the party and defeat the insane undead.

The Wizard’s Library
Having narrowly avoided Sin’s trap, the party heads to the door across from the gallery of madness and finds themselves in an absolutely massive room. The ceiling, black as void, features glimmers of light that, upon analysis from Beinlein, mimic the constellations and are apparently moving in real time to appear as the night sky. Wooden platforms provide sturdy footing, but only ten feet or so across before plunging into a deep void below. Out of curiosity, Garo takes a curious look at the sides of the platforms and finds that they are huge book shelves, and this room is itself a gigantic library. Finding a tall ladder, Garo climbs down to the bottom while the rest of the party explores above. Down below, Garo lands on, not the floor, but piles of books that obscure what floor might be below his feet. Back above, Lago reads papers at a table made into a makeshift study, with parchment repeatedly scrawled with, “The Shadow Are Coming From The Walls.” Sensing danger, Garo is called back up and they cautiously jump across a small gap into the other available door.

Valdur’s Warren
The room here appears to be a bedroom, with a large canopy bed, shattered crystal ball, orrery of the planes, and seven paintings of Andarxen and his companions. The bed is slashed with large claw marks, and a leather-bound journal is found, written in Abyssal. Fortunately, Vosen is fluent and peruses through the reports of a demon named Valdur who doubts Sin’s leadership abilities and his ‘foolish reliance on story nonsense.’ Valdur’s accounts reveal that he is or was Sin’s lieutenant and commandeered this room for his own use. Furthermore, he sheds some insight on Sin’s psyche, namely that the harbinger is obsessed with continuing a legacy and has convinced himself that only a predestined group of heroes are worthy challengers. Valdur clearly writes this off as nonsense but is biding his time.

The rest of the room turns up some useful magic items, and the discovery that the portraits are animated to say a pre-recorded phrase when approached, (especially the rabbit Drolkon who speaks, “BATHE IN THEIR BLOOD, RIP THE WORLD ASUNDER”). Lago takes the largest portrait in the center, featuring a young Andarxen off the walls and shoves it into the bag of holding.

A Quick Break
Since the side rooms have been thoroughly explored, the next logical step is to proceed forward, through a hallway that mimics the gallery of lovers, albeit without paintings. It appears that Andarxen was sure to save plenty of space for future paramours. Sin’s voice again appears through a mechanism in the ceiling and is again closed by Groot, checking occasionally to see if Sin is still taunting them (and he continues for quite a while). The hallway curves in on itself to defy gravity, much like the first room dedicated to River. It proceeds straight ahead but branches off to a short hallway with a single door. Outside is a bearded devil leaning against the wall!

Sensing that the fiend isn’t aggressive since it clearly sees the party, they approach cautiously. The devil nonchalantly says that he’s taking a break from the excitement in the wine cellar beyond the door. When asked if they can go inside, the devil responds, “Sure, not my problem; I’m off the clock.” Beinlein and Groot remain outside with Garo while Azrael, Vosen, and Lago proceed inside.

Barroom Brawl
The wine cellar has been torn apart and fashioned into a makeshift tavern for a veritable “who’s who” of the lower planes. Dretches, quasits, both bearded and barbed devils, a large vrock, and a female erinyes sitting alone in a secluded corner. The party gets some sour looks from the host of fiends but proceed up to a barbed devil playing bartender who agrees to fetch them some drinks. Lago takes note of the erinyes in the corner and brazenly takes a seat by her and tries to strike up a conversation. He is quite surprised when she asks if he is Lago of the Crystal Order and requests to be let into the mind link. Naturally, he agrees as the erinyes reveals herself to be an angel working for Sune, disguised in order to spy on Sin who has been playing diplomat to draw more fiends to the Dark Queen’s banner. In fact, she says, the group is probably strong enough to overpower them if they want to work together.

Lago shares this information with the group mentally as Vosen hatches a plan. Seeing that the Vrock is playing a dice game with some other demons and that the groups seem to not congregate, Vosen asks if he can play. They make a deal to play for Vosen’s soul versus the soul of a slain Voyager, trapped in a black gem. Vosen rolls well but manipulates the dice through some sleight of hand. Winning the game, the vrock glares at Vosen and croaks menacingly, “I don’t think you understand how things work here half-blood. We play again.”

This is what Vosen was waiting for, “You mean you’re going back…on your deal?!” he shouts the last part in false dismay which is all the disgruntled devils needed to take a go at the demons. The party springs into action; Beinlein teleports into the room and although Groot again vanishes, Vasuk is summoned immediately in his place and Garo barrels through the door. The angel reveals herself to the fiends and begins to smite most righteously. While chaotic, the fight is ultimately no trouble for the Crystal Order and their unexpected ally. The finish off the last of the demons as the angel introduces herself as Jezebeth and tells the party she can plane shift back to the material plane but cannot follow them through the barrier in the hall. Just as Groot vanished, so would she since it keeps outsiders from proceeding.

Sin’s voice again echoes through the room, speaking to his now-deceased infernal and abyssal guests and is noticeably taken aback to hear the party’s voices instead. For a moment he goes quiet before continuing, “…Fine. We will meet just in the next room. For the last time.” And the mechanism goes silent.

2016-01-07, 07:00 AM
Chapter 20: Sin
The party is so close to their final confrontation with the nefarious Sin. Who will walk away from this battle?

The End of the Tower
Bidding farewell to Jezebeth, the party continues down the hallway before entering another door. This room is a massive stairway of stone, climbing upwards as far as they can see. Landings break up the stairs at every floor, with accompanying columns parallel on each wall. A massive blue and gold rug descends down the stairs which with the light blue flames of the golden chandeliers on the ceiling enhance the cool colors of the hall. The party climbs the stairs for several stories until they eventually see a far-off wall with a large doorway that marks the end of the hall.

In the center of the topmost alcove is a life-sized statue of Andarxen, likely at the height of his power. He stands tall adorned in robes, with a staff in one hand and a glowing crystal orb in the other. The statue gazes above the door at a colorful fresco of Andarxen and his companions with Baldroff, Drolkon, Yoriara, Gruum, Crius, and Zordnu engaged in battles with various creatures across landscapes of all varieties. The door beneath the painting is a simple double door of oak which matches the rest in the tower. Above the statue is a ‘window’ showing floating debris of the astral plane beyond.

Vosen goes over to examine the door as Sin suddenly steps out from the statue!

Sneak Attack
They react quickly, but an illusion of the window vanishes from above, revealing a creaking iron door that spills acid over the group as Sin vanishes, again just an illusion. Annoyed but relatively unscathed, the party patches themselves up and Vosen tries the door again. He recognizes some sort of trigger over the fresco but it doesn’t appear to be a trap. Immediately, the fresco opens to reveal a hidden door as a mechanical clang rings, shooting Sin into the center of the landing. Twitching, Sin’s barrier stuns Vosen and acid explodes from his body. Moving with incredible speed, he summons an icy cloud of cold shadows and a tendril of darkness. He appears to be targeting Beinlein in particular, likely to take out both him and Groot. Garo and Vosen are repelled by his barrier, and Azrael teleports away to get some distance after taking the worst of the acid, cold, and fire. Lago manifests frantically to keep his allies alive.

Sin shouts his challenge to the Order “C’mon, is that all you’ve got? Just because you shut off my communicators doesn’t mean I couldn’t hear your idiotic banter. I am officially done screwing around. You wanna fight? Well then fight me! HIT ME WITH EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT…AND I’LL RETURN IT TEN-FOLD!”

Garo manages to trip Sin, sending him to the floor and pounding down hard with his hammer. Even knocked prone, Sin retaliates with a flurry of spells and threats.“You have a sister don’t you Garo,” Sin speaks, dripping with menace, “I’ve never tasted dwarf-flesh before.”

Meanwhile, Groot retaliates with his reach but is repeatedly stunned by the barrier, dropping Sin immediately after grappling him and Vasuk fares no better when Groot vanishes from Sin’s spells. The fight only lasts a mere 20 seconds but Sin goes out with a final proclamation:


Mortal Sin
The damaged party hears a shriek and the sound of falling rock from beyond the door and Vosen cautiously looks within to see a hallway bereft of features other than debris that had just fallen from the ceiling. With their fear of the tower collapsing assuaged for the moment, they venture inside only to see Sin, hideously disfigured stumble towards them, only to trigger a trap and die of acid spewing from a hole in the wall. Vosen leads the party around the traps before entering the final room.

The wizard’s laboratory is filled with arcane devices, skeletons of magical beasts, and piles of books. Clutter piles around a throne blackened with the waxy substance made of Sin’s corrupted blood with Sin, looking as though the substance had been forcibly pulled off his body lying sobbing next to the throne. Lago wonders if Sin’s blackened blood came from another source than the demon himself. Clearly at the end of his patience, Azrael strides up to the broken fiend, picks him up and sinks his fangs into Sin’s neck, draining him of his blood as the crumpled body falls to the floor, to the shock of his companions.

Then the chair shudders, forming Sin’s body one last time before collapsing into a blackened goop (Lago is sure to scoop up what he can). The party loots the room, finding many great treasures and a crystal containing the spirit of an eidolon; a goat-like creature named Irivati. Beinlein quickly adds the eidolon to his collection, forming a pact with her. Lago, however, enlarges himself and takes the now-unconscious Sin and cradles him like a small child as the party proceeds to a door to the side of the room.

Long Live the Queen
The first thing the party notices is the night sky, then the crags of Bald Mountain surrounding them. They made it back outside and sit on a balcony overlooking Boldur from the top of the tower. The second thing they notice are the flames as Boldur burns in the distance. A shriek quickly travels through their minds and stops, resonating from Garo’s hammer. The party sees Brim, eyes blackened as the smiling shadow appears right beside them.

“What do you think?” speaks a deep, powerful feminine voice as the shadow addresses the Crystal Order for the first time. “I did it for you.” Her smile widens as Sin’s last words echo in their thoughts.

“The Dark Queen will bring silence to your world. Everything will begin and end in fire.”

End of Book 2

2016-01-20, 03:41 PM
Chapter 21: Village on Fire
Having defeated their nemesis, leaving Sin unconscious and de-powered, the party sees the town of Boldur being attacked in the distance. Will they reach the town in time?

Into the Flames
The party wastes little time upon seeing the fire in the distance. Quickly, Beinlein attempts to question the shadow what the Dark Queen is up to her to which the shadow responds in a slow deep voice, "Certainly, we shall just tell you our evil plan," but remains silent. Azrael counters, "So you admit this is evil?" to which the shadow only smiles. Beinlein uses a Dimension Door to teleport everyone several stories down to the ground below, as a still-enlarged Lago makes sure the unconscious Sin is securely handcuffed to his arms. They dash to town along the mile-long path, aware that the shadow follows behind them.

The path leads the party right into town, where several fire and earth elementals are setting everything that can burn ablaze. Part of the group seems focused on a guard tower which seems to be fighting them off, although the dead bodies on the ground reveal that the defenders are wearing thin. Atop the second story of a tavern are four figures, crucified amid the spreading flames. Vosen's keen sight sees that the figures are Morelia Abendroth, the dwarven tavern wench Kara, Zorna, and Lord Calem! Morelia is not moving but the rest are currently alive, if injured. Furthermore, it seems an injured Gregor is taking the lead among the defenders in the guard tower.

Azrael springs into action, teleporting himself to the top of the building, despite his weakness to fire while the rest of the group takes on the elementals. Beinlein relies largely on his magic, as he is unable to call his defeated eidolons to his side and Lago realizes with dismay that he's still handcuffed to Sin! Thinking quickly, Lago gets an idea and dimension swaps with Azrael, saving him from the flames and allowing the vampire to fight with the rest of the group. Lago reaches Morelia first, but it was too late to save her from the flames. Zorna is cut free next, and she helps Lago rescues Morelia's body and the other two prisoners. Despite still being weak from their fight with Sin, the party handily defeats the rogue elementals.

A Solemn Parting
Lago channeled plenty of health over to Gregor during the course of the fight, and the warrior is looking much better as the party approaches him. He says that he was only able to save about a dozen of townsfolk, although Adalbert is safe among them. Gregor gives a telling look before any mention of Adalbert's mother is brought up. Gregor leads everyone outside as the party takes to finding other villagers among the crumbling town. All in all, about fifty townsfolk survive and make camp a few miles outside Boldur when it comes apparent that the town is beyond saving. As the party speaks to Gregor, it becomes apparent that only they can see the shadow, although she doesn't seem to be able to hear their thoughts. The party speaks to Gregor over the mind link, and everyone decides that the best course of action is to part ways, with Gregor taking the party's companions and the townsfolk over to Illium for safety. Lago writes up letters addressed to Carn and Arlessa (and a minor personal note for Sin) as they part ways, with the party heading north to Hell's Razor and ending a short session.

Or it would unless someone decided to...

Let's Split the Party and Fight Dragons!
While the rest of the party was busy recuperating and helping the refugees, Vosen and Garo decide to explore the ruins of Boldur to see if there any villagers they missed or any resources they could gather for the group. The duo explores among the ashes and ruined buildings, and they notice two dragons circling the remains of the town (as well as the shadow, which hounds their every step). They both recall knowledge about dragon behavior: dragons, especially younger ones who do not have their own hoard, are known for scavenging dead towns for treasures buried within. Keeping on their guard, our two heroes find some supplies untouched by the fire and notice that the dragons have landed somewhere higher up the cliffs in town. The two approach the young dragons stealthily (surprisingly stealthily for a dwarf in full plate), and notice the two creatures, a red dragon and a black dragon. The black dragon is sitting atop the roof of a building, casually keeping guard, while the red dragon investigates within. Vosen, fortunately understands Draconic, so he overhears the dragons discussing the 'spoils' inside.

Garo and Vosen await an opportune moment to attack the dragons...unfortunately, the shadow has another idea, spawning several voidlings that loudly attack the duo, and alerting the dragons! Of course, there isn't actually much of the fight as both dragons use their breath weapons before getting closer, and the red dragon only lasts a single round. The black dragon, however, who maintained its distance shouts out in Common, "Cazaril! You...apes! You...you killed a true red! Vorelchar will hear of this!" before taking flight. Vosen follows the dragon as best he can, before it soars over the mountain and out of sight, heading northwards. The two drag the dragon's body back to camp, as well as looting the secret door in the basement of a general store that has some useful items.

Garo and Vosen have had a Gimli/Legolas thing going on for the bulk of the campaign so it was nice for them to get a little side quest. Of course, I haven't had a GM face palm moment for a few sessions (since Garo hopped down the well, so par for the course I guess) but at least the rest of the party didn't mind.

2016-01-27, 03:47 PM
Chapter 22: Caravan of the Wastes
With the refugees from Boldur in safe hands and heading back to Illium, the party heads northwards to Hell's Razor to stop the undead menace that has been haunting the region. What dangers will face our heroes?

The Calceri Badlands
The Crystal Order loads into Beinlein's Groot-drawn cart as the party ventures across the landscape that turns from rocky hills to vast plains with tall yellow grass blowing in the wind. During the first four days of their journey, the group speaks to the shadow about its motives and actually obtains some information. It reveals itself (although always referring to themself using the plural pronouns) as Harbinger, the spirit that possessed the dead Voyager at the beginning of the journey, controlled Hurŏn, and granted Sin his regenerative abilities. Harbinger says that they are an aspect of the Dark Queen, "for if the pretender in it's white tower can be in multiple places at once, why could not a true god do the same?" The party takes this to mean Sune in the Grand Cathedral. Harbinger hints that the Dark Queen in full is moving from the farthest reaches of the infinite material plane and that her forces cannot be stopped.

Although of course, this conversation does not take up four days of travel which proceed smoothly and uneventfully until the afternoon of the fourth day. The region the party is proceeding through is the Calceri Badlands, a region once held by the Calceri people (a human ethnicity and sometimes called Calcerites) but were destroyed by the war god Garnaron's rampage. Monolithic ruins such as houses, towers, aqueducts, and walls dot the landscape, some built by the Calceri and some older than time. The remaining Calceri wander the vast planes in large caravans and offer free travel to wanderers, for the Calceri worship travel as a philosophy and feel it is their duty to work together with others who are travelling in their land.

And this information could come in handy, as Vosen (scouting ahead but still in range of the mind-link) sees a cloud of dust, a tell-tale sign of a large party of individuals, approaching their position.

Travel by Caravan
In the distance are many brightly multi-colored flags, displaying a symbol of three wavy lines with red, gold, and purple colors being most prominent. Several dozen carts and wagons pulled by large aurochs, move with surprising alacrity across the fields. The party is cheerfully greeted by a tall man in brightly colored clothes who introduces himself as Vallois. Once they explain their situation (and on Vosen's suggestion, offer a monetary donation as is custom) Vallois explains that the caravan is a holy place and the Calcerites must know what dangers await those in their care, for those that violate the peace will suffer the full force the Calceri people. One way the group achieves this is by having travelers confess themselves in a private audience with a priest of the people. Aside from Beinlein and Garo, the party refuses which Vallois turns a blind eye to, considering the considerable donation. Although the confession turns out to be a fairly simple affair, with the two (and Groot) individually meeting with a female priest named Myra who privately asks them who they are, their profession, and where they are from. She does offer a gentle reminder to Beinlein that bounty hunters are welcome, but are not allowed to take bounties under the Calceri's protection, to which Beinlein agrees.

For the next eight days, the party enjoys travelling in comfort, and their way is sped up greatly by the Calceri 'drift seers' who are able to sense subtle changes in geography and lead the caravan across the fastest possible path. Each night, the caravan pauses to make camp with food supplied to the travelers (although Lago agreed to conjure food to help ease the burden of the group) and the party enjoys the presence of other travelers. Beinlein and Garo meet with another adventuring party, a half-orc warrior named Bastion, a half-elven rogue named Achille, and an androgynous human wizard named Solem who are taking a break from their quest to slay a lich after their cleric fell in battle. Garo hits it off well with Bastion and even invites him to visit any Magmaeye trading posts and Beinlein does the same with Solem and Bubblepot potion shops. The other adventurers note that they ran into many Dark Callers on their quests, but lately, it seems like they all have disappeared. Solem further bonds with Beinlein over a passion of the study of outsiders and the planes.

Across the camp, Azrael notices a halfling in a hood and leather mask that has been eyeing the party for the past several nights. While the halfling sits at a separate fire, Azrael casually makes his way over and asks if the halfling knows the party. The halfling's response seems curious to Azrael, "Ah, what gave me away? I suppose you know who I am?" Azrael has no idea, but agrees to bring the halfling over to speak with Lago. Once there, the halfling takes off his mask and reveals himself as Israh, the bounty killer from Illium who they had agreed to expose under Hilda's orders. Israh explains candidly that he is tired of the 'game' and is planning to take his earnings and get as far from that life as he can, lest it come to a violent end. Apparently, the man who hired him is the same who has been posting Lago's bounties and paid Israh to punish Hilda for defending Lago. This man is a powerful psionicist who is probably based in Tarraskon, and became increasingly sloppy with instruction and payment, much to Israh's disgust. The final payment was a crystal of limited value to Israh, who even offers it to Lago as a sign of goodwill (and the promise that the two parties never cross ways again). The crystal turns out to be a cognizance crystal, and Israh wanders off after giving Lago a hearty pat on the shoulder (Lago immediately checks for contact poisons!).

Trouble on the Swamplands
The caravan finally reaches the swampy lands around Hell's Razor and the party departs. Vosen again takes a scouting position ahead, and as the terrain becomes increasingly marshy, he spots two plumes of smoke, likely from chimneys, just above the treeline in the distance as well as the tracks of a horse-drawn cart whose tracks are imprinted in the mud. Vosen alerts the party, and climbs a tree to get a better vantage while the party catches up. He sees four ramshackle buildings, two houses, a work shed, and a barn in a clearing. The houses are in considerable disarray and the area looks abandoned, despite the smoke and the tracks that lead right through the middle of the houses. When the party catches up, Garo also wishes to look around, assisted by Groot but finds little else of note.

The party splits up into the woodlands, with Vosen, Garo, and Azrael spread out through the forest behind one of the houses, still hounded by the silent Harbinger, who surprises Garo, causing him to lose his balance and snap a low-hanging branch. Garo utters a quiet curse at the bad luck. Unperturbed, Vosen creeps close to one of the houses and is able to look through a crack in the wall. Inside, he sees a simple wooden table, and a wight tied to the opposite wall. A humanoid figure, dressed in black, appears to be unloosing the wight's bonds. Informing the party though the mind-link, Azrael immediately teleports inside the house and surveys the situation.

The house is bare aside from the table, the bound wight, and two wights that have apparently been freed by the man. A corpse in priest robes has been thrust into the fireplace head first and fills the house with a horrible smell of burning flesh. Azrael looks into the surprised face of the cloaked figure and notices that he is a vampire spawn! Azrael attacks the vampire with extreme prejudice. Vosen takes the opportunity to break the window and shoot his crossbow at the vampire's back as Groot and Beinlein teleport in behind Azrael and lay into the undead. Garo goes for a more direct approach, charging straight into the dilapidated wall, knocking over a wight, the table (and Beinlein who was standing atop it) and right through the opposite wall! The fight is quick and the undead are slain except for the bound wight. Outside the house, Garo overlooks the clearing and sees another wight tied up in the other house, as well as a bulge in the plume of smoke. Azrael picks up on this hint immediately (another vampire spawn who has used its mist form) and risks a teleporting attack into the air! He cleaves through the vampire, lands hard, but destroys it with his dark claim curse.

Once the battle ends, Vosen notes, with shock, that the priest's robes bear the symbol of the clergy who murdered his parents! Azrael interrogates the remaining wights using Necril and finds out that the priests are apparently trying to stop the undead, controlled by Abaddon in Mirstone Castle to the North, sealing that as the party's next destination.