Legends of Thassilon

Stones Over Sandpoint

The heroes spent a rushed day shopping for readily available gear in the City of Monuments. Albi met with the High Inquisitor and shared a summary of the group’s  adventures, including the impending attack on Sandpoint. He stoically praised the party for their efforts and explained that a company of soldiers would be mobilized for Sandpoint within the week.

Knowing that this was too long, Tal’Vesha focused his divine and arcane power to speed the passage between settlements. After traveling through the night, the heroes arrived at Sandpoint at dawn six days after leaving Turtleback Ferry, over 200 miles away.

The town looked basically unchanged since the band had left. This should have surprised no one but given that the party had broken up a cult of the murderers, defeated a clan of deadly ogres, explored Thassilonian ruins, tangled with fantastic monsters from the deep, and destroyed a vampire coven, it seemed remarkably normal there.

Word of the hero’s legendary exploits had reached the town and as its people started to awaken many friends and gawkers emerged. Unfortunately there was little time for reunions in light of the coming threat.

Albi and Maggie sought out Mayor Deverin and detailed the impending giant attack. The party’s woodsmen set out to the Hinterlands to search for signs of giants and prepare for their approach. As night fell, the heroes had no idea just how short on time they were.

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Malcanthet spied several humanoid silhouettes standing atop the nearest tors of Ravenroost, lit by the rising sun. She raced to warn the others who had spread out to protect each of Sandpoint’s primary eastern bridged entrances.

The raid began with the thunderous crack of stone against stone ringing through the air. Several giants attacked Sandpoint’s Northgate – it’s most defensive entrance. Knowing this to be the town’s best guarded front, the heroes wisely waited at Sandpoint’s other two bridges.

Giant raiders

At Tanner’s Bridge, Malcanthet hid in the forest as a band of stone giants and enormous cave bears approached. Supported by Tal’Vesha’s magic and Lilith’s harrying hamstring attacks, the trio slowed and blasted their foes and defeated them before any could enter the town.

Meanwhile, at Sandpoint Bridge to the south, Albi, Azrack and Sylir punished a brutish band of hill giants who made a blundering approach.

Duncan, near the middle of town, saw the stone giant boss cross the mill pond with a pair of giant bodyguards.

The battle seemed to be turning toward the heroes’ favor when the din of battle paused. The morning fog evaporated around a gout of flame that washed over the garrison. The red dragon, Longtooth, had arrived.

Dragon attack

The blast scattered the town’s guards and the beast arched toward the cathedral. From Mal and Tal’Vesha’s vantage they saw the dragon’s flight answered with a jet of flame emerging from the cathedral rooftop. Maggie taunted the massive beast with Albi’s dragon’s breath potion.

Tal’Vesha and Malcanthet raced around the cathedral and found Maggie bleeding and backpedaling away from her ferocious foe. They also found a band of hill giants rushing through the now broken Northgate.

Meanwhile the others, having defeated their foes, charged after the stone giant boss. He and his giant lackeys were leaving a swath of destruction in their wake. The heroes caught up with them after they had been slowed by the now badly wounded Sheriff Hemlock and his guardsmen.

The hill giant boss turned out to be a powerful ranger named Teraktinus. Sylir, Azrack, and Duncan easily defeated the stone giant guards, but the opening allowed Teraktinus to lash out with devastating pickax strikes against Sylir. Badly injured, the nimble drow avoided a second round of deadly strikes giving the band enough time to bring the massive foe down.

At the cathedral, Tal’s spider construct engaged the dragon. Longtooth tore it to pieces. This did however give Maggie sufficient time to regroup and heal.

Now able to focus their attention on the dragon, Malcanthet, Tal, and Maggie lashed out with their deadly array of weaponry and magic. The warriors and beast traded grievous injuries. Longtooth barely lifted from the ground considering retreat, when his wing was sundered and his chest run through. The beast fell to the packed earth of Sandpoint’s Cathedral Square.

The remaining raiders ran for the wilds and the townsfolk quickly controlled the several small fires. It rapidly became obvious that the heroes prevented the destruction of Sandpoint. Despite dozens of casualties, cheers filled the morning air. “Huzzah!” “Dragonslayers!” “Saviors of Sandpoint!”

Session Summary

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Bloodsuckers in Whistledown

A day of downriver barge travel offered the heroes a chance to recover from the recent ordeals. The next day some fantastic spellcasting by Tal’Vesha generated magical mounts with nearly endless stamina for the party. Well before dusk the group approached the constant eerie whistling of Whistledown. The whitewashed cottages rested at the western tip of the Fenwall Mountains where Lake Syrantula becomes the Yondabakari River once more. Despite a reputation as a peaceful, friendly trade stop, the heroes were met by timid and distant human and gnome inhabitants.

As the heroes prepared to pass through town in a hurry to reach Sandpoint before the impending stone giant invasion, the gnome magistrate Adagre Bagalom approached them.

He said, "I beseech you to listen to my tale, perhaps over a pint of ale and a warm meal our inn? "

Tal looked at the sun near the horizon and grumbled while Maggie and Albi immediately moved to follow the earnest magistrate.

Once inside the subdued taproom of Thagin’s Rest, Bagalom continued his tale. “Evil has come to eour town. A week ago the first of our neighbors vanished – fisherman who rose before dawn for the mornings catch out of the lake. Then the following night, old Margatha was taken from her cottage, her front door smashed to splinters. Every night since someone else is taken. Finally, last night, our militia had enough. They decided to guard the market. There were ten of them in all. I heard their screams but was too frightened to venture out. We don’t know what we are going to do. We have no more warriors among us. We are simple people. May be that Desna has merged out paths. Will you help?”

Tal objected to getting involved. After the tiefling and gnome refused to leave, he grudgingly agreed to investigate. For a few hours.

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The heroes searched the market for clues. They found the remains of Margatha’s doorframe suggesting a foe with monstrously inhuman strength. Malcanthet found four pairs of humanoid tracks that led back to the shoreline and signs of a shored boat.Mohrg 2 Tal and Albi examined the remains of the fallen and found necrotic, leaching wounds. it was also obvious that several other had been drug away alive.

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Expecting another night attack, the heroes decided to stay long enough to intervene. Like a beacon, Duncan held a lone flickering torch and paced along the shoreline. From the inky lake waters answered a band of hideous undead: a pair of skeletal abominations with writhing entrails and eellike tongues known as mohrg and two gaunt vampire spawn. Duncan managed to stand against their paralyzing attacks.  The rest of the party rushed to the fray the undead were rapidly defeated.

After the battle, the adventurers found a locally crafted boat that the undead had used. Albi roused the magistrate who identified the boat as being crafted by a human ranger named Sarian who lived alone along the shoreline to the north.

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Sarian’s cabin was a simple two-room structure on Lake Syrantula. Maggie and Duncan knocked at the door and found the grizzled ranger at home. They accused him of being in league with the undead to which he scoffed and demanded that they "bugger off!” Duncan tried to force his way in and the ranger yelled, “Tempest! Attack!”

As the door began to break free, the ranger cast entangle at the threshold. The heroes easily evaded the writhing branches. A timber wolf appeared from the woodline and shot toward the door. Tal’Vesha cast a sticky glue spell that bound it in place, snarling and frustrated.

Maggie and Duncan quickly overcame Sarian. Defeated, he slowly begin to explain himself. He admitted being a smuggler and using an island ruin has his base of operations. A week ago he found undead milling about the site and he fled without telling anyone.

The party “convinced” him to row them to the island at first light.

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One mile into the expansive and sinister lake, several adventurers spotted twin torpedo trails approaching the small boat. With a spray of water, the dawning light revealed two violet colored water serpents with heads the size of spades.

Mal blasted one with a series of staccato thrums from her magical bow. Maggie leapt from the shifting boat and drove her dagger into its neck. Slicing open a five foot rent in the creature, she slipped into the frigid water. The snake fell to the water thrashing.

Meanwhile, the other serpent wrapped its massive coils around Duncan and pulled the barbarian into the water. They both dropped below the surface. Tal’Vesha, who swam behind the boat, darted underwater and began his magical ranged assault. Duncan raged and grew wolverine claws that tore into the scaly hide. The serpent dropped its tenacious prey and retreated into the black water.

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Tall juniper trees lined the island’s shore. Huddled together, they filled the interior with a dense, gloomy vegetation. At one edge, the broken walls of an ancient ruin stood. The heroes docked and within the ruin they found a well that plunged into darkness.

Tal magically compelled the shaft’s walls to become like stepping stones. The heroes descended into a crypt like structure carved of glassy volcanic stone. The first chamber was full of crates, barrels and sacks containing the smuggler’s loot.

Above the tunnel to the next room was a narrow aperture that seemed to lead to a catwalk. Tal spider climbed to the passage and silently advanced to oversee a deep pit. Within a trio of vampire spawn waited to attack with short bows. Tal returned and helped Malcanthet move into a sniping position. Tal lit the pit’s floor with magical flames as Malcanthet rained arrows. The other heroes climbed the catwalk in time to see two mohrg closing on Tal and Mal. Tal suffered a paralyzing tongue lashing.

The vampire spawn in the pit were quickly destroyed followed by the skeletal mohrg.

Malcanthet crept along the catwalk to cover the next room. From within the gloomy darkness, a dripping voice bid, “Come in. It’s rude to lurk in doorways.”

When she made no move to do so, the voice seemed angered. “If you will not come to me, then we will come to you.”

Vampire lordShadows began forming from nearby braziers and moved with malevolent intent. Mal destroyed some with her arrows but others drifted forward. Duncan and Azrack rushed them. As the pair become surrounded by shadows, Tal’s magical lights illuminated a placid gothic vampire seated in an ornate throne with a huge sword across his lap.

The shadows were slowly defeated, but not before they leached the strength from the dwarf and Shoanti. Azrack was all but immobilized by the weight of his own armor.

Albi bravely strode forward and prepared to launch a bomb at the vampire. The undead’s gaze dominated the gnome’s mind. “Kill the archer,” Albi heard and moved to obey.

Albi bombed his friend without hesitation. After the second bomb, the ranger started shooting back. The gnome fell and Lilith kept him down.

The party concentrated their efforts against the vampire. Tal’Vesha recovered from his paralysis and kept the fighters standing. Nearly defeated, the vampire howled, “The Lord of Blood will rise again. He will blanket this land in eternal night and your tiny efforts will be meaningless.”

Then he faded to mist and drifted from the room.

Malcanthet cursed his escape. Then Tal’Vesha noted, “It’s daylight outside.”

They looked meaningfully at each other and Mal raced down the catwalk after the trapped vampire. As she prepared to jump into the antechamber she rolled away from a fireball’s blast. She quickly recovered and retaliated with a barrage of oak tipped arrows that shredded the vampire where it stood.

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Three days later the City of Monuments came into view. Everyone was excited to complete the grueling, round-the-clock travel that Tal’Vesha had allowed.  Even with the heroism in Whistledown, the party arrived only four days after leaving Turtleback Ferry.

Eager to spend their well-earned loot and to wash the road from themselves, the heroes entered the gates of the grandest city of Varisia: Magnimar.

April 13, 2013

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Harrowing the Hook

The heroes trudged back to Turtleback Ferry from Skulls Crossing. Maggie looked unusually haggard from the draining magic of the Skulls’ arcane engine. Townsfolk rushed to learn of the heroes deeds. Rumors quickly spread of their success. After Parson Sheed was briefed he proclaimed a festival in the town’s tavern that night. The heroes were feasted and cheered.

A Shoanti warrior traveling through the region was particularly interested. He introduced himself as Duncan and in heavily accented common speech he said “I would join your path that leads to great deeds.”

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Albi woke from a dead sleep with his bedclothes soaked in sweat. He scampered into the common room finding no one but the kitchen help awake at the early hour. He slowly recovered realizing it was a dream…mostly. He was still pacing when the other party members entered the Turtle Parlor common room.

“It was a black wood. A fell swamp. It must have been the Shimmerglens. And she was there. Translucent but more real than any dream. She was real. She had to be.”

Maggie looked fully recovered after a night’s rest. She placed a hand on the gnome’s trembling shoulder and his rapid speech slowed.

“Slow down little guy. You’re not making any sense” the tiefling said.

Albi unfolded a tale of tortured misery. He had met the ghost of Myriana within the swamps to the west. She and Lamatar Bayden were ambushed by Kreeg ogres while rendezvousing in the woods. He was made to watch while they savaged her body. The ogres tore her hands and legs from her trunk. She died on the forest floor as he was drug way to the ogres’ lair, Hook Mountain.

The ghost of Myriana rose and her devastation corrupted the land. Her despair over his certain death, and the resulting destruction to her glade, overwhelmed her reason.

Albi neglected to mention how she nearly killed him.

He went on to explain that she could only be put to rest and the Shimmerglens righted by returning the body of Lamatar.

The adventurers shared a rare chill of empathy and purpose wether from the sorrowful tale or the gnome’s passion and damp eyes.

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The adventurers prepared for the alpine ascent of Hook Mountain. They visited the Turtleback general store and bought out all the cold-weather equipment.

Most of the first day was spent traveling familiar roads toward Fort Rannick. The floodwaters had receded but the forested trail was washed out in several places.

On the second day the party moved into the mountains. The winter weather made the trek treacherous but between Mal’s exceptional navigational skills and Azrack’s knowledge of the region the party found protected routes towards the lee of the mountain.

From there, they could see black smoke pouring from mountain chimneys and the beginnings of giant sized stairs carved into stone. Scouts moved forward and found a band of Kreeg ogres guarding the cavernous entrance. Despite the drifting snow and packed earth the party surprised the foes and defeated them handily.

Maggie found time to destroy the petrified corpse of a massive giant by looting the preserving Sihedron medallion it wore.

The heroes moved cautiously into the smoky, torch-lit caves of the Kreeg ogres. At an intersection within they found half a dozen ogres and a hill giant behind a defensive wall. The resulting battle caused many severe injuries, but Tal’Vesha’s prayers healed the heroes’ wounds. The Giants had no such divine intervention.

While looting the bodies, Duncan found a strange organic blob. The puffball ruptured, and the resulting cloud dropped him into it torpor. The party placed him in a crevice where they thought he would be safe.
Lamatar bayden
After only moments to recover, an unnatural cloud of fog began filling the cavern. The sounds of ogres could be heard from within. Albi lobbed a bomb into the cloud as the ogres charged forward. The battle shifted up and down a giant-scaled stairway. Massive boulders rained upon the party from a stone giant overlord at the stair’s base. When the frontline fighters descended to engage, a new foe struck the party’s rear echelon.

Wearing the cloaks of a woodsman and the frozen dead face of a corpse, Lamatar Bayden attacked with a sword crusted in ice. He drove the blade into Tal’Vesha’s soft blue underbelly. The theurge was nearly lost before the other party members could destroy the frost wight.

During the battle, Mal also glimpsed a hulking shadowy form who slipped away down a nearby corridor.

Tal’s spells were nearly spent and Albi counted only a pair of remaining bombs. The party debated camping in a mountain pass and returning but ultimately the group decided to press on and decapitate whatever leadership was responsible for sacking Fort Rannick.

Maggie scouted ahead and found another cavern full of filth and animal carcasses. Deeper within a coven of hideous hags chortled and chanted over a massive bubbling cauldron. She stealthily returned to the party and described her findings.

Tal’Vesha cast a globe of silence upon a single coin. After handing it to the tiefling rogue, her chatter notably absent, she charged into the cavern. The rest of the party was close behind and focused their fire on the nearest witch. Without the benefit of their group spellcasting, the hideous women used only brutish claws. None of their attacks could touch the evasive rogue or penetrate Azrack’s plate armor. The first annis hag fell in silence and the wail of her sisters was similarly noiseless. The remaining two were easily defeated.

The party explored the remaining corridor. It opened into an amphitheater covered with snow and ice. In the center rose a tiered stair with flanking stone giant statues that ended in a huge stone throne. Upon the chair sat a great, gray, chiseled form of a stone giant draped in black cloaks. Her voice rumbled in gigantish, “Destroy these mites. They have caused me enough trouble.”

Stone giantsTwo nearby statues revealed themselves to be stone giants. They began flinging massive boulders at the party. Maggie suffered a grazing blow as she rushed forward with Azrack only steps behind. Tal’Vesha conjured an obscuring cloud to protect the ranged fighters. Mal slid to its edge and begin unleashing a barrage of lightning arrows on her huge foes.

The seated giantess answered with a fireball blast at Mal’s feet. The flames also scorched Tal and his minions. Azrak and Maggie closed with the nearest stone giant and chopped him down. The giantess using a wand of necrotic power sapped the tiefling’s strength and dexterity. With a flood of sailor’s curses, she barely landed another blow during the battle.

Fortunately, Azrack was made for this fight. His war axe gouged furrows in the stone giant while Albi’s bombs and Mal’s arrows blew chunks from its flesh. When the last guardian fell, the giantess rose from her throne wielding a massive maul.

Her blows crashed down upon Azrack, but the unshakable shield of his ancestors could not be bypassed. With arrows raining upon her and bombs bursting, Azrack struck with the fury of his Order. The stone giant necromancer collapsed at the foot of her throne. She begged for mercy but none was to be found in the dwarf’s vengeful eyes.

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The return to Turtleback Ferry was unusually pleasant.  The traveling conditions were the best seen since arriving to these parts. The sun actually broke through the clouds and no rain or snow fell the day after the witches were felled. Having made good time, the heroes arrived after nightfall the next day.

Upon hearing of the heroes’ arrival, Parson Sheed summoned them to the town hall. He listened intently to the party’s tale of events and his jaw set when he learned of the impending assault on Sandpoint. He praised the party for again saving Turtleback Ferry and the greater region. He then worried his chin and said, “Our town has little to reward you beyond our enduring gratitude but I will do what is within my power.”

He then explained that he would communicate to officials in Magnimar the impending threat and the heroes’ service to Varisia.

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Albi returned to the familiar decayed swamp but this time found a twisted bier upon which laid the corpse of Lamatar Bayden. The nymph was nearly unrecognizable for her joyous face. She chanted and writhed her arms. Albi stood hypnotized until a wash of white light bursted through him. In the place of the bier stood the majestic form or a great white stag.

Whitewillow’s new protector bowed to the stunned gnome. Translucent tears flowed down Myriana’s checks. Her love and gratitude infused Albi like a cinnamon liqueur. As the glade began to rapidly revitalize with verdant greens and vivid flowers, Albi’s vision blurred and blackened. He abruptly sat upright in a darkened room. His room in Turtleback Ferry’s inn. Then he laid his head back on his pillow, fingers intertwined behind his bushy hair, with a broad smile stretching ear to ear.

Session Summary

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Descent of the Damned

The heroes descended the stairs deep into the dam, turning several times within the oppressive stone. The skull motif continued with blank eyes staring out from the walls. Eventually the stairs ended at a large chamber deep within the dam.

The cold, damp room featured a large pool in the floor, the surface of which was caked with pale yellow slime and fungus. Additional skull carvings decorated the walls. To the south a large mound of real skulls, mostly humanoid, rested heaped against the wall, where they partially blocked a large metal door.  Sealed passages led off to the east and west.

Albi enthusiastically trotted to the edge of the pool and began collecting samples of the slimy fungus. Duncan moved protectively beside him only to be drenched by a deluge of water – within was Grazzuul, the boss of the Skulltaker tribe. He appeared as a giant figure standing waist-deep in the foul water, but still towering above the adventurers. Water streamed over his scaly flesh and gill-slits pulsed in his neck and torso. Fins sprouted from his back and along his arms, and he drove forward a massive polearm like a two-pronged fork.  

It pierced Albi’s chest. 

The gnome nearly collapsed in shock as Duncan and others landed several minor wounds on the aquatic troll. The monster roared furiously from its tusked mouth and disappeared back into the dark waters.

After several tense moments the troll did not return. The heroes discussed strategies for routing him out from his underwater lair. The discussion lasted several minutes – more than long enough for the Maggie’s boredom to set in.   She easily defeateded the arcane locks at the southeastern door.  Upon opening it, a horse-sized scorpion stinger constructed of skulls slashed at her.  She rolled from the worst of it and felt only the tingle of the stinger’s poison.

The heroes raced to investigate the newest threat. Sensing the distraction, Grazul again leapt from the water.  He targeted Maggie this time but was unable to land a blow.  Mal buried several arrows into the foe.  Duncan closed and delivered a brutal strike. Albi blasted it with a firebomb preventing him from regenerating. Refusing to let the monster escape again, Azrack plunged into the water and moved to seal the troll’s escape route.

Nearly defeated, Grazuul withdrew and attempted to shoulder past the heavily armored dwarf.  Azrack’s blade slashed the troll who spasmed and sunk to the floor.  Tal jumped into the water to secure a grapple. The troll’s wounds sealed and it roused. Grazuul slammed the dwarf but the stubborn, breath-holder proved immovable. Tal’s ironwood cobra clamped onto the troll’s neck,  dropping it once again. 

With the grapple attached, Duncan hoisted the troll to the surface. Albi’s firebomb scorched the troll, sealing its fate forever.

Next, the barbarian pulls the dwarf gasping to the surface. Lastly, Grazuul’s large vicious adamantine trident was recovered.

After the party rallied, they readied themselves to enter both eastern doorways simultaneously.  As his door opened, Azrack was slammed by the giant scorpion’s stinger.   Both Maggie and the dwarven warrior, upon seeing the horrid visage of the massive construct of death, blanched and turned and fled.  The creature squeezed into the narrow doorway and grasped at Duncan. It seized the barbarian with its massive claw and began crushing his broad chest.  When the others tried to close, they too briefly fled in terror. As he ran, Albi mused, “That was a Thassilonian skull ripper! A guardian construct over ten thousand years old! Oh my gods!” Once the heroes recovered their wits, they returned and found Duncan nearly throttled.

Maggie and Azrack closed behind the construct.  Tal urged his cobra forward and then radiated with healing energy.  The barbarian again gasped with life.  The skull ripper was slowly worn down by countless strikes,  including a pair of Maggie’s slashes to its relatively unprotected flank.  With Tal’s healing exhausted and Duncan nearly beheaded, Albi lobbed a firebomb into the thing’s skull-like face. It exploded with a burst of carnage and the creature’s legs buckled, dropping it to the ground. Duncan laid clutching his broken ribs until Albi poured in enough alchemical healing to raise yesterday’s pot roast.

After the heroes recovered, they removed the pile of skulls from the ancient doors. Inside they found a narrow chamber ending in two alcoves to the east and west, each containing a magical circle. One held a pile of crimson ash, while the second held a nearly dead devil, its flesh taught and dry on its bones.

Tal examined the ancient Thassilonian circles and noted their purpose: to keep specific powerful creatures bound within. The devil lifted its sickly head and Tal gasped to see a living pit fiend!  The devil pleaded with Maggie to destroy the circle and free it from its torment. She was inclined to agree but the party intervened. The heroes deduced that entering the second circle may drain the devil’s lifeforce and power the floodgates. They debated on what to do until Maggie slipped past Duncan. She entered the second circle.

Simultaneously both devils – Maggie and the pit fiend – howled in pain. The circles flared to life. The pit fiend was reduced to ash. Maggie dropped to the ground clutching her chest and appeared to have instantly aged decades.

Outside the floodgates rumbled to life. The waters of the Storval Deep began to slowly flow. Turtleback Ferry was saved. But at what price?

Session Summary

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Unwelcome at Skull's Crossing

Amongst several fawning towsfolk, the party met a barbarian warrior named Duncan who seemed drawn to the group. Meanwhile, Parson Sheed returned and explained that historically the floodgates of the dam opened automatically to slowly release the waters of the reservoir beyond when flooding threatened. He also noted the mechanism by which this operates is unknown. The dam has never been examined because it is the home of a hostile tribe of trolls. The party agreed to investigate and Duncan asked to join them.

After the night of revelry, the heroes set out for Skull’s Crossing. Freezing rains fell during several hours of hard riding. Cold and tired, the party finally reached the massive Thessalonian structure. Here, the skull River flowed through a deep rocky channel with the narrow road rising with the western shore.

Spanning the great breadth of the gorge was Skull’s Crossing. The massive wall of stone held back the waters of the Storval Deep. Thousands of skulls had been carved in the dam’s face, while five larger ones decorated the middle length. The eastern most of these immense skulls was intermittently hidden by a flow of cascading water pouring through what appeared to be a recent break at the dam’s lip. The ancient dam seemed to be holding its own against the Storval Deep, but if the damage worsened or the rains continued, the recent flood of Turtleback Ferry would be but a minor precursor to a fantastic disaster.

The eastern slopes of the gorge were sheer but to the west a narrow stone stairway, its edges decorated with hundreds of poles bearing the skulls of many different creatures, rose to a cave mouth near the western rim of the dam itself. As the heroes ascended the giant sized stairs, Azrak recognized the runes decorating the skulls to be territorial markers of the Skulltaker troll clan.

EttinMaggie slunk forward through the rain and underbrush and entered the musky cave. Moving silently she heard the snores of the large sleeping beast within. After returning to the party, Maggie and Mal crept forward to investigate further. While scaling a tall embankment several pebbles dislodged under Mal’s foot. The ranger silently swore as the snoring stopped. Once both women entered the cave, a huge two-headed form rounded the corner. The rumbling bass of Gigantish yelled “YOU NO GET BY ME! ME SMASH YOU!”

Outside, Azrack understood the threatening words and charged forward. Several of the adventures struggled to ascend the embankment, including Albi who fell suffering a painful sprain. Inside the party found the ettin already overcome by Maggie and Mal’s combined attacks. The giant was not alone however.

An enormous cave bear lept over his fallen master. Maggie evaded a series of savage blows. Duncan screamed a Shoanti warcry and charged. He buried his massive blade deep into the creature’s hide. Maggie slipped into a flanking position and hamstrung the bear. It reared up with a furious roar and Mal sunk several lighting arrows into the beast. It fell to the ground silent.

The heroes rifled through the giant’s maggot-infested hide bedding and found several items of interest.

Passing through the back of the cave, the party emerged on the surface of the dam. The structure could be seen to be about a quarter of a mile from end-to-end. Behind the dam stretched the Stroval Deep, a broad lake stretching into the distance amid snow-covered peaks. In front, the dam dropped away into the gorge far below. This close the five large skulls carved in the front of the dam could be seen for what they were: giant sluice gates, but closed tight by some unknown internal mechanism.

In the center of the dam appeared to be some sort of structure, a blocky bunker of some kind. Beyond this, the breach in the dam allowed the intermittently surge of the rain swollen lake water. Between the adventurers and the bunker stood a distant group of Kreeg ogres – perhaps 100 yards away. They appeared to be chipping away at another damaged area on the dam surface.

Kreeg ogresThe party rushed forward as Mal began launching long-range arrows. She injured several before the party closed. Duncan charged one and buried his axe from shoulder to spine. Albi injured several others with a well-placed firebomb. When only a single ogre was left standing, Azrack shoved him over the wall, and he screamed into the gorge hundreds of feet below.

The rain-soaked bunker resembled a pile of 20 foot tall skulls staring off into the cardinal directions. The heroes found an entrance damaged but securely boarded shut. Tal’Vesha cast spider climb on herself and slipped into the empty eye socket windows above. She found a chamber full of thick cords of vines coating the walls and ceiling. After securing ropes, the party climbed into the chamber. Maggie crept into the neighboring room and found the remains of a massive battle. Many ogre corpses and broken weapons littered the ground.

Thick sheets of fungus and vine covered these walls as well. When other members of the party entered the room, several trolls emerged from hiding. Albi menaced them with his firebombs. Tal’Vesha healed the injured but suffered the most grievous wounds himself. The beasts fought furiously on their home turf but even their hideous tusks could not penetrate dwaren plate or defeat the agile tiefling’s dance. Duncan easily dropped one while Mal’s arrows dropped another. Tal and Albi’s flame attacks ensured that they would not rise again.

With the battle ended, the party searched the bunker. They found a cache of troll loot. They also found a pair of unlocked heavy double doors with a smooth surface smeared in graffiti written in dried blood. Azrack translated, “Below dwells wet papa Grazuul! All hail wet papa Grazuul!” Beyond the doors, a flight of stone steps led down into the darkness.

Session Summary

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Mother of Oblivion

With the last ogre routed, the party surveyed the carnage of Fort Rannick. They found Vale Temros and debriefed him on the fort’s status. Vale agreed to hold solemn vigil at the fort until reinforcements could be rallied. The party left for Turtleback Ferry.

Unseasonably heavy rains continued to fall. The Skull River swelled and rushed southward. As the party slogged through the mud, a great rumbling surge of water charged down the canyon towards the town. They heroes moved as fast as possible.

They found Turtleback Ferry drowning. The lowest third of the town was flooded with several feet of rushing water. The heroes came upon a schoolhouse maid leaning out an upper window waving for help. Just as she spied the heroes, a great black sinuous form lashed out of the water at her.

An unknown twilight-skinned hero veiled in shadows saw the woman’s plight and magically leapt towards the schoolhouse. Her name was Sylir, a Drow swordmaiden! Down below, Maggie launched a grappling arrow into the wooden clapboards securing a route through the floodwaters for herself and Azrak. Another strange hero emerged from the floodwaters. Tal’Vesha wore a chain shirt and a symbol of an unknown power, but most striking were his sea-colored skin and webbed hands and feet. He covered the approach of the tiefling and dwarf with an unusual mix of divine and arcane spellcasting.

As Sylir neared the building, the snake turned on her but missed the graceful Drow. She entered the building and began lifting the teacher and children to safety.

Outside the snake turned on the tiefling, thinking her easier prey. Maggie tethered her tail to the rope and delivered a small slash. The snake wrapped her within it’s crushing coils and began to squeeze. The lithe tiefling slipped away but held fast to the rope!

Mal returned from helping others villagers and saw the snake and blue headed creature closing on Azrak. Thinking the worst, she launched a volley of electrical arrows into the unsuspecting undine. Maggie, Azrak and Tal swam into the building away from the serpent and deadly arrows.

Sylir levitated the rest of the children to safety. She then came back for the party members and once on the ground tense introductions followed.

Mother of oblivionThe tension was interrupted when another swell of floodwater surged through town, including a massive black log structure. The log dipped underwater heading toward the temple. Then, something immense, something wrong, erupted from the water and bellowed furiously. Filthy water sluiced from a head that somehow combined the worst traits of an eel and a tyrannosaurus, clad in oily-black skin and held thirty feet above the flood on a muscular, boneless trunk that gradually widened until is disappeared into the muddy water. About it thrashed several jet black tentacles, emerging from the river and crawling about the shoreline looking for victims. Within its glaring eyes clearly lurked an intelligence, ancient and cruel.

“By the All-Father,” stammered Sheed, “It’s Black Magga! B… But how?”

Mal launched some arrows into the mythical beast. Black Magga retaliated with roared cloud of oily madness that struck Azrak, Maggie and Tal. The tiefling and undine shook off the worst of it. Azrak, however, blundered about smashing himself with mailed fists and babbling incoherently.

Sylir dropped a globe of magical darkness onto the profane monster allowing the others to escape. Enraged, Black Magga chomped on the Drow swordmaiden rending her flesh and draining her soul. The monster then lashed at the staggering Drow with countless treelike tentacles. She evaded some of the slams but the onslaught was too great to avoid completely. As she was batted away she dropped another sphere of darkness which blinded the creature completely. Black Magga dipped back into the water and slid into Claybottom Lake.

The townsfolk cheered. Parson Sheed praised the heroes for their role in protecting the town. He explained that Black Magga was an ancient Mother of Oblivion, holy to Lamashtu, created only to bring chaos, horror and death. Legends of her existence had always been limited to the Storval Deep. He then explained something grave must be happening at Skull’s Crossing, the Thassalonian dam that holds back the Deep. He offered to pay the heroes 1,000 gold to investigate the dam and ensure that the floodgates were working to prevent further catastrophe.

As the floodwaters ebbed, the heroes were surrounded by grateful townsfolk. They were lifted onto shoulders and carried to Bottoms Up tavern and toasted the saviors of Turtleback Ferry!

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Deja Vu

Only the sound of the wind outside and a few grunts of restless ogres disturbed the keep. No new threats emerged despite the recent melee. The heroes decided to investigate the war room where they had heard a previous clatter.

The tribunal room contained smashed chairs and a ruined table in a once regal chamber. Upon the curved eastern wall hung the tattered remnants of several regional maps. A sleepless ogre was painting them from buckets of congealed blood. Maggie charged in with a stabbing strike. Remy followed and effortlessly finished off the monster. A second ogre emerged from the adjoining room. Albi launched a firebomb that incinerated the room’s dry paper contents and left the ogre smoking. Azrak bellowed in rage, closed, and buried his axe in its neck.

Ogre warlordNext, the heroes moved to the chapel’s heavy wooden doors. Within they heard faint sounds of activity. The adventurers charged in boldly and found a temple of Erastil desecrated. The skins, antlers and trophies were draped with rotten flesh and the mangled remains of several rangers. The altar was painted in blood with a three-eyed jackal. And the room’s decorator, a massive ogre, snarled and drew a 20 pound, blood-crusted ogre hook.

The heroes swarmed the monster with incredible speed. Nip unleashed a devastating series of whirlwind strikes. Under the combined assault, the foe fell before it could deliver a single blow.

After the battle the heroes explored the remainder of the keep’s upper floor. Maggie moved to a storeroom near the tower stairs. Inside she heard a feminine voice call to her for help, pleading that the party not harm her. The tiefling succumbed to woman’s plea and followed her into the darkness.

Once they realized she was missing, Azrak and Albi charged into the tower. Far above Maggie and the alluring woman were seen slipping through a trap door that closed with a thud. The gnome and dwarf rushed up the circular stairs. Meanwhile the ratfolk scampered outside along the roof and scaled the outer walls of the tower. Within they could see a large snake woman akin to Xanesha hiding in the shadows with Maggie standing dutifully atop the portal.

Azrak shoved his way through the trapdoor pitching Maggie to the side. He entered the shadowy room and suffered a series of wicked strikes from the waiting lamiah matriarch. The dwarf was almost taken down. The ratfolk descended from the ceiling trapdoor making surprise attacks but the wily lamia saw them coming. She battered them back and made a lethal strike against Albi. As the gnome fell to the ground, Maggie shook off the magical charms. The tiefling rushed in, daggers leading, and opened a gouge in the snake woman’s flesh.

A flash of light dazzled the heroes and the lamia vanished – she escaped via a dimension door. Maggie’s swore with vehemence and vulgarity that would have made her pirate parents proud.

With the fighting over, the heroes took the head of the fallen ogre leader and brandished it from atop the tower. Threatening the remaining Kreeg ogres with a similar fate, the monsters below fled into the misty, rainy morning.

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Retaking Rannick

RannickAfter detailing his knowledge of the Fort and its ogre pillagers, Jakardros returned to Turtleback Ferry to rally Magnimaran reserves. The heroes approached Rannick’s southern gate near nightfall and found ogres lazily manning the walls. Using Jakardros’ maps, the party found a hidden cavern entrance behind the cataract that became Rannick’s wide moat.

Within Nip found a pair of shocker lizards near the entrance to a Black Arrow weapons cache. Nip scurried along the walls and dropped on one nearly killing it. Maggie rushed forward and finished it off. The second one fell when Mal and Remy joined the fight.

The party found a hidden passage that had been broken through by the lizards. Within they found several natural cavern chambers and a nest full of shockers. Nip and Remy swarmed one while Maggie snuck in and inadvertently ran right toward another. The lizards released a combined lightning burst that singed Maggie and Mal. Azrak planted his tower shield to block the lizards’ advance. The ratfolk, Maggie and Albi moved forward taking down several more lizards. Another lighting burst singed the party. Over the following chaotic moments, the party defeated the remaining lizards, 10 in all.

After finding the back of a secret door that entered the keep, the heroes decided to rest overnight, which passed uneventfully.

The group opened the secret door into the keep’s dungeon. Within the cells they found a battered unconscious ranger, Vale Temros. After a couple of healing draughts he roused and told of the keep’s fall, the commander’s absence, and his solemn gratitude for being saved. In no shape to fight, he returned through the caverns to guard the waterfall entrance.

Azrak suggested the ogre leaders might be in the larger, upper rooms so the party snuck to the second floor. They went first to the commander’s quarters. They heard raucous snoring within. Mal, Albi, and Azrak covered the hall, while Nip, Remy and Maggie slipped inside. They found the back of an ogre witch hovering over a large cauldron while an enormous ogre brute snored loudly while draped over the commander’s ruined bed.

Maggie moved to the sleeping form while the ratfolk slipped silently behind the witch. All three attacked simultaneously. Maggie drove her dagger into the brute’s closed eyelid until the hilt crunched through the bridge of his nose. (coup de grace!) He spasmed wildly before death took him.

Remy and Nip unleashed a coordinated flurry of blades opening half a dozen slashes in the witch before she even could spin around (Remy delivered almost 50 hp of damage with a single strike!) The ogre spun around and cast an evocation but under the ratfolk’s constant torment the effect never manifested. Several more slashes from the the melee fighters and arrows from Mal struck the witch over then next few seconds and the giant fell loudly to the floor. (Nip finished it off.)

Standing at the ready everyone waited for other threats to arrive but none came.

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House of the Fallen Arrows (Continued)

Once the heroes caught their breath, they explored the rest of the house. A back bedroom contained a rotting corpse so foul that Maggie, Nip and Azrak emptied their stomaches and turned green for several minutes.

Once recovered, the group moved downstairs and found an empty tannery room. Hearing a chinking in the neighboring room, Maggie opened a door into a chilled chamber with hanging hooks and slabs of meat. As her eyes adjusted it became clear that the carcasses were skinned humans. And then one of them jumped down. The flayed corpse charged the heroes with black dagger-like claws.

Remy and Nip scampered up the wall readying a strike against the undead foe. Albi charged into their path earning him a pair of ratspeak curses. He also received a fetid slash from the flayed one that continuously oozed leaving the gnom weakened. Maggie tumbled into a flanking position while Remy unleashed a flurry of tiny blades that stripped the profane muscle away until the creature dropped to the floor. (The ratfolk noted that only the foulest necromantic rituals could create such an abomination – this was clearly the work of a erudite and wicked foe.)

The next room was packed with crates and boxes floor to ceiling. Even the ratfolk could not reach the back of the cluttered chamber.

A low moan from the remaining door piqued Maggie’s interest. She opened the door and a found a battered ranger chained to the opposite wall. He weakly lifted his head and croaked, “Watch out! The blades.”

Eviscerator constructThen a pile of machinery shuddered and stood the size of a draft horse. Five-foot-long blades emerged and started swirling about as it moved toward the doorway. Maggie charged in striking at the construct earning a long slash that continued to bleed.

Meanwhile, the previously battled trio of red caps returned and attempted ambush the party from behind. Expecting treachery, Mal, Lilith and Azrak easily defeated them.

Remy scampered over the debris and tore into the machinery. Metal joints were jammed and hoses sprayed causing the bladed machine to shudder. Remy pushed forward but suffered a scythe slash that nearly dropped him. Albi used the opening to fling a bomb which erupted with a series of explosions resulting a cloud of oily smoke. The machine sputtered and died.

Azrak moved into the choking exhaust and began to free his ranger leader and brother, Jakardros Sovark. His coughing subsided once outside and he explained how his men tried to take back Fort Rannick but were repelled by countless ogres. Then they suffered several casualties in the Sanos Wood despite an expert knowledge of the terrain and usual inhabitants. Lastly, he explained that after being captured he was fed upon by a red cap vampire who was attended by a black-cloaked damphyr. The evil pair mentioned in his hearing something about finding “the next key in Jorgenfist.”

Before leaving the the charnel house, the party found a chest with valuable gear including that belonging to Azrak and Jakardros. One of the fallen red caps also wore a magical broach shaped like a red dragon.

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House of the Fallen Arrows

The party began scouting around the old farmhouse. Mal found dozens of small deep bootprints surrounding the place. The Venomtail brothers silently scampered up to the shake siding. Maggie moved onto the front porch and she found a complicated trap mechanism on the ceiling above the front door. Azrak and Albi stood back looking on as she attempted to disassemble the device. By deactivating it, however, she unwittingly triggered a devious series of slashing blades that stabbed between the porch planks and tore into Albi’s foot.

Upstairs the ratfolk found the shuttered windows natiled shot. They used Nip’s crowbar to pry them open and peered into the bedroom window where laid a still form upon a bed. The removed the window pane and slipped inside.

(The groan of the old wood announced the ratfolk’s approach to the hidden foes within.)

The daylight illuminated the Black Arrows Ranger lying atop the bed in a pool of blood with a hand missing. His other limbs were shackled to the bed frame. Nearby laid a bloody wooden box with one end open.

Remy drove a wooden stake through the corpse’s heart.

Meanwhile, the adventurers below recovered from the trapped porch attack. Maggie entered a empty living room. On the sofa was a bloody satchel which she avoided for the time being. Maggie, Azrak and Albi moved deeper into the silent dwelling.

They entered a large bedroom that reeked of death. Upon the oversized bed, a pile of corpses laid akimbo. Azrak howled and called out the names of his fallen Black Arrows brothers. Maggie covered her face and moved to withdraw when she heard the sounds of movement from within the pile. Reluctantly the heroes started moving corpses until they found the source. Under the dead was a living ranger – pinned by his dead comrades he had been forced to eat their flesh at the cost of his sanity.

With their attention focused on the pitiable man the adventurers failed to notice the attacker behind them. Azrak yelped when a crossbow bolt grazed the back of his thigh. Maggie rushed toward the closet in the corner of the room and after searching for several moments found a small covered passage into a dark neighboring room. Knowing that Azrak would not fit, the group left the room for the hallway.

Meanwhile up above, Remy and Nip blackened out the windows before leaving the bunk room. They passed through a hallway into a large darkened attic full of crates and debris. Moving silently, they entered the room as Remy concentrated on the subtle source of evil within. Although the location was relatively clear the source remained hidden. Nip blindly flung a vial of contagion into a pile of rubbish at which point a pair of child-sized foes emerged and attacked – they launched crossbow bolts before charging with oversized scythes.

Red capAlthough the size of children, the creatures wore blood red shapeless caps and had the faces of gnarled old men. Up to their knees they wore iron shod boots that somehow allowed an uncanny silence. The redcaps flanked Nip and Remy making slashing attacks. Remy suffered a single brutal strike. The ratfolk attempted several retaliating attacks but the redcaps proved extremely evasive. When one finally suffered a wound, it disappeared back into the debris.

Back downstairs, Maggie entered another large storage room which she suspected abutted the bedrooms closet passage. She was ambushed by two more redcaps. She withdrew into the hallway to attack anything that emerged.

Upstairs, the other evil little bastard made cleaving scythe attacks against the ratfolk before fleeing down the hallway. The ratfolk raced downstairs after it.

The wounded red cap who first left the upstairs battle had dropped from a trapdoor  and landed in the hallway just behind Albi. It delivered a slashing wound to the gnome before retreating into the corpse pile bedroom.

The other 3 red caps races the same direction. One of them crashed through the window. The others moved to follow as the party chased them. Mal launched a lightning arrow into the wounded redcap’s chest creating an explosive exit wound. The other foes escaped through the broken window and immediately disappeared in the undergrowth beyond.

The house grew silent again save the buzzing of the fat lazy flies circling the gruesome room.

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