Friday, April 17, 2009

The Shadow Lord Escapes!

  • Characters: Carn, Dorian, Gallipolas, Karne, Pardonei, Rathgillian, Sentalial
  • NPCs: Purple Knights of Cormyr, Freutin General of the Amry of Nature’s Wrath, Roan the page boy, Calimir High Priest of Torm, Zalaznar Crinios Benevolent Tyrant of Cedarspoke and Secretary General of the Council of the Divine
  • Synopsis: After several sunrises, the Defenders have rested and restored themselves. With the rear forces of the Black Legion sent astray by the deaths of their commanders, the Circle of Holundi has taken advantage and refortified their position. Just before the sun rises after a tenday, the alarm is sounded calling Defenders from their sleep to the converted prison at the Temple of Oghma. The Purple Knight responsible for guarding the Shadow Lord was subdued and the cage lock sundered. Landryn Teriak has escaped! Dorian is beyond reasoning and rejects the leadership of the League of Wizards as ineffective and short-sighted. After a quick head count, there are several Defenders of the Dragon Coast who are absent: V.L., They Call Him Carn, and Lord Topaz. Forkbeard cannot find any trail when Rathgillian discovers that his helm of teleportation is missing. With no tracks to follow, Alyssic turns to her deity Heironeous, asking particular questions to bring the mass murderer back into custody. The inquiry reveals that the Shadow Lord was freed by They Call Him Carn and has traveled to Cedarspoke using the helm of teleportation. The evil human is under the protection of the Army of Nature’s Wrath and his fears are dominated by himself becoming undead. Under the final question, the Shadow Lord cannot predict the actions of the Defenders without the Historian, the keeper of all things present. The group departs for Cedarspoke via Pardonei’s and Dorian’s magic, arriving after dusk. To gather more information Gallipolas communes with the local natural forces and finds that the Shadow Lord is within the seedy tavern The Hoe, They Call Him Carn is in the high quality inn The Silver Scythe, and the Shadow Lord’s strongest ally is the Council of the Divine. As Gallipolas is interpreting the responses, the group is attacked by a massive rampaging forest sloth that tears into Sentalial and Rathgillian before being destroyed by the party. The following morning the Defenders are given audience with the general of the Army of Nature’s Wrath Freutin. With the utmost respect Freutin relays the Army’s success of holding the eastern front of the war, preserving the characteristic of Cedarspoke having never been invaded. After an exchange of information detailing recent successes on and off the battlefield, the Defenders are escorted to the Temple of Silvanus, the converted headquarters of the Army of Nature’s Wrath under the command of the Council of the Divine. Again the Defenders are given an immediate audience with the 12 members of the Council. The breakout of the Shadow Lord resulted in the deliverance of Landryn Teriak to the Army of Nature’s Wrath. The situation escalates when the Shadow Lord himself is brought to the Council’s chambers. A sly and sometimes disingenuous Landryn Teriak iterates what he has to offer. The Shadow Lord is the only one capable of interpreting the writings of someone he calls the Historian, a keeper of records in the present tense. It is suspected that the Historian has documented the current events and his scrolls will reveal the actions of the Black Legion as they occur. The Council has imprisoned the Shadow Lord and continues questioning him. The Defenders are incensed that the Council is considering the words of the mass murderer and challenges their authority to house their ex-prisoner. The Council of the Divine offers a unification of sorts. They will release Landryn Teriak to the Defenders under an escort that will serve as an envoy of the Army of Nature’s Wrath to the Circle of Holundi on the western front of the war. This escort is a collective referred to as the Divine Hammer, and they will represent the Council in the west. Their offer is summarily rejected by the Defenders who withdrawl from the chambers just short of hostility. Zalaznar Crinios the Secretary General of the Council of the Divine is both embarrassed and stunned at the complete lack of respect. Calimir High Priest of Torm lectures Sentalial of respect for his superiors and respect for the chain of command. Zalaznar warns Gallipolas that the elf is throwing away massive potential out of spite. Spitting on the temple floor, Gallipolas leads his companions out of Cedarspoke and back to the forest. There they decide to return to Reddansyr, report of their findings, and rendezvous in Threshold to discuss their options.
  • Encounters: prisoner escape in Reddansyr, forest sloth, Army of Nature’s Wrath in Cedarspoke, Council of the Devine
  • Achievements: uncovered the potential traitor They Call Him Carn, traveled to Cedarspoke to investigate, discovered the whereabouts of Landryn Teriak the Shadow Lord, witnessed the complacency of the Council of the Divine with respect to the Shadow Lord, learned that the Historian is in Tendale and is going to be retrieved by agents of the Council of the Divine known collectively as the Divine Hammer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Song of the Sword of Geron and Other Hidden Treasures by Jarvis Blackgreaves and the Black Widows

  • Characters: Hlinthi, Jebeddo, Marlet & Unger, Sentalial, Trizoon, X-Requinn, Zatheon
  • NPCs: Jarvis Blackgreaves, Quint, Fah-Ceia Camm, locals of The Verse, Marvin Sage of Geron
  • Synopsis: Successfully returning from the Underdark with the rescued denizens of Threshold and Westgate, Trizoon leads the group to The Verse for drinks and discussion of what is next. A boisterous troupe has arrived in Threshold having heard to great tales of adventure by the small town’s occupants. Leading the trio is Jarvis Blackgreaves fronting two raven-haired twin sisters ominously referred to as the Black Widows. His performance is fantastic despite the misgivings of Trizoon. The visiting songsmith has attracted a small crowd following the performance which quickly dissipates under the magicks of the looming bard. One of the songs has sparked an interest in several of the guild members, notably the Sword of Geron. Prompting the entertainer to divulge his source, Jarvis yields that his hard-earned prize was retrieved from a tomb of riches outside of Geron. But the adventurers are cryptically warned that the tomb rests below ancient battlegrounds haunted by undead. X-Requinn attempts to coax the bard into leading a small group to the tomb as the artifacts must be retrieved and studied. Jarvis is having none of the pandering as he reminds the group that his interaction with his audience is limited to performances only. He points to another member of the audience at The Verse, fingering Quint the Navigator, captain of the Sea Jay Mark III. A friend of the Dragon Coast resistance, Quint offers voyage to Geron as he has made many acquaintances there. The party leaves the following morning arriving in the small town close to nightfall. The stories of undead come true the following day. Speaking with the crotchety old man Marvin, they are warned to avoid the randomly laid orchid and the seas of weeds and overgrowth adjacent to his property. During the initial reconnaissance the party is ambushed by ghouls lying in wait for potential victims. In the midst of battle, a ghostly black spirit arrives on horseback floating above the uneven ancient battlefield. Moving with swift speed and striking many times, the black guard is elusive against the group’s attacks. Even the mighty Sentalial’s holy sword isn’t enough to break the armor of their attacker. Its mount is not so luck as it becomes the primary target. The encounter is joined by who can only be Marvin the caretaker. His spells summoned from the god of filth Bane are devastating. Trizoon and Sentalial are caught in a storm of flame, and the combined injuries are more than Sentalial can withstand. The paladin of Torm falls dead joining uncounted others in the ancient battlegrounds. Rallying around the cries for revenge from Jebeddo, the group disables the flying black guard by slaying its mount and dropping it to earth. Trizoon completes the task by destroying the undead lancer. Zatheon’s arrows strike true as does Jebeddo’s magic bringing down the flying Marvin. Hlinthi races to retrieve Sentalial’s spirit, bring his soul back to the Material Plane. Through interrogation it is uncovered that the follower of Bane is in fact Joaquin Blackdawn. Promising justice for his black deeds, the group visits the revived shrine of Heironeous near the battleground. They are met with the angel Aramus Moonbow who thanks them for their efforts to release Bane’s hold on the grounds. The angel promises to reveal truths, but only to followers of Heironeous. But for their aid he deals immediate and final justice to the cleric of Bane, obliterating his material presence. The group returns to the cottage to find the animated dead bodies of the previous owners. Mercy is giving and the cottage is destroyed, burnt to the ground along with Blackdawn’s sundered offerings to his evil deity. Geron offers more secrets, but for another time and with other guild members.
  • Encounters: seven ghouls, undead black guard lancer and nightmare mount, Joaquin Blackdawn Cleric of Bane
  • Achievements: destroyed the haunt of the ancient battlegrounds, freed the angel of Heironeous Aramus Moonbow, dealt justice to Joaquin Blackdawn, and hallowed the grounds of the long-dead farmers of Geron.

The Doppelganger Outpost

  • Characters: Illdric, Pardonei, Rog, Trebbor, Trizoon, V.L., Zatheon
  • NPCs: Mack
  • Synopsis: The revelations of the doppelgangers instills both hope and fear in the select few members aware of the infiltration of their guild. Hope in that somehow some of the Vanished are still alive and fear of treading where few surface dwellers have survived to tell the tales. With the doppelganger map in hand, Trizoon quietly gathers a small force capable and crazy enough to venture into the UnderDark. He recruits a mercenary from Westgate, Zatheon, who has traveled to Threshold under the banner of Flagg Fletcher, Sand Pits arena master of ceremonies. Zatheon has found the missing V.L. but hears of the guild’s plight. Ignoring the scope of work he was hired for, Zatheon agrees to join the party and investigate the possible slave trade. Just after daybreak the group accesses the tunnels below the town via Rellun Sherry’s villa. Moving swiftly against time, the group uncovers the massive shaft descending straight down, far beyond sight into the UpperDark. But their ancient predecessors have made their trek that much easier as the group finds a narrow spiral stair etched into the perimeter of the shaft. Single-file, the group begins the descent and is ambushed by a massive harpoon spider. With arrows, blades and spells, the group makes short work of the obstruction sending it toppling over into the dark. Minutes later the body has found the bottom with an ungodly splattering. Navigating the caverns with the doppelganger map the adventurers encounter a scavenger of bones but quickly destroy the monstrosity. Through secret doors and false trails, they finally reach an underground lagoon with an ancient stone outpost atop an island near the center. Pardonei’s magic summons a bridge of ice to cross the black waters and the group plans for the invasion. A rear entry is uncovered and the group moves through the structure, uncovering a small arsenal of what must be stolen arms and armor and a sacrificial altar perhaps a meat cutting table. Surprised at the intrusion, the doppelgangers decide to err on the side of caution and begin to vacate the stone citadel. The group splinters to catch the cowardly slavers, some giving chase while others explore the rest of the complex. Trizoon’s hallucinary terrain fools one of the targets as he is roped back to shore. Before the doppelganger can be seized, another returns to the entangled slaver and slices its throat open before dropping below the surface. Trebbor opens another door unleashing a caged beast wielding two cleavers wrapped by its forked tongue. Trapped and outnumbered the atrocity is ruined. Pardonei attempts to thwart their fleeing nemeses but succeeds in electrocuting only one. Trizoon and Rog work against a sealed door, finally shattering the obstruction to uncover their prize: eight prisoners of the surface. A familiar face looks up from the water-logged pit below. A shivering Mack welcomes their saviors, wondering aloud what took them so long. The halfling introduces his new friends, some are missing merchants from Threshold, and others are downtrodden folk from Westgate. With the outpost sacked and the prisoners free, the group begins the return trip home, unable and unwilling to spend any more time than necessary in the Underdark.
  • Encounters: Dread Harpoon Spider, Boneclaw, Doppelganger Slavers, Rot Reaver
  • Achievements: uncovered the miles-deep access shaft to the UpperDark, followed the map through an ancient slaver route battling carrion seekers of the UnderDark to reach the slave outpost, routed the slaver outpost and rescued their imprisoned friends and townsfolk.

The Slave Trade of the Upper Darklands

  • Characters: Cheynar, Jebeddo, Sentalial, Teldowen, V.L.
  • NPCs: JadeBlade Doppelganger, Mack Doppelganger, Piper Tall-Lad
  • Synopsis: Sentalial and Jebeddo return from their evening patrol to the guildhall, and find JadeBlade and Cheynar preparing for the night patrol along with Teldowen and V.L. discussing current events in the grand hall. JadeBlade requests a debriefing meeting with Jebeddo in his own private chambers where he presents Mack. The two break character and speak freely to Jebeddo, revealing their false personalities. The Mack look-alike says that he has retrieved the ever-soaking sponge and says that the bounty placed on the artifact is equal to a year’s worth of effort on their slave trade operation. Presenting Jebeddo with an option to leave with them, the two are planning on vacating Threshold tonight and journey to the Black Legion encampment for the slated bounty. Jebeddo’s bluff cannot fool the infiltrators as one lashes out and makes for an escape. The gnome wizard summons his allies as the battle breaks out into the courtyard of the guild hall. Sensing defeat, the Mack look-alike triggers the failure of the giant plug, sending the massive boulder plunging into the tunnel below. Both of Jebeddo’s opponents attempt to escape beneath the surface, but Teldowen’s spells kill one of the spies. The body that once resembled Mack shifts into the form of a doppelganger. The remaining spy is captured and questioned, revealing the deception. The prisoner is pressed into unveiling the truth of their presence. A cluster of doppelgangers has been infiltrating the people of Threshold for some time, using the duergar tunnels beneath the city to extract their victims to sell into slavery in the Underdark city of Drik Hargunen. It bargains with the adventurers to unveil other infiltrators as well as a map to the doppelganger outpost. Leading the prisoner from the guild hall the group moves towards the Bur’Dvay household only to find a drunken Grem complaining of his absent wife, gone more than a tenday. The doppelganger continues to challenge his captors by shifting from person to person, earning the ire of Sentalial. Stumbling through the heavy snow, the party returns to the guild hall and retrieves a map that the doppelganger says will guide them to his outpost in the Underdark, a midpoint between Threshold and Drik Hargunen. Next it leads them to the house of Piper Tall-Lad. The inquisitors realize that Piper is attempting to evade them through the tunnels beneath the town. He is tracked down by Cheynar and Teldowen and subdued. The man’s form does not revert to a doppelganger. During the chase the doppelganger makes an escape but is quickly dropped. The prisoner says that it was attempting to get to the Great Rise, a massive mile-and a half pit leading into the Upper Darklands. Perhaps he could lead them through the network of chasms and caves to the doppelganger outpost. Having had enough of the shenanigans and deception, Sentalial paladin of Torm leaves the prisoner to the blade of V.L. who ends the creature’s life. Cheynar revives Piper Tall-Lad who spills the truth regarding the town’s thieves gang he belongs to, lead by none other than Tess Bur’Dvay. They have been leaderless for some time and with the death of Rellun Sherry, Piper believes that he is next. Under submission Piper fingers the town’s blacksmith, Jesh Sparklight. The investigation must continue, but daylight will prevail first. The group decides to regroup at daybreak to develop a plan.
  • Encounters: Doppelgangers, Piper Tall-Lad
  • Achievements: unveiled spies to the Adventurers Guild, recovered a map leading from Threshold to a doppelganger outpost in the Underdark, uncovered the slave trade to the duergar city Drik Hargunen

Merchandizing the Teziiran Underworld

  • Characters: Domollo Blue, Froink Bolderheed, Haverchuk, Mace McCloud, RichLaFerniere, Umberger
  • NPCs: Wicasa Wikan, Perry Kettlewhistle

  • Synopsis: Weeks after a successful assault on a den of kobolds, the trio of Haverchuk, Mace McCloud of Pelor and RichLaFerniere have expended their hard fought earnings on women, game, and improper lodging. The secretive Men of the Basilisk have not contacted them following their successful enterprise. Just before day jobs are considered they are hailed by Domollo Blue while drinking at the Smelted Horse. Domollo took his exploits east and found nothing but war, bloated egos, and too many shifty characters from such small towns. One positive thing he did find was a potential employer named Wolsyn who dropped a retainer on the gregarious Domollo. He continues his tale saying that he followed the noble Wolsyn’s instructions to contact the short-folk Perry Kettlewhistle, proprietor of the local pottery shop. The halfling passed along a tip for coin. Domollo was to find hearty, like-minded types to check out a shady warehouse down by the docks. Evidently some business competitors are receiving illegal shipments and the group is to investigate. Wolsyn’s connects with the local guilds say that the shipments are not coming in from the trade routes, but by sea route. With the Dragonmere frozen over for the winter, it is pointed out the peculiarity of the situation. Domollo continues that their employer isn’t looking to get the shipments, or steal coin. He just wants to find out who’s responsible for the shipments, and if so, determine how he’s doing it. With the promise of one thousand gold pieces, the group is immediately interrupted by Froink Bolderheed who wants in, if anything just to keep his mouth shut. Domollo curses his boisterous voice and agrees. The group vacates the Smelted Horse and makes for the docks of Teziir. The early winter has all but shut down the receiving houses near the water’s iced edge as all shipments through the merchant city are arriving via trade routes. This is good in that the streets are deserted, making the scouting that much easier. Assuming a vantage point from adjacent cliffs, the group finds two bizarre hounds defending the dock-side entrance. Mace McCloud decides that the roof of the warehouse would make a better door and begins dismantling the tiles. Domollo and Froink try the front door, but before they can gain entry, they spot a lonely watchman. Domollo breaks from the task at hand and greets the disheveled dwarf Umberger. Earning paltry wages and no respect from the Teziiran Guard, he is easily persuaded by the twenty-five gold pieces promised by the slick Domollo. Gaining entry the party is attacked by a flying aberration and four humanoid ant-like creatures. The battle shifts from the storage area to the loading dock to the shipment lift as arrows and swords are loosed. Howling ceases on the outside as Haverchuk and RichLaFerniere pick away the beasts protecting the dock space. After dismantling the guardian and the workers, the party finds the administrator’s room. Before they can review any of the paperwork, Haverchuk is slammed by the massive desk as its animated drawers and legs come to life. Umberger has finally found his calling as he smashes the magicked furniture. Papers go everywhere, but the important ones are discovered. The most recent shipment was supplied from one Captain Rumjack. The warehouse was receiving the goods then delivering them to a merchant named Oblut Thoim, a friend of the Lords of Teziir and failed writer of the critically acclaimed yet commercial disaster Letters to a Sheltered Son. Among other unsavory individuals, Umberger claims to know an associate of Oblut, a dwarf sage named Melgornarni.

  • Encounters: two krenshars, lurking strangler, four formian workers, animated desk

  • Achievements: recovered a paper trail of the shipper of illegal contraband Rumjack to be delivered to the merchant Oblut Thoim and discovered correspondence to a dwarven sage named Melgornarni

Elizar’s Branded Hand

  • Characters: Marlett, Nobanion, Teldowen, Wicasa Wikan/Wolsyn, X-Requinn
  • NPCs: Piper Tall-Lad

  • Synopsis: Piper Tall-Lad mysteriously comes to the guild hall to report on the elusive and mythical bat creature that has plagued Threshold. Stating that he represents several of the outlying farmers, Piper relays that several cattle have been slain. The trust in the boy’s words is next to nothing, but several members decide to investigate lead by Nobanion the defacto town leader. The winter season stuck early and with food at a premium any source must be protected no matter how unreliable the initiate. While meeting with the owners of the Bean farmstead, a ploy is established to stake out the struggling cattle. It isn’t long before the slaughterer returns for its next meal. But the group is unprepared for the blue dragon that threatens to annihilate them with a single stroke!Teldowen strategically strikes the scaled beast with his magically primed glaive while Nobanion confronts it and Wolsyn uses his tricks of the trade. After a horrendous battle the dragon succumbs to the multiple strikes. Previously spoken tales of a dragon’s hidden hoard in the nearby mountains prompts Teldowen to convince the others that ancient elven artifacts may be among the dragon’s treasures. A two mile hike into the mountains is fortuitous when they uncover the lair. Protected by shambling mounds of earth and vegetation, the sacrificial chamber of the dragon’s master is discovered adorned with the symbols and markings of the evil god Erythnul. Moving into the sacred chamber the group finds a standing coffin and prepares for whomever or whatever it may contain. Violating the ancient sarcophagus, the group uncovers the true cause of dread of the citizens of Threshold, a startled vampire. Before any defense can be drawn, the group swiftly and decisively destroys the undead master. Their proficiency is one of a skilled group that has journeyed many treks together as not a single counterattack is made by the vampire. Only after permanently destroying the crypt’s sole possessor does the group finds the etching indicting the recipient of their wrath. The vampire’s name was Elizar and he is no more.

  • Encounters: blue dragon, two shambling mounds, large constrictor, vampire Elizar

  • Achievements: protected the outlying farmsteads from the preying blue dragon, discovered the secret of the bat-creature of Threshold, obliterating the vampire Elizar