Friday, February 26, 2010

The Westgate Extraction – The Plan

Characters: Alyssic, Aramir, Forkbeard, Sentalial, Trizoon,
NPCs: Julbin Cometstrike, Mintassan the Planeswalker, Kyra, Merisio, Lt. Rizzi, Sgt. Rodney
Synopsis: Returning from the doomed Skarwall Keep, Alyssic recruits her allies for an impossible mission. They must journey to Westgate with Mintassan, plant the portal seed outside of the city walls, get into the city, discover the location of the New Kelvin refugees, and then evacuate them before the ravages of war take their lives. A desparate Alyssic relays unconfirmed rumors that devils and vampires vie for control of the city, with the result of the citizens of Westage fodder for the city’s occupants. She was unable to save New Kelvin, but she will do everything to save the people.

Familiar with facing the incredible the group is escorted by Mintassan to Westgate via the Plane of Shadow. While in transit shadows twist and crawl in every corner. Something is amiss, but nothing can be investigated now. As quickly as they arrived, the party vacates the Plane of Shadow and find themselves on the outskirts of Westgate. Mintassan quickly plants the seed, saying that they must wait an hour before the portal grows. He must move alone back to his home to retrieve precious maps of the planes, but they can use the portal to journey to Delzimmer. Whatever the group does for now until then, they cannot use the portal to vacate the Dragon Coast before one hour.

Remaining near the Shore, they spy a decrepit shanty town, home to the surviving drifters and homeless. With magic to disguise themselves as Blackguards, the group moves below the cliff face of Westgate through its poor outskirts. Bodies lay impossibly still, victims of starvation and lack of sufficient shelter. Sentalial speaks with the emaciated Kyra, herself a refugee of New Kelvin. Classified as “unfit” many of the refugees were sentenced to exile by the new regime. With no manner to leave the city and faced with the certainty of death by exposure, the exiles have congregated at the Shore. Kyra says that dissenters and representatives of the New Kelvin refugees have been rounded up and put in the prisons of the Ministry of Truth. Among them is Pretorius the Orator, a charismatic outspoke opponent of the Dragon Coast Alliance. The people will follow Pretorius, if he is still alive. The paladin of Torm instructs her to gather all survivors, for within the hour they will find a new home away from this disaster.

Maintaining the disguise the group winds its way up the cliff face to the north gate of the city, the Water Gate. Numerous guards run across the parapets; war is set to begin as an army has gathered outside the West Gate and Mulsantir’s Gate to lay siege to the city. It is the forces of the Circle of Holundi. Sentalial bypasses the two rear guards with intimidation and bravado, and the group enters the city. Inside they observe the massive deterioration of the Dragon Coast’s most famous city. The docks are annihilated, the warehouse district is all but vacant, and all of the city’s activities are focused on the assault. Using Kyra’s information the group moves to the warehouse owned by House Urdo. Moving to the interior they find able bodied men rounded up in pens as slaves under sword of a platoon of Reg Guard troops. Sentalial has had enough and engages the guards. The rest follow suit and the slavers are killed.

With the guidance of Trizoon’s word, the freed men mobilize under one Merisio, who then speaks of the Ministry of Truth. It has been relocated to the Tower, the five-story structure at the center of the city adjacent to the marketplace. The slaves number about 150 and identify the warehouse of House Cormaeril as another location where the sickly slaves have been rounded up. The liberation is quick and instructions are handed out; they must ready themselves to vacate the city via the Water Gate, where a portal awaits to take them far away from this hell hole. Remaining in disguise the group leaves the motivated slaves for the Tower. The city is under attack, the cause that the interior guard is disoriented and frantic. The five Black Guards realize their superior ranks and move rapidly towards the Tower.

On the approach they observe several platoons vacate the Tower. More disturbing is the drawn and quartered human, the remains atop pikes surrounding the Tower. Trizoon identifies the remains as interim Croamarkh Durgar, paladin of Tyr, most likely displaced by the Dragon Coast Alliance and forces of Mystenaculis. Passing through the portcullis they find the open level in complete disarray; a receiving guard moves papers frantically across his desk and a platoon of Red Guard stand at the rear, defending a stair case leading up. Lieutenant Rizzi questions why they are at the Tower. His face goes crooked when Sentalial issues a prayer to Torm asking for his god’s blessings.

Sgt. Rizzi lowers the portcullis and shouts the alarm. Sergeant Rodney leaps from his post and charges. The Red Guard platoon splits to flank the imposters. The battle is violent as the party splits to deal with the multiple fronts. Sentalial and Trizoon duel on one side while Alyssic and Aramir fight the law on the other. Forkbeard throws caution to the wind, happy to battle the living. The dwarf stone lord challenges the head guard Rizzi, but is on the receiving end of crippling blows. Blows exchange as blades find both shields and flesh. Alyssic ruins Sgt. Rodney and the majority of the Reg Guard falls to the blade. Rizzi retreats, pulling the battle towards the stairs heading down. The desperately bleeding Forkbeard gives chase unwilling to let his target escape. But the man lands a lucky strike, dropping the dward to the flagstone floor. The rest of the group surrounds the enemy and ends him. Alyssic is quick to administer healing, sending the dwarf into a resurgence. With the office level silent, the Defenders of the Dragon Coast face two flights of stairs, one heading up and one heading down.

Encounters: two Red Guards of the Water Gate, five Red Guards of the warehouse of House Urdo, eight Red Guards of the Tower, Sgt. Rodney, Lt. Rizzi
Achievements: planted the portal seed, discovered the truth of the refugees of New Kelvin, bypassed the guards of the Water Gate, liberated the refugee slaves, penetrated the Tower, and destroyed the structure’s guard platoon.

Skarwall Keep – The Dead and Death of

Characters: Alyssic, Aramir, Forkbeard, Lazbin, Roywyn, Sentalial, Trebbor
NPCs: None
Synopsis: With the remains of the umbral dragon scattered across the lake of ice, the group hurries across the causeway and reenter the keep of the dead. Aramir ghost steps to the portcullis mechanism and raises the barrier. Parting the double doors just beyond, the group is witness to the results of a recent battle as bodies lay strewn across the broad chamber. With many in their dying positions, the corpses indicate this vicious battle was fought less than a day ago. As the party investigates the remains, a massive cluster of bodies emerges from a corner. All of the heads of the collective shriek in eternal pain as the sonic screams bathe the adenturers in pain. As the collective uses its arms and legs to reposition itself, the group is quick to respond, flanking the aberration and destroying it.

Ahead in the next room, both Lazbin and Aramir detect the faint sounds of battle. The group breaches the door of the adjacent chamber to find the resting place of an ancient dwarf warrior surrounded by rusted weapons, decaying armor and skeletal remains. Mere seconds pass as the shadows begin to coalesce to an overwhelming crescendo of the sounds of battle. So intense is the sound, their will is stripped bare. A shadowy humanoid lurches from the body of the fallen dwarf warrior, bearing down on Forkbeard all the while screaming for someone or something named Serithial. Overwhelmed and stretched thin, the group withdrawals to the previous room. Lazbin develops an attack strategy of striking the undead from a safe vantage point, surmising that the entity is bound to the singular room. The risk pays off as the combined range attacks whittle the wraith down to size, and ultimately destroy the haunting shadow.

Realing from the draining attacks, the group argues pursuing the Firehill Runestones versus withdrawing to live one more day. Alyssic offers her support, but only after her goals in Westgate have been achieved. Returning to the causeway gatehouse, Lazbin is true to his word and returns the cleric to Threshold. As snow begins to fall and the deadly winter strikes the Orsraund Mountains, Forkbeard and Trebbor remain stoic, fortifying themselves in the structure to await extradition. Morning comes along with Lazbin, who returns to Threshold with another spell. Buried under snow, Skarwall Keep will have to keep.

Encounters: corpse orgy, allip vortex haunt, dread wraith
Achievements: found and destroyed two more guardians, retreated to Threshold alive to tell the tale.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Moonbow’s Closed Door

  • Characters: Dak, Hlinthi, Marlet, Trizoon, V.L.
  • NPCs: Galt Pendle, Julbin Cometstrike, Aramus Moonbow, Quint the Navigator, Sol of Dweomerheart
  • Synopsis: Presenting Rordic’s lost seed to Julbin Cometstrike the group prepares for the next leg of the adventure. The guild master of the Naturalists says that Alyssic heard Trizoon’s songs detailing the ancient battlefield of Geron, a hamlet she once passed in her travels. In Geron resides an angel named Aramus Moonbow who is bound to the barren field. On a previous adventure guild members defeated the evil surface guardians and spoke with the “Angel of Geron”. Moonbow had necessitated that they return with a follower of Heironeous. Because of Alyssic’s focus on Westgate, she has passed along the task of representing her god to Galt Pendle, the ex-squire of the Gold Knight and paladin of Heironeous. Wielding the long sword Holy Avenger, Galt promises to lead the group to victory and discover the mystery of Moonbow. But time is of the essence as a major war threatens to shatter the Dragon Coast. Julbin must work quickly with the reestablished Guilid of the Naturalists which has added Maralea Darkwood to its ranks. In order to expedite their travels, Julbin summons Quint the Navigator from the nearby city of Reddansyr. The trip will take most of the following day, but Julbin says that he can use Dak’s latent sorcerer skills to retrieve them once their mission is complete. The following morning finds the group gathered amidst the frozen marketplace. The winter season is worsening. Raxel the Rancher is seen distributing fresh food with the help of Kirken Trumpetnose to the beleagured citizens of Threshold. The Beast Tamers have put the portal to Delzimmer into immediate use for long needed supplies and resources. Quint arrives and has his gnome first mates escort the group, now outfitted with heavy furs for the expedition. The flight is long, taking most of the day, but the trip is revealing. Along the way, masses of troops prepare for battle, massive sections of the forest are destroyed rumored to be done at the hands of a powerful blighter, and a massive storm hovers in place over the Orsraun Mountains. Heavy snowfall is unavoidable. Another troubling sight is the construction of an ice wall on the edge of the ravine by a construction crew consisting of a frost giant protecting huge slugs excreting the icy slush shaped to form the wall. An additional crew works further away and the ice wall is estimated to be some 200 feet in height already. Quint has flown these parts many times and this is the first time he has seen this activity. Landing in the ancient battlefield, the group reconnects with the angel Aramus Moonbow. The angel has been bound to the Material Plane by devils, tortured to remain in place for almost a ten-year. He stands before the entrance to a crypt of Heironeous, long since overrun with devils and others. After his initial confinement, the crypt itself has remained silent for years. But contained within is the locked portal to the celestial plane Dweomerheart, the only of its kind. His kind has been barred from entering the Material Plane since his imprisonment. Moonbow suggests that this plan of the devils was not limited to Dweomerheart, but all of the good planes. Moonbow cannot be freed until his warden is destroyed. If the group can destroy the warden, it would shatter his binds and open the portal to Dweomerheart, allowing angels to return to the Material Plane and bring war against the devils. Galt Pendle is brazen and leads the party into the crypt below. Descending an abandoned stairwell some 80’ beneath the surface the party finds the vandalized Heironeous’ Hall of Heroes. Just beyond is the Great Hall of Heironeous, a massive chamber desecrated almost beyond recognition. Two golem sentinels stand ready for the entruders, attacking immediately by spewing foul blood-colored spray upon anyone within reach. They are quickly and resoundly defeated. Adorned on their faceless heads are runes representing the drow goddess Kiaransalee, the Lady of the Dead. A massive shaft allows the group access to the tomb below the great hall. Bypassing three sealed tomb doors, the group moves through the Arch of Heironeous, entering the Chamber of Heroes Rest, where an altar to Heironeous has been defecated upon enough to almost bury it completely. Individual burial chambers have been violated, the sarcaphogii defiled and the skeletal remains despoiled. Below the Platform of the Heroes Rest is a pool of slick liquid with a phosphorescence glow. Marlet and V.L. are first to see Moonbow’s warden, a towering devil black as night emerging from beneath the pool’s surface. The warriors charge to battle but find the creature’s power overwhelming, its fear a palpable weapon in and of itself. Hlinithi revives injured companions as Marlet blasts the devil from afar. Dak tumbles away from the warden only to wade back into the madness after receiving blessings from Garl Glittergold’s servant. V.L. tries desparately to battle the winged beast but its might is overbearing and the elven warrior dies heroically. Dak is next to fall, mortally wounded, and in a critical moment, Galt slips upon the pool’s edge, spinning to the stone tiled floor, knocking himself dazed and losing his helmet in the process. Trizoon stands alone and is battered for it. But as the party is on its last legs, so is the devil. Hlinthi calls upon his god once again reviving the almost lost Dak. And it is the avenging Dak that destroys the devil with a crushing blow, sending it crashing into the depths of the glowing pool. Massive light erupts as the beast breaks apart, revealing a hidden portal within its own body. The devil is turned inside out as it sinks to the bottom of the pool. Only seconds later does the liquid begin to spiral out of existence, leaving an open portal to a land of beauty and wonder. Vigilant angels stand guard outside, just as stunned as the party that the path to the Material Plane has been restored. The angel sentries are lead by Sol, a towering angel that praises the bravery of the group and blesses them for opening the path of angels back to the Material Plane. Moonbow appears before the group as well, as his infernal chains dissipate to floating debris and ash. The shock of events subsides and Hlinthi and Dak ask Sol if there is anything to be done for their fallen comrade. V.L. stands at the gates of a city absent of color, seeped in shades of gray. Mysteriously devoid of souls, the barren city shows almost no signs of afterlife. It is almost as if V.L.’s spirit is the first to reach the gates for some time. But a guiding hand retrieves the warrior’s soul, bringing the elf warrior back to the Heironeous’ Crypt on the Material Plane. The massive angel grants their wish, retrieving V.L. from the City of the Dead. The revived elf celebrates with his friends in their hard fought victory. Now they must return word of their accomplishments back to the Guild of Naturalists.
  • Encounters: two rogue eidolons, a Malebranche devil
  • Achievements: witnessed the destruction of parts of Gulthmere Forest by a blighter, discovered the secret construction of an ice wall on the outskirts of the Orsraun Mountains, through the representative of Heironeous learned of the plight of the angels of Dweomerheart and Moonbow’s imprisonment, infiltrated the desecrated tomb of Heironeous’ warriors, destroyed the guardians of the devils, and opened the pathway to the celestial plane Dweomerheart.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Fall of the Black Legion

  • Characters: Cromwell, Dorian the Shadowseeker, Gallipolas, Karne, Krullix, Jebeddo, Pardonei, Vindicus, X-Requinn
  • NPCs: Vall, Zedrick Neely
  • Synopsis: The dawn of the third day breaks and war erupts south of the River Reddan. Across from Reddansyr the united armies converge on the Black Legion. Consisting of the Army of Nature’s Wrath, the Dark Lancers of Assam, the surviving elves of Laurel Leaf Woods, and the Purple Knights of Cormyr, the united front crushes the forces of the Black Legion, but not without a toll. Huge swaths of the armies are cut down. But victory is had as the battlefields are cleared of enemies and virtuous warriors are laid to rest. The final confrontation is dawning as Zedrick Neely presents his case to exterminate Mystenaculis. The evil lords of Westgate have consolidated their might to within the Ministry of Defense, an occupied castle within the walls of Westgate. Great magics protect them, but Zedrick’s strategy for victory involves using a small invading force to infiltrate the Ministry and destroy Mystenaculis. His group will attack while the Black Guard is attacked from a massive invading force. Control of the city will rely upon breaching the walls, killing the occupying forces, and finally destroying those within the Ministry of Defense. Despite his reservations Gallipolas forms the plan to use obscuring mist and gaseous forms to sneak into the fortified keep. Knowing the layout of the castle, Zedrick can guide the group to the interior and attack their enemies from within. Zedrick Neely accepts the plan and puts it into action. The infiltration is successful as the group disguises itself as a gaseous cloud and seeps through the Ministry of Defense. At one point the monk known as Vall is detected walking unimpeded within the confines of the keep. He has betrayed them. Or the reach of the dopplegangers is far. They are lead past a dwarf blacksmith who is furiously forging arms and armor and down a darkened stair. In a vast chamber they find worshiping acolytes receiving blessing from a cloaked figure reeking of evil. This is Mystenaculis. He has taken form on the Material Plane. Four iron golems stand as sentries atop a massive platform enveloped by the darkness from below. The dimensions of the room are unknown as the ceremony is almost concluded. Seven mirror gates stand at the back of the platform as the first acolyte leaves the ceremony and enters the first gate. The group seeps into position to surprise the enemy as the second acolyte leaves through the second gate. Dorian summons massive black tentacles through the ground that grab the remaining followers of Mystenaculis. Floating onto the platform the Defenders appear from within the mist and attack. The platform is immediately separated by a wall of thorns set aflame by a massive fireball. Jebeddo smiles as the plan unfolds. Pardonei summons bolts of lightening to blast both the acolytes and the golems. Unaffected by any of the spells, Mystenaculis casts a spell that forms a prismatic wall in front of him. Each of the minions is targeted as Cromwell, Karne and Krullix receive blessings from Mystra’s follower X-Requinn. The battle plan unfolds as the acolytes are killed and the first iron golem falls. Mystenaculis’ protection is obliterated from the series of spells cast by the Defenders, exposing the fallen Black Bard of Myth Drannor. This battle will be one for the history tomes.
  • Encounters: four iron golems, seven acolytes of Mystenaculis, five Black Guards, Mystenaculis
  • Achievements: infiltrated the Ministry of Defense within Westgate, and located and engaged Mystenaculis and his followers.

Skarwall Keep – Extraction and the Return

  • Characters: Alyssic, Aramir, Forkbeard, Henzio, Lazbin, Roywyn, Sentalial, They Call Him Carn, Trebbor
  • NPCs: Alimae
  • Synopsis: Lazbin’s newly rescued ally is persistent in leading them to thwart the dragon of Skarwall. Promising to guide them to treasure and glory, the halfling Alimae continues to press them towards defeating the beast and rescuing the keep from the tangled web of undeath. Sentalial is overwhelmed when attempting to detect evil as the persistent nature of the castle almost blinds him. But his senses are not dulled as he intuits that the halfling is lying. Alimae defends herself as being a prisoner of a witch but the party’s aggression reveals the true nature of their “ally”. The halfling polymorphs into her true nature, that of a sickening hag. Having not let their guard down, the party is ready for the betrayal. The axes and swords fly as the hag attempts to run, fleeing to a nearby room. Lazbin is quick to action and paralyzes her. Lurching to the opened door is a skeletal guardian bent on killing the intruders. But the massive size of the skeleton proves its undoing as the battle axe falters and it is destroyed. The hag is first knocked unconscious under Aramir’s sapping blow, but Lazbin is having none of it and sunders the hag to bits with an easily placed scorching ray to the mouth. The group quickly works its way back to the causeway of the keep and flees towards the dilapidated guard towers. Midway across the bridge their movement is detected and numerous gargoyles emerge from their sentry positions. Four large creatures land on the bridge at the awaiting party and are dismantled quickly. But before their demise the harsh calls of the beasts have awoken a much greater challenge. From within the bowels of Skarwall a massive black dragon erupts to the sky to detect the trespassers. The Defenders run. Gathering at the barbican the group teleports to Threshold. Limping through the foyer of the guild hall of the Adventurers’ Guild of Threshold, the party is desparate for healing. A reluctant Hlinthi and a nervous X-Requinn are able to restore Sentalials visage and Henzio’s and Aramir’s health. Recognizing the value of a cleric, the Defenders recruit Alyssic, the Ordained Shining Blade Champion of Heironeous to cause. But her assistance comes with limitations; she must return by the end of the following day. Her causes lie elsewhere. The following morning the group stumbles upon Roywyn Dawdle, the beautiful bard of Westgate who joins the expedition. Lazbin returns the party to just outside the causeway, ready to return to Skarwall Keep. But the watchers are waiting and ready, as numerous gargoyles alert the black dragon once again. The group decides to take a defensive stand in the barbican. Hovering outside the huge dragon looses its strength-draining breath on the party. Again Lazbin empowers his allies with the ability of flight and the Defenders face their enemy head-on. Surrounded on all sides the dragon’s claws and maw shred the party members, but it is Forkbeard’s axes and Alyssic’s swords that find their true destinations beneath the beast’s hide. As the dragon releases its last gasp, a ghostly chain appears stretching from the within the keep all the way to the dragon’s heart. It snaps and vanishes into the incorporal. The critical strikes end the dragon’s reign and send crashing to the frozen lake below.
  • Encounters: night hag, skeletal minotaur guardian, four gargoyle brutes, umbral dragon
  • Achievements: uncovered the deceit of the night hag, escaped from Skarwall Keep, gathered valuable allies for the return trip, and destroyed one of the spirit anchors of the chained spirit.