Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Journey into the Glacier of the Jarl

Characters: Hlinthi, Pardonei, Softfoot, Teldowen, Zamtul

NPCs: Ost Untomoinen

Synopsis: The journey to the suspected location of the glacier begins immediately. Ost proved to be an excellent guide, outfitting the adventurers with extreme cold weather gear. While trudging through the building snow, the group is ambushed by a trio of beasts that destroy three of their mounts. Teldowen recognizes the creatures as extraplanar, not of this plane, let alone this region. The battle is fierce but quick. All damage is dismissed as Pardonei summons new mounts and the trek continues.

They reach what can only be the suspected glacier. Again its properties are recognized as being of the Plane of Elemental Air. The massive cracked glacier blends perfectly with the surrounding base of the mountain. Finding the singular egress the party enters and is quickly checked by a platoon of pale blue dwarfs speaking a bizarre language that only the sorceress Pardonei can understand. Using her comeliness she convinces the leader that a greater toll will be provided by following the map she alone possesses. The con is enough as the leader escorts the group to a holding cell.

Under guard the group surprises the remaining four frost dwarf guardians and dispatches them. The choice is decided to follow the path of the leader who left to seek the words of the Jarl, the master of the glacier. The steps of the dwarf are nigh untraceable as the group wonders through the glacier, passing through the ice and stone walls that are capped by rolling banks of fog about a hundred feet up. With the disorienting pathway diverging at multiple points, the adventurers finally find themselves in a massive void populated by gargantuan crystalline trees. This realm of the Jarl grows more bizarre with each step.

Encounters: three greater barghests, ten frost dwarfs, the frost dwarf herald, four frost dwarf guardians.

Achievements: reached the ice glacier, convinced the herald of the Jarl to allow them access, and set about the glacier web to search for the missing adventurers of Redcliff.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Missing Vernal Key of Redcliff

Characters: Hlinthi, Pardonei, Softfoot, Teldowen, Zamtul

NPCs: Mayor Andalor, The Shaman Margool, Ost Untomoinen, Ilda Seppatar

Synopsis: Following the cryptic ramblings of the shaman Margool, the adventurers use magic to traverse the dire wintry lands to the small town of Redcliff. Their arrival coincides with the mayor Andalor presiding over the very troubled townfolk at the Inclusive Hall, the local gathering site typically reserved for worship. Andalor is entirely relieved when Zamtul arrives with several new faces. The mayor of Redcliff pulls them aside to detail the theft of the town’s only protection against the harsh winter, the Vernal Key. This mystical artifact is the only thing keeping the town alive, and now that it is missing, the magical properties that repeled the encroaching winter are gone as well. Redcliff is going to be swallowed by morning.

Andalor presents the facts as he knows them. Several days prior, a stranger came to Redcliff proclaiming treasure awaited those brave enough to enter the mysterious ice glacier that appeared recently on the farside of the mountain abutting Redcliff. This hint of wealth enticed a charismatic adventurer named Geppa to gather her band of merry men to journey to the glacier and explore it. Along with Geppa went Arel, Eron, Tech, and Ulric. When they did not return there was a small hush across the townfolk. The next morning, the Vernal Key was gone. The mayor is patient with the details, describing the artifact and the few town elders that new of the full-day ritual needed to excise the protection magicks. Only he, Ilda Seppatar, Ost Untamoinen, and Ilmanu Luuko knew of the Vernal Key.

The group decides to visit Ost at his Deerstalkers’ Lodge, where nearly ever woodland creature was stuffed and mounted on the wall. Ost welcomed the party as the establishment was devoid of outsiders, typically the wealthy nobles of Westgate that were interested in a good hunt. The oppressive winter season, not to mention the corruption of Westgate, had completely obliterated his business. Over a hot meal Ost describes the location of the glacier and offers to take them to the site. But after the rumors of Geppa’s demise, he refuses to go beyond the entry. The innkeeper is extremely hospitable and drafts a quick sketch of landmarks to target their path.

The group is adamant about visiting Ilda, the current caretaker of the Vernal Key. Ever since its disappearance she has shuttered herself inside the Stone Shrine, an intimate setting for isolated worship of numerous deities. At the shrine, Ilda is convinced to host the group along with Ost. Her mood is broken when the hastily drafted map is shown to the dwarf. She chuckles at the sketch, implying that her cartographer skills were applied to Geppa’s map. Ilda then mentions that Geppa’s secret beau is Aric they shy man who hides behind his puppets at the marketplace. The mere mention of Aric shocks Ost, as the innkeeper recalls sharing some ales with the man the night prior. Ilda leeps at the half-elf, declaring him a fool for spilling the secrets of the town elders. Perhaps Ost’s weakness for the spirits has grown during this season’s downturn in business.

Ost’s guilt rises when the party goes to leave and the door is jammed from the snow drift that wasn’t there several minutes ago. The weather is going to bury Redcliff by morning. With no time to waste the party treks to the Deerstalkers’ Lodge and prepares for the long night ahead of them. If they are to find the Vernal Key, the must find Aric the puppeteer. To find him, they will have to enter the glacier and seek the truth of Geppa and her missing band.

Encounters: Redcliff townhall meeting, speaking with the mayor Andalor, the innkeeper Ost, and the high priestess Ilda

Achievements: traveled to Redcliff through the harsh winter storm, investigated the mystery of the stolen Vernal Key, and determined the possible culprit.

The Evils of Doctor Duvalis and Queen Andiasin

Characters: Barl Bloodbones, Belton Stoutshield, Domollo Blue, JadeBlade, Vi’Helm

NPCs: Magoovial Hammerstriker, Doctor Duvalis, Queen Andiasin

Synopsis: Recovering from the smackdown delivered by the vampire Arkmeinos, the group dusts itself off and investigates the room and bodies. The man armed with cutlery and dressed in a heavy leather apron is identified as Jocylina’s lover Rolth. Numerous manic letters from the elf sorceress are found on his person. The prisoner of the vampire was definitely Jocylina’s stolen prize Ruan, the minstrel of the party at the Carowyn Manor.

Their defeat at the hands of Arkmeinos still lingers as the group explores the room. The tactics of the Physician’s Assistants reveal the mysterious green solution brewing in the massive culdrons. The room is facilitating the development of the Bloodveil disease. The manufactured virus was planted in the Teziiran population by those under Rolth’s direction. Domollo explores the upper catwalks once again and hears movement beyond one of the doors. With their presence already detected the group enters the room with expert tactics, but finds the one man behind it all. Surrounded by four of his minions, Doctor Duvalis stands secure behind his men, slowly clapping at the group’s detective skills.

Domollo questions the man on his morality, and is confounded by Duvalis’ bravado and lack of conscience. The man who engineered the deaths of hundreds, maybe thousands, claims promised gold was motive enough. The revelation sparks the group to action as JadeBlade focuses in on the doctor and charges past the minions. Again, combat spills throughout the room as the melee pivots in between massive glass chambers housing mysterious creatures. The four Physician’s Assistants are tested, but each remains beholden to the doctor. It is a truly vicious blast from JadeBlade’s dwarven war axe that stuns Duvalis. With his dying breath the evil man whispers, “What good is a reward if you’re not around to use it.” The words a buried beneath the doctor’s lifeless form.

The Physician’s Assistants are left alone, but a mysterious female voice beckons them to try for victory. One of the men unsuccessfully attempts to bash one of the glass chambers but cannot break it. The hideous aberration contained within twitches with life, all but screaming for its freedom. The creature’s prison holds and the last of the doctor’s followers is killed. The two double doors leading beyond are ajar, unable to contain the taunting voice coming from within. Domollo surmises that the owner is the mysterious Queen Andiasin, only spoken of by the likes of the Gray Maidens and followers of Duvalis. Perhaps it is Eliosa Arabasi’s alter ego, for her justice has yet to be served.

Before proceeding to the hidden voice’s location, Magoovial stops the group. As his eyes turn white, the healing energies wash over the investigators. It is Torm’s will that baptizes them with new energy and reinvigored life. No longer are they suffering from wounds; spells have returned to their minds, and mystic energies have filled their souls. After but a moment, Magoovial collapses. He lives but is incapacitated. The miracle stands as a testament to Torm’s reach. They have received the god-touch.

The lone figure in the room dominates half of the group, forcing them to pay homage for being in her presence. But the defiant Vi’Helm restores the will of the oppressed and the battle rages. Surrounded in obfuscating mist, Queen Andiasin finds the enlarged target that is Barl Bloodbones and buries her scythe deep in the Underdark dwarf. The two precise strikes prove deadly and Barl dies. From Vi’Helm’s divine vision, she senses her companion’s life force vanish. Domollo’s efforts to save the dwarf are fruitless. JadeBlade’s rage devours the dwarf as he races around the room attempting to find the flying queen.

Vi’Helm focuses her mind and disperses the mist. Finding her target she casts a spell allowing the raging JadeBlade the gift of flight. Now the queen cannot hide in the air. From beyond the Material Plane the god-touched Barl Bloodbones is met by the blessed Torm. The deity challenges the deep dwarf. As is the choice of all who parish, Barl is given the ability to return. But if he is to again walk the Material Plan, it must be as an avenger for the god. Barl promises to execute all who stand against Torm, and awakens in the midst of battle against Queen Andiasin.

The return of their fallen comrade is enough to flood the room with the morale of the adventurers. Barl stands to flank the flying witch with JadeBlade and through their combined blades, and the spells of Vi’Helm and Belton, Andiasin becomes the queen of nothing. Her body crashes to the ground, spilling the central fountain’s water, thus ending her reign of terror. Now the group has everything they need to indict the villains behind the Bloodveil. If only they could find the cure.

Encounters: four Physician’s Assistants, Doctor Duvalis, Queen Andiasin

Achievements: discovered the manufacturing facility of the Bloodveil, defeated Doctor Duvalis and his Physician’s Assistants, touched by the god Torm, and killed the witch Queen Andiasin.

The Fall of Rolth and the Truth of the Minstrel Ruan

Characters: Barl Bloodbones, Belton Stoutshield, Domollo Blue, JadeBlade, Vi’Helm

NPCs: Magoovial Hammerstriker, Ruan, Rolth, Arkmeinos

Synopsis: War erupts in the underground laboratory between the adventurers and the practitioners of evil. JadeBlade looses his rage on the awaiting priests of Tylona and Physcian’s Assistants. The group pours into the room and divides the targets. One after another falls to the blades as their leader sparks lightening from within to scorch the attackers. The advancement is slow at first, but JadeBlade and Magoovial move up to the catwalks and engage the assistants in elevated positions. Barl sends his attacker to the floor, cut down from his great sword, and pulls himself up to the suspensed walkways. As Belton’s spells cripple the priests, Vi’Helm rushes to his allies healing gaping wounds instantly.

The assault is overwhelming. Barl is the first to reach the leader and ends the man. JadeBlade and Magoovial wipe up the rest of the goons and Domollo quickly scouts the doors adjacent to the sickening room. The first door he reaches results in unintended success. Inside the room a pale man stands over another that is strapped to a table, clearly against his will. A harp lies in the corner. Domollo pieces the clues together. The man on the table is Ruan, the minstrel from the noble party at the Carowyn Manor. The crazed Jocylina wrote of her lover Rolth and her delivery of the harper to his hands.

Domollo draws his weapon, but the pale man catches his eyes. He is undistressed at Domollo’s intrusion as if a fly had entered his kitchen. Looking over the man closely, Domollo is suspect especially coming from the blood bath. As the factotum moves toward the imprisoned Ruan, the man warns him that he is outclassed and should vacate the room immediately. Domollo remembers his pact to find Ruan, but as the man speaks, Domollo spots the telltale signs. The man is a vampire. Before he can stop himself Domollo screams for the others. Shaking his head he motions for the dismissal. He introduces himself as Arkmeinos and denies the request to free Ruan. The minstrel has a unique quality and Arkmeinos’ master wants Ruan for himself.

Domollo cannot stop JadeBlade who rushes into the room and charges the vampire. The attack is wild and rage-fueled, and massively off-target. Arkmeinos concentrates on the dwarf and blasts him. The battle is joined by Barl, who immediately falls under the dominating gaze of the vampire, forced to defend the one thing he wants to kill. Domollo works against the deep dwarf as the others arrive. JadeBlade is still undeterred, swinging his axe for the vampire’s throat. The first swing is a violent miss, but the return blow lands true and slashes him. The moment he strikes the target, JadeBlade’s rage is exercised and transferred to the vampire. Now Arkmeinos’ anger is beyond suppression.

Domollo can only look on with stunned eyes as his sword stroke that would surely injure a normal man misses. The vampire looks at the dwarf as his next target, who has moved well beyond shear annoyance. His blow drops JadeBlade to the ground. Watching his group disintegrate, Domollo brokers a cease-fire. The group retreats as Vi’Helm heals JadeBlade from the brink of death. Ruan’s freedom is sacrificed for the party’s survival, but Arkmeinos sends both Vi’Helm and Domollo sailing through the air before mentally slamming the door shut. Ruan is lost to his fate.

Encounters: four Physician’s Assistants, six of priests of Tylona, Rolth the Mortician, the vampire Arkmeinos

Achievements: defeated Rolth the Mortician and his personal guards, discovered the fate of Ruan and his special ability to repel the Bloodveil disease, survived the vampire Arkmeinos, and learned of his servitude to his master.

Journey to Suzail

Characters: Brother Grimes, Hadith, Teldowen, Vall, Wicasa

NPCs: Vaushus Green

Synopsis: Vall gathers trust-worthy allies to journey to the grand city of Suzail in the lands of Cormyr to escape the winter-covered lands of the Dragon Coast. Through Julbin’s methods they travel through a magical portal to arrive at the bustling city. Although Cormyr is experiencing a cold winter, the embrace isn’t near the grasp it has on the Dragon Coast. Moving through the marketplace, the party experiences all that is Suzail. Meat is purchased, inns and taverns are patronized, and ales are sampled. They meet the man called Brother Grimes, follower of the Laughing Rogue, who is petitioned by Wicasa’s alter ego Witterrup to join them.

At the Hidden Lady, the female dwarf barkeep Vaushus Green relates a tale of a grief-stricken abode outside of the city. With the only other prospect being to return to Threshold, the group decides to investigate the house. A cozy abode is quiet, but not unoccupied. In the kitchen a red-haired female warrior stands with two hill giants and attacks the group. Responding to the commands of the fighter, the giants obey and identify their leader as Jenna. The tight confines of the room hinder the movement of the giants, and the experienced adventurers defeat the obvious intruders.

Searching the lower level, the group finds an underground access point to a strange water source. Several dead corpses are identified as those of skum, water-dwelling creatures typically subservient to a greater master. Witterrup relates some of the Cormyrean laws that rule the land, and that this minor expedition may result in the attraction of the law. The unknown element of the adventure is enough for the party to extract themselves from the house and return to the Hidden Lady. Their experiences are relayed to Vaushus who thanks them for their knowledge and offers a meal on the house. Suzail’s hospitality truly overshadows the status of Threshold, but the group returns via Julbin’s magic portal all the wiser.

Encounters: two hill giants, female warrior

Achievements: used the Guild of the Naturalists’ mirror gate to journey to Suzail, witnessed the disparity in weather between Cormyr and the Dragon Coast, investigated a mysterious abode and dispatched the trespassers.

The Black Bard Mystenaculis

Characters: Cromwell, Dorian the Shadowhunter, Gallipolas, Karne, Krullix, Jebeddo, Lazbin, Maulgrim, Pardonei, Rathgillian, Vindicus, X-Requinn

NPCs: Queen Eliasa, Vall, Zedrick Neely, Mystenaculis

Synopsis: The moment Mystenaculis’ prismatic wall is destroyed, the group attacks with the fury and gusto of an army. They must avenge the months of torment, torture, turmoil, and tribulations they have experienced since before the walls of Kelvin fell. Almost immediately, the power of Mystenaculis is felt when the lich king extracts the souls of Rathgillian and Cromwell into a gem of death. The blow is felt across the room as the group watches their mightiest fighters fall lifeless to the cold, stone floor.

Pardonei is pulled into the darkness beyond the temple’s floor and Gallipolas gives chase. Beyond their sight, the group can hear the druid’s force attack screeching horrors that can only be imagined. The remaining iron golems are slowed by lightening magic from Jebeddo and Dorian. The effect is enough to aid the front line who destroys the constructs. Lazbin and Vindicus focus on the evil entitiy, casting spell after spell with little to no effect.

The battle turns when Zedrick Neely releases the portal to his hidden dimension once again. From inside the queen elf Eliasa of the Lorel Leaf Woods emerges along with the white armored paladin Maulgrim. Immediately her mysterious song of ancient dialect fills the massive chamber assaulting Mystenaculis. The effect is overpowering and the group is able to effectively attack the Black Bard. In a glorious united strike, the adventurers destroy Mystenaculis but as his venerated body implodes a disturbing cloud floats into the blackness surrounding the shrine.

As sounds of bones and hyperextended ligaments spew from the darkness, the group only has seconds to recover. Healing is administered and spells temporarily boost the group’s strength. The sounds of impending doom grow louder as the party stands in complete defiance. But as a monstrosity emerges from the unnatural void, a wave a fear drowns the group, sending several members running for their lives in shear panic. Hovering in front of them is a massive dragon skeleton, its rotting scales somehow dangling from its decaying carcass. Mystenaculis lives!

The group’s effort just to remain in the dracolich’s presence takes all of their collective focus. The dragon’s crooked teeth form a wicked smile and from within its rotting belly, the telltale sounds of acid boil to its maw. Spewing across the room, acid burns the remaining adventurers. But the lack of additional targets for the group hinders the dragon. It is the sole focus of all of their attacks, and after an exchange of blows, the dracolich is destroyed. This time Mystenaculis is completely and utterly annihilated. Without a phylactery or another body, his essence is forever gone.

With victory in hand, Zedrick Neely releases his men from the extradimensional space. The masked creepers of the shadows are too fluid and too many to count. Although the group has reservations about the follower of Mask assuming control Dorian assures them that the damage to Westgate has been done. For years to come the city will be tarnished by Mystenaculis’ actions. Many of its citizen parished under the harsh rule or were victims of the establishment in other ways. Zedrick Neely can have his dead city. The assaulting force of the Circle of Holundi is successful in defeating the Red Guards and Green Guards as they surrender to insurmountable odds. And as the Black Guards disappeared with the destruction of Mystenaculis. The battle against evil is over for this day. The blackest night is over, and the brightest day has begun. The lands of the Dragon Coast enter a heroic age.

Encounters: Mystenaculis, dracolich

Achievements: defeated Mystenaculis and the dracolich, freed Westgate from the rule of the Dragon Coast Alliance, and allowed the power vacuum to be filled by Zedrick Neely and the Night Masks.