ZEITGEIST: The Gears of Revolution Ormazd's Campaign Log





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    Ormazd's Campaign Log

    Howdy, all. I thought it might be fun to add to the collection of campaigns posted here, with our version. We have held pretty closely to the campaign as written and perhaps some will find it interesting to see how things were handled by my gaming group.

    It should be noted that we have had some player turn-over, and so the first several of these logs were written well after the fact (by me) to bring new characters up to speed on the history of the campaign. Other, later posts, were written by in-character by players, which I will identify as necessary. Finally, it's worth noting how often my players lose plot threads (e.g., The Dianoem, the letter to Katrina, etc.), as a guide to other DMs out there to perhaps find a way to play up their importance without over-doing it. Or, on the other hand, you could just let the players lose out on stuff, as I do, when they forget.

    In case you're interested, this whole thing, along with other campaign information can be found over at Obsidian Portal, at this link. (EDIT: This is the new campaign site on EpicWords.)

    Thanks for reading, and any advice or suggestions or questions are welcome.

    O
    Last edited by Ormazd; Monday, 14th November, 2011 at 07:02 PM.

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    In the Beginning ...

    Our group of heroes is contacted by Torrent and instructed to meet at midnight on New Year’s Eve at a small inn called the Poison Apple Pub. At this meeting, Torrent makes it clear that the Ragesian Army is not far from the western walls of Gate Pass and that it’s only a matter of time before they come charging through. No one has any illusions that the Gate Pass Guard can hold them off. The Ragesians, for their part, claim only to be searching for those who are responsible for the death of Drakus Coaltongue. It is clear, they claim, that the perpetrators must be wielders of powerful magicks, for how else could the immortal emperor have been slain? To that end, the Gate Pass City Council has sealed the gates of Gate Pass and begun rounding up all the wielders of arcane magick, ultimately to turn them over to the Ragesians as a sign of good faith. Torrent believes it is wishful thinking to hope that this abjection will keep the Ragesian Army from enveloping the city and is working with a group known as The Resistance in an effort to foil the Ragesian Army and to help users of magick to defend themselves.

    To that end, she implores the party to help her to retrieve a case of important military information (she thinks) that has been smuggled out of Ragos by a gnome named Rivereye Badgerface. Once the case has been secured, she says, they can work out a means of escape from the city, for she has arranged safe travel to Lyceum, a school of wizardry located on the southern peninsula of Dassen. While the group discusses possible escape plans, the meeting is interrupted by an ambush orchestrated by the Black Horse Mercenaries, hired as bounty hunters to subdue the arcane manipulators of the group and turn them over to the City Council. As the heroes rise as one to defend themselves from the bounty hunters, a forward probe of Ragesians assaults the city, testing its defenses with catapults and wyvern-riders who drop alchemical explosive devices on the wooden buildings, wreaking havoc and spreading carnage. Two battles quickly unfold, heroes versus bounty hunters in the common room of the Poison Apple Pub and wyvern-mounted soldiers versus griffon-riders in the skies above. During the fight, the Pub is struck by a bomb and is burnt to the ground, the heroes barely escaping and sending the Black Horse Mercenaries running. Kathor Danava, second-in-command of the mercenaries, is personally defeated but allowed to escape by the merciful heroes.

    Torrent urges haste and the heroes plunge into the chaos of the raging battle to reach the Gate Pass Depository, a bank of sorts, where they are scheduled to retrieve the important case from Rivereye Badgerface. It becomes clear shortly after meeting the gnome, however, that he has been replaced by an impostor who has no intention of sharing the case and who flees into the night. Rivereye himself is discovered, unconscious and hidden nearby, and is able to explain that an eladrin spy named Shealis, undercover as a student at Gabal’s School of Wizardry, has stolen the case and plans to use its contents for the advancement of the Shahalesti kingdom.

    The party internalizes this information and then repairs to a nearby temple of the Knights of the Aquiline Cross that is a safe house for The Resistance, but not before slaying a wounded Ragesian wyvern-rider who crashed into a humble home and slaughtered the family living within. At the safe house, they are introduced to Buron, a Resistance leader who shows them where they can rest and recharge.

    The party, at this point, consists of a half-orc warlord, named Lia, a halfling storm-sorcerer/priest of Kord, named Merrick, and a revenant-tiefling warlock, named Van. More members will join up in the upcoming days.

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    I've already been through too much s**t this morning over this case ...

    Over the next day and half, the party rests and learns that Shealis is a powerful wizard and spymaster of the eladrin in Shahalesti. Rivereye Badgerface heads out to track down a sorcerer named Feris who should be able to help the party to either defeat or detain Shealis long enough to extract the case from her clutches. While Rivereye is gone, the heroes discover that Gate Pass was significantly damaged by the initial Ragesian attack but that a sudden snowstorm should prevent any further incursions, at least for the time being. The party is called upon to track down and defeat a small cell of a Ragesia-funded terrorist group known as the White Wyrms, after which they learned of a plot against city councilman and extravagant merchant, Councilman Menash. Returning from this harrowing encounter, Buron informs the heroes that rumors have reached him that make it clear that Shealis has nearly completed an escape route, something called the Singing Chasm, from the besieged city and that any attempt to retrieve the case must be made now, before Rivereye returns with Feris, or all hope will be lost. The party doggedly treks to Gabal’s School and, with the help of a charming but disillusioned mage named Diogenes, they are able to convince Shealis to at least share the contents of the case with Lyceum, an arrangement that should be mutually beneficial in attempts to hold off the Ragesian aggression. Shealis is sufficiently impressed by the heroes’ honor and smooth tongues, that, after taking the party to her hideout in the eladrin ghetto, she hands the case over to the heroes, encouraging them to take the information to Lyceum and hoping that the more diverse minds there will be able to use and disseminate the information more effectively. To this end, she also assigns a novice knight of the Solei Palancis, named Quo-Varis [another Player Character], to accompany the party and guard the case.

    With the case in hand, the party and Torrent decide to take a warning to Councilman Menash and ask for his aid in finding escape from Gate Pass before the imminent invasion. Grateful for the warning, Menash supplies the party with garish and hideous, but serviceable, equipment and illicitly assigns the party to a mounted patrol of the Gate Pass Guard that is exiting the city. Before departing, however, he gives a strange package to the party and asks them to deliver it to Dougan Rambausen, a dwarf instructor at Lyceum. On their way out of town, the party once more handily defeats a team of Black Horse Mercenaries and are then approached by Rantle, a local ruffian/hero. He explains to the heroes that his sister, Katrina, has disappeared and asks them, should they discover her whereabouts, to deliver to her a sealed scroll-case. He then grins and departs into the night. Finally, just before they are able to leave the city, they encounter Feris robbing a local magic supply store. When confronted, he defends his actions, claiming that the Ragesian Scourge is coming for him and his fellow wielders of magick and that they deserve the means with which to defend themselves. Swayed by his passionate plea, the party leaves him to his theft and wish him luck in the coming travails. Finally, they pass through the gates of Gate Pass and leave the city walls behind, headed to Seaquen, the town where they will find Lyceum.

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    Wisdom is for the weak.

    While spending the night in an abandoned watch tower, Torrent reveals to the party of heroes that her plan to reach Lyceum in the city of Seaquen involves travel through the famed Fire Forest of Innenotdar, an unholy wood that has been subject to a mighty conflagration, burning unchecked for 40 years. Travel on this perilous path is sure to dissuade pursuit, she explains, and is the most direct shot south to the kingdom of Dassen, in which Seaquen lies. In order to survive the travel through the forest inferno, Torrent has a stash of several cooling draughts that, while not powerful enough to protect from direct flame, should stave off the effects of the heat while traveling through the woods. As long as they stay on the road, they should be able to make the day-long travel through the Fire Forest with little danger.

    The heroes agree to this risky plan but, setting off in the morning, are set upon once more by the Black Horse Mercenaries, led this time by both Renard Woodsman, their commander, and Kathor Danava. Once again, the party is able to fend off the bounty hunters, killing Woodsman in the process and capturing Danava. After agreeing to free him in exchange for information, Danava explains that the Ragesians had hired the Black Horse Mercenaries to recapture the case of intelligence and reveals the location of the Black Horse camp, which contains valuable loot. Once more, Kathor is allowed to live, to the chagrin of some in the party, who suspect that he will pop up again somewhere down the line.

    After further travel, the party encounters a dwarf construction site, where a new outpost and bridge over a great chasm are being constructed. Accused of being Ragesian spies, the party is captured and led to meet king Marben Diamondheart who acknowledges that the newly founded demesne of Fermat’s Pass is facing some trouble with disappearing supplies and faulty engineering in the hydraulics systems. If the party can find solutions for these issues, he would be forced to admit that they are not, in fact, spies and would happily release them to continue their journey. Unfortunately, though they give a valiant effort, the party’s investigations prove fruitless, and the heroes are sentenced to imprisonment. At the moment that they plot a daring escape, Fermat’s Pass is attacked from beneath by a horde of kobold raiders, and the party pitches in to protect the dwarves and their homes. After a long and bloody but victorious battle, the dwarf King Diamondheart is forced to admit that the heroes are not spies and sends them on their way.

    Soon, the Fire Forest of Innenotdar is in sight and the party is awestruck by the pyroclasm engulfing the forest and the half-mile wide field of ash that surrounds the horrid wood. On the edge of this field, a lone farmhouse sits, in which the party finds Crystin Ja-Nafeel and her aged father Haddin Ja-Laffa. Both wizards of some skill and Crystin blessed/cursed with visions of the future, the pair fear the advent of the Ragesian Scourge and ask to join the party on their trip through the blazing forest. The heroes agree to escort the wizards to Lyceum but are set upon before they can depart by an Inquisitor named Boreus and his troops. After a pitched battle, the party manages to defeat the Ragesians and sets out for the Fire Forest.

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    Into the Fire Forest

    The following session report was written in-character by the player of Merrick [halfling storm-sorcerer/priest of Kord]. He's a bit on the paranoid side.

    What kind of fool goes into the giant fire forest other than one escaping a greater evil? Left with few options we went into this mess at behest of Lia. Who turns out didn’t even stick around long enough to see us through it. [Lia's player moved to Boston the previous week.] I’m not sure what happened but after setting off into the fire forest we ran into our first burning semi undead monstrosities: Giant bats who were attacking some Halfling sized burning goblin creature. My party rushed right in without any thought and decided to help the fire goblin creature. We’re lucky we weren’t taken advantage of by this creature and at some point during the fighting Lia disappeared and we haven’t seen her since. She was probably a Ragesian spy. Not sure why she would have left without the case though. Probably not a very good spy…

    No one really says anything about Lia having gone back to Ragesia or her failure to bring the case with her. I sometimes wonder if they are spies too. Better not to mention that she left and just play along… Maybe I’ll mention it to the seemingly trustworthy undead warlock… Wait the most trustworthy person I’m with is an undead warlock… I’m screwed.

    It wasn’t long after that we ran into another Ragesian spy. This one didn’t even try to hide it. He openly described himself as a Ragesian “thief”. [A new PC, Reogar, a half-orc rogue.] Only reason I didn’t fry him right there is because the Warlock decided to let him come south with us. Maybe the Warlock is a spy too… Wait no he can’t be they would exterminate him… I don’t know maybe they make exceptions for good spies or something.

    So we’re trying to cross this bridge right? Why we’re trusting a bridge in this giant conflagration is beyond me but you know the saying “When in Gate Pass do as the Gatepassians do." What a stupid saying I shouldn’t have listened to my party. They are too trusting, hell they brought the evil mind controller [Haddin] and he is both a Ragesian spy and is going to give me whatever vile disease he has… Anyway the bridge is of course crumbling under our feet AND it’s haunted by two giant clouds of undead flaming bats. I remember seeing the bats come, I remember seeing our new half orc Ragesian spy run away from them. But then Black. When I woke up I had bites all over and little scorch marks. I hate bats… Apparently a shrub came to life and decided to help us during the fight. [Yet another new PC: Fern, a wilden druid.] Seems a nice enough little shrub and I’m pretty sure that shrubs can’t be Ragesian spies…. Or Can they? I’ll have to investigate to make sure.

    After that mess I needed to investigate the half orc Ragesian spy and this shrub creature thing. I tasted a leaf from the shrub and it was bitter but definitely not a disguise. I’m convinced it’s not a spy. The cave had pictograms describing this Razortooth Goblin tribe that lived here once and we found that a really grimy old journal and some other items that leads me to believe that the Eladrin were equipping the goblins. But for what purpose? I’ll hold onto this journal. Pretty sure the Eladrin are not all Ragesian spies… Hope so anyway. I was going to investigate the self-proclaimed Ragesian Spy but I fell asleep in the cave… it was so cool and comfortable.

    They had to drag me kicking and screaming from the cave back into the god forsaken fire forest and my wanting to stay proved to be the right call as we were attacked by hellhounds and a devil, named Kazyk. Probably because the Half Orc told them where we were but Van seems convinced it is because of the bone. I dropped it but see it sticking out of the Half Orc’s pack. Definitely a spy. We defeated the devil’s minions and he disappeared. I’m sure we will see him again. He missed a finger on his hand but made up for it by wearing it around his neck on a string. I hope that won’t be a fashion statement I’ll be expected to make in the future. It was probably bitten off by those dogs or maybe the firebats. I guess I’d carry my finger on my neck if it wasn’t attached to my hand anymore but I’d rather have it attached to my hand.. Definitely.

    You know for being a giant everburning-forest this giant conflagration seems to be a pretty happening place. We came across a half-dragon sitting in the middle of the path. Not hiding like a sane person would do just kind of hanging out in the middle of the road. Khadral or something equally inappropriate for a dragon. I wonder if he has a dragon’s horde to go along with the scales… Anyway he seemed like a good guy… err dragon thing. He wanted help with some ritual. I asked for a vote on the matter and these fools want to hang out in the fireforest for longer because this nice enough dragon thing thinks he has the magic to put an end to this mess yet he needs our help to collect Mushrooms.

    Priest and Sorcerer yes… Gardener no. But this is not a hill to die on. I’ll do what they want and save my capital on something that really matters. Still I kind of hope that the ritual isn’t successful. The forest will keep us protected from the greater part of the Ragesian host.

    So off we go into this cave; round up some fungus; and smash some giant mushroom heads. So we give the Dragonborn his fungus and he whisks us off to help him with this ritual, gets me trapped in some giant cursed tree trap and disappears like a coward down a hole. I was probably wrong. He probably IS a Ragesian spy.

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    Fire Forest (cont.)

    Written by Van, revenant/tiefling warlock:

    Khadral of Petross’s attempt to quell the insatiable flames failed spectacularly. Standing at the open shaft where below he lay unconscious or dead, I had but one choice. With nothing to tie a rope to, Torrent held it fast and I lowered myself into the cavern, only to make out gloomy, shuffling shapes in the darkness. It was more of the fungoids we had battled and fled from on Khadral’s doomed errand. The caves must stretch for miles beneath the whole forest.

    There was no time to waste. Quo-Varis and Fern leaped down to fend off the creatures as I tipped a healing draught to the wyrmchild’s scaly lips. Avandra served us well; it wasn’t too late. The others reft the repulsive fungoids with stalwart passion as Khadral came to his senses, and the room thundered and crackled with Merrick‘s spells. We ascended with haste, and returned to Khadral’s abode. I must admit it was a somewhat spectacular rescue.

    Khadral pledged to continue his work, even in the face of miserable defeat. We wished him luck and headed out. I admit I was distracted; in all of our encounters with the fungoids, we’d never seen any stricken by the curse of the Fire Forest. Is it their strange biology, or could they have a patron spirit that shields them? At that moment I wondered if we would ever find the cause of this affliction, or if it would continue to elude us.

    It would all become much clearer soon after—though I still can’t quite fit it to what I know.

    Following the path again, we hoped to escape Innenotdar soon. But nothing in this place is easy. The hotness is unbelievable; what I wouldn’t do for a cool Lycean ale. What I wouldn’t do — A proud descendant of Bael Turath shouldn’t notice this trivial heat, let alone be bothered or endangered by it. Oh, I am a wretched thing!

    The path was blocked, and we were beset by fiendish stags, with bodies composed purely of fire and ash. The all-consuming fire encroached as we battled. But in the end it seemed to be just a test of our abilities. A terrible visage, like that of a demon, appeared in the flames and spoke to us. We knew not of what it spoke, but it seemed to be the animating spirit of the forest. It informed us that we’d soon cross a river, which we would follow to a lake and then set the being free.

    None of us knew what to make of this. We were missing a piece of the puzzle which we found soon after: the journal of Bhurisrava. We found it in a blackened tower near the river, a sort of watchtower for a long-deserted elven settlement. In its final pages, Bhurisrava seemed to suggest that the fire forest was created when an elven hero named Anyariel tried to slay a terrible creature – a flaming stag – and the best she could do was pin it to the ground with her sword.

    In the center of the town there was a shrine, underneath a stone tree and in the middle of a fountain. Bhurisrava‘s journal had mentioned going there for more information, and we decided to follow in his footsteps (so many years later). However, dark forces had seemingly guessed our motive and assaulted us as we crossed the stone steps leading to the shrine. We prevailed, but it was a difficult fight. For Melora’s sake, how long had it been since we’d last rested?

    After gaining entry, we descended into the cool depths of the shrine, only to find our way blocked by an old eladrin who called himself Eteranth. He was a friend to our cause, and had much information to offer, but insisted we not continue into the shrine until we proved our honor with a task. Specifically, we had shown him the legionnaire’s badge that had once belonged to Torfendar of Kilraadel, and the old eladrin wished that his old friend’s bones were buried properly. I couldn’t believe it. Rest in Peace. Like anyone could possibly give a damn what happens to their bones. If only he knew! I swallowed my incredulity and we agreed to assist him in exchange for his help.

    We returned to the fungoid cave, with plans to sneak in and steal away the old elrad’s bones, but found that things had changed. The odd plant creatures had been slaughtered, and the cave had a new residence: vile goblins, stricken by the living death of the fire forest. How strange it was to see something so close to, and yet so different from, my own existence. Even though they writhed in eternal torment, I found I had little pity for these creatures. Leaping into the fray, we struck them down one by one, only to see them rise again, reinvigorated by the terrible flame. Plunging their corpses into the underground stream seemed to prevent the curse from taking hold again, and soon we had reclaimed the entrance to the cave. However, the skull of Torfendar had gone missing! It was suggested that the savage chieftain might have taken it as a trophy, and we proceeded deeper into the cave, where we were presented with a gruesome sight: Poor Khadral, strung up like a stuck pig, and about to be sacrificed!

    Not knowing how or why the wyrmchild had been brought here, we charged in, and found ourselves blocked by the goblins’ advance. It pains me to write it, but we failed him. I failed him. I was just reaching for Khadral when the goblin shaman plunged a dagger deep into his chest. I watched the life vanish from his eyes.

    And so the dark ritual was completed with a blinding flash, opening a dark portal, from whence a diabolic horror emerged. We battled the goblins and struck uselessly at the horror, when to our grim surprise, Khadral’s body erupted into flame and reanimated—upon his death, our poor friend had become infused with the abhorrent energy of the fire forest! A terrible fate, indeed.

    The situation was dire. Should we flee, or stay and fight, possibly to the last? On instinct I tried to push Khadral into the water, to hopefully quench his suffering, but he spoke! In stuttered, agonizing words, he gasped, “Fools! Do not delay! The monster must be returned to the portal!” And he lurched toward the thing, trying to grapple it with his bare, flame-scarred hands.

    For a few moments, it seemed too late, but then Fern, with a keen eye, blasted the thing right in the maw, and it stumbled back towards the portal. With all of his might Khadral leaped at the beast; both of them were sucked into the portal, which closed, then collapsed, causing a disturbance in the cave. Someone snatched Torfendar’s skull from the goblin king’s belt and we made a run for it, as the ceiling tumbled down around us. Poor, noble Khadral.

    Let me say now that if we ever make it out of this Fire Forest, it will not be soon enough. It seems like the forces of evil track our every move, and ambush us whenever we let our guard down. If it is true that we must free a terrible beast in order to restore the forest to its natural order, I cannot say which is worse. How can one weigh the suffering of the forest creatures against the unknown quantity of a great, implacable evil?

    Perhaps we’ll get some answers once we’ve returned Torfendar‘s remains to Eteranth. For now, I must rest. I can’t help comparing my own fate to Khadral’s. Will I become like him? A useless martyr?

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