Aphonion Tales: Ravenskrag and the Shadowline, a preteen D&D game (lightly edited notes, COMPLETED on 1/20/23)


This is the storyhour for a children's D&D game. It's set in the same world as the Archducal Council storyhour and the Spice Lands storyhour, but both of those take place on the continent of Drucien, while this game is set on the continent of Zestqua. This is in the same general area as the old Journals of a Licensed Diabolist storyhour, if anyone remembers that. The players in this game are all pre-teen children, so it doesn't have any adult content or themes, unlike some of the Archducal Council and Journal of a Licensed Diabolist entries. These are basically unedited notes that I take as the game goes along--I provide some organizational support to the DM and play a sort of party NPC.

Session 1 (3/28/20)
(Mostly an organizational session 0 type of thing)

28 Skard

This group started in Ravenskrag on Zestqua. Ravenskrag is a heavily fortified city in a pass through the mountains between the border kingdoms (Tarkenia, etc.) to the east and the merchant cities and freeholds to the West. Trade passes through Ravenskrag regularly as does whatever tribute can be extracted from the merchant cities to fund the continuous war effort by the border kingdoms to restrain the avarice of the demon worshipers in the Shadowlands. Ravenskrag is not only heavily fortified, but very rowdy. There is constant intrigue - and agents of the enemy are deeply insinuated into the city structure.

Possible hooks might be: Contracted agents for the Holy Inquisition of Paranswarm: Lord of Orderly Darkness, such agents are used to ferret out enemies of the Temple and are considered expendable, but paid well; caravan guards guarding a caravan traveling either West to the merchant cities (safer) or east to the border (less safe); or private agents hired by a particular cabal or noble house (such as they are in Ravenskrag - closer to the Cosa Nostra or the Borgias) to investigate any of a myriad of local difficulties, humanoids, and monsters. Note: Ravenskrag does not really have an established faith - both major human temples have bishops here. Other temples are tolerated. Further everyone knows there are demon worshipers here as well, and other than the Temple of Paranswarm, no one seems to care unless they get in the way of something... so.... Oh and the Doge of the City State has also been in flux for several years now, with no single house able to hold onto control for longer than a few months - so there is also that.

Our heroes are Ulgorio, a rakasta bard; Runor, a dwarf cleric of Glordiadel, the Lord of Light; and Bartix, a half-orc ranger. They hear the opportunities, and decide that they want to sign on as caravan guards. The caravans heading towards the Shadowline pay much better than the safer caravan runs to the merchant cities, so they promptly sign up with a small caravan heading towards Tarkenia, one of the Border Kingdoms along the Shadowline. They head out, and make camp after an uneventful day of travel across the desert.

End Session 1

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Since the first post was so short, here's an extra long one to compensate.

Session 2 (4/11/2020)

One day out from Ravenskrag, camped over night. 5 more days to Tarkenia.

Skard 29

Next day travel is uneventful.

The following night, it sounds like a human child yowling, maybe 300 meters out in the desert. Bartix is on watch, and he reports the sound to one of the older mercenaries. He says it might be a child, in which case you’d want to bring it in. Or it might be a mountain lion, trying to draw attention. And three of you could handle a great cat together. Bartix wakes the others and they head out towards it.

Ulgorio sees blinky eyes watching them out of some low scrub. It’s not where the howling is—it’s off to the right, while the howling is still ahead of them.

They find, laid on the ground, not very well kept, a baby. It’s kinda marked up, with a little scratching—it definitely didn’t make it here on its own.

Two humanoids, about 4’ tall, covered in patchy fur, charge at them with spears.

Runor makes a violent gesture at them with his mace. They jump back, stopping 10 feet back. Bartix swings his sword at them. And hacks one of them to pieces. The other one throws down his spear and flings himself down on his belly.

Runor interrogates the survivor.

“We crossed the border and found the baby to bait you. We did not know you were such mighty warriors. How can we serve, great lord?” He looks over at his buddy. “How can I serve?”

“Can you show a route that you never threaten?”

“We were scouting. We crossed over in an attack. We don’t know much about this land, except that there is much food here.” This sounds crazy in the desert. Runor scares it off.

The senior mercenary is surprised to here of eum this far from the border, but is glad that it was handled.

The next day goes uneventfully. There are some farms in the desert, irrigating from springs or oases.

The night passes peacefully as well.

The following day and night pass peacefully until the third watch. There’s grit in the wind. The more experienced mercenary tells them that it’s a sandstorm. They collapse the tents, put headdresses around the animals, and weighted blankets over the tents and people. The horses struggle—they really don’t like it, but the handlers prevent them from running off. It lasts 2-3 hours. In the morning, they dig themselves out. None of the drovers die. Everyone is apparently okay. It takes several hours to get the caravan on its way, but they succeed.

The next day and night are peaceful.

The next day, they start passing through more villages, doing some strange farming—trying to enrich the soil, perhaps. At the edge of their vision, they can see a tall walled city. Runor spots the fellow that they scared off about a quarter of a mile or third of a mile away, tracking the caravan. Runor casts sacred flame—not reaching him, but enough to scare him off. And he runs away.

They arrive in Tarkenia. The whole city is like a military fortification. The walls are pristine, 40 feet tall and thick as three carts wide; the gates are steel, but banded in a strange black metal. And the guards are careful and well disciplined, physically fit. They review the papers of the caravan carefully, before a priest of Glordiadel stamps them with a sun seal, and they give crisp salutes. It’s dramatically different from Ravenscrag. The caravan master thanks them, pays them the promised silver (8 sp/day * 6 days=48 silver each), and mentions that they had a difficult crossing a couple weeks ago, fighting a large band of eums. Offers them a place when they head back in a week or so, but no hard feelings if they don’t take it.

Several of them head to an inn; the Gryphon’s Golden Hind is the biggest, the Bespoke Dragon less so, and then there are some dives. They go straight to the Gryphon’s Golden Hind, looking for a medium priced inn. There is a stuffed Gryphon’s head on the wall, with a plaque that says in memory of my arm. They get a comfortable room with three beds and a private bath, for 3 sp/night.

Bartix hears offers of several types of work: caravan missions going west, paying 5 silver per day; caravan missions through the border kingdoms; guarding a colony against the border; hunting missions working for the Viceroy, paying 9 silver per day (hunting creatures that have crossed the border); there is mention of cross-border missions, but they are viewed as not ready for it.

Initially, they’re evenly divided—one wants guard duty, one wants caravan duty, and one wants hunting shadow creatures. Runor persuades the others by saying that pays the best. In the morning, they go to the viceroy’s office.

“It’s a fairly simple situation. The territory nearest the border, we use a reclaiming technique to restore the soil as best as we can. This was not always desert—the Shadowwar has made it what it is. Some Shadow creatures cross the border, and hunt the settlers. It’s not as dangerous as in Caldefor, but still always an issue. We pay 10 silver a day, plus a bonus of 5 silver per head for any of red or above among the eum, or any goblyn shamans. You can collect the bounty at any border fortress, and the daily fee after a tour of at least 10 days.”

They buy some mounts in the market—one horse, two camels. They exit through the eastern gate, having entered through the west. Both gates are equally well fortified and defended. Outside the east gate, there are merchants in tents offering large water skins, animal feed, and the like. They buy some emergency water skins, planning on mostly using Runor’s ability to create water.

They get a little ways from the city gates, beyond the merchants, and pass a group of beggars. One of them gives them a silver—very generous.

The next night, there’s a long, drawn out hoot—definitely not normal for the desert. It ululates again, staying out of the fire light. Bartix heads out of the camp towards the noise, as the other two wake up. Runor casts a light spell. It illuminates Bartix, but also a not terribly large creature, that looks like a small, feathered bear. It’s been injured. Something took a hunk out of its right flank—possibly a bite. Bartix leads it back to camp. Runor heals the wound as Ulgorio casts Speak with Animals and talks with it. That means that somewhere near here is the thing that killed its mother. It said “they were large and trying to eat it and its mother, with big bellies.”

Pet baby owlbear
Small, 1d8+5 hps, Beak attack 1d6, claws 1d4 each, Str 10, Dex 15, Con 12, Feats: Multiattack. It will be a baby for a long time, 10 years to grow up.
[End Session 2]


Session 3 (4/25/20)

4 Tar-Skard

They have entered the lands of House Vilra. Two additional adventurers join their patrol-Ashaltir, a wood elf paladin of the First Daughter (one of the major elven deities), and Merreep, an elven ranger. [I think Merreep is also a wood elf, but I'm not sure off-hand.]

The present Sultan is Barash Abin, of House Jard.

Day passes uneventfully. During the middle of the night, Ulgorio is on watch and there’s a howling. It sounds kinda like people howling, in a varied pitch going up and down the scale. They’re getting closer.

Ulgorio wakes the rest. The horses and camels are also uncomfortable. There are 4 distinct tones, so probably 4 people.

Runor casts light, and cresting a dune about 25 feet away, they see 4 thin, emaciated looking people, dirty, howling, and spinning.

Runor zaps one lightly with a sacred flame, while Ulgorio and Bartix both run.

Ashaltir stabs one with a longsword, while Merreep shoots one in the back with a bow.

The one in the back hurls a handful of ichorous, green-looking substance at Marreep, missing entirely, and it sizzles as it hits the ground.

Ashaltir attacks again, taking down one.

Ulgorio hides, while the owlbear keeps attacking and bites down another one.

Bartix shoots one with a long bow.

Merreep drops the second to last one, and then Runor strikes the last one with a sacred flame, and it collapses, burning slightly.

Runor examines the bodies. It is very obvious that they have not been eating properly for at least weeks. The one who threw the handful of green stuff has a pouch at his side with at least 3 more handfuls. All of them look like commons, but all have something twisted about them, and the one who threw the handful has a strange symbol. Runor recognizes it as a hand-made symbol of Orlodu, the Worm that Bores Beneath, one of the minion deities of Borsh’tro. They get a grand total of 12 sp from the 4 bodies, and 4 shoddy longswords.

The rest of the night passes uneventfully.

They travel on southwards towards Circle Perilous, in their second full day out. They reach the Circle uneventfully. There’s a 60’ tower, made out of some form of glittering crystal, and its top glows. A thin line of energy extends out in either direction from the Circle. And on the far side is the Shadowlands, where there is no sunlight, and it’s a depressing gray everywhere.

A handful of soldiers in glittering silver and crystal armor supervise regular humans, and there is a full legion of troops there.

Runor walks up and hails the soldiers.

“There have been more small border crossings. We can certainly use aid in taking care of the detritus that crosses. We have reports of goblyns, and also of some undead being raised this side of the line, towards House Nin. The viceroy made the standard offer, 10 silver per day for 10 days, plus a bonus for any appropriate skulls you bring back. Take care if you see any eums—we’ve heard no reports of eums on this side of the border, but you’re a little green to take on eums.”

They offer them rations and clean water to supply for the patrol.

He updates their papers to indicate that two more have joined the group.

They overnighted at the Circle.


Session 3 [cont'd]

They head towards House Nin’s lands, looking for goblyns, undead, or other things. There are more humans watching from the other side of the Shadowline. They make no efforts to cross, but they are following their progress.

They travel most of a day out from the Circle on the 6th of Tar-Skard, walking together in a clump.

Bartix spots tracks in the sand, heading away from the border. They’re not animal tracks, but not exactly human.

They follow the tracks, staying together in a clump. The tracks are new, no more than a day old, and approximately 5 humanoid figures with 4 toed feet. The rangers suspect that these are goblyn tracks.

The goblyn watcher sees them coming.

All of a sudden, the tracks stop. They must be concealing their tracks—they know that they’re being followed.

Bartix keeps following the concealed tracks—it’s hard, but they can still manage it. As night is falling, they crest a dune and see a cold camp in the hollow beneath them. There are short humanoids, with bulging bellies, light armor, clubs and spears, and a sheep—probably stolen. They do not seem to have noticed our heroes cresting the dunes.

Ashaltir detects evil—one is distinctly evil, the rest are not.

Runor tries to sneak down the dune, planning on attacking the evil one, and he trips over his own feet and rolls down the dune, around 21 feet to the edge of the camp.

Ashaltir charges past him on her horse, and smites the evil one hard, but doesn’t drop him. Merreep shoots one.

Bartix charges another and cuts him down.

Ulgorio misses with his rapier.

The chieftain, who also is a shaman, touches Ashaltir and inflicts light wounds.

One of the goblyn tries to club Runor with his club, and hits him for 3.

The last uninjured one, grabs the sheep, tucks it under his arm, and runs off.

Merreep shoots her target again, dropping it.

Ashaltir gallops up to the goblyn carrying the sheep, and cuts him down.

Bartix finishes off the chieftain with his bow.

Ulgorio stabs one with his rapier, and Runor finishes him off with a sacred flame, dropping the last one.

Runor heals himself and Ashaltir fully.

They get the goblyn shaman as a trophy (which will get a bonus); 2 sp; a skin of very potent alcohol; and a sheep.

[End session 3]


Session 4 (5/9/20)
Nightfall on Tar-Skard 6

In the middle of the night, an unnatural chill settles on them. (Rolled encounter, then a 20 on the table…) The owlbear and sheep are acting skittish, and they begin to feel chilled even by the fire. They begin to hear whispers, saying “Come away from the fire, come out into the Night…”

Runor casts light, and triggers a shriek from a dark outline of a shape, with no person visible. There is a hissing noise, and it retreats from the light. Runor advances after it, hearing it saying, “Accursed cleric!” and muttering about getting him when he’s not ready. Runor returns to the light after it retreated. They’re pretty sure it’s a shadow or a wraith of some kind, but it doesn’t approach the light, and the noise stops entirely when the dawn comes.

The next day (Tar-Skard 7) they head on. They see scraggly farms and little villages as they travel. The farmers and villagers are supportive and respectful, bringing them drinks of water and the like and thanking them and bowing to them.

Both rangers notice that they’re being paralleled. On one side is the border, and while they’re being watched from that side, at a distance of perhaps an eighth of a mile in the other direction, into the desert, they’re also being paralleled. They can see the rising of the dust. It’s probably not a large group, but they feel scouted. When they stop, it stops. When they move, it moves.

The group travels to confront them, and they see a group with three individuals—two on camelback, and a third on foot.

One of the camel riders fires a bow at them, and misses widely. The other rider raises up his hand and two globules of energy fly from his hand, wounding the owlbear. The third figure charges on foot at the owlbear. It looks similar to the dirty creatures they saw previously, but whereas those had yellow fur, this one has patchy red fur.

Bartix charges to intercept the creature on foot, and hits it with a short sword.

Ulgorio heals the owlbear with a cure spell.

Ashaltir detects evil, and they are all evil.

Runor casts Blindness on the mage, but it does not succeed.

The owlbear unleashes a claw/claw/bite routine at the figure with a spear, hitting with one claw.

The red furred creature with the spear stabs the owlbear, hurting it badly. The archer fires and misses entirely. The mage stands in his stirrups, “Great Lord Gothatha of the Quenching Flame, strike down my enemy!” And he shoots two magic missiles at Runor, doing 5 damage.

Mareep shoots at the mage, hitting for 9 points of damage. The mage looks very unhappy.

Bartix heals the owlbear fully.

Ashaltir charges on horseback to smite evil. She smacks the red-furred creature. It looks startled for a moment and then collapses.

Runor runs up to the archer, Inflicts Wounds, and does 25 hp of damage. Right on top of the red eum being slaughtered, the archer gets instant gangrene and pitches off the camel.

The owlbear charges and attacks the mage. It misses with both claws but hits with the bite. The mage reels in his saddle, and tries to race away.

Mareep pegs him with an arrow, and the mage pitches off the camel.

They now have a dead red eum, two dead humans—an archer and a mage--, and two camels. The eum obviously has nothing on it. The humans weren’t starving, and that suggests they were from this side of the border.

Mareep searches one and Bartix finds the other; they have 10 sp total.

Ulgorio checks out the camels. They’re both healthy now, but their hooves are poorly cared for. They need proper care, because otherwise they won’t remain healthy.

They take the camels with them.

The mage was also carrying a small symbol—a carving of a flame with eyes, and a short scroll, not in a language they speak, but very brief—probably orders. Runor recognizes it as a symbol of Golthatha, one of the Council of “demigods”, really demon lords, that serve Borsh’tro. They know that there are cults of the demonlords on this side of the border. That means that, since he was a mage, he must be a member of a cult—so there’s a priest somewhere.


[Session 4 cont'd]
They travel for the rest of the day. They could travel into the night to reach Circle Constance, or they could camp and then finish the trip the next morning.

They rest for the night. And they have another encounter (a 19) almost as soon as they’ve gone to sleep.

Mareep begins to feel that same chilling effect that there was last night. The same whispering voice sets in—“come out. Come away from the fire…” Mareep wakes up her companions and lets them know.

They build the fire up and chase it away with a burning torch. It hisses and pulls away—not as quickly as it responded to the light spell, but enough to drive it away. It continues muttering, but it doesn’t close with them again that night. It’s obviously following them. They hear mutterings all night, but as long as they keep the fire built up, it doesn’t approach.

Dawn breaks (Tar-Skard 8), and they enter the lands of Circle Constance. The desert gives way to a little greenery.

The circle is militarized, like the previous one. The extra camels draw some attention, because they assume that’s missing riders. But they come out, check the papers, and then admit them. They thank them for coming—“we’ve had some problems. Not as bad as before Caldefor restored itself, but still some problems.”

It’s more developed than the other circle—perhaps older, or more successfully established.

They turn in the skull of the shaman, and Ulgorio sells the spare camel. They dicker over it, and settle on 11 silver as a price for it. They also shoe the camel that they’re keeping.

They turn in the skull and show the holy symbol of Golthotha. “Oh, I don’t understand why anyone would follow those… I suppose that’s less bad than some of the others. And earlier a follower of Urlodo? We have to increase our scrutiny of those areas.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Runor sees a figure gliding by the conversation. He turns to look, and it’s a slender woman, elven, with an elaborate hairdo and a long silver robe, floating along towards them. The villagers either drop to one knee or bow. Runor follows suit and drops to one knee, as does the officer. She nods in their general direction, and then floats up to the tower.

“Well, it’s not often that a visitor so new in our service gets to catch a vision of a Hastur going about their duties.” The officer gives them a dozen silver. “Please, continue your service. I think the thing speaking to you from outside your camp is a shadow. Someone is raising undead. But the Hastur are busy with the Shadow, and they do not have the time to find the necromancer on this side.”
[End session 4]

[A question for readers: I've realized that posting the sessions in roughly half a section chunks, one per week, means that we're generating new material nearly as quickly as the old material is getting posted, remaining about a year behind. That seems undesirable to me, since it seems like more fun for everyone to catch up to the current state of the game. So I have a question: Would you prefer me to post updates more often (probably adding a Sunday posting day to this thread and a Saturday to the Spice Lands thread) or would you prefer that I post longer updates with each post (roughly a whole session at a time)? Longer updates per post is slightly easier for me, but not so much so that I care much.]


Session 5 (5/30/20)
Tar-Skard 9:

They wake up from their rest in the area around Circle Constance.

They decide they want to hunt the necromancer raising undead on this side of the line.

They decide that they’ll try to find the necromancer by doing patrols in concentric semi-circles around the area guarded by Circle Constance. The lands of House Nin are much less heavily patrolled than the area around the Circle. There are reclaiming villages, where there are some houses, some fields, and every type of fertilizer imaginable. There are a handful of ruined buildings—probably the result of the border moving back and forth as they fight the war.

There is a thundering of hooves, and a cloud of sand off to their right. It’s at least 3-4 times the size of the cloud of sand that they produce when they gallop. Mreep gallops over to take a closer look. She sees a large herd of wild camels, clearly spooked. They are fleeing like mad, towards their group, as a lion chases after their hindmost. The lion misses one of the camels, pouncing on empty sand.

Mreep calls back that there’s a herd of wild camels coming, chased by a lion. Runor immediately starts plotting to tame the lion, and get another dangerous pet. The camels rush past them pell-mell. The lion stops running, having lost the chance. It looks over the group, and turns to slink away among the dunes. Ashaltir rides out towards it as it’s trying to slink away.

They cast animal friendship on the lion, and it walks over, growling softly in the base of its throat.

They feed it some dried meat and befriend it. They now have a young male lion as part of their menagerie. It’s not ready to fight for them yet, but it will travel with them.

The night passes peacefully. The shadow(?) does not appear.

The next day they travel on. There are more small villages, more ruined buildings, and small packs of hyenas that avoid them assiduously.

They have an encounter the next day.

One building is particularly large. It’s not in good shape—at all—but it’s still standing, and it has a huge tower, 8 or 9 stories tall. It’s clear that it’s been beaten and battered. There is a large symbol on the stone disk blocking the path to the building. It was a forbidden symbol, but has been broken in half—clearly deliberately.

This seems like an ideal place for a necromancer. There could be magical energy here, because both sides have valued it, and the frequent battles give a steady supply of bones. They decide to approach.

They enter a broken bailey. The exterior walls are breached but the tower still stands. They hear a grinding noise from an inverted stone bowl which rises out of the ground, and then two steel bolts slammed into Ashaltir’s armor. It sinks back into the ground, and the grinding noise starts again. The group all charges up and attacks the stone bowl.

Mreep tries to shoot her bow into the slots on the stone bowl. She shoots into the bowl, doing 8 points of damage as it pings inside. They shot more arrows and fire into it, and an imp crewing it came out. The imp talks to them and complained. It told them where they could find the necromancer, because it wants to get unbound. Runor wanted to kill it, but the rest of the group wouldn’t hear of it because it was cute. They found that this is the tower of the Great Bartholomex, and Bartholomex is three stories down. They went in, and headed downwards to try to find the necromancer.

They come down stairs, into a 30’ square room, with corridors opening north and south from the room.

After initially considering splitting up, Runor persuades them that they shouldn’t split up, and they decide to head north as a group. They follow a passage east, and while they don’t hear a voice, they feel the same cold feeling as they felt outside when the voice (the shadow?) spoke to them.

Humanoid figures made out of bones scrabble out of the weak light. They seem to be drawing bows. The cold is still there, and a voice begins to be heard, whispering to the skeletons.

Mreep charges into the darkness with her sword.

Ashaltir gets a critical hit against a skeleton and shatters it.

Runor zaps one with a sacred flame.

They keep hacking down the skeletons.

The shadow is still there, but it hasn’t done anything.

The Shadow says “Master, they are coming. The imp has betrayed you.”

They find 13 sp in the skeleton room.

[End Session 5]


Session 6 (6/13/20)
[A new character joined the group--Finn, a human fighter. He was only around for a few sessions.]

Tar-Skard 10 (cont.):
They open the door leading out of the room they were in. The next room, somewhat larger, was once a dining area, some time ago. The former diners are now just bones. The skulls have long teeth all the way around. Bartix begins examining the bones, while Finn immediately starts smashing them. The teeth were clearly artificially sharpened—filed into sharp points. Finn runs through a skull with his sword. It starts to get colder in the room.

The soft familiar voice says, “Ah… defilers! Defiling the bones that even the Master does not disturb. Defiling the bones of the old orc kind that used to dwell here. May their God curse you. May their god hear you!”

Runor says, “Ah, orcs! That’s what these were.”

Finn says, “We’re not defilers. We’re not necromancers. We just don’t know any better. We’re ignorant.”

Ashaltir senses evil, and senses a spot in the upper corner of the room that is mobile evil. She points, and her finger follows a moving point. Nobody else can see anything there, but they assume she’s indicating something real.

Ulgorio retreats out of the room into the passageway, and he sees something moving in the dim light, further into the passage. He shouts that he sees something, possibly undead.

Mreep attacks the spot on the ceiling, jumping up to try to hit it. She’s pretty sure she would have hit it if something were there physically, but her sword feels no resistance.

Ashaltir throws water up in that area, trying to outline it. Some water stops and falls, so there is definitely something physically there, at least sort of.

Bartix moves back through the north door to defend against the approaching creatures. Bartix sees a group of five shambling humanoid creatures. They are slow, and have a stench about them—they truly stink. Bartix slashes the lead one with his short swords, hitting twice. The first zombie falls apart before it can engage him.

Ulgorio stabs a zombie over Bartix’s shoulder, wounding it.

Runor casts hold person on a zombie, having no effect.

Finn tries to intimidate the evil spot, “If you don’t leave us alone, I’ll chop you into pieces so small that I can make a stew out of you!”

The spot flies downward and attacks Finn. It tries to touch him, and he almost feels like something almost brushed his hair, but it doesn’t touch him. It feels much much colder as it reaches out towards him.

Two zombies, including one that’s slightly larger than the others, tries to strike Bartix.

Mreep tries to hit the “spot” with her sword. Her sword just barely contacts something—it’s like cutting jello.

Ashaltir strikes the “spot,” getting a critical and smiting evil, doing a total of 40 hit points of damage. The smite causes a brief shriek of “Master!!!” before it falls in pieces of ectoplasm on the ground.

Bartix slashes again, chopping the big zombie to pieces.

Ulgorio stabs again, finishing off another zombie.

Runor turns undead, driving off the two remaining zombies.

The cold fades slowly from the room, but they continue to hear distant whispers.

Finn gathers some ectoplasm, and stores it in his backpack.

They advance forward, following a passageway as it curves to another door. Finn tries to detect traps, finds none, and Ulgorio opens the door. He jumps aside as a spear comes down from above the door at a slant and slams into the ground before retracting. Finn decides to bash down the door. At the same time, he wants to get the spear, which is metal all the way through.

They enter the next room, and there’s a dim, yellowish light from somewhere—not like sunlight, but like sulfur burning, and they can smell burning sulfur as well.

Finn immediately focuses on hoisting himself up with a rope, then opening the steel grate to get at the spring mechanism with the spear loaded in. He works the spear out of the spring mechanism. It’s a steel spear, nice and solid.

The sulfurous odor continues to waft out of a doorway to another room, where there’s also the sulfurous light. They proceed forward, and there are three upright urns of burning sulfur in the other room. As they get closer, they see scribed marks. Runor examines the runes, and he recognizes them as Shadowspeech, the language normally used on the far side of the border. On this side, Shadowspeech is only used for spells. Runor tries to read the runes, but fails—as he tries, the fire from that urn gets brighter, before dying back down. Runor casts sacred flame next to one of the urns. The sacred flame appears much brighter than normal. It flares up and it as if the two fires consume each other; the urn’s fire flares up as well, and then disappears completely for two rounds, and then slowly builds up.

Ashaltir is sure that the urns are evil. Ashaltir smashes one of the urns with her sword, and it flies apart. There’s a cloud of sulfur, and in its midst there is a small creature, very thin that’s released, another imp.

“Ah! I’m finally out of that place. I’ve been in their for years—decades-centuries. A long time! To think! Rescued by a paladin! I’ll never live it down. But here, take this. Don’t worry—I haven’t enchanted the money.” He gives her a small purse of 5 sp and disappears from this plane.

They smash another one, and a different creature appears. “Here, have my wine.” It holds out a vial.

“Wait till you break the third one—you won’t believe what happens.” He disappears.

They break the third one, a glowing symbol emerges, and the floor falls out. The glowing symbol is a chaotic symbol, but not a symbol of evil. It’s a holy symbol of Berta.

They end up down below in the next level of the dungeon, in a twenty foot square room.
[End session 6]


Session 7 (6/27/20)
Tar-Skard 10 (cont.)

They start in a good sized rectangular room with some fragments of the ceiling on the floor. There are open passages to the north and east.

Finn randomly chooses north, and they head up a short passageway to a large, completely empty room, with not even so much as dust here. Ashaltir detects evil—there is a miasma of evil through the entire chamber. It’s not like the cold that they felt with the creature, but it’s almost like there is a very old evil here that had mostly faded away. It’s coming most strongly from southeast of them. They head easterly, but through the northern most of the three passages all that lead to the east.

After another short passage, it opens into a very large—some 100 feet square—with the remains of about a dozen wooden long trestle tables, collapsed from age. There are remains of long benches. And there are a lot of scattered bones—they’re just laying around, but there are a lot of them, both within view and dimly visible beyond that. This room connects to several passages from the west, but not the southmost one. There are two doorways to the north, and a passage leading off from the east.

Runor hears a distant voice say “Non lumen,” almost like a distant echo, and the light fades to a quarter of its previous brightness. Finn lights a torch—it burns, but it’s also dampened. Standing spaced apart, they can illuminate a larger area. In the darkness, they hear a rattling.

Everyone stands around, trying to figure out what to do. Finn ties his torch to his sword, to keep his hands free.

Ulgorio goes to the very edge of the light, to check the rattling, and he can dimly see a few of the bones—not all of them, but a few of them—assembling into skeletons.

The skeletons that are forming are of larger creatures. They’re the bones of ogres, and in one particular case what they think was a minotaur—it has horns and a bovine head. There are only 4 of them, three ogres and the minotaur.

Ashaltir smites an ogre skeleton, doing 22 damage. Ulgorio stabs another for 7 damage. Bartix attacks the minotaur, hitting for 9 total. Runor casts sacred flame on the minotaur, doing 6 damage. Finn slashes the minotaur for 8 damage.

The ogre hit by Ashaltir falls apart. Another swings at Ulgorio, and misses. The third misses Runor. The minotaur attacks Bartix, Ashaltir hits an ogre for 16 with a crit. Ulgorio damages it further but without dropping it. Bartix hits the minotaur twice for 15 damage. Runor hits one with a sacred flame for 10 damage. Finn misses the minotaur.

The one on Runor and Mreep misses, and Finn gets raked by the minotaur, but it misses with its horns again. Mreep drops the last ogre. Ulgorio does 9 to the minotaur. Bartix finishes off the minotaur. As his skeleton falls apart, the lights brighten back up.

A swirling white mist rises from his body and forms an image of a minotaur in a tabard with a sunburst on its chest. We have been bound for decades upon decades, thank you, thank you. “Holy priest, please sanctify our bones so we cannot be raised again.” Runor prays over the bones, and the ghost points with a misty hand at what was once a dais. “Beneath the dais, under the compartment, the master always kept a few things. Neither he nor we will need them again. Victory to the Light!”

Finn pulls the trestle table off the dais. There’s an inset stone with a locking mechanism, clearly the location that he was referring to. There’s a lock, but Finn breaks the lock with a bolt. He pulls out a thin box. There are 60 sp, a Glordiadelian prayer book, a solid silver dagger, four potions, and a tightly wound scroll. The scroll is clearly magical, but most people can’t read it. Ulgorio realizes that it’s a Glitterdust scroll.

In the room to the northeast, there are a whole bunch of racks, now empty, with rust on the floor, and a trickle of water coming in. Finn searches around in the old weapons racks, possibly where they racked their weapons while they ate dinner. Most of the skeletons had no weapons, so maybe they left them here while they ate.

They travel northwest, and they see a set of stairs leading down. They go down those stairs and enter a very long corridor heading eastwards before reaching a door with a few passages leading off to the south. There is a single torch stuck in the right hand wall. It doesn’t seem to be made of wood, but it is on fire and producing light. Finn examines it carefully. He realizes that there is some sort of flexible copper tube running from that into the wall. It looks like it’s an oil lamp. Runor is positive that there were dwarves involved when this castle was built. The torch is a dwarven oil lamp, with an oil reservoir. But this is not a fortification anyone mentioned. It’s obviously been unused for hundreds of years, but the border has shifted. Perhaps it was once a border fort.

They take the first passage to the south, but about 20’ later it ends at a stone-covered well. There’s water in it. The water is clean and pure, and they drink and refill their water skins. They then move on to the next southerly passageway. It snakes its way south before it ends at a door.

They go to the end of the east passageway. The door here is locked. Finn immediately tries to bash it open. A voice from the other side of the door says, “Yes! Hit it harder! Hit it harder!” They hack at it and bash on it and it finally collapses. A person about 4’ tall with a very frog like appearance is jumping up and down and clapping. “You opened it! Aleep has been trapped here since Aleep got here. Aleep closed the door and it locked behind Aleep. Aleep is Aleep’s name.”

They talk, and Aleep says that he came to defeat the necromancer, too. He can avoid most things. But he got trapped, and he was almost out of mushrooms. The knight he was with didn’t make it—or at least he assumes he didn’t make it, because he abandoned Aleep. He hopes he didn’t make it—wait, that’s a terrible thing to say. Aleep is sorry. Aleep is a froglock. He offers to join them. He’s a minor mage.
[Aleep joined the party as a sorta party NPC. Starting with the next session, I play Aleep, but taking a less active approach than I would if I were playing a full PC. The goal is to be helpful to the actual players and add some amusing roleplay, while keeping the game focused on them.]
[End Session 7]


Session 8 (July 11, 2020)
10 Tar-Skard (cont’d)

They work to set up a barricade out of the fragments of the door into Aleep’s chamber so they can take a long rest. Finn and Bartix work together on the task.

The night passes uneventfully—something clawed at the barricade, but left when they stirred.

11 Tar-Skard

Bartix and Mreep go in to scout. They both sneak in successfully. This is the basic chamber he’s in. There is an altar at the right of the room, where the Necromancer is busily raising more undead. There is a large pit in the room, filled with skeletons and corpses, surely intended for later work. There’s also a door to the south. There are also at least 6 fleshy undead in the room, on either side of the altar.

The altar has a sign of a rearing worm incised in it.

Runor recognizes that as a symbol of Urlodo, the Worm that Bores Beneath.

Finn proposes a planned division of forces. Everyone except Aleep and the rangers will rush the necromancer, while Aleep and the rangers hang back.

Mreep shoots the necromancer in the back, hitting him narrowly. Aleep casts Web on three of the undead; two are restrained, but one is not. Bartix shoots the necromancer as well, hitting him solidly. Runor runs forward and inflicts wounds on the necromancer, doing another 10 points of damage. Ashaltir shoots at the necromancer and misses. Finn whacks the necromancer with his metal spear. Ulgorio shot one of the zombies.

One of the zombies breaks free of the web. Another whacks Runor for 5 points of damage.

The necromancer heals himself.

Aleep blasts him with scorching rays. Then the necromancer gets shot with an arrow, finishing him off.

The zombies fight on for a bit, but Runor turns most of them and they finish off the ones that keep fighting quickly.

The skeleton on the altar is not animate.

The necromancer has 1 gold and 17 silver, along with two potions. The altar has a gold-chased dagger laid across it, probably worth a fair amount. There is also a flawed gem set on the altar—and there’s a bucket of them. It was laid on the skeleton. There are a total of 39 of them, probably worth 1-2 silvers each.

Runor immediately knows that this is an unholy altar.

They have effectively finished the dungeon with the defeat of the necromancer.
[End Session 8]

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