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After a few questions, the heroes learn that, only a few days ago, all of King Steppengard's children were murdered by various means, along with his wife. To compound the tragedy, their hearts were removed and destroyed, to make resurrection nearly impossible. In his rage and despair, the king demanded justice, and began to hunt down anyone who may have been involved.

The rest of the journey to Bresk is reasonably quiet, punctuated only by the arrival of the giant eagle Takasi (who elected to remain outside the city, but stay close in case you need his vastly superior aerial abilities). Security is tight in the city, which feels much quieter than usual; not only is everything in a official period of mourning, but many are afraid that they'll be the next target of the king's "Talon" police force.

Establishing themselves in a large and well-apportioned suite at The Golden Griffon, the team discusses their options. As initial efforts to meet with nobles and their diplomats are met with bureaucracy and suspicion, the question remains: exactly how are they going to convince a king, cloaked in grief and anger, to help Seaquen?

SESSION NOTES: One of the characters is a nephew of Lord Dashgoban, who abruptly left home years ago (shortly before Steppengard's ascension to the throne) for "reasons." He's about to run into a familiar face from his past, which - I hope - represents a nice little complication in his side roleplay.

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Established at the Golden Griffon tavern and inn just outside of the castle, the team settles into find out what was happening in town, and to possibly convince some of the local envoys to the king's court to support Seaquen's plight. Splitting up, they each tackle different goals.

The cleric and bard head temple-hopping, with only marginal success, though they do learn about some of the various proxies, and how to contact them.

The rogue joins Balan in speaking with the proxy of Lady Dené, passing another diplomats in the process, including a curiously short half-orc woman. Their discussion goes well, and the proxy is thankful for the return of the bodies found on the road.

Meanwhile, the barbarian and warlock go to speak with agents of Lord Megadon on a foxhunt outside of town. The hunt is not going well, and the proxy is in a sour mood, which helps defeat their efforts to convince him to their own cause.

Returning to the Golden Griffon, the team debates what to do next, when the Barbarian meets with a familiar face from his past... a woman he was once engaged to, but hastily left long ago. She's now working in the embassy of his uncle, the Lord Dashgoban, and came seeking more information about the man who claimed to be of the noble family...

SESSION NOTES: Unexpected lore drop! I got to catch the barbarian off guard with a custom character from his backstory, that he might not have expected to show up this soon... she's his former GF/fiance, and currently the envoy to Lord Dashgoban... but he doesn't know that yet. ;)


Updating for the last two sessions...

The next few days are spent spreading out across Dassen and speaking with other proxies, trying to gain their favor. Some situations are successful, others not so much... eventually, the Barbarian faces his past, in meeting with the Dashgoban envoy, who turns out to be his former flame. The meeting is awkward but productive, leading into the audience with the king.

As they arrive, they find the ending of a trial of sorts, where a clerk to Lord Gallo's proxy is being grilled by a gnome wizardess, the advisor to King Steppengard himself. The man is seemingly caught in the midst of a magical charm, unable to relate the full truth about his guilt (or innocence) related to Gallo's alleged complicity in the death of the King's family.

Ultimately, the time comes to present the heroes' cause. The speech is eloquent and persuasive, earning sympathy from virtually all of the lords. When King Steppengard rises to speak, however, he cruelly rebuffs the heroes, demands that they be given no aid or comfort, and gives them a three day deadline to get out of Bresk. As the team members raise their voices in objection, they are hastily escorted out of the throne room....

SESSION NOTES: Thanks to having an Eloquence Bard on the team, the negotiations were a moot point... I knew he would almost certainly succeed at swaying everyone. That's why Steppengard's outburst caught everyone off guard. As expected, they began talking back to THE KING, so I was prepared this time to promptly throw them out of the throne room. Dassen don't do disrespect.

Intriguingly, this episode became even more compelling for the resident Wild Magic Barbarian, whom I've decided is (so far unknowingly) indwelt by a Trillith. He decided to try and pop his version of Detect Magic in the throne room, and indeed detected that the clerk was being magically compelled, and that the king had not only the protection from the Book of Eight Lands upon him, but some other effect that was both alien, yet weirdly familiar. When he turned his gaze to Nina, though, it was like getting hit in the skull with a brick, and it broke his magical awareness... one Trillith sensing another. He saw Nina staring pointedly at him as the group left...

NEXT TIME: A dire warning, a nighttime ambush, and a warrant for the team's arrest!


Having been crudely forced out of the throne room for their insubordination towards the king, the party pauses in the great hall to discuss what's next. When Llorna, the Dashbogan envoy, comes to check on her friend and the group as a whole, she relates that the King hadn't always been so emotional... only since the deaths of his family. She urged the party to stay and see if the King would change his mind, but if they felt compelled to leave, that perhaps Duke Gallo would be receptive. She (and Lord Dashgoban) do not believe the scandalous claims against the Duke and his proxy, and believe he could help force a meeting of the Council of Nine.

As everyone reconvenes at the Golden Griffon, some of the team decides it would be good to talk to the Ragesian ambassador, and try to sus out what involvement - if any - they had in the incident. While the bard and cleric try to hold a conversation, the rogue sneaks off to attempt some burglary within the castle walls. As the Ambassador snidely remarks that the Seaquen Delegation would be welcomed into Ragesia as prisoners, rather than simply executing them, the rogue is sniffed out by the brutish Inquisitor.

A frantic chase through the castle halls follows, with guards demanding a quick surrender. Eventually, the rogue finds a window large enough to break out and squeeze through, and flees into the evening on broomback. Recognized as her companions (though not necessarily part of her hostilities), the other two are hastily ejected from the castle. Fearing for their own safety, the entire team hurriedly closes their account at the Golden Griffon, and leave the city in the night. A few miles out of town, thanks to the helpful eyes of Takasi, everyone is able to meet in the relative safety of a Tiny Hut, where they discuss their next moves...

SESSION NOTES: When a party member decides to SNEAK AROUND the KING'S CASTLE and directly provoke an INQUISITOR... that begins to hasten the threats against them. When they (rightly) decided to get the heck outta town, I figured, ok, let them! Doing so skipped a whole bunch of encounters (the warning from the king's jester, the assassination of Balan, the arrest scenario, and the prison breakout). They basically managed to save Balan's life in doing so... but might have doomed Jinis (Gallo's Proxy) to death in the process, and with him, all of the knowledge and trust they could have gained.


Updating for 2 sessions...

After the unnerving events that led to the flight from Bresk, the party spends an uneasy (yet mostly uneventful, aside from one disturbing dream) night in the Tiny Hut, about two miles beyond the castle walls. They awaken to Takasi's frantic warning that troops are headed their way. Quickly, they hurry to their sleigh to race northwards, towards the hope of protection in Duke Gallo's lands.

The rogue and warlock break off to briefly harry the pursuers, only to find that one of them is mounted on a griffon, that could quickly overtake them. Returning to the group, they remain a short distance ahead of Steppengard's Talon forces, until they cross into Gallo's lands. There, a unit of the Duke's own forces stand ready to escort the heroes northwards to Gallo's Fend, the incredibly well-defended northernmost city of Dassen.

Duke Gallo himself is gracious and understanding, setting the heroes up in a small manor while he plans his next moves, fearing that King Steppengard intends to remove Gallo from his lands. The next day, he confirms his own fears to the team, yet asks them to investigate a different problem: The northernmost watchtower of the Alydyi Gap has gone silent, which could be the precursor of a Ragesian attack. If the party could bring back proof of Ragesian hostility, then deliver it to some of Gallo's closest allies, he could both resist Steppengard's attack, and force a meeting of the Council of Nine to reject the Ragesian truce.

Traveling through the Alydyi Gap, the heroes exhaust their horses, but reach the last post by sundown. There, they notice the tower is manned not by humans and dwarves, but orcs... a clear sign of Ragesia. After some false starts, the team attacks the tower, only to find defenses stronger than initially expected...

SESSION NOTES: I've decided to give certain players unsettling dreams any time they find themselves interacting with trillith (as they temselves are made of dreamstuff). This time, the team bard (whom has undiscovered ties to another trillith) had an unsettling dream upon leaving Bresk, recounting his presentation at the King's Audience. In the dream, the response was not positive, as happened in reality, but mockery and laughter, that soon became unhinged cackling. He noticed a violet-black serpent clinging to each, its fangs sunked into their necks, as another snake, much larger, loomed before him. He heard one word before snapping awake: "Brother?"


The battle for the tower is fierce, but once forces finally reach the rooftop, the collected soldiers are all subdued quickly, and the Wyvern (and its rider) hastily dispatched.

Taking a moment to collect their breath, the heroes send word to the previous watchtower that it had been successfully retaken, and made plans to spend the night... plans that are suddenly thrown into disarray, as they hear movement downstairs, within the structure. Perhaps the tower isn't quite as "retaken" as they suspected...

SESSION NOTES: This team fought the wyvern, rather than let it fly away. Once they take time to search the body, they'll have the pleasant surprise of "hurling bracers," for Takasi...!


The team barges into the inner hallway, only to be ambushed by the handful of soldiers left, including their formidable commander, Jaas. Heavily armed and armored, he tears into the heroes' formation, before toppled by a bout of Hideous Laughter. The inquisitor, Crona, attempted to control the battlefield via silence and counterspells, but her troops were too few to properly defend her. After a slow battle of attrition, both she and the commander were toppled, and their forces eliminated.

Searching the tower, the team finds not only proof that the tower's previous residents had been killed, but Ragesian propaganda, and orders from the army to the north. Information and prisoners in hand, the squad rides hard for Gallo's Fend. With plans already in motion to re-supply the watchtowers with additional forces, the heroes enter a war room gathering, to prepare for the inevitable arrival of King Steppengard's forces... and a new civil war.

SESSION NOTES: Nothing too spectacular here, just cleaning up the battle and getting back to town. I had to nudge the players to investigate the tower for intel, else they would have missed the documentation proving Ragesian hostility. The players were able to almost entirely neutralize Jaas with the judicious application of Hideous Laughter, which he couldn't save from (and his Inquisitrix couldn't dispell, since she's rather low level).


Traveling south through the mysterious Pitchwood, the party heeds warnings about the resident Pitchlings, a clan of fey who loathe outsiders. When an unlit torch, held aloft, bursts into flames, they quickly begin to negotiate safe passage, in exchange for a collection of baubles and a promise to leave peacefully.

In the city of Lord Dashgoban, the Lord welcomes the crew, including his nephew, warmly, and after hearing their pleas (and reviewing the evidence of Ragesian hostility), he immediately orders his troops to march in support of his northern neighbor at Gallo's Fend. The Barbarian gets to spend one night in his childhood home, comforted by the unexpectedly welcoming tone of them both.

On the return trip through the Pitchwood, the heroes change their tactic slightly... after notifying the fey that Steppengard's forces would almost certainly be forced to march through their forest (if their plan to melt the Nasham River worked), the Pitchlings announce that they will attack any who dare cross their lands without permission... and they thank the heroes for the "advance warning."

With that, the team arrived in the small hamlet of Pitchwood, a village near the river, with an important request...

SESSION NOTES: Not too much to address here. The Barbarian's extended family made a brief appearance here, and may play more of a role towards the end of the chapter (during the festival). As he fled the nation many years back, he's seen as a prodigal son of sorts... but while his mother was highly supportive, and Lord Dashgoban was understanding (if somewhat dismissive) of his actions, I'm planning his father's reception to be notably cooler at first...


The residents of Pitchwood are greatly disturbed at the idea of sacrificing their entire harvest, in an effort to debilitate the armies of one of their most important customers. However, with a token payment to help the small town manage the next few weeks of prolonged winter, the team is able to convince the town's leadership that the plan is essential.

After a quiet night at the town's hostel, the crew heads northwards. Deciding that the risks associated with the Glasskeel Cliffs were unwarranted, they took the long path through the mountains. At a bridge spanning a chasm on the rocky path, they meet agents of Steppengard's Talon forces... and promptly pick a fight with them.

Through quick action and highly effective spells, the Talon soldiers (and their Troll mercenary) were greatly hamstrung, allowing the team to whittle down their forces, before the troll was summarily launched from the bridge...

SESSION NOTES: Nothing too interesting to speak of here. Through clever use of Hypnotic Pattern and Banishment, the players kept major threats out of commission for most of the fight.

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