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Erkonin (Campaign #1) [Session 4: Crazy Whispers]


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
This is based on notes taken by a player in a 5E campaign I've been DMing for just over two years, as I start this thread. We game every two weeks; I'll be posting every week until I catch up with the campaign. I'll be attaching documents to the entries where they become relevant. You'll be finding out about Erkonin (the world) and Urnod (the continent) about the same pace as the players--it'll be cool, I promise.

Session 1: Embernook's Zombie Problem

Dramatis Personae:

Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)
Mo - Goliath Bard
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin

GM - Everyone Else

Third Day of Feast of Sky, 748 (Campaign day 1)

We started on the last day of the 3 day Summer Solstice Festival, the Feast of Sky. All of us were, for our various reasons and in our various individual capacities, on the streets on the edge between the Nook neighborhood of Embernook (not a nice part of town) and Pierton (where the shipyards for building and repairing boats are). We were on or around a street that ran along the river.

Joybell and Imaktis were together preaching the beauty of nature but the rest were sort of scattered in the crowd of revelers out drinking and enjoying the tail end of the festival.

Then we heard screams and people were running away from the Pierton neighborhood up the road and down the side streets. 5 Zombies were shuffling along the street. Interestingly they looked very fresh - like they hadn’t been dead long at all.

They attacked the nearest random bystanders -- so three stopped to attack civilians about as soon as we saw them and two more continued toward where the PCs were scattered around.

One of the fleeing civilians bowled Joybell over as he fled, leaving her prone.

One of the three zombies attacking civilians hit and dropped his right away. Instead of immediately starting to eat, it slung the person over its shoulder and prepared to shuffle away.

Fiona was blasting at one of the more distant ones with Fire Bolts and Taman was able to sneak attack with his bow and got in some good licks. Orryk was the furthest away, so he was moving up as fast as he could at first, then throwing darts with disadvantage until he finally got into range. Mo was using Vicious Mockery to give one disadvantage on attacks, which was quite effective against the zombies. Imaktis cast Shillelagh and was able to get into combat right away with the one who was carrying a civilian. Joybell had to stand up and then move so she missed out on a round, but then she got right up on the ones who hadn’t yet found people to attack.

The three zombies attacking civilians all killed their prey and began shuffling away with them slung over their shoulders, so Imaktis and Taman were following, while Mo and Fiona were staying within spell range. Joybell and Orryk took care of the two that hadn’t found civilians to attack.

We had a couple of Iron Zombies Who Would Not Drop in this combat -- they lasted for ages and it took a while to get through them. The pursuit down the street went quite a long ways. Finally they all dropped and we were able to stabilize the three civilians.

Mo cast Prestidigitation to clean up the civilians, so they wouldn’t come to with zombie ick and blood all over them.

Joybell and Imaktis and Taman tried to backtrack them. When we lost the track, we talked to a person on the street. He didn’t see anything, except he heard screams and ran inside. (Weenie.) He seemed so calm about everything both Imaktis and Taman thought he was hiding something or lying. Apparently he wasn’t though.

Mo and Orryk and Fiona talked to the constables when they arrived. They took a look at the zombie bodies and found that they were blue collar/working class people with nothing valuable on them. They did have some tools, though. Orryk recognized them as tools for caulking a ship.

Joybell talked to a rat on the street and got more information than she got from the person she spoke to -- the rat saw a person carrying a person and pointed us in a specific direction down toward where there are derricks and ship-making, erm, stuff visible.

Mo looked around for anything like a union hall or a ship-builder bar - any place where people who work in this neighborhood go to drink and hang out together after working hours, but he didn’t find anything. Which seemed a little strange.

Not having succeeded at finding any people on the streets or in bars, we talked to the night watchman at the first of the shipbuilding yards. He was not very helpful -- we asked if there were any new ships in for repairs and he said no. I believe the intent of our question was to ask about in the whole area and he was answering about his specific yard. Which made this question and answer session less helpful than it might have been. Imaktis tried to bribe him to let us in to look around -- he refused the money and said we can go in and look around but “Just don’t get killed.”

Huh-what? That was such a weird thing to say that there was some paranoia among the party as we looked around. But we found nothing interesting in the shipyard and didn’t die, which we reassured him about on the way out.

We didn’t want to go through conversations with obtuse security guards all the way down the line of eight shipyards, so we just walked along the riverfront looking for one without a night watchman.

Finally, the last one had an empty watchman’s booth and we went into the yard, after some discussion with Imaktis about whether it was okay to break the law and trespass. (Joybell pointed out the exigent circumstance that we believed some people were brought there by zombies and we might still be able to rescue them. She also promised that the first thing she and Imaktis did on leaving would be to go to the constable.)

We went in through the open gate and quickly saw some shuffling tracks in the dirt leading between a couple of 20’ tall buildings to the shipyard’s drydock. The buildings had derricks or cranes jutting out over the boat in the drydock. There was a long, low building immediately to the right of the gate that was shuttered and dark.

As Fiona and Taman and Mo followed the tracks (not waiting for the results of Imaktis’ discussion with Joybell), Orryk checked to see if the door to the building near the gate was locked. As he did so a shadowy hand emerged from the wood and almost dropped him (he went down to 1 HP). When they all emerged there were 3 Shadows attacking. One stayed on Orryk, one went after Mo and one went after Taman, almost dropping him as well.

Mo used Healing Word on Taman and then proceeded with the Vicious Mockery to keep that one wearing the Ring of Shame (i.e. attacking with disadvantage). Imaktis healed Orryk some.

As soon as Fiona and Joybell had two of the Shadows down, 3 Zombies came shuffling off the ship. Orryk started advancing on the zombies on Fiona and Taman (who were nearest the boat) and kicked some butt with his darts, even at disadvantage because of range.

Imaktis Shillelagh’d and moved over to the Shadow on Mo with a nifty tumbling motion and a hefty blow -- he rushed right into the thick of things like a crazy turtle. Joybell followed him and dropped it.

We got through all the zombies without any of them being quite as crazy durable as the ones on the streets.

When we dropped all the zombies, Joybell took a look at them. Like the ones in the streets, they were all quite fresh. They were all attacked with a bladed weapon but had died from some sort of magical energy. Fiona looked at them as well and determined that the magic involved was some sort of life-draining magic.

Taman went onto the deck of the ship to look around and didn’t see or hear anything. While he was there, Orryk climbed up to the roof of the nearest of the tall buildings -- he didn’t see anything on either rooftop, so he climbed back down and opened up those two buildings. They were just workshops with tools, nothing interesting.

Taman came back from the boat and we all headed to the low building that the Shadows came out of. We looked around and found just an office building with office stuff. (Note: We should check this -- it will help confirm the last time any work was done at this shipyard.) It looked like the last work was done in the office two weeks ago.


So we all went back to the boat. There were two hatches on the deck of the ship. Joybell put a heavy barrel of nails on one of them, so nothing could come up through one hatch and attack us from behind while we were exploring the other.

We all peered down one of the hatches, with the help of Fiona’s Dancing Lights, and saw a hint of movement, but no detail, and heard an angry hiss from the shadows.

We decided to go down with a descent order of Imaktis, Taman, Joybell, Orryk, Fiona and Mo. (The party appears to have four people who want to be in front… :D)

As soon as Imaktis got down the ladder, he was surrounded by 4 Zombies and something in the darkness yelled “Get ‘em!” No one else had gotten down there before the thing shot an actual arrow at him out of the darkness.

Imaktis ignored the four zombies and went straight toward the thing in the darkness. He saw something withered and undead -- it had been dead longer than the zombies we’d seen thus far and had glowing red eyes, as well as a sword and a longbow.

Taman got down and Mo gave one of the zombies disadvantage on its attack with Vicious Mockery. Joybell jumped down and took a swing at one, but missed. Orryk came down and did good damage.

Imaktis cast a light spell onto the big bad’s nose - “Boop!”. The Big Bad blew the save and was glowing. From his nose.

Imaktis recognized the big bad as a Wight -- people who die from its life-drain effect come back as zombies under its control. Wights are resistant to non-silvered weapons, which was a pain because none of us have those. Apparently magical weapons (like Imaktis’ shillelagh) get through that resistance.

About the same time Imaktis was remembering this about it, the wight hit Imaktis with his two attacks, critting on the life-drain, and very nearly killed him outright. (He was down with two failed death saves in one attack sequence.) Mo got him back up with Healing Word!

Joybell and Fiona took out the last zombie while the others worked on the Wight. Mo viciously mocked it, repeatedly, to give it disadvantage on its attacks. Very helpful!

Once the zombies were all down, everyone (including Joybell and Fiona) dogpiled on the Wight. Taman slipped around behind it and backstabbed it and Orryk was just pounding the crap out of it, while Mo kept it at disadvantage with vulgar insults (“prick tickler”, “ball dangler”, “dumb schlonghole”). Fiona was shooting fire bolts at it through the hatch. (Neither Fiona nor Mo ever felt a need to go down the hatch because they could do their things from on deck.) Finally Imaktis did it the final damage and it collapsed in on itself and dropped into a rotted husk of a corpse, still glowing where the nose was.

Then we finally got to look around and found that the ship was under substantial renovation. This deck had all the interior structure removed (except such supports as are necessary to keep the top deck up and the ship together). It didn’t appear as though anyone had worked on it for a couple of weeks, though

We did find a great big pile of treasure.

Fiona identified the magic items while the rest of us were looking around. Imaktis wasn’t sure it was right to keep the money -- it belonged to someone before it belonged to the Wight and it should go back to those people -- but the others were pretty sure it was fine. Including Joybell, who wanted her share unless there were survivors who needed it.

Imaktis and Joybell went to find a constable hoping that someone official could help sort things out. And because Joybell promised him that they’d do that as soon as possible. They found Commander Mogree of the Night Watch.

While they were gone, Fiona figured out that someone had made a Shadowpool, a crossing to the Shadowfell, in the deck of the ship. It was done by precise placement of items on the deck, so that there was an exact correspondence between this world and the Shadowfell in this place. The wight doesn’t seem to have made it, though it could have come through the Shadowpool once it was formed. The party broke the arrangement and closed the Shadowpool.

Commander Mogree recognized some of the zombies here (there’s not enough of the wight left to recognize) -- they’re dock and shipyard workers. They should not have had anything like that much treasure and he couldn’t account at all for the magic items. He determined that while the treasure should probably belong to the city, because it was recovered without an owner having claim on it, we could keep it and divide it as we see fit. He said that we’d done good work for the city by stopping the zombies and killing the wight.

We asked if we could become official deputies or something to continue to look into this -- who made the Shadowpool? Why? Are there other things that came through that are laying low? When was it made? Mogree said that he’s just the night watch commander and couldn’t answer that question without talking to others. We’re to go to the guardhouse before noon tomorrow to talk to the Chief.

[Party advanced to Level Two]


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Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 2: Shadows and Stairs

Dramatis Personae:

Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)
Mo - Goliath Bard
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin

GM: - Everyone Else

Third Day of Feast of Sky, 748 (Campaign Day 1)

Before leaving the shipyard, we decided who got what of the treasure we found (which we decided was better done in the privacy of the empty boatyard rather than at a pub). Then we went to the nearest pub, the Pewter Oar, on the border of the Pierton & Nook neighborhoods.

Imaktis went off on his own for a bit while we were getting settled (and getting the first round with the one gold that was not easy to divide amongst us) but he knew where to come back to.

Some of the other people in the pub had seen us fighting the zombies, so we were treated to a few drinks by grateful people, in addition to buying a few on our own. Mo, Taman and Fiona make arrangements for rooms at the Pewter Oar.

Joybell asked someone who looked like a shipyard worker about that last yard down the line (where the wight and zombies were) -- have people been working there like normal? Have things been weird? The shipworker said that there were people walking around it and he’d assumed that they were the right people.

We introduced ourselves to each other, at least a little bit. It turns out that no one is from Embernook -- Taman has lived most of his life in the woods somewhere (but not near the druidic circle that Joybell grew up near). Joybell, who stayed in the city for a few nights here and there during her training at the Basalt Henge (about a day’s travel out on the Black Field) had spent more time in Embernook than anyone else. Most of the party arrived in town the day of the Incident.

We talked about continuing to work together, because that one evening’s work was very profitable. Joybell and Imaktis were both in as long as we were making a name for ourselves helping people and doing good. We don’t want to be just out for money or being random. But if we’re helping people, then yes, we’re for it.

Taman, who plays a flute, and Mo, who plays a pipe (instrument) that is also a pipe (smoking), had a small music contest for the price of a drink. Mo played a “light and jaunty dwarven song about killing duergar”. Taman played the song his dad taught him. Which is the song he knows. They were both good but Mo did win the contest.

Orryk and Fiona talked about elemental magic.

Eventually, when folks started getting too drunk. Joybell and Orryk went to the lodging house (run by a rock gnome named Queena) where Joybell stays in town. Orryk asked about where he could do research on the elemental planes and was pointed to the loose association of wizards in Centerkeep, who don’t really work together, but they are connected and pool resources. He should be able to find an archive or library there. He was also pointed to the Nook, where he can ask around about freelance wizards who aren’t joiners.

An important bit of local culture we learned from Queena is that people in Embernook, once bought, stay bought -- so you can count on someone not ratting out that you asked for information if you pay them not to.

Imaktis went to the temple district and talked to the clergy there (while he was also there getting a place to stay) about the Shadowfell. He learned: Wights make zombies and control a limited number of them directly. Wights and Shadows want to kill people, and will make other undead along the way, but the main goal is killing. Wraiths make spectres. And Ghouls want to eat people. Some undead are more connected to Orcus (who is not a god, he’s a demon-lord and can’t grant spells, but can make havoc).

Shadows are especially bad because they make more shadows in an exponential progression sort of way. When Imaktis told them about the shadows we encountered in the shipyard they were more concerned about that than they were about the wight. Imaktis was fortunate to have survived.

Because of all of this some humanoid cultures burn corpses to prevent animation and undeath.

1 Sunnin 748 (Campaign Day 2)

The next morning, we all met up again at the Pewter Oar. Mo bought breakfast for everyone, including eye-opening breakfasts, meat and eggs.

Over breakfast we discussed our goals for our conversation with the Watch Chief, Ullar Truehammer, who Mogree referred us to the night before. We agreed that we wanted to find out what happened, we wanted to be authorized to look into it further, and we wanted some sort of a reward (though there was a bit of a difference of opinion as to whether we’d be satisfied with the knowledge of a job well done or we wanted living expenses (or more) in addition).

We went to the Watch House in Centerkeep -- a stone building a couple of stories tall. The person at the desk took us up to Chief Truehammer, who was clearly expecting us. As soon as we walked in, while Joybell was explaining what happened (at length) and the Commander Mogree had told us to come talk to him, Chief Truehammer pulled six pieces of paper out of one drawer of his desk and six arm-bands out of another. As he was handing us the papers, Joybell asked if he even knew our names and he rattled them right off. (I suppose it helps that we’re a pretty distinctive group -- two Gnomes, a Tortle, a skinny Goliath, a half-elf and a human. (In a largely human city.)

The arm-bands identify us as associated with the guard -- if there’s a scrap or a problem, the guards won’t attack people wearing the armbands, because they’re assumed to be helping. The Papers authorize us with the rights and responsibilities of the city guard -- we are deputized as members of the Watch, but it is an entirely at will arrangement on both sides. We can leave when we want or they can fire us.

We are going to be making the standard wages for a Guard -- 1 silver piece per day each. We are also allowed to keep what we find. Chief Truehammer wants us to report it (in case something that was specifically reported stolen turns up) but we can keep it.

Mo tried hard to negotiate for higher wages. Joybell “helped”.

Mo (to Truehammer): You’re asking us to fight this for one silver a day…
Joybell (to Mo): Oh, no, they’re not asking. We’re offering.

We also got some information from Chief Truehammer. Outbreaks of undead and people creating shadowpools in the city is not a normal thing in the city. Good to know. However, anyone who made one Shadowpool might make more, so this person needs to be stopped permanently. Orryk (I think) asked if there had been any fiends summoned into the city or incursions of fiends. That has happened in the past. (Joybell was completely shocked by this.)

Istin’s Yard, the shipyard, is a family business (owned by the Istin family, not surprisingly) that has been in the city for a long time. He gave us the address for the family residence, so we could go talk to them. He had some information for us -- the ship in the yard (where the shadowpool had been set up) had been there for about a month. Istin’s had been contracted to do restoration below the waterline, which is why the ship was in drydock. This was to be a very thorough refitting of the ship, so the owners have not been expecting or demanding updates or information.

The people who were turned into zombies had been largely identified. Most of them were workers at Istin’s, though not all of the workers are among the dead. There were a few who have not been identified but may have been revelers or visitors to the city. (The ones the rat saw carried away by the zombies.)

He also gave us the names of some of the wizards in Centerkeep to talk with about the creation of a shadowpool and if anyone has been publicly looking into that. He gave us a letter of introduction to two of the wizards.

Someone (maybe Taman or Fiona) asked if there was anyone in the city’s government, the Council who might be disgruntled. Or if the City Administrator might be somehow sabotaging the city. We were told that the City Administrator (who serves at the pleasure of the council and has been doing so for seventy years) was completely beside himself when he heard about the Incident. Chief Truehammer wasn’t aware of any infighting on the Council, though he said he wouldn’t be. But he could go to the Watch’s representative on the Council and ask there.

We told him that he could get a message to us either at the Pewter Oar or at Queena’s lodging house.

After leaving Chief Truehammer’s office, we went to the Istin family residence to talk to them. On the way, Mo used Prestidigitation to clean us all up and make us presentable. We decided to wear the guard armbands when we knocked on the door. (At least, some of us “decided”. Imaktis was wearing his all the time and Joybell was following Orryk’s lead on when to wear it or not.)

At the Istin house, a butler took us, after a moment’s wait, to see Ser Istin (“Ser” is a title, not a name) and were introduced by the butler as “guardsmen”. The armbands worked. Sort of. Ser Istin was a human gentleman in his 40s dressed nicely. He had been informed of the Incident at the shipyard and was aware that he’d lost most (nearly all) of his workers. Joybell and Mo felt like he was honestly upset about that, though it was hard to tell if he was more upset about the loss of life or because he needed to hire a new workforce.

Mo asked if this had happened before. We were told that it’s not unheard of for a worker to fall or have an accident and be injured or even killed. But never before had the entire shipyard been attacked like this.

He had not personally been to the shipyard in weeks -- he had a foreman for this lengthy refitting project (the foreman, Orn, was among the definitely dead) and his presence wasn’t required on a daily, or even weekly basis. He gave us the names and addresses of three workers who weren’t turned into zombies -- it’s not certain that they survived, but they at least haven’t been identified as dead. There were no third-party contractors hired for this project.

Mo asked if he had any enemies -- if this could have been an attack on his business (with the dead workers simply collateral damage) or on him personally. Ser Istin denied having any enemies. The other shipyards are rivals, but they’re not really enemies -- they charge about the same and have about the same expenses, and if he’s got a ship in his dry dock, it doesn’t hurt him to have work go to another yard.

Mo tried to get Istin to pay us extra to look into it, but because we were there as guards, Ser Istin wasn’t biting. “It would be worth every copper I pay in taxes…”

After we left the Istin house, the party separated for the afternoon. Mo and Joybell went to talk to the three workers who were not among the definitely dead. Everyone else (Taman, Fiona, Orryk, and Imaktis) went to talk to the wizards in the Centerkeep.

Mo and Joybell went first to talk to the nearest worker in Pierton, a Rock Gnome named Burlin. Burlin came out on crutches with a splint on his lower leg. Mo immediately offered healing, but Burlin said he’d gotten all the help that healing magic could give and it would just take time for the injury to fully heal at this point. He got hurt at the yard about two weeks ago, in just a normal sort of occupational accident. He hadn’t seen any weird people going on or off the ship -- but some of the other workers had seen someone who didn’t belong there and one of those was on our list of possible survivors. As they left, Mo slipped Burlin a gold coin to help him out until he was back on his feet.

They went from Burlin’s to the house of the person who might have survived who’d seen someone strange at the shipyard, a young human named Tarl. Tarl had heard about the stuff that happened at the yard, though he quit a couple of weeks before because he got a better offer (helping to run his brothers shop on Allacross bridge). He did remember seeing someone strange come off the ship one morning when he and a few others got there very early to stage some equipment and supplies for the rest of the work crew. They got there early in the morning (pre-dawn) and saw a tall, skinny human man wearing studded armor and a sword walk off the ship and out through the yard without stopping to acknowledge or talk to them. It was weird to him, because there’s not much worth stealing on a ship in drydock. Mo asked if he would believe that anyone who worked for Istin could have done something that would have killed so many people. Tarl said no, but he would believe it about that strange man. He smelled like dead meat. Apparently, the night watchman saw the man leave the shipyard, but hadn’t seen him enter in the middle of the night.

The final worker, visited mainly for completeness’ sake, was named Zenan. He was actually still an employee of the yard, if the yard was still a going concern, anyway. He’d missed work the day of the Incident because he’d called in sick with a stomach bug (Joybell thought that it was more likely he was hungover from too much revelry at the festival, but no matter). When asked if anything had seemed strange about the ship or what was going on at the shipyard he said that the first deck down near the bow (where the shadowpool formed) smelled a little funky and had been getting worse. Like something died there. And it was cold in that area and it just never warmed up. He hadn’t seen any strange people going on or off the ship. He also said there were no new workers.

The other team, Taman, Fiona, Orryk and Imaktis, went to Centerkeep to talk to some of the loosely organized wizards (not a freelance wizard). The two they were given an introduction to were Tulmor (a woman in her 50s) and Barnett (a man in his 30s), both humans, who share a tower in the city. Tulmor did most of the talking.

They had been informed about the shadowpool that was formed in the shipyard and gave some information about them. The tricky part of setting up a shadowpool is knowing what’s in the Shadowfell in order to make the correspondence. Once one has the knowledge of what is there, it’s just a matter of moving things around to make the correspondence. It is theoretically possible for it to have been made from the Shadowfell side, though she’d never heard of anyone doing so. It is also possible that it was made by accident, but that is very rare.

Taman asked if someone could have remade the shadowpool overnight because it only took us a few minutes to move things around enough to break it. Fortunately, it takes a bit of time (two weeks) for the shadowpool to form once the correspondences are set and during those two weeks there needs to be no sunlight in the area (including spells that specifically make sunlight).

Taman tried to get information about how one knows what’s on the Shadowfell side to make the correspondences -- would divination or scrying spells work, for example, but my notes don’t indicate that we got a satisfactory answer to that. But that knowledge is the hard part of making a shadowpool. Setting one up on a ship in drydock isn’t a bad choice for a long-term but not permanent pool -- as soon as the ship moved out of drydock it would have been broken in any case, but the ship wasn’t going anywhere until the repairs were complete.

We were told that if one sees enough shadowpools, one can start to recognize whether they were made by the same person. There becomes something almost like a style about it.

Taman asked if anyone had come around asking about shadowpools. Tulmor said that no one had paid them for that information, as a way of indicating that they had not been bought.

Orryk had some questions about the elemental planes and crossings to them and he and Fiona got an invitation to come back and look at the books in their personal library about it.

Also Taman hung back to ask a personal question and paid Tulmor and Barnett to look into it. And to not tell people they’d been paid to look into it.

The party met back up at the Pewter Oar to share the results of our conversations over dinner. When we were finishing up the main course, a guy in a guard uniform rushed in, sweaty and exhausted, breathing hard, and very spooked and said that Mogree had said to find us...things...human-like things were eating people in Fisher’s Walk (on the other side of the river).

We left him collapsed in a chair at the pub and went running toward Allacross bridge and the Fisher’s Walk district on the other side of the river. After we crossed the bridge, but before we got really into that neighborhood, we heard screaming from inside a building near the bridge.

There was a sign outside the building that said “Kell’s Boardinghouse.”

When we got there, it was late evening, but there were still a few hours of light left, we saw a person, screaming, run out through the door of the boardinghouse, slam the door shut behind himself, then fall on the stoop as his scream died away. As he lay there a flickering black form came out of his chest then went back into the building, passing through the door.

Looking around outside the building there’s a small yard and service alley in the back.

That was a Shadow -- which meant it was a higher priority than the “human-like things eating people” (maybe ghouls), because Shadows multiply.

The front door of the building was closed and all the ground floor windows we could see were shuttered on the inside. We were reluctant to get too close (remembering what happened to Orryk at the shipyard office when he nearly got dropped by one) so Mo grabbed a rock to through through the window and shutter.

As he threw the first rock, Joybell cast Bless on herself, Orryk and Imaktis. Orryk readied a shot with his short bow.

When Mo threw the rock, the shutters got knocked open and we saw a dining room with a shadow in it. Orryk immediately fired his readied shot and hit it.

Mo threw a rock through the other front window and there was a shadow in there as well, which Orryk also shot at.

Taman then went and opened the door and saw a shadow immediately inside. Taman shot it with his short bow then Imaktis went in and killed it.

Imaktis: I have cleared the building. It is safe to come out.
Orryk: Imaktis, there are two
Imaktis: Shit.

Fiona saw another shadow inside the house and cast fire bolt on it, but missed. It moved up on Imaktis and Taman, then another one did the same. Fortunately both of them missed with their attacks.

Joybell (who had the shittiest of all possible inits for a front-line fighter -- last after everyone, including the bad guys) finally was able to get up to Imaktis and Taman.

Taman took one down with his rapier, then Orryk and Imaktis hit the other one. Mo cast vicious mockery on it, but it saved. Another one came up through the floor to attack Taman while the one people had been hitting attacked Imaktis. Joybell used her new Protection fighting style to protect Taman, since Imaktis has that Tortle AC. Taman dropped one of those two and Imaktis hit the other one and then taunted it. The final blow on that one was delivered by Fiona.

That was 4 Shadows killed at this point.

Looking around on this floor, we found two corpses in the parlor. There was also one in the dining room and one in the kitchen and the one on the front step. That meant that there were still more Shadows coming (there needed to be at least one more than the number of corpses because one had to make the first corpse). Looking around in the kitchen, Imaktis found stairs both up and down. We knew from the outside of the building that there were two upper floors; apparently there was at least one basement level as well.

Another Shadow came down from the ceiling right next to Mo. Taman and Imaktis killed it.

Fiona cast Dancing Lights and sent the lights down the stairs. Orryk went downstairs behind them and saw 3 more Shadows in the basement. Having used a double move to get down there he used a bonus move to Dodge. Mo dashed down after him and attacked.

One of the Shadows hit Mo and he used his Goliath resistance ability to reduce the hit point damage, but couldn’t affect the strength damage, so his strength was reduced to 4. Taman got into the combat in the basement with a dash and a sneak attack and did good damage, but we were piling up on the stairs and couldn’t get people into combat. Fiona couldn’t get a clear strike at all.

Mo did a Thunderwave, partly in an attempt to push them back and make some room for us to move in. Fortunately he killed one outright but the other two made their saves and didn’t get moved. Joybell managed to take advantage of being a little gnome to slip through the stair rails and get down into the basement and got a good hit. So did Taman and Imaktis, but the thing was still standing. Fiona shot it with her fire bolt. Orryk dropped one. Joybell tried to protect Mo with her shield during an attack, but it still managed to hit and did strength damage again. He dropped to 1 strength. (One more hit from these things and he was going to be dead and us with no way to bring him back.) Joybell laid on hands to heal the necrotic damage but couldn’t help with the strength drain. Fortunately, someone managed to drop that one.

Running total: 8 total Shadows now killed.

Imaktis: This house is clear.

We looked around in the basement just a little bit -- there was a coal pile and some storage boxes.

Also two more corpses, bringing that total to 7.

We all started moving back up the stairs -- most of us moving and then dodging, to give them disadvantage on attacks. Imaktis and Fiona got to the stairs to the first floor and were attacked by another one. Fortunately, it only did one strength drain to Fiona. Imaktis hit it and Fiona retreated away from the front lines. And once again we were bottled up on the stairs.

Another one came out and attacked Imaktis, and he said “No” and raised his arms, and his AC went up against the attack. (Apparently our cleric cast a Shield spell, hmmmmm….)

Fiona managed to get out of combat, but Orryk couldn’t get into it and spent several rounds just dodging. Joybell used her Divine Smite ability for the first time to try and clear up a bit of the bottleneck -- it worked to the extent that one of the Shadows was killed (pretty much evaporated). Taman was able to move up and attack. Orryk hit one and killed it.

Imaktis, looking around: I have cleared the floor.
Mo: We should have just set the house on fire.

Fiona and Mo stayed at the bottom of the stairs, while Taman explored the rooms on this floor (bedrooms for the lodgers, with at least three more corpses) and Imaktis continued up to the second floor. Where he found another corpse and another Shadow. Only Imaktis was even on the second floor at that point.

Down on the first floor, Orryk was attacked by one that came out of the ceiling at him and suffered necrotic and strength damage. Joybell wasn’t able to get into melee, but she was in position to throw a javelin. Taman killed the one on Orryk, finally.

Fiona and Mo, both having suffered strength damage (and being low strength characters to begin with) spent a lot of time well behind the front line (such as it was) staying out of the bottlenecks, with Mo kind of hiding behind the wizard but still contributing with inspiration.

Mo inspired Joybell with a song and she managed to get a hit which opened up space and cleared a bottleneck. Imaktis hit it and then Fiona fire bolted it and it dropped at last.

Final tally: 12 Shadows killed. 10 or 11 corpses found (an appropriate number, because there needed to be at least one more shadow than corpses).

Imaktis: This floor is clear.
Orryk: Imaktis may be right.

And he was.

We put on our guard armbands (because we didn’t want to be mistaken for marauders when the watch arrived) and went back down to the basement to look around.

In the basement we found:
1000 cp
600 sp
70 gp
2 silver ewers, each worth 25 gp
Wand of Magic Missiles (Mo)
Brooch of Shielding (Fiona)
Starburst Flail (when picked up, it emits dim light in a 5’ radius. When it hits a target, it emits bright light in a 20’ radius and dim light in another 20’ radius) (Joybell)


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 3: Ghasts, Ghouls, Zombies, And What Was That Thing?

Dramatis Personae:

Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Sorcerer (Shadow)
Mo - Goliath Bard
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin

GM: - Everyone Else

1 Sunnin 748 (evening of the same day) (Campaign day 2)

We started just after clearing Kell’s Boarding House of Shadows (so many Shadows!) and finding all the treasure (see above for how it got allocated). Fiona identified the items and the party took an hour to take a short rest.

Joybell and Taman went down to the basement while everyone else was resting -- in part to look for any sign of a shadowpool forming and to move things around just in case there were resonances and correspondences forming. Mostly so that Joybell could practice with her new flail. The first time she took a swing and hit something, the flail glowed bright like a torch.

Joybell, after bounding back upstairs: Guys, guys, guys!!! Look at what it does!
Fiona: I just told you it would do that. Like a minute ago.

After the others finished resting, we all went up to the upper level to look for a shadowpool and move things around some in the attic to be on the safe side. We spent some time looking around the owner’s room up on the third floor but didn’t find anything particularly useful or informative.

None of the bodies had tools or equipment of dockworkers on them and Kell’s was on the other side of the river (across Allacross bridge) from Pierton. Nothing at the boarding house connected this establishment or any of the people in it to Istin’s Yard or the Istin family.

We stepped outside and Joybell did her Divine Sense (detect undead) thing that would have been so terribly clever to have used during the fight in the house with all the shadows, but she totally forgot about it. There were no undead in her range (60’). As we were all out in front of the building, wearing our armbands, a group of 4 guards came by moving double time toward Fisher’s Walk. They told us that Commander Mogree had sent them to Fisher’s Walk because something was going on there. Mogree was back in headquarters -- he had sent them to find out what was going on and send a report back. He’d heard about ghouls eating people there.

We told the guards about the 12 dead people in the building and the whole bunch of shadows we’d killed in the house. One of them stayed at the boarding house to start dealing with identifying the dead. One went back to report to Commander Mogree. The last two went with us to lead us (well, “lead us” from sort of the middle of the pack, because they didn’t feel a need to run into the bad stuff before we did) to where things were going on.

We double-timed toward Fisher’s Walk -- initially at Joybell’s best pace, which was slowing everyone down. So Mo picked her up and she rode on his shoulders so the group could go faster.

We got to Fisher’s Walk and found four corpses scattered around an intersection with some guards keeping people out of the intersection. The corpses had been partially eaten. The guards told us that the monsters attacked people with their claws, then the victims stopped moving (though they were clearly still alive) and the ghouls would then start eating them, without waiting for them to actually die.

The ghouls that attacked these four victims took some bites out of them, then left, moving toward Upport. (They had come out of Upport and were returning there.)

We headed in that direction, then as we got into the Upport neighborhood, we saw 3 Ghouls, each with a non-moving victim. We weren’t sure if the victims were dead or not; they could have just been paralyzed. As we ran up, Taman shot at the one closest to us and Mo used his new Wand of Magic Missiles on it.

The two in the back took big bites out of their victims (one of which was clearly still alive -- we could see arterial spray) but didn’t move toward us. The one in the front of the group moved into a position of cover around a corner of a building from us. So we diverted our fire to the ones in the back that we had clear shots on -- Orryk shot an arrow and Fiona used her fire bolt. The Guards moved up, but not too far up. They didn’t want to really engage these things.

Imaktis surprised at least some of the party by casting Magic Missile (Joybell was shocked) -- spreading the damage between the two wounded ones. Taman moved into position to shoot the closest one. Mo used the Wand of Magic Missiles again, to great effect. Joybell did pretty well with her Javelins, despite throwing them at long range.

When all of the ghouls had dropped, we tried to stabilize the victims. One of them was still alive and we were able to save that one. The other two were already dead before we were able to get to them. We searched the bodies of the ghouls looking for anything in pockets or on their persons or if they had any sign of being shipwrights. The ghouls were about the height of humans but emaciated-looking (not freshly dead like the zombies on the ship). They were all basically wearing tattered pants (“Bruce Banner pants”) with a symbol of a stylized ram’s head carved on their chests. Joybell and Imaktis recognized it as a symbol of Orcus, the demon-lord of undead who wants to make everything undead.

Joybell: That doesn’t even make sense...

As we were searching the ghouls, some of the windows along the street opened and heads started peeking out. We asked the people about what they saw -- they told us that the ghouls were heading toward Upport, where they had originally come from.

Taman and Imaktis found three sets of tracks coming out of Upport, just as the witnesses said. The guards decided not to come with us -- one of them stayed with the stabilized but still unconscious survivor and the other went back to HQ and reported about this to Commander Mogree.

We headed on toward Upport with Taman and Imaktis back-tracking the ghouls. As we were heading along three ghouls came out from around a corner toward us. At least we thought at first that it was three ghouls -- but as one came toward us very aggressively, we noticed that it smelled very very especially bad, so it appeared to be something different. (The players recognized it as a Ghast, but Joybell at least thought of it as a stinky-ghoul.) (2 Ghouls, 1 Ghast.)

The ghast dropped Taman right off with one blow, which made Orryk nervous and Joybell really unhappy. She moved up next to Imaktis and tried to protect him with her shield but the thing got a hit anyway. Then Imaktis hit with his Shillelagh.

Fiona cast Thunderwave on the two ghouls -- she pushed one back 10’ but the other one saved. Taman was healed by Mo with a Healing Word -- when he got to his feet he moved around to take cover behind tiny little Joybell.

Mo played a Thunderwave on his flute and pushed back the same one -- he was back almost to where he started, then the ghoul dropped in that spot -- but the other one saved.

Orryk was visibly shaken by seeing Taman dropped in a single hit by the ghast. He backed off to attack with his bow. He dropped the ghast. At that, the remaining ghoul tried to run away. Fiona cast a firebolt on it.

Taman ran to the corner behind the fleeing ghoul -- to follow behind as the ghoul went to wherever it was going. Joybell did a double move to try and catch up to him.

Orryk took a look at the defeated ghoul and ghast -- they were both wearing the Bruce Banner pants with the symbol of Orcus carved on their chests, but the ghast had a more ornate version of that symbol. There were no runes or anything resembling language associated with either of the Orcus symbols carved on the chests of the monsters.

Imaktis moved right up behind the fleeing ghoul, to see how motivated it really was to run away. The answer was not that much, because it turned around to attack Imaktis. Orryk shot it and Taman moved around to the side to take a shot at it from across the street. Joybell got a hit with her glowing flail. The ghoul was killed.

Taman resumed backtracking the ghouls and ghasts, following the path back toward Upport.

We came up on four monsters -- three of them looked like ghouls and the fourth looked different, like one of the stinky-ghouls with the more ornate symbol on its chest (3 Ghouls, 1 Ghast). Orryk was still shaken from Taman being dropped so easily in the previous combat. The three ghouls closed distance with us, but the different one, the ghast, stayed back.

Fiona shot it with a Fire Bolt and Imaktis cast a Guiding Bolt on it. With the four of them pretty well clustered together, Orryk, still shaking with fear from the previous combat, threw a bead from the Necklace of Fireballs into the group. The ghast and one of the ghouls were killed immediately. The other two ghouls moved up to attack Orryk. Mo viciously mocked one of the ghouls, giving it disadvantage on its attacks. Joybell dropped one of them with her flail, noting that it was softened up by the fireball.

After the last ghoul dropped, we took a short rest there, finding a quiet little alcove on the street. The path we’d been following from the first sighting of the victims in Fisher’s Walk was something of a random walk through this part of the city -- not a straight line at all.

After we rested, we continued following the tracks well into Upport. This is the area where logs come into the town on riverboats coming down from the inland forests. The logs go to lumber yards and sawmills and gets turned into lumber which is used in, among other places, the shipyards. We followed the tracks to a lumber yard -- an area defined not by a fence but by an area cleared of the grasses and plants that surround the area. There were 10’ high piles of logs and lumber around the yard and a building in the middle (approximately 60’x60’, ish) that appeared to be the sawmill.

We were able to take a bit of time to look around the yard when we got there. There were 12 Zombies spaced out around the central building.

Taman shot the nearest zombie -- it started making a low, moaning yell, which was taken up by the zombie next to it, then the zombie next to that, all the way around the line until all 12 were wailing. The nearest zombies started moving in our direction, but some of the more distant ones were moving in other directions. 4 Ghouls and 1 Ghast came out of the building and started moving toward us.

Orryk and Taman were advocating attacking at range and moving back -- staying out of melee with them, especially the ghouls with their paralyzing attack. Excellent advice, which we only sort of followed, at best.

One of the ghouls was completely evaporated when FIona critted it and did max damage with a fire bolt! Nice!

Orryk followed his own advice, shooting and falling back. Mo, who was well behind the front line, Viciously Mocked the nearest one but held his ground.

Imaktis moved up and cast Sacred Flame on the nearest zombie, saying “None shall pass”. Joybell moved up next to Imaktis, not wanting him to be facing all of the enemy on his own, and threw a javelin at the lead zombie, which killed it.

There really were quite a lot of opponents, with all those zombies (which can be tough as nails to actually drop) and the ghouls and the ghast.

Orryk told us again to fall back. Imaktis followed his suggestion -- attacking and then falling aback about 10 or 15 feet. Joybell did the same, moving back to stay within five feet of Imaktis so she could continue to protect him with her shield -- which was good because she was able to protect him from a ghoul’s paralyzing claw attack.

As we were dealing with all the monsters we had already, another Bad Thing came out of the sawmill. It looked similar to the Wight we fought on the ship at Istin’s Yard but it wasn’t wearing armor, or wielding a short sword and short bow. Fiona and Imaktis noticed that he had a Mage Armor spell up.

It shot two back beams out of its hands -- one at Joybell and one at Imaktis. It missed Imaktis but did necrotic damage to Joybell, bleaching and dessicating her skin where the beam touched her.

After that attack, Imaktis still didn’t fall back, so Joybell stayed with him, though Orryk was still urging us to fall back and stay out of range. With a couple of ghouls, the wight and several zombies coming up on Imaktis and Joybell, and Taman pretty close as well, Orryk moved up and threw another fireball bead from the Necklace of Fireballs. He got two zombies, the ghast, two ghouls and the wight.

Orryk: Next time, I’m letting you all die. Fall back!

The zombies were essentially evaporated and the ghouls and ghast were dropped. The wight took damage, but wasn’t dropped.

There was one zombie left right in front of Imaktis and Joybell. Imaktis took a swing at it, then picked Joybell up and moved back fifteen feet with her. Joybell moved up from that position to attack the zombie, then backed up to slightly behind Imaktis, but where she could still protect him with her shield, which she did. Then Taman dropped that one.

Through all of this the zombies were continuing their bellowing all around the yard as they were shuffling their way toward us.

The wight, after taking damage from the fireball, retreated back into the sawmill building.

Taman moved around to the side and took a position hiding behind one of the piles of logs where he could see anything coming out of the building and took a shot at one of the zombies, then fell back and hid again.

Imaktis and Joybell were the front line with Fiona and Mo about 10 or 15 feet behind (with Fiona throwing Fire Bolts and Mo using either Vicious Mockery to impose disadvantage or shooting things with the wand of Magic Missile). Taman was well around to the side behind the pile of logs and Orryk was circling around in that direction, shooting things with his bow (or moving up to throw darts). Orryk was still telling Joybell and Imaktis to fall back.

The zombies were getting up to Imaktis and Joybell one at a time, which seemed like it would work out just fine, except that zombies can be slow to kill which makes a defeat in detail more challenging.

While the main line of fighting was about 50 feet away from the building, Taman came out from his position of hiding behind the log pile and went to the door of the building and peeked inside to where the wight was. He saw the wight drinking something, but was not himself seen. Taman then backed around the corner and hid there.

Imaktis stayed in position with several (at least four or five) zombies getting very close to the front line. This left Joybell very torn -- Orryk was giving good advice to fall back, but she didn’t want Imaktis there on his own with three zombies right on him and more very close.

Joybell: I’m sorry, Orryk! But he’s up here and needs support!
Orryk: It’s his decision…

Taman went back to the door of the building and took a shot at the wight through the door then dropped back around the corner. It came back out of the building and could clearly see Taman, though Taman was trying to sneak. It cast Hold Person on him and Taman was paralyzed. Joybell could see Taman and that he was suddenly frozen -- she called out; “Oh, no! Taman!” -- then took a swing and dropped the zombie right in front of her.

Two more zombies immediately moved up (as expected) so Imaktis and Joybell had four zombies in a line in front of them.

Taman didn’t manage to shake off the Hold Person on his own turn but Fiona hit the wight with a Fire Bolt and broke its concentration on the Hold Person. Orryk came out from behind the pile of logs and took a shot at the wight, but wasn’t able to hit it. Mo tried and failed to Viciously Mock a zombie. Imaktis used Mo’s inspiration to hit with a Guiding Bolt.

Once again, the wight retreated, along the side of the building toward the driveway at the back. Taman took a shot at it as it retreated. Orryk missed the wight. Mo used the last charge on the Wand of Magic Missile to take down the wight -- and then the wand did not crumble to dust with its last charge expended. Yay!

Imaktis and Joybell, with their big line of zombies, were trying to focus fire on the zombies in turn, but had an iron zombie that survived many hits with only one hit point. Finally, Mo managed to drop the iron zombie with an attack with his rapier.

With all the worst monsters (the ghouls, ghast, and wight) gone, the end of the combat was a lengthy slug-fest against the few remaining zombies. Fiona moved around to where she could Fire Bolt to good effect. Orryk was throwing darts from off to the side, then moved up to attack with his quarterstaff and fists.. Taman moved up behind them and was attacking from there. Mo was around the side using his rapier.

Taman dropped another one. Orryk hit one twice, but it survived that. Mo finally dropped the last one.

Joybell moved to a corner of the building where her Divine Sense ability would cover the entire sawmill, and sensed for undead. None. Then she moved over to the driveway out into the night. None.


Taman went into the sawmill and looked for traps and found none that did damage -- there were some that were in the nature of alarms (like the Zombie Wail alarm outside). There was a shadowpool in the sawmill -- Fiona recognized it as the work of the same person who made the shadowpool on the ship. We moved things around to break the correspondences and stop it.

Orryk took a look at the body of the wight -- it had a pendant with a symbol of Orcus (like we’ve seen carved on the chests of the ghouls and ghasts). Joybell was completely grossed out by the evil symbol and said that it should be destroyed, but the others argued against it and she backed down. For now.

The ghouls and the ghasts were like the others we’d seen -- Bruce Banner pants and the symbol carved on their chests. The zombies were less fresh than the ones at the shipyard had been. By and large they weren’t wearing work-clothes or tool-belts or anything that would suggest that they were at work at the sawmill when they were killed.

Looking around the sawmill, especially the desk in the corner that passed for an “office” we found that no work had happened here for at least a month. Looking at the records, it appeared that the lumberyard had been having business problems and work may have stopped because it went into bankruptcy. The records indicate that they had sold wood to Istin’s Yard, but didn’t appear to have a deeper connection to Istin’s than to any of the other shipyards they sold wood to.

Imaktis (or maybe Mo) wondered if the shadowpools were perhaps connected to distressed businesses -- either because the buildings are empty and available or because people associated with the businesses were making deals with dark powers.

In the sawmill we found:

Potion of Stone Giant Strength (Joybell)
Potion of Clairvoyance (Fiona)
Potion of Fire Breath (Orryk, as it is relevant to his interests)
Oil of Etherealness (Taman, but he’s carrying it for the party)
Flute of Scribing (Mo)
2 bloodstones (50gp each)
4 tiger eyes (50gp each)
4 zircons (50gp each)

(This came to 45 gp, 150sp and 383cp each, with 2cp left over.)

It appears that at least some of this treasure is coming out of the Shadowfell -- some of the coins are not locally minted (though they have the correct amount of the correct metals).

The first thing we want to do next session is report to Commander Mogree.

We all leveled up to Level 3.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Session 4: Crazy Whispers

Dramatis Personae:

Imaktis - Tortle Cleric (Nature)/Shadow Sorcerer
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)

GM: - Everyone Else

1 Sunnin 748 (night of the same day) (Campaign day 2)

Not listed among last session’s treasure was the (Un)holy symbol of Orcus that the Wight-spellcaster was wearing, because none of us wanted it. However, we thought it might be important, so Fiona wrapped it up in leather and put it in her satchel.

Commander Mogree showed up at the lumberyard after we took care of all the undead. He was disturbed when we reported that the shadowpool at the lumberyard was made by the same person as the one at Istin’s Yard. He said he would talk to Tulmor & Barnett -- they are good at planar stuff.

Mogree also told us that he had convinced Chief Ullar Truehammer to change our arrangement with the guard -- they will be paying for our lodging and food. It’s only fair -- they provide room and board for the regular guard. We can stay where we’re currently staying and they’ll cover room and board. We can also have people leave messages for us with the guard -- rather than telling possibly shady sorts where we’re staying.

Mogree said that he didn’t have any word of anything else happening in the city at the moment other than the ordinary sort of things that the guard are well equipped to handle.

We parted for the evening with plans to meet for breakfast the next morning.

Back at the lodging house, Joybell gave Queena one of the silver ewers found at the boarding house as a thank you gift. She also asked about how to get a letter or a package to someone in another city. Mail moves most inexpensively between cities along trade routes with caravans. That is not fast. More expensively a special courier can be hired -- that costs more, but how much depends on how long a trip.

2 Sunnin 748 (Campaign day 3)

We met up for breakfast to talk about plans for the next few days. Joybell had to go to the Basalt Henge to take her final vows -- a three day trip (one there, one at the Henge, one back). The rest of the party had plans for doing various kinds of research, both personal and pertinent to the undead problem, in the city.

We agreed that we were going to continue working together -- this has been working out really well.

2-4 Sunnin 748 (Campaign days 3-5)

Mo spent the days working at the docks as a stevedore. He joined the stevedore’s guild and helped carrying crates at various shipyards and listening to the workers. He went with them to work and got to know their lives and struggles. He wrote and performed songs of their struggles in the stevedore’s guild taverns.

He learned that they get health care (curing magic) when they are injured without being stupidly at fault (coming to work drunk, for example) but the pay is very low. The guild assigns work out to workers who make themselves available for the day, but the Guild takes a percentage of the pay. Mo netted about 5cp per day working as a stevedore (about half the wages as a guard). So he heard some complaints about pay, but not about treatment otherwise. He also learned that the Stevedore’s Guild has a seat on the city council.

A few of the people he spoke to knew people who worked at Istin’s yard, but he didn’t get any insight into the skinny guy with the sword who was seen coming off the ship in the middle of the night.

He was reminded (as were we all) that the foreman at Istin’s Yard was, when we were talking to Ser Istin and Chief Truehammer, unaccounted for. He had not been seen and was not among the dead. One of the stevedores Mo worked with in Deepport knew him as an acquaintance to say hi to. The stevedore saw the Istin’s foreman in Deepport earlier in the day and said hello, as one does. The foreman didn’t seem to recognize or know him at all, was slow to respond to his own name, and seemed surprised to have been recognized. He clearly didn’t ‘have any idea who the acquaintance was. It wasn’t that he was scared or nervous about being recognized, he just had no idea. The stevedore told Mo that the foreman’s name was Alin, but didn’t know a last name. (Of course, Ser Istin knows the foreman’s name, so we could get it from him.)

Imaktis spent the time looking into official records of the town. He was looking into the Lumberyard and Istin’s Yard and looking for other businesses that may be failing. He did not have good luck looking through the city’s records (they are very poorly organized and the city doesn’t keep good records, according to Imaktis). The Lumberyard was in receivership, but Istin’s Yard was not struggling at all.

Joybell went to the Basalt Henge to take her Oath. There was a letter from her parents waiting for her at the Henge -- her mother (pregnant when Joybell left them) had given birth to a baby brother named Eulan!!

She also spoke with the person who trained her in combat, a tiefling named Green Hope -- she showed off her spiffy flail and talked to the him about undead and how to fight them. When she mentioned that the second Wight had a symbol of Orcus and was casting spells, Green Hope got very serious and said she needed to kill all such things she found. When Joybell asked if he had any advice about how to do that he said, “Hit them until they stop moving.”

Fiona and Orryk went to Tulmor and Barnett’s place to see about using their library, which they had been invited to do. When they got there, Tulmor and Barnett were already up and about and busy, though it was pretty early in the morning, and seemed surprised to see them.

Fiona showed them the wight’s Orcus symbol. They asked if anyone from the Guard saw that and Fiona said probably not, because it was wrapped up in her bag before Commander Mogree got there and we didn’t think to mention it. But he did see the Orcus symbols carved into the chests of the ghouls. Barnett re-wrapped the Orcus symbol and took it into another room and returned without it and Fiona and Orryk were happy to be rid of it.

Tulmor told them that Chief Truehammer had hired them to go out and map the planar instabilities in the city, throughout Embernook. This was going to entail walking around the city concentrating on a spell similar to locate object. All day. For several days.

They asked Fiona and Orryk to man the desk at their office -- taking messages and being there in case people came in to hire them. While there, they were free to use the research library without charge. For 50gp per day, Fiona could look through their spellbooks and learn any spells she could manage in the time she paid for. They even had the necessary inks and paper available, at the usual cost, for her, so she didn’t have to go hunting around.

Then Tulmor and Barnett headed out to start their survey and left Fiona and Orryk manning the desk at their office/home.

During the days of down-time, Orryk was doing research into Orcus, but had little success (possibly because Fiona had already snagged those books off the shelves) and the Elemental Planes. He had tremendous success with some research into the Elemental Planes. He also looked a bit into whether there was a Devil parallel to the demon Orcus, and found that there really isn’t one that’s as focused on undeath as Orcus is.

Fiona was researching Orcus as well and had tremendously more success than Orryk did. She learned that Orcus is the Demon Prince of Undead. He has the goal of turning everything in the multiverse into undead . During the time when the demons and devils were rampaging or stampeding on this continent, Orcus made several personal appearances, separated by hundreds of years. These didn’t go well for anyone and the last time he was on this world, sending him back to the Abyss involved two Solars (high-ranking Celestials).

Every time he showed up, those people who had made deals with him to become warlocks became undead wight-like creatures that could cast spells immediately upon his arrival on this plane...which sounds disturbingly familiar. (Note: Those people who made pacts with him to become warlocks during the hundreds of years when he was not on his plane, lived out their lives normally. It was only when he came to this plane that his warlocks immediately became undead spell-chucking wights. Which makes that guy in the lumber-yard even more bad news.)

Fiona also did some research into a personal project of her own.

The only interesting visitor during the days they were watching the desk was Chief Ullar Truehammer who showed up and asked where Tulmor and Barnett were. When told they were out walking around the city doing their mapping, he grumbled and left.

Orryk also went to a shop to ask about how much it would cost to make a weapon magical -- no specific power, just a magical thing as opposed to a non-magical one. He learned that it costs 75gp and takes about a week to put a simple enchantment on an item. He didn’t pursue this idea at this time, but did make note of the information.

Joybell got back to town on the evening of 4 Sunnin (Campaign day 5). She stopped by Queena’s to drop off her pack and say hi, then headed off to the Pewter Oar to find people. No one was there at first, then Taman and Mo and Imaktis showed up. Tulmor and Barnett asked FIona and Orryk to go with them there (so Orryk didn’t go straight back to Queena’s himself), because they wanted to talk to all of us (or as many of all of us as possible). We all wound out gathering in a quiet corner of the Pewter Oar.

They told us that, based on their survey, there were no shadowpools currently forming in the city. There were some instabilities -- places where it would be easier to set up a standing gate. None of those instabilities appeared to go to the Shadowfell -- one went to the Feywild and one to the Elemental Plane of Water. There was also one in The Nook that was vague and indeterminate -- it seemed to them that someone could take some control over where that one became a portal to, if they were of a mind to. There was no sign, during those three days, of there being any undead problems in the city, but we still haven’t fully explored the tall, skinny, stinky guy who came off the ship at Istin’s Yard and we haven’t looked into Alin the foreman from Istin’s at all.

They did have a job for us, however, less than a day’s travel outside of Embernook, in a town called Kalmarn. They had a bookish friend, a research wizard, named Harl the Quiet -- he was Barnett’s mentor and teacher and he had collaborated with them on various projects. He had a huge library (setting the hook for Orryk and Fiona). They had not heard anything from him at all in a couple of weeks and the last riverboat that moored there (four days previous) had not seen any signs of life in the town. It looked deserted. Mo asked if the riverboat crew had seen any signs of flight from the town and there was no answer for that -- the riverboat had tied up, seen that it looked like no one was there, and then left. There was no fire and it didn’t look like the city was in shambles. There was just no one there.

We asked if he was researching anything that might have turned on him and they said that wasn’t likely. But he was definitely a research wizard -- “Anything he doesn’t know is not worth knowing” was his attitude. He had a very large library, but was very reclusive, which is why he lived in the small farming village of Kalmarn.

They wanted us to go first thing the next morning, so we weren’t going to have time to look for Alin, the Istin’s Yard foreman before we left. Fortunately, we weren’t expecting to be gone long.

We retired to our respective lodgings. At the temple, Imaktis tried to get a sense of what the local clergy were saying about the undead problems -- generally they’re pretty much against them. They do have some Inquisitors who are interested, but they have no information.

5 Sunnin 784 (Campaign day 6)

We met up at the Pewter Oar early in the morning. There were two letters waiting for us at the bar when we assembled there for breakfast. One was from Tulmor and Barnett and was addressed to Fiona. It had an envelope inside addressed to Harl and a note telling her not to open the other envelope. The other was from Chief Ullar Truehammer. Chief Truehammer’s note said that we were going to be going to Kalmarn by a boat called The Kelrose, which was waiting for us in Upport. The city had arranged for the boat and we would be paid our usual salary (such as it is) while on this mission.

The captain of the Kelrose, Whit (otherwise known as Captain), told us that we’d get to Kalmarn in the afternoon. The Kelrose had a crew of about 20 people, so it was a pretty big, but not huge. The river is about as wide as the Potomac at Embernook, narrower upstream.

Joybell had never been on a boat before, so she and Mo spent the river trip sitting up in the front of the ship watching everything. Mo was playing his flute and smoking his pipe. Taman spent the trip listening to the sailors’ scuttlebut -- the sailors were a bit baffled about this trip, because they had no cargo and were only going as far as Kalmarn. Apparently the whole purpose of the trip was to take us there.

About 2 in the afternoon, we got to Kalmarn and tied up at the moorings there. The Captain told us that they would stay until sundown, but no later. If we weren’t back to The Kelrose by then, they’d leave without us and go back to Embernook.The sailors were going to stay on the ship -- they had no intention of facing whatever was going on in the city.

From the boat, we could see that Kalmarn is a small village -- there was nothing moving, but we could see a couple of people lying on the ground looking inert.

Taman could hear some distant screaming and yelling in a language he didn’t know. As soon as he told everyone else about it, Joybell started running in that direction. The others took a moment then followed her. Strangely, Imaktis was the reluctant one, but he did come along.

By the time we got to the village proper we could all hear the screaming and shouting. None of us knew the language, though we have a lot of languages between us. When we got to the “main street” (such as it was), everyone had pretty much caught up to Joybell, who was looking around pretty wildly at first.

She was relieved to find that this was nothing like what she’d seen before.

Mo cast comprehend languages in an attempt to understand what the screams were saying -- but he found that the people (who we couldn’t see yet) weren’t making sense. The words could be translated but were put together without syntax or sense or grammar. So there was no possible translation of the phrases and sentences.

The inert people lying in the street were dead bodies -- they appeared have been beaten to death.

As we were examining the dead bodies in the streets, screaming people came out of the buildings, 8 undead bad guys (8 Mindghouls). They were moving toward us, so that the first two attacked in the first round and then more did double moves, to get to us or at least get close. They looked mostly like people -- they looked ragged but not exactly rotted. They were gibbering and yelling with strings of spittle dried and caked on their faces. They didn’t have fangs, just normal human teeth, and they didn’t have any weapons. They didn’t look like anything we’ve seen before -- they looked filthy and smelled of rot, but weren’t normal ghouls or zombies.

Taman spent a moment studying one to get insight into it, then took a shot at it. Mo found that they could be Viciously Mocked, to an extent. Their minds were too badly broken, as manifested by the gibbering, to be susceptible to psychic damage, but they could be put at disadvantage on their next attack.

One of them hit Joybell and for a moment the babbling almost made sense to her. Then, still mentally scrambled, she missed with her attack.

Taman got a sneak attack crit on one for 32 points of damage. There were two on Orryk and Joybell and Orryk did 17 points of damage to one. Mo used the Magic Missile wand to hit one that had flanking on Imaktis, then Imaktis moved away from it (ignoring the attack of opportunity) to attack the one Orryk had just hit.

Another mind ghoul started coming up through the village from behind the houses in the main street (1 more mindghoul, total so far: 9). Joybell used her protection ability on the first attack against Imaktis but the second would have hit if not for Imaktis casting a Shield spell. Joybell was hit and wound out stunned -- unable to attack or move or take reactions and all attacks against her had advantage. While she was stunned, one came up and started whispering in her ear -- the gibbering almost made weird sense to her, but she saved against most of the damage. Then she was able to shake off the effect, but was unable to attack.

Taman made a good shot, then Orryk missed with his staff. Fortunately, he hit with the unarmed strike.

Mo blew a silent note on his flute which then exploded in a crash of thunder, which was a shatter spell. He was able to catch three of them. Imaktis cast Sacred Flame on one them that was in the Shatter Spell and Fiona Firebolted one and dropped it.

Another one started coming in from the end of the street (1 more mindghoul, total so far: 10).

They attacked Joybell and Imaktis and actually missed Joybell. Who was then able to get an actual hit against them. Taman then dropped the one she’d hit.

Orryk moved 15’ away from one then punched into the air, which then hit with all the force of his punches and his spiritual energy. Very cool! Mo used the wand of Magic Missile again. Fiona tried to firebolt one, but missed.

When they attacked, Joybell protected Imaktis from the first attack with her shield and then he used a Shield spell to protect against the second attack.

In the background we saw a different kind of creature coming up from a house at the end of the road -- it looked like a “vaguely humanoid frayed cloud” (1 Allip). It didn’t look like a shadow, which were the only other incorporeal beings we’d encountered. It came up from the end of the road then moved into a house, going right in through the wall.

Joybell missed with another attack, but Taman managed to get one with his rapier. Orryk did his air-fist attack, Fists of Unbroken Air, at one and then moved back further from the buildings -- because he didn’t want anything coming out through the walls at him. Mo dropped one and then hurt another one with a Magic Missile from the wand. Then Imaktis cast Magic Missile and dropped one and hurt another one. There were still a few mind ghouls around us and 1 more coming up from further away (1 more mindghoul, total: 11).

Fiona Magic Missiled one mindghoul, then the weird one (the allip) came out of the building and made a weird, babbling howl that stunned Joybell and Taman and did psychic damage to everyone. Orryk hit the allip with the same Fists of Unbroken Air attack, then backed around the corner of a building for cover. Mo used Vicious Mockery on it.

Imaktis moved Taman back out of range of the allip, then cast guiding bolt on it. He did a lot of damage, and left it limned with magical light so that the next attack against it had advantage. Fiona cast a Fire Bolt and killed another of the mind ghouls. As the mind ghouls dropped one by one, the screaming got to be less and less. As the last mind ghoul finally got to us, Fiona did a lot of damage to it with a firebolt.

The allip did its babbling howl again and once again Taman and Joybell failed the save. Both immediately dropped and immediately failed death saves on their turns.

Orryk ran up and did a flurry of blows on the one last “normal” one and dropped it.

Mo healed Joybell and got her back on her feet with a Healing Word.

Then Imaktis hit it. In response, it tried to float away, but Imaktis dropped it with an attack of opportunity. (Also, Taman got healed, somehow.)

The Village was clear.

Orryk figured out that these creatures, the corporeal ones, had some sort of contagious, undead madness. Anyone that died to that gibbering, screaming attack from the incorporeal one was going to come back as one of the corporeal ones. So would anyone who died to their psychic attack (whispering in the ear).

The party looked through the whole village and all the buildings and found no living people in any of the buildings. We did find a few corpses in the buildings and it was clear that the corpses had been dragged into the houses to hide them from people. Like the ones on the street, they had been bludgeoned to death. Perhaps so that people would come to investigate. There was no sign that people were packing to leave or fleeing the village, so whatever happened happened quickly.

Harl’s house was the large one at the end of the main street -- the one that the allip had come out of. Before we went in there, though, we went back to a large open area between the village and the dock (so nothing could sneak up on us) and took a short rest, which Taman and Joybell were especially grateful for.

After our rest, we went to explore and investigate Harl’s house. Walking around the outside, we were able to look in through the windows (the curtains were open). The house was a mess, with a vibe of all-night-study-session as well. Joybell did her Divine Sense to check for undead in the house (while we were still outside) and detected none. We knocked on the door and got no response. The door was locked, so Taman opened it, while Imaktis and Fiona were both casting Detect Magic as ritual spells.

Inside the house, we found that things were torn up and torn apart. Inside the library, there were books and paper all over the library. The books had been disassembled, with the covers ripped off and pages ripped out. Orryk and Fiona both grieved the loss of the library. The detect magic spells found no magical books.

We did find Harl’s journal -- at the end it was randomly polyglot, changing languages within words and total word-salad even if they were in one language. Joybell went backwards through the journal, looking for a point when the journal still made sense to try and learn what Harl was researching when he went insane. He was working on reading a book, but he couldn’t figure out what language it was in. When he cast Comprehend Languages and tried to transcribe the translation, the transcription was in the same language as the book. He couldn’t translate it.

We figured out what book it was -- like every other book in Harl’s huge library, it had been torn apart with half the pages ripped out and the spine torn apart. The characters weren’t normal characters for any language that any of us knew, but they were distinctive. We found the rest of the pages in among the litter of the room. At least most of them. As we did so, we found that the more languages someone knew, the harder it was to look away from the crazy-writing because with greater knowledge the more nearly comprehensible it seemed.

The rest of Harl’s large library could possibly be restored with a lot of work by a bunch of apprentice wizards. An intern project.

Searching Harl’s house, we found some treasure including coin and some magic items. (See list at end.) We did not find anything like a shadowpool, which was a considerable relief.

We did find:

3 onyx gems (50gp each)
2 jasper gems (50gp each)

Bag of Holding (Orryk is carrying it for the party)
Potion of Force Resistance (in the Bag)
Potion of Greater Healing (Orryk)
Candle of the Deep (in the Bag)
Necklace of Prayer Beads (4 beads) (Imaktis)
Suit of Magical Studded Leather (Mariner’s Armor) (Taman)

We took Harl’s journal and as many pages as we could possibly find of the Crazy Book (so that they’re not a trap for said apprentice wizards) then headed back to the Kelrose for the sail back to town.

Once we were back in town, we went straight to Tulmor and Barnett’s to break to them the bad news of their friend (and Barnett’s mentor), getting there quite late at night. We told them that Harl had died and his library was destroyed. Barnett had heard of people being made mad by research -- their minds couldn’t handle what they were learning. Harl believed that the Crazy Book had some secret in it. We gave Harl’s journal and the Crazy Book to Barnett, with very strong warnings that he not open the Crazy Book before reading the journal. We warned him that the Crazy Book appears to be something of a trap for the unwary, so he should read the journal to know what he’s getting into. Hopefully, they’ll find that the journal also says where he found the book or who he bought it from. That might be worth investigating.

Harl had helped them with various matters in the past, but he was not at all an adventuring or combat mage. He was an academic/theoretical wizard. He was, however a friend and collaborator for them. We asked if he had other friends or other collaborators. Barnett said he didn’t know but it was entirely possible that Harl didn’t have any friends other than them.

We made a plan to give a report to Chief Truehammer first thing in the morning -- it smells too much like coincidence that suddenly in Embernook there are undead coming out of the woodwork.