Erkonin (Campaign #1) [Session 46: Making Deals with Devils is Stupid as well as Bad]

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 21: Burning the Place Down

Dramatis Personae:

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)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)

GM - Everyone Else


8 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 39) (immediately after)

After a few minutes of shock and tears, we saw that a crowd was starting to gather around us.

Joybell: I don’t want people to see him like this.

Joybell and some of the orcs took Imaktis’ body into the Cracked Shield compound.

Fiona, Taman and Mo went off to the hotel to get the cart and the horses. (We agreed without much discussion that none of us were going to be alone, so Orryk stayed with Joybell.)

After they left Orryk stood at the damaged entrance to the compound and called out into the crowd for someone from C&C to come forward.

No one immediately did, though there was movement and action in response to his call. After a few minutes someone stepped through the crowd and into the clear area littered with dead Masks and Imaktis’ blood. Seeing the Masks, the man sighed.

Orryk: You own the Masks’ building?
C&C Agent: Yes. We’ve been renting it to them for a while.
Orryk: How much to buy it? We’re going to burn it down and we’d rather not have it be a big thing where you send guys after us and we kill them. It would just go on and on.
C&C: That’s a negotiation for someone higher than me. Someone will be in touch with you.

Joybell found a little urchin in the crowd and paid her 3 silver to tell Black Irnod that there were 12 more dead Masks down in Blooming Cliffs outside the Cracked Shield compound if he was interested.

That’s as much interest as any of us had in the bodies of the fallen Masks.

As the folks getting the cart were returning, Joybell and Orryk talked to the orcs about relocating -- perhaps to the Jagged Sword’s territory, where the Orcphans were taken from, or to the area around Embernook. Joybell thought about suggesting that there was a town outside of Embernook (Kalmarn) that was depopulated and ready for folks to move into, but she wasn’t sure how the people of Embernook would feel about that. They agreed that they needed to explore the possibilities available to them and were already doing so. They had a while before the Masks could return to Pelsoreen -- which was good because it was going to be a major caravan to move everyone and all of their stuff out of the city.

Joybell: I’m so sorry! I feel like I brought this on you all when I brought you into my vendetta.
Rask: No. It’s okay.

He then offered for them to pay for a raise dead spell for Imaktis, since he died defending them.

(Note: This is the point in the notes where this exchange, from Session 20, fits in best:
Orryk: He died defending the Orcs.
Imaktis’ Ghost: I died defending you guys!)

We said no thank you -- from Joybell’s perspective at least in part because they had their own dead to perhaps raise -- and loaded Imaktis onto our cart and left. We took him to the temple of the Joyful.

Mo: We lost a friend and we are hoping you can bring him back.

Tormaz said that it would cost 500gp for the material components -- however, Imaktis had been donating a lot of money to the temple, so there wouldn’t be any additional charge.

We took Imaktis to a back room and Tormaz cast the spell -- there was a swirl of energy focused around Imaktis’ chest and the diamond, but the diamond didn’t shatter and Imaktis didn’t return to us.

Tormaz: He is at peace now. The two sides that were at war within him are now at peace. He did not want to return.
Joybell: Could we try again later? Maybe in a year he will want to come back.
Tormaz: Yes. But you will need to have some of his body for the magic to work.

We loaded Imaktis back into the cart and Tormaz cast Gentle Repose on him so that nothing unfortunate would happen while we were taking care of his remains.

Before we left, Mo dropped several large handfuls of silver into the poor box. As always, someone from the temple came out and took most of it inside, leaving a few coins for those who needed it.

Mo, to Tormaz: That spell you cast. We might have need of that. Could you write us down notes or instructions on how to cast it?
Tormaz: I will look into it. But it will be expensive for us to create. We have a scroll with a revivify spell that I can sell you, however.

So we bought the revivify scroll (because Joybell has that spell on her spell list) and the required material component (a diamond of specified value) from him.

Then we headed off to the Last Doorway to talk to them about cremation.

Priest: Good day.
Orryk: No. Not really.
Priest: I apologize. I’m hoping we can make it better.
Joybell: We’d like to use your facilities for a private funeral. We want to light the fire ourselves, if that’s possible.

We also said that we’d like some of his ashes in an urn -- enough to cast resurrection at some point in the future.

The priest agreed that all of that was possible and that the next time available was going to be first thing in the morning the next day. Imaktis’ remains were moved into a small room there, where they would be safe and treated with respect.

We then sat out front on the cart for a while, taking a short rest. (We’d realized that the agent from C&C that was going to come talk to us had probably had a devil of a time catching up to us, because we were moving around the whole time.)

As we rested, we looked at the magical items we’d removed from Imaktis’ body -- the gauntlets of ogre power, the mantle of spell resistance and the necklace of prayer beads. With him not returning to us, we redistributed them. Mo put on the gauntlets, Joybell put on the necklace and tucked it under her tabard to keep it safe, and Orryk put the mantle on. He then gave the wand of web to Mo, because he had as much magic as he could handle.

About an hour later, a nicely dressed human came walking up the street.

Illya: My name is Illya. I’m from C&C. You wanted to negotiate for the purchase of a building so you can destroy it?
Orryk: Yes. We want to destroy the building. No. We’re going to destroy it. But we don’t want to get into a problem with you. You’ll send assassins after us. We’ll kill them. It won’t be good.
Joybell: We really just want the structure. We don’t want the land. You could rebuild right away. We wouldn’t care.
Orryk: We’re going to send a message.
Illya: You want to be indemnified for the damage.
Joybell: Yes!! Exactly!
Illya: For two thousand gold pieces, we can give you two days to do whatever you want with the building.
Joybell, to the others: That sounds like a bargain.
Illya: For another five hundred gold pieces, we will give you the name of the person who has rented it from us.
Joybell: We won’t need two days. Could we pay one thousand gold pieces for one day?
Illya: The two thousand is the cost to rebuild it, primarily. We cannot go lower than that. We will also need to know half a day before you start so we can have people on scene to protect the surrounding structures.

Orryk created a small flame then snuffed it out then said, “We won’t let the fire spread.”

We accepted the terms offered and Illya handed us a contract -- written in very straightforward terms so that we knew exactly what we were contracting to pay and what they were contracting to grant us. We were told to take the contract and the money to the C&C headquarters half a day before we wished to destroy the building.

We decided to just go take care of that now, while Mo grumbled that it felt like we were ticking off boxes rather than going and just tearing the place apart.

We left the horses and cart back at the Iron Steed, paying for another night there at the same time, then followed Illya to the C&C headquarters on foot.

In the office we gave her the paperwork and each of us paid our share of the money. As an expression of disgruntlement, Mo paid four hundred of his share in gold pieces and the remaining hundred as one thousand silver pieces, pulled out of the many pockets in his armor by the handsful. A pity it wasn’t 10,000 copper ...

We told her that we were to start destroying the building tomorrow at noon, after Imaktis’ funeral. But we were going to go over and spend some time in it tonight -- searching the place thoroughly. She said that was fine as long as we didn’t do any damage.

After we paid, she stepped out of the room for a bit. When she returned she said that the building had been rented to a dwarf man named Turnik Steeltear. When we asked for an address for him, she said they’d been collecting the rent payments at the House of Masks and mostly from the Masks themselves, not from Steeltear himself.

That was less helpful than Joybell, at least, hoped. But it was also the letter of the agreement.

We headed from there over to the House of Masks to check the place out -- loot if there was any loot to be had, make sure there were no survivors lurking there, re-destroy the teleportation circle. That sort of thing. Before we went in Mo did his Junior Birdman clairvoyance mask again and looked around upstairs -- there were 12 beds in the bunkroom and 12 dead Masks, so that was a good sign. Each of the beds had a longbow and a quiver of arrows next to it (so the near-endless supply of arrows in the bag of holding got replenished). When we went inside, we looked very thoroughly around -- they hadn’t had time to accumulate any treasure so all we found was the bows and arrows. There were, again, no papers or documents of any kind.

All we found were some bags of food supplies -- grains and gruel. Joybel wanted to take them, because we were going to be heading off on the road, but Taman pointed out that he could forage for better food than that. Then she thought of giving it to the Cracked Shield for their journey, but they also can get better food than that. So she left the bags outside the door so anyone could take them, rather than letting food get destroyed with the building.

We went back to the Iron Steed and settled down to activities each according to her or his nature. Mo and Taman commenced to get very drunk. Fiona worked on transcribing the shadowbolt spell we found into her spellbook.

Joybell, to Orryk: Do you want to spar? Because I don’t want to get drunk. I want to fight.

Orryk and Joybell went out to the stableyard and sparred and did exercises and drills.

During and after his drinking, Mo was going to work on something to say at Imaktis’ funeral.

Eventually we made our usual precautions for the night, including the tiny hut, and rested. The night passed without incident.


9 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 40)

On the way to Imaktis’ funeral, first thing in the morning, we talked about the fact that we didn’t know anything about his family or where he came from. We didn’t know if there was anyone we should tell about his passing or how to go about it.

When we got there, we found Imaktis laid out on a pyre by the Last Doorway priests. We gathered around, along with a few of the orcs from the Cracked Shield there to pay their respects to him.

Joybell looked to Mo to say something.

Mo: I guess he’s home. It’s a shame he’s never going to leave this city.
Taman: We don’t want to leave any part of him here.

At that, Taman asked the priests if they could scatter the ashes that we don’t take (because we won’t get all of them) out on the ocean. That way they’d get dispersed all around and he’d get to lots of places. The priests said they could give them to a ship captain sailing to Mahassar (the sub-continent to the east of Urnod) and ask him to scatter them along the way.

Mo: He was a good friend. Always in the front line of danger.
Joybell: He was a good person. He helped people others wouldn’t. Like he went to the brothels and healed the ladies.
Mo: He went to the brothels?

After that we lit the pyre. Orryk controlled the flames so that they took Imaktis’ shape. Then he cast it again so that the Imaktis-shaped fire burned the color of his spirit guardians. We stayed with him until he was gone to ash.

Joybell: Farewell, Imaktis.

Before we left the priests gave us an urn with 10lbs of his ashes. (Note: GM says that this is enough to cast resurrection.) That went into the bag of holding.

As we left, Orryk said that he wanted to get a magical weapon that did necrotic damage, so he’d be more prepared when we faced the Masks again. We decided to go to the temple of the Purveyors and Wrights to get a recommendation for a magical item dealer, since we didn’t want to wind out dealing what a charlatan or someone who was palming off cursed goods.

At the temple the cleric we’d spoken to back on our first day in Pelsoreen asked how he could help us.

Orryk: I’m looking for a weapon that does specific kinds of damage. Have you heard of the Masks and how many fewer of them there are now?
Cleric, looking impressed: Yes...That was you?
Mo: Boo.

He recommended a shop in Stonetree run by an elf woman named Allona. She doesn’t have shelves stocked with items on display -- she listens to what her clients need and offers them a curated selection that really will suit them. She’s been in business in the same location for a few hundred years.

Mo: You know most of the movers and shakers in the town, I expect. We’re looking for a dwarf named Turnik Steeltear.
Cleric, after thinking for a bit: No. I’ve never heard of a dwarf with a name like that.

When he put it that way, Mo agreed that Steeltear is a weird name for a dwarf. Most dwarf clan names are a little more positive and sturdy -- Steelarm rather than Steeltear.

The cleric speculated that perhaps it was a duergar name -- but all the drow and duergar cities were destroyed in the Fiend Wars and for all intents and purposes the drow and duergar cultures were eliminated. There may be some scattered individuals, but no communities remain.

We left with that thought in our heads and headed off to Stonetree. On the way to Allona’s we stopped in at the alchemist Burnaka’s place to see how he was getting on with the gorgon snot. He wasn’t done, but he said he believed that he’d be making something like the oil of prevention of petrification. He will be able sell us the oil at 150gp a bottle when he’s got it made. But if we don’t buy any he can sell it to other people. Mo asked about a discounted rate, since we brought him the gorgon snot, and he said that was the discounted rate.

Somehow, Joybell wasn’t sure we were getting any recompense for bringing him the material to make something he can sell to other people...but whatever. We killed the gorgon anyway.

We went on to Allona’s.

Orryk: I’m looking for something that does necrotic or psychic damage. Do you know the Masks? Do you know how many fewer there are of them?
Joybell: Necrotic and psychic damage! That’s the key!
Allona: What are you looking for? What kind of weapon do you use?
Orryk: Anything simple.
Joybell: He’s amazing with his fists.

Allona then went into her back room and came back with a somewhat tatty looking pair of black leather gloves that looked like they’d seen some serious business. She said that they were created as an emergency backup for a spellcaster, in case something got too close. If you touch someone with them, they can do a spell attack that does necrotic damage. And if it hits, the wearer heals half as much damage as the target takes. She said they cost 750 gold.

Orryk: Sold.

Mo then mentioned getting a weapon that did more damage than a rapier. Now that he has the gloves of ogre strength, he’s no longer a skinny weakling. Well, he’s still skinny, just not a weakling. Orryk pulled one of the Mask’s longswords out of the bag of holding and handed it to him.

Mo: Well, I’ll just use that then.

Taman asked after something that would be a magical ranged weapon, preferably a longbow. He also mentioned the possibility of something that could be thrown for Joybell. Allona returned with a handful of javelins of lightning for Joybell, at 750 gp each. Joybell declined -- we’d spent a lot of money in the last two days and she’s still saving up for plate armor one of these days.

Allona also had a longbow (+1) for Taman for 800 gold.

Taman: Sure.

And with that it was time to tear down the House of Masks. When we got there, Mo cut down the sign in the front of the building. Joybell strapped it to the outside of her backpack. It is at least as large as her torso, but she has it there for now at least.

We started inside the building by physically beating on the support pillars, at least Mo, Orryk and Joybell did, partly to weaken them and partly just for the satisfaction of hitting and breaking them. While that was going on Taman went around splashing oil all over the place and Fiona was calculating the most effective places to start the fire and the most effective supports to bash on. Orryk went up into the attic to break holes in the ceiling so that the fire would have better ventilation.

Then Fiona lit the oil and the building on fire with fire bolts, in the best spots to really get the fire to spread and bring the building down.

When the fire was going well, we all went outside to watch it burn. Orryk patrolled around the building checking for fires spreading to the neighbors and snuffing any stray sparks that he saw. When it looked like the fire inside might be flagging a little he gave it some extra oomph as well.

As the roof collapsed inward, Joybell shouted: "For Imaktis! And the Wold! And the orphans! And everyone else these bastards have hurt!"

By the time the fire had burned itself out and the building was as destroyed as it was going to be, most of the day had passed and evening was settling in, so we returned to the Iron Steed.

With our usual precautions, the night passed without incident.


10 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 41)

The next day we decided to head out to Rodzun and the Keeper of Secrets on the track beyond. However, the Ovverway causeway was going to be up starting a couple of hours before sundown. We had the whole day to occupy in Pelsoreen.

We decided to check out the Outer Chaos signal the orrery was getting from the headquarters of the Water and Sewer department. As we left the inn, Taman saw only one group following us -- they weren’t bothering to even try to hide from us. Taman waved at them.

At the Water and Sewer building, we went into a reception area.

Receptionist: Can I help you?
Joybell, to Mo: Do you want to handle his?
Mo: We’re adventurers from out of town. You probably don’t get this much…
Receptionist: You might be surprised…
Mo: We think there’s something from the Outer Chaos here. Something dangerous. Maybe that concerns you. We should talk to your boss.
Orryk: Whenever we encounter these things there’s screaming and people dying. You probably should be concerned.

He pulled out the orrery -- it spun for a bit and settled on pointing at a door off the reception area.

Receptionist, puzzled: That’s the old planning office.
Joybell: What’s in there?
Receptionist: Plans?
Joybell: Can we take a look, please?
Receptionist: Sure.

Before she let us into the office, Mo cast clairvoyance, standing there in the office with his junior birdman mask. All he saw inside were a couple of drafting tables or desks and bookshelves with papers, and tied up rolls of papers.

Orryk: How long has the office been unused?
Receptionist: We haven’t had to expand the system in at least eight years. As long as I’ve been here.

Fiona took ten minutes to cast detect magic. While she was doing so, Taman listened at the door for a bit, but heard nothing. Then we just milled about while she was casting. Fortunately the receptionist let us do that.

When the spell was done, the receptionist let us into the planning office. On one of the shelves there was a rolled up sheaf that was vaguely magical. That same sheaf of paper was also what the orrery was pointing to.

There were no monsters and no obvious crazy books or writings. Just that one rolled up sheaf of paper.

Fiona sat down again and began the ritual to cast identify. Once again the rest of us sort of milled about for ten minutes. Joybell looked at other papers and plans just to pass the time.

After ten minutes, Fiona learned that the scroll wasn’t created by a spell or anything. It is simultaneously a plan of a prior arrangement of the water and sewer lines in the city and a map of a part of the outer chaos. (Mapped chaos?) This prior arrangement was from quite a while ago, but not even close to being as long ago as the Severance. This isn’t like the Book of Madness -- it isn’t powerful enough, or closely enough connected to the Chaos, to draw someone in. The only danger is if someone unrolls these plans and reads them.

Joybell: Who do we need to talk to about taking these?
Receptionist: Let me go get my boss.
Joybell: Good idea.

She left and a few minutes later a dwarf showed up and introduced himself as Bjorn.

Joybell: What do you know about this set of plans? They were on the shelf over there.
Bjorn, after looking at the sheaf of papers, still rolled up: They’ve got to be close to one hundred years old.
Mo: Did you notice anything about the pattern or arrangement of these pipes being weird?
Bjorn: There were sections that didn’t make a lot of sense…
Mo: Who designed the system?
Bjorn: The guy who was the head of this department then.
Joybell: What was his name?
Bjorn: He was human. Humans die so quickly you barely have time to remember their names. <looks at Taman>No offense. His name was Turla or something like that.
Joybell: These papers are connected to the Chaos Between Worlds. Will anyone miss them if we take them off your hands?
Bjorn: I’ll sell it to you for 50 gold.
Joybell: Well, we could leave them here. It would be like a trap - someone could read it and become a monster and kill people.
Bjorn: And wouldn’t that weigh on your conscience?
Joybell, pulling out a coin purse: And this is the problem with having me negotiate. Okay.

With the sheaf of papers safely in the Bag of Holding, we went off to Thani-Breel university to get the Book of Madness from Amlorr. While we were there, he also gave us the proper name of N., the Keeper of Secrets -- Nicolana.

We got the horses (still Horse 1, Mr. Ed., and Horse 2, Secretariat) and the cart and headed out across the causeway. We arrived at the other shore around sunset, so we stayed at an inn or caravanserai on the other side.

We made our usual precautions and the night passed without incident.


11 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 42)

We travelled all day through Ivvereen to Tummeleen. On the way, Joybell tried to find the same little squirrel she’d spoken to on the way out before, but had no luck. Otherwise the day passed in uneventful travel. When we approached Tummeleen, we noticed that Jorlas’ cart had been moved from where we left it. We found it parked in Tummeleen -- where someone was working on cleaning it up and fixing it.

We spent the night at the Sterling Scythe again. The townspeople still looked a little freaked out from the attack of the Skinned One and the Star-Spawn Grues.

Mo performed for our discounted lodging and his supper -- it was far from his best performance ever. He found himself setting down his pipe and doing cheezy “magic” tricks with his fingers.

Oh, well, they can’t all be gems.

After Mo’s incredibly awkward performance, we made our usual precautions for the night and had no problems.


12 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 43)

We travelled through Orlimunn and Lunn and had a very quiet day. We stayed at the Flying Turtle again, and Joybell spent the evening thinking of Imaktis and missing his company.

Mo’s performance was better this evening -- he made good money in tips and we got our discounted lodging.

The night passed without incident.


13 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 44)

We got to Rodzun around midday, so we just continued straight on out the eastern side of town on the cart track. As we went we talked about what exactly we wanted to ask Nicolana, the Keeper of Secrets.

We settled on “Who is responsible for the Masks and where do we find that person?” If we can ask follow up questions, we’ll ask about Turnik Steeltear.

Taman reminded us that if the conversation with Nicolana goes south, be careful to break eye contact. Just in case she has the same eye/gaze attack as the agents of her mother, the Tundra Queen. Though, we did realize that just because she’s the Tundra Queen’s daughter, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s an ally. Because fey political alliances and networks are complicated.

About three or three and a half hours after we left Rodzun, we got to a rise or small hilltop that we’d been able to see a half hour or so earlier. When we’d seen it in the distance it looked like a mostly bare, grassy hilltop with some rocks on it. When we arrived there, however, we saw a small hut.

As we pulled the cart to a stop, Taman called out: "I seek the Keeper of Secrets."

Mo got off the cart and went to knock on the door, but before he got there it opened and a human-looking woman who looked 25 years old or so came out.

Nicolana: You’re not Jorlas.
Mo: He read the book.
Nicolana: He should have known better.
Mo: It can be very convincing.

Nicolana, looking at all of us: You may come into my house. I offer you my hospitality freely.

Taman, who’s done some study of the Fey, understood that there were no conditions to us coming in. She was genuinely welcoming -- and she was letting us read her and see that genuine welcome.

We went in to a nice casual dining room with food laid out on the table. Joybell left Scooby outside to watch the horses. Nicolana made it clear that he was welcome inside, but Joybell, without Taman’s insight into the Fey and having heard stories of people eating and drinking with various Fey in the woods and being lost for weeks or months at a time, declined and said he’d be fine outside.

Nicolana: So. You have a book for me?
Mo: It depends on what you’re going to do with it.
Nicolana: The thing about Erkonin is that it’s where I keep my stuff. I have no interest in bringing in the Outer Chaos to destroy everything.

That was a satisfactory answer to all of us, so we began to negotiate for the name and location of the person behind the Masks -- as we’d discussed on the way. After a few minutes, Nicolana sort of shook her head.

Nicolana: You want to know how to get to where the Masks are forged. The name and location alone would do you no good.

We agreed that she would give us the information in exchange for the Book of Madness and the scrolls from the Department of Water and Sewers.

The directions:
Leave Pelsoreen by Mountainway. Stay on the road around the Green Quilt (the Dunnimar Mountains). After ten sleeps, head into the mountains (this will be south-ish). After you do that, whenever you choose a path, take the road less traveled -- and look for twins.

We’ll know we’re there when we find the twins. And from the twins we’ll find the way to where the Masks are forged.

Joybell knows a little of the northern Dunimar Mountains, that’s where the Wold was, and knows we won’t get as far as the Wold in our ten days of travel from Mountainway.

Once we had that information, Taman said: I don’t suppose anyone has told you who I am.
Nicolana: You have a grudge.
Taman: I don’t believe you’ll tell me anything because I don’t have any more secrets.
Nicolana: Well then. But I’ll tell you the one you seek is not my mother’s servant.
Taman: I know that. But your mother does things that irk me.
Nicolana: Me too. But unlike my mother I play fair.

She stood then and told us that we were invited to stay in her hut for the night and to eat the food that was available, but she had to leave.

Joybell: Before you go, can you give us information about how to get in touch with Jorlas’ wife and children. She’s waiting for him to return, but he’s gone now and never will. They need to know that he’s dead.
Nicolana: That is not a secret to keep. I will make sure they know.

(Note: We ended before Joybell got a chance to pull out the letter that Jorlas was writing to his wife and ask if Nicolana could get it to her. It would probably make Martra happy to know he was thinking of her.)
 

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 22: Striking While The Iron Is Hot

Dramatis Personae:

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)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)

GM - Everyone Else


13 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 44) (immediately after)

Before Nicolana, the Keeper of Secrets, left, Joybell gave her the letter from Jorlas to his wife to deliver -- Martra deserves to know that her husband loved her and was thinking of her right to the end of his life. (We did keep the others though.)

Then Nicolana left, inviting us to partake of her food and the safety of the hut for the night.

Mo really really wanted us to leave and get as far away as possible before making camp. Joybell, who was friends with a pixie near the Wold as a child, had heard tales (from Wren, the pixie, as well as from people in the Wold community) about people feasting and dancing with various fey and losing months when they thought they were gone for only an hour or two. So she concurred heartily with Mo about leaving and getting out of Nicolana’s immediate place of influence before we stopped to rest.

She did write a thank you note for the kind offer of shelter and food explaining that we were grateful but had to be going, etc. etc. (basically throwing lots of words into it to make it sound more polite). Then we left.

We traveled about an hour back toward Rodzun before it started getting dark. We made camp in one of Fiona’s little tiny huts with an alarm spell. Before we fell asleep we discussed what we wanted to do next -- including whether or not to go after the Masks.

We had a considerable amount of discussion, with everyone airing their thoughts.

Taman: Now that we have this information, we may need to get stronger before we go.
Mo: I want to finish what we started.
Taman, after some discussion: Let’s go find their hide-out and cut off the head.
Fiona: I’m leaning toward going too. The sooner we deal with this the sooner we won’t have to anymore.
Orryk: I think we won’t all be coming back. But I’ll go if that’s what the party decides.

We put it to a vote and everyone but Orryk voted to go after the Masks -- by the time it got to his turn to vote, Orryk just abstained. And grumbled a bit about not wanting to watch any of us die.

Orryk: If we’re going to do this, we should go get Gurn from the halflings in Tall Orchard. We’re practically right there and we could really use the extra muscle.
Mo: We should be very prepared to run away.
Everyone Else: Yeah!
Joybell, to Orryk: If more than one person dies, I’ll use the revivify on you first.
Orryk: I won’t be the one who dies. I can meld into the earth, shape myself a cavern and stay for as long as necessary.
Joybell: Well, okay then…

We decided also to have a sort of standard watch order -- to use unless there was some reason to do something different. It is: Joybell and Orryk on first watch (Gnome Shift), Mo on second watch, and Taman and Fiona on Third watch.

With our watches and our hut and so on, the night passed without incident.


14 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 45)

First thing in the morning, at Orryk’s request, Fiona used a sending spell to talk to the new mayor of Tall Orchard. She asked how their recovery was doing and if they could spare Gurn for a small time. They said that Gurn was still helping them with clearing the trashed part of town, and he was going to be used to help with the harvest in a week or two.

Well, then.

We went on our way, walking back to Rodzun and talking about tactics as we walked. We were especially talking about the fact that Joybell is going to need some coaching, because she’s really not much use at range (and none at all beyond 30’). But standing toe to toe by herself is not always going to be the best strategy.

We passed through Rodzun and went on to Lunn, where we stayed at the Flying Turtle, though Mo thought it might be a little too soon, or a little tacky or something. Joybell thought it was a bittersweet reminder of our fallen friend. (Also we’d stayed here before.) Mo performed at the inn, doing a couple of sets of standard tunes but performing them Really Well! He earned some money in tips and it was a great show.

Joybell went around the bar and asked a couple of people from Pelsoreen if they knew of a Turnik Steeltear but none of them had heard of him.

In one of our rooms at the inn, we made our usual preparations (making the tiny hut inside the room) and the night passed without incident.


15 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 46)

We headed out in the morning on the road to Tummeleen and the Sterling Scythe. We traveled without incident throughout the day.

When we got to town, Fiona cast a fly spell on Joybell so she could practice fly-by combat. Orryk stood mostly still, reading a book and dodging as needed while Joybell giggled and swooped down and tried to touch him and then pull up out of combat range.

After that we had dinner, went to our rooms, and with precautions, rested. The night passed.


16 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 47)

We left the Sterling Scythe in the morning and proceeded to travel to Pelsoreen. Once again Fiona cast fly on Joybell, so she could practice flying for in combat -- and get past the giggle and squee reaction.

As we were walking, we decided to stay somewhere other than at the Iron Steed. They’d been good to us there -- but people were clearly associating us with that inn (people had come to find us there when the Masks were attacking the Cracked Shield) and we wanted to try and remain unnoticed if possible.

When we got there, the causeway was up and we were able to cross immediately.

As we entered the city, we observed that Mr. Ed and Secretariat, the horses formerly known as Horse 1 and Horse 2, had survived yet another multi-day journey from the city.

Taman looked around and didn’t notice that we’d picked up a tail when we entered the city. We wondered how long that would last.

We found a nondescript inn with copper placards from both Dallington’s and the Blink Toad on the wall outside. The inn was sort of seedy and run-down looking -- and called the Soaring Kirin. We paid 5sp (one per person) for the party to stay for the night. Mo paid the innkeeper a little extra not to report to any of the corporations that we were there.

Innkeeper: I can keep it quiet for a couple of days. But don’t let them [he pointed to where the placards were] follow you back here. Just don’t let that happen.

Mo agreed to that and said we were only planning on staying a very short time.

Up in our room, Mo made his junior birdman mask and cast clairvoyance to look into the burned out husk of the House of Masks. It looked like C&C had perhaps started clearing out some of the rubble and taken down the pieces of roof that remained after the fire. They were clearly still finishing the demolition and rubble removal part of the process and hadn’t gotten to rebuilding at all.

After that, we discussed what we wanted to do the next day. The Mountainway causeway would be up in the evening, so we’d have the whole day to spend in town before we could leave.

Mo, taking off the Gloves of Ogre Strength: I’m not sure these gloves are really my wheelhouse. I’m just like other goliaths now. I’m not liking it. They’re fun. But they’re not me.

He handed the gloves to Orryk to stow in the bag of holding. He also gave back the longsword to put in the bag.

We made our usual precautions in one of the three rooms we’d taken at the inn, and the night passed.


17 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 48)

In the morning we talked about what we wanted to do with our day. Orryk requested that we go see Allona, the magic item merchant.

Orryk: I’m going with you to fight the continent-wide guild of assassins that’s going to kill one of us…

We agreed to do that.

Joybell wanted to go see what Burnocka the alchemist had made out of the gorgon sinus matter we brought back.

We also talked about finding out more about Turnik Steeltear. We had the thought that we could talk to some people in the dwarven neighborhood in town. A bit of investigation revealed that there really aren’t many dwarves in Pelsoreen, but what population of dwarves there is is in the Stonetree neighborhood -- conveniently the same neighborhood that Burnocka and Allona are in.

On the way there, Orryk sold the animal figurines from the House of Masks, the gold bracelets from the myrriq, and the longswords and longbows from the second batch of Masks and we each got 310 gp.

Just before we got to Burnocka’s Joybell asked Mo to take charge of the conversation. Because we gave him the gorgon snot that he’s making things out of that he can sell and she just couldn’t see how we were getting any recompense for that.

Mo agreed to do that, and Joybell stayed toward the back of the group, near Fiona, when we went inside.

Burnocka told us that he’d made oil of petrification prevention out of it and he’d been surprised at what an excellent raw material the gorgon sinus matter had been for making that product. Mo asked if he thought it would prevent being turned to ice.

Burnocka: No...this is all about preventing the actual stone transformation. It won’t prevent any other sort of transformation, even if the effect is similar in some ways.

Fair enough.

Mo then started to dickering about us bringing Burnocka the gorgon snot and not getting any recompense for it except that Burnocka would sell us the oils for 100 gp each. Burnocka said that the price he quoted us included that consideration. Mo started hammering on about the danger involved in fighting the gorgon.

Joybell was nodding in the background and Orryk pointed out that he was surprised at her for supporting Mo in his somewhat deceptive and high pressure negotiating tactics. Joybell, who hadn’t thought of it that way until Orryk said something, was suddenly ashamed and sorry that she’d asked Mo to take the lead in the conversation.

Burnocka: You brought the sinus matter. I had to provide the ingredients to turn it into something useful.
Joybell, now thoroughly shamed: Oh! That’s right!!

Then she shrunk into herself. Fiona led her outside.

Mo: Next spell I learn is silence.

With a bit more discussion, Burnocka agreed to sell us three of the oils at 75 gp each, because he’d made six of them (because the materials were so good). He could make up the rest of the money, and a good profit, selling the rest for more. Mo bought one for himself and one for Joybell to pay him back for, figuring that she owed him. (Note: I believe that someone else, Taman maybe, bought the third, but I’m not sure.)

Mo: Do you sell anything recreational?
Burnocka: I think you’ll be better off among the herbalists for something like that.

When the party went outside, Mo handed one of the bottles of oil to Joybell.

Mo: Joybell, I bought you one. I could only get him down to 100 gold. You can pay me back.
Joybell: Okay <<hands over the gold>> He’ll make enough and be okay with us buying them for that?
Orryk, smiling for the first time in days: 100 is what we paid the temple.
Taman just laughed.

We started to walk toward Allona’s shop and along the way Mo kept his eyes open for a dwarf bar. He finally spotted a sign for the Platinum Beard -- clearly we’d found the right place.

Mo (to the party): Can someone get Joybell out of here?

He then went on speaking to the innkeeper in dwarvish. Joybell, a little miffed, sat at a table with an ale, people-watching.

Mo explained to the innkeeper that we were looking for someone who’d inherited a share in a mine and asked if he’d heard of someone named Steeltear. The innkeeper hadn’t heard of anyone with that name in the city at any time. He also observed that it’s an odd name for a dwarf.

Mo then mentioned that the person we were looking for’s first name was Turnik.

Innkeeper: I do remember a fella named that, really young. He was called Turnik Stoneshield. He was pretty weird -- he didn’t drink much, though he’d buy a round for the bar time to time. I haven’t seen him since the winter.

(Reminder -- the campaign began at the summer solstice festival. It is now approximately the equivalent of mid-August.)

Mo asked if he could be staying somewhere else. The innkeeper said that there are only a few inns in Pelsoreen that catered to a dwarven clientele. He didn’t know where Turnik Stoneshield had been staying, but wherever it was, it was months ago.

Mo: What kind of dwarf was he?
Innkeeper: Nothing else really stood out to me.

Mo, coming back to the group and relaying what he’d learned: I got a lot of information, but it doesn’t really help us.

While we were sitting and drinking our ales and eating some lunch, Taman remembered the Oil of Etherealness that we’d found in the lumberyard in Embernook (after fighting the zombies and ghouls and all there). We agreed that it would be great and really helpful for scouting when we get to where we’re going. (We weren’t talking about going to where the Masks are forged while in the city.)

Mo, to Orryk: Does that make you feel better?
Orryk: No.

After our lunch and beer, we headed off to Allona’s magic item shop.

Mo, dropping the gloves of ogre strength on the counter: We’re looking to sell these. If I’m this strong people will ask me to do work. Maybe we can get something that will help us not die.

Allona offered us 400 gp for the gloves. As a trade she said she had some greater healing potions (which Joybell can make with a week of downtime).

Joybell: Maybe something that would stop someone from bleeding out if they’re knocked unconscious.

Allona said she had an idea of an item that would fit that description, but she didn’t have one in stock. Perhaps if we came back at another time she might have gotten one in stock. Mo put the gloves back into the bag of holding.

Orryk asked about magic items that would let him summon an elemental creature once a day. Allona said that items like that were very expensive -- thousands and thousands of gold pieces.

We thanked her for her time and left.

We walked back to the Soaring Kirin, where the horses and cart were parked. We talked about whether we wanted to take the cart and the horses with us to the where the Masks are forged. We decided that since this is going to be a scouting mission, at least to begin with, we didn’t want a cart and horses making us more obvious. And making it harder for us to hide from the Masks that we expected to run into on the road.

So we collected Mr. Ed and Secretariat and sold them, along with the cart, back to the livery where we’d bought them.

We then found a place to hang out near the Mountainway causeway until it came up an hour before sunset, and we crossed to the other side. As with the Ovverway causeway, there are a small number of carriage inns and caravanserai there.

After we crossed we took rooms at one of the inns. Joybell asked the innkeeper if he’d seen any big people in white masks recently.

Innkeeper: Yeah. They showed up just before the causeway came up.
Joybell: Like they slept on the road or maybe traveled overnight?
Innkeeper: Maybe.

Joybell asked about what we could expect along this road. We were told that there were towns every half day of travel for a couple of days, like going along the coast from Ovverway, after that there was a town every day for a few days. After that there were still towns and villages, but they were more sporadic.

Joybell: Cool! We’re going about ten days.
Mo: Oh, don’t…
Orryk: Too late.

We made our usual precautions in the inn and rested for the night -- preparing to head out early in the morning.

The night passed without incident.


18 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 49)

We left in the morning early and headed out. Taman was scouting about 500 feet ahead and off the side of the road (within the range of the Cape of the Mountebank) of the party. There was forest on either side of the road.

Joybell, on Scooby, stayed toward the edge of the road, so she could get into the woods quickly if Taman got word to Mo (using the sending stones) that there was something on the road ahead.

The day passed without incident, except that we passed through the village of Bordeen and spent the night in a town called Eltlin. There were two inns -- the Six Drakes and the Golden Plough.

Joybell: Oh! Dragons are good!

But we decided to stay at the Golden Plough on the grounds that the food was likely to be good. Mo played a standard set -- good but not as great as he had in Tummeleen a few days earlier.He did get some tips from the audience.

We made precautions and rested without any problems.


19 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 50)

At breakfast, Joybell asked the innkeeper if he’d seen big guys in Masks. He said he’d seen some a couple of weeks earlier, but not since. They’d stopped in for breakfast (oatmeal and gruel) and black coffee.

Innkeeper: Those guys were creepy!
Joybell: I know, right?!

Then we headed out on the road, with Taman scouting as he had the day before -- 500 feet ahead of us and off the side of the road.

He spotted some ogres (3 ogres) on the road, way ahead of us. They were trundling along the road, apparently because it’s easier to travel on the road than through the forest. One of them was holding a humanoid leg in his hand and chewing on it as he walked along.

Taman came back to report all of this to us We moved off the road to hide in the forest. Taman, Fiona and Mo were hiding on one side, Joybell and Orryk on the other.

Well Joybell tried to hide, but her armor glinted in the sun and she clanked and rattled. (She got a 4 on her stealth check.) She’d only moved a few feet away from the road on the grounds that she wasn’t likely to hide well anyway, and it might as well be easy for her to get back to the road when she was spotted.

Fiona cast mage armor on herself and the noise of the that caught one ogre’s attention. The other two spotted Joybell and headed across the road toward her.

Taman shot at the one heading toward Fiona and got a good hit. Fiona cast firebolt on the same one (Ogre1) and did a great deal of fire damage. That ogre lumbered toward Fiona, but was unable to attack. The other two ogres (Ogre 2 & Ogre 3) went toward Joybell and Fiona but were also unable to reach them and attack.

Orryk stepped out onto the road and hit Ogre 3 twice with two shortbow shots. Nice! Joyell also moved out onto the road (having never been entirely committed to getting into the woods anyway) on Scooby, then rode him as far as she could before dismounting and closing on the one Orryk had just shot, hitting it with her short sword and doing a lot of damage.

It screamed in surprise and pain.

Ogre 3: Sharp Little, die!

Joybell may take SharpLittle as a nickname…

Mo cast hypnotic pattern on the two on Joybell and the one that no one had hit thus far (Ogre 2) was stunned. The more damaged of them managed to avoid getting entranced by the pretty lights. Then Mo inspired Taman.

Taman moved up on Ogre 1 and attacked with his rapier for some nice damage. Ogre 1 also started to scream. But Taman didn’t get called Sharp Little. Fiona fired a firebolt at Ogre 1 again and again got a hit, but didn’t do as much damage this time, unfortunately. Then she moved back next to Mo.

Ogre 1 took a mighty swing with his tree-trunk/great club at Taman but missed. Ogre 3 moved around his hypnotically stunned comrade to attack Joybell, but missed. Ogre 2 looked at the pretty lights.

Orryk ran up next to Joybell and started throwing daggers from his belt of many daggers at Ogre 3 -- doing a flurry of blows and a rather terrifying amount of damage. Joybell took a swing at the same one and hit with both of her attacks.

Mo moved out into the middle of the road, then cast blindness on the two ogres that weren’t staring at the pretty lights (Ogres 1 and 3) -- blinding both of them. Nice!!

Taman took advantage of that to drop Ogre 1. Fiona dropped a fireball spell so it caught the two remaining ogres. Ogre 2, stunned by the hypnotic pattern, failed his save and died to the fireball, coming un-stunned just long enough to notice the fireball. Ogre 3 saved but died anyway.

We looted the bodies, but found very little -- 190sp and 70gp. The ogres were carrying sacks but everything else was rubbish and junk. And some nasty meat for road snacks.

We continued on our way. A short distance later, Taman spotted where the ogres had emerged from the forest and started traveling on the road. We never saw anything like a destroyed wagon or caravan or any place where the source of the humanoid leg one was eating on came from.

About 45 minutes after the combat we got to the mid-day town and stopped at one of the inns for lunch.

Joybell, to the barkeep: We just killed three ogres on the road. Is that normal around here?
Barkeep, looking us over and seeing us all unhurt: You killed three ogres??
Joybell: Yeah. Not more than 45 minutes from here.

The barkeep said that ogres weren’t unheard of in this area, but they weren’t common either. He also gave us lunch for free because we’d killed three ogres without, apparently, breaking a sweat.

After lunch, we continued on the road to the town Iksoren. We never saw anything like an attacked caravan or wagon on that stretch of the road either.

We also never saw any Masks on the road -- which is really weird. They were about two days overdue for what we were expecting at this point.

We spent the night in the town Iksoren and it passed without incident.


20 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 51)

At breakfast at the inn, Joybell once again asked about the Masks. The innkeeper gave us the same answer we’d been getting elsewhere -- he hadn’t seen any for a couple of weeks. They stopped in for breakfast of black coffee and plain gruel, but hadn’t stayed in the inn overnight.

As we walked and continued not to see any more Masks We talked some about what that might mean, but didn’t come to any conclusions (on account of not having a lot of information).

We proceeded in the same fashion, with Taman scouting ahead about 500 feet.

Shortly before lunch, Taman spotted 2 trolls moving through the woods near the road. As he watched he got a sense of their tactics -- they were close enough to the road to jump out in ambush at travellers on the road.

He returned to the party to let us know we had them incoming.

Joybell stayed on the far side of the road from where Taman had seen the trolls, on Scooby, seeing little point in trying to hide. Orryk, Fiona and Mo were in the woods near her. Taman hid in the woods on the other (troll-ridden) side.

Orryk sensed they had spotted the whole party -- or at least Fiona and Taman seemed to have been spotted, and Joybell was obviously right there to be seen. He stepped out of the woods and took two shots at the first troll and hit with both of his arrows.

Joybell took a look at the situation and realized that she wouldn’t be able to get to them even if she jumped off Scooby when he’d gone as far as he could and ran the rest of the way.

Joybell: They’re too far away.
Orryk: Then let them come to us. Don’t rush ahead where we can’t support you.
Joybell: But….<<sighs>> right.

The trolls moved fast and got closer to the party but couldn’t attack.

Taman took a shot at the first troll (the same one Orryk had shot), then ran across the road to join the rest of the party.

Joybell moved up a few feet and dismounted from Scooby, then threw a couple of javelins at them, one of which hit.

Fiona cast scorching ray and fired three bolts of fire out into space…

Mo used five charges off the wand of magic missiles and did a lot of damage (27 points) to the one nearest to Joybell (Troll 1).

Orryk grumbled as he went past Joybell to take a shot at Troll 1, then settled into his defensive stance.

Joybell: Why are you grumbling?! I did what you said!

Then she realized he was grumbling about one of us getting killed on this trip...the same grumble we’d been hearing for days.

The troll attacked Orryk, but missed because of his defensive maneuvers. The other troll (2) moved and dashed and got right up to where Fiona, Taman and Mo were standing in the road well behind Orryk and Joybell. Thankfully, it was unable to attack.

Taman attacked the troll that was suddenly right in front of him with his rapier, doing some damage.

Joybell was terribly torn -- Orryk had moved up so she wouldn’t be out in front of the party without support and she didn’t want to leave him on his own. But there was a troll going after the more vulnerable friends in the back. She finally settled on going to help Mo, Fiona and Taman.

Joybell: I’m sorry, Orryk!
Orryk: <<silence>>

She attacked Troll 2 and got two hits for 17 points of damage.

Fiona cast fly on herself and got to a safe height. Mo moved around to a better position and cast haste on Joybell (whee!) and then inspired Taman.

Orryk attacked Troll 1 for a good hit, but his attempt at a stunning strike didn’t work. His other attack missed. Then he went back into his defensive stance.

Troll 1 on Orryk attacked with a bite and a swing from each of its big hands. The bite hit for a lot of piercing damage, but the claws both missed. The other troll, flanked by Taman and Joybell, turned to attack the paladin. It hit with both its bite and one of the claws, doing quite a lot of damage to her.

Taman then attacked it and did quite a bit more damage than that to it. Because of the haste Mo cast on her, Joybell got to attack three times. Unfortunately she only hit once, and that because Mo had also inspired her at some point. Fiona cast scorching ray, sending two bolts of fire to Troll 2 (on Joybell and Taman) and one to Troll 1 (on Orryk). The bolt on Troll 1 hit a critical spot and did a lot of damage, but troll 2 had been beaten on some and did not look well at all.

Mo tried to blind both of them, but only succeeded in blinding the one on Joybell and Taman. Which was a huge help. Then he inspired Orryk.

Orryk used his new gloves to do a necrotic touch attack against Troll 1 -- getting a good hit and regaining 4 points of damage with his first punch. Unfortunately the second punch missed. Then he went back into his patient defense.

Because of Fiona’s firebolt, the trolls’ regenerative ability had been shut down for the moment, which was good. The one on Joybell and Taman attacked the paladin again (which was good for us but maybe not its best decision) -- it missed with one claw and would have hit with the other, except Mo perfectly timed the perfect insult and distracted it from hitting at all. Then, still flustered and still blinded, it missed with its bite. Then it shook off the blindness.

The one on Orryk hit with its bite but missed with both of its claws.

Taman got a good hit with his rapier on Troll 2, dropping it, but we could see its wounds closing.

Joybell figured that Fiona could get some fire onto the troll to keep in down for good (and was unable to do so herself) so she jumped on Scooby and rode over to Orryk and Troll 1. She got three attacks, because of the haste from Mo, that all hit. It dropped. At that point both of them just needed some fire to stay dead.

Fiona, seeing her action call, cast a searing ray, sending bolts of fire to each of them. She hovered directly over the one on Taman and shot it with one of the bolts, unfortunately missing. The one on Orryk and Joybell she missed with her first shot, wildly, but hit with her second -- dropping Troll 1 for real.

Mo cast sleep on Troll 2, putting it into a nice nap -- which allowed us to kill it at our leisure. Fiona did so with an acid splash spell.

We searched the bodies for treasure and found 30 electrum pieces (6 each) and 1400 copper.

Orryk: Leave the copper.

We all went up to seventh level.

Treasure:
310gp each from selling some treasure from earlier (stone figurines from the House of Masks and gold bracelets from the myrriq’s hoard)
190sp and 70gp (38sp and 14gp each)
30 electrum pieces (6 each) and 1400 copper (280 copper each, if we take it)
Mr. Ed, Secretariat and the cart were sold for 57 gp and 5 sp. (None of us could remember whether Mo had paid for the horses and cart on his own or if they’d been party purchases. So I’m not sure whether that should go back to him or be divided).

Party Kitty Update:
Since the last Party Kitty Update we paid for 2 nights of lodging at the Iron Steed in Pelsoreen (at 6 gp/night), one night of lodging at the Flying Kirin n Pelsoreen(at 5 sp/night) and 7 nights of travel on the road (four to and from the Keeper of Secrets and three since crossing the causeway after leaving Pelsoreen) (at 3 gp/night, because Mo sings us a discount). Also, crossing the Mountainway causeway cost the party 6sp. So taking out 12 gp, 5 sp for lodging in Pelsoreen, 21 gp for lodging on the road, and 6sp for the causeway what’s left is: 3 sp, and 14 cp. At this point we basically have no Party Kitty.

Joybell paid for everyone’s lodging listed above that wasn’t covered by the previous balance (see notes for session 19).
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 23: Evils Along the Way; Also, a New Traveling Companion

Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


20 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 51) (immediately after)

We resumed proceeding toward the next town, with Taman scouting ahead as he had been. The rest of the day passed uneventfully.

The next town, Namolla, was quite small -- it had only one inn, the Green Stone. Mo didn’t feel like playing in the evening -- even bards need the day off once in a while.

In the common area of the tavern, we saw a wood elf in studded leather armor who looked like she’d been on the road for a while. Joybell went over to talk to her.

Joybell: Hi! Have you been travelling on the road?
Thneed: No. I came through the mountains.
Joybell: Oh. Well have you seen any big people wearing masks?
Thneed: Nothing like that.

We learned that she was trying to find information about (and perhaps find) the hobgoblins who had destroyed her village. Joybell told him we were going after the people who had destroyed her village. We eventually learned that her name is Thneed and she’s a ranger. She noted Taman’s longbow and commented on both of them being archers.

Taman: I used to hit things with my sword until they started hitting back.

We talked for a bit and all introduced ourselves. Thneed offered to come with us to fight the things we’re fighting (the Masks, which we explained a bit to him about) and we said we’d help her with the hobgoblins after the Masks were killed -- but we feel a bit of time-pressure there. We talked and ate dinner and relaxed together.

As it got toward time to rest, Joybell went to talk to Orryk, quietly.

Joybell: Do we want to invite her into our tiny hut? I mean she seems nice and all but we just met her.
Orryk: She probably has her own room.
Joybell, to Thneed: Do you have a room?
Thneed: I’ll get one…

Joybell followed her over to the innkeeper so she could ask if he’d seen any Masks lately. The answer was in line with those she’d gotten elsewhere -- they came in a few weeks ago for breakfast of oatmeal and black coffee, but didn’t stay in the inn, and were super creepy.

We rested for the night -- with the party in one of the three rooms we took in Fiona’s tiny hut with an alarm spell and Thneed in her own room.

The night passed without incident.


21 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 52)

We found Thneed at breakfast the next morning and we all headed out together. Taman scouted ahead without us discussing it, going ahead at about the range of the Cape of the Mountebank, as he had been.

The first half of the day passed uneventfully. As we walked, we told Thneed about some of what we’d encountered and done. She told us about the hobgoblins that attacked her village -- and about hobgoblins in general.

Joybell: Are they always bad people? We’ve met some orcs that were lovely.

After we stopped for lunch, Taman returned from scouting ahead to report that there were 9 bugbears and 2 ogres guarding a bridge ahead of us.

We talked for a bit about going around them, fording the stream, but that violates the “don’t leave bad guys to come back and fight us later when it will only be worse” rule.

Orryk: If they just want a toll, we can pay them.
Joybell: That’s true.
Mo: Hey, New Girl! You could go talk to them…

We prepared for combat but continued right up the road, with Joybell front and center. We stopped when they were within shouting range.

Joybell: Hello there!
Bugbear: Hello, Rider of Wolf.
Joybell: Oh, I like that!

Joybell talked with them a bit and established that they wanted a 2gp per entity crossing the bridge (including Scooby) toll. They also said that this was the realm of the Red Bone Tribe, a tribe of hobgoblins, which was at least unexpected -- this part of the continent is all city-states and very loosely organized, but something that called itself a tribe controlling a road like this seemed unlikely. And something was making Joybell think that this might have to do with the destruction of Thneed’s village.

Joybell, to the bugbear: Moment while I consult with my friends.

She turned back to the party and we caucused.

Joybell: We could pay and just cross and move along.
Mo: It would violate our one and only rule…

In order to get more information, Joybell turned back to the bugbear:

Joybell: So if we pay you we can cross with no difficulties and continue on our way.
Bugbear: You, probably. The Red Bones are gonna eat your partner <<indicating Thneed>> alive, though.
Joybell: They eat elves?
Bugbear: That was what you might call a metaphor.
Joybell: Oh. Are y’all all hired hands? We don’t necessarily have a beef with you, though we might with them.
Bugbear: The big guys are hired hands. We’re more what you’d call kin. Cousins.
Joybell: Oh. Then if we have a beef with them, we do have a beef with you. Moment.

She went back to the others and explained the situation.

Orryk: What’s rule #1?

While Joybell was explaining things to the party, Taman cast hail of thorns and fired his longbow at the ogre on this side of the bridge (Ogre 1).

Joybell, to the bugbear: Sorry! I think we’re not going to pay.

Taman hit with his spell but did a miniscule amount of damage.

Thneed put a hunter’s mark on the bugbear Joybell spoke to (henceforth the “Chief”) and shot at him. She also got to shoot at the guy next to the Chief as well (because Hunter Conclave rangers get an awesome ability called Horde Breaker). So cool! Then she took her second attack and also shot at the Chief and the guy next to him, getting two critical hits with her four arrows.

Orryk shot two arrows at the Chief and got two hits. Then he moved off the road into the forest where he’d be in with a chance of finding a bit of cover. Mo pulled out the wand of web and dropped the web so that it was on Bugbears #6 and #8 and Ogre 1 -- it made the end of the bridge and some of the road difficult terrain.

Mo: Good job shooting, New Girl!

Then he inspired Thneed. He also considered moving forward.

Joybell, as Mo was about to pass her: Forward the bard? Bold choice.

Mo decided to stay behind her.

The Chief then moved up, well ahead of the rest of his forces, and attacked Joybell twice, getting one hit.

In response, Joybell attacked him twice getting a hit and calling down the power of nature into her sword. Despite seeing that he was pretty thoroughly injured, she used a powerful divine smite (2nd level), because she hoped it would be demoralizing to the other bugbears and maybe the ogres to have their leader dropped easily and quickly.

The other bugbears, at this point, hadn’t even had a chance to react to Taman’s hail of thorns.

Fiona moved up only as far as necessary and cast Toll the Dead on Ogre 1, then she moved off into the forest to find some cover. Taman put his hunter’s mark on Ogre 1 and took a shot at it, but missed.

The bugbears from the near side of the bridge (#3, #6, #7, #8) got out of the web and its difficult terrain and moved up the road as far as they could before throwing javelins at Joybell -- fortunately most of them missed. The bugbears from the back of the bridge (#1, #2, #5, #4) jumped over the side of the bridge at the edge of the webbing and splashed up the banks of the river and through the wood, advancing as far as they could. Ogre 1 ran as fast as it could to get in front of Joybell. Ogre 2 moved into and part way through the webbed area.

Thneed moved her hunter’s mark to #3 and shot at him and Ogre 1, hitting both, because of Mo’s inspiration. She dropped #3 and did a lot of damage to the ogre, but doesn’t have as much knowledge of them as she has of bugbears, hobgoblins and other humanoids.

Orryk put his bow away and moved up to punch #4 twice, doing a lot of damage. Then he settled into his defensive stance.

Mo puffed on his pipe for a bit and then played a little song -- the smoke swirled up into the air and lit up with bright colors, like fireworks in a fog, and cast hypnotic pattern, catching everyone but #4 and #5 in the area. Both ogres began staring at the pretty lights. #6 and #1 both saved. #7, #8 and #1 were all incapacitated by the spell.

Joybell carefully rode around Ogre 1, so she wouldn’t snap him out of his daze, and attacked #6, intending to take down the able bodied (or able minded) so they wouldn’t shake their incapacitated friends out of the spell’s hold. She hit him pretty well, but didn’t drop him.

Fiona cast scorching ray and got one hit on #1. Taman took a shot at #5 which didn’t look like it was in with a chance, but there was some sort of lucky break and it hit after all and hit a particularly sensitive spot because the bugbear was off guard.

#1 moved to attack Orryk and missed. Which was brilliant for our side, because it meant he was not spending his action shaking one of the others out of looking at the lights. #4 attacked Orryk as well and also missed. #5 attacked Joybell and missed.

#6 didn’t attack Joybell, who was right in front of him, but instead went to go after Taman. Joybell took a swing at him as he moved away, hitting him but not enough to drop him or stop him moving. Its swing at Taman hit a critical spot and was going to do a huge amount of damage, until Mo said some cutting words and blew a puff of smoke into his face.

The ogres spent their turn dazed by Mo’s lights.

Thneed put her hunter’s mark on #1 then took advantage of him and #4 standing next to each other to shoot both of them, hitting both and dropping #4. Then she shot #1 again with her second attack and dropped it. Nice shooting again, New Girl!

Orryk ran over to help Joybell with #6, throwing a couple of daggers at it off his belt. Then he missed with both of his flurry of blows punches.

Orryk: Joybell, go help Taman.

Before she could do that, though, Mo used three charges from the wand of magic missiles on #6 on Taman’s and dropped it.

Taman: Thanks, Mo!

Then Mo moved up so he was in range to use his cutting words on anything that attacked Joybell.

Since Taman didn’t need assistance anymore, Joybell took a swing at #6, dropping it. She used the power of the sword of the medic to heal Taman some of the damage he’d taken. Then she took a swing at #2, who was incapacitated by Mo’s spell, but missed him. Sadly.

At that point, all that were left were incapacitated opponents thanks to Mo’s hypnotic pattern. #8 was knocked out of his trance by a shot from Thneed and then the first thing he saw was a gnome running toward him throwing daggers. This was also the last thing he saw because Orryk dropped him.

Orryk then took a swing at the next incapacitated guy along, #7, and missed.

Mo moved up and, trying to look cool for the new girl, took a shot at #7 with his crossbow and missed wildly. Joybell rode over to #7 on Scooby and missed with her first swing -- fortunately her second hit and we all had our next target. Everyone dogpiled on #7 until Taman dropped it with a bowshot that hit caught it unawares.

Thneed moved her hunter’s mark to Ogre 1 and hit with both shots, giving us our next target. Orryk dropped him. Then Orryk moved over to Ogre 2 and punched him in the back of the knee -- target acquired.

Mo took another shot with his crossbow and missed again. Joybell rode Scooby over to Ogre 2 and hit with both of her attacks. Then Fiona cast shadowbolt on it, causing it to moan in pain and hold its head (psychic damage) as it fell to the ground, dropping everything it was holding. Taman moved up and stabbed it with his rapier in a great sneak attack, but didn’t manage to drop it.

The ogre then stood up and grabbed his club, the first of the ones incapacitated by Mo’s hypnotic pattern to survive long enough to do anything. He swung his massive club at Orryk and missed.

Thneed fired an arrow at it and finally dropped it.

We took a short rest there at the bridge, just to gather ourselves. We also looted the bodies and found 110 gp among them, Thneed went around and carved her name on the heads of all of the dead, making her mark on entities that had called themselves kin to hobgoblins.

We talked about possibly pursuing the Red Bones while we were here -- since they seem to be connected at least to the destruction of Thneed’s village by hobgoblins. But we still have this hot lead on the Masks -- and we have the sense that the longer we wait the more of them will be -- so we decided to continue on our way to the Forge of Masks and deal with the Red Bones on the way back to Pelsoreen.

Taman and Thneed did look for tracks. Taman spotted that there had been a lot of movement on this road, and even some repairs to the bridge, recently. The tracks were going the way we’re headed. Which worked out well all around.

Before we continued on our way, Mo used the flute of scribing to leave a message in glowing letters on the ground:

We were here. If you’re looking for us, ask for Thneed.

We then headed back on our way, with Taman doing his his scouting ahead thing.

We were talking as we walked, learning a little bit about our new companion.

Thneed: I’ve already gotten to kill things associated with hobgoblins. This is good!
Mo: So you have your reward and don’t need a share of the treasure…
Joybell: Mo W. Kang!

About an hour and a half later, Taman blundered out of the woods and onto the road only to spot, about 300 feet away, a group of eight hobgoblins marching down the road in two regimented columns behind an ogre. They all spotted him immediately.

Taman turned around and used the cape of the mountebank to bamf away, leaving a puff of smoke behind.

He reappeared among the party, smoke swirling off the cape.

Taman: So there’s a bunch of guys up there and they saw me. They had really good eyes.

We decided to stand where we were and wait for them to arrive. There was forest on either side of the road, thinner in a border along the roadside, then thicker and more difficult further away. (Note: It was difficult terrain, but it did give advantage on stealth checks.)

Joybell stayed in the middle of the road on Scooby waiting for them. The rest of the party moved off the road and hid.

A little bit later the group showed up - spread out more than they had been when Taman initially spotted them, but still marching in two columns with the ogre in the middle in the front and the two “special” ones in the back. Very regimented.

The hobgoblins’ armor was very well cared for and very clean. There were six in chainmail with shields (all with the same emblem on them), one in half plate armor (made of smaller plates that strapped together), and one in studded leather. The ogre’s crude hide armor (like skins tied on with sinew) was, on the other hand, not well-maintained and had no emblem. (6 hobgoblins, 1 hobgoblin captain (half-plate), 1 hobgoblin devastator (studded leather), 1 ogre)

As they approached it didn’t appear that they had spotted any of the folks who were hiding. Which was good.

Orryk and Taman started firing arrows at the ogre, because he was the one in range--softening him up but also revealing their location, at least in a general sense.

Mo cast hypnotic pattern, because it’s amazing, on the ogre and the front two hobgoblins -- the glowing sparkling smoke captivated and incapacitated all three of them.

The hobgoblin captain had a good sense of what he needed to do to get his forces functional again, so he moved up as far as he could, then grabbed some rocks off the road and threw them at his men. That shook the two hobgoblins out of their stupor almost immediately.

Instead of shooting at the ogre, Thneed took advantage of two of the hobgoblins having moved closer together to use her horde breaker ability to drop both of them. Nicely done.

The hobgoblin in the studded leather armor, the devastator, surprised everyone by casting a spell that shot a point of green light over the road to where Orryk, Thneed and Mo were in the underbrush off to the side. The point of light exploded into a spray of acid that covered all three of them. Orryk managed to dance out of the spray, but Mo and Thneed were both injured. Fortunately, Mo was able to keep up the hypnotic pattern on the ogre.

Joybell, still trying to internalize the concept of letting the enemy come to her rather than charging into the battle, waited while the hobgoblins ran toward her, closing part of the distance on Scooby, but not rushing into the thick of them. Unable to restrain herself from doing anything, she threw a javelin at one of the hobgoblins.

With the ogre incapacitated, thanks to Mo and his spell, Taman and Orryk turned to shooting at the hobgoblins. Taman focused on the spellcasting devastator, but wasn’t able to take out the otherwise uninjured opponent. Orryk dropped one of the regular ones, which helped thin the opposition.

The captain, having succeeded in waking his own hobgoblins with the thrown rocks, threw one at the ogre, rousing him from Mo’s hypnotic spell as well. Dammit.

Mo tried to slow them down or tie them up with the wand of web -- blocking part of the road with the mass of webbing. Or trying to -- the ogre waded right into it, and was bogged down by it even though he didn’t get totally stuck.

Thneed, seeing the same danger from the spellcaster that Taman did, shot twice at the devastator, but unfortunately didn’t do enough damage to drop it.

It was especially unfortunate, because the devastator then cast a fireball right on top of Joybell and Scooby, causing Scooby to disappear back to wherever celestial wolves go and doing Joybell a lot of damage. Also causing Joybell to be really really angry because they killed her wolf.

Fiona, having flown up into the air, shot magic missiles at the devastator, and took out the biggest threat (or at least the most annoying one). Excellent!

The remaining hobgoblins ran around the web, to avoid getting stuck, but it kept them from being able to attack Joybell. Which suited her fine. She attacked one of them and focused the power of divine nature on it which dropped it.

With the spellcaster gone, Taman turned his focus to the captain of this squad hoping to cut off the head. The captain, looking at the situation, decided against running up to Orryk (the closest of us to him) and being unable to attack. He may also have decided that with all of his men (except the ogre) dropped and a clearly dangerous force (us) on the road, that he needed to go back to whatever base he had and report this situation. In any case, he turned and ran.

Mo: Now we have to kill this guy.

Taking that cue, Thneed shot the captain twice and dropped him.

GM: Shot in the back while running away.

But with her hatred of hobgoblins, Thneed was fine with that.

The ogre, who thrashed around trying to get free and wound out getting thoroughly stuck in the web, was finally dispatched by one of Fiona’s firebolts -- it ignited the webbing and killed him at the same time so he went up in a big immolating fire.

Joybell started casting find steed so she could get Scooby back before the fire had burned itself out. We wound out taking a short rest so people could gather themselves and recover a bit. Mo played us a nice song of rest on his flute then went off to look at the armor.

The regular troops in the unit were wearing chainmail and carrying shields. Their shields were decorated with a red femur-like bone. The captain and the devastator had the same logo on epaulettes.

Mo, to Thneed: I have three charges on the flute of scribing. Is there any particular threatening message you’d like to send?

They talked for a bit and settled on:

Suicidal hobgoblins, look for Thneed.

We also looted the bodies, finding 90 electrum pieces and 70 gold.

Less than an hour of travel after we got going again, we realized we were approaching the next town along the road.

Orryk: ... which is filled with Red Bones.
GM: As it turns out, yes.

Taman, scouting ahead, could see that the hobgoblins had started building fortifications, but hadn’t gotten too far along. It looked as though the Red Bone hobgoblins (and their associated bugbear cousins, and maybe more ogre hirelings) had just moved into the town. It was a bit ominous that one of the first things they put, prominently, in the town was a headsman’s block in a public place.

We decided to make camp outside of town, well off the road, in Fiona’s tiny hut. We decided on a new “standard watch order”: gnomes first, then Mo and Thneed, then Taman and Fiona.

During the third watch, Fiona spotted seven bugbears circling around the hut curiously -- two of them were right outside, the others were a little further away.

Treasure

170 gp (28 each with 2 left to restock the party kitty)
90 ep (15 each)

Party Kitty update:

2gp, 3 sp, and 14 cp.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 24: The Liberation of Tristlan​

Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


22 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 53)

As we were reaching the end of our long rest, with Taman, Thneed and Fiona awake and the rest of the party sleeping, they spotted seven bugbears out in the woods around the tiny hut. One of those bugbears walked into the stone colored, perfectly hemispherical hut.

Taman and Fiona started waking the rest of the party up and we decided to wait and see what they did before acting. Four of them surrounded the hut, but two turned to head toward the overrun village, Tristlan.

Right. We didn’t want to let them to get back to report anything.

Thneed put her hunter’s mark on one of the two that was heading toward the village and took a shot at it hitting and, with the horde breaker ability, the one next to it, Then she shot at the marked one again and dropped it. Taman had one of them standing outside of the hut right in front of him, so he took a swing through the hut with his rapier at it, but missed. All from within the hut.

The leader of this scouting band started to run away, presumably to report. Joybell jumped on Scooby to run after him and try to stop him but was unable to hit. Fortunately a moment later, Mo emerged from the hut and tangled the chief up with a web spell from the wand, then inspired Joybell. Orryk ran like the wind after the one that Thneed had shot with the horde breaker ability and dropped it.

As two of the bugbears that had been examining the hut turned to attack Mo, Taman was able to get an opportunity attack against them from within the hut. Their attacks on Mo hit, but he shrugged off most of the damage.

With the two that had been running toward the village dropped, two of the remaining “regular” bugbears began to run in the direction of the road.

Fiona stepped out of the hut, causing it to disappear, and firebolted one of those two heading for the road. It screamed like it had just been lit on fire. Appropriate. Thneed moved around some trees to get a better line of sight and moved her hunter’s mark to the other one heading for the road then shot it twice, dropping it. Taman dropped one of the ones that had attacked Mo with a sneaky stab in the back.

The chief/squad leader, restrained by the webbing, was unable to go anywhere and didn’t hit anything in his flailing attempts to attack. Joybell on the other hand hit him with both of her attacks.

Orryk ran to the other one running for the road and, having failed to stun it with a stunning strike, just went ahead and dropped it with his bonus attack. Mo tried to viciously mock one of the ones attacking him, with cruel words about the bugbear’s mother.

The bugbear, angered (but not injured) turned around and attacked him, getting a hit that did a critical wound. It roared something in bugbear that might have been, “What did you say about my mother?” Fiona then cast toll the dead on it, but was unable to drop it. Taman snuck in behind it while it was distracted by Mo’s insult and stabbed it, removing a kidney with his rapier as it fell to the ground, dead.

Thneed put her hunter’s mark on the chief, still restrained in the web, and did a lot of damage to him with two shots from her bow. The chief took a couple of futile swings at Joybell, who then hit him twice. It took Orryk running over and shooting with his shortbow to finally kill the bugbear chief -- who slumped in death but was held up in the web.

We looted everyone, finding 1400 copper pieces and 30 electrum between the lot of them. The bugbear chief had the mark of the Red Bones on his shield.

We took a short rest, making breakfast and making plans for our assault on the hobgoblin invaders of Tristlan. Thneed foraged for some food which we cooked and ate while talking.

Mo suggested getting up to some high ground that overlooked the town, so we could see the situation -- but one far enough away that clanky Joybell wouldn’t be a problem. After breakfast we found a good hill to observe from and saw that the village was very small. There were people moving around who didn’t look like hobgoblins (or any of their allies) -- they looked like normal “civilized” humanoids. Though we didn’t see anyone who looked like an elf. The non-hobgoblin people walking around were sort of scooting from one building to another, not loitering or lingering. We saw a couple dozen hobgoblins and some goblins as well.

The stockade had been started and was built around most of the city, but there were four or five gaps in the wall -- one where the road entered and left as well as a couple of others.

There was a larger building in the middle of the town that, after several minutes of watching, we never saw any of the non-hobgoblin humanoids going into. Mo speculated that this might be their command center and that the leader might be somewhere in the back of the building, so he did his junior birdman mask clairvoyance and puts the sensor just inside the back wall. Looking around he could tell that this would normally be the mayor or town leader’s office. There was a hobgoblin in plate armor and another in chainmail in the room. They were talking to a goblin. Mo switched to listening with the clairvoyance spell and could hear three voices speaking a language he didn’t know -- one voice was clearly giving orders and another was being obsequious to the point of cowardice. He could get that just from the voices.

Mo: Fiona, do you have anything that would let me understand goblin?
Fiona: No.

Mo heard something that even in an unknown language sounded like “Sir, yes, sir!” As he relayed, he switched back to the birdman goggles and saw the two hobgoblins have a quick exchange, then the one in chainmail left. Looking around the room, he saw a sketch with a map of the city with some marks on it showing where they were planning the stockades.

Since he was already looking around, he took a look for anything to steal, but only saw that it was not a room laden with treasure.

While Mo was doing that, Taman spotted a goblin leave that central building and go into a small building nearby. Then a bunch of goblins emerged and headed out toward the road in our direction.

GM: The most expendable force they have …

We headed to the road to intercept the goblin patrol. Since they were looking for us and everything.

Most of the party hid on the sides of the road. Joybell, on Scooby, moved slowly along the road, ambling, being a member of the public on the public thoroughfare. (In splint armor, on a wolf, and with two short swords and a flail strapped to her. But still a member of the public on the public thoroughfare.)

After a little while, we saw 11 goblins, one of them clearly a chief, moving along the road in a loose fireball formation. When Joybell saw them, she slowed down even further and moved to the side of the road, to let them go by. She smiled and waved at them.

At that they spread out, breaking their fireball formation. Some hid in the woods, some moved and dashed toward Joybell aggressively, making it clear that they were not just going to pass by as Joybell waved at them.

Mo cast web on two of the regular goblins and their chief, then he inspired Taman.

Mo: Will you kill these guys for me?

Fiona cast a fireball, which caught the webbed guys and a couple of the others. One of the others had the fireball almost brush his nose -- he could feel his nostril hair singing -- but he escaped the effects entirely. Unfortunately for him he couldn't escape watching four of his compatriots, and his chief, get immolated in the fire. Only the chief lived long enough to scream before dying.

The archers in the party began shooting at the ones they could see (some had hidden very well and were not visible) -- Orryk dropped one and Taman shot an arrow clean through another one’s head.

Joybell could only see one of them (it was very poorly hidden) and it was far away, so she moved up Scooby’s full speed and waited hoping one of them would be foolish enough to come out of the woods and attack her. To her irritation, some of them shot at her (missing wildly) but none closed with her.

Thneed took two shots at the one Joybell could see and killed it thoroughly -- killing it with her first arrow and pinning it to a tree with the second.

The others, more clued in to where the hiding goblins were, figured out that they were running away, hiding in the underbrush as they fled. One of them, in its flight, tripped over a tree root and revealed its location. Mo killed that one then moved closer to where Orryk was moving through the trees on the other side of the road, circling around to have a different view and hopefully see them as they’re hiding behind things.

Joybell, unable to see any goblins at all, moved up her full speed to hold level with Mo and Orryk, and held a javelin to throw at any goblin that appeared to her.

Taman spotted a couple over near Orryk.

Taman: Orryk, 12 o’clock.

Then he took a shot at that one and dropped it.

Taman: Orryk, 2 o’clock.

Thneed moved up and looked around, but couldn’t see the one remaining goblin, which was hiding in the underbrush and sneaking away stealthy like.

Orryk headed out in the direction Taman had indicated -- finally spotting the last goblin when he got within ten feet of it. He shot it and killed it.

As we were gathering and regrouping, and Thneed was carving her name in the foreheads of the dead goblins, Mo cast a rope trick to give us a safe place to take a short rest. While we were up there, Taman scouted around from time to time. Scooby stayed on the ground just lurking around like a wolf in the woods. Nothing came along the road in the hour we were up in the rope trick.

While we were resting we discussed again how we wanted to handle the assault, now that we had more information.

Mo: I have this idea that I could turn someone into a giant ape.

We agreed that Taman would be a good choice for giant ape-hood, because among other things it would give him a huge reserve of hit points.

We discussed extensively having the ape attack at one road entrance to the palisade followed a few seconds later by the rest of the party approaching at the other road entrance, having snuck through the forest to the other side of town. Joybell was concerned about any plan that involved her sneaking. There was also concern about having Giant Ape Taman exposed by himself with the rest of the party way off on the other side of the village.

Mo: I think you’re misunderstanding the awesomeness of the giant ape.
Thneed: Could the ape fly over the town?

We considered having Mo and the Giant Ape be the ones to circle around the town (Monkey Strike Force Alpha) while the rest of us approached along the road.

Joybell, concerned: Can we maybe talk to them first? Maybe they’re nice.
Orryk (to Thneed): Meet Joybell.

We eventually decided that Mo and Taman would go along on the road while the rest of the party circled around through the forest toward the nearest gap in the wall (not all the way around to the other road -- we didn’t want to be that far away). When the rest of the party got to the gap in the wall, Mo planned to cast polymorph on Taman.

The Apeless Group (Orryk, Joybell, Thneed, and Fiona) tried to sneak around through the woods and across the open area just outside the wall. Unfortunately the sentries spotted us along the way. Even more unfortunately, we were spotted before the polymorph could be cast.

The Apeless were about 30 feet away from the wall when the hue and cry went up and a whole bunch of hobgoblins popped up over the top of the wall from all around the city. We heard roars from in the city that called to mind the ogres we’ve encountered before. We were immediately confronted with several hobgoblins on the wall near us, with more coming through the city, including a hobgoblin cleric that was on the wall.

Thneed used her hunter’s mark and took a shot at one of the ogres, visible through the gap in the wall, hitting with both arrows. Taman, not yet an ape, took a shot at the same ogre.

All the hobgoblins in the town began yelling an alert -- which spread to the entire village.

Fiona cast a fly spell on herself and went up to the level of the top of the wall, moving around past the opening we were going to use, but didn’t get too close. Orryk took two shots at one of the hobgoblins on the wall, but didn’t hit. Then he moved off to the left, spreading out so we weren’t in a fireball formation.

Joybell: Are we still going in that side entrance?
Taman: At this point the plan is hosed.

The hobgoblin cleric waved his hands and a cloud of winged axes, his spirit guardians, appeared around him.

Joybell, to the hobgoblins: We just want to visit!

Then she held a shot with the wand of magic missile on one of the hobgoblins ready to let it go as soon as one of them did anything aggressive to one of us.

Almost immediately, one of the ogres moved up and attacked Taman. Fortunately, Taman had a lucky dodge and it missed. While it was still in its follow-through, Joybell fired the magic missile at the hobgoblin on the wall she’d been aiming at, hitting it in the face and dropping it off the back of the wall.

Another ogre ran as fast as it could to get right up into Joybell’s grill. Which suited her just fine.

Mo played a song on his flute and the swirling cloud of smoke encircled Taman and when the smoke cleared there was a ginormous, hairy ape standing there. Then Mo moved to the side, away from Taman, Inspired Orryk, and lay down on the ground (to make himself less of a target for the archers on the wall).

The ogre that attacked Taman had his club pass over the puny human and then in a puff of smoke there was a giant ape there. Very confusing.

A hobgoblin came out of the building we’d identified as their headquarters, cast scorching ray on Fiona, flying just above the level of the wall, and critting her with it. Then it went back into the building. Fortunately, Fiona was able to keep her fly spell up despite the damage, and wasn’t further hurt by falling.

As we expected, the hobgoblins started firing at the giant ape, some of them hitting it. But a giant ape is a giant mountain of strength and muscle and can absorb a lot of damage. Some of the hobgoblins on the more distant parts of the wall jumped down and ran in the direction of the combat.

Thneed backed away from the ogre in front of her, then shot it twice, leaving the ogre looking kind of rough. Giant Ape Taman hit the ogre in front of him and smushed it right into the ground. He then turned and hit the other ogre nearby, the one in front of Joybell, but didn’t drop it. Then he moved to the entrance to the town.

Fiona, from her flying vantage point, could see the hobgoblin in plate armor come out of the headquarters building and go around to the back of one of the buildings -- moving away from the fray. She then cast a fireball on a group of hobgoblins nearby, but it was a kind of wimpy one. Then she flew down so that she was just an inch above the ground and not visible above the wall. Orryk dropped one with an arrow as he moved to a position closer to Fiona.

The hobgoblin cleric with the cloud of spirit guardians attempted to dispel magic on the giant ape, but failed, then, in a move we recognized well, he moved closer to bring his spirit guardians into play against Giant Ape Taman. Another hobgoblin moved up and it turned out to be a cleric as well, because it also cast dispel magic on the Ape, causing the polymorph to fall and Taman to to return to his normal form. Immediately he was attacked by a hobgoblin on the ground swinging a sword, which missed, and an arrow shot from one of their longbows.

Joybell smote the ogre in front of her with both of her blows, but still wasn’t able to drop it. It swung at her and would have hit, except Mo said something super insulting to it and it missed. Mo then blew a cloud of colorful flashing smoke from his pipe that settled over the two clerics and an ogre, as well as two of the regular hobgoblins, that were near Taman. The cleric surrounded by winged axes had his spirit guardians disappear, so he clearly failed to resist the allure of the beautiful lights. (Only one of the regular hobgoblins saved against the hypnotic pattern.)

The hobgoblin devastator, their wizard, came out of their headquarters and cast a fireball on Mo, Orryk and Fiona. Mo and Orryk both saved. Fiona took a lot of damage, but didn’t drop and was even able to keep her fly spell going.

The hobgoblin that wasn’t entranced by the pretty lights, tried to snap some of his colleagues out of it, but only managed to hit the ogre and wake it up. One of the hobgoblins that had been on a far wall made it as far as the base of the wall near Orryk, but was unable to attack.

Thneed moved her hunter’s mark to the ogre in front of Joybell and dropped it with her first shot. Then she took a shot at the hobgoblin that wasn’t hypnotized. Taman got some insight into one of the hobgoblin’s weak points and attacked for extra damage. Then he moved to outside the village near the wall.

The hobgoblin in plate mail, presumably the captain, finished with the task that had taken him further from the fray initially, moved closer.

Fiona, badly damaged by the scorching ray and the fireball, hid behind the wall and cast cure wounds on herself. Orryk tried to use his water whips to move the devastator closer to himself, but the whips didn’t grab hold right and the devastator was able to avoid being pulled. So Orryk moved closer himself and threw a couple of daggers at it. Joybell rode Scooby has hard as he could run to get to the ogre that had been snapped out of its hypnosis.

The captain in plate mail said something to the ogre Joybell had ridden so hard to get to. It grunted in response and, instead of attacking Joybell on its turn, it whacked the hobgoblin cleric next to it and woke that up.

Mo blew a crashing loud note on his flute and cast shatter on two of the regular hobgoblins that were standing next to each other, killing both of them with the force of the noise.

The devastator, finding himself near Orryk, cast thunderstep to get away, reappearing next to the captain in plate mail. And doing some damage to Orryk with the thunderous noise. One of the regular hobgoblins woke up the other hobgoblin cleric. A couple of regular hobgoblins tooks shots at Joybell, but she barely noticed.

Thneed put her hunter’s mark on one of the clerics and took a shot at it with her bow. Then she hit the ogre with the horde breaker ability, dropping it. Then she took another shot at the cleric. Taman then followed up with an attack with his rapier at the same cleric, dropping it, then he moved around behind Joybell.

The hobgoblin captain moved up into melee with Joybell, taking three swings at her. Fortunately, he didn’t hit her too hard.

Fiona flew up over the top of the wall and dropped a fireball on the devastator, the captain, some of the regular hobgoblins. It killed all of the regulars, leaving only two of those of the 20 that had been occupying the village still alive (and one of those two hypnotized). The devastator, the captain and one of the clerics were also still alive.

But only briefly. Because Orryk moved over to the remaining cleric and dropped it.

Joybell cast wrathful smite and attacked the captain, hitting it and causing it to be afraid of her. She attacked him again and got a critical hit so she once again called down the divine smiting energy on him to enhance the damage from her blow. Mo tried to get into a position where he could see what was going on, but couldn’t. So he inspired Orryk.

The devastator cast a fireball right on top of Orryk, Taman and Joybell. Orryk and Taman both saved. So did Scooby and he managed to survive the damage he took. Joybell failed to dodge out of the fireball, but wasn’t dropped by it. The remaining un-hypnotized regular hobgoblin mook attacked Joybell, getting what would have been a really damaging blow in, but Mo insulted it and the force of its blow was weakened.

Thneed moved her hunter’s mark to the hobgoblin mook that had attacked Joybell, hitting it in a critical spot with her second shot and also taking a horde breaker shot at the captain. Taman ran to the devastator, avoiding attacks of opportunity because of a zephyr strike spell that let him move through threatened areas.

The captain tried to steel himself so that he was no longer frightened of the tiny gnome (on the wolf) but was unable to do so.

Fiona then dropped him with two critical hits with a scorching ray spell. Orryk moved up to the devastator and attacked him. His attempt at a stunning strike failed so he did a flurry of blows against him and dropped the devastator when both of those hit.

All that was left was one hypnotized hobgoblin mook…


Treasure

30 ep (5 each)
1400 cp (233 each with 2 left for the party kitty)

Party Kitty update:
2gp, 3 sp, and 16 cp.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 25: First We Loot. Then We Travel.

Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


22 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 53) (immediately after)

A minute or two after the combat, the people of the town started to emerge from the buildings and take stock of things. Mo spent the time using prestidigitation to clean us up with a smoke ring that passed over us like a Dyson blade dropping the filth and gore to the ground around each of us.

When the first person emerged, Mo asked who’s in charge. He was told that the hobgoblins had killed the mayor when they first took over the town.

Joybell: Oh, excellent! I mean, that means they were bad guys and we killed them. That’s good.

Then she got quiet and hid behind Orryk.

Mo: We’re gonna take their stuff.
Villager: Some of that stuff was ours.
Mo: We’ll give that back to you.

We checked to make sure that we’d taken out all of the hobgoblins (and ogres) (and other hobgoblin associates) and confirmed that with the villagers as they emerged.

We asked how long they’d been in the town and what they’d been up to since taking over. They’d been around for about two weeks and killed the Mayor first. After that, their priest, not a fighting cleric, was forced to face their warriors in single combat until he was killed. So they really were horrible. They’d also killed the town’s guards -- all four of them. Since then they’d been working on the fortifications. The villager we were speaking to, the town blacksmith, didn’t know what they were planning beyond building the stockade.

Mo: Was this a small part of a larger horde?
Villager: I know from time to time the leader would release a raven carrying a message. It would fly west into the mountains.
Thneed: Is there anything you need from us? Can we rest here?

Before he could answer that…

Mo: Let’s loot! Then we can go over the mayor’s office to see if there are records of what they were planning. Then we can hang out with people.
Joybell, to Thneed: This doesn’t seem like the same MO as your village. Didn’t you say your village was completely wiped out? This was more of an occupying force.

After some discussion, we realized that this specific group of hobgoblins couldn’t have been the same ones that took out Thneed’s village. Her village was several days travel into the mountains and was attacked at about the same time Tristlan was occupied.

Meanwhile, Mo started looting the bodies.

Joybell stripped the plate armor off the hobgoblin warlord and asked the villager we’d been speaking to if there was a blacksmith in town. When he said that he was the blacksmith, she asked if there was any way to cut down the armor and make it fit her. After some discussion it became clear that he would not be able to cut it down to her size without essentially remaking it. So it went into the bag of holding.

Looting the bodes, we found:

17 longswords
9 suits of chainmail
16 shields
14 longbows
Lots and lots of arrows (15 per hobgoblin, so it comes to 210)
1 set of plate armor (Joybell, hopefully)
1 set of half-plate armor (un-recorded a couple of sessions ago from the hobgoblin captain we fought on the road)
1 greatsword (ditto)
1 set of studded leather armor (magical, see below)
1 quarterstaff (we didn’t keep this)

Between the bodies and the loot in the mayor’s office (which the warlord was using as his headquarters) we found the following coinage:

70 pp
1500 gp
3500 sp
3 art items, 25 gp each (Mo claimed the set of dice)
10 gems, 100 gp each

(Note: Split 6 ways (I converted non-money things to gold for simplicity):
11 pp each, 4 left for group fund
429 gp each, 1 left. [404 for Mo I assume he's actually keeping the dice]
583 sp each, 2 left )

We also found:

Vial of Oil of Etherealness
A set of +1 Studded Leather Armor (which was on the devastator wizard) (Taman, whose Mariner’s Armor then went to Thneed)
1 spellbook (Fiona) (the spellbook contained: Burning Hands, Magic Missile, Thunderwave, Cause Fear, Catapult, Aganazzar’s Scorcher, Melf’s Acid Arrow, Scorching Ray, Cloud of Daggers, Mindspike, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Thunderstep, Sending, Erupting Earth, Evard’s Black Tentacles, Vitriolic Sphere)

We left the townspeople the 450 copper pieces, some pieces that they identified as belonging to them (not listed above), and also armor and weapons to equip a new set of guards for the village (4 swords, 4 chainmail, 4 shields, 4 longbows, and 60 arrows). Technically that quarterstaff as well, I suppose.

In the warlord’s headquarters we found a plain mask, white, a Mask’s mask, mounted on a weathered plaque which was mounted on the wall on a shiny new nail. This was clearly a trophy that had been hauled around by this guy.

(Note: At this point we had a little talk about all those conversations Joybell has had with innkeepers about seeing big guys in masks passing through -- while having the sign from outside the House of Masks in Pelsoreen strapped to her back. She’d gotten so used to it being there, she’d forgotten.)

We also found a lot of papers written in goblin. Which no one in the party can read. Not even Fiona.

One of the papers was a map of the town, showing the fortifications that had been built and where the stockade was planned.

A more interesting map showed a detail of the Dunnimar Mountains (the Green Quilt) with Tristlan at the eastern edge of it. Comparing the map to our map of Urnod, it appears that there’s a hobgoblin realm about 50 to 100 miles into the mountains. There was a line marked on the map that seemed to show the territory that this band had passed through in some detail. We got the feeling that they were mapping as they went -- moving out into territory not well known in the hobgoblin motherland.

Thneed figured out where her village is, or would have been, on the map, but it was not in the band that this group of hobgoblins had passed through and mapped. Her village may have been destroyed by another group from the Red Bones exploring in another direction. Or the Red Bones may be one of many hobgoblin clans exploring out from the motherland. These mountains have many wood elf villages and others that have diverse populations of wood elves, forest gnomes and firbolgs (and others).

The map didn’t have the road we were traveling on it, beyond a small distance out in each direction from Tristlan. It also didn’t have anything in the direction where we expect to find the place where the Masks are forged, several more sleeps from here.

Looking at all the notes in goblin, Joybell asked one of the villagers if anyone in town spoke goblin, but there was no one.

She also asked if traffic had been normal along the road while the hobgoblins were occupying the town. The villagers said that it had been - most of the travelers just paid the toll to the hobgoblins and passed on through.

Joybell, to the blacksmith: Have you seen any big guys with masks on, maybe three weeks ago?
Blacksmith: Ilgmar, the mayor, said he saw weird guys with masks go by in the middle of the night about that time…

Joybell noted that most of the other villages had seen the Masks early in the morning.

After looting and trying to make sense of the maps, we helped the villagers dispose of the bodies -- hauling them to the crematorium.

Fiona went off to learn some of the spells from the spellbook. Mo and Taman went to find the booze, or someone who would sell it to them. The villagers were happy to drink with them -- both because they were now rid of the occupying force and because they needed to cleanse their brains of some of the things they’d seen. Mo played some music in the inn to try and lift spirits and ease troubled souls.

When it was time for bed, Fiona did her thing with the alarm spell and the tiny hut. And we set watches. Because there’s nothing like going after a continent-wide guild of assassins to make a party paranoid.

The night passed without incident.


23 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 54)

We headed off along the road to Otza, the next town along the road, one day’s travel away. We traveled with Taman doing his usual scouting ahead routine.

Late in the day we arrived at town without having any incidents along the road.

The town was a down and we did not hear any screams when we arrived. The inn (with rooms for rent) and the bar (with booze and food) were two different establishments. Fiona, Joybell, Thneed and Orryk went to the inn to arrange for rooms. Mo and Taman (Team Ethanol) went to the bar. Mo gave the barkeep 10 gold pieces and told him to just keep booze and food coming as required.

There were some other folks in the bar -- people playing a card game, folks having drinks and dinner, etc. There were also folks walking around the town just going about their business.

After arranging for three rooms, as usual, Fiona and Orryk and Thneed headed up to to relax for the night. Joybell went over to the bar to join Mo and Taman for dinner and to watch Mo perform.

Just a few moments after she was in the building, walking to the bar to join her friends, there was a loud scream from outside.

Orryk, upstairs in the inn, heard the screams and ran back down the stairs (with his crazy monk speed) and saw through the window a snake like creature with a parrot beak and four tentacles like petals around its head (Running total: 1 grick).

Orryk, to the innkeeper: Sorry about the window.

Then he took two shots with his shortbow through the window. The first broke the window, but missed the grick. The second hit.

Thneed followed down the stairs and saw the same situation. She put her hunter’s mark on the thing and took two shots -- hitting with both. It stopped moving and collapsed to the ground.

Orryk, to Thneed: Do we go back upstairs now?

But the screaming from elsewhere in the village hadn’t stopped…

Fiona cast mage armor on herself and came down the stairs at about that time.

Over in the bar, Taman, hearing the screams, vaulted over the bar and past the bartender so he can go out the back door in the bar. He rushed out the door and ran to the one to his left, which was the closest of the ones he could see, and stabbed it with his rapier. (Running total: 2 gricks)

Joybell, still in the bar, jumped on Scooby and rode out through the entrance to the bar and hit the one right outside the door for a pitiful small amount of damage with her first attack. Her second attack was better. (Running total: 3 gricks)

Orryk, Thneed and Fiona, all inside the inn, saw the extra big (size large) grick slither down the road, passing the body of the dead one and moving toward Joybell. (Running total: 3 gricks and one big grick)

Mo followed Taman over the bar, grabbing a bottle of something strong as he went over it, and ran out through the back door, swigging a drink as we went. As he exited the building he saw two of the parrot-beaked snake things -- the one Taman had attacked and another one that had come from around the corner of the building. (Final total: 4 gricks, 1 big grick)

Mo, to the one Taman had attacked: You look like you’re about to die. Why don’t you just do that?

The vicious mockery worked, leaving the grick shaking its head. Then Mo inspired Taman.

Mo: Hey, could you kill that thing for me?

The unoccupied one near Taman and Mo attacked a civilian -- wrapping a tentacle around her waist and dragging her toward it’s hard beak. Mo tried to use his cutting words to save her, but there was a gurgling gasping noise as it bit her head in half.

The other gricks weren’t able to hit either Joybell or Taman.

The remaining civilians on the street were able to run away. Most of them took shelter in various buildings, a couple ran around a building but stayed outside. They were lucky that the big grick had set its sight on party members by that point.

Orryk, swearing in Gnomish, ran out into the street and threw daggers at the big guy, hitting. Then he went into his defensive stance. Thneed stepped out of the inn, moving out of the doorway to keep it clear, moved her hunter’s mark to the big one, and shot it twice. She observed that the arrows did less damage than she expected, given how solidly she hit. Fiona stepped out of the inn and cast one of her new spells, Aganazzar’s scorcher, on the big guy. It nimbly slithered out of the way of the worst of the effect, but still took half of the damage from the spell.

Taman, moved by Mo’s inspiring words, stabbed the grick in front of him and dropped it. Then he turned to the one that had just killed the lady in the street to see if there was anything he could possibly do for her, but it was clear that she was beyond any sort of healing magic.

Joybell drew down the power of nature into her attack on the smaller one she’d been fighting, dropping it, then rode over on Scooby to the big one, prepared to smite it as well, but missed. Dammit.

The big guy attacked Orryk with one of its tentacles and missed. Then it swung its massive tail and hit Joybell hard across the torso.

Mo walked to the corner of the inn (where he’d be able to see Joybell), taking a swig from his bottle along the way, and saw the big one on one side of him and the smaller one that had just killed the lady on the other side.

Mo: You guys are total buzzkills.

With those words, he cast mass vicious mockery on them both. The big one saved but the little one did not. Then he inspired Fiona. He almost immediately realized that was a waste because Fiona rarely makes attack rolls with her spells, so inspiration won’t help her much.

The grick that had killed the lady wrapped its tentacles around her and began to drag her away into the forest to devour her at its leisure.

Orryk attacked the big one with a dagger -- hitting and spending a ki point to stun it. The stunning strike actually worked. Then he hit it again. Thneed shot the stunned large grick, but it was clearly not taking all the damage from her arrows. Fiona moved to where she could get a good line of attack on the one dragging its victim into the woods and cast lightning bolt on it. It flashed briefly, its bones showing through its skin, then it died, twitching.

Taman moved around the corner of the building and saw the big guy, being attacked by both Joybell and Orryk. He attacked and did a lot of sneaking damage while its attention was elsewhere. Finally, Joybell hit it and smote it and dropped it.

Joybell rode around the village and took a few extra whacks at each of the gricks with her short sword, just to make sure they were all really dead for real. Then, back at the building across from the inn, she asked a lady who’d fled into that building (the stables perhaps) where they came from, but the lady (still thoroughly freaked out) didn’t know.

Taman found some tracks outside of town that indicated they came in from the wilderness as a group then split up outside of town so they could come in from several different directions at once. Which is pretty advanced tactical thinking.

Someone in the party remembered learning something about these things -- they’re normally underdark predators from deep underground.

Joybell: Why did these things come out then? Is there an entrance to that underdark place around here?

Whoever remembered learning something about them (Note: I apologize for neither remembering nor having written down who) told us that they come out sometimes if they’re not finding enough food in their usual habitat.

We followed the tracks back to a cave in the side of one of the mountains. If something had monsters from the underdark emerging from this cave, the people of Otza were going to face lots of attacks from various nasty monsters. So Mo suggested collapsing the cave entrance.

Joybell: Lots of animals live in caves. We don’t want to trap anything in there.

Mo cast clairvoyance and looked down into the cave to make sure there was nothing living in it. There wasn’t, so he cast shatter aiming at the top of the mouth of the cave. There was a loud bang from the spell followed by a satisfying rock slide that partially filled the entrance. He cast the spell a couple more times until the entrance was closed and sealed with the fallen rock, though not really collapsed per se.

We then headed back to the town and resumed the activities we’d begun (or been preparing to begin) when the gricks attacked. Fiona, Thneed and Orryk went up to our rooms at the inn. Mo and Taman drank. Joybell ate some dinner and watched Mo play. His performance was good -- which he later attributed to being just the right level of drunk.

Eventually we all gathered up at the inn, made our usual precautions, and the night passed without incident.


24 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 55)

In the morning, we headed out of Otza and toward Blostln, which we’d reach at the end of the day. Blostlin would be the last town as closely spaced as one day’s travel from its neighbors on this part of the road.

At breakfast before we left, Joybell asked about weird looking big guys in masks. They went through the down and didn’t stop at all.

Mo, singing as we left town: We’re just a band out of Blostlin…

Taman did his usual scouting on the road ahead of us thing.

Most of the day passed with no trouble, but just before we got to the town Taman saw a troll “hiding” off the side of the road. It was bloated and oozy and seeping with nastiness. Because it was so committed to trying to hide from passers along the road, he just stopped and waited in the middle of the road for the rest of us to show up. When we got close, Taman said, in Gnomish (which most of the party speaks) that there was a nasty looking troll a ways up ahead off to the left of the road. Orryk pulled out his shortbow and Joybell pulled out the wand of magic missile.

Taman moved up a bit, then took a shot with his longbow at it - hitting it. A spray of black goo came out of where the arrow pierced its skin. Orryk moved up as much as possible and took two shots with his bow from just outside the best range of the shortbow, missing. Thneed put her hunter’s mark on it then shot at it. Her first shot hit for a small amount of damage (and another spray of black goo), the second missed because it had partial cover in its hiding place. Fiona moved forward and cast firebolt on it, but missed. Mo took a shot with his crossbow and missed.

Joybell used the wand to magic missile it, doing a decent amount of damage, then remembering the “Don’t charge so far forward the rest of the party can’t support you” lesson, moved up so she was next to Taman.

The troll figured out that we had spotted it, what with having been shot at and magic missiled and such, so it stepped out of his hiding place (behind a bush) and ran as fast as it could toward Taman and Joybell. As it ran toward them, they could see its wounds healing.

Taman moved off the road into the woods. Orryk moved off the road in a different direction and took two shots with his short bow -- hitting it with both shots, one of them in a critical spot. Thneed took two shots and hit with one and missed with the other.

Fiona cast scorching ray on it -- two of the rays hit it in critical places and it dropped. (1 venom troll)

She dropped a few fire bolts on it just to make sure it stayed dead and then we continued on the way, getting to Blostlin not more than an hour later.

Joybell asked about the Masks at the inn and was told they’d come through late in the evening.

Joybell: They’re not on the same sleep schedule. Or they’re not sleeping at all.

Then she asked the bartender and some of the travelers about the troll we’d encountered. None of them knew anything about it.

Joybell then asked about the road between here and the next town, Esh, two days travel away. She was told that the road is going to get a lot more rough -- more like a track than an actual road -- once we leave Blostlin.

We made our usual precautions and the night passed without incident.


25 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 56)

We headed out the next morning with Taman doing Taman things and scouting ahead.

It was still morning when Taman saw five large flying creatures heading toward the party at considerable speed. He was still quite a distance away up ahead. They were eagle-shaped and bird-like with the heads of stags, about the size of a humanoid. (5 perytons)

The group of them split and circled around, so that there were three coming in on one side of the road and two on the other, at about 120 feet up. They were out of range of Thneed’s hunter’s mark, but not of her arrows and she was able to get a critical hit on one of them. Orryk shot the same one and hit it as well. Joybell used the wand of magic missile on the same one again, because focusing fire is good sometimes, and it augered down out of the sky and crashed to the ground away from the road.

Taman took a shot at another one from way up the road and got a hit. Mo cast hypnotic pattern on the two coming in from the left. The brightly colored swirling smoke caught the attention of one of them and it forgot to flap its wings or sustain flight, so it too spiralled out of the sky and died in the crash.

The three remaining perytons then swarmed on Joybell, which she wasn’t terribly concerned about, because they’d clustered themselves up and Fiona would get a chance to do something about that in just about a second or two.

Fiona did not miss the opportunity. It was Thneed’s first time witnessing as Fiona cast a fireball with Joybell and Scooby right at the center of it. When the explosion of fire passed, Joybell and Scooby were there unharmed, one of the perytons was dead and the other two were badly injured.

Thneed put her hunter’s mark on one of them and dropped it with one of her arrows. Orryk threw daggers at the other, getting a hit in a critical location and dropping it very sincerely.

We resumed our way and the rest of the day passed.


Treasure:

13 longswords
5 suits of chainmail
12 shields
10 longbows
Lots and lots of arrows (150)
1 set of plate armor
1 set of half-plate armor
1 greatsword
1 set of studded leather armor (magical, see below)
70 pp
1500 gp
3500 sp
3 art items, 25 gp each (Mo claimed the set of dice)
10 gems, 100 gp each

Split 6 ways:

11 pp each, 4 left for group fund
429 gp each, 1 left. [404 for Mo I assume he's actually keeping the dice]
583 sp each, 2 left )
Vial of Oil of Etherealness
A set of +1 Studded Leather Armor (which was on the devastator wizard) (Taman, whose Mariner’s Armor then went to Thneed)
1 spellbook (Fiona) (the spellbook contained: Burning Hands, Magic Missile, Thunderwave, Cause Fear, Catapult, Aganazzar’s Scorcher, Melf’s Acid Arrow, Scorching Ray, Cloud of Daggers, Mindspike, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Thunderstep, Sending, Erupting Earth, Evard’s Black Tentacles, Vitriolic Sphere)

Party Kitty update:

4 pp, 3 gp, 5 sp, and 16 cp.
We have enough to start paying for things out of it again.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 26: The Cave of the Masks; Also, We Met a Treant!!

Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


25 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 56) (immediately after)

We found a place to camp along the road shortly after the fight against the perytons. We found a campsite that had clearly been used by other travelers along this track in the past and camped there. Thneed and Taman foraged for dinner and Fiona made the usual precautions (tiny hut plus alarm spell). We set watches with the first watch being the gnomes (Joybell and Orryk).

During that first watch, just after everyone else had settled in and fallen asleep, Joybell and Orryk saw an enormous big bear (size large) outside the hut.

Joybell: Oh, cool!!

There ensued a conversation between the two of them about whether or not Joybell should go out and talk to the bear. What they finally agreed to was her staying in the hut, but talking to the bear through it.

So she cast speak with animals and said hi to the bear. From the bear’s point of view, the opaque dome was speaking to it. She was anticipating a certain level of confusion from the bear.

The bear, however, was not confused at all. She said hi and introduced herself as Sorla. Sorla had noticed that we were killing a lot of things -- most especially the gricks and the perytons. Joybell asked if that was a problem for her and she said no.

Joybell and Sorla had a lengthy conversation (which I didn’t take notes about because I was having the conversation, sorry) which Joybell was translating for Orryk from time to time. During the conversation Joybell told her that we were looking for the Masks because we wanted to kill them. Sorla said that she knew someone who would know where the Masks are -- his name is Tarck and he’s further back in the woods.

Joybell: Our instructions say to continue on the road to a certain point then turn off.
Sorla: What are your instructions?
Joybell: Umm...I don’t think I should say. Mo would be upset at me if I said.
Sorla: So Mo is the one I shouldn’t trust…
Joybell: Well, you can trust..umm...Mo is...yeah. Maybe.

Joybell then asked if Sorla could speak common. She said she could take a form that could and she left the clearing we were in.

While she was gone, Joybell and Orryk woke the rest of the party up and explained the situation.

Joybell: She says you’re the one she shouldn’t trust.
Mo: She’s not the first woman who won’t trust me when she meets me…

After a few minutes, Sorla returned in the form of a very large (6’6” tall) woman. Joybell stepped out of the hut and greeted her before calling everyone else out of the hut (except Fiona).

We learned that Sorla is a were-bear but that her friend Tarck is not a lycanthrope of any sort. We also learned that were-bears are not inclined to turn other people into were-bears, so we don’t need to worry about her attacking us. Tarck would be able to talk to all of us.

Mo: Can you give us your tavern pitch?
Sorla: I’m sorry, what?
Mo: Sorry. Entertainer talk.

She told us that Tarck is a treant a couple hundred years old. He knows everything that is going on in the forest.

Joybell: Is he a twin?
Sorla: Not that I know of.
Mo: We’re going to look for twins.
Sorla: I know of a village where all the births are twins.

Taman’s people-sense told him that she was being truthful and straightforward.

She offered to take us to Tarck, three days travel into the forest and mountains, to get his information and insight into the Masks.

We asked for a moment to caucus amongst ourselves and all went back into the hut. Sorla walked away out of the clearing so we could talk.

We talked about whether we could lose our way on the path that Nicolana gave us if we went to talk to Tarck. The rangers, being rangers, could bring us back to this point, which we knew was the place to make the seventh sleep and we could get back on Nicolana’s path if the trip to talk to Tarck turned out to be a wild goose chase.

So we agreed to let her lead us to Tarck. Joybell went back outside to talk to her -- she’d turned back into a bear -- and said we’d leave in the morning.

The rest of the night passed without incident (what with having all of our usual precautious, plus an enormous big bear outside the hut).


26 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 57)

While we were having breakfast in our campsite, Sorla returned in her human form. (With normal clothes on -- she’d been stashing them in the woods when she transformed.)

Joybell: How do we go to get to Tarck?

Sorla started walking off the track and through the woods. Going through the woods required quite a bit of weaving until we found a game trail, then it was easier going following her along that.

As we travelled, Joybell rode on Scooby next to Sorla asking about the woods and the trees and the birds and what it is like to be a bear. About the ecology of the forest and what everything is.

As soon as we stopped for the day, which passed without incident, Mo turned Joybell into a squirrel. She immediately began waving her tail around and squeaking in joy. She ran up trees and down trees and jumped from tree to tree and waved her tail some more and just scampered and scurried all around the campsite.

Then it wore off.

Joybell: Thank you, Mo! That was the best thing ever!

We set watches (Thneed & Orryk, Joybell & Mo, Fiona & Taman) and made precautions and the night passed without incident.


27 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 58)

We had breakfast and then headed out on our way.

Mo: Does this treant speak common?
Joybell: She said he could speak to us…

Joybell rode with Sorla again so she could learn to identify everything. The mountains had a bunch of stands of different kinds of trees. We were getting into a part of the mountains with bigger hills and wider valleys -- the hills were more like mountains, but there were wide valleys between them.

Mo, musing about treants, to himself: They’re probably vulnerable to fire…
Joybell, overhearing: We are not burning the treant! They are ancient and wise.

The day passed without incident as we travelled over game trails, an actual path for a while, then more game trails.

Mo: Sorla, what do you do to pass the time? Do you have a trade?
Sorla: I spend a fair amount of time as a bear.
Joybell: That’s so cool!
Sorla: I can find stuff to eat, and I do. I try to keep an eye out for people taking more than they need or being actively destructive.
Mo: Sort of a guardian of the forest.
Sorla: Not as much as Tarck is.

When we stopped for the day, Taman and Thneed foraged for food for us and we made camp. With our usual precautions (and the same watches as the previous night) the night passed without incident.


28 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 59)

Joybell: Today we meet the treant!
Mo: Are there any tree-based jokes we need to get out of our system before we meet him?

Mo and Fiona proceeded to make a bunch of bad dad jokes and puns regarding trees and wood and bark as we walked along.

We proceeded along for about half the day before getting to a large clearing with a very large tree in the middle of it.

Joybell, to Sorla: Is that him?
Sorla: It was the last time I was here.
Mo, to Tarck: Hey, Tarck?

Tarck made a sort of groaning noise.

Sorla: Tarck, it’s me. Really.
Tarck: Whaddaya want?
Mo: We’re looking for guys in masks. To scout them. And kill them.
Tarck, to Sorla: What did you tell them I know?
Joybell: She told us you know about the Masks and where to find them. Also you’re so old and wise!
Tarck gave Joybell a look.
Joybell, quietly: They wiped out the Wold.
Tarck, with some sympathy: Apparently not all of it.
Mo: Do you like them? You’re not doing anything…
Tarck: It’s fun watching Sorla fight them. They can’t hurt her.
Joybell: They don’t have magic weapons. Right.
Tarck: They have some sort of magic -- they appear on the trail about an hour from the town of the twins, Callallah. There’s a cave that they appear in.

After some discussion, we sorted out that Callallah was between us and the cave.

Tarck didn’t know where the Masks start from -- just that they appear in that cave.

Mo: Do you have any magic powers? Can you give us some support?

Joybell mentioned Nicolana and her directions -- Tarck knew who the Keeper of Secrets is and confirmed that her directions would have gotten us to the Masks. Good to know.

Tarck: The people of Callallah are innocent but controlled by the Masks. Living in fear and in terror.
Thneed: Why do they always have twins?
Tarck: Because every year or couple of years the Masks come and take one of every pair.
Taman: But how does it happen?
Tarck: Maybe high ritual magic. I do not know.

Mo then turned the conversation in a different, very interesting direction.

Mo: Were you here before the gods left?
Tarck: I’m not that old. But I met one of her people (indicating Thneed) that was.
Mo: Where?
Tarck: He was a very capable druid.
Taman: He may still be around now.
Tarck: This was a hundred years ago. I wasn’t here but I wasn’t far from here.
Mo: Do you know the druid’s name or clan or circle?
Tarck: The druid’s name? Ornillon, I believe his name was. I can’t speak to where he is now or what he is doing.

---

Orryk: We’ve seen what they do to the children to make them Masks. The Masks seem like grunts or thugs. Do they have other types of fighters?
Tarck: I’ve seen a dwarf. I’ve seen him doing stuff in the cave.
Taman: One of the dwarves' dark cousins?
Tarck: He could have been a duergar. It’s hard to tell. I’ve seen a number of Masks.
Orryk: They’re dangerous enough, but I assume there’s something worse.
Joybell: Do you remember when the Masks started coming?
Tarck: Since before Ornillon came through. Callallah isn’t a big village so it works as a slow and steady source of new Masks.
Joybell: They steal children from other places too.

---

Orryk: Have you heard about portals to the elemental planes. I’ve heard of a portal to thee plane of earth in these mountains. I’m looking for ways to access them and ways to close them.
Tarck: If you had stayed on the road you were on, you would have had to travel much further than ten more sleeps. The turn off the road is near where the Wold was, but after that it’s a week or more travel into the mountains to get to the portal.
Orryk: Is there anything else we should be worrying about other than the Masks?
Tarck: The forest around Callallah doesn’t have a lot of predators. The villagers hunt in the surrounding area. I don’t expect you to run into anything that would attack.
Orryk: We don’t want more Masks coming through the teleportation circle.

We all agreed with Orryk on that point, so we decided to skip Callallah and go straight to the cave. Sorla could lead us around the village so that we wouldn’t encounter any villagers and take us there.

Before we left, Thneed had one more question for Tarck.

Thneed: Are there any hobgoblins passing through?
Tarck: Not except for the ones you’ve killed.

Thneed then told Tarck where her village was located -- he didn’t know anything about that area though.

We then left Tarck and his ancient and wise presence and followed Sorla toward the Cave of Masks. As we walked Mo invited her to help us fight the Masks, which she declined. She will however help us skirt the village and its hunting parties to take us to the cave. And she’ll make sure nothing comes to the cave from the village.

Mo: If all hell breaks loose, protect the village.

She agreed to that.

We affirmed among ourselves, and to Tarck, that our primary goal is to find the “machine” for making Masks and destroy it.

Tarck said that he could see to the back of the cave and there was nothing in there that looked like a machine. Just some Masks and something on the wall.

Mo, to Tarck: Do treants drink? We’ve been on the road a long time…

That question was ignored. Possibly because the DM didn't hear it.

We thanked Tarck very much, and Thneed and Joybell made special note in their minds of his location so they can come back someday, and headed out toward Callallah.

We followed Sorla for the rest of the day, which passed without incident. We camped with a tiny hut and Sorla went out and hunted, in bear form, for us so that Taman and Theed didn’t have to forage far from the party.

The closer we get to the continent-wide guild of assassins, the more paranoid we get.

We had our usual precautions and set watches (same as the night before) and the night passed without incident.


29 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 60)

Joybell: It’s been two months that we’ve been traveling together!! I don’t have any booze to celebrate.

(Note: Actually Joybell was confused about the date -- she was really thinking of the next day as the anniversary.)

Thneed went out to harvest some overripe berries for us…

We continued on our way to the cave beyond Callallah, wIth Sorla guiding us well around the city.

The day passed without incident. Sorla provided food for us again (leftovers from the previous night) and we made our usual precautions -- hut, alarm spell and the same watches as the previous couple of nights. The night also passed without incident.


30 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 61)

We set out again in the morning -- as we drew near to the town, Thneed tried to spot some humanoid footprints to try and identify those of the Masks, but she didn’t find a track.

Sorla lead us around to a trail that was bigger than a footpath but not enough for a cart to travel on. She told us we were fifteen minutes from the cave. She then parted from us, intending to go about fifteen minutes up the track toward the village.

Thneed took a minute so stop and sense for the presence of her favored enemy (humanoids) in the area -- she detected several dozen of them back in the direction of the village and fifteen in the direction of the cave.

We took stock of the geography, before moving closer to the Cave of Masks. The village is in a broad valley -- getting in and out involves going over the mountains and there aren’t any good mountains passes to make that easier. There’s a bit of relief in the valley (some hills and undoubtedly a river or stream). The cave is in the side of one of the mountains that forms the valley -- in a 60 or so foot high sheer(ish) cliff that extends some distance to either side of the cave mouth. The valley is mostly grassy in the middle, with the forest mostly at the edges and on the mountain sides. The villagers had cleared the forest in the valley floor. The track passed through woods and the cave was sheltered by trees.

We pulled out one of the party's bottles of Oil of Etherealness.

Taman: Grease me up, woman!

Fiona made a tiny hut for us to wait in safely while Taman went off to scout and explore. We initially thought he could use the sending stone to communicate if he needed us, but then realized that he wouldn’t be able to do that because of being ethereal. We also realized that we weren’t entirely sure whether the Cape of the Mountebank would work to get him out of trouble if he needed it to.

Mo cast a mage hand to help oil up Taman, and as the mage hand did so, we saw Taman shimmer out of visibility.

This is how he described what he saw -- 8 Masks inside the cave and 7 masks outside. Some sort of magic circle on the wall (further description to follow) inside the cave to the left. A stack of cots (something like ten of them, stacked up but not currently ready for use) was against the wall and there was some evidence of food (gruel) preparation. (We know they eat and sleep.)

The Masks were clearly not “switched off” - they were awake and aware (though they didn’t sense Taman at all), but they weren’t doing anything either. Once in a while one would move a little bit. It was as though they had no orders to follow and without orders they wouldn’t do anything. So they did nothing.

The circle on the wall is seven feet in diameter with a border six inches wide carved into the cave wall, with what looks like some intentional texture/pattern inside it. At the top of the circle, there are two strings of sigils/runes: one is just below the inside of the circle, carved directly into the cave wall and painted white (the natural rock of the cave wall is a very dark gray); the other is just above the outside of the circle, carved into hexagonal tiles or blocks that are in turn set into hexagonal niches carved into the cave wall (the tiles or blocks are about an inch thick and visibly different from the cave wall). There is a box or crate near the circle that contains more of the blocks or tiles. The blocks or tiles are stone, but different, almost-black stone, and the characters on them have been carved and painted red. The characters (both carved into the wall and carved into the tiles) are about six inches tall. Both the characters carved into the wall and the spaces where the tiles fit curve some to follow the circle.

Joybell’s take on the circle (after Taman described it to us) is that the fixed runes make a fixed incoming address and the moveable tiles allow the Masks to go to different places. So a specific configuration of the moveable tiles would have gone to the circle in Pelsoreen that we destroyed, for example. But Joybell doesn’t really get magic (except for Paladin magic which is all about hitting things better and helping people).

After doing his scouting Taman made his way back to the tiny hut where we were all waiting and sat down right in the middle of the group of us to wait for the oil of etherealness to wear off. From our point of view, he shimmered back into view right in the middle of the hut, where he’d left from.

Orryk: Did you actually go anywhere?

Taman described to us what he found.

Orryk: I like the idea of pulling a number of them away from the cave.

We discussed several approaches to this and settled on pulling some away with smoke from a big bonfire about 1000 feet away from the cave. Orryk dug a few pit traps between the fire and the most obvious path from the cave to our location. We used the earth from the pits to make an earthen berm around the fire. The pits were covered with vegetation to attempt to hide them.

Mo cast rope trick about 25 feet away from the fire so we’d have a safe place to hide and wait.

Then we lit the fire and stoked it up to the big bonfire (10’ square) that we wanted. Orryk, Fiona, Mo and Joybell waited in the rope trick. Taman hid off in the woods a bit beyond the rope trick. Thneed hid in the woods in a different direction. Scooby tried to play “normal wolf in the woods” and did a pretty good job (better sneaking than Taman) despite the quivers of javelins that Joybell has strapped to him. (He doesn’t wear a saddle or anything, but he does have a bit of baggage.)

A little while after the smoke started, maybe five minutes after we lit the fire, seven of the Masks approached the clearing where we had the fire going. The front three appeared to immediately notice Taman (who hadn’t hidden nearly as well as he thought he had).

Taman moved behind the fire (from their point of view) and took a shot at one -- hoping to draw them toward the pits. He hit and was able to do sneaky damage because being a rogue/ranger is awesome!

Orryk climbed out of the rope trick and took two shots at the same one, hitting with both, then moved away from the bottom of the rope and took a defensive stance. Thneed put her hunter’s mark on the same one, but missed with both of her shots. Then she took some cover behind a tree.

All of them except the one who’d been shot at by the party moved up 30 feet and started shooting arrows. Two of them shot two arrows each at Taman -- he dodged one arrow, luckily missed a crit from one, and got hit. Orryk was shot at by one of them, and managed to catch the arrow that would have hit him. Two shot at Thneed -- one of the four arrows hit her solidly, one went into the tree she was hiding behind and the other two flew off into the woods. The last one to shoot fired at Taman hitting twice -- once critically.

Ouch!

Fiona climbed out of the rope trick and, observing that they’d bunched up into a fireball formation that would let her get all of them, cast fireball. But in the stress of the moment it was a puny one and didn’t do much damage to anyone, not even the ones who failed to dodge out of the way. Joybell climbed down and moved to Taman, laying hands on him to cure much of the damage he took from the Masks’ arrows. Then she called Scooby to her and mounted up.

Mo emerged from the rope trick and blew out the smoke cloud and swirling sparks of his hypnotic pattern catching three of them in the pretty lights. Then he inspired Taman.

The inspiration was timely, because Taman immediately took a shot at the one the party was targeting and, because of the inspiration, got a hit. Then he moved entirely behind a tree (to get total cover). Then, belatedly and because this is all still sort of new to him, put his hunter’s mark on the one he’d just shot.

Orryk took two shots at the one we were focusing on, hitting twice, then, in a move that would be an inspiration to many, he laid down so he’d be harder to hit with arrows.

Thneed tried to shoot at the party’s target, it was looking poorly but we knew it would regenerate, hitting and dropping it with her second shot. She moved her hunter’s mark to a different one then moved to hid behind a tree of her own. (Her pride was a bit too strong for her to lay down like Orryk had.)

The Mask that Thneed dropped immediately regenerated and stood up. Then they began to shoot at us -- Fiona took two hits from one and one from another. Mo took two shots from one but was able to endure the damage from one shot because of his goliath heritage. He was also able to keep up the hypnotic pattern. Joybell took one hit and was missed by another shot. Then they all moved up to close with us -- moving around the pit traps which they had apparently noticed.

The other three stared at the pretty lights. Thank you, Mo!

Fiona cast shadowbolt -- her new spell that does psychic damage -- on the one that Thneed had her hunter’s mark on, stunning it and doing a lot of damage (more than twice as much as her fireball). Then she moved around behind a tree and lay down -- going for both cover and the disadvantage of shooting at a prone opponent.

Joybell rode up to the one Fiona had just stunned, hitting with her second attack for a nice amount of damage, then she and Scooby dashed back into the woods and got behind a tree.

Mo viciously mocked the one we’d actually dropped already, stunning it, then moved further away from them and laid down. Taman then took a shot at the one Mo stunned, dropping it again. Then he ducked back behind his tree.

Orryk moved up and attacked the one Fiona stunned with her shadowbolt, throwing his daggers at it. He then hit it with a powerful backhand -- leaving it wobbly. He tried to figure out a place where he could attack that one without putting himself in danger of being ganged up on.

Thneed, seeing the wobble, stepped out of hiding and shot it, dropping it for good. Then she moved her hunters’ mark to the next nearest one and shot it before moving back behind her tree. Pride took a backseat to self-preservation and she lay down.

The two remaining Masks who weren’t stunned moved up on Orryk and attacked him (his calculations had been off by just a few feet). With both of them attacking him things got ugly quickly -- despite Mo using cutting words to reduce the damage of one hit, and Orryk going invisible after being hit the first time, they dropped him. Fortunately the final attack against his fallen body (invisible) missed.

Fiona stood up and cast scorching ray on the one that dropped Orryk. Joybell circled around to get to that one (without drawing an opportunistic attack from the other) and cast wrathful smite before attacking. When her attack landed, it became stunned. Then she moved 15 feet away to draw the other one away from Orryk (since they’ve learned to keep hitting on fallen foes after they’re down).

Without standing up, Mo cast healing word on Orryk, then inspired him.

Mo: Hey, buddy, I need you to kill these things.

Then he viciously mocked the other one of the two that were not caught by the hypnotic pattern, stunning it. Taman ran in and stabbed that one with his rapier. Orryk stood up and attacked that same one with his daggers, trying and failing to do a stunning strike with one, then he dashed away into the forest.

Thneed shot at the one Joybell attacked, hitting it and doing extra damage because of her hunters’ mark.

The three Masks staring at the pretty lights continued to do so. The other two Masks shook off the stunning effects of the spells they’d been hit by but were unable to attack.

Fiona cast toll the dead on one, stunning it. Joybell rode up to it and hit it with one of her swings.

Mo viciously mocked the other one, stunning it as well, by saying something about its mother. Taman dropped the one Joybell and Fiona had attacked with his rapier, killing it for real, then moved his hunter’s mark to the other one. Orryk moved back in and punched with his deathtouch gloves, hitting the stunned one twice then punching again just because he could -- and also because each hit healed him up a bit through the magic of the gloves. Then, because that one was stunned and looking poorly, he moved toward the hypnotized ones, ready to start taking them out one by one.

Thneed shot at the one Orryk had punched, after moving her hunter’s mark there, and hit with both attacks, but didn’t drop it.

Which was a pity because it then immediately shook off the stun, again.

Fortunately, Fiona was right there to cast toll the dead on it. Its eyes glazed over and its muscles went slack for just a moment before it collapsed to the ground, dead. Then Fiona moved a little closer to the hypnotized ones on the other side of the pits.

Joybell rode up to the nearest of the hypnotized Masks and attacked. She hit it twice, doing a good deal of damage but also waking it out of the hypnosis. Taman dashed up and sneakily attacked that one from behind, hitting in a critical spot and doing a lot of damage (49 points!). Orryk attacked the same one, because we were definitely focusing fire at that point, punching with the deathtouch gloves and getting three hits, which stunned it. Orryk also healed some more. He was looking better and better with every hit. Thneed took a shot at the one we were attacking, after moving her hunters’ mark, and dropped it with her first shot, . She didn’t take her second shot because she didn’t want to wake one up before we were ready to deal with it.

Which left the two remaining Masks just staring at the pretty lights.

Fiona woke the next one in line up with a toll the dead. It didn’t take a lot of damage, but it was stunned. Joybell attacked it -- she got a normal hit with her first attack and a critical hit with extra divine smitage for the second. Mo viciously mocked the last one -- waking him up from the hypnotic pattern and also stunning him. Taman moved his hunter’s mark to the one Mo had just woken up, then stabbed with his rapier for a nice amount of damage.

Orryk attacked the other one, the one Fiona had stunned with her toll the dead, punching with his gloves and landing three good blows on it. Also healing up a bit more. Thneed shot that one, getting a critical hit and dropping it. Then she moved her hunter’s mark to the last one.

It shook off the stunning effect of Mo’s vicious mockery but wasn’t able to attack.

Fiona cast toll the dead on the last one, stunning it again. Joybell attacked it and hit twice.

Orryk, seeing that: Don’t kill it before my turn.

Mo hit it with his crossbow, because it has to get used once in a while. Taman stabbed it and did a nice chunk of damage, but per Orryk’s request, didn’t drop it.

Orryk did, punching and punching and punching with his gloves. By the end of it he was pretty much healed back up.

We ended in the clearing with the bonfire blazing and eight Masks in a cave 1000’ away.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 27: Killing And More Killing

Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM: - Everyone Else


30 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 61) (immediately after)

As we headed toward the cave, Taman, thinking back over what he’d seen in the teleportation circle in the cave, said that the runes were dwarvish letters and he thought he could remember the order of both the moveable ones (outgoing) and the ones permanently carved into the wall (incoming).

We also discussed how we could get the box of moveable runes out of the cave, before the Masks could go anywhere. And how we were going to deal with 8 of them. That discussion focused a lot on how to get them out of the cave one by one or in small groups so we could deal with them in detail.

All of that became moot once we got to the cave, because even from the outside, with just a bit of cautious peeking, we could see that the cave was empty.

Joybell: Are they going for the town?
Thneed: We should take advantage of this.
Mo: Hey, New Girl! Go check this out.

Before Thneed could go, Taman pointed out that he had the “get out of Dodge” cape and went into the cave. In addition to just scouting around, he was looking for anything invisible, which he didn’t find. He did see the box of tiles exactly where they were supposed to be. He wrote down the runes for the incoming circle (the permanently carved ones) and the outgoing circle.

While he was doing his scouting, Orryk began using his move earth ability to make piles of dirt outside the entrance to the cave, narrowing the 15’ entrance to a 5’ gap. Joybell stayed outside watching the path from the village, in case those returned. Mo cast a rope trick around the corner from the entrance to the cave, so we’d have a place to hide/retreat if we needed one. Taman interrupted Orryk’s work moving earth to hand him the box of tiles to put into the bag of holding.

As Fiona went to examine the circle to see if she could make sense of it, the carved, permanent (dial in) runes began to go from white to glowing gold. Everyone who was inside the cave scattered to the outside. Watching through the narrow doorway, we saw 10 Masks come through the gate.

Orryk took cover behind one of the piles of dirt and waited for one to come our way. Mo moved to a position where he could see into the cave and, seeing 10 of them all in a cluster, began playing a familiar tune frantically on his flute, blowing out the cloud of glowing smoke in a hypnotic pattern. Because they were all bunched up, they all were caught in the area of effect and only three of them resisted it.

The other seven were incapacitated.

Whew!

Taman moved to where he could see into the cave and got a massive, sneaky critical hit against one of the ones that wasn’t caught by the pretty lights. Then he hid behind one of Orryk’s piles of dirt. Joybell used two charges off the wand of magic missiles to shoot at that same one. Then she moved away from the entrance but stood plainly visible to them, so they’d come to her and attack her. Thneed put her hunter’s mark on that same one and shot at it twice, hitting with both attacks and dropping it.

Fiona then stepped into the gap for just long enough to toll the dead on the one Thneed dropped, killing it for real, then took cover behind a pile of dirt.

Two of the Masks took their action to wake up two other ones, but didn’t then do anything else. So we had four of the remaining 9 functional and five incapacitated.

Orryk moved away from the doorway, going near where Joybell and Scooby were trying to be a tempting target, and took two shots at one, then moved off into the trees. Mo viciously mocked one of the ones that was just shaken out of it’s daze, stun-locking it.

Mo: You’re a horrible creation from a bad mage.

Thneed moved her mark to the one Orryk shot at it and, because of her horde breaker ability, the one next to it. Then shot at the first one again. Of her three shots, one hit. Sigh.

Taman put his hunter’s mark on the one Mo mocked and took a shot at it, but missed. Joybell fired a shot from the wand of magic missiles at the same one then moved to draw them toward the mouth of the cave. Fiona cast a blessing on Taman, Orryk, Thneed and Joybell.

The Masks that had actions used them to wake up other Masks and one moved closer to us -- leaving only three still stunned and six fully functional, which was not as good a ratio as the other way round.

Orryk took two shots, both of which hit, at the one that was moving toward us. Mo, slightly less panicked now, cast another hypnotic pattern, letting the first one drop for a moment -- the ones that had been hypnotized blinked and shook their heads for a moment, before getting hypnotized again. Once again, only 3 of them saved and the rest were captured by the pretty.

Thneed moved into the doorway and seeing that two of the ones that still had their wits about them, shot at those two (using her horde breaker ability) and then took another shot at one of them. This time all three of her shots hit. Taman took a shot at the one that Thneed shot twice (her primary target) and hit it. Joybell shot a magic missile at that same one and moved to occupy the entrance to the cave, so they’d be bottled up between Orryk’s dirt piles. Fiona tolled the dead on it. The toll the dead did a teeny speck of damage to it, but did shut down its regeneration for a moment and tied up its ability to act for a round.

The Masks who were able to act once again used their actions to wake up others, leaving us with five awake and four incapacitated.

Orryk moved next to Joybell and took two shots at the one we were focusing fire, missing with both shots and swearing flagrantly in gnomish.

Orryk: We need to hold the $)#(% line!!

Joybell was shocked at his language.

Mo viciously mocked the same one, stun-locking it and setting it up to be killed.

Mo: Your parents are dead.

Then he moved back a bit. Thneed took her shots - hitting the one Mo had stunned, and the one next to it for even more damage. Her second attack just missed. Fortunately, Taman, who moved to fill in the rest of the line across the doorway (as in the picture above) didn’t miss and was able to drop the stun-locked one.

Joybell shot at one of the ones that were awake with a magic missile and held her place in the doorway. Fiona tolled the dead on that one.

One of them ran up into the space between the dirt piles and attacked Joybell, hitting twice. Another moved up behind it and shot at her with a bow, hitting twice. Fortunately, they couldn’t really gang up on her and, while she was hit hard, she wasn’t knocked down.

Orryk started in with his new vampiric gloves -- hitting the one right in front of us as we held the line and stunning it. Mo viciously mocked the one behind it, stunning it as well.

Mo: You’ve had your childhood stolen from you.

Thneed took advantage of the fact that Joybell is short, even by gnome standards, and shot right over her head at the one Orryk stunned. She hit it with two arrows, leaving it looking hurt but not on its last legs or anything. So Joybell finished it off with a mighty divinely powered blow with her short sword, dropping it. (And once again forgetting to use the sword of the medic’s healing word ability on any of the injured people in the party.)

Mo: Instead of getting them out of the cave, keeping them in the cave is the best decision we’ve made.

Fiona tolled the dead on same one she’d tolled before, so there were two stun-locked (one by her and one by Mo) leaving two able to act. Those two did not wake up any of the ones that were hypnotized (bless their little hearts) instead choosing to come after us. Specifically shooting at Joybell.

Joybell: I’m down, y’all….

They both missed with all attacks.

Joybell: Or not.

The ones that had been stun-locked (as opposed to the three that were still hypnotized) shook off the effect.

Orryk took a second to survey the situation.

Orryk: Stupidity is coming.

Then he ran into the cave, swearing flagrantly in Gnomish, shocking Joybell to the core. He punched one with the vampiric gloves, then ran to another and punched it as well, leaving two stun-locked and vulnerable

Mo viciously mocked one of the others.

Mo: Your future was stolen from you.

Thneed took two shots at one of the ones that Orryk punched, hitting once.

Taman: Oh, god, why are we doing this?

Then he ran in and stabbed the same one Thneed shot at. Joybell ran in as well, after a moment of confusion (we were holding the door, weren’t we) and got a tremendous hit, with extra divine power, followed by a regular hit on that same one - dropping it.

Fiona cast toll the dead on the one Mask who was neither stun-locked nor hypnotized. Then the stun-locked ones shook out of it but were unable to act otherwise.

Orryk, then ran around the room, doing one punch to each of those three (the ones not-hypnotized) with his vampiric gloves, locking all of them down again. Mo, seeing that nothing needed to be mocked this round, pulled out his crossbow and took an actual shot at one of them -- it felt weird, but he hit and did a fair amount of damage.

Mo: I point it this way, right?

Thneed hit our next target with both of her shots -- one of them in a critical location, and did a lot of damage. Taman then missed with his rapier. Joybell hit that one twice, but didn’t add the divine power, because it didn’t seem close to dying.

Fiona cast a scorching ray and sent bolts to all three of the ones that weren’t stunned, hitting two of them.

Because they had been stunned, the Masks didn’t heal at all but they did shake off the stun-locks again.

Just in time for Orryk to start punching them all over again. He managed to stun two of them with his vampiric gloves, but missed one.

Orryk: Mo, this one is yours.
Mo: On it.

Mo then viciously mocked the one that had managed to avoid Orryk’s punches. Thneed moved her hunter’s mark to the one she, Taman and Joybell were focusing on, and her first shot dropped him.

Thneed couldn’t move her hunter’s mark again, but she did take a shot at another one, giving us the next pile-on target. Taman moved his hunter’s mark to that same one and did a great deal of damage to it with a sneaky scimitar attack. Joybell, alas, was completely unable to do her part -- missing with both of her blows against a stunned opponent. (Note: With advantage on two attacks her high roll was a 3.)

Fiona cast magic missile, sending darts at the one Thneed, Taman and Joybell were dogpiling on and the other one that wasn’t hypnotized.

After the Masks shook off the stun-locks again, at least the ones that weren’t hypnotized, Orryk tried to go around and stun them all with his vampiric glove strikes again, but this time it didn’t work -- he was only able to get one of them. Mo got a second with an all time classic vicious insult against the Masks, stunning another one.

Mo: Your family is all dead.

Thneed moved her mark to the one she Taman and Joybell were working on -- she hit with both of her attacks. Taman then attacked and hit with his sneak attack and dropped it.

Taman then moved his hunter’s mark to the last one that wasn’t hypnotized. It didn’t really do him much good, though, because Joybell then dropped it with her first attacks. And then there were three.

We dropped one of the three hypnotized Masks very quickly -- Fiona stunning it with a toll the dead almost immediately after Joybell’s second attack shook it out of its hypnosis. Almost as quickly it shook itself out of the stun, but was unable to attack. And then as quickly again, Orryk punched it with the vampiric gloves and stunned it again.

(Note: There appears to have been a note-taking issue, because I can only account for the demise of seven Masks to this point, which would leave three hypnotized. But it’s clear from my notes that there were only two Masks left.)

Mo, seeing that there were only two left, coughed and let out a big cloud of smoke allowing the hypnotic pattern to drop. He then viciously mocked the un-stunned one.

Mo: You’re going to die without throwing a punch.

Thneed moved her hunter’s mark to the one Orryk stunned and shot it. With her horde breaker ability she shot the one Mo stunned. Then she attacked the first one again. All three of her shots hit. Nice. Taman moved his hunter’s mark to the one Orryk stunned as well and attacked with his rapier, getting in a good attack while the Mask was distracted by other opponents. Joybell dropped the one Orryk stunned with her first attack and hit the last remaining Mask with her second attack, but it stayed up.

Mo suggested that maybe we want to talk to one.

Fiona cast toll the dead on the one remaining one. Keeping it locked up for a moment.

As soon as it shook off that stun, Orryk punched it, once, with the vampiric gloves, locking it again.

Orryk: Mo, if you want to tie this guy up, do it now.

Mo did so, mummy-tying him with 40 feet of thick hempen rope. Orryk took the Mask's weapons and then used mold earth to put a big pile over him.

While this was happening, Fiona studied the teleportation circle.

Mo took the Mask off, reminding all of us that these aren’t the bad guys. The Masks themselves are abused children.

Mo: Your friends are all dead. We have a few questions. Would you be willing to talk to us? We need to know who you’re working for.
Mask: Our orders were to go to Callallah with the idea of capturing you in a pincer move. The group that headed to town is coming back. They turned around when we saw you here.

This revelation caused some consternation.

Taman: How do you get to your boss?
Mask: We use the portal.

Taman got the Mask to give him the address they used. Then he stabbed the Mask. Orryk immediately began hacking at the portal with the intention of making it not work anymore.

Then we fled the cave, running in a different direction from our fight with the first group of Masks at the bonfire.

On the way out, Mo used the flute of scribing to write, “Alighieri did this…” Which confused Thneed and made Joybell shake her head.

We headed toward the town, traveling way off the road, to see what the Masks might be doing there. Taman went in on his own to see what he could learn, with some inspiration from Mo in case he needed it. Taman came to some cleared farmland outside of town -- there were adults in the field cutting the hay with scythes. There were fruit trees around the edge of the field with children standing on the shoulders of very large people picking apples and pears. The large people didn’t wear masks, but were about the same size as the Masks.

Before talking to anyone, Taman got a look at one of the large people the children were harvesting with -- it didn’t appear to him to be capable of independent thought at all. The children were telling the large people what to do and were using them largely as beasts of burden or like they would farm animals. He also noticed that the large people weren’t muscular and solid like the Masks and they did have sexual characteristics (breasts, facial hair, etc.) that the Masks do not have. They also didn’t have the physical characteristics/facial features associated with acromegaly (Note: Think Andre the Giant.)

Taman approached a little boy standing on the shoulders of one of the giants, making his demeanor appear to be that of an ordinary traveler.

Taman: Hi.
Kid, climbing down from his “mount”: Who are you?
Taman: I’m an explorer. I like to draw maps.
Kid: We don’t get visitors. Mostly.
Taman: Why not? This seems like a nice village.
Kid: When it is, it is. When it’s not, it’s bad.
Taman: What happens when it’s not?
Kid: Masks come.

Then the child started crying. The giant he’d been standing on looked at the child blankly, then at Taman, then it sat down on the ground next to the child and started to cry as well.

Taman tried to comfort the child, without much effect.

Noticing this, one of the adults in the hayfield called out: “Hey, you! What are you doing here?”

Taman gave the same explanation about being an explorer mapping the area that he’d given to the kid.

Taman: The child was talking about something weird going on with masks, but when I asked about it he started to cry.
Man: The...it’s..it isn’t so much weird as bad. I don’t know how they’ll react to anyone coming here. How did you get here?
Taman: I walked.
Man: I was hoping for a direction.
Taman: I left Pelsoreen and went west exploring.
Man: They’ve been terrorizing our village for some time. Well, not always terrorizing -- they also protect us. But they come every once in a while and take our kids.
Taman: That’s terrible! How long has this been going on?
Man: Since before my great grandparents’ time.
Taman: Has no one stood up to them?
Man: Not for very long.
Taman: Where do they come from?

In response to that, the man pointed toward the cave.

Taman, through a bit more discussion with the villager, learned that the Masks aren’t in the town regularly.

He returned to us and we found a place to rest with a tiny hut about 15 minutes from the cave. Then we oiled up Taman with our other oil of etherealness and he went to scout to see what those other 8 Masks were up to. We knew they were in telepathic contact with the 10 we killed that came through the gate, but we didn’t know what they’d do when they saw that we’d killed the ones they were supposed to be making a pincer-attack with. The rest of us rested while he was gone.

In the cave, Taman saw exactly what we had left - 10 dead Masks, destroyed teleportation circle. Empty space. Nothing else. He didn’t see any fresh tracks going into the cave, so apparently the ones heading back for the pincer thing, peeled off and went elsewhere when we killed the last of the Masks in the cave.

Taman came back to the hut and, again, waited for the oil to wear off, then reported what he’d seen.

Mo, to Thneed: Can you do some ranger naughty word to find these guys?
Thneed: Yes.

She then spent the next minute focusing her awareness and concentrating on the area around her to detect the presence of her favored enemy (humanoids) in a five mile radius. She detected the village -- there were a few dozen people at that distance and in that direction. About halfway between Callallah and the cave, there were a group of eight of them on the path, not moving in any particular direction.

After a bit of puzzlement, and the thought that maybe when we killed the ones that came through the gate, they didn’t have orders so they were just in standby or something, we realized that halfway between the cave and Callallah was where Sorla was going to be waiting to keep anything bad from being taken to the village. They couldn’t hurt her at all and she couldn’t kill them.

We started heading in that direction, moving quickly. Despite her sense of urgency about this, Joybell didn’t rush ahead like a crazy gnome, but kept pace with Taman, and generally close to the rest of the party. Along the way, Taman and Thneed got some arrows from the near infinite supply of arrows in the bag of holding, so they were re-loaded for this combat.

As we got closer we could hear, and then eventually see, the combat -- Sorla in her hybrid were-bear form fighting with eight Masks. Fiona blessed Orryk, Thneed, Taman and Joybell.

Taman then moved forward just a bit and took a shot at the nearest one -- hitting for a lot of damage. Sorla, in what would be a repeated theme, missed with both of her attacks. Joybell fired magic missiles from the wand at the same one -- did a piffling amount of damage, but not much.

The beneficial effect of Taman and Joybell’s attacks was that five of them broke away from attacking Sorla and began moving toward us. (Sorla savaged one with a critical hit on an opportunity attack, but that was more of an anomaly.) Three of them stayed on her. The five moving toward us pulled out longbows and fired at us. Three attacked Joybell, two of them missing entirely, one hitting with both attacks, but not hurting her too badly. Taman, unfortunately was attacked by the other two and he took three arrows. Mo tried to use cutting words to make one of those shots miss, but was unable to do so. The other three attacked Sorla, to no net effect.

Mo took out the wand of web and used it to throw a cube of webbing, anchored partly to the trees on either side of the path, onto the three closest to us. Thneed put her hunter’s mark on the closest one, the one Taman and Joybell had already hit -- and missed with both of her arrows. She also missed with her hordebreaker attack against the one right behind it.

Orryk moved backwards, shooting twice with his shortbow, and hitting twice. Then he took cover behind a tree.

Orryk: Fall back! Take cover!

Fiona cast toll the dead on the one closest to us, then lay down on the ground. Taman moved away from the path and took cover behind a tree, before shooting that one in front twice. Sorla swung at the ones behind her to no effect. Joybell rode up to the one in front that we’d been focusing on, attacked twice, getting a hit in a vital area and dropping it, then she moved and dashed Scooby off into the woods, where she took cover behind a tree.

The other two caught in Mo’s web were well and truly stuck in it -- they fought to free themselves but were unsuccessful. The other two that had left Sorla and come to fight us ran at top speed closer to us, but weren’t able to close the distance and didn’t take the time to fire arrows.

Mo viciously mocked one of the two not caught in the web.

Mo: You’re never going to have any love or any interesting activities.

Then he lay down.

Thneed moved behind a tree and moved her hunter’s mark to the one Mo had mocked (no stun-locked). She got two hits, one in a critical location. Orryk closed on that one and attacked it with daggers from his belt, hitting twice, then smacking with a backhand that also hit. Without standing up, Fiona cast toll the dead on the other one that was heading our way, stun-locking it. Taman moved up on that one and stabbed it for a lot of damage. Sorla actually got a hit -- though the Mask was just going to regenerate that damage. Joybell moved up to the one Orryk was attacking and hit with one of her attacks, drawing down the divine energy into her sword -- but it was still not great, her focus was obviously off.

The two that had been stunned -- by Mo and Fiona -- came out of it, but were unable to do anything. The two stuck in the web tried again to get themselves out. And again failed. Nice!

Mo stood up and mocked the same one again, then lay back down.

Mo: You have no future.

Thneed took her shots at the one Mo had just stunned and dropped it. Then she moved her hunter’s mark to one of the ones in the webbing.

Orryk ran across the road to the other one that was moving to attack us and used his vampiric gloves on it, stunning it, with his first blow. With his second blow he used a dagger and he followed up with an unarmed attack. All of those hit.

Fiona surveyed the situation and cast shadowbolt, which does psychic damage, on one of the ones Sorla was fighting. It was wrapped in a swirl of purple energy, after taking the damage.

Fiona, to Sorla: Hit the glowing purple one on your right!

Taman shot the one Orryk had attacked and did a lot of damage, leaving it reeling but still on its feet. Sorla, following Fiona’s instructions, attacked the glowing purple one, but even attacking with advantage she missed with both of her attacks. Joybell moved and dashed on Scooby to get to a different one of Sorla’s attackers, then she cast wrathful smite and attacked it. The first hit landed, rather weakly, but it delivered the energy of the spell. Her second attack did better.

Around this time, the three stunned Masks shook that off, the two in the web finally managed to free themselves (one went to Orryk and Taman, the other to Joybell and Sorla). One of them attacked Sorla.

Mo then viciously mocked the one Taman had stabbed and Orryk and punched and daggered, killing it with his barbed tongue. Then he inspired Taman. Thneed moved her hunter’s mark to the one that had just moved to Orryk and Taman and shot it twice, hitting twice. Orryk attacked it, hitting with his gloves first, then with a dagger and a punch for his bonus action. Hitting with all three. Nice!

Fiona cast shadowbolt on the one that had gotten out of the web and was going for Joybell and Sorla, hitting for a lot of damage and stunning it. Taman attacked the one on him and missed, despite being blessed and despite Mo’s inspiration. Sorla went to attack the one Fiona had just stunned, drawing attacks from two of the three that she had been fighting with futility. They both missed. Then she missed with both of her attacks against the stunned Mask.

Joybell cast wrathful smite and attacked the one nearest to her, hitting twice and stunning it, but didn’t drop it. So she dashed away on Scooby into the woods (because otherwise she was in danger of being surrounded by three of them).

The two Masks that weren’t stunned moved to attack Sorla, because it’s hard to kick a useless habit. The rest of them came out of their stun-locks.

Whereupon, Mo immediately viciously mocked the one Sorla had moved to attack.

Mo: You’re about to be killed by an owlbear that can’t hit anything.

It seems like Sorla should have taken some damage from that as well. But then he inspired Sorla.

Thneed shot at the one she’d put her mark on -- hitting it with both shots and dropping it. At least temporarily.

Orryk: Fiona, can you kill this one?

Then he walked up to the line of them that had been fighting hitting two of them with the gloves and leaving them stunned. The third one was not, however. Fiona cast toll the dead on the one that was dropped killing it. Then she stood up and moved closer to the battle. Taman dashed up to one and attacked, but missed. Sorla attacked the one Mo had stunned and hit it! Joybell rode Scooby up to that one and attacked it, hitting twice but not dropping it.

The three stunned Masks then shook themselves out of it. The fourth one, standing right next to Orryk, attacked, hitting twice, despite Mo’s attempt to use cutting words to prevent one of those. The two attacks combined for a great deal of damage.

Orryk growled and flexed his fist, pulling the glove tight across his knuckles.

Orryk: I’m taking that right back.

Mo cast mass vicious mockery on all four of them, stun-locking the lot of them and doing a small amount of damage to each of them. Thneed moved her mark to one and then promptly dropped it with an arrow. Then she shot another one and used her horde breaker ability to drop the one next to it.

Orryk attacked the one that had been behind Sorla that Thneed hadn’t dropped, hitting twice and healing some of the damage that had been done to him. Fiona cast a fireball, sculpting it around Orryk, Scooby, and Joybell (who were used to this) and Sorla (who wasn’t). Taman then sneaked in and stabbed one of the two remaining for a lot of damage, dropping it.

Which left one stunned Mask. And Sorla’s attacks.

Party: Come on, Sorla!!

Sorla turned to the last one and hit twice, ripping it limb from limb. We all cheered for her and congratulated her.

And there we ended, in the path between Callallah and the Cave of the Masks. Surrounded by more dead masks (and having killed 25 of them in one day).

Joybell doesn’t know about anyone else, but she’s pooped.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 28: We Made It Back To Embernook!

Dramatis Personae:

Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


30 Sicklin 748 (Campaign day 61) (immediately after)

We began where we left off -- on the trail half-way between Callallah and the Cave of the Masks with Sorla the were-bear. Surrounded by the bodies of eight Masks.

We started looting and searching the bodies -- aside from standard Mask equipment (longsword, longbow, arrows, shield) we didn’t find anything of interest. We weren’t expecting them to have coinage (we’ve never found an individual Mask with coinage) but we were kind of hoping that maybe we’d find some information or clues. We took the equipment and Mo made sure we put all the masks in the bag as well. Then we burned the bodies.

We proceeded to the bonfire location, where we’d fought seven Masks, and searched with the same results. While the rest of us were looting bodies and building the pyre, Fiona cast detect magic so she could take a look at the box of tiles. They were in fact magical, gently so, with an aura of conjuration magic, appropriate for teleportation magic.

Once all of those bodies were burning, we headed to the Cave of the Masks. While the others searched inside, Joybell and Thneed worked on dragging the bodies outside the cave and making a pyre. Everyone else searched in the cave. From the cots and the general level of tracks in the cave, it was clear that the cave has been occupied more or less continuously by some number of Masks. There was evidence of traffic into and out of the cave. Fiona cast another detect magic and saw a bit of residual magic, sparking and clearly shorting out and draining away -- conjuration again. Nothing evil, just now badly broken.

We then went to Callallah. As we approached the village, we saw some people still out harvesting -- 3 kids on the shoulders of the dumb-giants picking apples and pears, 7 adults in the fields cutting the grain with scythes. One of the dumb-giants was being used as a beast of burden, carrying bundles of cut wheat to a cart.

Mo took one of the masks out of the bag of holding and threw it toward the workers -- unfortunately it didn’t fly as he expected and it landed well short. So he took another one and used a mage hand spell to throw it in front of some of the workers.

The rest of the party sort of stared at him.

Mo: What? Is this not a common greeting?

The villagers turned to look in our direction.

Mo: Hey! How’s it going? We killed all the Masks.

The villagers continued to stare.

Joybell: Hello.

One of the villagers in the field, a young man in his early 20s, came our way.

Mo: Your town is free now.
Joybell, to Mo: I think you’re getting ahead of the narrative.

As the villagers approached it became clear that these were the same ones Taman had talked to earlier.

Young Man, whose name turned out to be Orl, looking at Taman: You’re not a lone traveler.

Orryk started pulling masks out of the bag of holding, eventually accumulating a pile of 34 of them.

Orryk: We want to talk about these.
Orl: That’s going to be my dad, Wilm.

Orl led us toward the town. As we walked, Joybell made small talk with Orl about the fields and orchards we passed. What looked like a bumper crop of fruit and grain and other horticultural crops was the normal production for Callallah every year.

Joybell: How’s life in the village?
Orl: Mostly not too bad.
Thneed: Where do the friendly giants come from?
Orl: My dad can explain that.

Joybell went back to chattering.

Joybell: Do you have livestock?
Orl: Chickens. Some farmers raise pigs. We keep two or three horses for the cart.
Mo: One cart for the whole town? What’s it for?
Orl: Every once in a while, someone will take a cartload of produce out of the valley to trade for things we don’t have here.

We noticed as we walked through the scattered forest trees among the orchards and fields, that only the domesticated plants were doing especially well -- the apples had a bumper crop, but there were a normal number of acorns on the oak trees.

We got to the town and found that it had 12 dwelling compounds, some with multiple buildings, obviously housing multi-generational families. We passed a horse barn/carriage house and something that looked like a bar or restaurant.

Mo: There’s always a bar.

All the people we saw in the village were human.

Orl took us to one of the compounds -- we saw twelve children under the age of 10. Five pairs of twins, not identical twins. (Note: I had assumed that the twin births were all identical twin births, but that is not a correct assumption. Kids just are always born in pairs.)

In an office or working space, we were introduced to Orl’s father Wilm Orter.

Wilm: How are you doing?
Orryk: We’re good.

Then he started pulling masks out of the bag of holding. 35 of them.

Mo: You had a Mask problem. You don’t any more. Are you happy there are no more Masks?
Wilm: Life without the Masks seems like it would be nice, but I haven’t contemplated it.

Joybell proceeded to explain why we’d come to kill the Masks - that we hadn’t actually come to liberate Callallah, we’d come to stop them from kidnapping children like the Orc orphans (taken to be vivisected), we’d come to stop them from destroying other villages and special places like the Wold. As we got closer, we realized that we would also be stopping them from kidnapping the children of Callallah to make them into more Masks.

Joybell made sure that Wilm understood that their children were the Masks, transformed, and we’d killed a lot of them.

Wilm: We tried not to think about it, but we knew.

He said that every couple of years, the Masks would come and take one of each pair of twins between the ages of 8 and 12. They’d come from the cave with a cart and return with the children to the cave. About two weeks later the Masks would return with the broken ones -- their minds would be irreparably broken and their bodies would just keep growing and growing and growing. Those grew up to become the dumb giants the town used as beasts of burden.

We asked if anyone from the village had been to the Cave to see what was there when the Masks weren’t in town. He said that his grandfather told a story from the time of his own grandfather (Wilm’s great-great grandfather) about a group of villagers who got it into their heads to do something about the Masks. They went into the cave and did something, broke something. It took three months for the Masks to come back, but they did come back.

Joybell: Did your grandfather say if they came back by the road or on the trail from the cave?
Wilm: They came back from the cave.

We asked if there was a place we could eat and sleep in the village. Wilm said he would go and talk to the Brewers and Hostlers. We were taken to a parlor and waited there for about an hour. By the time Wilm came back we could smell cooking smells wafting in through the window.

Wilm: The Hostlers are more than happy to clear space for you in the horse barn. And the Brewers are cooking and will provide you with food and beverage.

We thanked him and went first to Brewers -- the restaurant and bar we’d seen. There were some of the villagers there eating the good food -- chicken and vegetables and a sort of stew. The bar offered, in addition to beer and hard liquor, cider, perry, cysers, meads and other delicious beverages.

Mo spotted a couple of people in a corner puffing on pipes and went to talk to them. He made small talk and made a trade of a pouch of the smoking stuff he’d brought with him for a pouch of the locally grown tobacco.

Smoker: I’ve only ever smoked what we grow here. I’m interested to see what else is out there.

Thneed basically gorged herself on the beautiful fruit, mostly pears and apples at this time in the season.

Joybell, uncharacteristically, stayed quiet. She just watched and listened to the people in the village to see how they were reacting to us -- where they afraid or uncomfortable or unhappy. Mostly they were curious and she didn’t hear them talking at all about the Masks being gone.

Joybell: Maybe Wilm Orter didn’t tell them about that. Which makes sense -- we have three months to follow through on destroying the Forge and taking down Steeltear. If we fail, the Masks will be back.
Thneed: It would put him in an awkward position.

We then began to talk about how we could get back here quickly if we needed to return in a hurry to finish the job. Or to return to protect the village and re-destroy the circle in the cave. Joybell suddenly remembered the letter opener she has from Thalith’s office in Embernook and went to talk to Mr. Brewer, the barkeep.

Joybell: Can I buy a spoon or something from you? As a souvenir. Also, I’d like to get a small keg of mead for us to have on our travels.

Brewer left into the back room and came back a bit later with a spoon, which he handed to her with a bit of puzzlement, and a small pony keg. One of the ends of the keg was labeled “First Fruit 720” (note - it is currently the year 748).

Brewer: This was a birthday brewing for someone who will never live to drink it. You may have it.
Joybell, overwhelmed: I wish I had something as wonderful to give you in exchange.
Brewer: You have.

Joybell went back to our table feeling even more overwhelmed.

Mo, who was pretty thoroughly wasted at this point, got frustrated because we hadn’t learned anything new in the town, at least nothing that would tell us where to go to find the Forge and destroy it. So he went out wandering around the town drunkenly looking for clues.

Joybell and Fiona went walking around the town as well, though not with Mo -- Fiona cast detect magic and we walked around to see if anything pinged.

The answer to that was yes -- the frame over the top of the well that the winch and bucket attached to was intensely magical -- to the point of being a strong magical item itself. The essence was of transmutation magic. So Fiona spent 10 minutes with her books casting identify, with Joybell patiently waiting, and learned that the magic of the well house was that all humans, domestic animals, and crop plants were vastly more productive.

As Fiona was learning this, Mo stumbled past.

Mo: A lemon tree!

Eventually we all gathered in the barn, where Fiona cast her tiny hut and we slept the sleep of the genuinely exhausted.

The night passed without incident.


1 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 62)

The next morning we woke up and before we emerged to possibly interact with the townsfolk, we discussed our plans. We had some disagreement over the larger strategy for taking out the Forge of Masks and Steeltear -- Orryk did not (and does not) want to go through a teleportation circle to wherever the outgoing symbols in the Cave were dialing without some way of seeing what’s there. Joybell doesn’t want to leave the work unfinished so that in three months the Masks come back for the villagers and their children again. To Joybell, teleporting in blind is clearly not a good idea and not our best approach but if it is the only approach we have, then needs must.

We decided to set that question aside for a while and just deal with the next step or two.

Fiona used a sending spell to communicate with Tulmor.

Fiona: We’re ready for pickup. In Dunimar Mountains in Callallah. Do we need to go to Pelsoreen? We have info about the Masks.
Tulmor, after a long pause: Don’t know Callallah. Pelsoreen or Ov. I’ll talk to Barnett.

Joybell looked at the map in her bag, but wasn’t certain where we were.

Joybell: Rangers -- do your ranger naughty word. Are we closer to Ov or Pelsoreen?

After a bit of discussion, and the doing of ranger naughty word, it was determined that we were closer to Pelsoreen.

Sigh.

We decided to get to the road by way of visiting Tarck, rather than going out of town by the main road. We knew that Sorla was keeping an eye on the town, and hoped she’d catch up to us or run into us or find us as we left.

We left town without further ado -- as we passed from fields and orchards into the wild forest we called her name a few times. Joybell spent the next couple of hours asking all the squirrels we ran into if they’d seen a bear. One of them eventually said that it had seen a bear but it didn’t know which way the bear went because it had run away and hid.

About an hour after that, we ran into Sorla in her human form. She asked us if we’d found anything.

Joybell: We know the address, so to speak, of a teleportation circle, but not the actual physical location of it.

We asked her to take us to Tarck and she agreed to do so.

The rest of the day of travel, and the following night, passed without incident.


2 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 63)

We got to Tarck’s clearing around mid-day.

Tarck: Oh, you again!
Joybell: We killed a lot of Masks.
Mo: We’re trying to get back to Pelsoreen. Do you have any way to get us there more quickly?
Tarck: I don’t have a lot of getting places magic. I spend most of my time rooted to the ground.

Joybell asked him about the teleportation circle and if he’d seen runes like that before. Taman drew them on the ground so Tarck could see them. But Tarck didn’t recognize them. We asked if there would be a shortcut or a shorter way than going by road.

Tarck: Hmmm….

Then he fell into the silence of deep thought.

While he was pondering, Joybell and Thneed made a flower garland and draped it around Tarck’s trunk and lower branches.

Joybell: Do you want to help, Orryk?
Orryk: No.
Joybell: But you’re a forest gnome!
Orryk: You kids have fun.

While Tarck was still engaged in his slow, deliberate treant ratiocinations, Joybel and Thneed finished their garland so Joybell started climbing Tarck, beginning just with sort of inching up the roots and then finding a low hanging branch to climb onto. She was moving slowly and carefully, trying not to be noticed too much.

Which totally didn’t work.

Tarck: What are you doing, Small?
Joybell: Just climbing. Is that okay?
Tarck: Oh. Okay.

With permission, Joybell just kept climbing up up up until she was at the very highest branches that could support her weight.

Tarck, after a long stretch of thought: I think I can help. I have seen a druid or two from the Primal Atoll come through here. One of them grabbed a sapling to plant on their island. This was thirty years ago. Maybe more like fifty. Time’s a little slippery. I believe that if they planted it, it should be large enough.

He said he could cast transport via plants, which Irlua had used for us when we were at the Primal Atoll, to get us there. We agreed readily and Joybell started trying to climb down from her high perch up in the treant. After almost falling, Mo cast a rope trick right next to her and she was able to climb down the rope.

Orryk: We have a rope of climbing.
Mo: Oh. Right.

Once Joybell was back on the ground, Tarck did some mumbling and moved a few of his branches and opened a portal in one of the trees surrounding his glade. We hustled through the tree, with Joybell explaining to Thneed about the Atoll as we went through.

Joybell: They’re these awesome elemental druids that live on an island just a few hours from Pelsoreen. It’s beautiful and there’s a portal to the elemental plane of fire there.

We emerged in a grove of plants not native to the sub-tropical climate of the Atoll, carefully managed and watched over by the druids both to keep them alive and to keep them from invading the rest of the island. A young novice tending the grove saw us all pop out, bristling with weapons and with a rather large wolf. She dropped her tools and ran away toward the village.

Orryk, calling after her: Tell Irlua the gnomes are here.

We started walking along the path toward the village, looking as non-threatening as possible. Joybell even got off Scooby and walked alongside, to make herself look less threatening.

Irlua greeted us at the edge of the village. We told her that Tarck the treant in the eastern Dunimar Mountains transported us to the island.

Joybell: Are there any boats in the docks that could take us to Pelsoreen.
Irlua: No.
Joybell: Do you have any way of getting in touch with Pelsoreen to get a boat?
Irlua: Do you want to go to Pelsoreen?
Joybell: Well, no. Not actually. But it’s our next step on the way to Embernook.
Irlua: I can get you to Embernook. There’s a large tree in Soul’s Rest.

Well, excellent then.

Joybell thanked her and asked if there was anything we could do for her.

Irlua: There is something you could do for the Primal Atoll.

(Taman: Here comes the side-quest.
Mo: We asked for homework…)

Irlua: There is an important staff in New Arvai, Adnorga's Staff, in the School of the World. We need it here.
Taman: Why do you need it?
Irlua: It was stolen from another druidic circle.
Mo: Can we have a bit more of a description?
Irlua: It is an ebony staff that has ivory inlays. It is immensely helpful to druids and that I know of not at all helpful to anyone else. It is like a Staff of Power, but Shadowy, and for druids. We have asked them for its return but they will not return it.
Joybell: What circle was it taken from?
Irlua: The Umbral Circle. They were in New Arvai. They were of a sect of planar druids that protect from extra-planar threats.
Orryk: What happened to the circle?
Irlua: If you can find that out, that would be helpful. They were focused on protecting from threats from the Shadowfell.
Joybell: Is it okay if we deal with our current situation first? That one is kind of a ticking bomb…
Irlua: You will probably need to improve yourselves before going to the School of the World to steal something.

We took a moment to consider the fact that we have a name from the School of the World in New Arvai -- one of the librarians was mentioned in The Keeper of Secrets’ letter to Jornas (found when we got the second Crazy Book that we gave to the Keeper of Secrets) -- Elledrian. Nicolana’s letter told Jornas to ask him if the Raven Queen knows where he is. At least a few party members read that as a threat. And the Raven Queen is the ruler of the Shadowfell.

So there seems to be something of a connection there. There’s a missing druidic circle that protects against the Shadowfell. An item from that circle is in the possession of a magical college (and library) that has someone working for it who has some connection to the Raven Queen, possibly not a good one. And the library won’t give it up to other druids.

There were also all of the shadowpools making portals to the Shadowfell around Embernook, the warlocks of Orcus, and the wights and deathlock wights and undead and other nastinesses a few months ago. Which might indicate that things are stirring in the Shadowfell.

After a bit of discussion, we agreed to take on the task of retrieving Adnorga’s Staff for the druids when we were more powerful.

Then Irlua sent us traveling by plant into a grove in Soul’s Rest in Embernook. Joybell was radiating excitement at being back in a nice city again.

We headed to Tulmor & Barnett’s place, but split into two groups when we got to Centerkeep. Joybell wanted to go to check in with Chief Ullar Truehammer and the guards, and also to get Thneed an armband if possible. Joybell, Mo, Thneed and Taman were Team Guards. Orryk and Fiona were, as usual, Team Library.

In the guard house, we found Chief Truehammer sitting at his desk.

Joybell: Hello! We’re back!
Truehammer: Oh, gawds.

Our first order of business was to get a guard armband for Thneed. And to explain to her what it was and what it meant.

Joybell: We’re guards. Sort of special duty guards. They’ll contact us if they need us.

We started talking to Truehammer about the Masks. Taman asked if they operated out of Embernook. We understood that Pelsoreen was unique (and uniquely awful) in that they were free to operate so openly, with a storefront and everything.

Taman: It seems like it would be hard for them to operate here in Embernook because of Administrator Alighieri.
Joybell: Yeah, he’d know. For sure.
Truehammer: I don’t think he’d allow child kidnappers and assassins to operate in the city.
Mo: We’ve reached the end of our investigative prowess. We have the sigils for a teleportation circle and a name, Turnik Steeltear.
Truehammer: I didn’t know there were any duergar left.
Joybell: You recognize that as a duergar name?

Truehammer said that he did. He also said that it might be possible for a duergar or two to have survived the Fiend Wars and subsequent clean-up of the fiends in their underdark cities, but that he didn’t think it possible that their culture had survived.

Joybell: We think he’s operating somewhere in or under the Dunimar Mountains. If you come up with any information that would help us localize him please let us know.

He agreed to think about it and let us know if he came up with anything.

Joybell then asked Truehammer if he knew of anyone who could make plate armor for her. He recommended a dwarf blacksmith in Allacross named Ernin Brightforge. He has some rock gnome assistants in the shop, so he definitely has the right mindset to make armor for a very small gnome.

We thanked the Chief and headed to the Tulmor and Barnett’s.

Team Library had gone there directly, of course. When they were standing outside the door, Fiona cast a sending spell to Tulmor.

Fiona: We’re ready for a pickup. But you should check your door first.

Tulmor answered the door and was surprised to see them there.

Orryk: We found some people who were good with plants.
Tulmor: That makes sense…
Orryk: Glad to see the city is still standing.
Tulmor: Us too. How can we help you?
Orryk: We have the runes for a circle, but want to know where we’re going.

Orryk described the circle setup in the Cave of Masks, showing Tulmor the box of runes.

Tulmor: That is not familiar magic to me.
Orryk: Would Barnett know?
Tulmor: He’s here. We can ask.
Fiona: How’s he doing?
Tulmor: He’s not so obsessed with Harl’s library as he was. But he’s gotten prone to recklessness.
Fiona: Reckless how?
Tulmor: He doesn’t seem to care what happens to him. He doesn’t seem to care what kind of danger he puts himself in.

She went to get Barnett and when they returned, Orryk and Fiona explained again the circle at the Cave and showed him the tiles.

Barnett: That sounds like high ritual stuff. Using a ritual, you can make a regular teleportation circle in a day, pretty easily if you know what you’re doing.. Something like that would have taken longer to make, and been … less easy..
Orryk: Can we find out what’s on the other side at a specific address?

Barnett said he would think about it. Fiona and Orryk both got the sense that he might be planning to do something really stupid…

At about that time, Team Guards arrived.

Joybell: Hi! I found a line on a blacksmith to make my armor. So we can go find the Masks.

Joybell asked Tulmor and Barnett if they knew where duergar used to be in the Dunimar Mountains. Both of the wizards agreed with Truehammer that they thought duergar were extinct now.

They said that the Amorr River (the one that flows into Embernook from the south (under the Spans and Allacross) comes out of the Dunimar Mountains. The headwaters of that river are near (or perhaps at) an entrance to the underdark that may go to a duergar city that existed before the Fiend Wars.

Joybell took a look at her map to see where that might be.

Joybell: That’s right near where the Wold was!! Like maybe a few days of travel only. At least a few days on the road, and then going into the mountains. But it’s close! We could check on the Wold, see if the Mother Tree is still alive. Or if anyone has come back. I could find my friend Wren.
Orryk: Finding Steeltear by just walking into the underdark and fighting our way through everything that lives there to go to some unknown place is not a good plan.
Joybell: Yeah, it’s definitely not our first choice. But it’s something, if the teleportation circle lead doesn’t work out. And we could go to the Wold and see if the Mother Tree is still alive!

Barnett said he’d see what he could do about finding out what’s on the other side of that teleportation circle before we go through.

We left then. Just outside their place, Fiona cast another sending spell to Tulmor.

Fiona: Barnett seemed to have ideas about teleportation circle. Keep an eye on him.
Tulmor: Crap.

Fiona, Mo and Taman went to the Pewter Oar to get rooms for the people who stay there. Also to read or get drunk, according to inclination.

Joybell, Orryk and Thneed went to Allacross to find Ernin Brightforge, with a stop at the guard house to sell all the mundane stuff we’d collected.

We found the smith’s shop pretty quickly once we got to Allacross.

Joybell: Hi! I’m looking for plate armor! I have this and this.

As she spoke, without pausing, she took the hobgoblin plate armor from where she’d strapped it to Scooby and Orryk pulled the bullette plates out of the bag of holding.

Joybell, without stopping even for breath: Maybe you can make armor for Scooby too. This is Scooby. Actually, this is Darkmoon Moonstone Happyhowl, Defender of Henge and Wold. But he’ll respond to Scooby. Especially if you say it in gnomish.

Ernin Brightforge blinked for a moment, then one of the rock gnome assistants came forward with a suit of armor slightly too large for Joybell (who is small even by gnome standards) and did some holding up, and measuring, and more holding up.

Gnome: I think we can make something that will fit you.
Brightforge: It’ll take a week. With this stuff as down payment, it’ll cost 700gp.
Joybell: Sold!

She handed him the money.

They discussed the armor for Scooby, but Joybell decided against pursuing that because no one has ever attacked Scooby before and armor for him will weigh a lot and sort of bog him down. The bulette plates went back into the bag of holding.

Treasure:

Sold from the Bag of Holding to the Embernook Guards:

1 greatsword
30 longbows
28 longswords
20 shields
13 chain mail
1 half plate.

We get a total of 1947 gp, 5 sp. That splits to 324 gp, 5 sp each. 5 sp left over.

Party Kitty update: (With the 5sp from the sale of mundane items from the Bag of Holding added)

4 pp, 3 gp, 10 sp, and 16 cp.

Magic Items in the Bag of Holding:

Potion of Force Resistance
Potion of Radiance Resistance
3 doses of Keoghtom's Ointment
Candle of the Deep
Gloves of Swimming and Climbing
Immovable Rod
Gauntlets of Ogre Strength
Rope of Climbing (Mo may have this at the moment)

The Candle of the Deep, the Gloves of Swimming and Climbing and the Gauntlets of Ogre Strength are designated to possibly trade in to the guard for more useful items.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 29: Planning and Shopping

Players:
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else

(Note: Mo's player could not be present.)


3 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 64) (the next morning)

Note: Joybell’s armor will be ready on day 69.

First thing in the morning, before Joybell and Orryk had gone over for breakfast, Thalith showed up at the Pewter Oar. He came with a special, personal request from the Administrator for Mo's services. A diplomatic contingent was visiting from Tash, where Mo is from, and Alighieri requested that Mo keep them entertained and out of trouble for a few days.

When Orryk and Joybell arrived this was explained to them.

Orryk: Keep them OUT of trouble?
Joybell: Well, they’ll definitely be entertained.

After breakfast, we went to the guard to see what we could do with some of our magic items we don’t really need. We pulled the Candle of the Deep, the Gloves of Swimming and the Gauntlets of Ogre Power out of the bag of holding and put them on the table in front of Chief Ullar Truehammer.

He was impressed and surprised that no one could use the gauntlets, but we reassured him that really no one could.

Truehammer: Let me go see what I can find in exchange. Come back later.

We agreed to that and left the guard house.

Joybell: I want to go talk to Thalith. Anyone want to come?

Thneed agreed to go queue up with her at the Administrator’s office.

Fiona planned to stay in the Pewter Oar copying spells all day.

Orryk and Taman went to Trannell’s shop -- that’s the shop that carries some magic items, along with other goods. Orryk paid him to keep an eye out for elemental items when we were last in Embernook.

Before they got to discussing the elemental items, they looked at the magic items Trannell had on hand. Some of which were very interesting: a +1 shield (cost: 450 gp), a Broom of Flying (500 gp), a Cloak of Elvenkind (200 gp), and some +1 arrows (at 150 gp each). Also a Potion of Invisibility (5000 gp) and a Potion of Speed (5500 gp).

Orryk: Have you heard about any elemental artifacts? Either here or on the way?
Trannell: I haven’t heard about anything. Even the folks from Auriqua haven’t brought anything.
Taman: Trade caravan?
Trannell: They come down for the winter about this time every year. Not the same people or even the same families -- but there are always people who come. They often have cold based stuff to sell, because it doesn’t sell for as much up there.
Taman: When the families come down, who do they work for? Or do they just winter here? Just getting out of the cold?
Trannell: That’s what they say...

Taman bought the Cloak of Elvenkind, despite having the Cape of the Mountebank.

Orryk, giving Trannell 20 gp: If you hear about anything elemental, send a message to Queena’s lodgings.

Fiona had some letters waiting for her at the Pewter Oar -- including one from a friend who tangled with some ghouls in Erlin.

At the Administrator’s office, Joybell and Thneed got called in a little early, ahead of some of the other people in line. Joybell introduced Thneed to Thalith, then she talked about the Masks and what they’d done and if they had any presence in Embernook. Thalith hadn’t heard about any in the city, or about any of the surrounding villages (under Embernook’s “protection”). The only one of those that had had any problems recently was Kalmarn, destroyed by the whispering crazy that Harl became.

That reminded Joybell about the Cracked Shield and she talked about them to Thalith -- perfectly lovely orc mercenaries, who helped in a fight against the Masks and who were displaced by them. Very cool people. And she’d thought of suggesting that Kalmarn was there as basically a town ready for occupants and maybe they could go there, but maybe the Administrator and the citizens of Embernook wouldn’t be happy to have a bunch of Orcs moving in, no matter how awesome they are.

Thalith seemed a bit confused at the concept of awesome and nice orcs. And he seemed grateful for Joybell not suggesting to them that they move to Kalmarn.

Finally, Joybell asked if she could swap the letter opener she’d gotten from his office when we left Embernook for something else, so we can teleport back if we need to. He seemed a bit bemused at the request, and far less charitable about it than he had when she asked the first time, but he did swap out the letter opener he’d given her before for an empty inkwell.

After Joybell walked out of the room, Thneed hung behind to talk to Thalith.

Thneed: Did you call us early to make the rest of the day go smoothly? Or to get the chattering out of the way? Or because you like us?
Thalith: I reject your false trichotomy.
Thneed: Okay.

After their shopping trip to Trannell’s, Orryk and Taman went to Tulmor and Barnett’s. They found Barnett doing research in a room with no spell components or arcane foci.

Tulmor: This is the compromise position. If he hadn’t agreed to this, I was going to stand next to him and counter every spell he cast. And if I came in and found him gone, I’d use a teleportation circle spell to go to the Forge.

She then led them out of the room where Barnett was doing research and told them that Barnett’s wife and brother were killed in some horrible fight while they were adventuring together. She doesn’t know exactly what happened in the fight, but when he later raised the money to have them resurrected, true resurrection because he was not able to recover their bodies, their spirits were not free to return. Tulmor was Barnett’s mother’s best friend and she took him in when he was broken and shattered by this.

Taman and Orryk absorbed that and then did some research in the library. Taman was looking for general information about the planes. Orryk was looking for information about how to get a connection to the elemental planes.

Orryk found information about how to perform a high ritual that would allow him to befriend the elemental essences. Once he performs the high ritual (which has a high cost in coinage and gems and other items, and would require him to be able to cast find familiar) he’ll be able to summon an elemental companion that would take the form of a mephit, but not be evil.

Orryk: Tulmor, have you been to the School of the World?
Tulmor: I’ve been there, but I don’t know anyone well enough to write you a letter of introduction.

She was able to tell him that the School of the World was about as big as the larger libraries in Pelsoreen. New Arvai has the three big magical schools, all of which have libraries: the School of the World, the School of the Mind and the School of the Body. It doesn’t have anything like the smaller satellite libraries that Pelsorren has -- like Black Irnod’s and Carveen’s and The Quiet Room. There are some personal collections, perhaps, but those need personal invites from the owners.

Orryk: The School of the World has some interesting artifacts…
Tulmor: They all do. The School of the Mind creeped me out, because they have Illithid stuff. The School of the World is most likely to be of use to you with your elemental interests.

She then talked some about New Arvai -- it’s not run by mob corporations like Pelsoreen. There is an apparently legitimate government, but underneath that there’s a dark criminal side that has more influence than it should.

Orryk: Are there any cities besides Embernook that aren’t awful?
Tulmor: That depends on what you mean by awful…
Orryk: Are there any cities Joybell would like living in?
Tulmor: Everyday people in Pelsoreen and New Arvai are sometimes okay.
Orryk: Have you ever heard of the Umbral Circle?
Tulmor: A small group of druids? I haven’t heard of them, no.

(Note: GM explained that typically within circles of Planar Druids, each individual druid specializes in a particular plane, but the circle itself contains all sorts.)

While Orryk and Taman were researching and talking to Tulmor, Joybell and Thneed went back to Ernin Brightforge’s forge, where Joybell’s armor was being made.

Brightforge: I’m glad to see you! I looked into this bulette armor you brought. I’m going to work with a master tanner in town, because that stuff is closer to hide than metal, and make shields. I think we’ll get four +1 shields out of it. You can use it to deflect a critical hit and keep it from being so bad.

(Note: She’ll be able to use her reaction to turn a critical hit into a regular hit.)

He offered to sell Joybell one of those shields for 250 gp, because she provided the bulette armor. The other three he planned to sell for 500 gp.

Joybell: Sold!

Joybell paid for the shield -- it will be ready a week after the armor is ready (note: day 70).

Thneed asked after silvered weapons -- maybe a silvered scimitar, though she wasn’t really comfortable with the idea of getting that close into combat. She mentioned that we might be fighting fey or undead soon.

Brightforge: Well I have some things, but silvering won’t help against fey. They will against some undead, though.

Thneed bought 10 silvered arrows.

Joybell and Thneed then went to the herbalist to get Joybell the materials to make five healing potions over the course of the next week while waiting for her armor to be finished.

As they walked through the city, Joybell and Thneed noticed that there was a buzz in the city -- the excitement about the fall festival (coming at the end of the month of Rippenin, a few weeks away) was already building and people were starting to make some preparations.

Joybell went back to Queena’s to get her materials set up for brewing healing potions. Orryk stayed at Tulmor and Barnett’s until dinner time. Taman left early to get a jump on drinking at the Pewter Oar. (Note: It's not clear what Thneed was doing between shopping and meeting up for dinner at the Oar.)

After dinner at the Pewter Oar, we went to the guard to see what they had for us. For the Gloves of Swimming and Climbing we were given a Silver Raven Figurine of Wondrous Power -- at a command it can be a raven for 12 hours. At the end of that time it reverts to being a figurine. During that period it can be used as an animal messenger (per the Animal Messenger spell), though if the message isn’t delivered by the end of 12 hours the raven becomes a figurine wherever it is.

For the Gauntlets of Ogre Power we were given a Javelin of Lightning, which went to Joybell.

The Candle of the Deep was replaced with a Mystery Key -- it will open one lock one time. (There’s a five percent chance that it will open any lock it’s tried in and once it opens a lock the magic fades away.)

Back at the Pewter Oar, Taman gave Thneed the magical bow he got before we left Embernook before and the Cloak of Elvenkind he’d bought from Trannell.

Joybell explained to the others about the shield she was getting, and that she hadn’t really heard what Brightforge had said it would do, because she was so excited.

Joybell: This is the best day!
Orryk: Hold onto those good feelings. We need to talk.

We started to talk about how we were going to find out what was on the other side of that teleportation circle at the Forge. Orryk suggested sending Scooby through -- then after 15 or 20 seconds in which Scooby could scout around, Joybell could dismiss him and then re-summon him and find out what he saw.

Joybell said she was only up for that if Scooby agreed to it -- so she talked to him and he was a bit uncertain about it, but agreed on the promise of lots of scritches and cuddles and treats.

Orryk, scratching Scooby behind the year, in Gnomish: Thank you.

We then retired, Orryk and Joybell to Queena’s lodging house and the rest of the party at the Pewter Oar.


4 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 65)

At 2 am, Fiona was woken up by the sound of Barnett’s voice in her head.

Barnett: Eureka! Eureka! Eureka! Eureka! Eureka!

(Repeated until there were 25 “eurekas”.)

Fiona, still waking up and to herself: It’s dark. It’s still dark. I'm tired. Who do I contact?

She stumbled down the hall to Taman’s room and knocked on his door. Taman fumbled and fell out of bed, then opened the door with his rapier in hand.

Fiona: I got woken by Barnett. Apparently he has something.
Taman: It’s too early for this. <<slams door>>

Fiona went back to bed, sending to Barnett: I’ll be there in the morning.

The next morning, we all met up for breakfast at the Pewter Oar. Mo was still swanning around the Tash diplomats. Fiona told us about Barnett’s sending in the middle of the night, so we all went over there after breakfast.

Orryk: Let’s see if he’s still there.

Tulmor opened the door, looking like she’d gotten Barnett’s excited message just a few moments before Fiona did, but had not gotten a chance to go back to sleep. Down the hall behind her, Barnett was rocking with excitement holding something in his hands.

(Thneed's player: Like a kid on Christmas waiting for his siblings to wake up.)

Tulmor: I miss the coffee in New Arvai.

Barnett then showed us a map he’d drawn, explaining that he figured out that he could use arcane eye, see invisibility, and teleport to get a look into the Forge.

(The teleportation circle is surrounded by symbols on the floor. A number of side bunkrooms have beds each for 10 Masks. The middle of the complex is a cage. Further description below.)

There were two groups of Masks -- one group of six Masks in one of the side dormitory/bunkroom hallways, sleeping in the bunks with their masks hanging on pegs on the wall over their heads. The other group of ten was all together in another bunkroom. Each bunkroom hall has beds for ten Masks. Most of them were unoccupied, any effects gone. The two that were occupied were kept tidy -- like a military barracks -- with the beds made and stuff stored in lockers. One of the bunkrooms had beds that were unmade, like the Masks had left in a hurry and never returned. We suspected that these were the ones we’d fought in the cave.

In the middle of the room was an open cage with doors at either end. There was child-sized furniture, some toys and some games in the cage -- none of that was new. It all looked slightly worn.

The cage was totally empty -- there were no kids inside.

The teleportation circle points into a room that had the floor totally covered and trapped with Symbol of [Badness] spells of various sorts.

At the top of the map was a door (going off to left on the map) that had a priest hole in it. Barnett was never able to get the Arcane Eye beyond that door and the priest hole never opened.

The room at the top of the map had a big crystal in one corner. All kinds of weird copper and gold tubes and cords connected that crystal to a stone table or bed with manacles. Another corner had a stone bin (made with a stone shape or wall of stone spell) that had a disintegrate spell in it that activated automatically once a day. Clearly that was some sort of disposal unit. That room, and specifically the crystal and tubes contraption, was apparently the actual Forge of Masks. That’s our target.

We spent the rest of the day talking with Barnett about what he’d found and what our options were. We asked if he could study the room with the crystal Forge in it, so we could teleport directly there. He said it was theoretically possible, but that there were limitations on the spell. (Note: Look at the teleportation spell for the consequences of failure. They’re bad -- and there’s no way to get better than a 75% chance of success.)

Getting through the Symbols of [Badness] is going to be a real problem. (Once again, feel free to look at the spell in the PHB.) When the spell is cast, the caster gets to decide what triggers the symbol and what doesn’t. So it’s possible that wearing a Mask mask is enough to allow safe passage. It’s also possible that the Masks know a code word that allows safe passage. (Though there are problems with this -- because they would trip immediately and not give anyone time to speak the keyword. We think.)

While everyone was talking about the map, Joybell took Tulmor aside to tell her what we’d done with the Crazy Book. Tulmor seemed a little conflicted about it.

Tulmor: She’ll definitely keep it safe.
Joybell: Have you met her?
Tulmor: No.
Joybell: We don’t trust fey nobles as far as we can throw them, but giving her the book for safe keeping was in line with her interests.

Tulmor smirked a little when Joybell said that we don’t trust fey nobles, but Joybell let it go.

She agreed that it was probably an adequately limited sort of deal with no ongoing obligations on either side.

We left after that, asking Barnett to spend as much time looking around with his arcane eye as possible.


4 - 8 Rippenin 748 (Campaign days 65 - 68)

These days passed as a montage of potion brewing, spell copying, and getting updates from Barnett.

During the course of the week Fiona sent to Sorla to ask her about whether there was anything going on in the cave and if things looked okay in Callallah. Sorla took a day to get back to the village but then reported that the village looked normal and the circle was exactly as broken up as it had been when we left. The dirt piles outside the entrance that Orryk made (and that we used so effectively to fight the Masks in the cave) were still there, apparently untouched.

Orryk and Joybell and the rest of the party talked about the possibility of sending Scooby, wearing one of the masks, through the gate to see if the mask would protect him from the symbols going off. Unfortunately the symbols are of insanity and pain and fear and that would be a horrible thing to put Scooby through. So Joybell is reluctant to sign on to Operation Masked Scooby, unless we have literally no other way.

We ended still talking about options and possibilities.

Next time, we can extend the montage as needed to cover what Mo was up to when he wasn’t wining, dining, and entertaining the Tash diplomatic mission on the Administrator’s dime.

Treasure:

Javelin of Lightning (Joybell)
Silver Raven, Figurine of Wondrous Power (Bag of Holding)
Mystery Key (Bag of Holding)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 30: The Forge Of Masks

Dramatis Personae:

Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


4 - 7 Rippenin 748 (Campaign days 65 - 68)

Mo, once he’d sent the Tashin diplomats happily on their way (or returned them to the Administrator), gave us a report on his experience with them. He got them thoroughly drunk, even by dwarf standards, and used every trick in the book to keep them from drinking him under the table.

They told him that there had been Mask attacks near Tash focused not on assassinations or on kidnapping children but on stealing magic items. (Not their normal MO -- the ones in Pelsoreen specifically told Orryk that they didn’t do that kind of job.) They also told him that the Masks stole a dwarven crematorium/tomb/family shrine (about the size of a modern crypt/grave liner, with a hole for a chimney on the top) that was being transported to New Arvai. They recognized Steeltear as a duergar name and told Mo drunken stories of the duergar having been warped by generations as slaves of the Illithids in the underdark.

After putting the diplomats to bed, or under the table, Mo checked in with us in the evenings. And went to Trannell’s to buy the Broom of Flying. Because Broom of Flying!

We talked to Barnett and Tulmor about that information and Barnett found some more information about duergar -- it was hard to locate initially because the duergar are believed to be extinct but he found a bit more. He told us that most duergar could innately become invisible so he wanted to make sure that everyone who could possibly cast the spell See Invisible a) knew it and b) had it up when we teleported in.

Tulmor said that she would cast Rary’s Telepathic Bond on the party -- so we’d be able to communicate mentally with one another. So helpful! And she could cast that and not have to go with us. She also pulled out a little squirrel shaped entity with wings, Hulmon II, a homunculus. She has a telepathic bond with it and with an invisibility spell on it, it would be able to scout and keep an eye on things for us.

Barnett said that he could cast a wall of force, if we need it to keep the Masks out of the Forge room but if he does so, he wouldn’t be able to work on casting the teleportation circle we need to get out of there.

We reviewed again what Barnett had seen with the arcane eye in the Forge room and, on being reminded that the crystal is in some sort of mounting, we stocked up on crowbars and hatchets to have implements with which to free it.

Thneed asked what the Masks did during the day -- did they have watches or patrols around the complex? Barnett said that he never saw patrols or sentry duty -- just Masks sleeping, eating, cooking, and in that not-turned-off standby mode. Cool.


8 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 69)

Before going to pick up her armor, Joybell passed out the healing potions she made -- one each to Mo, Thneed, Fiona, Taman and Barnett.

Then, on her way to Brightforge’s to pick up her armor, Joybell went by herself to the Administrator’s office and signed up on the list to talk to Thalith, thinking that the Administrator might like to know what we were planning. She wrote her name, Joybell L. F. Sympony, Rider of Wolf, and wrote after her name “Important!!”. After a few minutes waiting, she went back over and wrote, “probably”. After another couple of minutes, in which she realized that maybe the Administrator didn’t really care about this thing happening so far from Embernook, she went over and added “maybe”. Then she looked around at all the people there waiting, the tense faces and white-knuckled grips on packages and purses and realized that every single person there had a very important problem for the Administrator. So she went back to the list and crossed that all out and just left her name.

(Thneed's player: That’s the most Joybell thing ever.)

After a bit Thalith called her name and she went into his office. She told him that we were going to the Forge of Masks to bust things up and stop them being able to make more Masks again ever.

Thalith: That sounds very brave.
Joybell: It needs to be done.

He asked if that was what all the activity with us and Barnett and Tulmor was about.

Thalith: The Administrator would appreciate it if you don’t get Barnett killed.
Joybell: We’ll do our best. Umm, why?
Thalith: They have a good working relationship and he’s proven valuable to the Administrator in the past.

Joybell wondered a bit what if that meant the Administrator cared less if we got killed or just wasn’t as worried about us, but didn’t dwell on that too much. She accepted the charge of bringing him back safely.

Joybell: Some people in my party think that the Administrator is evil and we’ll have to fight him someday.
Thalith, laughing: There are many people in Embernook who think the Administrator is evil. He’s just doing his job.

Joybell then left and went to the forge for her armor. After a bit of time with final fitting and making sure everything went together properly, Joybell rode Scooby at full speed back to Tulmor and Barnett’s.

Once there, Tulmor cast longstrider on everyone in the party (giving us +10 movement speed). See invisible spells were cast by Barnett and Fiona. Tulmor cast invisibility on Thneed, Orryk, Taman and her homunculus. Tulmor cast mage armor on Mo and Thneed. Tulmor cast the Rory’s Telepathic Bond. And Joybell was given the steel plate we plan to use to barricade the door to the Forge Room.

Just before the teleport, Mo inspired Taman and Orryk.

Mo, to Orryk and Taman: I’ve known you guys for a while and I really want you to come back.

Mo, to Thneed: Good luck, new girl! (with no bardic inspiration)

Then Barnett cast teleport, teleporting us into barracks where the Masks we killed in the cave came from.

Team Invisible -- Orryk, Thneed and Taman -- were teleported to right near the entrance to the hallway/barracks. The rest of us were in the back of it, hopefully less likely to be visible to the Masks across the central chamber or in the next barracks/ hall over.

As soon as we arrived, we noticed that what we (or at least Joybell) thought we understood that Barnett had reported was not quite right -- there were five Masks not more than 20 feet from the entrance to the barracks/hall. They appeared to be waiting or watching for someone to come through the teleportation circle with all the Symbol of [Bad Stuff] spells in front of it. The other five were across on the other side of the cage. Barnett, not being a military-type mage, perhaps did not recognize sentry duty when he saw it. Fortunately their attention was away from us and toward the teleportation circle.

Almost immediately upon arriving, Taman (invisible) hid and ran as fast as he could toward the door of the Forge Room, making it to the doorway. He could see that there was some stuff in the disintegration chamber -- gruel residue (“gruel bones”), coffee grounds, dishes, chamber pots -- but otherwise it was exactly as Barnett had described.

Thneed hid and rode the broom of flying as far as she could go, not making it quite as far as the entrance, but well on the way and away from the Masks.

Barnett grabbed Joybell and cast dimension door, bamfing them both into the Forge Room. Mo, waiting for Fiona to dimension door them over with the cape of the mountebank, looked around to see what he could see without moving away from her. Unfortunately, all he saw was mussed beds. Orryk hid and then ran as far as he could (without spending a ki-point). Fiona put her hand on Mo’s back and used the cape to bamf them to the Forge Room.

Hulmon II, the homunculus, flew over the heads of the Masks, invisible, and observed that they did not appear to have noticed us. Tulmor relayed this information to the party through the bond.

Joybell took the steel plate and stood next to the door, waiting to put it over the door as soon as everyone was inside.

Taman, in the hall outside the Forge Room, poked at the priest hole in the other door -- it didn’t open, to his disappointment, then he ran inside.

Taman: Dammit!

Thneed came into the room and got off the broom. Barnett, who had been going to cast a grease spell outside the doorway, froze in place and didn’t move. Mo moved up to the other side of the doorway from Joybell, with the small iron boat and the feather token in his hands. Orryk moved into the room and used the wand to make a web spell right outside the door.

That made a noise (Note: Think Spiderman’s “thwip”), so we assumed the Masks would hear that.

Before they could react though, Fiona filled in the hallway outside the door, and some distance beyond, with a Wall of Sand.

Then Joybell closed the door to the Forge Room and put the steel plate up in front of it, holding it in place.

As she did so, we all began to hear cussing, lots of it, from Tulmor through the telepathic bond. The 10 Masks that were watching had turned, aware that something was going on back in the Forge room. And the wall of sand was dispelled almost immediately -- she saw something small with fluttering wings at the priest hole. The Masks immediately started moving.

Taman examined the Forge, looking for a way to disable it, but was unable to figure it out. Thneed looked at the table near the Forge -- it had cuffs and manacles on pulleys so that they were adjustable to the height of the subject on the table. Barnett was able to figure out the structure around the crystal and pointed out to Taman (and through the telepathic bond everyone else) the specific connections that needed to be un-done to release the crystal. Fiona started working on disconnecting those points.

Mo used the iron boat and the feather token to hold the steel plate in place and the door closed. Orryk put the immovable rod into place as well. We had secured the room according to the plan we developed over drinks at the Pewter Oar in the evenings during our week of preparation.

Tulmor reported that the web spell was burning -- lit up by a chromatic orb cast through the priest hole. And the Masks outside were moving up toward the door.

Taman helped with disassembling the Forge.

Thneed, worried about the reports of Masks right outside, readied herself to fire at anything that came through the door.

Barnett, looking visibly frightened with shaking hands, moved as far away as he possibly could from the door and started casting teleportation circle. Mo cast a rope trick, giving us a safe place to retreat to if the room was overrun by Masks. Especially since Tulmor reported again that the Masks were getting closer. Orryk moved to one side of the door and readied an action to punch something that came through.

Thneed expressed her concern to Joybell that if the door was blasted open or forced into the room, Joybell might be crushed or hit by shrapnel. Joybell agreed that was a reasonable concern. Rather than just moving aside, though, Joybell noticed that Barnett looked like he was fighting off a crippling fear, or struggling to, so she went over to him and, with his permission, cast heroism on him, because that would help him be less frightened. Then she headed back toward the doorway to stand guard with Orryk.

Before she could get there, the section of wall next to the door, where Joybell was heading to stand after Thneed’s advice, just disappeared. The whole wall disintegrated into a fine powder.

And a tiny flying thing shaped sort of like a dwarf with bat wings flew into the room followed by two Masks. And 14 more out in the hall with nothing to stop them entering.

Taman, turning around: Oh, naughty word!

He tried to use the eyes of charming on the tiny dwarf (Steeltear) but it didn’t work.

Thneed put her hunter’s mark on Steeltear and took her shots at the tiny flying dwarf-bat. She hit with both of them, doing a lot of damage.

Tulmor: Barnett, if you have something up your sleeve, now would be a good time …
Barnett: Got it.

Barnett, given courage (possibly false courage) by Joybell’s spell, moved up to the corner of the disintegration chamber (lower left rectangle in the room) and cast sickening radiance. Fiona recognized that he was somehow managing to re-write the spell as he cast it -- creating a 30’ radius sphere of a sickly greenish/blackish glow that did necrotic damage to everything in its area. All of the Masks on the little map here, plus most of the ones outside, were stun-locked by it.

Barnett: I can keep this up for a while.

Tulmor reported that the Masks that weren’t caught in the greenish radiance, five of them, drew their bows and didn’t enter it, seeing what it did to the others. Since it blocked the entire hallway into the Forge room it was as effective as a wall at keeping the Masks out. So we only had to deal with Steeltear.

Mo, seeing that the Masks were under control, cast polymorph on the dwarf-bat, Steeltear. Unfortunately, Turnik didn’t turn into a newt.

Mo: Welp, that didn’t work.

Orryk moved around to where he could attack Steeltear without getting into the greenish radiance and attacked him. Fiona tried to get Steeltear in a slow spell, but unfortunately he saved. (Two of the stunned Masks failed their saves.)

Joybell moved around to a position between Orryk and Barnett and attacked Steeltear, who was apparently flying fairly low (or she was leaping energetically). Her first attack missed, but with her second attack she hit and called down as much divine energy into her attack as possible to hit him quite solidly.

Steeltear turned a little bit and started casting a spell, but before the spell could be complete, Barnett shouted “No!” and a prismatic spray spell fizzled under the power of his counterspell. Turnik then moved out of the sickening radiance. Orryk tried to stop him from moving by attacking and using his stunning fist, but he saved against that. Joybell missed with her swing at him as he went by.

He wasn’t able to move far, but he was able to get away from the sickening radiance.

His move helped us some, because it meant that Taman was able to get up close to him and stab him with a zephyr strike for a considerable lot of damage as well. Thneed then took her shots and the tiny flying dwarf fell to the floor, gurgling and gasping. Thneed got the sense that she could move her hunter’s mark, which meant that he was at least unconscious. She did so and took her second shot at one of the Masks, using her horde breaker ability on the one next to it.

On the ground, Turnik, bleeding out and gurgling, began to transform into a normal-sized dwarf.

Barnett, still riding the swell of bravery imparted by the heroism spell, looked down at the dwarf and sent three magic missiles one-by-one into his chest. The gurgling and gasping stopped.

Mo cast a shatter spell that got most of the Masks caught in the sickening radiance. Orryk moved to a position near the door where he could punch the ones in the doorway without being caught in the radiance himself.

Joybell threw her new lightning javelin, hitting three of the Masks, then turned and attacked the body of Steeltear on the ground, screaming in rage as she hacked at it with her sword.

The Mask in the doorway (the only one in range of a melee attack without entering the sickening radiance) dropped. Taman couldn’t get close to attack one with his rapier.

Joybell: You can shoot them.

Taman nodded, and put down his rapier by stabbing it into the body of Turnik. Then he dropped the one in the doorway with an arrow.

Joybell asked Tulmor, still using her homunculus as our eye in the sky, if the ones out there appeared to have noticed Turnik dying. She reported that she did not see any indication of that.

We then began killing the Masks -- with area effect spells until most of the ones that were in the sickening radiance had died, until Tulmor pointed out that the spell had outlived its usefulness.

Barnett dropped the spell, allowing the remaining Masks to enter the room.

Thneed, to Barnett: You’re probably going to be their primary target. Take cover.

Then she held her attack to shoot at the first one to enter the room.

Barnett nodded and moved back next to where Fiona had gone back to working on getting the crystal out of the Forge.

The Masks approached the room -- dropping their bows and pulling their swords.

Mo viciously mocked the first one into the room.

Mo: Your leader is dead like your parents.

(Note: I love how sort of gentle Mo’s mockery has been with the Masks -- the recognition that they’re victims in this.)

Orryk moved out into the doorway and attacked one, hitting with the gloves and stunning one.

Fiona recognized that she and Barnett were close to getting the crystal disconnected so she cast a Tenser’s floating disc for it to be carried on in preparation for it to be removed from the Forge.

Taman pulled his sword out of Turnik’s abdomen, then went and attacked one of the stunned Masks, dropping it and clearing the room of Masks again. Thneed took up a position to shoot any Mask that came through the door.

The Masks got to where Orryk was standing, the one he’d stunned no longer in the way, and two of them attacked him. The attack once again reminded us why these things are so very very bad -- the two Masks took him from uninjured to nearly down in one round. Fortunately, Mo was able to use his cutting words to reduce the damage they did so that he was able to remain standing. Barely.

Orryk used his ability to fade away to turn invisible, then attacked them. Unfortunately he missed both times. He disengaged and moved away to the far side of the room between the Forge and the rack.

We then proceeded to gang up on one of the ones that had attacked Orryk -- Fiona locking it with a Toll the Dead and Joybell, Taman and Thneed attacking it -- until it dropped. Barnett cast a chain lightning that weakened all of them.

With their numbers reduced to just a few, our well-established Mask fighting tactics stood us in good stead and we were able to kill the remaining Masks.

We ended with the party looking around the Forge room, which was littered with the bodies of dead Masks and Turnik Steeltear, strange bat wings still on his back, in a pool of blood and gore, in varying degrees of shock, disbelief, anger and elation.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 31: And Now We Can Move On...

Dramatis Personae:

Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


8 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 69) (immediately after)

While everyone was looking around at the aftermath of the battle, Barnett went into a corner between the disintegration chamber and the table with manacles and sat on the floor huddled into a ball. Orryk went to a different corner by the table (between the table and the Forge) and meditated and rested, gathering his chi and marshalling his strength.

Joybell, shaking with fury and emotion, and still completely unconvinced that we’d killed the real Steeltear and not a simulacrum or something, released the immovable rod and wrestled the steel plate from between the door and the iron boat. She manhandled the steel plate over to the door with the priest hole, which we still hadn’t opened, then used the immovable rod to hold it in place.

Taman: Can we at least peep through the peephole?
Joybell: No. We can’t deal with anything we’d see back there right now.
Mo: I’m fine. You’re fine.
Joybell: Orryk isn’t fine and I won’t go without him. And I want my dog.

Then she sat herself down on the floor in front of it with her sword in her lap.

Joybell, to Tulmor through the telepathic bond: Scooby is about to disappear.

She then dismissed Scooby from the material plane and immediately began casting find steed to bring him to the Forge.

With Joybell resolutely blocking the door, the others set about occupying themselves during a short rest.

Fiona and Mo examined the “setting” the crystal had come out of, looking to see if there were any working or functional looking parts that might be what did the work for the transformation. What they found were copper rods that connected the contraption to the table, transferring the energy from the crystal. They figured out that the crystal was simply a battery or power source and the rods were just connectors to transfer the power. The actual “doing” of the transformation involved a ritual of some sort.

Mo then turned to search the body of Steeltear, using a mage hand (in case he’d trapped himself). Steeltear, now a normal-sized dwarf with slightly greyish coloring, was wearing studded leather armor, nothing particularly special, and had on a leather cloak and a necklace with a pendant. Nothing on his armor or clothing indicated a house or organizational affiliation. In his pockets he had seven sending stones -- each one half of a different pair.

Fiona took out her spellbook and began casting detect magic.

Joybell, now with Scooby to hold onto, sat in the hallway with Scooby’s head in her lap, crying and telling him everything that had happened.

Thneed gave the Broom of Flying back to Mo and Orryk gave Mo the Wand of Web, somewhat over Mo’s objections.

Orryk: It has literally never worked for me. It’s not useful.

Thneed, after examining the table and finding nothing but manacles and the other ends of the power-transfer rods, went out into the larger chamber, to check the bodies of the dead Masks, making sure all of them were really dead. Also looking for any unusual marks or features on them. When she’d finished that, she just stood sentry at that hallway to the larger chamber.

When Fiona’s detect magic went off she found that the amulet and the cloak that Mo’s mage hand had removed from Steeltear’s body were magical (evocation and transmutation, respectively). The disintegration “pit” radiated some transmutation magic. She expected that the crystal would be very magical and found that it wasn’t, really -- there was definitely a glow there, essences of transmutation, abjuration and divination magic, but not the power source we expected.

Taman and Orryk, feeling more like himself after his meditation, went to examine the disintegration pit. They figured out that it goes off once a day at a fixed time -- there’s no switch or command word to set it off. It just goes at a certain time every day, regardless.

Mo suggested getting a bunch of raccoons or rats and releasing them down near the teleportation circle on the wall, in order to set off the Symbols of Badness. (Fortunately, Joybell couldn’t hear this suggestion or she would have been appalled.)

As Joybell heard the others moving around, and heard Orryk talking with Taman about the pit, she started pulling herself together. Wiping her nose and drying tears off her cheeks on Scooby’s fur. Scooby helped lick her cheeks clean. Then she put her happy face back on and was ready to go when the others were.

Barnett, sitting in the same place he’d retreated to as soon as the battle was over, was repeating over and over: It was me. It wasn’t me. It was me. It wasn’t really me.

Hulmon II, Tulmor’s little winged-squirrel homunculus, sat next to Barnett, gently shaking him, trying to shake him out of it.

Mo rolled a cigarette of his finest smoking weed, including some of what he got in Callallah and some of what he got in Pelsoreen, and gave it to Barnett.

Mo: Maybe it will calm you down. Maybe not. Don’t know how you’ll react. You can try it.

Joybell, with her normal mien pasted on, went to talk to Barnett while the others moved the steel plate away from the door and looked through the priesthole.

Barnett: Never cast that on me again.
Joybell, nodding: Okay. I did ask permission. But I won’t. Do you want Scooby to stay here with you? He’s very comforting.
Barnett: No, you may need the mobility.

Then she patted him on the shoulder and went to join the others ready to go through the door.

Looking through the peephole we saw a long room, much longer than it was wide, with a bed and a wardrobe against the far wall. There was an opening in the right hand wall, just a few feet from the door, that led to another room. There was no one moving or visible inside. So we went in. As we entered the room, we saw that there was another wardrobe on the same wall as the first one. Around the corner, not visible from the door was a long bookshelf, which Fiona and Orryk immediately gravitated to.

The bookshelves contained Steeltear’s spellbook (which Fiona set upon immediately), records of all the jobs done by the Masks for hire and records of Steeltear’s experiments with the Forge. Joybell started looking through the records of jobs done for hire, to see if she could find why hired them to take the children from the Wold, but there was no mention of that in the book.

From those books, we learned that there were still three squads of Masks active in the world -- one in New Arvai (working as enforcers for one of the underworld gangs), one in Lonoj (eliminating thieves on behalf of the goldsmith’s guild), and one in the vicinity of Auriqua (attempting to recover an item stolen by hobgoblins from one of the wealthy families).

We’re not sure what they’ll do when the current orders they’re under are no longer applicable. Will they return here and find the place empty and abandoned? Will they go out in the world on a rampage? We have no idea. But it’s not something we can deal with right now.

The books made it clear that Turnik Steeltear was the one totally in charge of the Masks -- he didn’t report to anyone else or take orders from anyone else. His records of experiments with the Forge end about 100 years ago. Fiona noticed something weird, or off, about the books, but couldn’t figure out what it was. They weren’t magical. Just off.

The wardrobes had clothes and basically bric-a-brac. Nothing terribly interesting.

Mo suggested that these might be Crazy Books, so Orryk pulled out the Orrery of Finding Outer Chaos Things. While it settled itself, we explained to Thneed about the crazy books and about the Orrery.

In the end, the Orrery didn’t settle on any direction, it continued spinning freely.

The room adjacent to the bedroom was a treasury -- with coins and things. Before we actually entered the room, Taman looked for secret doors in the bedroom. Thneed poked around with her rarely used sword, looking through the clothes. Taman found a secret door inside one of the wardrobes. He tried to figure out the mechanism, moving the bric-a-brac and shifting the clothing around but nothing worked. So he called the rest of us over to try. Fiona had to drag herself from the spellbook to give it a look, but her mind was not really in it because she found nothing. Orryk, still rattled from almost dying, didn’t find anything either.

With the secret door a bit of a conundrum, and the treasury right there, Taman checked for traps in the treasury room. Fiona took a few minutes to cast detect magic again and we went in and looked around.

We found (see the end of the notes for treasure breakdown and identification of the items found):

2 Potions
A Bead
A fan
A tan-colored cloth bag
A pair of boots

Also

170 pp
4500 gp
2000 sp
4 50lb silver trade bars (each worth 2500 SP)
800 cp
2 25gp silver ewers
2 25 gp statuettes
1 25 gp gold bracelet (Joybell would like for part of her treasure to include this if no one minds)
1 25 gp velvet mask embroidered with silver thread.
14 50gp gems

The mask is such an outlier that we feel like maybe we should keep it. It might be important at some juncture.

The money was neatly organized, not just a random heap of coinage somewhere. The trade bars had been stamped with the seals of many cities -- which indicates that the bar itself had moved around a lot. The seals that had dates included were many decades old.

Taman looked for secret doors in the treasury room, and didn’t find any.

Back in the bedroom, Thneed and Joybell tried to move the wardrobe away from the secret door, but it wouldn’t move at first. Joybell, still a seething ball of emotion and anger, and with Mo’s inspiration, roared and ripped the wardrobe away from the wall (moving it five feet down toward the other wardrobe).

Mo, singing to inspire Joybell: We’re gonna tear this mother-fucker down…

With the wardrobe moved, the entrance to the next chamber was revealed.

The long, angled wall of the room was a long bookcase absolutely FULL of books. In the corner immediately ahead of the door was the dwarven crematorium/tomb/family shrine that the Tashin diplomats had told Mo about while he was swanning them around Embernook. (Reminder: The diplomats told Mo that Masks had stolen the shrine from a caravan while it was en route to New Arvai about four and a half months ago.) It was about the size of a modern grave liner, with a flue that can be opened and a chimney installed on top. Fiona, still detecting magic, saw some items pop up on the bookshelves, but the crematory/tomb was not magical.

Taman checked for traps and found none. The instant he gave the all clear, Orryk and Fiona went immediately to the books. Taman, Mo, and Joybell worked on getting into the crematory/tomb. With some assistance from them (the sides of the thing were 6 feet high, so it is possible that most of the assistance was in the form of Mo being on all fours with Joybell standing on his back so she could shift the lid off the crematory. She moved it off to the side, where it landed with a loud, ringing clang.

Looking in, the crematory appeared to be empty, except for two potion bottles. Taman stabbed in randomly (and blindly) with his rapier and didn’t hit anything. Mo shot a faerie fire into it and nothing began to sparkle. Joybell just glared at it, because she still didn’t believe that we’d gotten the real Steeltear, so the son of a bitch had to be somewhere. And we’d been told he could be invisible.

Over at the bookshelf, Orryk and Fiona found records of all of Steeltear’s experiments -- not just the older ones documented in the books out in the bedroom. While looking at these books, Fiona also figured out what was weird about the ones on the shelf in the bedroom -- those were all about the same age, even though they were recording transactions and experiments over a large period of time.

There were five magic items on the shelves, which got dropped into the bag of holding (identifications at end):

A deck of cards
A cloak
A set of shackles
A mace
A scimitar

During all of this, Thneed, getting bored, started wandering off and went back to the bedroom to look around in there again.

Back at the crypt, Mo pulled the bottles out of the crypt and found that they were empty. Taman inspected them and found that the potions had been drunk recently, very very recently. Like since we killed Steeltear in the Forge room.

Mo immediately started running to check on Barnett.

Taman, paying very close attention to listening and watching for the slightest disturbance, heard footsteps running toward the secret door and gave a yell to get everyone’s attention.

Fiona immediately cast see invisible and pointed to where he was -- along the wall between the crematory/crypt and the secret door. Joybell moved to where she should take a swing at the general area where Fiona was pointing. Then she cast branding smite and flailed at the space, hoping to get a hit. (Swing hard in case you hit it.) She did land a blow on the invisible Steeltear. Her sword flared and he was branded with a radiant light, rendering him visible and giving him a soft glow. Orryk, now able to see the target, hit him with fists of unbroken air. Then Joybell hit him again with her second attack.

Out in the Forge room, Mo got to Barnett, still sitting and rocking with Hulmon II by his side.

Mo, to Barnett: I assume you’re familiar with the Clone spell…
Barnett: naughty word!

Mo then turned and ran back into the bedroom and, unable to get to a position to attack, inspired Thneed.

Mo: You, kill the little one!

Taman moved to cover the secret door, to stop Steeltear from being able to get out of the room, then cast hunter’s mark and hit with his scimitar. Thneed cast her hunter’s mark and shot him soundly with an arrow, doing a lot of damage. Orryk attacked and attacked and punched and punched, landing both strikes from his flurry of blows. Unfortunately, the stunning strikes did not work.

Steeltear started casting something really quickly. Fiona tried to counter it, but was unable to do so, so Steeltear was able to get off his Far Step spell. He bamfed out of the room, past Mo, then took off running through the priesthole door, closing it behind him.

Fiona cast misty step to get herself into the bedroom, then opened the door. Joybell cast misty step as well, teleporting herself and Scooby into the bedroom just beyond Mo, then Scooby ran and dashed to get past Steeltear, so they could hopefully block him from getting to the teleportation circle. Joybell attacked him, hitting and doing a divine smite on him. Her second attack, in the whirlwind of adrenaline and Scooby skidding to a stop in front of Steeltear, missed.

Mo came out of the room and inspired Joybell. Taman missed with an attack. Thneed got into position to shoot, but was unable to attack him. Orryk ran out behind Steeltear, using his Step of the Wind, but then missed with both of his attacks.

Then Steeltear pulled a little dagger out of his pocket and waved it around with a flourish, casting a spell that attacked the entire party (because all of us were in range of it). Only Joybell wasn’t hit by it, though her paladin aura was able to give Orryk and Scooby resistance to the damage. Scooby was “killed” and disappeared out from under Joybell (back to wherever celestial wolf-mounts go), who dropped to the ground with a curse, but landed on her feet. Everyone else took quite a bit of damage from the spell, which is a nasty one, Steel Wind Strike.

As part of the Steel Wind Strike spell, Steeltear appeared on the other side of Joybell, closer to the teleportation circle. When he started to run away, Joybell took the opportunity to attack him again, and dropped him. She continued hitting him, just screaming and crying and hacking at his lifeless body, for about a minute, until Taman stopped her and led her away. Then he consoled her while she broke down and cried.

With Steeltear really dead, and even Joybell believing it to be so, we spent some time going through all of the barracks halls to make sure they were clear of anything either dangerous or useful.

When we’d gotten through all of those we considered how to deal with the teleportation circle.

Taman: Hey, Barnett!! Could you help us out with a non-combat related question?

Barnett emerged cautiously from the Forge room and asked what he could help with. We asked if he could help us disable the Symbol spells so we could get to the teleportation circle to destroy it. He suggested breaking the wall from this side. Which hadn’t occurred to any of us. So Mo cast a shatter spell on it, then Joybell pounded on the weakened rock with her flail until we’d broken through the wall where some of the runes were and the circle was destroyed.

Looking at the books as we were stacking things by where Barnett was going to cast teleportation to take us back to Embernoook, we found a notation where Steeltear described the Forge as equidistant from Embernook and New Arvai, under the Dunimar Mountains. Which narrows it down somewhat, but puts it squarely under the heart of the Green Quilt, with no cities or even notable roads anywhere nearby.

As we were clearing the place, we stacked the bodies of the Masks, and both Steeltears, into the disintegration chamber -- that would be as effective as cremation for preventing them from coming back as undead.

We also took a bit more time to clear out the secret room, finding a bunch more treasure:

2000 pp
4 50lb gold trade bars (2500gp each)
4000 gp
7 1000gp gems (2 black opals, 2 emeralds, a fire opal, a blue sapphire and a yellow sapphire)

We then teleported back to Embernook -- loading the Tenser’s Floating Disk, the bag of holding, and each of us (including Scooby, summoned once again), all to the breaking point to get the treasure, the library, and the crystal all out of there while the circle was open.


9 - 14 Rippenin 748 (Campaign days 70 - 75) (another downtime montage)

Back in Embernook, Fiona and Orryk read through the books. Fiona found the details of a high ritual called Your Time For Mine. As she read it, she cringed in horror and disgust -- the ritual involved killing a humanoid to add its remaining lifespan to that of the caster. She burned that, hoping that the knowledge of how to do that horrible thing would go up in smoke. That was what he wanted the children from the Wold, and elsewhere, for -- to provide extra years for his life. When she told the others, Joybell wanted to go back to the Forge so she could kill him again. He needed so many children because he wasn't particularly good at performing that ritual.

Fiona also got some details of his current research -- he was trying to work out how to tune the high ritual that turned human children into Masks so that it worked on other humanoids as well. That was why he had Masks kidnap the orc children -- he had paid Black Irnod’s apprentice, Tarly, to vivisect them and try to learn in what ways they were different from humans.

Steeltear’s books talked about the pattern of Symbol traps outside the teleportation circle -- they were programmed not to fire when touched on by Steeltear himself, humanoids in masks, and beasts when hitched to carts or wagons. Everyone else would set them off. So sending in Scooby with a Mask wouldn’t have told us anything -- because Scooby is a celestial, and celestials in Masks weren’t immune. And it would have just tortured him.

We also learned that he had a habit of using his Masks to attack trade caravans for their treasure. In one of those attacks, he found a scroll with the Clone spell on it. He traded it to a wizard in Pelsoreen named Altorian Galthoril, a high elf, in exchange for casting it on him. That was four months ago -- shortly after he stole crematory/tomb from the dwarven caravan to New Arvai.

We learned the locations and sigil patterns for the teleportation circles in Steeltear’s network -- the ones in the Forge and in the cave outside Callallah have both been destroyed. There are four still functional: one north of Auriqua, one outside Tash, one near Erlin, and one in New Arvai. Of those locations, New Arvai has an active squad of Masks working under the direction of one of the underworld bosses. And there is an active squad near Auriqua working to recover a stolen magic item.

Looking back through the records of jobs offered and accepted, we found that someone tried to hire the Masks to assassinate Administrator Alighieri. Steeltear refused the job. This was shortly after Alighieri became the Administrator of Embernook. We also learned that the biggest job he’d ever been paid for was sending two squads (which were up to 10 Masks) to a place called Kotima (which some of us had heard of as a continent a long way away) to take part in a succession war.

Fiona and Orryk talked with Tulmor and Barnett about the crystal. They confirmed that the crystal is just a battery -- it stores psychic power and then releases it. Steeltear’s method of charging it was torturing a humanoid to death. Horrible.

We wondered if perhaps exposure to happy emotions, like those at a concert or show, might be enough to power the crystal up. So Mo gave a performance at the Pewter Oar. The crystal was set on a floating disc in the center of the stage, spinning slowly, with a light spell over it so it glowed and sparkled like a disco dazzler ball. It looked really cool and Mo gave a hell of a performance, but the crystal didn’t pick up the slightest bit of charge.

In addition to reading the library from the Forge, we had a week or so of downtime (until Joybell’s bulette plate shield was finished) and accomplished other things.

Orryk, now learning some wizardry from Tulmor and Barnett, performed a high ritual to summon a small elemental friend as his familiar -- something that looks like a mephit but is not evil and is friendly to Orryk and his allies.

Mo ordered a netting chair made for his broom of flying - so he could start the broom going then ride underneath it in a hammock-chair, able to play his pipe and cast spells as he liked. Sort of a combat hammock.

Fiona used a sending spell to let Rask and the Cracked Shield orcs know that it was safe for them to return to Pelsoreen. The Masks would not be returning there. She also cast sending to Wilm Orter, the town elder of Callallah, to let him know that the Masks would not be returning and that they should enjoy their children and the bounty of their village.

Fiona spent most of the downtime transcribing spells from Steeltear’s spellbook to her own. That plus the rest of his library kept her plenty well occupied.

Barnett, during all of this, was slowly recovering and getting back to his own normal.

Mo, who had taken possession of the seven sending stones we found in First Turnik’s pocket, waited for anyone to call on them. We learned that Turnik had people in many cities, though not Embernook (because Embernook is nice) keeping an ear out for business opportunities for him. When one came up they could use the sending stones to let him know about them.

After several days without getting any message through the sending stones, and after an evening spent drinking heartilly, Mo picked one at random and drunk called.

Mo: Just so you know, your boss is dead and you’re next.
Voice at the other end, after a moment’s pause: Good luck.

After he told us about that, we went to ask Tulmor and Barnett if it was possible to learn the location of the other one of a pair of sending stones. (Note: GM said he would get back to us on that.)

Thneed spent much of her time walking around talking to the guard in town, thinking they were perhaps kin to soldiers (one of her favorite enemy humanoid subtypes) and trying to persuade them to do harmless but silly things. She realized after several days of this that it probably came off as flirting. Especially since she’s an adjunct guard herself.

Toward the end of the week, before Joybell’s shield was finished, she, Orryk and Taman went out to the Basalt Henge. Because Taman is all interested in nature and rangering and so on these days, Joybell spent the trip out talking to him about the plants and animals native to the Black Field. Taman mostly tuned her out. While we were walking, Orryk had his new elemental familiar as a mud mephit flying along with us. Orryk was working on using mold earth to raise up walls of earth around us.

We took a moment to have a conversation with all three of us talking to a somewhat confused marmot who just wanted the eagles to stop attacking. One had just killed his brother. Joybell promised to warn him if she saw one while they were still close by.

While we were taking a break on the road, Orryk asked Taman to hit him, really hit him. Taman, a bit confused, complied and attacked him. Orryk tried to raise a protective earthen shield around himself, but it didn’t raise in time and he took the damage. But he was almost cheerful about it. The next day, when we were at the Henge, Joybell took a turn taking a shot at him at his request. The protective shield almost deflected the damage, but it wasn’t quite fast enough. Orryk smiled even bigger.

When they got to the Henge, Joybell told Nailo, the head druid, and Green Hope, her fighting trainer, that we’d avenged the Wold. They seemed somewhat taken aback by that -- not upset, just surprised. Joybell agreed that it wasn’t entirely in keeping with her oath to seek vengeance but it needed to be done. Then she went off to the henge itself to pray and try and atone and to reaffirm her commitment to her oath of the ancients.

Orryk told them about going to the Primal Atoll and shared what Irlua had said about fire being out of balance. He then asked if they knew anything about the Umbral Circle. Nailo said that it had been a few years since they’d seen anyone from the Umbral Circle. He asked after the staff we were charged with recovering, Adnorga’s Staff. They had heard of the item but weren’t aware of it being missing.

We stayed at the Henge for a couple of days while Joybell atoned (including having a Ceremony: Atonement spell cast on her behalf). Toward the end of the time, Taman used his new ability to sense planar portals and found a dormant portal to elemental fire about a mile away out in the Black Field. We all took a walk out there, across the lava flow, and realized when we got to the location that the portal itself was under the lava field in the dormant volcano. Nothing to see.

The third day of our trip, Joybell attacked Orryk again, to test his new earthen shield and it rose up to protect him just as he wanted it to. Orryk was almost happy.

The next morning, we returned to Embernook.


14 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 75)

Joybell’s shield was ready and she picked it up from Brightforge.

(Note: The montage can continue from here as we buy a house and furnish it.)


Treasure:

The DM notes that Turnik had High Ritual gear in his bedroom. Blocky and square, not particularly attractive but well made, including ritual clothes sized for a dwarf. The party can sell the lot for 1200 gp.

Totals:
PP: 2170
GP (including trade bars, art, and sold Mask gear): 19450
SP (including trade bars): 12000
CP: 800
Gems: 14 x 50 GP, 7 x 1000 GP

Per person:
PP: 361
GP: 3241
SP: 2000
CP: 133
Gems: 2 x 50 GP, 1 x 1000 GP

(Note: Joybell is going to take the Velvet Mask and the Gold Bracelet as 50 of her, erm, 3241 gp. Which is not going to make an appreciable difference to anything. Just we’ll have that mask and she wants the bracelet.)

Leftover:
PP: 4
GP: 4
CP: 2
Gems: 2 x 50 GP, 1 x 1000 GP

Which leads to a Party Kitty Update:

Party Kitty update:
8 pp, 7 gp, 10 sp, and 18 cp. Also 2 50gp gems and 1 1000 gp gem.

The kitty will go a long way toward buying us a house, I reckon.

Magic items:

+2 Scimitar [Martial Weapon limits to Joybell/Taman/Thneed]
Bag of Tricks, Tan
Bead of Force
Boots of Elvenkind
Cloak of Displacement [Attunement, Joybell]
Deck of Illusions
Dimensional Shackles
Mace of Smiting [STR/Monk Weapon limits to Joybell/Orryk]
Periapt of Wound Closure [Attunement]
Potion of Frost Giant Strength
Potion of Invulnerability
Wind Fan
Wings of Flying [Attunement]
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 32: The Perils of Traveling By Water; Also, We Own A Whole Town!!

Dramatis Personae:

Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


15 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 76)

We’d decided during the course of a week of downtime that we wanted a place of our own -- preferably one that was a bit outside of Embernook. So, after Joybell picked up her new shield, we all (except Fiona who spent a week and a half doing little but learning spells from Steeltear’s spell book and, when reminded, eating and sleeping) went to Tulmor and Barnett’s. We wanted to ask them if they knew who we should talk to about maybe buying Harl’s house up in Kalmarn (or maybe all of Kalmarn).

Barnett started laughing and said that he was the person we needed to talk to. He’d inherited Harl’s house and the entire village. He also said that he didn’t want any of it.

Mo: So, for this house you don’t want, how much?
Barnett: I can sell you the house and the town all the way to the pier on the river for 8000gp.
Joybell: Only 8000? For a whole town? Are you sure that’s enough?
Mo: Yes. He is.

Barnett said he’d get the papers drawn up -- we could close the sale the next day, on the 16th of Rippenin (campaign day 77).

We discussed various plans -- Joybell and Orryk didn’t want to spend a lot of time personally furnishing the house and finding villagers to live in Kalmarn. Mo and Taman had some ideas about what tradespeople we needed for the village. Also, they wanted to start an inn, which is a fine idea. But we decided to start from baby steps -- getting our house in order, without spending a lot of time in the weeds of that.

(Note: Also not spending a lot of time at the gaming table on recruiting blacksmiths and buying furniture.)

We decided that we needed a castellan. Joybell was pretty definite that’s what we need because we definitely didn’t want a vizier, they’re always evil, or a majordomo, they’re usually evil. Castellans are nice and honorable.

We figured that maybe we could get a recommendation for someone who would make a good castellan from Tillaron Zun. Taman had a question for him anyway, since our next adventure is going to be up to Auriqua to deal with the fey that killed his family.

At the Zun estate, we got taken directly to see Tillaron. Joybell asked if he could recommend someone very trustworthy to be our castellan.

Tillaron Zun: I hate to say this, but the best, most qualified and most honest person for the job is a halfling named Chulty. He’s Thalith’s nephew.
Joybell: Do you know how to get in touch with him?
Tillaron: No. You’ll have to ask Thalith. I’d appreciate it if you mentioned that I gave you the recommendation.

Joybell agreed that she would.

Taman: You’ve been to Auriqua. How do I get in touch with the Fey?
Tillaron: Any one in particular?
Taman: Yes. But the Fey will be best situated to help me find the one I’m looking for, Ildna.
Tillaron: Well, I can tell you that if you’re at the Blue Gate on the first night of the Festival Of Sky you can probably talk to the Tundra Queen.
Taman: In person?
Tillaron: Yes. She’s contractually obligated to be there, I believe.

We don’t want to wait that long to go to Auriqua and find Ildna (it’s currently about 2 weeks to the Autumnal Equinox festival, so a long way from the Feast of Sky, which is the Winter Solstice festival), so we’ll have to find another way to get in touch with they Fey up there.

We thanked Tillaron and left for Thalith’s office. Joybell put her name on the waiting list and waited patiently, while the others looked at her in something like disbelief.

After a few minutes, we got called in, ahead of our time in line.

Thalith: What is it with you?
Joybell: Everyone out there has business that’s important for their lives. Ours isn’t more so. Anyway, we’re buying Harl’s house and all of Kalmarn from Barnett.
Thalith: Oh!?
Joybell: Yep! And we need a castellan. Tillaron Zun recommended your nephew, Chulty, as the best and most honest choice.
Thalith: He’s right. Chulty is the best choice. And Tillaron clearly wants something.
Mo: That was subtle...
Joybell: He didn’t say to be subtle. He said to mention his name. If he wanted me to be subtle he needed to tell me that.

Thalith, after confirming that the best place to get in touch with us was still the Pewter Oar, said that Chulty would come by after dinner so we could talk to him and meet him.

Taman: How do I get in touch with the Fey in Auriqua?
Thalith: Do you want the Tundra Queen?
Taman: That’s months away and she’s not the best choice.
Thalith: You’re looking for the one who destroyed your family...After the Autumnal Equinox, some of the Fey with cold powers come out north of the city to play. You might be able to talk with one of them to find the one you’re seeking.

After dinner at the Pewter Oar, we saw a young, barely adult, hafling enter and look around the tavern. When he saw the party, he came over to us. We bought him a beer and began a sort of awkward interview. He was a robust looking halfling -- he clearly spent time outside doing things.

Orryk: What do you do now?
Chulty: I’ve been doing errands for my uncle around town.
Thneed: If you had your uncle’s job, would you enjoy it?
Chulty: I think having the Administrator looking over your shoulder constantly would be tiring.
Thneed: Have you been out of Embernook?
Chulty: I’ve been to Erlin and Lonoj. I walked most of the way, which was a good way to travel.

Someone asked if he’d be okay alone for extended periods of time, because we were probably not going to be consistently in residence.

We talked some about how much he expected to be paid (2gp/day) and agreed to his rates. We paid him three months in advance and told him that we’d be closing on the sale the next day.

The night then passed with those staying at the inn safely there and those at Queena’s lodging house safely there.


16 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 77)

At breakfast, we got a note from Chulty that he was going to be taking a trade boat up the river to Kalmarn to start taking a look at the house. We weren’t going to be getting there for a few days but he wanted to hit the ground running.

First thing after breakfast, Joybell and Thneed went to the guard house to see if they needed any help. Joybell was very disappointed that they said no. She and Thneed did however do some practice and training there -- Thneed with the archery targets and Joybell sparring with some of the guards and doing drills with dummies.

Fiona’s work learning spells from Steeltear’s spellbook continued -- some of it at the Pewter Oar, some of it at Tulmor and Barnett’s (for more privacy), and some of it outside the city walls (such as practicing making a wall of fire).

When she was at Tulmor and Barnett’s, around when we did the paperwork for the closing, Tulmor went to her with a stack of paper glued on three sides (so the pages stay together solidly but can still be readily separated). She explained that these are dragon pages -- magical paper. If you write a message on the page, fold it in half, and then write a name on the outside, the paper will magically fold itself into an origami dragon and fly to the person you’re writing to. (The paper becomes invisible after a few feet of flight.) The paper arrives at its destination within a day. If you fold a blank sheet inside the one addressed, it will provide a way for the recipient to respond.

Tulmor: There are 50 pages there. It’s a gift, but don’t tell Barnett. He doesn’t know I can make them.

Orryk also spent some time at their place learning Jump, Longstrider and Expeditious Retreat from their spellbooks. (There’s definitely a theme to his research there.)

While that was happening, Joybell and some other folks went to the docks to charter a boat to take us up to Auriqua, with stops as needed along the way, including one in Kalmarn. We found The Gellyan, captained by Tavin Lamerin, a human. He asked for 250 gp to take us there and wait for 6 days to bring us back. If we aren’t ready to leave at that time, he’ll just load cargo and come back without us. We agreed to those terms, and Taman paid for the entire group. Mo paid him an additional 50gp to load better food than would be their norm for us and the crew and everyone on board.

That evening, Fiona sent a message to Rask and the Cracked Shields about coming to Kalmarn. She told him that it’s an empty town about half a day from Embernook. We own the village. Rask said that sounded like a very tempting idea.

Joybell: Maybe they’ll adopt me after all!

The rest of the day and the evening passed without incident.


17 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 78)

Mo went and bought beer, distilled spirits (moonshine) and wine for the trip.

Joybell and Thneed went to see if the guard needed any help. Joybell was once again disappointed that they did not. They spent the day training and practicing.

At some point in the day, Joybell bought a bottle of really nice wine and put it in her pack.

The day and the night otherwise passed without incident.


18 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 79)

We went to the Gellyan bright and early first thing in the morning. We told Captain Lamerin that we needed to stop in Kalmarn for the rest of the day. The pier in Kalmarn was still there and in good shape. The signal flag, which indicates that someone in the town needs a ship to stop, was not out. As we walked through the town, we noticed that there weren’t any corpses still around -- we couldn’t remember if all of the corpses had been cleared away and burned before we went back to deal with the gribbly monster in Harl’s house or not.

Anyway, we walked through the town to get to Our House. Mo suggested renaming the town Mo City, or perhaps Mo Village. Someone else suggested Motown. The idea of renaming Kalmarn didn’t gain much traction. However, Joybell did enthusiastically back calling our house Stately Kang Manor.

When we got there, we found all the windows and doors thrown open and a tent pitched in the front yard. Chulty stepped out of the tent as we approached.

Chulty: Howdy!
Joybell: Why are you staying outside?
Chulty: The place has been closed up for a month and it’s stuffy.
Joybell: Fair enough. How much do you think you’re going to need to fix it up?
Chulty: For paint and furniture and so on, 3000 gp. Do I need to know anything -- like is anything on the walls?
Orryk: There’s a teleportation circle on the floor in the library, hidden with an illusion spell. We’d like to keep that.
Chulty: Good to know.

We gave him the pad of dragon pages so he could reach us, and the money he said he’d need. Mo gave him some extra money to stock booze so we wouldn’t come back to nothing to drink when we returned.

Mo then headed out to cast the 8-hour version of the Plant Growth spell -- to make the land around Stately Kang Manor very fertile and productive. While he was doing that Joybell talked with Chulty about maybe needing a gardener, so we don’t have fertile and productive weeds and stuff. She slipped him some extra money to hire a gardener or any other staff he might feel he needed.

Joybell: Are you going to be okay?
Chulty: I’ll be fine.

She told him about our invitation to the Cracked Shield to come and settle in Kalmarn.

Joybell: They’ll be a tribe of orcs and half-orcs, with some children as well as adults. They have cracks painted on their shields. They’re really awesome. I just don’t want you to be surprised or taken aback.
Chulty: Okay. I’m glad you told me.

After talking with Chulty, Joybell walked around the house and picked herself a room on the ground floor, because she wanted a window Scooby could jump in and out of. The others picked out rooms according to their preferences.

Ultimately though, because we had no furniture, and the house was kinda stuffy still...and maybe because we’re used to it, Fiona made a Tiny Hut in the garden for people to sleep in if they wanted. Orryk, Joybell and Chulty stayed in the hut with her. Taman slept outside the hut in the garden. Thneed found her way to the edge of some trees so she could sleep under those. Mo started the broom flying and spent the night sleeping strapped into his combat hammock a thousand or so feet in the air.

The night passed without incident.


19 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 80)

We headed to the river bright and early in the morning. In honor of our water voyage, Omnath (Orryk’s Awesome Mephit Friend) was in the form of a steam mephit.

Aboard the Gellyan, Joybell, Scooby, Thneed and Taman sat right up in the front of the boat looking at all the neat stuff going by and talking about it. (Well, Scooby didn’t do much talking, but they were able to sort of lean back on him and relax.) Fiona and Orryk were reading below. Mo was flying along above the boat, relaxing in his combat hammock -- where he mostly lives now.

The day and the night passed quietly.


20 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 81)

Most of the day passed in very similar fashion to the day before. Dinner was shortly before sunset. After dinner, Joybell, Thneed, Taman, and Scooby, went back to the bow of the ship to watch the sunset. Mo was getting ready to start the broom of flying again. Fiona and Orryk were once again reading below.

Our post-dinner reverie was interrupted by a huge surge in the water ahead of us, as a hydra with five heads rose up out of the river immediately in front of the boat.

Before the crew could even react, Thneed had drawn her bow, cast hunter’s mark on it, and shot it twice. Taman cast hunters’ mark as well and shot it as well.

Because there was no screaming or commotion yet, Orryk and Fiona just kept reading.

Mo puffed on his pipe to get some smoke going well, then blew out a cloud around the hydra and cast polymorph. Unfortunately, the hydra saved against that. He then inspired Joybell.

Joybell considered jumping from the boat to the hydra, but it looked like it was maybe a bit too far and she was afraid that it was a bad idea. So she fired magic missiles at it from the wand instead.

Joybell: Orryk and Fiona, we need you!

The hydra moved up to the side of the boat right near Thneed and attacked her with all five of its heads. Two missed, two hit (one critically), and Mo said some cutting words to cause the last one to miss.

Mo: Hey! You got too many heads!

Thneed disengaged and moved back from the railing of the ship to be near Scooby.

Taman did what Joybell had only thought of -- he took a running leap and jumped onto the back of the hydra and slashed at it with his new scimitar, getting a good hit.

Orryk trudged up on deck muttering about Joybell interrupting them for some damn thing or another. Then he saw the hydra.

Orryk: <<swearing in gnomish>> Fiona. Hydra.

He took a shot with his shortbow.

This wass about when the crew started screaming.

Mo: It’s not nice to waste someone’s high level spells.

Then he cast polymorph on the hydra again. It resisted again.

Fiona came up onto the deck.

Fiona: Huh!

She cast polymorph and turned the hydra into a trout. Taman fell into the water with a big splash. Joybell ran over to the side of the ship and threw him a rope and pulled him back on board.

Taman: That was really cool for about five seconds.
Joybell: It was awesome!
Mo, to Fiona: Polymorph was a great idea.

Captain Lamerin came out on deck to see why his crew were screaming and what the commotion was -- only to see absolutely nothing threatening the ship. Joybell explained to him that there was a hydra and that it had been turned into a fish, but only for an hour, so maybe we ought to get well away.

The captain agreed with that and we sailed away with alacrity.

Joybell sat back down in the bow of the ship, leaning against Scooby, to watch the sunset.

After the Hydra Incident, we decided to keep watches while aboard the Gellyan. Joybell took first watch and it was very quiet and peaceful. She woke Orryk up for second watch.

After an hour or two, Orryk heard a really bad impersonation of a red-tailed hawk, which he knew to be a daytime bird, not prone to calling in the middle of the night. It sounded to him like someone doing a signal call to someone else.

He sent Omnath, still a steam mephit, around to wake everyone up. Omnath was able to talk to Fiona, who was able to explain to us why we were being woken up. Thneed went to the captain’s quarters and banged on the door.

We stayed upstairs for a while, but no one saw or heard anything further, so Fiona and Taman went back to bed. Joybell curled up with Scooby on the deck and slept there. Thneed, having already gotten as much time for her trance as she needed, stayed on deck with Orryk, until he went back to sleep, then took over for third watch.

The rest of the night passed without any anomalous animal noises or other incident.


21 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 82)

The next afternoon, we sailed along with Joybell, Taman and Thneed in the front of the ship, with Scooby behind them where Joybell could lean on him, watching the banks go by and pointing interesting things out to each other. Orryk and Fiona were reading and Mo was a couple hundred feet up and about 10 feet behind the back of the ship lounging in his combat hammock.

We were snuck up on (sort of) by a troop of five hill giants about 40 feet away on the banks of the river. It was pretty clear that they could wade right up to the boat without much trouble because the river wasn’t all that deep.

One of them stepped forward as their leader.

Giant (in common): Pull boat to shore or we throw rocks.
Captain Lamerin (to us): I’m not going to let them hole the boat. I’m pulling over.
Mo (to the giants): What do you want?
Giant: We want treasure. Empty boat.
Mo: We don’t have any treasure.

It was clear that the giants did not believe that we had no treasure on board the boat.

Joybell moved to the deck railing where the giants would be reaching us and told them that we didn’t have anything for them and to let us be. Then she held an attack in case one of them made an aggressive move on us or the ship.

Taman tried to use the Eyes of Charming on the leader but the attempt failed because Giants are immune (the Eyes of Charming work on humanoids). The giant was clearly aware of the attempt though because he said something about human tricks. Then he moved aggressively toward the side of the ship.

Joybell decided that was enough of a threat for her and used her held action to attack, drawing down divine energy into the hit and striking a blow that the giant actually noticed.

Taman, did something really cool -- he traced the edge of his scimitar with his thumb, causing it to glow bright green, then did his attack. As the sword slashed across the giant’s chest, there was a shockwave that radiated out from the blow, rippling through the corpulent body and doing extra damage.

Orryk who had been alerted while we were moving to the shore came on deck and attacked the giant, getting lots of hits with the daggers. Mo blew a ring of smoke and cast hypnotic pattern over the three closest to us who were not the leader. Two of them appeared to stop moving much and just blinked slowly. Then he floated closer on his broom, but was still in the air.

Joybell attacked the giant leader twice, without smiting, and dropped him.

Joybell: Your leader is dead. We’re going to sail on.

Before they had much chance to respond to that, Fiona cast a fireball, centered right on them but shaped around the two that were hypnotized. It did a lot of damage to the two that had not been injured yet. Thneed took her two shots on the nearest one, with her hunters’ mark, hitting solidly.

One of the two singed ones went to their fallen leader and put her hand on his body. The other one backed away from the edge of the river.

We sailed away down the river staying alert for them to throw any rocks at us. They did not.

Captain Lamerin: There are weird things on the river, but this is new. I’ve never had a trip like this.

Because of course all the bad stuff was coming out while we were passing through.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 33: In Which We Break Rule #1

Dramatis Personae:
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)/Wizard
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger (Horizon Walker)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


21 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 82)

After dinner, but before people retired for the night, Joybell broke out the bottle of good wine that she bought before we left and poured everyone a drink in honor of Thneed being with us for a month. With apologies for being one day late about it.

We all got a little bit of wine (some more than others) to celebrate Thneed and to celebrate all of us.

Then we went into watches and nightly activities. The night passed without incident.


22 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 83)

Mo had a brilliant idea in the night and tied a rope from the back of the Gellyan to his broom of flying, so he will be able to sleep in his combat hammock and get pulled along by the ship.

Shortly after lunch, Orryk and Fiona were reading on deck. Joybell, Taman, and Thneed riding in the bow talking about what they were seeing and passing through. Mo was riding on his combat hammock.

We spotted a dozen or so lizardfolk swimming out from the shore toward the boat. Mo cast a plant growth spell on the vegetation in the river, causing the river grasses and weeds to choke up the river bank and impede the progress of the lizardfolk. He left a strip of river wide enough for the boat to pass through unimpeded.

Then he asked the lizard folk what they were there for.

Lizardperson: We’re here to collect.
Joybell: What are you collecting?
Lizardperson: The passage your captain is going to pay at the wreck.
Captain Lamerin: We’re going to pay that at the wreck in a day and a half.
Joybell: We’ll pay then. Why are you asking now?
Lizardperson: Too many people are going by without paying.

During this conversation the ship was sailing on…

Mo: If you guys can catch us you’re welcome to try and kill us but otherwise…
Joybell (running to the back of the boat as we sailed away from them): Are you normally the ones who collect the money?
Lizardperson: We collect for the Green Lord, Tallyxtillon.
Joybell: Will Tallyxtillon be at the wreck? We can pay him then….

(We recognized Tallyxtillon as a draconic name.)

Joybell asked Captain Lamerin about the wreck. He told us that there’s a river ship, bigger than the Gellyan, that has been broken in two on a shoal in the middle of the river. The keel is broken and the ship set there as a warning. The Green Lord began collecting a toll to pass the wreck. There are often Lizardfolk there collecting the tolls and they say that the forest itself obeys the Green Lord, but Captain Lamerin has never actually seen him.

The captain said that he believes that the Green Lord broke the boat. The Lizardfolk are often on the wreck reminding people to pay.

Mo: Don’t pay the 100gp.
Thneed: I’ve never seen a dragon before.
Mo: That’s why I don’t want to pay.
Taman: We could not pay until the dragon shows up, then pay.
Fiona: I don’t want to meet a green dragon.
Joybell: I don’t think we’re up to fighting a dragon.
Orryk: We’re going to wind out fighting it, the way our luck runs.

We asked the captain if he knew what boat it was and he didn’t know. There were no reports of a boat going down or going missing and the nameplate on the stern is not visible the way the wreck is sitting on the sandbar.

Joybell: But what about all the people on board?

The captain hadn’t heard about sailors being missing either and had no idea what might have happened to the crew of the wrecked ship.

People just started paying when the wreck appeared and lizardfolk on and about the shoals demanded money. He said we’d get there the next day.

Thneed went off with Mo to teach him curse words in Draconic -- only she was teaching him innocuous words and telling him that they were curse words.

Orryk: Joybell, what if this is a druid, not a dragon?
Joybell, thinking: It could be.
Orryk: The lizardfolk say the forest obeys him. That’s not a dragon thing. It could be a druid thing.

We consulted with Fiona to draw on an additional brain with knowledge about dragons. Between Orryk and Fiona we knew that older, bigger and badder green dragons warp the forest around them. It’s not unheard of for them to get some spells, either innately or by learning some magic, which could be druidic magic.

Joybell agreed that it was a possibility. But an evil druid would still need to be stopped.

The rest of the day and the night passed without incident.


23 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 84)

Late the next day, we saw the wreck on a sandbar in the middle of the river. There were clear shipping lanes on either side of the sandbar, each wide enough for ships the size of the Gellyan or even larger to pass by. On the sandbar was a ship, a bit larger than the Gellyan, broken in half. The bow half was lying sort of on its side. The stern half was standing on the stern, mostly upright. The two halves were completely detached from one another.

Mo detached his broom from its tether to the ship and flew over to get a better look at things. He started out looking for markings or any indication as to what the name of the ship was. Unfortunately, all he could really tell was that it was a broken boat.

Orryk got the bag of 100gps that Captain Lamerin gave him and gave it to Omnath, his awesome mephit friend.

Joybell: I could go over, Mo could use...look, he’s landing…
Orryk: If he needs us, he’ll scream.

Mo threw his rope down into the broken stern and cast rope trick. Then he started climbing down the rope. Orryk sent Omnath over with the bag, looking through his eyes.

Orryk, through Omnath, could figure out that it was a weird ship -- or it was a weird thing shaped like a ship. But there’s no way to move around in it, because the decks don’t line up correctly between the two halves of the ship.

Mo looked around a little bit, but didn’t see anything of interest inside the wrecked ship, so he climbed up his rope trick to get out of the vertical belly of the epicenter of this outbreak.

Joybell tried to wave for him to come back to the Gellyan and land. Mo, totally missing the message, waved back.

Orryk had Omnath poke around a little bit on the two halves of the wreck after he left the bag of gold on the island. He determined that someone had taken parts of two ships that were being broken down in shipyard.

Mo, still over on the island, cast polymorph on himself and turned into a giant ape. Joybell, hoping to be there for Mo if something went pear-shaped on the island, asked the captain if we could borrow a dinghy to row over to the island. When he said we could, she asked him to please stop the ship when he got a bit beyond the sandbank, so we could look around a bit and not have too far to row to catch up.

Then she got in the dinghy with Taman and Thneed and began to row. As we rowed over, Giant Ape Mo began (Magilla Gorilla) breaking up the wrecked ship, violently, throwing the pieces to the side of the river. He roared and tackled the standing stern of the boat knocking it over and breaking it into pieces. When those were thrown to the shore he turned to the bow-end of the wreck smashing it with his giant ape fists.

Orryk and Fiona stayed on the Gellyan watching the antics on the sandbar.

Mo finished breaking up the wreck about when we arrived at the sandbar and polymorphed back into himself. He grabbed the bag of gold that Omnath had dropped onto the sand, then climbed back on the broom and deployed the combat hammock as we pulled onto the bank.

Before we even got out of the boat, Taman noticed movement on the far shore of the river -- some of the foliage was moving and he heard an elephant trumpeting. Or someone mimicking an elephant trumpeting.

Joybell (with a bit of assistance from Taman and Thneed) portaged the dinghy across the sandbank and then rowed to the other shore. We found a little beach where we could pull the dinghy out of the water and look around. Omnath flew along with us and was there on the island, but none of us there could speak any dialect of Primordial, so he didn’t really have any way to communicate with us.

We looked for tracks around the beach. Joybell and Thneed also looked for elephant tracks -- because although it would have been very unlikely to see an elephant, it would have been awesome as well.

Taman and Thneed saw prints from big, clawed feet with tail drag-marks between them. They identified those as lizardfolk tracks. This was about where Taman saw the movement on the shore.

Joybell: Should we follow them?
Taman: Orryk and Fiona are on the boat.

He waved at Omnath.

Taman: Hi, Orryk!

Thneed shouted out a demand to parlay in draconic, but there was no response.

Joybell, to Omnath: Please ask Orryk to ask the captain if these lizardfolk have hurt anyone.

After a few moments, Omnath shook his head no.

Mo reached into his new Bag of Tricks for the first time and pulled out a Giant Hyena.

Mo, to the Hyena: Go get ‘em! Just hassle the lizardfolk. Have fun!

It bounded off into the woods.

We went back to the Gellyan discussing the fact that there were clearly a passel of lizardfolk running some sort of scam. Though that doesn’t explain how they got the boat halves at all, let alone how they got them placed convincingly on the sandbank.

As we got back to the Gellyan, Joybell reminded Mo to give Captain Lamerin his money back. Mo, without telling anyone, gave the captain his money bag, lighter by 25 gp.

Once back on the ship, we continued on our way.

The rest of the day and the night passed without incident.


24 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 85)

The next day Joybell suddenly realized that we hadn’t seen a single other boat on the river the whole trip. Joybell asked about it and the captain said that it was the time of year when traffic on the river began to slow down because winter in Auriqua is unpleasant.

Mo asked the captain if he’d made a deal with the Tundra Queen.

Captain: I’ve overwintered in Auriqua and seen her there. I was not foolish enough to make a deal with her.
Taman: Administrator Alighieri tasked me with annoying her as much as possible.

Shortly after lunchtime, everyone topside on the boat (which was everyone) noticed a large group of lizardfolk (a dozen to eighteen) standing on the shore watching the Gellyan pass by. The shore was 60’ away and they made no attempt to contact us or to attack.

Thneed, to the lizardfolk (in draconic): Did you see those assholes in that other boat tearing things up?

There was no response.

Mo, to the lizardfolk (in common): Did you come here to die?

Then he threw out a few of the choice swears that Thneed had taught him.

Mo (in draconic): Fishsticks! Mother fluffing!

The only response was perhaps a bit of stifled laughter.

The Gellyan sailed on by, moving at her usual speed (about walking speed). The lizardfolk did not move from their position on the shore.

Joybell, to Captain Lamerin: Is this normal?
Captain Lamerin: No. It’s really not.
Joybell, to the lizardfolk (in common): Your beef is with us, not the Gellyan or its crew. Don’t take it out on them…. That’s not quite totally true. Just talk to us.

We never stopped sailing by and they never responded at all.

Mo used the flute of scribing to write “Alighieri was here” on the bank. Once his back was turned, Fiona dispelled it.

Orryk: So the question is when we’re going to fight 30 of them.

That night, just before dawn, during third watch, Mo, Thneed & Taman noticed a green serpentine thing flying down the river. Mo used mage hand to wake everyone up.

As it flew over the Gellyan it waggled its wings in a mark of recognition, acknowledging us and our presence.

Mo, to dragon (in draconic): Fishsticks!

When we told the captain about it, he took the bag of gold that Mo had returned to him and put it next to the wheel on the top deck.

Captain: Next time anyone tries to collect passage, we pay.

Neither the boat nor the dragon ever stopped.

The rest of the night passed.


25 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 86)

We spent the day arguing political theory (is the dragon’s toll to pass along the river illegitimate, could it become legitimate simply by the fact of people paying it, is any toll really legitimate) in a non-heated way.

Around dinner time, we saw the first other ship we’d seen the whole trip. It was a merchant vessel sailing down the river toward Embernook. It was flying Auriquah’s flag. (When we noticed that we compared that to the colors the Gellyan was sailing under -- those of Embernook, the Zun family, and another merchant family we weren’t familiar with.)

The Gellyan’s crew furled the windsail and waited for the boat to draw alongside.

Captain of Other Ship: What’s on the way?
Captain Lamerin: There were hill giants, a hydra, and lizardfolk. The wreck got trashed.
Joybell: The wreck was fake. But there really was a dragon flying overhead.

Thneed taught the other captain how to greet the dragon in draconic (honestly and for real). Joybell taught him the dragon’s name: Tallyxtillon.

Then both ships unfurled their windsails and continued on their way.

Joybell: When we go back down this river, it’s going to be such a mess!

The rest of the day and the night passed.


26 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 87)

The next morning, early, we sailed past a town pier (like the one at our village, Kalmarn) that had a flag out. This is how villages indicate to passing ships that they want a boat to stop. Captain Lamerin said that the flag was looking for a boat heading downstream to stop, so we sailed on by.

(Mo's player: Pier-to-pier communication.) ( :D)

The rest of the day passed. So did most of the night. Just before dawn, Thneed, Taman and Mo were on deck on watch. Joybell was sleeping curled up with Scooby on the deck.

Thneed was teaching Mo a “bawdy drinking song” in draconic. (In reality it was something like “I’m A Little Pork Roast”.)

Another, smaller ship heading downstream passed the Gellyan shortly before dawn. Because of the darkness, neither of the Gellyan nor the other ship had much chance to slow down to communicate before it passed.

Thneed and Taman noticed that the ship was flying Auriqua's colors (so leaving that city, not returning to Embernook) and that there was no cargo on the deck. There were also no people on the deck who were obviously not crew. They suspected it might be a charter, much like our trip on the Gellyan.

Thneed tried to warn the other ship about the perils we’d encountered.

Thneed: Giant Dragon Hydra
Mo, in draconic: Fishsticks!


27 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 88)

The next day we traveled without much incident. Around noon, we had to slow down because of a ferry that crossed the river, connecting villages on either side of the river. We asked if they’d been having problems with lizardfolk and they said they had never been bothered by them.

After the ferry crossed the river, we sailed on.

Mo, singing: I’m sailing away….

That evening after dinner we saw a boat docked at a pier going up river, the same direction we were. The captain slowed to ask how their trip had been going. Theirs had been uneventful (of course). We asked if they had paid at the wreck and they said yes. When asked if the wreck had looked legit to them they said that it had looked a little weird, but even if it wasn’t a real wreck, something had taken those boat halves there. So they paid the toll.

We continued moving on and the rest of the day and the night passed without incident.


28 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 89)

As we got further into the plains, and the area of the Tundra Queen’s influence, the woods got looser and looser. Just after lunch, we noticed a circle of standing stones through the trees.

Joybell: Oooooh!

She asked the captain if we could stop the Gellyan and row the dingy over to look at the standing stones.

Taman did his special thing to check for planar portals nearby (within one mile). He detected one very near us and we guessed that it was most likely at the standing stones, though his ability doesn’t tell him where the portal goes.

We travelled over in two dinghies, except Mo who was on his broom of flying, to the shore and went to check things out. The stone circle was a few hundred yards from the edge of the river. The stones were something similar to bluestone (which is a form of sandstone, only blue).

As we got close, we could see that the circle hadn’t been used in months, but it was clear that it does get some use and it had been used some months ago. Some of the stones had carvings on them in Sylvan which indicated that this circle is a portal to the Feywild. The carvings go around all of the stones and said that the portal can be activated at any of the four festivals (for the solstices and equinoxes). The circle has to be decorated appropriately for the festival and then there is a call and response ritual to do in order to activate it. The ceremony is described in the carvings.

Joybell tried to talk with a little chipmunk to ask when people were last in the circle, but it wasn’t up for more conversation than just saying hi.

In the face of that lack of information, Joybell walked into the circle. The carvings continued onto the insides of the stones, but conveyed the same information about how to activate the portal to the Feywild.

She looked around at the space inside the circle and determined that it was set up for it to be possible to perform druidic rituals (like the ones she was familiar with from her youth) there, but that there was no sign that any had been performed there in at least the last several months.

Several of us marked the location of this circle on our maps of Urnod - then we returned to the Gellyan. It was going to be a couple of days before the circle could possibly be activated and we weren’t going to hang around waiting that long.

The rest of the day and night passed without incident.


29 Rippenin 748 (Campaign day 90)

First thing in the morning, Mo pulled an animal from his bag of tricks so he could have a little furry friend. He got a Giant Weasel and named it Checkers.

Joybell immediately set about making friends with Checkers, giving it treats of jerky and plenty of scritches. Someone teased her that she was ignoring Scooby.

Joybell: I’ve got two hands. I can scritch two critters.

In the early afternoon, we arrived at the docks in Auriqua. As we left the Gellyan, we confirmed with Captain Lamerin that he’d be leaving on 4 Harfastin (Campaign day 96) if we haven’t returned before then (or paid him money to stay).

Before we left, Thneed gave the captain a bag with 100 gold pieces and a note in draconic that said that the Gellyan and its crew were not responsible for anything we did. She told the captain to use it to pay the toll when they head back downriver if we weren’t aboard.

It was the day before the Festival of First Fruits and the town was busy. It was also thoroughly decorated with ribbons and decorations in reds, oranges and golds. There weren’t a lot of leaves, because the tundra had thinned the forest almost entirely away, but gourds and fruit (apples and pumpkins) and sheaves of grain were common.

Taman tried to sense his favored enemy, Fey, within five miles and found that there were a large number of them to the north, a few miles away. We figured that was the fey we’d been told would be gathering to the north of the city outside the gates.

When we got off the boat, Joybell asked the harbormaster for a recommendation for an inn. The harbormaster recommended two for us -- the Dancing Otter in the New Walk and the Platinum Arrow in the Old Walk. The Platinum Arrow was the nicer and more flashy choice. Joybell pointed out that the Dancing Otter had the better name.

Taman: Part of my plan is to be super ostentatious. Staying at the fancier inn will help that.
Joybell: Couldn’t we be ostentatious at the Dancing Otter?

We agreed that we’d head to the Platinum Arrow. As we passed through the gate between Oldest Town and the Throat parts of town we saw that the gate was painted a beautiful light blue. This was the Blue Gate -- the gate where we’d been told the Tundra Queen was contractually obligated to appear during the Feast of Stars.

Taman told a person on the street that if he knew someone named Ildna to let him know that someone named Taman was in town looking for them. Confused, the person said he would.

Once in Old Town we went to Platinum Arrow. Taman paid for us to stay for one night at the inn.

Taman, to innkeeper: This is the party of Taman. I’m looking for a man named Ildna.

It was apparent that the innkeeper knew of Ildna.

Innkeeper: You probably won’t find him here.
Taman: Where will I find him? We have important business with him.
Innkeeper: People who have met him and survived have done so nearer to the mountains.

Mo made arrangements with the innkeeper to perform around dinner time in their roomy dining room.

We went out to look around Old Town a bit. Orryk was looking for magic shops. Joybell and Fiona were looking for a place to buy some warm clothes. Joybell bought some really fuzzy, furry pieces and put them on under her armor so that the fur was poking out between the plates of the armor. Then she promptly overheated and took it all off again.

Joybell, who had been looking at the decorations and commenting on them as we travelled through the city saw that there were decorations that included artificial or preserved fruits, grains, and ribbons in a combination of the blue of the Tundra Queen’s Blue Gate and a reddish brown color. Joybell stopped in a shop and bought enough of the characteristic festival decorations to decorate the stone circle we’d seen -- including some of those blue and brown ribbons.

Shop clerk: Why are you getting those two colors? You’re not from around here.
Joybell: Nope. We’re from around Embernook. I’m just getting the decorations because they’re pretty and we might want to decorate our house. What do those ribbons mean?
Clerk, looking really uncomfortable: It’s local.

Joybell got the feeling that she was treading on a local taboo and figured out that the ribbons perhaps had something to do with the taking of children to make them into dilyarli.

Joybell: Okay, I’ll just take these other decorations and a bunch of ribbons in other colors.

After we left the shop, Joybell started watching more closely the houses decorated with those brown and blue ribbons. She saw one with the ribbons and some kids playing in the yard.

She realized with dawning horror that all those fey Taman had sensed outside of town were going to come into town the next day -- maybe at night -- and take children. Except...the people didn’t look really distressed. They didn’t look like people to whom something horrible was about to happen. Joybell pointed this out to the others.

Orryk: You have to enjoy the good times as much as you can, because the next day is going to suck.

We got back to the Inn before dinner.

Mo performed a pretty standard set and performed it well. Toward the end of his set, he said that he was going to perform a Draconic song he had newly learned, a bawdy drinking song. He then played the special song Thneed taught him, “I’m A Little Pork Roast”. By the end of his performance, everyone in the bar was doing the dance and singing along.

After Mo’s awesome performance, we headed to our rooms. The night passed without incident.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 34: In Which Taman Thinks About Doing Something Stupid...Mo, Too

Dramatis Personae:
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)/Wizard
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger (Horizon Walker)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else

Before we went to bed, or back to the inn for Mo’s awesome performance of “I’m A Little Pork Roast”, the bawdy Draconic drinking song, we had a bit of shopping to do.

Orryk found a shop selling some magic items in Oldwalk. The shopkeeper had a few things of interest.
  • Joybell bought a bag of holding which was offered at a deeply discounted price because it was frayed and stained around the opening. Before she bought it, she did some careful questioning of the shopkeeper, and asked Fiona to cast identify in the shop, to make sure it was really a bag of holding.
  • Thneed bought 5 “Designating” arrows, which put a Faerie Fire effect on a target on a hit.
  • Taman bought a Key of the Keepers, which will lock or unlock something once a day, with some other effects.
After that, Mo went off on a personal Mo-project. Joybell suspected he was buying pipe-stuff, but he never said.

Then we returned to the Inn, Mo did his awesome performance, and we went to bed. The night passed without incident.


Festival of Firstfruits (Campaign day 91)

We went downstairs for breakfast. People seemed generally festive and happy. Despite the dilyarli coming to take their babies. Joybell was confused. The tavern’s breakfast spread was lavish and had many baked goods, egg dishes, and fruit dishes.

Orryk: Good breakfast.

While we were eating, we discussed our plans for the day. Taman used his Ranger Senses to detect Fey -- as he had the day before, he picked up 40 or 50 of them right at the edge of his 5 mile range, outside the city to the north.

Mo: What’s our objective?
Taman: I’m just trying to find the one guy who killed my family.
Mo: So the genocide…?
Taman: The genocide can wait for later.

Joybell asked the barkeep if there was temple of the Lightbringers in town. She was told where to find one in New Walk. She had some questions about how the “giving over babies to become dilyarli” thing worked and figured the Lightbringers would be a good place to ask.

Thneed went to the bartender to ask about dangers in the area.

Thneed: I was supposed to meet someone outside of town to the north. Is there anything dangerous up there?
Bartender: Well, this is the time of year when the cold beings do a lot of non-violent harrassment.
Thneed: How non-violent?
Bartender: They don’t start actually interfering with or hurting people until after the Festival Of Stars, now it’s just taunting and pranks. Though some of them can get a little over-enthusiastic about it and get violent.
Thneed: What kind of cold beings are we talking about?
Bartender: Fey with cold powers. Some frost giants come down from the mountains to play in the cold with the fey as well.
Mo, sauntering over: Are there any people who are more vocally unhappy with the fey situation? Any who’ve lost their children, maybe?
Barkeep: There are some people who complain. There was one family who lost the lottery 3 years in a row….
Thneed: The lottery?
Barkeep: This is the day they have a lottery in the city square. Each family with a kid or kids of the right age, eight to ten, registers for it. They put one ball in a bag for each family. Three of the balls are blue, the rest are gold ore.

(Note: Gold ore is reddish brown. Hence the red-brown and blue colors of the ribbon decorations.)

The bartender told us that no child is at risk more than once and only one child from any family is at risk in any given year. Three children are chosen in the lottery but the Tundra Queen doesn’t always take all three of them. Sometimes she doesn’t take any. No one in Auriqua has ever been able to figure out a pattern or what her reasons might be.

The lottery is held just before sundown in the town square, which is just on the south side of the blue gate. The children are selected in the lottery at the Feast of Firstfruits. They don’t get taken away until the Feast of Stars, when the Tundra Queen comes to the city in person. The children are presented to her then and she takes the ones she wants.

Mo started talking to Thneed and Taman about possibly hooking up with the discontented contingent in town to derail the lottery and prevent any kids from being selected in it.

After breakfast we broke up into groups. With no library in town, we had Team Temple (Joybell, Orryk and Fiona) going to the Temple of the Lightbringers and Team Malcontents (Mo, Taman and Thneed) looking to find people unhappy with the situation in town and maybe stir up trouble.

We agreed to meet up again at the North Gate so we could head out to see if Taman could talk with some fey and maybe get a line on Ildna.

At the Temple of the Lightbringers, we found a water genasi cleric named Tolrin who was available to talk to us and answer our questions. Joybell hemmed and hawed and ummed a bit, trying to figure out how to talk about the city’s deal with the Tundra Queen. After a moment, Orryk jumped in to the rescue.

Orryk: What were people offered to give up their children to the Tundra Queen? Were they threatened?

Tolrin explained at some length. When the deal was originally made, 200 years ago, Auriqua was much smaller and under a lot of attack. In addition to the cold fey, there were frost giants, ogres, orcs, and goblinoids all besetting the city on a regular basis. Some people from the city set out to see what they could do to moderate it. They met the Tundra Queen and in speaking to her made a deal. Originally the deal was for one child every year to become a cherished and treasured servant of the Tundra Queen, a dilyarli. She’s obligated by the contract to neither harm the children she takes nor to cause them to come to harm.

Since the deal, Auriqua is no longer under attack by her forces and her forces appear to have stopped the other attacks.

Orryk: Can the city get out of the deal?
Tolrin: Yes -- they can theoretically walk away at any time, and have done so a couple of times, most recently 70 or so years ago. Every time, within a decade, the attacks on the city have gotten to a point where they renegotiated and reinstated the deal. That’s why she takes three children now.
Joybell: It sounds a little like extortion. You know -- That’s a nice city you have there, it would be a shame if anything were to happen to it.

Tolrin told us that the Tundra Queen, per the terms of the deal, takes human children between the ages of 8 and 10. The children of other races are entered into the lottery at an equivalent developmental stage. There’s a three year window of danger, but each child can only be in the lottery once.

Orryk: Who protects the city now? Does Auriqua have its own guard or army?
Tolrin: Auriqua has been growing so rapidly, because of the mines in the Ice Rasp, that the guard and the watch can’t keep up. They’re very overtaxed for the size of the city and we have crime problems as a result.

(Note: Think gold rush town...only 30 days away from the mines.)

Joybell: If the Tundra Queen was found to have harmed one of the children, what would that do to the deal?
Tolrin: I don’t know.
Joybell: Is there a written record available to the public?
Tolrin: I think there is a record in the city hall somewhere, but it’s not available to the public.
Orryk: We’re not the public.

Joybell thanked Tolrin and we left.

Meanwhile, Team Malcontents headed deeper into the city toward the Throat, looking for a seedy bar. Since that’s the seediest part of the city, finding an appropriate bar was not difficult. Once inside, Mo looked for someone who was angry drinking, or maybe an angry drunk. First thing in the morning. On a festival day.

He found someone right off. Mo ordered a drink for himself and sat down next to him.

Mo: It’s all naughty word.
Drunk: Yeah. It’s all naughty word!
Mo: Have you lost someone to the lottery?
Drunk: That’s not the naughty word I’m talking about. I’m talking about how we’re the ones who risk our lives. We go into the mines, travel the roads. The naughty word is that we have to fight the ogres and the fey out there as we go to and from. We bring back gold and get paid copper! That’s naughty word!
Mo: Yeah. That’s naughty word.

Mo then finished his drink and left, rejoining Taman and Thneed.

Mo: Well. That was the wrong guy.

They then figured that maybe they needed to go to a more family-friendly part of town and a more family-friendly bar. They went over to the Greenside part of town and found a middle class bar there. Mo went inside and looked for someone who appeared not to fit in.

He found a sullen looking dwarf.

Mo, in Dwarvish: Hi. You seem not to be enjoying the festival.
Dwarf: No. Not really.
Mo: Why?
Dwarf: Do you see any other dwarves around?
Mo, looking around the bar: No.
Dwarf, grumpily into his beer: Too much sky.
Mo: Why are you up here?
Dwarf: I heard there was gold mining going on and I thought I could help. Maybe get paid for my expertise. I’m good at mining. But it’s too easy up there in the mountains, they don’t need my help. The gold is practically lying on the ground -- you can just pick it up. It’s more like farming than mining.
Mo: Do you know anyone who does odd jobs?
Dwarf: Maybe me…
Mo: It might be considered unethical.
Dwarf: Whose ethics?
Mo: That’s the question, isn’t it? Mine…
Dwarf: Then if you think it’s okay, it’s not unethical.
Mo, appreciating that answer: We may be looking for a bit of a distraction at the lottery. What’s your name?
Dwarf: Tallok. What kind of distraction?
Mo: Just something loud and attention-grabbing on the other side of the square. We’re not sure we’ll need it.

Mo arranged to meet with Tallok just before the lottery outside the square to let him know if his services would be needed.

As Team Malcontents walked to the North Gate, Mo explained that he had an idea to use prestidigitation or other magic to change the colors of the balls and mess with the lottery, so that no family draws a blue ball.

Team Temple and Team Malcontents met up at the gate to head out of town.

Orryk: Why are we doing this?
Taman: We’re scouting.
Orryk: Okay. What about Joybell?
Joybell: Well, he wants to talk to the fey. They can’t talk to us if they don’t know we’re there. I don’t think we need to be sneaky about this.
Orryk: We have never had an ambush that you haven’t messed up by standing in the road.
Joybell: I didn’t know we were trying to ambush those times.

Orryk explained that ambushes don’t work when one person is standing in the road. Joybell nodded and took that in.

We headed out of town in the directions where Taman had earlier sensed a lot of fey. We were surrounded by low grass and scrub (the forests had been cleared in the early days of Auriqua as a city and never grown back) and there was a gentle roll to the land. We’d learned from research that the Tundra Queen was pushing the tundra further south and we could see the effects of that here.

After a couple of hours, we spotted two very large figures, frost giants, some distance away. They had clearly spotted at least some of the party members and were heading in our direction.

Orryk moved off the side of the road and hid in the scrubby bushes. Joybell, seeing that and having just been fussed at, moved off the road and hid (poorly) under Scooby’s belly. Mo also hid in the brush, with his giant weasel, Checkers. Taman, who wanted to talk to them, stayed in the road, as did Thneed.

The two giants approached Taman.

Giants (in broken Common): Hello, Small One.
Taman: Hello, Big Ones. I seek the servants of the Tundra Queen.
Giant: Why?
Taman: To parlay.

The giants had to think about that for a moment.

Giant: You mean, like, deal?
Taman: Sure…
Joybell (still hiding under Scooby): No…
Giant: Hmmm. Uh. We can maybe find someone. You and your friends in bushes wait here.
Taman: Okay.

Everyone but Orryk came out of hiding after they left.

They were gone for about an hour, during which time we took a short rest, relaxing and hanging out.

Mo spent 10 minutes of the time casting comprehend languages. He spread out a line of small whiskey glasses in front of himself on the ground and filled each one from his bottle of whiskey. Casting the spell involved drinking a shot and singing and drinking and singing until he got to a lovely stage of charismatic-tiddly drunkenness where he could understand everyone.

The giants came back with a beautiful young woman with stark white hair and skin the pale porcelain color of a frozen corpse. She was definitely not a dilyarli. At least some of the party thought she might be the Tundra Queen herself, but Taman knew that was almost certainly not the case.

Good.

Mo, sidling up to Taman as they approached: Do you know what you want to talk about?
Taman: No. I’m winging it.
Mo: You’re looking to find out about the people who killed your family. That’s your motivation in this scene.

Then he inspired Taman with some MOtivation (bardic inspiration).

Taman recognized the woman as one of the Tundra Queen’s Ice Maidens.

Taman: Word of me may have spread to you. I am Taman.
Ice Maiden: I am not aware…
Taman: Ah. Then I am not as important as I thought. I’m looking for one of your brothers. Ildna.
Ice Maiden: You’re looking because he killed someone who lived up to a deal, then.
Taman: I’ve no idea what deal my mother or father would have made. But yes.
Ice Maiden: I don’t have that information.
Taman: Where is he? How can I find him?
Ice Maiden: He’s usually up in the Ice Rasp. Usually.

She told us that Ildna is usually up in the mountains, though he does like to go after people who have completed deals with the Tundra Queen. The Queen herself is conflicted about him -- he’s one of her treasured servants and she can’t hurt him without violating the contract with Auriqua. But she has respect for the people who live up to the bargains she makes with them and doesn’t like that he’s killing them, and the deals she makes often include a promise of safety. When asked if the Tundra Queen would hold a grudge against us if we killed him, she said probably not. But we probably wouldn’t be rewarded or thanked either.

Joybell: Do you know how or why he went rogue?
Ice Maiden: Other dilyarli have interacted with him since he broke. They said he mostly wanted to talk to them. One mentioned that he said something about an epiphany. Another said he talked about a machine. Some of those he spoke to were able to walk away. Others of the Tundra Queen’s servants, including a sister-dilyarli named Allina, broke as well. It’s possible he’s broken a giant with his words of epiphany.

When the Ice Maiden mentioned that Ildna talked to people and broke them, Joybell immediately thought of the Servants of the Hunger.

Joybell: Maybe he ran into a crazy book.
Taman: Did he talk about books?
Ice Maiden: I’ve heard nothing about books. Just about him speaking many words.
Joybell: Words in many languages?
Ice Maiden: Yes.
Joybell: Oh, boy.

Orryk mentioned that though we hadn’t heard anything about a machine in connection to the Servants of the Hunger before, we did know a little bit about the machine in the Forge. That didn’t make Joybell feel much better.

Taman, to the Ice Maiden: Okay. So what’s a quick and dirty deal to make with you?
Joybell: Oh, not with her. With the Tundra Queen.
Ice Maiden: I do not make deals. But I can take you to my Queen.
Orryk: I’m not going to the Feywild and losing a thousand years.
Joybell: I’d love to go to the Feywild. I mean I don’t want to lose time there. But I’d love to see it.

We decided that we wanted to get back to Auriqua for the lottery and agreed to meet the Ice Maiden back at this spot the next day to go to the Tundra Queen to talk about a deal.

Mo, to Taman: Do you want to think about this plan?
Taman: No.
Fiona: You might want to think about the deal you want to offer?
Taman: That I am thinking about.

He was trying to think about a deal that could be completed quickly so that Ildna would possibly come find him. But Ildna doesn’t come after everyone who completes a deal with the Tundra Queen. And we don’t know the details of any of the deals involved to know if he has a pattern.

Orryk reiterated his stance that he wasn’t going to go into the Feywild and risk losing years of time there. We all agreed that we didn’t want that. However, we figured that if the Tundra Queen makes a deal that’s time sensitive, it’s in her interest for the people she’s dealing with to get out of the Feywild without losing that time. So maybe we’d be okay.

Orryk didn’t really seem persuaded.

We went back to talking about possible deals -- and whether we could set up a deal with her where we could force her to default on it and the consequences of her default would be that she no longer could take children from Auriqua but still had to protect the city.

This led to the observation that the frost giants we’d spoken to were working with the fey, possibly for them. And frost giants were among the attackers that fall upon Auriqua when it is not under the Tundra Queen’s protection (and she is not getting children from the city every year). It really does smack of extortion.

Someone said that we needed to talk to a 700 year old lawyer.

Joybell: Do we have any information we can trade to the Keeper of Secrets?

While we were still on the road walking back to the city, Orryk pulled out the Orrery. Slowly, very slowly, each spinning ring began to point north toward the Ice Rasp. Like there was a very distant signal in that direction. However, if we were getting a signal from that far away, it had to be a VERY strong one.

We decided that teleporting to the mountains might be the best approach after all. The orrery could then possibly guide us in the direction we needed to go. That meant returning to Embernook so Tulmor or Barnett could teleport us to the Masks’ Circle in the mountains.

We turned our attention back to the lottery in Auriqua. Mo tried to sound out whether the party was interested in disrupting the lottery. Joybell was very torn -- absolutely opposed to the children being taken away, so she wouldn’t stand in Mo’s way, but we don’t know what the consequences would be of the city breaking the deal with the Tundra Queen. At best they’d have to renegotiate it and would probably wind out having to give over four children a year instead of three. Orryk didn’t think it would lead to a good result. Fiona kept her counsel to herself, but didn’t seem enthusiastic about the idea. Taman and Thneed seemed like they’d back Mo’s play but weren’t totally on board either.

We got back to town without running into anything on the road. Once there, we headed toward the Town Square where the lottery would be held.

Mo, disappointed that no one was entirely with him on his plan to disrupt the lottery, went to the bar to tell Tallok, the shady dwarf, that his distraction would not be needed. And to pay him a couple of gold for his time and willingness.

Taman, to Tallok: We’re all agents of chaos. You could just do it…

In the square, we saw all kinds of families -- all races, all classes -- stepping up to put their names into the lottery. We learned from the crowd that even the richest families participate and even the richest families have had their children taken. We got the sense that everyone in the city was aware that it made for too much social unrest if the children of the wealthy and the ruling classes weren’t at as much risk as those of the working classes. Some of the wealthier families will take their children out of Auriqua “for the winter”, but it is frowned upon and socially stigmatized for them to do it more than once in the life of any child. A considerable amount of effort appeared to be put into keeping the lottery actually fair.

The Town Square is shaped on one side by the City Hall, which has a balcony about 15 feet up. The guard were keeping a clear perimeter around the entrance to the hall (under the balcony) so that people could leave and enter freely. And so that order was maintained among the crowd. The city’s leaders were on the balcony -- one with a list, one holding the bag of balls, one making a record. Each family’s name was called. Someone from that family would step out onto the balcony and draw a ball. There were only townsfolk present, no dilyarli or other fey. There were also no kids of the relevant ages in the square -- it was as though the families protected the children from the process.

Joybell realized that it would have been really hard to get Mo into a position to be able to mess with the lottery such that no kids got selected this year. They had good precautions against shenanigans in place. (At the very least, we would have needed to know more about what was going to happen -- we might be able to plan something for next year….)

Joybell watched carefully to see how the families who drew the blue balls reacted -- they looked sad, but not as gutted as she would have expected. The ones who drew brown balls showed relief, but there was no happy exultation either (because that would be pretty awful to the folks who’d just drawn blue ones).

Taman and Joybell took note of which families drew blue balls - a tiefling family, a half-orc family and a human family were the losers of the lottery.

After the draw, people dispersed to other neighborhoods to go home. Joybell followed the half-orc family, just sort of going along in the same direction, trying to be a bit deceptive about not really following them. She was not successful. When they noticed her behind them, she peeled off and spotted Taman, who’d been following her, curious about what she was up to. Joybell waved for him to continue following the family.

He followed them to their home and made note of where it was.

They met up again, with the rest of the party, at the Platinum Arrow. He told her that the family had gone straight home.

Joybell: Oh, man.
Taman: Come. Get drunk. It’ll make you feel better.
Joybell: No it won’t.
Taman: Always has for me.
Orryk: It makes you feel less…

Joybell waved the rest of the party off and left the inn. She found her way to the guard house.

Joybell, to guard: Do you go through this with the lottery every year?
Guard: Yeah.
Joybell: Does it make you sad?
Guard: A little.
Joybell: Is there anyone here I can spar with? I want to fight. Is there someone here?
Guard, looking sympathetic: Yeah.

Joybell worked out and sparred with members of the town guard until she was exhausted, then she returned to the inn, where people were engaged in their usual sorts of activities.

The rest of the evening and the night passed.


1 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 92)

The next morning we headed out to go talk to the Ice Maiden again. The decorations for the festival, including the blue and brown ribbons, were mostly already taken down. As we walked through the city toward the gate, Joybell took a little detour to go by the house of the half-orc family that had lost the lottery. Like everyone else, the decorations had been taken down. There was nothing to distinguish the house -- no obvious mark that they had lost the lottery.

As we walked along the road, we went back to talking about what kind of deal Taman should make.

Orryk: If you want to make a deal that gets attention, make it something where the town still gets protection but no longer has to give up children.
Taman: But she probably won’t take that deal. She’s like a thousand year old lawyer.

We decided along the way that there wasn’t any deal that Taman could make that would be likely to get Ildna’s attention and also be something we could do without danger.

However, we did have some information we could offer to Nicolana, the Keeper Of Secrets, in exchange for information that would help us find Ildna. And also that might help us get Auriqua out from under having to give children to the Tundra Queen, without losing her “protection” over the city.

The Ice Maiden met us again at the same place on the road we’d encountered her the day before. Once again, she was escorted by the two frost giants.

Taman: We have returned. The group has come to an agreement that making a deal isn’t in our best interest. But we thought to show up to tell you personally.
Ice Maiden: We appreciate the courtesy.
Orryk: Could the Tundra Queen guarantee that time passes there for us as it would here?
Ice Maiden, to Orryk: She can ensure that.
Ice Maiden, to Taman: You are under no obligation to make a deal.
Joybell, before she could leave: Ummm... I’ve heard that the Feywild...I used to have a friend, a pixie named Wren, you probably don’t know her. Anyway, she told me that the Feywild is beautiful. I’d love to see it, but we don’t want to lose lots of time. Can I just maybe peek through a portal and see it?
Ice Maiden: I could, but I probably shouldn’t.
Joybell: Is it as beautiful as I’ve heard?
Ice Maiden: More.
Joybell, shoulders slumping: Yeah, I thought so. Okay.

WIth that we headed back toward the city and arrived there without incident. Mo headed off to follow up with his personal mission from a couple of days ago.

We went to the boat to talk to Captain Lamerin about heading back to Embernook. He wanted to leave in the morning, rather than this close to sundown, which made sense. So we made plans to spend one more night in Auriqua.

Back at the Platinum Arrow, Thneed asked the innkeeper if the town somehow recompensed those who lost the lottery. Apparently they do not do anything for those who merely draw the blue balls. Those who actually lose children do get some support from the community.

Over dinner we talked about Fiona doing a sending spell to talk with Nicolana about whether we can make a deal for information about Taman’s parents deal with the Tundra Queen. Fiona couldn’t do that until the next morning though.


2 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 93)

The next morning, while we were at the inn eating breakfast, Fiona sent a message to Nicolana.

Fiona, through the spell: What information do you want in exchange for Taman’s family’s deal? We think we may know what happened to Ildna.
Nicolana, after a short pause: We’ll have to negotiate. I’ll be there.
Fiona, to the party: She’s apparently coming to negotiate.

Joybell, knowing that the Captain was expecting us to leave on the Gellyan first thing, ran to the docks to tell him that there would be a bit of a delay, but hopefully not too much. She got back to the inn about half an hour later -- just in time to see Nicolana, still appearing to be a human woman of about 25 years old, walk into the bar.

She sat down at the table with us.

Nicolana: What do you have?
Orryk: We have Turnik Steeltear’s information on how he made Masks. And his lists of jobs and contacts.
Nicolana: Do you have that information here?
Orryk: It’s in Embernook.
Nicolana: I can’t go to Embernook. When you get back there let me know and we can meet somewhere else.

We told her about buying Kalmarn and having a whole village outside of Embernook at our disposal. She appeared to be amused.

Orryk: What is this information worth? Is there anything else we can ask for?
Nicolana, dodging that question: What do you think happened to Ildna?

We told her what the Ice Maiden had told us about him speaking in many languages and his mention of having an epiphany and something about a machine.

Joybell: We think he may have gotten exposed to the Hunger Between Worlds, like with that book we gave you.
Nicolana: Do not under any circumstances go into the machine. The Epiphany Machine tells nothing but lies. It is a connection to the Hunger Between Worlds.
Joybell: We think we might be able to find it and destroy it.
Nicolana: It is probably not still where Ildna found it, if that is what happened. It doesn’t stay in one place for long but moves around on its own. It gives people epiphanies that change them, or reverse them, perhaps.

Huh.

We agreed that we’d send to her from Kalmarn once we had the books there and she left out the door of the inn. We did not attempt to follow her.

We headed to the Gellyan, about an hour after our intended departure, to sail back toward Embernook.

Mo: This will certainly be a consequence-free boat ride!

As we boarded the boat, Joybell asked if we could please stop at the stone circle on the way to see if it was used during the festival. The others in the party, and the captain, agreed.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 35: What Have We Done?

Dramatis Personae:
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)/Wizard
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger (Horizon Walker)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


2 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 93) (immediately after)

Before we got on the boat for our consequence-free boat ride, Taman stopped at a shop and bought a shield. Very good idea.

We got to the Gellyannn and boarded for our return to Embernook (and Kalmarn). We noticed that Captain Lamerin had done everything he could to change the appearance of his boat as much as possible -- repainting where possible, shifting things around on deck, and so on.

After we boarded, Mo gave Captain Lamerin the gold he’d taken from the bag of money recovered from the sandbar that the wreck had been on (the money given in response to the dragon’s extortion).

Joybell asked the captain and the other sailors about other boat traffic on the river and if there had been reports of what was going on. There had been a couple of other ships that had arrived from Embernook, and a few that had headed downriver, since we got to Auriqua. The arrivals reported that the wreck was entirely gone, the work of MOgilla Gorilla on the way up. All of the sailors reported a strong sense that they were being watched as they traveled up the river.

To support the captain’s attempt to make the ship look different, Mo tried to use prestidigitation to change the color of the sails. He managed to make a sort of patchy green shade. He also agreed to the captain’s request that he not ride in the battle hammock behind the ship, because that’s very distinctive and would undo all efforts to make the Gellyann look different.

Before we set sail we reviewed all we knew about dragons in general and green dragons in specific. Dragons are inherently magical -- they all have magical abilities innately. In addition, many if not most also get levels of one or another (or several) spellcasting classes.

Green dragons are lawful evil -- so they’re socially controlling. They can be negotiated with and are willing to do so.

(GM: If there’s anything else the party wants to know about dragons before heading out ...
Orryk: We know enough to make an ill-informed decision.)

Mo: There’s a dragon without income and a city that needs protection for less than three kids a year.

Mo had an idea that if we got the dragon to agree to be the protector of Auriqua instead of the Tundra Queen, the dragon would just want gold and not want children. He thought this should be our main play in negotiating with the dragon -- brokering this deal. Joybell objected that we didn’t have any right to negotiate for the city or offer the city to the dragon or anyone else. It’s not our place and we have no power over it.

Those of us who saw it agreed that the dragon didn’t look all that big when we saw it flying over. But it’s hard to gauge the size of something flying overhead because of a lack of reference points.

After about half a day of travel, we arrived at the stone circle and the Gellyann pulled over so that Joybell, Orryk, Taman and Thneed could go see if it looked like it had been used to make a portal to the Feywild during the festival.

When we got to the circle, it clearly had not been decorated for the festival at all and didn’t appear to have been used either for regular ritual purposes or for making a portal. Joybell pulled some of the Festival of Firstfruits decorations she’d bought out of her bag of holding and left some decorations on the altar.

Taman carved his name on a tree nearby.

Orryk: Let’s head toward the dragon…

We travelled the rest of the day without incident.

That night we could hear the sounds of movement and activity on the shore so Orryk brought Omnath out as a steam mephit and sent him flying around the riverbanks. Omnath saw some gnome-sized winged, reptilian humanoids (winged kobolds). One of the kobolds spotted Omnath, freaked out, and ran away. Omnath could still hear chattering and rustling in the underbrush.

Having seen one kobold there were undoubtedly lots of them as kobolds mainly come in groups.

Orryk reported Omnath’s kobold sighting to the group.

Orryk: Kobolds aren’t worth our time, unless they make themselves to be.

The rest of the night passed without incident.


3 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 94)

The next day, Mo spent the day changing the color of the sails every hour or so with the prestidigitation spell, so that if the dragon had multiple agents keeping an eye on us, they’d give confusing reports.

At various times during the day, the party, while watching the shore, spotted groups of lizard folk on the shore watching the ship. They weren’t doing anything other than watching. Joybell wanted to talk to them to try and find out what was going on with the dragon, but we didn’t stop.

Other than seeing the lizardfolk and not interacting with them, the day passed without incident.

During the night, while Thneed and Mo (and Checkers) were on watch, Checkers looked up at just the right time to spot something falling out of the dark night sky. It was about the size and roughly the shape of a cinderblock and it hit the deck with a thud. No one on the deck could see anything up in the sky -- it apparently had been dropped from higher than darkvision could see.

Everyone in the party, and in the crew, woke up at that because it was like something punching the ship.

On investigation, there was a piece of cloth wrapped around the dust and shattered chunks of a rock. Mo cast comprehend languages so he could read the message written on it in draconic.

You owe me a wreck.

Captain Lamerin: What was that?
Taman: Are you familiar with thugs throwing a rock through a window?
Thneed: It’s a message from the dragon.
Lamerin: What’s the message?
Mo: We owe him a wreck.
Lamerin: That’s it! Come morning, I’m putting you off the ship.

That lead to a bit of chaos that culminated in Fiona thwapping Mo for something he said.

Joybell, very earnest: I’m very concerned about your proceeding without us. If the dragon wants your ship, it will try to take it with or without us on board. And you won’t be able to fight it.

We asked him to keep us on until halfway through the day, just to get us closer to the wreck so we don’t have to walk as far to get there, which he agreed to. He also agreed to let us off and wait for a bit, though not forever, for us to return.


4 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 95)

As the ship pulled to shore and we prepared to debark, Mo threw a card from his deck of illusions onto the deck.

Mo: This might help you.

The illusion was of a lich.

The captain screamed until we reassured him that it was just an illusion and maybe having an illusory lich aboard would be helpful.

Before we got off, Joybell gave him 100 gold pieces and told him that she’s very concerned and hopes they stay for a day or two because she is worried about him being undefended.

As we walked away, Orryk sent Omnath flying back to the ship with a pouch with 25 gp. It also had a note that said “Sorry for Mo.”

Mo got in his battle-hammock and flew up high enough to get a bit of an overview as we proceeded down the road. He spotted some lizardfolk walking around out in the distance and we could see some lizardfolk tracks in the road.

As we walked, Mo was working on perfecting his performance of “I’m a Little Pork Roast”.

After a bit, we ran into a cluster of lizardfolk -- all of them armed with javelins and clubs and carrying shields. Except the one in the middle who had a staff. They seemed a bit puzzled that we were there in the road.

Mo: Hello. We’re looking for the Green Lord. Do you happen to know where he lives?
Lizardman with Staff: Why do you want to see him?
Mo: Joybell, earmuffs. We want to see if we can make arrangements.
Joybell: We don’t want him to attack the Gellyann when his beef is with us.
Lizard Shaman: We can take you to him.
Mo: Why don’t you tell us where he is and we can go talk to him ourselves.
Lizard Shaman: We can take you to him. Otherwise you’ll have to fight your way in.
Mo: How many are in your village? We don’t want to kill you.
Taman: He does not speak for us.
Mo, to the party: Huddle up. We could let them get us most of the way there...then kill them.

We ultimately agreed to let them lead us. There was a bit of shuffling and negotiation after that as we made it clear to them that we were not comfortable having any of them behind us. They weren’t really comfortable with having us behind them.

Joybell, to the Shaman: We will not attack you from behind, I give you my word. If any of my friends try to do so, I will defend you.

That calmed their concerns enough that we could proceed.

They led us off the road and through the forest. After an hour of traveling, Taman and Thneed were able to point out to the lizardfolk easier paths (doing their ranger naughty word) and we were not hampered by the difficult terrain in the forests. The lizardfolk took their advice without comment, but without acknowledging doing so.

After a while, two of the lizardfolk peeled off and left us with an escort of four, including the Shaman. Joybell chatted with them all day, trying to get a sense of what kind of people they were -- she found that they were okay people, the normal mix of good and bad, basically well intentioned, that sort of thing. The Shaman was a druid, so they talked about that and the forest and the natural beauties they’d seen.

Mo figured out which one was the most naive and talked to him.

Mo: How long have you been patrolling?
Lizardman: About a month. We eat well.
Mo: How long have you been living under the Green Lord?
Lizardman: As long as I can remember.
Mo: What do you do for fun?
Lizardman: We don’t have time.
Mo: That’s a shame.

Mo pulled out his pipe and smoked, blowing out smoke rings. He offered the pipe to the Lizardman.

Lizardman: It smells like someone killed a skunk and left it in a well and lit it on fire. No thanks.
Mo: That’s a good description.

When we made camp, Fiona cast a tiny hut for the party to sleep in, but the lizardfolk had to sleep outside. Which suited them fine.

During the night, some winged kobolds came to talk to the lizardfolk.

Kobolds: What are you doing with these?
Shaman: They want to talk to the Green Lord.
Kobold: What??

After that some of the winged kobolds flew away. After a while, the rest flew off in a slightly different direction.


5 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 96)

The next day, Mo talked with the lizard folk about Tallyxtillon, the Green Lord.

They told him that he’s big and old. He appears to them to have learned some druidic magic, but he also definitely has other magic as well. They said he’d been in his current lair for some time and has modified the populations of local kobolds somehow -- there are a lot more winged kobolds than would be normal and some other weirder kobolds as well.

Mo: So why was he doing the river scam?

The shaman said that he didn’t know what the dragon had in mind but he might have been trying to get some sort of control over the (largely) human societies in Embernook and Auriqua because he seems to like having control over the local societies.

Mo: Do you worship him?
Shaman: We try to avoid him. When we can’t, we try not to displease him.
Orryk: Do the kobolds worship him?
Shaman: The kobolds consider him to be a revered ancestor. He’s had some influence on their development and their form as a race. Lots of kobolds can do magic around here. The dragon uses them as his tools.
Joybell: So the lizardfolk doing the scam at the wreck were in his employ?
Shaman: The ones who live close to him can’t avoid him.
Thneed: How do your people get along with the kobolds?
Shaman: We don’t like them tons, but they’re closer to the dragon and we don’t want to anger him.
Mo: Is he bigger than a giant ape?

When the lizardfolk just looked confused at that, Mo cast polymorph and turned himself into a MOgilla Gorilla, size huge.

The lizardfolk, taken a bit aback, agreed that the Green Lord was about that same size, though he’s longer.

We took that information and figured that the Green Lord is an adult dragon, about 100 years old, perhaps. Could be worse.

Joybell, to the Shaman: What will happen to you when we get to the Green Lord? We don’t want to call you to his attention.
Shaman: We can pass you off to the kobolds.
Mo: Do you feel oppressed by the dragon?
Shaman: If he were gone we wouldn’t have to avoid him.
Mo: How many of you did you say there are?
Shaman: I didn’t.

We were not sure how to use the information that they don’t like the dragon.

Thneed: If we do fight the dragon in his cave…
Orryk: Does the dragon live in a cave?
Shaman: Of a sort. He lives in a cenote. There’s water at the bottom of a large hole. The main entrance to his cave is under the water. There are ways to get to him that don’t go through the water -- that’s how the kobolds get to his chamber.

As we had these conversations, we continued to proceed.

The day passed without incident. During the course of this day (and the previous) we saw parties of lizardfolk in the forest -- mostly just walking by or going off on their own business.

When we made camp, Fiona again cast a tiny hut for the party to sleep in with no objection from the lizardfolk.


6 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 97)

The next day, we resumed on our way. We didn’t see any more lizard folk around, as we had been the previous two. We also didn’t see any of the kobolds, but that was less surprising. When one of us commented on it the lizardfolk told us they don’t like day.

Toward the end of the day, the forest started becoming more thicket-y and underbrushy. The thickets and underbrush started form twisty and turny little mazes of brush.

The animals we saw were all watching us -- deer, squirrels. Expecting the usual level of conversation she got from squirrels (not a lot of depth or vocabulary), Joybell decided to talk to one.

Joybell, to a squirrel: Hello.
Squirrel: Good day.

This was a bit creepy and disconcerting.

Joybell: Is someone watching through your eyes?
Squirrel: Yes.
Joybell: Is it the Green Lord?
Squirrel: Yes.
Joybell: Tell him hi for us.
Squirrel: Good day.

During the course of the rest of the day, Joybell occasionally talked to the squirrels, as she had opportunities -- in the same vein as waving at security cameras.

Toward the end of the day, the Shaman leads us to a cave with kobolds. After some discussion in Draconic with the kobold who appeared to be in charge, the Shaman and the lizardfolk agreed to stay the night with us on the outskirts of the kobold village. The kobolds appeared to believe that we were there to kill the Green Lord and didn’t want to be responsible for taking us to him and getting killed themselves.

Ultimately, it was agreed that the kobolds would take us to Tallyxtillon in the morning. And they hoped we’d fit in their tunnels.

Joybell talked to the Shaman in Common and asked if they could wait for us, maybe half a day back, before where we talked to the squirrel, so they could lead us back to the road.

Joybell: We’ll know if we’re going to live or die in half a day or so, so you won’t have to wait long.
Shaman: We can wait.
Joybell: We’d hate to have to fight our way through all your people.

FIona cast a tiny hut and made a safe place for us to camp overnight.

During the night, we heard some argument between the kobolds and the lizardfolk. The kobolds were not thrilled that we’d been brought there and were not inclined to let the lizardfolk leave.

The folks who can understand draconic (and who translated for the rest of us) got the sense that the kobolds felt that if the lizardfolk brought us here to kill the Green Lord, they want the dragon to eat them when we fail.

In our hut we spoke quietly among ourselves, trying to get at least a sense of what our goals and aims were.

Mo: My nanny killed a dragon single-handedly. The way she told it it was a giant, ancient dragon.
Thneed: That’s the way I’d tell it too.

Joybell asked if she could start the conversation with the dragon, because she’s really not comfortable with offering Auriqua at all -- it’s not ours to offer and she wasn’t convinced that it would really be a trade up from the Tundra Queen, even with the price of up to three children per year.


7 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 98)

The next morning there were 3 kobolds ready to take us to the Green Lord. Three of the lizardfolk left the village, but the Shaman remained to go with us.

As with the lizardfolk, there was a bit of shuffling as we made it clear that we weren’t going to let any of the kobolds be behind us. Eventually we wound out with the Shaman leading the way with the three kobolds immediately behind him. They accepted that without too much argument.

We spent half the day proceeding single file through many narrow passages, taking various turns and with side passages coming in and out, heading generally down. In several places we had to squeeze through. At times, Mo was riding flat on top of the broom because that made it a bit easier for him to navigate the tight passages. Taman tried to keep a mental map of how to get back out as we were proceeding.

Around noon-ish we arrived at a sharp dip in the path, with water in it.

The water disappeared and we went down a steep incline and then back up it. After we got back up to the top of the incline the bottom of it re-filled with water (like the U-trap in a sewer line).

(Note: My notes about this entire conversation are terrible and very spotty. I’m not good at taking notes about conversations I’m involved in and then I was sort of being gobsmacked at what was going on.)

Joybell started with asking how we could turn his ire away from the Gellyann and turn his attention away from travel and trade on the river.

Tallyxtillon: I want to shape the decisions of the governments in Embernook and Auriqua.
Joybell: What decisions?
Tallyxtillon: Embernook’s people won’t turn on each other. And there are protections there.
Joybell: But what are the decisions?
Tallyxtillon: They’re all too connected to the Basalt Henge. Why should druids be interested in rock?
Joybell: As a member of the druidic faith and someone who trained at the Henge, I can talk to that. Rock, earth, is the foundation on which plants and ecosystems live. Without rocks, the other elements are out of balance and without support. The Basalt Henge strives to maintain balance and that provides a foundation on which forests like this one can live.
Tallyxtillon: The problem with Embernook is that I want to control the government.
Joybell: That won’t work there. The Administrator is powerful.
Tallyxtillon: My agents have been unsuccessful. I cannot get a toe-hold over the people or any power over the government in either city.
Joybell: You’ve chosen your territory poorly. Auriqua is under the protection of the Tundra Queen. Embernook is under the protection of a powerful entity as well.

Joybell got the sense that Tallyxtillon thought there was more than one entity protecting Embernook. Huh.

Joybell: Maybe you need to find a different territory….

As she said that, she realized that she was basically setting him to go be a problem for other cities and other people without such powerful protections and got very quiet.

So Mo stepped in.

Mo offered him a 1000gp gem, which he wasn’t overly interested in. He wasn’t disinterested, but it wasn’t going to be a big motivator either.

Mo: We’re working on a long-term plan to deal with the Tundra Queen.
Tallyxtillon: What’s your plan?
Taman, waving his rapier: Stab her with this.
Tallyxtillon, laughing: Not much of a plan.
Mo: We’re starting with her underlings and working our way up. But our interests may be somewhat aligned.
Thneed: If your agents have failed, you need better agents.
Tallyxtillon: Are you offering your services?
Joybell, immediately concerned: For what?
Mo: For a single, discrete service, maybe...
Thneed: Have you tried opening diplomatic relations?
Tallyxtillon: The problem with that is they then know you’re there and are coming from the outside.
Joybell: So you want to subvert them from within?
Mo: What do you want from us?
Tallyxtillon: If you can cause Auriqua to break its deal with the Tundra Queen that would be helpful to me.
Mo: They would be unprotected from the cold fey and giants and other dangers of the north.
Taman: If you would protect them from those dangers…
Tallyxtillon: I would prefer the town to break their deal without my mention….but as long as the city is undefended.
Joybell: If we leave the town undefended, how would you treat them? Would you treat them well?
Tallyxtillon: I would treat them the way I’d treat any other servants.
Joybell: Oh, dear.
Mo: I think we can get them to break their deal. We can give it a good shot.
Tallyxtillon: If that’s what you’re offering….
Mo: On one condition. That you not slaughter the citizens indiscriminately.
Tallyxtillon: Oh, I’m very discriminating.
Mo: There are great riches in the town, but the lives of the citizens are not part of the deal.
Tallyxtillon: Hmmm. Well. I think that if you want to make a deal where you cause the town to break their deal with the Tundra Queen and I don’t kill and eat you right now, I need collateral. Some reason for you to come back.
Mo: I’ll offer my broom of flying with the battle hammock. Also all the money I have available.
Tallyxtillon: Money works less well as collateral than one would expect. Especially with adventurers.

Mo then offered him a locket that he pulled out from under his armor (and which none of us had ever seen).

Mo: This was a gift from an admirer. I’ve worn it since I left my village and I would definitely come back for it.
Tallyxtillon: So you’d come back. What about them?
Taman: We’re a group.
Joybell: We’re the Wonderful Band.

The Green Lord thought for a moment.

Tallyxtillon: I will hold the river travel that concerns you so as your collateral. I will cease interfering with travel on the Hochor River, for the time being. If, after the Festival of Stars, Auriqua is still under the Tundra Queen’s protection, I will start destroying every ship that passes the sandbar that my wreck was on.

That was the final word in our conversation and the kobolds led us out past the U-trap.

Mo, as we walked away: That’s not an improvement.
Joybell: We have three months.

We ended as we walked through the tunnels following our kobold escort.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 36: In the Kobold Warren


Dramatis Personae:
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)/Wizard
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger (Horizon Walker)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


7 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 98) (immediately after)

We were led away by the kobold escort/guards past the u-trap entrance. Our escort consisted of one of the human-sized, burly over-muscled (“Steroid kobolds”) kobolds, one human-sized kobold with a shield (“Shield kobolds”), one normal-sized kobold who looked perhaps a bit more on the ball than your average kobold (“Sorcerer kobolds”), and one entirely normal looking kobold. The hallway was worked stone and we could see some arrow slits, at kobold height, in the walls as we passed.

As we were walking down the corridor, Joybell, hoping to find a language in which we could talk freely, started cussing in Gnomish. She used all the curse words she’d heard Orryk use, insulted the kobold’s parentage, called them the dragon’s anal beads, all the worst things she could think of about kobolds in general and the one nearest to her in specific.

Orryk started laughing. Taman walked along just staring into the infinite distance. The Lizardman shaman, named Ssythrov, chuckled. (Yes, by special request, the Shaman has a name, since he’s apparently going to be with us for a while.)

The kobolds however, didn’t react.

Once she’d established that Gnomish was a language that at least part of the party could use to talk freely, she had no idea what to actually say and just sort of floundered. We got about 100’ down the hallway past the u-trap with Joybell swearing and then just stammering.

Thneed, in Elvish to Fiona: We don’t need to make a plan now. We can make it later.

Thneed then started talking to Ssythrov, telling him a joke about something.

While Thneed was talking to Ssythrov, Mo was watching for a good moment. When he saw that the corridor ahead of us widened out and our escort had entered the chamber, and we were past all but the last arrow slit, he used the wand of web to tie up the four escorting us.

As soon as the web hit, Thneed yelled out for people to get down and drew her bow, waiting for a clear shot. Mo started mocking one, leaving it looking deeply wounded by his insults.

Some of the kobolds were stuck in the web and struggled against it. The Sorcerer started firebolting the web he was stuck in, burning it and himself.

Orryk ran up and shivved the one that Mo had mocked, dropping it, then attacked the Shield kobold. Omnath breathed a cloud of dust on the Steroid and Shield guys and blinded them both. Fiona followed up with Toll the Dead.

The Steroid guy, blind, ripped himself out of the webbing in a burst of brute strength then ran right into the wall.

Joybell, confused: Wait? We’re attacking now?

Then she attacked the Shield guy and dropped it.

Taman cast ensnaring strike on the Sorcerer and caught it in his ensnaring vines, then he crouched down to get cover behind Orryk, and to get below the last arrow slit, because an arrow from it had narrowly missed him.

Ssythrov dropped to the ground, giving Thneed a clear shot, which she took at the Sorcerer, dropping him. Then she was able to fire again and took two shots at the Steroid guy. Mo then immediately mocked him.

Mo: Steroids are going to shrink your testicles.

Orryk pummeled the Steroid guy with fists of unbroken air, staying out of the webbed area. Fiona stepped over Ssythrov, prone on the ground, and Tolled the Steroid guy.

As soon as she did that, someone on the other side of the arrow slits cast a shatter spell, causing a clap of thunder that the dragon certainly heard back in his chamber that did damage to Fiona and less to Ssythrov.

Joybell peeked in the arrow slit -- there was an unarmed kobold running away sort of in the direction of the dragon cave (but at an angle that looked like it might be going around) and another, puzzled looking kobold with a shortbow. She fired magic missiles from her wand through the arrow slit, dropping the archer and hurting the sorcerer, but not killing it.

Taman killed the Steroid guy, the last kobold standing, with arrows. Mo immediately dropped the webbing and ran into the chamber.

Mo, yelling: Let’s teleport out of here.

Then he threw up a rope trick and we all climbed up, handing Scooby up into it as well. Mo used prestidigitation to to make a circle on the ground and Orryk used his power over the elements to reinforce the effect of us having teleported out of there.

Once we were all settled, and Fiona had been cured with the bead from Joybell’s necklace, we started talking.

Orryk: What’s your plan?
Mo: First, I apologize. This is at least 30% my fault.
Fiona: ::eyeroll::
Taman: We weren’t going to walk away to do this deal…

Before the conversation could go any further, a group of four kobolds (looked like 2 sorcerers and 2 shields) came running down the hall into the chamber. They saw the corpses and the fake teleportation circle on the floor. They looked a little puzzled at the circle and the two sorcerers started talking about it. Thneed reported that they’d never seen one that looked quite like this, but maybe it was possible. They couldn’t rule it out for sure.

Thneed: They don’t know we’re still here or where we are. That’s an advantage.

We asked Ssythrov if he knew of any other way to get to the dragon chamber, but the only other time he’d been taken to see Tallyxtillon, he’d been brought the same way.

Thneed: Once the coast is clear, we can try to get into the side tunnels.

The kobolds below us started brushing the circle out and as they did so, Orryk let his mold earth drop and Mo let his prestidigitation drop. The kobolds then went away down the tunnel.

After we’d rested for an hour, and were all feeling a bit better, we came out of the rope trick. Orryk had Omnath explore down one of the arrow slit tunnels to see if we could figure out how it connected. Omnath followed the tunnel that Joybell shot magic missiles into and found that it connected up with the passage we were in a ways ahead. Omnath also saw one shield kobold and one sorcerer kobold walking along, talking, and heading sort of in our direction. Orryk popped him back into his pocket dimension before he was spotted.

We all did our best to move into sneaky-type positions - Joybell failed terribly but Scooby nudged her into a better spot and covered for her. The two kobolds walked down the tunnel toward us, talking with one another. They were clearly expecting no trouble and their weapons weren’t out.

Orryk popped out of hiding, hit the Shield kobold with his fists of unbroken air, then popped back around the corner out of sight. While that kobold was looking around, very confused at having been punched by air out of nowhere, Thneed shot it twice and jumped back around her own corner. Joybell galloped up on Scooby, dropping the Shield guy and hitting the Sorcerer with a “glancing crit”. Other party members tried to hit the sorcerer, but missed, until Fiona cast acid splash on him and then Orryk punched it to death with his fists of unbroken air.

We put the bodies into Joybell’s bag of holding.

Joybell: ::sigh::
Mo: Before we go into this fight that I started, I have plenty of potions of healing.

We continued down the tunnel on the other side of the arrow slits from the corridor to the u-trap and the dragon chamber. Ssythrov the Shaman wild-shaped into a very large snake, which was pretty cool.

Thneed and Taman did ranger stuff to keep us from getting lost.

(Player: Mo’s subplot is to fight this dragon.)

We proceeded along the tunnel -- it only had one arrow slit onto the corridor to the dragon chamber, then it pulled away from that corridor and continued off at an angle and a slight incline. We proceeded along it for about 15 minutes, getting way past where it could possibly hook directly up with the dragon chamber.

We weren’t surprised when the 5’ tunnel we’d been moving along widened out into a large chamber with three other exits. A group of five miners (ordinary kobolds) were working on one side of the room and there were two clusters in the vicinity of the other three exits. Each of these clusters had a Sorcerer, a Steroid and a Shield. (The three other exits went off the irregularly roundish room roughly at 10 o’clock, 12 o’clock, and 2 o’clock. There was a Sorcerer- Steroid-Shield cluster at 11 o’clock and one at 1 o’clock. The miners were in an alcove at 7 o’clock. Our tunnel entered the room around 5 o’clock.) The Sorcerers and miners were completely unaware that we were coming down the hall, even with Joybell leading the way, but the Steroids and Shields did hear us approach.

Joybell ran into the room then jumped on Scooby and charged the nearest Steroid. Mo used the wand of web to catch the miners and the more distant Sorcerer-Steroid-Shield cluster then dropped to the ground so people behind him could see and shoot. Taman and Thneed waited for the party in front of them to clear a bit so they could dash into the room, but were bottled up in the hallway in a manner quite reminiscent of the staircases in the boarding house in Embernook.

The two Steroid guys attacked Joybell, but both of them missed -- then Orryk created a bonfire right underneath one of them. If that weren’t enough problems for him, Taman then stepped into the room and attacked him as the flames licked around him.

Thneed climbed over Mo and squeezed past Fiona and took two shots at the guy in the fire and the Shield Kobold next to him.

The two miners who were stuck in the web got free (three of them were trapped by the web into the alcove they’d been digging out) moved out of the web toward us. The other ran away down the hall away from us.

All of us were keenly aware of the problem of that one miner running away and getting the word out that we were still there, but there wasn’t much that Joybell could do except attack the guy in front of her. Mo had Checkers attack one of the Steroid guys and threw a fuzzy thing from his back of tricks into the web, just as he let the web drop. A baboon landed and looked around for a moment, before being killed by the Shield kobold that had been trapped in the web.

There was some fighting and combat, shuffling and scuffling. Orryk let the first bonfire drop then cast it again on one of the miners. We were all trying to get through the combat without using any spell slots or items that we needed to worry about recharging.

Taman chased after the running miner to keep it from getting away.

There was more combat -- Taman got hit, Joybell failed to drop someone. Mo cast another web, catching the miners, a Sorcerer and a Shield.

Fiona, fed up and realizing that we’d gotten into the realm of a false economy in prolonging this combat rather than using spells, cast fireball, getting almost the entire room and everyone in it. The miners and Sorcerers died instantly in the flame. One of the Steroid guys, who’d been taking a lot of blows, died. The other one survived, but looked hurt. One of the Shields died in the fire.

The other Shield got dropped by Orryk who then turned to the surviving Steroid and hit him as well. Thneed dropped the Steroid shortly after.

All that was left at that point was the fleeing miner, who Taman had caught up to at that point. After a shriek and another attempt to run, Taman dispatched him with his scimitar.

While FIona used her firebolt cantrip to reduce all the kobold bodies (including the two in Joybell’s bag of holding) to ash, Taman and Orryk sneaked down the hall the miner had fled down to see what they could see down there. The passage opened into a small, natural-looking chamber with two other exits. The chamber looked semi-abandoned -- it appeared that the miner had simply been running away, rather than running toward anything in particular.

The rest of the group headed down to the small chamber. Listening for noises at the two other exits, we heard lapping water and smelled fresh air at one of them. The other was quiet and smelled like nothing more than the air we’d been breathing (parfum de kobold cave). So we headed toward the lapping water and fresh air.

We came out at a small cavern open to the cenote above the lake. We saw a couple of humanoid skeletal remains in the cave with lime crusting the bones. One of the skeletons was wearing a bright green knit cap that was in good shape considering the condition of the bones.

Fiona spent 10 minutes casting detect magic (yes) and then ten more minutes casting identify. As soon as the spell gave her the information that this was a cap of water-breathing we all heard a voice.

Voice: Are you here to kill the dragon? Good. I was hoping someone would find me.

We realized that the cap was speaking to us. Mo put it on, to see what happened, but he was not possessed and nothing bad happened.

Cap: I’m hoping you have better luck than these guys. My name is Suutha. They tried fifteen years ago -- I cast water-breathing on all of them.
Fiona: How strong were they?
Mo: On a scale of one to twenty.
Suutha: They were proud that they’d just figured out how to polymorph into animals and such.

(Note: They were seventh level.)

Taman looked out the mouth of the cavern -- the water level in the cenote is about twenty feet below the ledge.

Mo, to Suutha: Weird question, why do you talk?
Suutha: Magical accident, I think. That’s how items get sentient.
Orryk: The people you came with had items of their own that are now in the dragon’s horde. Is there anything we should be running to grab and use in a fight?
Suutha: No. The dragon seemed to have a ring of fire resistance though -- they weren’t expecting not to be able to use fire against it. The dragon is also a druid, just so you know.

Through conversation with Suutha we realized that it wants to go to the Plane of Water. That made it sort of a kindred spirit for Orryk, so he got the cap. The further information from Fiona’s identify was that the cap would make a bubble of breathable air around the head of the wearer. Suutha can also cast the water-breathing spell, which will be enough to allow all of us to get to the dragon’s cave without having to worry about drowning.

Suutha reported that this was an abandoned cave that no one had come to before us in the 15 years it had been there. We decided to take a long rest and attack the dragon first thing in the morning.

We will wake the next morning at 9th level.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 37: We Killed a Freakin’ Dragon, Y’all!!

Dramatis Personae:
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)/Wizard
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger (Horizon Walker)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


7 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 98) (immediately after)

While we were hanging out in the cavern, Fiona got contacted by Barnett via a sending spell. “The Gellyan got back to Auriqua. Captain says he dropped you off to fight a dragon. Are you okay?”

Fiona thought for a moment then responded: “Going to fight a dragon, yes. If you don’t hear from us in the next couple of days, assume the worst.”

Before we settled down to rest, we talked to Suutha, the cap of water breathing, about the fight that its previous party had with the dragon. Suutha gave a detailed after-action report that basically boiled down to -- they died quickly and horribly. The two that survived to escape swam through the cenote and found that the water had piranhas in it that were attracted to blood. And the dragon can cast something like an entangle spell, though it seemed more powerful than that and perhaps to be connected to it being his lair.

We decided to use a pass without trace spell to try and sneak into the cavern -- having some element of surprise seemed like it would serve us well.

We speculated a bit as to whether Tallyxtillon could see through the eyes of the piranhas in the cenote. Someone (maybe Fiona?) remembered some research done on dragons that said that as forest creatures, green dragons can see through the eyes of forest animals, mammals and birds, but not fish.

Joybell decided to dismiss Scooby, on the grounds that he would inevitably die to the first poison breath attack and why put him through that. To keep her from being locked down and unable to move, she borrowed Mo’s broom of flying.

Mo taught her the command word for the broom (the dwarven word for “dick”).

We decided to give Taman the potion of invulnerability, because he’s prone to rushing into things and a little fragile. (Note: Also because John arrived late and we were playing Taman by committee -- we didn’t want him dying on our watch.) We gave Orryk the potion of frost giant strength.

Joybell suggested that Mo’s polymorph could be a rescue option -- if anyone got really beat up and said the code word “Banana” Mo could turn them into a giant ape and they’d get a huge supply of hit points.

Ssythrov, the lizardman shaman we’d been traveling with for several days at this point, said that he could cast protection from poison on all of us -- some while we were sleeping and the rest as soon as we woke up.

Mo, to Ssythrov: When we take this dragon out, how long do you think it’ll take your people to get here to back us up against the kobolds?
Ssythrov, pointing into the cenote: We won’t be able to get here at all.

Thneed and Taman looked at where Ssythrov was pointing and saw that the high water mark on the inside of the cenote was quite a lot higher than the top of this cavern. He told us that the dragon kept the water level exactly where he wanted it to protect the entrance to his cave. If Tallyxtillon dies, the water level will begin to rise to its natural high water mark.

Oh.

Then we rested for the night. We all took watches, with Joybell and Ssythrov taking the last watch so we could cast spells on people just before waking up and beginning the new day. Joybell cast Aid on everyone at the end of the last watch and then dismissed Scooby with a big hug and a promise that she’d see him again. Ssythrov got half the party with protection from poison.


8 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 99)

First thing in the morning, Ssythrov cast protection from poison on the other half of the party. Suutha cast waterbreathing on all of us. And Thneed cast pass without trace.

Ssythrov turned into a small lizard and scuttled up and away out the top of the cenote.

Then we jumped down into the water and began to swim toward Tallyxtillon’s lair, guided by Suutha’s memory of how to get there.

As we were swimming, just before we emerged into the cavern, Mo inspired all of us.

We sneaked up out of the water, grateful for the pass without trace, because it didn’t appear that any of them had seen us.

There was a ledge near the water that had two winged kobolds on it -- one with leather armor and some weapons at his belt, the other with a wand held lightly in one hand. Looking around the room, we saw another couple of winged kobolds off on the distant other side of the cavern, and a few of the Shield and Steroid kobolds on the ground between the raised “mesa” in the middle of the cavern and the ledge Tallyxtillon was on.

Thneed came up out of the water as sneakily as possible and shot one of the winged kobolds that was holding a wand, dropping it. Then she moved to a position near the wall of the cavern. Orryk shot the other winged kobold on the ledge near us - dropping it.

Joybell, on the broom of flying, flew out of the water and threw her javelin of lightning at the dragon. The lightning blasted one of the Shield kobolds along the way. Then she turned the broom around and flew back under the water.

Mo stepped out of the water and started playing 10 Little Indians on his flute -- as he did so, ten gems from the hoard animated and started flying in a cloud around Tallyxtillon. Then they dove in and attacked, getting many small hits that all added up. Then Mo lay back down in the water.

Taman walked out of the water and took a shot at the other wand-carrying winged kobold, far on the other side of the room, then he moved forward and hunkered down behind the “mesa” in the middle of the chamber.

They were all, including Tallyxtillon, surprised by our sudden arrrival and just gaped for a second or two.

Thneed moved her hunter’s mark to the Steroid kobold nearest us and shot him twice, then she went back into the water. Orryk went to the Shield kobold that had been hit by the lightning, and by an acid splash from Fiona, and hit it with the mace of smiting. He dropped the Shield with a follow up punch to the temple. Then Orryk moved into cover behind the mesa with Taman.

Joybell flew out of the water and unloaded the wand of magic missile, using all of its charges -- three on each of the two Steroid kobolds in the room.

Tallyxtillon flapped his mighty wings, buffeting most of the animated gemstones Mo had created to the ground, and flew into the air toward us.

Fiona, in the water, stood up and cast a storm sphere spell centered on Tallyxtillon. He was shaken up by the howling wind blowing within the sphere, then she called out a bolt of lightning that hit him for even more. Then she got back into the water.

Mo sent the animated objects after the Steroid kobolds, Tallyxtillon having gone too far for them to follow him immediately. Then he drew a fuzzy object out of his bag of tricks and threw it out into the cave -- a baboon appeared.

Taman, concerned about us being too concentrated in a dragon breath formation, shot an arrow through the winged kobold sorcerer on the other side of the room, then moved some distance away from Orryk around the base of the “mesa” -- to spread out and keep out of dragon breath formation. Doing so he noticed some of the Steroids going around the back of the “mesa” to get to us that way and avoid the storm.

Tallyxtillon moved right near Joybell and Orryk and breathed a cloud of poison gas that got almost everyone in the party, including those who were trying to hide in the water for safety. Only Taman was out of the area of the dragon breath -- everyone else, including Checkers and the baboon from the bag of tricks were caught in it. Fortunately, the protection from poison spell kept any of us (except Checkers and the baboon, who died horribly) from dropping to the poison gas, even those who were unable to save against the effect of the poison

Thneed got a critical hit against the Green Lord, which seemed like a victory.

The remaining Shield kobold moved up close to Orryk, which worked out well for us, because Orryk was able to proceed to punch it, doing a stunning strike, with the deathtouch (vampiric) gloves and healed himself up some. Then he moved away from the dragonshield.

Joybell, on the broom of flying, flew around to Tallyxtillon’s back and attacked him, trying to find a sensitive spot behind his ear or somewhere. Somewhere less armored than the rest of the dragon. She did her most powerful divine smites with both of her attacks, and getting a critical hit with one of them. (Which reminded her to save her strongest smites for critical hits.)

In response, Tallyxtillon smacked her with his tail, but she’d still done a lot more damage to him than he did to her.

Fiona sent another lightning bolt from the storm sphere into the dragon and hit him with that. Then Mo got out of the water and moved to a more spread out position before he cast shatter on the Shield and on Tallyxtillon. The Shield dropped. Tallyxtillon took some damage but did not drop.

Taman took a shot at the last winged kobold, which had been moving across the cavern toward us. He hit it slightly and it decided to bail out -- leaving the cavern through the U-trap entrance we’d entered and left through the day before.

The Green Lord moved away from Joybell, going to attack Fiona. Joybell hit him as he left but couldn’t stop him from biting Fiona and hurting her. But the storm sphere stayed up. Then he tried to claw at her, but both of the claws skittered off her shield spell.

Thneed climbed up onto one of the ledges and shot Tallyxtillon from that vantage point, hitting twice. Then she called him a “pot roast”.

Tallyxtillon took a tail swipe at Thneed in response but missed.

Orryk took on the Steroid kobolds circling around the mesa, hitting one of them twice before Omnath cast a sleep spell on them, knocking one of them out.

A puff of smoke came out of the wall of the cavern near Thneed and she became charmed by the dragon for a round -- unable to attack him, but still free to take other actions beneficial to the party.

Joybell circled around and got right up in Tallyxtillon’s face and attacked him twice, smiting him both times.

Tallyxtillon, in response, flapped his leathery wings, buffeting both Joybell and Fiona to the ground with them, and then flew over toward Mo. Fiona hit him with a lightning bolt from the storm sphere then she cured herself. Mo also healed Fiona, with a powerful healing word. Then he drew his rapier and stabbed the dragon in the face with it.

Taman moved and dashed to get into a position where he could shoot the dragon while its attention was on Mo, getting a really good hit.

Tallyxtillon bit Mo, not expecting that his Goliath heritage would give him special endurance to shake off the damage from the bite. The poison just woke him up. The two claw attacks both hit, but Mo was able to withstand the damage.

Thneed took out one of the Steroids that Orryk was fighting. Orryk punched the one that Omnath had put to sleep, waking him up, then dropped him with his second punch. He’d managed to heal most of the damage he suffered from the dragon breath by punching on the steroids with the deathtouch gloves. Then he moved up onto the mesa.

At about that moment, thick ropy vines emerged out of the ground, wrapping up Joybell and Taman. Fiona, fortunately, managed to stay out of the vines.

Joybell cast misty step, with the broom still active and between her legs, so she appeared at a point behind Tallyxtillon’s head and stabbed him in that sensitive place she’d found behind his jaw again.

Mo slapped himself on the cheeks, healing himself as he did so, then stabbed the dragon in the face again.

Taman put his hunters’ mark on the dragon then used the cape of the mountebank to get right up behind him, but was then unable to attack. As soon as Taman appeared, Tallyxtillon flapped his wings, knocking Joybell prone on the broom again, but didn’t fly away anywhere.

Tallyxtillon tried to cast a dimension door spell, but Fiona said “Stop that!” and cast counterspell at a high enough level to cancel to spell. When he tried to fly away, Mo, Joybell and Taman all got to take opportunity attacks against him. Only Taman hit, but that hit was enough to drop him!!

Orryk, Taman and Joybell immediately moved toward the horde. Mo turned into MOgilla Gorilla and began ripping the dragon’s head off. Omnath waited by the U-trap entrance for kobolds to come in.

Of course, any kobold coming in would see a group of people looting the treasure pile and a giant ape ripping the head off their god.

The hoard consisted of:

A set of dwarven splint armor with a shield and a hammer -- this belonged to one of the members of Suutha’s former party. Mo recognized some of the runes as connecting it to a clan in Tash.
A mithral chain shirt (+1) [elven chain]
Potion of Animal Friendship
Potion of Necrotic Resistance
Oil of Etherealness
Driftglobe
A scroll of Sending
6 sheets of Dragon Paper
A Ring of Fire Resistance -- later identify spells would reveal this to actually be a ring of Fire Elemental Command (Orryk)

1096 pp
1936 gp
16 x 1000 gp gems (5 blue sapphires, 5 star sapphires, and 6 opals)

As Orryk, Taman, and Joybell were scooping coins into the bags of holding, Giant Ape Mo finished ripping the head off of Tallxtillon. Then he dragged the body over and shoved it into the U-trap entrance to the cavern as far as it would go. We took a couple of claws and scales off of it as trophies.

As this was happening, Taman noticed that the water level was rising, so we took that as our cue to leave. We all swam out through the cenote, with Mo in the lead with the dragon head.

The water level was 150 feet below the top of the cenote. Joybell flew up on the broom of flying to the top, then sent it back down to pick up someone else.

While the broom was shuttling people up out of the cenote, Joybell sat down on the edge of it and began casting find steed to bring Scooby back. The broom had gotten everyone up and out (except Mo, who, still a giant Ape, clambered up the side of the cenote cave with the head) well before the spell was done. No one was willing to wait for her to finish, so she abandoned the spell.

Thneed cast another pass without trace and we proceeded for a while away from the cenote. We hoped to see some lizardpeople so that we could tell them that the dragon was dead, but we saw none. We also didn’t see any kobolds, but that was expected, because kobolds don’t like to go out in the daytime. Also, with the water rising in the cenote, they were soon going to have other problems.

We stopped and made camp, with a Tiny Hut to keep us safe. Once safe in the hut, Fiona used sending to check in with Barnett.

Fiona: It wasn’t easy, but dragon is dead. We have stuff. We’re taking a rest.
Barnett: Well done.

Joybell put the dwarven armor and hammer into her bag of holding. We’ll return them to the family of the dwarf from Suutha’s former party when we’re in Tash at some point. Then she cast Find Scooby -- once she had Scooby back, they cuddled up together off on the side of the hut and she told him everything that had happened, including that Checkers had died.

Mo pulled himself another pet from the Bag of Tricks - getting a tiger. Cool!

We ended in the safety and comfort of the tiny hut, with the dragon head just outside of it.

Treasure division:

4 people get: Three 1000 gp gems
2 people get: Two 1000 gp gems and 100 pp

Everyone also gets:
149 pp, 3227 gp

Leftover for party funds: 2 pp, 5 gp

Items:

Scroll of Sending (Fiona)
Drift Globe
Potion of Necrotic Resistance
Potion of Animal Friendship (this feels like a Joybell thing)
Oil of Etherealness
Ring of Fire Elemental Command (Orryk would probably fight anyone/everyone for this)
Elven Chain (assuming a DEX of at least 2, this would give AC 16. What's Mo's AC right now?)
6 sheets of DragonPaper (added by GM in Meetups)(in the bag of holding for party use)
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 38: And Now We’re In the Icerasp Mountains


Dramatis Personae:
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)/Wizard
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger (Horizon Walker)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)

Player Absent:
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else

Note: Thneed's player was unable to attend this session, but she followed along with the party, cheerfully engaging in some minor mischief with the town guards while we were in Embernook and generally going where we went.


9 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 100)

The next morning, Mo quickly drew a teleportation circle on the ground where the hut had been and began to play something on his pipe. Then he stopped, fixed the circle a bit, played some more. Stopped again, redrew a whole section of it, played some more. After about a minute of refining his circle, smoke began to pour out of his pipe as he played filling the circle. We all entered it and teleported back to the library in Stately Kang Manor.

We also found some frogs and squirrels in the library -- test subjects Mo had sent through while he was on perfecting the spell.

Work is happening around the house, which is good. We found Chulty, with some friends and former party members, camping in tents in the dining room. We inquired about why the tents and they said the bedrooms were still works in progress and this was a comfortable way for them to sleep but not be in an actively under repair part of the house.

Joybell: Okey doke. Welcome, Chulty’s friends!

He said that most of Kalmarn has been razed because the village was sort of...well, haunted and parts of it blood-soaked. When we start having citizens in town, they can re-build what they need.

Chulty, looking at the dragon head on the floor: You’re not going to have that in the house, are you?
Joybell: Do you know if there’s a taxidermist in Embernook? Maybe we can mount it once it’s taxidermied.
Mo: It seems that this town is going to need a place for people to get drunk.

He gave Chulty rather a lot of money to fund the construction and stocking of a tavern by the waterfront and said that the dragon head could decorate the tavern.

Taman: We could call it the Dragon’s Head.
Joybell: No, the Green Lord.
Mo: Those are great suggestions, but I was thinking...Mo’s.
Joybell: Mo’s Green Lord?
Mo: Mo’s.

Chulty said that he would take care of getting the dragon head taxidermied. Excellent!

Joybell gave him some additional money so that his friends and their work would be paid for as well.

Joybell: Is there any sign of the Cracked Shield orcs showing up yet?
Chulty: No orcs yet, no.
Joybell: Okey doke. Well, they have a ways to travel, I expect.

Orryk and Taman started talking about how we’d destroyed the kobold civilization, despite the fact that they had done nothing to harm anyone. Joybell and Mo weren’t buying it -- they served the Green Lord and made it possible for him to have agents in Auriqua and Embernook trying to subvert the governments of the two cities.

Eventually, Joybell got upset and went to talk to the squirrels and frogs that Mo had test-teleported into the manor, helping them find their way outside and telling them about the forest.

Orryk took some of the dragon pages we’d given Chulty and used a couple to send a message to Irlua asking about breaches of creatures from the fire plane or fire elementals in the world. Also generally whether the balance had changed since we last spoke. We also took some of them for the bag of holding so we’d be able to send message when we need to.

Orryk took a moment to talk with Suutha (the cap of water breathing) about if it has any goals other than going to the Elemental Plane of Water.

Suutha: If I hear about any incursions from under the sea, like in Pelsoreen or somewhere, I’ll want to stop those.

We agreed that we need to talk to the Keeper of Secrets about Taman’s family’s deal with the Tundra Queen, the Tundra Queen’s deal with Auriqua. Orryk and Taman also want to know about Alighieri’s deal with whoever he made a deal with.

Fiona used a sending spell to ask Tulmor if we could get a pickup to Embernook. Tulmor said she’d be right up and, indeed, just a couple of minutes later she and Barnett both appeared in the library.

We filled them in on the fight with the dragon.

Barnett: Did you get a name?
Joybell: Tallyxtillon
Tulmor: He must have grown up some. When I met him his name was Tallyxtlon. They add syllables as they get older.
Joybell: Oh, you met him? He was kind of a naughty word.
Tulmor and Barnett: ::nods::
Orryk: How are things in Embernook?
Tulmor: The same.
Taman: There’s something north of Auriqua. The Machine.
Joybell: The Epiphany Machine...
Taman: It’s associated with the outer chaos.

Tulmor seemed upset that it’s there.

Joybell: Where should it be?
Barnett: I think it disassembles itself and reassembles itself elsewhere if it’s not being used.
Tulmor: I just don’t really like it up there.
Joybell: We understand that it’s possibly turned a giant.
Tulmor: Exactly.
Barnett: It’s something you walk into or through…
Joybell: If it’s turned a frost giant it must be pretty big. How do we destroy it?
Barnett: Don’t know.
Mo: Does someone use it on someone else, or on themselves?
Barnett: When it shows up, one person goes through it and gets changed. Then they can persuade or convince others to go through. Some of the madnesses it creates are quasi-contagious, people can be affected even if they don’t go through the machine. Some people go through the machine more than once.
Mo: This is all a trap by the Outer Chaos.
Barnett: Except that the Chaos is not sentient, so there’s no planning involved.
Mo: Like a Venus Flytrap.
Barnett: Not a bad simile.
Taman: Is this like the process where the book turned a person inside out?
Tulmor: You could run into all sorts of things coming out of the Machine.
Taman: Would it work on a book? Could you put a book through and have it come out a crazy book? (Note: They didn’t seem to know the answer to that.)
Mo: Have people tried to destroy it?
Barnett: It’s not uncommon for people to go to it with the intent of destroying it, but then find it hard to actually summon the will to do so.

We then teleported back to Embernook. Barnett taught Mo the sigils for the circle in their library and said that we were free to use it. They just requested that we send a message to them so they’re awake and dressed when we arrive.

Before we left their place in Embernook, Orryk asked if they knew any young wizards we could hire to scribe spell scrolls for us. They said they could certainly find someone who would appreciate the work. We ordered two Longstrider scrolls and 4 Protection from Evil and Good scrolls.

They said that they could teleport us up to the former Mask circle in the Icerasp Mountains whenever we were ready to go.

In Embernook, Orryk went to Trannell’s magic shop looking for information about elemental related items, particularly rings. Once again, he gave Trannell some money to keep his ear to the ground.

Joybell went to talk to Chief Truehammer. As she was telling him about the dragon and about his agents subverting the city, she realized that she should really be telling the Administrator about all of that.

Joybell: Oh!! Anyway, we killed the dragon and I have to go now. Thank you!

Then she hurried over to the Administrator’s office. She signed in on the sheet right next to Thalith’s office but before she could even walk away he was there and he immediately took her in.

She told him about Tallyxtillon and the agents he said he had working in Embernook to try and get a toe-hold into the government. Also about the extortion scheme on the river. Thalith said that he didn’t know anything about it, but perhaps the Administrator did.

Joybell: Well, he does now.

By the time all of our errands in Embernook were done, it was late in the afternoon. We went to tell Tulmor that we’d like to be teleported in the morning, please.

Orryk: Would it be possible for Barnett to do his Arcane Eye trick so we know what’s on the other side?
Tulmor: That’s not necessary. I’ve been. It’s in an abandoned mine in the southwest part of the Icerasp Mountains. It’s probably snowing and cold.

We then went to our respective lodgings in town -- Joybell and Orryk to Queena’s and the rest of the party to the Pewter Oar.


10 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 101)

We had breakfast at the Pewter Oar, then donned our winter clothes to teleport to the circle in the Icerasp Mountains. We were near the entrance of a clearly worked mine shaft and could see the light from outside. Going further into the mine, we didn’t have to travel far before we got to where the mine was collapsed.

This was one of the circles that Turnik Steeltear had as part of his network -- with the moveable tiles to dial out to different locations. We noticed that the tiles were gone -- not only was there no address set as the destination of the circle, the entire box of tiles was missing. One of the outstanding squads of Masks was active somewhere in the vicinity of this circle, though we didn’t know where, or what they would do when the orders they’d been under when we killed Steeltear were over.

Mo looked around for footprints -- it looked like there had been a lot of foot traffic around the cave, perhaps a squad of people, but we had no idea how long ago and didn’t have enough information about how tracks age in this cave for Taman and Thneed to make an educated guess about timing.

Orryk pulled out the Orrery -- it pointed to the north-northeast, so deeper into the mountain range. It looked like a strong signal and like we were significantly closer than we had been when we were just a few miles north of Auriqua.

Taman and Joybell looked outside the mine - it was not actively snowing at that moment, though there was snow on the ground. There were some footprints in the snow, but Taman couldn’t get much sense of them. It was possible that they were mostly Tulmor’s footprints as she went to investigate what was on the other side of that circle.

We headed out of the cave -- Orryk brought Omnath out as a magma mephit. Fortunately Tony the Tiger (from Mo’s Bag of Tricks) is an Amur tiger (formerly called Siberian Tigers) and was therefore fine. Mo kept everyone in the party warm by occasionally warming up their clothes with prestidigitation spells.

Taman took a moment to check for active planar portals in the area and found none of them. Then he and Thneed both checked for their favored enemies. Thneed didn’t find any of hers (soldiers, hobgoblins and Fiends). Taman’s check detected scores of Fey clustered together about 4 miles to the north-northeast, though not directly on the line that the Orrery was pointing to. Those could be unrelated to Ildna and his Outer Chaos fey group. Or it could be a cluster of the cultists.

Scores of them.

We went in the direction the Orrery was pointing -- within the limits of what travel is possible and feasible through a mountain range. (Straight line travel is very difficult unless the line happens to be pointing up a valley or over a saddle between peaks. Going up and over mountains, even over passes, involves a lot of switchbacks. That sort of thing).

We proceeded along through the mountains, with lots of mountains around us. We made camp when it started to get dark (and even colder). Because of the relief, we hadn’t made as much progress as we would have expected along the way toward the cluster of fey. We also assumed we hadn’t made a ton of progress toward the machine.

Fiona’s tiny hut is colored to match the surrounding terrain, but can’t match exactly (and always looks like a perfectly hemispherical dome). Inside it’s always climate controlled for our comfort, so we were able to relax in the warmth of the hut.

During second watch (Mo and Thneed) a bunch of tiny, winged, blue-white flying things that looked like heads with torsos trailing off into long tails flew into view. They began to throw themselves against the hut, repeatedly. Nothing bad happened, except a sound like gravel pounding on the hut.

The tiny winged things flew away after a few minutes.

Mo didn’t wake anyone up, but when Taman and Fiona took over for third watch he told them about it.

He and Fiona had both heard of these creatures -- they’re called Sluaghs and travel in swarms. Each of those tiny things is a fey creature. There appeared to be five of the swarms of the tiny creatures. Mo and Fiona also knew that they don’t like fire or daylight. Fiona thought that they probably would follow the orders of the Tundra Queen if she gave them any, but they’re not very bright at all so she’s undoubtedly got better servants.

The rest of the night passed without incident.


11 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 102)

Orryk pulled out the Orrery again to make sure we hadn’t gone off in a wrong direction at any point as we were following to some extent the lay of the landscape. It was still pointing in the same north-northeast direction.

We couldn’t see anything in that direction except mountains and snow.

Taman checked for favored enemies again and detected a lot of them less than a mile away -- consistent with the Sluagh swarms we’d seen overnight. They were sort of in the direction we were heading in.

We continued on our way, following the Orrery.

About an hour after we headed out, the track (possibly a game trail) we were following went through a deep and steep-sided valley. Almost a canyon. There were deep shadows at the bottom because the sun was still below the peaks of the mountains to the east.

Almost immediately when we entered the valley, Taman, Orryk, Mo and Tony the Tiger spotted the swarms of Sluagh approaching fast. The five swarms surrounded us looking like five swirling clouds of winged...things. Taman dashed to attack one of them getting in some good damage because the swarm wasn’t expecting him to approach and was surprised. In response to his attack, it swarmed over him, attacking him for a considerable amount of damage, some of which he was able to dodge, despite the swarm attacking from all sides.

Fiona and Tony the Tiger both got hit for a great deal of damage, but survived. Orryk was missed and Mo would have been hit but used his cutting words to stop the hit.

Mo: Get out of my face….

Orryk moved out of the swarm and threw two daggers into it, hitting some of the tiny creatures, then swung at it with his fists. Omnath did a fire breath -- they didn’t like the fire at all, but they dodged out of the way pretty well.

Taman disengaged from the swarm on him then moved to help Mo -- his sword swung through them, but it was hard to make solid contact with the swarm of tiny bodies.

Then all five swarms attacking people they had swarmed over and were surrounding missed with their attacks.

Joybell went to help Fiona, attacking and critting with her sword. She called down the divine energy in a second level smite, which helped a lot.

The fight continued with people hitting and trying to move away from them. Fiona misty stepped out of the swarm that surrounded her and firebolted it -- there was a chorus of tiny shrieks as the tiny winged bodies fell, smoking, to the ground.

Mo inspired Taman: Could you give me a hand?

Taman immediately used the inspiration to hit the one on Mo really solidly.

Then Mo tried to use cutting words to protect Tony the tiger, but the swarm wasn’t affected and Tony was killed.

Mo: NOoo!

Joybell, never a fan of people attacking animals, rode on Scooby over the swarm that had just killed Tony and attacked, but not very effectively.

Orryk and Omnath attacked the same one and dropped it -- Omnath’s fiery magma mephit claws doing the final blow.

At that point, Fiona decided it was time to just end this and cast fireball on the three remaining swarms, sculpting the fire around Mo, Taman, Joybell and Scooby. There was a piercing wail of cacophonous shrieking from the dying fey, leaving only one surviving. Joybell’s attack of opportunity dropped it when it went to attack Taman.

We continued on our way until we were out of the shadowy valley and into a more normally sunlit area, then we stopped for lunch. Fiona made a hut for us to rest in.

While we were resting, Mo pulled another animal out of the bag of tricks -- a baboon he named Clyde.

After lunch and a short rest, we resumed proceeding, encountering no further problems the rest of the day. At a break later in the day, Orryk pulled out the orrery and it snapped more quickly to point to the north-northeast, which we took to mean we were making progress.

When we stopped for the night, Taman sensed for fey and picked up one single fey about a mile away. It was not in the same direction that the orrery was pointing. Fiona made a hut and we made our usual preparations to rest.

While we were doing so, a dragon page arrived bearing a response from Irlua to Orryk’s question regarding incursions of fire planar beings. She said she didn’t know where there is an active breach of fire elementals, but there’s something related to fire brewing near Erlin-- perhaps something forming or an instability.

We settled into the tiny hut and began to rest. About an hour into first watch, Joybell and Orryk noticed that the weather started turning for the worse -- over about an hour it went from cold and windy with a ground fog to white-out blizzard with horizontally blowing snow. It seemed to us to be awfully early in the year for this kind of snow. All we could see outside the hut was white-out conditions.

At the end of their watch, they woke up Mo and Thneed. Mo cast clairvoyance, sending the sensor 1000 feet straight up above the hut. All the sensor could see was more blizzard. Mo, thinking that the blizzard might be providing cover for someone coming to attack us, cast plant growth, so anyone trying to come close would find their way slowed by the difficult terrain.

Mo and Thneed woke Taman and Fiona for third watch. Taman checked for fey and detected one maybe half a mile away. When we made camp it was a mile away.

The rest of the night passed with the blizzard raging around our snug, climate controlled hut.


12 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 103)

When the rest of the party woke, the blizzard was still raging outside.

We all held a rope between us so that no one could get lost or separated from the rest of the party, and continued on our way. Fiona cast some dancing lights to help provide beacons to keep us together. Clyde the baboon rode on Scooby to stay warm in his thick fur. Taman lead us in the direction the orrery is pointing, avoiding a couple of short falls that would have really sucked for us. Taman had the sense that this weather was not entirely natural -- at the very least Fiona knew that this weather was nuts. There hadn’t been enough moisture in the air the day before to make for this much snow. Her opinion was that there was almost certainly magic involved.

After a couple of hours of slow and difficult going through the blizzard, the weather started to abate and over the course of about an hour, the weather went back to the normal cold wind and small snow flurries we’d experienced the day before.

When we were out of the blizzard, Taman sensed for fey again -- there was one, still half a mile away, but now behind us.

None of us liked that at all.

Mo flew up on the broom to get a bird’s eye view. He could see a hard line making a large circle where the snow had been. It was definitely the radius (if a large one) of a spell effect. It was centered maybe a half mile from our camp last night. We apparently got to the edge of the effect about the same time the duration ended.

We turned and headed straight back toward the fey that Taman was picking up. We were none of us okay with having something that could make a blizzard in a few mile radius behind us and following us.

About a quarter mile on our walk toward the mystery fey, we got to the base of a sheer cliff a few hundred feet high.

Taman: If you’re out there, come talk to us. I hate all this sneaking around.

(GM: An odd perspective for a rogue…)

There was no response.

Taman touched the cliff to make sure it was real. Mo flew up the cliff -- when he crested the top of it he saw rock and broken ground. But he didn’t see anyone or anything alive or moving around.

We all got up to the top of the cliff using the broom -- Scooby had to put up with the indignity of riding in the hammock while Joybell rode. Up at the top we looked around.

Taman spotted a figure moving at an angle away from us -- it was pacing us, keeping up but not approaching. We cast some spells on Taman (Joybell cast Aid and Fiona cast Bless) and Mo gave him some inspiration, then he jumped on the broom and took off like a shot to talk to the thing following us, with the sending stone in his pocket.

As Taman approached the thing flew from one mountain peak to another one, sipping straight across. Taman flew after it, he saw a humanoid about the size of Mo with blue/white skin.

He recognized it as a Bheur Hag -- a hag of the cold and frozen places. They are big on making it difficult for travelers in cold places and love watching them flail and not be able to get through. They like to watch people starve and freeze to death.

Taman: Stay away from my group or you’ll be dead.

Then he used the cape of the mountebank to get back to the group.

Orryk: If it keeps following us, Rule 1.

We agreed to that.

We ferried back down to the base of the cliff on the broom, then took a short rest (it being lunch time).
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 39: The Hag and Some Frost Giants

Dramatis Personae:
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)/Wizard
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger (Horizon Walker)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


12 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 103) (immediately after)

We resumed following the orrery, which was still pointing in the same general direction it had been. The rest of the day passed. As we were making camp, Taman sensed for fey and found that there was one less than a mile away behind and to the left of us, so the hag was still presumably back there.

There were also two clusters of six -- one was one mile away to the left of us and the other about five miles ahead. We figured that we’d probably get to the ones ahead of us the next day.

We camped in a tiny hut and kept watches through the night, which passed without incident.


13 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 104)

The next morning, before the hut came down, Taman sensed for fey again and found that there was a cluster of six fey about half a mile ahead and to the left of us. The single fey (presumably the hag) was a couple of miles behind us.

We headed out, following the orrery and staying alert. Mo let Clyde the Baboon ride in the combat hammock, which he kept warm with prestidigitation.

Shortly after we headed out, the sword of warning alerted all of us (except Taman, who just spotted them) to the presence of small white figures with wings about 40’ up the sides of a rock-strewn gorge. They were standing on ledges part way up the sides of the gorge (the wall of which were 90’ high).

Taman took a shot at the nearest one to us.

Taman: Snipers!

Taman recognized that these are cold fey called Beli -- they have short bows and the shots have a chance of hastening death by exposure.

Mo cast hypnotic pattern on the three on the other side (that Taman hadn’t shot at), getting two of them caught up in the pretty lights. Then he inspired Joybell.

Mo: Go get ‘em!!

Thneed and Orryk worked together to take down the one that had saved against the hypnotic pattern. It fell off the cliff and landed with a thud. Thneed was confident it had been dropped because of the effect on her hunters’ mark spell, but the next second it stood up again.

Taman: They regenerate unless they take fire damage.

The Beli (other than the two hypnotized ones) began flying down towards us, shooting their arrows.

Joybell, noticing them moving into range: Bless them.

One of them got a critical hit on Mo, which left him weakened with exhaustion and caused the hypnotic pattern to drop. A couple missed. Orryk caught one of the arrows that would have hit him, dropping it to the ground at his feet. Taman also got hit.

Joybell cast searing smite and hit the one that had been dropped and regenerated, dropping it for real. Then she moved to where she could protect Mo from another attack.

Fiona cast a fireball on three of them, dropping two and leaving the third partially melted looking. Mo finished that one off, mocking it to death.

Mo: Your skin looks terrible…

Thneed moved her hunters mark to one of the remaining two, and did it a lot of damage with her two arrows.

Omnath finished that one off with his fire breath, getting his first kill! Orryk shot the last remaining one with his bow and in response it started to flee, flying away into the mountains. We all took shots at it and after a few hits by others, Thneed dropped it.

We wanted to examine the bodies, but they had melted away before we could look at them. When they were alive they’d looked like small, bat-winged, white-skinned humanoids with unpleasant mouths filled with many teeth.

We hadn’t been traveling for very long at all, so we continued on our way without a rest. Joybell used the restoration bead from the necklace of prayer beads on Mo, so he only had one level of exhaustion. Due to his exhaustion, he rode in the battle hammock.

At lunch, we stopped and Fiona made a tiny hut so we could have a nice, warm short rest. Taman checked for fey and found a single fey about half a mile ahead.

After our break, we continued proceeding. We’d gone about that half mile and found ourselves in another rocky gorge. In the gorge ahead of us, an unpleasant looking woman, Mo’s height, with blue-white scraggly hair, stood on a ledge about 50’ up on the side of the gorge.

Mo: Hello, young lady!

Orryk, to the rest of the party: I thought we were going for Rule 1?
Joybell: Maybe she’ll come down to us so we can fight her.

Hag: Top ‘o the afternoon!
Mo: Why are you following us?
Hag: For my own amusement. You’re a persistent lot…
Taman: Do you know a guy who looks like a dilyarli wearing a large hat? (Followed by a more precise description of Ildna.)
Hag: You’re looking for the broken dilyarli. I could make it easier for you to find him….if you do me a favor. There’s another hag in these mountains and I want you to kill her.

Orryk, to the rest of the party: She’s caused most of the problems we’ve run into. Is she just going to stop harassing us?

Taman How far away is this other…
Hag: You can call us hags. It’s about 10 miles that way.

She pointed off at an angle that would have taken us away from the route we were following.

Orryk: We can go and kill another hag so this one will leave us alone. Or we can just kill this one without traveling days out of our way and things will be easier.
Taman: You’re right!

Then Taman took a shot at her.

Joybell: Wait!? What? What’s going on?

Taman’s shot, unfortunately, missed. Joybell used the wand of magic missile, but the hag cast a shield spell and stopped them. Orryk moved, spreading out a bit, and shot at her, getting one through her shield spell.

The hag cackled at us then poured a vial of liquid over her head, disappearing as the liquid covered her body.

Mo tried to cast faerie fire on the area where she was, but she didn’t light up.

Taman took a moment to try and spot her -- after a second he saw a glitter of snow in the air in the middle of the gorge that he surmised was sparkling as it fell off of her broom of flying. He tried to shoot her, but missed. Joybell, seeing where he’d aimed, threw the javelin of lightning at her and hit with a great shock of lightning. Orryk followed up with an arrow shot.

After Fiona missed and we figured that she’d moved again. Mo held a faerie fire until someone pointed out her location to him and inspired Taman.

Mo: Find her.

Taman took another moment to look for her again and spotted her 120 feet down the valley, apparently flying away in the direction we were heading. She was out of range of Mo’s spell and none of the arrows we fired in her direction hit.

Joybell collected her javelin of lightning, Clyde was put back into the warmed battle hammock, and we resumed proceeding. The rest of the day passed without incident and we passed out of the narrow gorges and passes we’d been in and out into a large, open, relatively flat alpine meadow. Fiona created a tiny hut and we made camp for the evening.

Just before we rested, Mo created a teleportation circle to the library in Stately Kang Manor and sent Clyde through it with a note that said “From Mo.”

Chulty will take care of him.

During the first watch, Joybell and Orryk spotted two frost giants. They weren’t walking right toward us in a bee-line, but they weren’t just out on patrol passing by either. They appeared to be looking for us. They stopped about 200’ away and sat down, looking at the dome.

Joybell and Orryk woke up the rest of the party as soon as we spotted the giants.

Mo threw a card from the deck of illusions out through the dome -- an orc appeared outside the dome. Recognizing that an orc wasn’t an especially intimidating illusion, he threw another card -- an image of Mo himself appeared next to the orc.

As the second illusion appeared, the giants each threw a boulder, both of which hit the illusion of the orc. Because it was an illusion, it was still standing there, despite the boulders.

Orryk pointed out to Thneed that she could shoot out through the dome.

Taman, to the giants, in common: Hold your fire! We come in peace.

They didn’t respond, so he said it again in sylvan. They still didn’t respond.

At that, Orryk and Thneed started shooting arrows at them. After a couple of arrows hit, the giants moved back another couple hundred feet and sat down again, still looking at the dome.

We went back to our rest, Joybell and Orryk finishing out the first watch. They woke Mo and Thneed for second watch. Mo stepped outside the dome, thinking to polymorph himself into a giant ape and throw the rocks back at the giants, but they were too far away and he decided against and went back into the dome.

The second watch and third watches passed without incident. The giants were sitting comfortably and also getting a long rest.


14 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 105)

The next morning, just before the dome came down, Taman and Joybell left the dome first -- the giants didn’t react to that, so we continued on our way. As we proceeded, the giants stood up and stretched then they tried to sneak after us.

When we noticed that one of them had succeeded in sneaking off and we didn’t know where it was, Thneed cast pass without trace and we began sneaking ourselves.

We decided to set an ambush for them, but Joybell wanted a chance to talk to them first.

Orryk: No. Joybell messes up every ambush we’ve tried.
Joybell: Last time you fussed at me about this, I hid and Taman and Thneed stood in the road and you didn’t fuss at them!
Orryk: They do stupid things. I expect better of you.

We found a spot between a couple of boulders on the alpine meadow. Joybell and Scooby hid behind one (reasonably well for a change) and watched the giants (we had both of them in our sights again) cross the meadow. We saw 4 of the beli things with the giants.

Taman and Thneed took some shots, both at the giants and the beli. Fiona cast a fireball that caught one of the giants and two of the beli. The two beli looked pretty hurt by it, though the giant looked like he’d avoided most of the damage.

Mo cast hypnotic pattern on the larger giant and two of the beli, then he laid down to be a more difficult target for ranged attacks. Joybell moved out from behind the boulder she’d hidden behind and used the wand of magic missiles to shoot the two beli that had been in the fireball, dropping one of them.

Thneed stepped out from behind a different rook, took her shots, then moved back behind Fiona.

Taman and Orryk, each in turn, stepped out from behind rocks and took shots - focusing on the beli, because that ability to exhaust people is really dangerous.

The hag walked up at an angle from where the giants were. She looked at the situation and threw a snowball at the hypnotized frost giant, snapping him out of his fascination with the pretty lights.

The larger giant ran up on Taman, pulling out a huge great axe and swinging - it would have gotten a critical hit, but Taman got a lucky break and the swing instead was a mighty blow into the ground. Unfortunately, the giant’s second swing did hit him. The other giant moved up toward us, but wasn’t able to attack.

It was able to get into fireball formation with the other giant, though, and Fiona didn’t miss the opportunity. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very powerful fireball. Mo followed it up with a shatter spell that caught the two of them as well.

There were a number of attacks on the smaller giant - culminating with Taman dropping it with his scimitar before it ever got to attack.

Orryk moved so he could take a shot at the one un-hypnotized beli, then went into some cover. Omnath, waiting for an opportunity in the combat, moved next to Mo, who warmed his hands on the magma mephit.

The hag caught a glint of light with something in her hand and fired a bolt of cold light at Taman and Joybell. And Scooby, who dropped and went back to where celestial wolf-mounts are when they die here.

The big giant followed that up with a big hit on Joybell. His second attack only missed because of Mo’s cutting words.

Fiona cast scorching ray at the hag -- she protected herself with a shield of sparkling ice, but two of the bolts still got through. Joybell attacked the remaining giant, smiting it weakly, still upset about losing Scooby.

Taman turned away from the giant and charged the hag, casting zephyr strike on the way. He hit her for a lot of damage. Orryk spent a ki-point to dash over to the hag as well, hitting and stunning her with a stunning strike! (It worked!)

The frost giant, finding most of his opponents gone, hit Joybell two more times. Ouch!

Fiona dropped a fireball right onto the hag and a beli -- the hag was stunned and unable to dodge out of the way. The beli tried to dodge, but was killed anyway.

Thneed shot at the hag, then Taman moved into a position to flank her and dropped her with a sneak attack. Woot!

Orryk went back to the giant, making a couple of attempts to stun it, but neither of them worked.

Which was a pity, because the giant then hit Joybell and almost dropped her.

Joybell, remembering the code word from the fight with the dragon: Banana! Mo! Banana!

Mo didn’t cast a polymorph on her -- instead he cast a shatter spell on the giant and dropped it. Which worked out fine as well.

The two hypnotized beli were dispatched quickly.

And there we ended.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Session 40: We Found Ildna! Also: How A Hag Repays A Favor

Players:
Orryk - Forest Gnome Monk (Way of the Four Elements, variant)/Wizard
Mo - Goliath Bard (College of Lore)
Fiona - Half-Elf Wizard (Evoker)/Cleric (Knowledge)
Taman - Human (variant) Rogue (Inquisitive)/Ranger (Horizon Walker)
Joybell - Forest Gnome Paladin (Oath of the Ancients)
Thneed - Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter Conclave)

GM - Everyone Else


14 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 105) (immediately after)

Immediately after the fight with the hag and the stone giants and a few beli, we took a short rest. Joybell, Taman and Orryk rested, strengthened by Mo’s song of rest. The others spent the time looting the bodies of the hag and the giants.

They didn’t find much on the hag’s body. We’d been hoping for another broom of flying, but it turned out that the staff she was flying on wasn’t magical. Apparently that ability to fly was inherent to her, not the object. They did find a potion, which Mo picked up with his mage hand and passed on to Fiona. Fiona identified it as a weirdly variant potion of cloud giant strength -- she couldn’t tell exactly what would happen but there will be something weird that happens at the end of the effect.

Thneed: I’d love that…

So we gave it to her. Orryk took the hag’s staff as a walking stick.

Toward the end of the rest, Joybell cast Find Scooby Steed. Taman did his ranger-thing and sensed for fey within five miles -- he detected something right at the edge of his range, vaguely (but not exactly) in the direction the orrery was pointing.

(Note: We realized later that we forgot to burn the bodies of the hag and the giants.)

After resting, we got back on our way, following the orrery. The rest of the day passed without incident.

The night passed without incident as well, except that Mo and Thneed whiled away second watch making hand shadows. (“Do Deformed Rabbit. I love that one!”)


15 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 106)

The next morning, Taman checked for fey again and detected none within five miles. The orrery, when checked, snapped quickly to point in the same direction it has been pointing all along. Which was the behavior we’d gotten accustomed to.

Shortly after we got started in the morning, we spotted two large trolls a fair way ahead of us. As we got closer it became clear that these were weird looking trolls, maybe a bit decayed or something. Thneed, who’d spotted them first, put her hunters mark on one and took a couple of shots at it.

We then began to focus our attacks on that one -- Joybell charged at it and attacked, hitting it with a searing smite to do fire damage. Taman ran over and attacked it as well, having to use his bonus action to dash the last five feet. Orryk and Mo both shot at it.

Fiona, realizing that she hadn’t done so yet, cast mage armor on herself.

The other troll moved toward us but wasn’t able to get into combat with anyone. Which worked out well for us, because we were able to drop the first one with a couple of shots from Thneed, a couple of big hits from Joybell, and a great shot from Taman.

It smelled like rot and nastiness. Worse than a normal troll.

Orryk moved out of range of the other one and took a couple of shots at it.

Mo used the wand of web on the second troll, catching it the webbing. Seeing it ensnared he decided to “inspire” Orryk.

Mo: See how easy it is to web things…

Fiona used scorching ray on the troll in the webbing -- even the ray that missed helped, because it set the webbing on fire. So it took fire damage from the scorching ray and fire damage from the burning web. But the web hadn’t burned enough for it to free itself from the restraint.

Orryk, either inspired or irritated by Mo, put away his bow and got right up in the troll’s face and punched it. Omnath flew over his and Joybell’s heads and breathed fire on the troll.

Mo then viciously mocked the troll.

Mo: You’re on fire….

The troll took damage from the fire in the web, which burned away to the point that he wasn’t restrained any longer (doing him damage in the process). It missed with both of its clawed hands, waving wildly at Taman. It hit him with its nasty necrotic-rotting bite.

Thneed immediately turned around and killed it with her arrows.

Fiona and Omnath worked together to burn the bodies. These trolls looked like they’d been exposed to some sort of nasty magic -- they didn’t appear to regenerate like normal trolls, they just looked like they were decaying. It seemed like it could have been the work of the hag (or a hag). Or maybe the Epiphany Machine, except that seemed like it had different sorts of effects on people.

We continued on our way. That fight had been pretty early in the day, so we spent the whole rest of the day going up and down switchbacked mountain trails. Orryk took the opportunity presented by the switchbacks and the twisting mountain trails to use the orrery to triangulate the location of the Big Chaos it was picking up. From this he confirmed that we are getting closer.

The rest of the day passed without incident. So did the night.


16 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 107)

We hadn’t noticed the day before, but when we woke it dawned on us that we were in a less snowy area of the mountains than we had been. It had been notably colder and snowier than average when we were being shadowed by the Bheur Hag (an ice hag) but it was now a bit warmer and less snowy than expected for as far north and as high in the mountains as we were. The rangers felt that this was a magical effect.

Taman checked for fey and found none within five miles.

We stepped out of the hut and in the morning light spotted a stone giant wearing a mask (not like the Masks -- a scold’s bridle) sitting on a boulder outside of our camp. He was sitting with a piece of paper pinched between his forefinger and thumb, watching the hut carefully.

(Note: Scold’s bridles were historically made in many forms, some more painful and inherently tortuous than others. Some covered all or most of the face.)

Joybell saw him, smiled, and waved. He waved back.

Joybell, pointing at the paper: Is that for us?

He nodded and handed the paper to her. It was a note which read:

Thanks for killing that bitch Icenipple. I owe you for that, you did me a real favor.
-- N.A. Stoneshite

The note went on to say that she hated to be in debt so to repay us for the favor of killing the other hag, she was giving us the services of the stone giant. He could guide us to where we were going -- if he knew the way -- though he would not go into danger for us. She also said not to try to remove the bridle because it would hurt him.

We asked the giant if he could take us to Ildna, the broken dilyarli. He nodded and, with gestures (because the bridle made it impossible for him to speak) let us know that it was four mountains away and would take us two days to get there. He tried to convey something else to us but we couldn’t quite get it.

We agreed to that and let him lead us away from camp. He didn’t go in exactly the direction we could have gone, but it didn’t appear to be crazy either. After an hour or two we came to a cave entrance. He gestured in there and we finally understood that he was telling us we’d be going through the mountains in caves rather than over them.

Very good.

As we walked, we decided to call him Lurch, with his acquiescence. Joybell talked to him about the caverns and he communicated with signs and gestures. We noticed during the day that he was neither eating nor drinking, but appeared to be okay despite that.

The rest of the day passed without incident as we moved through the tunnels. The tunnels, which looked like dwarven mine tunnels, seemed to wander around a lot less than the switchback paths over the mountains. We made camp and a dome in the evening.

Fiona, with Lurch’s permission, cast detect magic (yes, very) and identify on the bridle. She identified it as a bridle of sustenance -- the wearer doesn’t need to eat, drink or sleep while wearing it. However, if it is taken off without uttering the command word (which the identify spell did not reveal) the wearer gains one level of exhaustion for each week they’d worn the bridle.

We asked Lurch if he’d been wearing it for more than six weeks and he nodded vigorously. So we asked if he wanted us to try and take it off and he shook his head with even more vigor.

The night passed without incident.


18 Harfastin 748 (Campaign day 108)

The next morning, Taman checked for fey and found none within five miles. He also tried to detect any planar portals and found none of those within a mile either.

We resumed proceeding through the tunnel. There were lots of branches we didn’t take and the path we took had some twists and turns, but Lurch lead us confidently through the tunnels (still looking like an abandoned dwarven mine) and the orrery, when consulted, indicated that he was at least not leading us astray.

Traveling with a giant had its advantages, because we had no trouble with anything all day.

Around dinner time, Lurch stopped at the entrance to a side tunnel or chamber and pointed in that direction. With gestures he made it clear that he would go no further but what we sought was that way.

Joybell thanked him for his assistance and wished him well in his association with the other hag. Orryk tied a note to the staff he’d taken from the Bheur Hag we killed (apparently named Icenipple) and handed it to Lurch.

Orryk: Can you deliver this to your hag?

Lurch nodded and took the staff.

Before we went through the entrance, Mo pulled an ape from the bag of holding, so he’d have a companion again. He used prestidigitation to color its fur purple and named it Grape Ape.

Orryk brought Omnath back from the pocket dimension as an ice mephit and sent him through the doorway and down the hall, watching through his eyes. The passage was dimly lit with patches of something, maybe fungi maybe something else with some bioluminescence, on the walls that gave off a greenish glow. This looked to be a natural cavern with large stalactites (which had merged with stalagmites to form natural stone columns) dotted about.

Omnath saw a number of round things with many maws and stick legs in the chamber. We recognized these as things we fought in Tumeleen with the Skinless One (just before we found the Crazy Book in Jorlas’ wagon). Omnath counted half a dozen of them.

We figured they probably were an early warning system (we remembered them as making noise when we fought them in Tumeleen) and expected that other things would come to fight with them.

In fact the beachball things, called Grues, began to chatter and gibber when they spotted Omnath in the room.

Thneed moved into the hall and spotted a giant, that looked to be about stone giant sized, but weird and lumpy looking and with mottled skin, just entering the back of the large chamber, obviously investigating the noise from the grues. She then took a shot at a grue, hitting it and killing it.

Thneed: There’s something else. Something big.

Joybell rode into the room, toward one of the two clusters of them, and dropped one with two blows. Three of them swarmed her and one moved toward Taman, but fortunately all of their attacks missed.

Orryk took a shot at one and dropped it. Mo moved up, with Grape Ape close behind him, so he could see what was going on better, but that left him unable to attack.

The weird giant, a fomorian, moved up and cast a spell that caught Mo and Joybell, Grape Ape and Scooby, doing a tremendous amount of psychic damage (synaptic static is the spell) and scrambled their minds up a bit. Scooby disappeared back to the celestial plane and Grape Ape dropped to the brain damage. Joybell fell prone to the ground as her mount disappeared from beneath her.

Fiona moved a little closer and cast storm sphere centered on the giant. It stood in the middle of a howling storm with lightning crackling around it.

Joybell was on the ground in the middle of the chamber, surrounded by grues and with the giant looming not too far away.

Orryk, to Thneed: Cover Joybell.

Thneed was able to take out two of the ones surrounding Joybell with two arrows. Taman dashed in, dropped the last one, then continued moving so we were spread out.

Joybell, pissed off, stood up and threw the lightning javelin at the fomorian, but missed because her brain was still sizzling from the synaptic static. She then moved to the very edge of the storm sphere and threw a regular javelin which also missed.

Orryk shot at it twice, then put away his bow to prepare for hand to hand combat. Mo used the wand of web to catch the giant, hoping to hold him in the storm sphere, but the giant misty stepped out of the storm sphere and the web and then attacked Taman with its great club twice. Fortunately he missed.

Fiona hit it with scorching rays and a lightning bolt then Thneed hit it with an arrow. Taman cast hunters mark on the fomorian and waited for someone in the party to get into combat with it.

Joybell immediately obliged and moved in to fight the giant. She missed with both of her attacks, but Taman hit with his held attack.

Orryk moved up and hit the fomorian then went into a defensive stance. Mo cast a vicious mockery on it.

Mo: We hit you in the balls. No. We hit your….I had it…

The fomorian cast a spell that had Taman, Orryk and Joybell resisting a force that felt like it would have moved or teleported them. We all saved, though, and the fomorian stayed in place.

Which might have been unfortunate for it, because Fiona promptly hit him with two searing rays and Thneed with two arrows.

As we were fighting the fomorian, some of us saw a dilyarli appear from further down the corridor, a patch of bioluminescent fungi reflecting off his white skin and blue hair.

Thneed, on seeing the dilyarli: Hey, there’s someone else back there!

Taman, to the dilyarli: Friend or foe?

The dilyarli answered his question by making a gesture and creating barely visible clouds of sounds, corrupting sussurations, that whispered at Taman, Orryk and Joybell and got into our brains doing rather a lot of damage. (This was neither an attack nor a spell.) Then he took a shot at Taman with a longbow, but Mo shouted some cutting words and the arrow missed its mark.

Orryk continued to focus on the fomorian. Mo tried to cast polymorph on the dilyarli, to turn it into a trout, but he saved.

Before anyone else could attack the fomorian, it cast thunderstep (damaging all three of the party members around it) and reappeared down the hall, then ran further away into the darkness.

So we turned our attention to the dilyarli. Fiona cast a guiding bolt on him, which let Thneed hit him with both of her attacks. Taman cast hunters mark on the dilyarli and took a shot at him.

Joybell almost cast misty step to get close, then Mo reminded her of the wand of magic missile, so she used that to shoot him instead.

The sussurating clouds, which looked like heat haze on a highway, moved to stay close to those they were afflicting, then the dilyarli took two shots at Orryk, which Orryk didn’t even bother deflecting. He just stood there like a badass and let the arrows come at him.

Orryk then closed his eyes and ran up to attack the dilyarli with his tremor sense to guide him. Mo cast a shatter spell, just missing Orryk, and hitting the dilyarli with a great crash of thunderous sound. Fiona hit him with scorching rays. The final blow was Thneed’s two arrows both hitting him and dropping him.

Looking at the body, this was not a dilyarli any of us recognized -- not Ildna and not the one who’d come to Embernook. He had some fancy clothes (somewhat bloodstained and tattered now), a rapier, a longbow, and 12 arrows, which were added to the hoard of arrows.

Joybell immediately sat down and started to cast Find Steed.

We’d noticed earlier that the fomorian was twisted and mottled, physically affected by something. As soon as we looked at the dilyarli, we could see that he was as well -- his bones and muscles becoming misshapen and asymmetrical. The blue-white of his skin was turning grey and black in patches.

We hoped to find papers or something like that on him, something to indicate what was going on, but we found nothing of that nature.

After a short rest, we began to track the fomorian based on the blood trail he left behind. As we did so, we noticed that we were also back-tracking the dilyarli. It had come from wherever the fomorian was going.

We were still in the abandoned, probably played out, dwarven mines and we passed several branching tunnels along the way, but we stayed on the fomorian’s blood trail. As we went Taman took a minute to check for fey and got two individuals, fairly close, in the direction we were heading. He took another moment to check for planar portals and detected a sealed portal to the Feywild -- one that was not merely closed or inactive/dormant, but positively sealed.

Taman explained as we went that the Fomorians used to be fey giants and were expelled from the Feywild because they tried to expose it to the Hunger Between Worlds. The Fey Nobles had cast them out.

Orryk checked the orrery -- it pointed in the direction we were heading but didn’t snap as quickly as expected for as close as Taman said we were to the two fey. So the Epiphany Machine was not with the fey.

After a bit of following the blood trail, we came to a natural arch where the mine opened into a large cavern. Inside there was a dead fomorian on the ground, which we recognized as the one we’d fought. It was not dead or even likely dying when it escaped from the combat so it might have been killed when it returned to the cavern. There were a couple of dead dwarves who looked like many cysts had burst open and things emerged from their bodies There were also two dilyarli -- Ildna and a woman, probably Allina (the dilyarli he’d broken according to the Ice Maiden we’d spoken to outside of Auriqua), a living fomorian, many of the grues (which had probably come out of the dead dwarves).

In the split second in which we took in what lay in front of us, we heard coming up behind us two manglers (the gribbly monster from Harl’s library) and a skinless thing (like we fought in Tumeleen with the grues).
 

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