Hard Core Adventurers- KOTS 20.06 The Cathedral of Shadows


KOTS Part 18a: A Dangerous Encounter.


Jimmy nudges Gokan, the half-orc stares down at his much smaller brother, half-grins.

Jimmy half-grins back.

The pair are looking down at the broken body of Ninaran, the traitorous elf. The other three adventurers are in the vicinity- Ramm also keeping a close eye on the entrance to the chamber, while Tonka stares every now and then at the portal- which flickers and flashes.

The portal is active, or so it seems.

And yet this fact does not hold the adventurers’ attention, the group stare down some more at the forlorn figure of Ninaran, even in death the elf is beautiful.


At this point I need to fill in the gap, I forgot to include in my write up of the action here that Gokan, back in Winterhaven, tried to chat up Ninaran, or else... Well, he did his best, the event went a little like this... cue flashback.


Gokan thinks back, back to Wrafton's Inn in Winterhaven, the cold outside kept at bay by the crackling fire in the hearth. The low grumble of muted conversations, and perched next to the fire Gokan, swirling his drink and looking down at Ninaran- close by in a high-backed chair.

Over the other side of the tavern the four remaining members of the adventuring group keep a close eye on the action, and whisper to each other, ostensibly making bets on the outcome of the encounter.

Gokan swirls the remains of his beer some more and then stares down at Ninaran, his expression purposeful.

“So...” He lets the first word of his remark hang in the air a while, in an effort to secure Ninaran's full attention.

“So <ahem> you're a ranger?” It's meant as a statement, but Gokan makes it sound like a question - the half-orc raises an eyebrow to emphasise his point, and to make himself look a little mischievous, perhaps even dangerous.

Ninaran looks up, nods once, and then remarks with crystal clarity.


Gokan grins, for less than half-a-second and then surreptitiously signs a thumbs-up to his supporters, who grin back and mirror his signal.

Sigur makes a gesture using his tongue and the inner cavity of his left cheek, repeatedly, and then snorts in to his beer.

Ninaran, without looking up, takes in the whole show.

The elf shakes her head, almost imperceptibly.

“I'm a ranger too.” Gokan adds- his eyebrow continues to do excellent work.

Ninaran nods, and then in a throw away gesture, smiles up at Gokan.

The half-orc’s entire face is consumed in a grin.

“We're heading out...” Gokan nods in the direction of his leering compatriots, and then continues, “... to the old keep- there's going to be...”, Gokan frantically searches for the right word, “... trouble.” He concludes- that wasn't it.

“Danger... I mean... It'll be dangerous.” The half-orc succinctly concludes, only tripping over the words once or twice.

“You're very brave.” Ninaran volunteers.


Ninaran is still staring up at him.

The moment elongates.

“You've got to grasp life!” Gokan remarks, and nods sagely.

Ninaran suppresses a giggle, and then with incredible speed is on her feet, she grabs a full tankard of ale from the nearest table and throws the contents at Gokan.

Or at least at his crotch area.

The half-orc reacts with a small startled leap, his brain scrambles for purchase on reality, instantly he finds himself sweating- a sudden flush.

Ninaran is fumbling for another full tankard.

Is this some mad elven mating ritual? Or at least a precursor to... Gokan tries desperately to ignore the incident, and yet- he reddens, the heat is rising.

The contents of the second tankard splash on to his rear and left hip, instinctively he turns away- protecting his groin area.

“You're on fire!” Ninaran shrieks- clearly agitated, her passion obvious for all to see.

“You're not so bad yourself.” Gokan purrs, and grins, at last- he's back in the hunt, and closing in on his beautiful quarry it seems.

“You're on fire!” Ninaran shrieks, louder still, and then turns to gawp at Wrafton- the owner of the tavern.

Her enthusiasm is infectious.

“Oh baby!” Gokan growls and attempts to grab her.

The elven ranger has other ideas, she catches Gokan's hands in her hands- twists and spins him around, less than a second later Gokan finds himself facing the flaming hearth, his hands gripping the mantel tight.

And then...

And then...

Gokan shivers even as he recalls the event.


The pitter-patter of Ninaran's soft elven hands on his backside, beating him, beating him- their slap on his rough leathers...

“You're on fire!” Ninaran shrieks, louder still.

Gokan's brain reels- “go with it, go with it!”, it screams at him.

The half-orc spins around- to confront Ninaran, a yawning grin plastered on his face, and is met- full-force by a tide of foul smelling liquid.

He's soaked.

Wrafton holds the now empty slops bucket in her hands.

A wisp of smoke curls up in to the rafters of the tavern.

Gokan looks down and notes the crisped and burnt parts of his leather armour- he remembers Ninaran's frantic words- 'you're on fire', and then looks down again at his blackened armour. He was on fire.

His four compatriots seem to be having some sort of episode, or else have been overtaken by some collective malaise- or fit.

Ninaran grins.

Gokan, with nothing else left to do, shrugs and grins back.

And seconds later Gokan is back in the dirty dungeon chamber- staring down at Ninaran's dead body, a tear comes to the half-orc's eye, absent-mindedly he wipes it away.

“Did you have sexual doings with the elf?” Sigur asks, the dwarf’s enquiry is met with a stony silence.
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KOTS Part 18b: The Gloom.


Jimmy breaks the spell, the halfling scrabbles on the floor, searching the body of the fallen elf- Ninaran; he comes up grinning, clutching a heart-shaped locket.

It’s all a bit much for Gokan, the half-orc turns away and mooches over to kick at the remains of the gravehounds.

Tonka finally brings order to the proceedings.

“I think we should rest a while… or at least…” The dragonborn is interrupted.
“We should guard the portal.” Sigur states and points at the strange device.
“While we rest, make sure nothing comes through.” The dwarf concludes.
Tonka nods, “that’s what I was going to say”, the warlord concurs and then grins at Sigur, who manages a half-hearted smirk in reply.

A short while later the adventurers have cleared the area, it’s as it was- save for a set of bloody drag marks created when Ninaran’s body was tidied away.

A nearby alcove is quickly transformed in to a makeshift sleeping area cum guard room; the area is hidden from view, anyone coming through the portal or in to the chamber from the dungeon cannot see the camp- an ideal spot.

A rota for guard duty is quickly organised, and soon after the adventurers settle down to rest and recuperate, save for Jimmy who has first shift.

Time passes.

Finally Jimmy whispers to Tonka.

“What’s through there?”

Tonka fails to reply.

The halfling creeps a little closer to the dragonborn and then whispers again- a little louder this time.

“I said what’s through…”
“He’s asleep.” Sigur states gruffly.

Jimmy creeps closer still, the dwarf is right, although Tonka has his eyes open he is indeed fast asleep.

Jimmy shrugs, and then creeps back to his vigil.

Time continues to pass.

This time it’s Sigur that breaks the silence.

“The gloom.” The dwarf states.
“What?” Jimmy hisses back.
“It’s called the gloom.” Sigur confirms.

Jimmy looks non-plussed.

“What is?” He finally asks.

“Moradin’s backside.” Sigur kicks himself free of his sleeping roll and scrambles to his feet.

“Through the portal- the Shadowfell. We dwarves call it the gloom. It’s…” Sigur shivers, “… a bit creepy.”
“Creepy?” Jimmy echoes and enquires.
Sigur shivers again, “Yes. Creepy.” He replies, failing spectacularly to shed any light on the matter.


Jimmy mulls on this new information for a while.

“But what is it?” But before Sigur can reply Jimmy enquires further, “and why is it creepy?”

Sigur stretches and gingerly makes his way over to the halfling, picking his way through the sleeping adventurers.

“It’s the same as here- a copy of our world, or else a shadow of our world- even the land is the same, the same geography that is. If you know your way around this world then you can find your way in the Shadowfell.” Sigur states, and before Jimmy can ask anything else goes on.
“Only it’s a shadow of this world, there’s no sun, no seasons, and very little life.”

Jimmy goes to open his mouth- Sigur cuts him off again.

“There are even towns and cities there, shadows of those in our world, like Fellhammer and Crestfallen.” The dwarf briefly concludes.
“What?” Jimmy gawps. “What are you saying?”
“I was born in Hammerfast.” Sigur states, “in the Shadowfell, in the gloom, there’s a city called Fellhammer- where Hammerfast is. Crestfallen is…”
“Fallcrest.” Jimmy catches on, Sigur nods.

“Oh.” The halfling adds.

“But who lives…” Jimmy is starting and failing to make sense of things.
“The Undead.” Sigur abruptly states, “and worse.” He adds.

Time stretches a while.

“Why’s it called the gloom? Why’s it creepy?” Jimmy asks, still keen on getting a definitive answer.

Sigur sighs and sits down.

“It’s called the gloom because it’s gloomy- dark, shadowy- hence the name Shadowfell.” The dwarf snarls a little in his reply, clearly beginning to regret opening his mouth earlier.

“It’s… oppressing, and depressing- no light, hordes of undead, it’s not somewhere you go for no reason. Which incidentally also answers your second question; it’s creepy because it’s the gloom.” Sigur finishes.

Jimmy nods.

Sigur scooches down, more lying than sitting, the dwarf makes himself comfortable- taking and rearranging Tonka’s blanket over him in the process.

Time continues to pass.

“Have you been there?” Jimmy finally asks and stares down at Sigur.
The dwarf broods a while and then meets the halfling’s gaze, “yes.”
“What…” Jimmy starts but is cut off again.
“And I swore I would never go back.” Sigur states, and then pointedly turns away from Jimmy.

Thirty seconds pass.

Jimmy continues to stare at the back of Sigur’s bald head, nope he can’t leave it at that, the halfling bends down and whispers in the dwarf’s ear.

“Why did you swear to never go back?”
Without turning Sigur plainly states, “I was the only one that came back- I don’t want that to happen again.”
“Oh.” Jimmy concludes and then shivers in a sudden icy gust of wind.

The chamber returns to silence.

Which stretches.

Tonka snorts, Jimmy almost jumps out of his skin.

The halfling involuntarily clutches at the heart-shaped amulet he took from Ninaran- he wonders whether the dead elf ranger will be there in the gloom, or Hal, or Hedda…

The rest of Jimmy’s shift passes without incident, in fact nothing at all comes this way- eight hours later the adventurers are up and about their business.

[sblock=Jimmy’s new amulet]

Jimmy’s looking mighty fine with his +1 Amulet of Life, now he’s wiped the blood off it.

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KOTS Part 18c: The Portal.


Tonka leads them in, through the portal- one-by-one, and in to… a corridor - the stone and tile the same as the rest of the catacombs they’ve been exploring, only newer, and at the same time older. The stone is greyer, and splotched here and there by great patches of gently pulsing dull purple mould.

Tonka’s breath mists in the cold air, the warlord signals and the adventurers hold station, their eyes adjusting to the shadow.

“This is…” Jimmy begins.
“The gloom.” Sigur states.

The adventurers continue to stop and stare- the corridor extends twenty or thirty feet to a door, or rather to the remains of a door, a once sturdy door now smashed in two, the upper half still attached, the lower half lying forlornly on the flagged floor.

“I feel…” Jimmy starts up again, and then rubs his face with his free hand, his skin feels somehow dead, or else… it’s hard to describe the feeling, numbness and at the same time a cold tingling sensation.

“I feel sorta…” Jimmy tries again.
“The gloom.” Sigur simply states, this time with emphasis.

“What?” Tonka snaps- too loud, he looks cowed a moment and then turns to stare at the dwarf.

“The gloom- it feeds on life, it’s…”, Sigur goes in search of the right word, “… it’s ravenous- always hungry, it feeds on the living.”
Tonka stares at the strange dwarf, still not convinced, truth be told the warlord has only ever read about the Shadowfell in books, none of the adventurers have ever been here before, save Sigur.

“Remember,” Sigur whispers, “we’re the outsiders here… be careful.” The dwarf finishes, and with a show of concern hitherto unheard of.
Tonka nods then turns back to look ahead, he gets on with it.

“Jimmy.” The dragonborn hisses, and points to the broken door ahead.
“Wish me luck.” Jimmy half-heartedly grins, gulps, and then scurries silently forward- to the doorway.

The other adventurers keep watch.

Thirty seconds later Jimmy signals that it is safe to move forward, Gokan frowns- his brother looks very grey, the half-orc takes a moment to examine the faces of his other companions- the colour has gone from each of them, but not like Jimmy’s face. There’s something wrong, Gokan concludes.

He’s quickly to his brother.

Moments later he understands.

The pair share a look- Jimmy looks terrified, Gokan attempts a smile- something goes wrong in its execution, Jimmy gulps again and whispers.

“I don’t like it. I’m scared.”


Gokan suddenly stands from his crouch, looks once more at Jimmy, and then cautiously moves in to the chamber- it stinks of death in here, not the smell of rotten flesh, rather the cold and clammy aroma of the grave.

Gokan’s brain screams for him to run, to sprint back to the portal, back to Winterhaven- to safety, away from this. Every step the half-orc takes is hard won, his body is fighting him- it doesn’t want to be here, it would rather be anywhere else than here.

The chamber is, or rather was, a barracks- there are cots, and lockers, and tables and chairs; the sleeping quarters for maybe a dozen men, nearly all of whom are present still.

The first body, wearing the rags of some ancient uniform is sprawled on its cot- the grey emaciated corpse, eyes open, stares into nothing- caught in a rictus grin.

Gokan moves further in, behind him Sigur, Ramm, Tonka and finally Jimmy gingerly shuffle forward in to the chamber. Even Ramm is affected- the great minotaur’s breath clouds his vision, he bobs his head every now and then in an effort to see through the haze.

There’s another body, and another, and then the worst yet- the slaughtered warrior has suffered extreme violence, its chest cavity punctured and peeled open to reveal a gaping wound, the flesh looks brittle, preserved by the numbing cold.

“They came this way.” Sigur states, at last breaking the silence.

The dwarf points ahead- to a door on the far side of the chamber, it too has been forced open.

“Sir Keegan came this way, with Kalarel and his followers hunting him down.” Sigur finishes.

The adventurers cautiously continue to edge forward, towards the far door, creeping through the gravesite, seemingly frightened to make a sound or else disturb the dead.

“There’s nothing to be done here.” Tonka states, and then straightens, buoyed a little by the sound of his own voice.

“There’s nothing to be done here- we should head on.” The warlord confirms attempting to break the spell, to assure the others, and to introduce a degree of normality to proceedings.

The adventurers increase their pace a little.

“We just need to find this Kalarel…” Tonka continues, the dragonborn can feel his hands again- the numbness seems to be passing, “… find him and kill him.” The warlord declares, ending with a grin.

The terror is receding, Ramm nudges a chair out of his path- and nothing bad happens. Gokan makes his way to the last cot and stares down at yet another brutally murdered body, he doesn’t give it a second glance. Sigur and Tonka match each other, stride for stride.

But at the back of the pack Jimmy continues to crouch and shuffle, shuffle and crouch- his eyes darting from one corpse to the next, his teeth chattering, his whole body shaking.

The halfling, normally a stranger to fear, is terrified still.


And with good reason.

Behind the halfling the first corpse nimbly, and silently, gets to its feet- licks its lips with a long thin bifurcated greyish tongue.

Death, it seems, has dominion here.


I tried to accentuate the atmosphere of the game in the Shadowfell section; we played at night with low lighting and suitable ambient sounds. The players had been briefed that this was going to happen; I likewise littered the play with plenty of random skill checks- as the guys moved through the Shadowfell. I described odd noises, fleeting shadows and a variety of other effects in an attempt to put the players on edge, it worked for the most part, mostly because the guys bought in to it- good players bring something extra to the game.

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KOTS Part 19: The Dead have Dominion.

[sblock=Party Line Up]

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 3



The chamber comes alive, or else… nearly a dozen of the bodies rise up- the closest pair lurch towards the astonished adventurers, the rest are far more dextrous and agile- they snarl and leap into the fray.

Miraculously the adventurers are on their mettle, even Gokan reacts in time, and they’re far too experienced to allow themselves to be taken by surprise.

[sblock=Picture- Undead ambush!]


Two of the deathly pale humanoids leap in to action, Tonka gibbers and then screams-


The first clutches and grabs at Gokan, clawing the half-orc and grabbing at the barbarian’s arm- it hangs on tight; the other fails to connect with Ramm- the minotaur dodges just in time.

[sblock=Mob Ghoul]

Mob Ghoul
Minion Soldier Level 7


Gokan is all action, he wrenches his arm free and in the same motion spins like a top, his axes a blur, the half-orc moves forward with his whirling frenzy, he cuts two of the mob ghouls dead.

The half-orc hollers and screams in exultation- the barbarian is out for blood, he spies a stumbling, shambling zombie- its hands before it, set to choke him; he grins and launches himself in a headlong charge, smashing in to the now forlorn grasping zombie.

[sblock=Picture- Gokan in action]



There was a lot of fretting going on at the table until Gokan cut down two of the Mob Ghouls in his Whirling Frenzy, the players hoped the creatures were Minions but didn’t know for sure they were.


[sblock=Grasping Zombie]

Grasping Zombie
Brute Level 2


Gokan screams again, a barbaric yawp, clearly happy to be in the thick of the action; unseen by the half-orc barbarian a strange amorphous creature seemingly made entirely of shadow closes in…

All the way in until the shadowy stalker blends seamlessly with Gokan’s own shadow, it hides there ready to pounce.

[sblock=Picture- Gokan’s evil shadow]


[sblock= Shadow Stalker]

Shadow Stalker
Lurker Level 3


The frenzy in the rest of the chamber continues unabated, more ghouls close in on the warriors leading the group- Gokan’s enthusiasm is quickly put to the test. He and Ramm are clawed and grabbed; Tonka briefly manifests a Bahamut emblazoned shield to parry one of the ghoul’s attacks.

The jeopardy increases when the grasping zombie Gokan struck retaliates, and punches the half-orc in the face.

Worse still, a ghoul wearing the rags of a watch commander - certainly a leader of some sort - leaps at Ramm, the minotaur evades the creature’s claws more by luck than judgement.

[sblock=Field Ghoul]

Field Ghoul
Lurker Level 8


The warriors are being hard pressed by the ghouls’ attacks, and yet another gets through Gokan’s defences, the half-orc staggers and yelps.

“SIGUR! TONKA!” Gokan screams, desperate for the pair’s radiant attacks.

[sblock=Picture- The warriors are surrounded]



Gokan is quickly bloodied, and grabbed again.


Jimmy however is the first to answer the call; the halfling forgets his fear, tumbles under another of the mob ghoul’s attacks and cuts the creature down. His blade completes its arc, Gokan’s eyes go wide- Jimmy’s dagger misses the half-orc by inches and instead cuts a swathe through… Gokan’s shadow.

[sblock=Picture- Gokan’s Evil Shadow!]


Jimmy stabs the shadowy creature that haunts his brother again and in the same moment, and motion, tumbles back out of the action and clear.

Gokan is left gawping at his evil grinning shadow.

Ramm shrugs off the ghoul holding him, spins his axe and fails spectacularly to connect with any of the foul undead still surrounding him. One of the mob ghouls grins at the minotaur, lances out its tongue as if to mock Ramm.


And has its neck snapped like a twig by Ramm’s shield bash.

[sblock=Picture- HARD CORE fight back]


“MoraDIN DESTROY!” Sigur starts low and growling and quickly escalates to bellowing at the top of his voice, his shout signals a trio of spectral hands which rush forth- another of the mob ghouls falls and suddenly Gokan’s shadow goes from sporting an evil grin to looking like it regrets getting in to this fight.

The dwarf chuckles and grins as a swirling swarm of shimmering radiant metal-coloured leaves suddenly appear, and then descend upon the enemies surrounding Ramm and Gokan.

The half-orc’s evil shadow ‘POPs’ out of existence- destroyed completely, yet another of the mob ghouls is caught in the holy rain- it too is spent. The grasping zombie menacing Gokan is left staggering and suffering, only just still standing.

“For BAHAMUT!” Tonka grins, salutes and then rushes in to the centre of the action en route delivering a short blessing to Gokan, the half-orc’s wounds all but disappear- the dragonborn priest smashes his longsword in to the leader ghoul, the foul creature screams in agony.


Tonka crits the Field Ghoul for 24 points of damage with his Warlord’s Strike.


The remaining grasping zombie staggers after the dragonborn, trying and failing repeatedly to get its hands around Tonka’s neck- he’s always just a step ahead of the slow moving monster.

[sblock=Picture- HARD CORE!]



Hard Core are kicking ass and taking names.



Gokan, now almost entirely free of enemies, slashes hard at the grasping zombie, he opens a great rent in the humanoid’s chest, and yet somehow it survives the attack- and grins at the half-orc. Gokan grins back- his hand axe follows his vanguard battleaxe, and removes the top four-or-so inches of the zombie’s skull.

The undead gingerly reaches up to feel the spot, looks confused for a moment and then collapses.

Gokan shifts and feints to join Ramm in the fight - too late - the leader ghoul tears at the minotaur’s flesh with its great claws- Ramm staggers, and is grabbed by the creature.


Ramm is bloodied, and grabbed.


Jimmy quickly switches direction, skitters to his right, ducks and dodges and comes up behind the remaining zombie- which is still trying to choke Tonka, the halfling rogue’s dagger stabs again and again at the zombie’s back, the foul undead stumbles but manages to stay on its feet, just.

Ramm struggles with the ghoul that has latched on to his arm, eventually prizing the creature free, but not before having to dodge another wild claw attack from the creature. The minotaur fighter slams his magical battleaxe in to the creature, the ghoul dodges back- badly wounded.

[sblock=Picture- In the mix]


“MORADIN’S HAMMER FALLS!” Sigur rebukes- the ghoul and the remaining zombie stagger some more, there’s nowhere for them to run however, the pair fight to the death.

Tonka mutters more inspiring words and Ramm’s wounds instantly heal over, the minotaur grunts his thanks. The dragonborn’s vengeful longsword is a lot less effective- he lashes out at the ghoul but is much too slow.

For good measure the warlord unleashes a fan of lightning, the grasping zombie facing him is scorched- if only a little. Tonka’s breath weapon however is enough to cause the zombie to stagger and miss its attack yet again.

[sblock=Picture- Close to the end]



Gokan grins, spits on his hands- wipes them on his new leather armour, juggling his axes all the while, and then charges and buries both of his blades in to the back of the last ghoul standing- and then wrenches both free.


Gokan’s damage is 1d10+1d6+6+1d8, the Field Ghoul takes 30 points of damage- you do the maths.


The ghoul falls to his knees, as if adoring Ramm, seconds later it sags, tips and crunches in to the cold stone floor- dead.

[sblock=Picture- Last Ghoul down]


Jimmy slashes hard again, cuts completely through one of the remaining grasping zombie’s legs, the appendage is joined by a thread of flesh only, and yet still the creature remains upright- just.

Ramm mooches closer- swings and…

The zombie’s head careens off two walls and the ceiling of the barracks before coming to rest back in the doorway of the chamber.

[sblock=Picture- Last Zombie down]


The fight is over.

The adventurers breathe hard and grin at each other - save Sigur, of course, who just looks slightly less grumpy than usual; the spell is broken- the gloom is not so terrifying.

[sblock=Encounter #19 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts]

Encounter #19 The Dead have Dominion, starring-

Mob Ghoul (Minion Soldier 7) x6
Grasping Zombie (Brute 1) x2
Shadow Stalker (Lurker 3) x1
Field Ghoul (Lurker 8) x1

1200 XP Level 5 Encounter.


240 XP each for a total of 3281 XP in total (PCs Level 3).

DM Thoughts-

I tried desperately to get a surprise round but the players were certain from the very beginning that the dead were going to come back to life- it didn’t seem fair to just ‘rule’ the PCs ‘are surprised’, that would be counterproductive.

The guys barely missed a beat, whereas the bad guys only landed two or three (heavy) hits in total, still I didn’t feel too bad- I knew what was coming next.

Good luck to them- that’s what I say, they’re going to need it.


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KOTS Part 19a: Protection.


The grinning continues for a while, the adventurers get back down to business more or less immediately, but their smiles stay with them.

“Ramm- far door. Gokan- guard the rear. Jimmy and Sigur…” Tonka takes a moment, having just realised he has included Sigur in his orders, the dwarf looks at the dragonborn cockeyed, he’s also waiting to hear what comes next.

Tonka clears his throat, reddens a little, “…Jimmy and Sigur search the place, anything odd to be found, particularly something that can tell us the way forward.”

Ramm and Gokan are already in position, Jimmy salutes Tonka- still smiling, and sets to search mode, Sigur sags- although only slightly, and then he too follows orders.

“Not so difficult.” Tonka intones sotto voce, and then tries to shift the smirk from his face.

Several fruitless minutes later the search is concluded- there’s nothing to be found, or at least nothing of worth or indeed importance; the rotting corpses are devoid of treasure, the chamber save its sparse trappings- a few cots and the ragged remains of their bedding - is empty.

Which leaves Tonka a little disappointed.

Jimmy shakes his head, Sigur shrugs.

“Oh” Tonka concludes.

“Move out.” Tonka quickly decides.

Jimmy and Gokan are to the fore, the pair head forward- outriders for the following trio; the corridor ahead is, well… gloomy, and it seems to go on forever- and with no alternative routes available.

At the back of the group Sigur turns to Ramm, grins at the minotaur and mumbles, “keep yer safe.” Sigur nods at the huge fighter and passes something over, instinctively Ramm takes the proffered item, Tonka turns to look back at the pair. Instinctively, again, Ramm makes a fist and hides Sigur’s gift.
“Passing notes?” Tonka quips.
Sigur shakes his head, Ramm looks confused.
“I meant… never mind.” Tonka returns to eyes front, walks a little faster in an effort to catch up with Jimmy and Gokan.

Sigur grins at Ramm, the dwarf’s smile is a little unnerving, even Ramm - the least sociable of the adventurers - knows there’s something odd, and a little frightening, about it.

Sigur grins again, even signals thumbs up.

Ramm shakes his head, as if to divest himself of the worrisome image.

The minotaur strides on, and when he thinks no-one is looking uncurls his fingers to see what prize he has been given. In the center of his palm is a locket or brooch, shaped like a shield.


“Magic.” Sigur states, the dwarf is watching.
Ramm nods.
“Keep yer safe- protect yer.” Sigur adds, and then smiles- again.
Ramm nods, keeping a close eye on the back of Tonka’s head.
“Put it on.” Sigur intones and then nods towards the beefy minotaur’s broad chest.
“Nggh!” Ramm starts, and then spies Tonka turning…
Ramm snorts and makes an odd coughing sound.
Tonka looks back- makes a shushing sound- Ramm nods, the dragonborn turns away again.

Ramm sighs, quietly.

“Put it on.” Sigur states again a little while later, and then grins once again at the great minotaur.
Ramm, stuck for an alternative, puts the brooch on- he feels… no different.
“Magic.” Sigur adds, and then nods again, “it suits you.”
Ramm tries to avoid eye contact with Sigur, he nods back, and then returns to staring at the back of Tonka’s head- as if nothing has happened.

The adventurers continue to walk silently down the seemingly endless, and increasingly gloomy, corridor.

“Stay frosty people.” Tonka loudly declares, guaranteeing the element of surprise is lost.

Sigur tuts and shakes his head.
Ramm, inadvertently, mimics the once surly dwarf.
Sigur notices.
And smiles at Ramm.
Ramm, much to his annoyance, finds himself smiling back.
Sigur nods- just once.
Ramm nods back- again, just once.

The pair walk on.

Ten yards later and Jimmy and Gokan are in sight, and there are noises, a raised voice- perhaps a woman’s voice, indistinct but… there’s something odd and yet at the same time familiar about it. There are lights, ahead, through a pair of open doors.

The sneaky pair signal for silence- the adventurers move up, into a huddle.

“There’s a large chamber ahead…” Gokan starts.
“…it looks like a church, at least…” Jimmy adds.
“…vaulted, and…” Gokan continues.
“…massive.” Jimmy finishes.
“Sounds like some sort of…” Jimmy shrugs.
“Ceremony?” Gokan wonders.

Tonka nods. “Let’s get closer- take a look.” Tonka nods seemingly at random at various party members, and then follows Jimmy and Gokan quietly forward, towards the pair of great stone doors ahead, both portals have been wedged open- seemingly in ages past.

Ramm tries to follow but his arm is suddenly grasped and dragged back by Sigur, the dwarf quickly lets go and grins once again at the minotaur.


“Keep me safe.” Sigur states, and nods towards the chamber ahead.
Ramm looks confused.
“Keep me safe.” Sigur echoes, and nods again.
“Don’t let anything bad happen to me.” Sigur adds, and for the tiniest moment looks… serious, like he means it.
Ramm searches his brain for the right answer.
“I don’t want to end here.” Sigur tries again, his voice in places oddly high-pitched.
Sigur nods again, slowly- solemnly this time.

Up ahead Tonka hisses- Sigur and Ramm turn to stare at the dragonborn. Tonka hisses again, louder- an admonition, and then circles one arm, ordering the pair to move up- and be quick about it.

“Ple…” Sigur starts.
Ramm swiftly nods at the dwarf and then strides forward, away from Sigur, at pace.

“Quiet!” Tonka hisses, the great minotaur slows and tries desperately to obey the order.

Behind him Sigur looks… terrified.

[sblock=Ramm’s protected]

Ramm’s prize- a +1 Brooch of Shielding.​

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KOTS Part 19b: Behind You.


“Are you sure, chap?” The voice is refined, resolute and recognisable- it’s Sir Garlik, the Dragonborn Paladin- friend of Douvern and Gerda, and member of the rescue team sent to defeat the Wererats at the exchange.
“I’m not one for prying into other people’s business… but, a note- are you sure that was the right thing to do?” The Paladin finishes.
Douvern Staul leans his back against a wall and breathes hard; he’s out of condition, and feeling it.
“I didn’t want to worry her.” He states.
“Didn’t want to worry her!” Sir Garlick repeats, with incredulity.
“Zo, you sneak off while she’s zleeping to stop ‘er from worrying! A little cowardly, n’est-ce pas!” Eko moves closer to the pair, she doesn’t look very happy with Douvern.
“I…” Douvern begins, but is stopped in his tracks.
“I agreez to come ‘ere becauz you zaid that Gerda was worried about Jimmy, and ze otherz.” Eko folds her arms, and taps her foot- all the while staring daggers at Douvern, and every now and then Sir Garlik- it seems they are both to blame.
Sir Garlik shrugs and then nods pointedly at Douvern- he may be a holy knight of Bahamut, but he’s not taking the rap for this one.
“Zo!” Eko exclaims, and focuses all of her ire on Douvern.

The old man gulps, rubs his brow with the back of his hand, and quickly decides to come clean under the half-elf’s wilting gaze.

“There’s something down there… down in the dark, I didn’t just come to Winterhaven on a whim, nor was I here just to dig up old bones.” Douvern starts up.
Eko glances at Sir Garlik- the Paladin shakes his head, he knows nothing about this.
“Go on…” Eko states.
“A while back a friend of mine, a Fallcrest Watch Sergeant- Murgeddin, confided in me- he said that he’d heard some strange tales about goings on in Winterhaven, and the surrounding area. Mostly it was all the usual stuff- y’know cultists, talk of kidnappings, humanoid attacks; as I say the usual run-of-the-mill paranoia that Watch Sergeant’s dream up on quiet nights,” Douvern continues.
“Zo, what changez your mind?” Eko asks.
“It was something Murgeddin said, it made me think of this place…” Douvern looks up, and then about him- at the cold stone flagged floors of the catacombs, the trio are stood in one of the guard rooms in the depths of the Keep on the Shadowfell- Gerda is really not going to be happy.
“What ‘e zay?” Eko’s rapidly losing her patience.
“He told me a story about a raid he was on, a seedy tavern in Low Town, back in Fallcrest- I forget its name. The place was a front for all manner of illegal activities, and a magnet for low life… Anyway, the Watch would bust the place up every now and then, on the off-chance they’d find something interesting, and just to let the villains know they were watching…” Douvern continues.
“They cleared the place out, arrested everybody, or at least all that didn’t get away; they decided to take a snoop around- see what they could find. They discovered a secret passage in the basement that lead in to the sewers, they also found signs that the place had been used to hold captives, or else…” Douvern shrugs, unsure.
Eko nods to indicate he should go on.
“Murgeddin talked of slavers- the Iron Circle…” Douvern stops for a moment to let his words sink in.


“Ze Iron Circle- zat is bad.” Eko states.
Sir Garlik nods- stiffens, and with his longsword in hand looks about the forlorn, and deserted, chamber.
“Zo, zat iz why we iz ‘ere.” Eko turns the question in to a statement.
“No, well… I mean, yes- perhaps.” Douvern further confuses the issue.
“Sacre bleu! What are you zaying you foolish old man?” Eko snaps at Douvern.
The ‘old man’ looks hurt, at least for a moment, it passes.
“I’m saying- partially. The Iron Circle worries me, but that’s not why I came here. Murgeddin said that they found something else- he said they found signs of ritual sacrifices, human sacrifices, at least that’s what he thought- he couldn’t be certain. They also found a chamber with strange markings- they were done in blood. He couldn’t make out a lot of it- symbols and glyphs, he said- but there was some stuff, written in the common tongue- or at least an old version of common…”
“What did it zay?” Eko interrupts.
Douvern looks up, all eyes are on him, he unfolds a piece of paper- with shaking hands.
“It said-

“Lo’ thee shadow wilt cast in thee tyme off mark;
Thee deyd shalt hayve domayn whenst thee clawwed lady loseth her gryp;
In thee vale of nen thee black tyde wilt riseth,
All wilt be lost, froom thee fall, to thee crest, to thee falls;
Thee deyd shalt hayve domain.”

Douvern waits a moment or two, and then refolds the scrap of paper and puts it back in his pocket.
“Don’t see it old chap?” Sir Garlik helpfully articulates his and Eko’s confusion.
“Sounds a bit… fishy. What’s it all mean?” The Paladin of Bahamut concludes.
“Very, as you say, fishzee!” Eko echoes.
“’Thee tyme off mark’- that’s now, the rule of the Markelhay’s in Fallcrest. ‘The vale of nen’, easy- that’s the Nentir Valley. But the bit that worries me most is the line ‘froom thee fall, to thee crest, to thee falls’” Douvern states, expecting a reaction.
Only to be met by blank stares.
“’Thee fall, to thee crest, to the falls’- it all points to Fallcrest…” Douvern gasps, a little exasperated.

Enlightenment comes, but very slowly.

“The Falls- in the Feywild!” Eko states.
“I see it now- the crest is Crestfallen.” Sir Garlik catches up with events.
“That’s it. Fallcrest in the Vale, and Crestfallen, and the Falls- it’s all the same place, that is the same place only on the Prime Material plane and its echoes- in the Shadowfell, and the Feywild.” Douvern gables a little, excited.

The trio think about things for a moment.

“Zo, zumthing bad is going to ‘appen- ze shadow it comes.” Eko confirms, “and you zink it will ‘appen ‘ere- in zis place. Why?”
“This place is known as the Keep on the Shadowfell, rumours have always existed- about how and why the Keep fell in the first instance, but also about a portal that was built here- centuries past, a portal to the Shadowfell. I think it’s all connected somehow. I think Murgeddin thought that too, that’s why he told me- he knew I’d do something about it…” Douvern nods along with his speech.

“Perhaps…” Sir Garlik adds, still a little unsure, the dragonborn rubs his chin, “it seems a little…”, the Paladin drifts off, unsure how to end the sentence.
Douvern stares at Sir Garlik.


“It doesn’t end there- I’ve seen the verse before, written in a book- a long time ago, when I was an adventurer- or else just after I retired. I needed to come to Winterhaven to confirm a few details, talk to Valthruin- the sage…I was right. He confirmed my suspicions- he knows of the book.”
“What iz zis book?” Eko asks, her interest piqued.
“I don’t know what it’s called; I don’t even think it has a proper name- the Mages of Saruun referred to it simply as the ‘Black Book’”.
“Mages of what, old chap?” Sir Garlik enquires.
“The Mages of Saruun- they run the trading post, the Seven Pillared Hall, in Thunderspire.” Douvern adds.
“Thunderspire!” Sir Garlik parrots, “this is getting serious- don’t you think; a little complicated.”
“You know I was an adventurer in the past…” Douvern starts, and is met by nods.
“… One of my companions, Paldemar- he retired to the Seven Pillared Hall, I went to visit him there, mostly to reminisce; that’s when I saw the book- he had it, he was studying it while…”

A sudden noise makes the trio look up.

“What was zat?”

The trio stand as still as statues, listening intently- silently Eko draws her blade, Sir Garlik already has his sword in hand.


It’s Sir Garlik that breaks the still, his voice however is no more than a whisper.

“Perhaps you’re right, perhaps there’s something going on here- or in the Vale, but standing around is not going to solve the mystery. We have work to do. Gerda, Bahamut bless her, will have to worry for a little longer, but hear this Douvern. When we get back, to Winterhaven, you’re through with this- no more wandering around in dungeons, you’re an old man, you have a wife- and a family.”
Douvern looks down, his tears come surprisingly quickly.

The moment passes.

“You’re right of course, we must get on- it’s this way, I think.”

Douvern lurches forward, and away, the torch he carries chases away the black, behind him Eko and Sir Garlik watch the old man for a moment.

“We should have brought the Red Baron with us. He could have proved… useful.” Sir Garlik whispers.
“Zat is out of ze question! His fever iz yet to… ‘ow you say- break. He is sick, not fit for zer duty.” Eko snaps back, rather harshly. She softens, “still, I mizz ‘im.”

“Come on.” Sir Garlik smiles at Eko, and then gently steers her towards Douvern’s light.

The Paladin is the last to leave the chamber, taking a moment more to stand in silence, listening intently; he looks momentarily at odds- as if something is not quite right.

Then without warning, turns on his heel, and follows his comrades deeper in to the dungeon, deeper in to the shadow.


Just a note to say that in game, and in previous 4e campaigns I have DM'ed, I've always run with the idea that the Feywild and the Shadowfell are geographically for the most part the same place as the 'normal' world, or at least the major land masses are the same. The Fey and Shadow worlds are mirrors of the Prime Material world, although shaped and populated by flora and fauna which reflects their character.

In a previous campaign adventurers had to save Fallcrest by visiting it's Feywild and Shadowfell equivalents, as stated above, known as 'The Falls' and 'Crestfallen', respectively.

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KOTS Part 19c: Further Behind You.


The circle of light fades from the chamber; Douvern, Eko and Sir Garlik move on- deeper into the catacombs.

The light fades to nothing- darkness.

Nothing happens.

At least for a minute or so, and then another light- much smaller, concealed- it flickers and lurches slightly.

The new light illuminates only a fraction of the chamber; it gives character to the shadows, and in particular one shadow- the elongated shadow of a humanoid clutching a shuttered lantern- a lithe and sinewy individual, perhaps.

The shadowy figure moves across the chamber, clearly following the three adventurers that passed through a minute or so ago, it scampers and darts from cover to cover- a hunter stalking its prey.

And then, as suddenly, it’s gone- through the chamber and back into the darkness, the tiny flickering light fading swiftly as it follows after the trio.

The chamber returns to silence, and darkness.


KOTS Part 20: The Cathedral of Shadow.

[sblock=Party Line Up]

The Hard Core Adventurers Level 3



The first chamber is a ruin, with a number of passages leading from it- but the light comes from ahead, as does the noise; a dark guttural tongue- screeching in places, beseeching in others- a woman’s voice, although…

Jimmy and Gokan lead the fellows closer, straight to a pair of wooden doors, smashed open sometime in the past and locked into position over the ages. Clearly the chamber ahead is a cathedral, or else a large church of sorts, dedicated to some foul deity- it is enormous, the vaulted ceiling out of sight.

Seventy feet or so ahead a stepped dais leads up to a large shadowy statue, clearly the object of worship- if not now then at some time in the past. Before the half-hidden stone figure, a female Shadar-kai, robed and likewise cloaked in shadow. The woman gesticulates and shouts, and screams- clearly the source of the infernal noise.

[sblock=Shadar-kai Witch]

Shadar-kai Witch
Controller Level 7


Between the adventurers and the woman is the chamber proper, three tall crystal pillars reach up to the ceiling, each shedding an eerie pale light, a fourth pillar has been shattered ages past, it glows but faintly.

A little way in to the chamber, no more than fifteen to twenty feet, is a great yawning maw- a hole in the flagged floor, a pit- perhaps.

“Sacrifice pit.” Tonka whispers, with a degree of certainty.

Five rickety looking skeletons stand statue in here, and to either side of the central illuminated section area are shadows; piles of rubble, the outline of broken walls, doors and other chambers- nothing moves there.

[sblock=Decaying Skeleton]

Decaying Skeleton
Minion Level 5


“We should get on.” Tonka whispers, back at the door.
Gokan and Ramm grunt, although quietly.
“Take the Shadar-kai out quickly.” Sigur warns.
The other four adventurers nod in reply.
“This isn’t the end, there’s worse to come- I fear.” Tonka announces.

Alas the decision is quickly taken out of the adventurers’ hands, the closest Decaying Skeleton slowly turns to gaze in their direction, the adventurers tense, but too late- they’ve been spotted. The Skeleton slams its longsword into its wooden shield- repeatedly, the other skeletons turn to stare, and then they too take up the call.

The ceremony ends, in a scream.

Atop the dais the Shadar-kai Witch points, directly at the adventurers, now cowering a little in the shadowy doorway, the game is up- surprise is lost…

“Go! Go! Go!” Tonka begins with a whisper but quickly takes to screaming his instructions- the adventurers spill out into the Cathedral of Shadows.

[sblock=Picture- Into battle!]


Jimmy’s magical dagger spins out and slams hard into the skull of the first Skeleton approaching, the frail undead creature collapses into a pile of mostly broken bones.

Jimmy grins- “Easy!” The halfling offers and chuckles to himself, perhaps a little prematurely.

A bolt of scintillating black rushes across the chamber, strikes Ramm- the most advanced of the adventurers, the minotaur bellows in confusion as he is engulfed in the necrotic pulse- his mind pitches and yaws, all is darkness. Ramm’s vision is reduced to not more than ten feet; the great warrior is surrounded by a sea of impenetrable shadow.


Ramm is hit by the Shadar-kai Witch’s Beshadowed Mind for 22 Necrotic damage, the minotaur is confused, and shaken by the experience.


Gokan, heading forward over the other side of the yawning pit to Ramm, is met by a pair of the Decaying Skeletons- the half-orc grins and then is cut twice, the second blow slightly deflected as Tonka’s Shield of Devotion suddenly appears. Gokan’s smile disappears quickly; the Skeletons are adept fighters, much to the half-orc’s chagrin.

But not for long…

Sigur mutters as he strides into the chamber- his usual ghostly hands whoosh out and head for the nearest three Decaying Skeletons, all three undead creatures are slapped, punched or else merely touched- the result is the same, all three explode.

“Get on!” Sigur states and shoos Gokan further forward.

The surly dwarf Invoker, still muttering, fires off more of his magical powers- aiming at the Shadar-kai Witch on the far side of the chamber, the woman is briefly surrounded by shimmering falling leaves. The magic however soon fades, and seemingly without any untoward affect.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur attacks]


Tonka screams, “For Bahamut!” He rushes forward, suddenly lurches left as in his peripheral vision comes a ball of flapping winged fury; a Gnaw Demon which lurches down from the shadows above, and bites a hunk from the Dragonborn’s shoulder.

Tonka’s charge peters out, it comes to nothing- the Demon however is still in hot pursuit of the flailing Dragonborn.

[sblock=Gnaw Demon]

Gnaw Demon
Skirmisher Level 5


Things get steadily worse for Ramm, the minotaur Fighter bellows again- as dancing into the diminished circle of light that surrounds him comes a ferocious looking Ravenous Ghoul. The undead menace’s Ravenous Bite rips a hunk of flesh from Ramm’s side- the brooch, recently given to Ramm by Sigur, flares and much of the hurt fades. The wound however continues to bleed profusely- the minotaur is in real trouble.

[sblock=Ravenous Ghoul]

Ravenous Ghoul
Brute Level 5


[sblock=Picture- Ramm vs Ravenous Ghoul]


Seconds later a second Ravenous Ghoul races forward and launches itself at Sigur, the Dwarf betrays a moment’s panic- and is made to pay, another Ravenous Bite rips a chunk of flesh from Sigur’s arm. The Dwarf Invoker’s armour flares, the Ghoul screams and staggers backwards, hit by his Armour of Wrath’s radiant burst, Sigur’s wound continues to bleed however.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur helps out]


Ramm fights back, reaches around and slams his shield into the Ravenous Ghoul’s face, the undead staggers and slumps to the floor. The minotaur follows with a ferocious attack, the Fighter’s axe rips into the prone undead creature.

Ramm bellows again, this time in fury, he’s Unstoppable- his wounds forgotten, moments later the bleeding has stopped and his vision has returned to normal, he’s back in control of his senses.

Ahead Tonka defends badly against the last remaining Decaying Skeleton, the dragonborn is slashed and cut, and with the salivating Gnaw Demon following after.

Gokan diverts his movement, the half-orc turns and races towards the newly revealed Gnaw Demon, he slams his axe into the armoured ball of fury, follows swiftly with his hand axe and wrenches the creature down to the ground. The now bloodied Demon gawps for a second and then blinks out of existence; it appears ten feet away, on the lip of the pit- still prone and bloody on the cold stone floor.

[sblock=Picture- Fighting for their lives]


The fight is in its full fury already, and the adventurers are not having everything their own way.


Jimmy scurries forward, coming to Ramm’s aid, the bloody minotaur needs all of the help he can get. The Ravenous Ghoul is swiftly stabbed twice, it’s still on the stone floor, it bleeds and thrashes, staggered by the vicious halfling’s attack.

[sblock=Picture- Vicious Jimmy]


Moments later Gokan is suddenly caught in the same all-encompassing shroud as affected Ramm, the Half-Orc is flustered, the field of his vision massively reduced- Gokan panics and flails wildly, his Beshadowed Mind frantic to find purchase on reality.

Atop the dais the Shadar-kai Witch grins malevolently, signals nonchalantly for her minions to continue their work.

Sigur meantime strides forward in to the chamber, the Dwarf’s favourite ghostly appendages appear and zoom off to find fresh targets- the last of the Decaying Skeletons explodes, while the Ghoul being menaced by Ramm and Jimmy is momentarily branded by one of the Radiant Hands.

Sigur sucks up the hurt, gets his Second Wind, determined to put an end to this foul menace- he only has eyes for the Witch on the dais.

“I’m comin’ for you!” The surly Dwarf points out his prey.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur approaches]


Tonka quickly takes stock of the situation- “Bahamut preserve!” he calls over to Ramm, and the Minotaur’s wounds are forgotten. The Dragonborn is quickly over to the fallen Ghoul, cutting at the foul undead menace with his sword- and yet the Ravenous Ghoul somehow manages to make it back to its feet. Worse still it launches itself at Ramm- rips and tears at the Minotaur’s flesh- the three adventurers are having problems it seems taking the beast down.

“I’m coming for…” Sigur begins once more, and then is silenced.

A second Ravenous Ghoul emerges from the shadows and leaps upon the Dwarf, from behind; the foul monstrosity reaches around and bites, and rips, and tears at Sigur’s throat. The effect is instant, the Dwarf Invoker- gargling blood and clutching at the spot, slumps to the floor and then falls face forward to embrace the cold stone.

Sigur is dying.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur falls!]



The Ravenous Ghoul connects with a Critical Hit for 30+ hit points damage. I remember it well, the entire room went silent- Sigur is a sort of talisman for these guys, he has more than his fair share of upsets with the other players but at the heart of it all they kinda like, or at least, respect the Dwarf Invoker.


“You are doomed to failure!” The Shadar-kai Witch pronounces, with a hideous laugh.

“Nooooooo!” Ramm charges- barrels in to the second Ghoul, the one that took down Sigur, slams the creature in to the nearest crystal pillar, sweeps the decks and leaves the beast sprawling on the floor. The Minotaur momentarily eyes Sigur- he’s not moving, then sets about the undead with his axe.

In the same instant the shadows lift from Gokan’s eyes, the Half-Orc has all his senses back in full order, he screams and shouts and then launches himself at the Shadar-kai, delivering a Thunderous Smash to the Witch- hacking at her.

[sblock=Picture- Witch attack]


The fracas is frantic; both sides are fighting for their lives.


Jimmy stabs down with his magical dagger, sinking the blade - at least six inches - into the skull of the Ravenous Ghoul before him-; the foul undead looks confused, but only for a second, then it falls to the floor- dead.

Jimmy is already off, racing to help Ramm.

Up on the dais the Shadar-kai screams and screeches as it fends off Gokan’s whirling axes- suddenly the pair are engulfed in a thick fug of deep shadow- hidden completely from sight.

In the same moment the Gnaw Demon is suddenly back into the action, swooping down at Ramm, fluttering and dodging, looking to tear, or else bite the frenzied Minotaur Fighter.

[sblock=Picture- Frenzy]


Meanwhile on the floor the pool of blood surrounding Sigur continues to grow larger, the dying Dwarf however has nothing to say.


Sigur is on -14 hit points, he’s bleeding out taking ongoing 5 hit points damage. He makes his death save but fails to stop the bleeding. The players, collectively, hold their breath.


“Bahamut save this brave soldier of the light!” Tonka intones, and the ravaged Dwarf opens his eyes.

Sigur looks up at his saviour, and winks. Tonka nods curtly, softens and grins, and then charges at the Gnaw Demon pestering Ramm.

Ramm and Jimmy manage to keep Sigur’s would-be slayer, the second Ravenous Ghoul, at bay; the Minotaur manages to clip the Gnaw Demon and send it spinning out of the fracas- the Ghoul however holds its own- the foul undead seem to be more than a match for the adventurers.


Just a note to say Ramm managed to do only 8 points of damage with his Shove & Slap Daily Power. Gutted!


Gokan meanwhile continues to flail and dodge, encased in the necrotic black mist of the Shadar-kai Witch, his body is beginning to feel numb, every now and then a false-step, his senses are dulling. He manages to catch the Witch once, but only with the flat of his magical battleaxe, the Half-Orc however is not having things his own way, as a precaution he lets slip his hand axe and searches with his free hand for the Healing potion at his belt.

[sblock=Picture- Hard Core!]



Jimmy dodges, and feints and then tumbles under the Ravenous Ghoul’s lurching attack, the Halfling comes up behind the undead- and buries his blade in its back, and yet still the thing fights on, only momentarily turns to grimace at the Rogue.

The Halfling’s brother fares far worse, out of the smoke and the shadow Gokan spies the Shadar-kai’s open hand- but too late, the merest of touches is enough to send him reeling. The Witch’s Blackfire Touch leaves the Half-Orc’s left arm smouldering and burning as if it were on fire; while at the same time almost completely numb.

What’s worse, the Witch is laughing at him.

Gokan tries to form words but finds that the numbness is spreading.

“I…”, he begins.

“I need…” His second attempt is little better.

It’s enough however, Sigur begins to lever himself to his feet, although he’s still bleeding; at the same time he scans the shadowy bolus that still surrounds Gokan and the Witch, searching for clues to the Shadar-kai’s location.

“I said.” Sigur states, “I said- I’m coming for you.” The Dwarf finishes.

And for the second time is caught napping, the Gnaw Demon suddenly blinks into existence directly before him- lurches forward and tears into his body with its ferocious Bite.

Sigur staggers back, for a second admiring his new wound, and then- as previously, thunks into the cold stone floor.

[sblock=Picture- Sigur falls (again)!]



The Gnaw Demon’s Bite attack reduces Sigur to 2 hit points, then the ongoing 5 damage kicks in and he falls- again. The Dwarf makes his death save but again fails to throw off the ongoing damage.


“For Bahamut!” Tonka is quickly to the rescue, slicing and cutting at the Gnaw Demon, although with little effect.

“Raaagh!” The Dragonborn unleashes a fan of lightning, which sizzles and crackles, and burns the Demon- although the flying fiend is quickly recovered.

Ramm and Jimmy continue to battle the second Ghoul- the fighting is frenetic, and for the most part off target, although Ramm at last manages to cut with his battleaxe and leave the foul undead lurching and staggering- trying to stay on its feet.

Gokan, seemingly in slow-motion- so numb are his limbs, manages to get the uncorked potion flask to his lips and slug the fiery brew down- his blood boils and begins to thaw his limbs.

He roars, and gets his Second Wind- he’s fighting back; and yet it is all he can do- he defends furiously, unable to launch even a single attack.

The Shadar-kai Witch - when he catches sight of her- is still grinning, and he can still hear her hollow laughter.


Gokan got down to 2 hit points there before the healing kicks in- close.


It’s too much- Gokan does something he has never done before, he cautiously retreats.

[sblock=Picture- Gokan retreats]



Jimmy spots Tonka, floundering a little, trying to keep the Gnaw Demon at bay- the Halfling winks at his Minotaur companion, the big Fighter nods back, and moments later Jimmy is away- a Fleeting Spirit Strike delivered after a frantic crouched scamper. The Halfling leaps up and plunges his magical blade into the otherwise engaged Demon. His blade rips apart the foul creature- a black gloop, demon’s blood, gushes from the wound- the Gnaw Demon tries to gain height, tries to turn to face its new attack- it fails on both accounts.

The shrieking Demon erratically spirals to the cold stone floor, squeals and wails once or twice more, and then is silent- deceased.

It’s Tonka’s turn to nod at the Halfling, the Dragonborn is quickly to the fallen Sigur- he has no healing powers left, he’ll have to bring the Invoker back the old-fashioned way; Tonka gets to work.

In the meantime the Shadar-kai Witch suddenly appears as the swirl of shadow that surrounded her fades to nothing; Gokan grins and then suddenly sets his face to a rictus grin- once again the Half-Orc is left befuddled, his mind Beshadowed, unable to see further than ten feet, and left lurching and ragged, Gokan is almost spent.

[sblock=Picture- Gnaw Down]


Tonka curses and looks up- shakes his head at Jimmy.

“Try again!” The Halfling screams at the Dragonborn Warlord.


There’s never a good time to roll a ‘1’, which Stu- who plays Tonka, very ably demonstrates for us.


Ramm and the last remaining Ravenous Ghoul skitter and dance in their fracas, the Minotaur is trying but failing to land what he believes to be the killing blow for the foul undead creature. In his eagerness the Fighter over-reaches, the Ghoul is on him- ripping at the Minotaur’s flesh, tearing a great rent in his arm. Ramm’s left staggering, he almost collapses, and the blood is quite literally pouring from the wound.


Ramm is down to 6 hit points, and taking ongoing 5 damage.


Up on the dais Gokan, staggers once, and then falls.


On 0 hit points, and also taking ongoing damage.


Jimmy watches his brother fall- sucks in air, set to scream, and then suddenly holds his breath, and looks confused. But only for a moment- the Halfling rushes over to help Ramm.

Gokan continues to play dead.


In reality, in-game, Jimmy did his “Nooooooooo!” scream when his brother Gokan fell, however mid-“Nooooooo!” Gokan rolled his death save- a ‘20’, the Half-Orc spends a Healing Surge, it seems he’s now shamming. Gokan even manages to save against the ongoing damage.

This fight however has the players sorely tested.


[sblock=Picture- To the death!]



And still the Ravenous Ghoul manages to keep his attackers at bay, Jimmy is spotted sneaking back into the fracas, the Ghoul manoeuvres and the moment is gone, the Halfling’s attack comes to nothing.

Which is a shame, as mere seconds later Tonka scrabbles to reach behind him, to remove the Shadar-kai Witch’s hand, which is pressed- palm flat, against the middle of his back. The Witch’s Blackfire Touch ravages the Dragonborn Warlord, Tonka falls.


Tonka takes 22 points of fire and necrotic damage, a Critical Hit, Tonka was on 21 hit points- of course.


[sblock=Picture- Tonka’s down!]


Sigur continues to lie still.


The Dwarven Invoker is no longer taking ongoing damage, and is yet to fail a death save- he seems to have the safest spot in the fight, well…


The Ravenous Ghoul, just for a second, clutches Ramm’s arm- thrust forward in attack, and claws- it’s a scratch, nothing more, and yet enough- the Minotaur falls forwards towards the cold stone floor of the chamber.

But Ramm’s not finished, mid-sprawl the Fighter reorients his axe and back-hand brings the blade around and sinks it in the Ghoul’s midriff.

The foul undead gawps at the rent in his form for a brief second, and then joins Ramm on the floor.


Ramm’s Dying Ferocity comes to the party.


At this point only Jimmy and the Shadar-kai Witch are left standing.

“Will you be my friend, little one?”

The Witch asks and then laughs up a storm, she closes in on the gibbering terrified Jimmy- the Halfling plays his part, right up until the point his brother Gokan thumps into the Shadar-kai’s back, sending the Witch sprawling.

Gokan’s charging, leaping attack is also so poorly aimed it’s entirely by luck he connects with the Witch; the Half-Orc almost brains himself on one of the crystal pillars.

Gokan recovers, grins and gets back in to action- the pair advancing, either side of the Witch, who backs away- less sure of the odds.

[sblock=Picture- Two on one]

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I am hoping that there are more updates coming...I really enjoy the style you have chosen and also the mechanical drivers for those descriptions.

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