Shadow of Madness

You can do anything in a montage.

A Log Entry from “A Complete History of The Golden Oriflamme Vol. 1” detailing their actions at Camp Halbard.

That was close. Getting the horses out of the tomb was no easy task. Only two of the mounts were fit to carry riders after their ordeal. The worst off had a broken leg, and other internal injuries. He wouldn’t have lasted long, so that coupled with our sudden need for a distraction led us to see him put down. He was hobbled in a clearing out in front of the tomb, saddlebags stuffed with our remaining alchemist fire. By now the huge bulette was returning, we hoped the to buy our escape with the horses, and maybe give the beast a nasty surprise.

We sent the other injured horse galloping off to the south. It might have gotten away, we’d like to think it did. We lit off to the west at a run. The horses were slowed having to carry the burden of two riders. At first the Bulette didn’t take the bait, and instead was drawn to the sound of our escape. We diverted to a rocky hill and paused, causing it to loose us and seek other prey. It quickly homed in on the hobbled horse, lighting off toward the sound of the struggling animal. We paused only long enough to see the beast erupt from the ground and unleash a conflagration from the trapped packs. The creature was wounded and dove deep into the earth.

We continued westward for the rest of the day. Putting all of our wilderness skills to use we managed to find signs of the settlements that once dotted this region of Breland. Soon we came upon a road that ran north to south. We believed it would lead us to what we had come to believe was an outpost indicated on our captured map. However, we were set upon by marauders before we could decide which way to follow it.

Goblins… again, well big ones this time. Two Bugbears and an smattering of smaller hobgoblins. We made quick work of them, despite our initial surprise. They seemed surprised when we didn’t fall to their initial charge. They had us outnumbered two to one, and it looked dicey at the start. Morat’s fire cleared out the majority of the hobgoblins. The Bugbears under the combined assault of the party.

The Goblins were nice enough to bring another map with them. This one cleared up any questions as to direction… we were south of our destination. It also contained what appeared to be troop movements, from points arrayed around our destination.

We soon came upon a fortified garrison that straddled the road. A group of riders emerged and challenged our approach. They were suspicious but soon warmed to us as they realized we bore little resemblance to Goblins. Jigjo was not with us at this time having left to scout the mountains directly. The leader, a tall Human wearing battered armor and showing signs of fatigue, introduced himself as Capt. Reginald Sterling. He led us through the camp and pointed out their efforts to improve the camps defenses. The gaps in the old walls were being repaired where possible, and blocked with carts, lumber and whatever was handy where not. Capt. He explained why the repairs were so urgent when we reached the largest of the camp’s three buildings. camps recent encounters with Goblin’s and other creatures. That these encounters seemed to be increasing in intensity and he feared they would soon be overrun. We considered our role here as Sterling sent for one of his sergeants.

When the sergeant, a squat gnome warlord named Bertib, arrived we learned of his platoon’s efforts to provide other defenses within the walls. He was rigging the place with all manner of traps, some quite ingenious and it was clear that he took to the work enthusiastically. We were inspired and quickly realized that our chances of survival would be much higher if this could be applied outside the walls as well. Bertib provided us with able workers and opened the camps resources to us.

I recall the day only in short vignettes: rigging crossbows to trip wires, Marc dowsing everything in lamp oil, Morat ordering spike-laden holes dug everywhere, Ryu stoically rigging trees and branches like the arm of a catapult along every path. Flashes of other clever traps join these. We finished as the sun set and retreated to the safety of the camp’s wall as we learned of the approaching assault. Goblins assembled in squads just outside of the range of Marc’s bow. The wait for them to enter our killing zone was almost unbearable.

They didn’t make us wait long. Two score goblins charged the camp, only 3 made it. Those that thought to use the woods for cover were decimated by Ryu’s rigged trees. Marc ignited his field of oil and engulfed an entire squad. The crossbows cut down a group of goblins that thought they had won through to the walls. Morat’s tiger traps caught a few but the goblins seemed nimble enough to avoid most of them. The field before the walls was filled with the screams of dying goblins. There wasn’t time to dwell on it though as invaders had broken through and we found ourselves in the thick of it.

The three goblins that broke through were led by a big hobgoblin. They were joined by two huge cave trolls, slavering in blood fury. Marc put the big hobgoblin down with a flurry of arrows. Morat and Ryu made quick work of the goblins. The trolls, though, the trolls were something else. We had never faced their like. They attacked by grabbing their victims and then slammed them against walls, other party members, their other fist… whatever was convenient. And then there was the regeneration. It took forever to take them down, and keep them down. Morat’s fire spells, Marc’s enchanted bow, a Rhyme of fire were ultimately enough to overcome the troll’s regeneration. For a group that prides itself on an uncanny ability to kill things with fire this was an unexpected challenge. Anyway, victorious, we caught our breath as we heard the sounds of battle fade from the camp around us.

Personal Note; Morat blasted us with fire again. Next time we get to a real city, we are buying something to ward us against fire.

View
Considered the cleverest of all sharks
CANDYGRAM!

Where Ashdown is eaten by a landshark.

At daybreak, the party finished a quick meal before resuming their journey westward. They traveled quickly over increasingly open countryside. Homesteads became less and less frequent until by midday they were replaced by the crumbling foundations of long abandoned structures. Rolling hills began to break up the open prairie. The wind whispered through the hills, and birds called to one another. The ride was peaceful, and the troop settled into a comfortable pace. As afternoon waned, an infrequent low rumbling and crunching began to interrupt the pastoral setting. The frequency and proximity quickly increased until Morat made a terrifying connection. The sound was an exact match for reports of Bulette attacks. Bulettes are terrifying creatures that grow to be massive, rivaling dragons in their capability for destruction. Ravenous and relentless hunters, Bulettes cruise just below the surface until they erupt from the earth to devour their prey. They are commonly called landsharks and lose nothing to their aquatic namesakes in ferociousness or efficiency. Morat quickly called to the rest of the band to find some rocky terrain and make ready. A landshark was clearly approaching now, it would be upon them in seconds. Crashing out of the ground a bear-sized terror of tooth and claw savaged Ryu, leaving him a bloody mess. Gnashing teeth and swiping claws assaulted the party. They could land only a couple blows before it dove back into the earth and burrowed away. Ashdown and Ryu intercepted it as it burrowed but their blind stabs into the earth were ineffective. The young bulette repeated it’s attack a couple more times but it could not repeat the devastation of it’s initial assault. The party managed to slay it after it’s third pass. Bloodied, they looked at one another in shock as several more landsharks approached. Turning to flee, they found their horses had bolted and were forced to make their escape on foot. Marc picked up the trail of one of the horses heading southward and led the party in that direction. The Bulettes didn’t give them the time however and were quickly upon them. One of the monsters launched itself from beneath Ashdown’s feet and nearly swallowed him whole as it rose. Ashdown was torn apart by the beast’s powerful jaws, and he fell unconscious from the creatures mouth. The party recoiled in horror from the savagery of the attack. Ashdown had been perfectly healthy one moment, and a torn hunk of bloody flesh in the next. The party just barely managed to find more sound footing before the next landshark could attack. They were now faced with two landsharks. These circled them, leaping from the ground to attack, only to return to the earth to strike again. Morat managed to pour a healing potion down Ashdown’s throat and return him to the fight. Again and again the landsharks savaged the party causing horrible wounds before finally being subdued. The companions renewed their flight, looking for the horses or a safe place to hide. Marc located more signs of their mounts’ flight and guided everyone along this path. Ashdown noticed that the hills had become more regular and Ryu identified them as burial mounds. Morat spotted the horses on one of themand shepherded his companions to it’s top. The landsharks pealed away from the area as if afraid to enter. This provided an opportunity to hobble the horses and find a more secure location to hide. That proved close at hand as Morat had noticed a door of some kind buried in the side of their hill. The party decided to inspect what was surely a crypt, much to the dismay of Morat, who was intent on sticking to the original plan. He maintained his objections as Ashdown and Ryu sought a way to open the door.

The crypt of Cadric Ghaston

Ryu, Ashdown and Marc examined the crypt’s door while Morat remained on the hill top, resolute in his desire to move on. The door was stone, solidly built, and engraved with various musical motifs. Sheet music scrolled through scenes of performers and abstract images of instruments. An inscription at the top was missing the initial letters but read _adric _haston _iplomat, _rtist, _ntertainer, _eloved _riend. Casting about the ground near the door the missing letters were located. They were small tiles about 2 inches square that seemed to fit into two places on the door. The inscription, and into 7 square depressions in a circle at the door’s center. Examinations of this feature revealed that it was likely a magical puzzle. Ryu and Ashdown started brainstorming possible solutions. Ashdown realized it was likely a circle of fifths, a basic musical rule. Ryu validated it by recognizing that the order of the words in the inscription supported Ashdown’s theory. Arranging the letters accordingly Ashdown managed to activate the mechanism, unlocking the door. A dark 15×15 room was revealed. A voice sounded, “Cadric was an artist, music was his first love”. The walls of the chamber repeated the musical motif but nothing else of interest was found. A cursory examination is all they were afforded, though, as the sound of what had to be a huge landshark began rushing right at them. Morat could see the massive furrow the creature left in its wake and rushed down the hill with the horses to join the party below. The group all crowded into the room with the animals and hoped to wait out the horror descending upon them. As the door to the room shut, a massive Bulette tore itself from the ground and with a frustrated roar descended into the earth once more. With the door’s closing, the floor of the room dropped leaving the horses and the party in a heap.

As they landed a voice echoed from the hall “Cadric was an adventurer, he was fleet of foot”. Everyone managed to extricate themselves from the horses and stand just as the sound of an ancient machine ground to life. Morat summoned an arcane light, revealing a hall about 50 ft long and 15 ft wide, and then felt something slam into his legs and knock him down. The entire hall was filled with knee-high blocks that were whipping from side to side all along it’s length. The party was forced to leap over the unpredictably slinging blocks. Those too slow were bludgeoned and knocked over. The horses began to scream in panic as they struggled to their feet only to be knocked down. Ryu resolved to make for a door he spied at the end of the hall, but found the going difficult as each step required an acrobatic leap to advance. Ashdown decided to attack the problem locally. Noticing the blocks were mechanically driven, pulled by a chain and some hidden machinery. Wrenching one of the dragon talons free of the cord he wore at his neck, he drove the improvised spike into the crack where a block emerged. This stopped the assault at his portion of the hall. He and Marc repeated this act along the back of the hall, saving the horses… and Morat from further assault. Ryu continued up the hall, while Morat recovered from his initial disgust at the temerity of the trap’s designer to so encumber him. As Ryu struggled and the other two spiked the blocks Morat realized that his mage hand might be able to depress what appeared to be a button near the far door. He summoned the hand and guided it down the hall, managing to steal Ryu’s thunder and activate the switch… turning off the offending trap. The trap was deactivated, leaving the horses banged up and the party shaken. Only the door at the end of the hall offered any exit.

The door was locked but proved no challenge for Marc. The party paused before the open door, leery of walking into what was sure to be another trap. Eventually they convinced Ashdown to enter. Ashdown nervously scanned the room. Six statues, all female, stood in the room’s center. The walls were covered with images of chess games though each only included queens in various configurations. The floor echoed the chess board pattern, but only to a six by six grid. The now familiar voice called out “Cadric was a lady’s man, Women were his greatest love”. However this time, nothing followed the voice. Eventually the party noticed scratches along the floor as if something heavy had been dragged across it. Resolving that this was likely the statues, they postulated that some special configuration was required. They nominated Ryu as the designation statue manipulator. Ryu entered the room as the rest scurried to the safety of the hall. Ryu moved a statue a few feet away, cringed in expectation… but found himself unmolested. Encouraged he tried again with a second statue but was zapped by an electrical jolt that arced between the two newly placed figures. The party deliberated and in a few moments Morat developed a theory. Taking the chess theme as a clue he offered that perhaps the ‘queens’ needed to be arranged such that they threatened every ‘square’ but not each other. Ryu maneuvered the statues into position, receiving another jolt as he was forced to temporarily violate the propsed pattern. When the last statue was wrestled into place they all dissolved into sand which flowed through newly revealed holes in the floor. A quick glance showed these new holes to be an entrance to a large darkened chamber 20 feet below. Some rope was collected and the party resolved to descend.

Marc was first down the rope with guidance from Morat’s light. He found a large chamber with a platform running along two sides. A crazy twist of his body provided the momentum to swing over to one of these platforms. Holding the rope he helped the rest of the party down, and over to his position. All except Morat that is, who lost hold of the rope and unceremoniously plummeted to the floor of the main chamber. Morat’s arrival on the floor awoke something at the end of the hall. A Crypt Wight, a vile undead created by performing rights on the recently dead, recalling it’s departed soul in a horrid bastardization of the resurrection ritual. Instead of returning to life, the soul is bound into the hideous form and twisted by malevolent magics. The Wight rushed Morat and croaked “Cadric was a fool, and a failure was his final act.” As his words echoed 4 tiny demonic creatures called “Grue” popped into each corner of the platforms. The wight’s assault left Morat a bloody mess, and it looked bleak for him until Ryu saved him. Acting quickly, Ryu summoned arcane energies and disappeared in a clap of thunder. A split second later Morat followed, both reappearing in each others previous location. With a grin, Ryu drove his sword into the wight with a crack of lightning and teleported to the platform to repeat the attack on the creepy demon near the rest of the party. The adventurers focused on the Wight below, unleashing the most powerful of their attacks. Meanwhile the horrid little demons pounded the party with terrifying psychic attacks that devastated them. Before the wight would fall, each party member was bloodied. The wight’s fall hardly lessened the danger as the true horror was the mental assaults from the demons across the room. Morat was the focus of the creature’s assault and went down until their relentless attacks. Ashdown helped Morat up and charged after the demon at the other end of their platform. Ryu launched himself at a demon on the other platform. The monsters had to go down quickly, the party couldn’t last much longer. Ryu held down his demon while the rest focused on Ashdown’s. Ashdown was battered but still standing as the demon before him was felled. With that one down focus turned to Ryu’s enemy. Ryu had challenged both of the remaining demons forcing them to attack him. This bought time for the party to attack unimpeded and allowed them to finish the demons off. The demons were vanquished but the party was exhausted, they all knew they couldn’t have held out much longer. They took some time to regroup before searching for the loot that had damned well better be there! They were not disappointed as in a chest that was quickly unlocked they found several items ostensibly belonging to the tormented bard. These were identified as Burning Gauntlets, Bracers of Mental Might, a quiver of 20 magic arrows, and a fantastic songblade which made Ashdown downright giddy. Their loot hard won, the party considered the problem of their exit from this crypt.

Crypt

View
It tastes like burning!
DON'T STAND IN THE FIRE! (Session 16 Recap)

Holy crap, an Ogre

The members of The Oriflamme, having rested peacefully in their tower after their rough treatment by Kruthik, awoke to a bustling Winterhaven. They took stake of the information they had collected to date. The group had uncovered a number of hints pointing at a larger threat than could be explained by Kalathel’s alone. The party could rest for a time, taking advantage of the good will of the people of Winterfell. But it seemed clear their current work was unfinished. Resolving to see it through the party gathered up their gear and the horses they had been loaned. They resolved to head off to the Keep to find Marla Stonemantle. The note they had found on the hobgoblin’s corpse in the Kruthik cave indicated a threat to her expedition within the keep. They would compare this with Marla’s information and determine where their next move should be. They left town shortly after daybreak.

They took the road north, believing it clear and wishing to save time. They began to notice signs of traffic along the side of the road. The tracks paralleled the road but avoided traveling directly upon it, and included at least one set of enormous prints. Their diligence was rewarded when the noticed the tracks head of into the forest. The party resolved to track them down, fearing that the direction of track marked an attempted surreptitious approach to the keep. The impressive tracking skills of their newest member, Zim, lead them to the track’s creators. Two Bugbear, a couple strange drakes and an Ogre were resting in a clearing. The party moved into position and launched an attack from cover. Their surprise was not complete, however, and the fight was quickly joined. Jigjo, who thought he was well hidden, was disheartened to find a drake rushing directly at his hiding place. The creature impaled the diminutive goblin on it’s horns. Jigjo would spend the entire fight locked in a fight for his life with this creature. The remaining monstrous adversaries charged the main party, knocking them off their feet with powerful blows. The team recovered and focused their fire to good effect. The Ogre fell first, followed by one of the drakes. The two Bugbear persisted for a while but were finally overcome. Jigjo, in critical condition from the horns, teeth and claws of his adversary, finally defeated his foe. The party rested briefly after the fight. Their search of the bodies revealed only an additional copy of the note and map they carried with them, to their utter disappointment. Rested, they proceeded to the Keep.

Their arrival at the keep was welcomed by a couple of Marla’s guards. They explained the situation and directed the party to Marla. She was found in the second level, in the hobgoblin barracks. The team showed Marla the note they had brought. For Marla’s part she shared what information she had gleaned from the commander’s notes and maps. Both Marla and the party determined that something larger was going on, and the threat originated to the west… in the wild lands of Droam. Resolving to see this through the party left immediately and headed west along the route indicated on the hobgoblin’s map.

Shadow Ambush

The Oriflamme traveled until nightfall and made camp in a small copse of trees. They posted a watch and rested for the night. Despite Morat’s watchful eye, the first sign of trouble was when shadowy tentacles appeared around Jigjo, Ashdown and Ryu. These three were awakened in pain as the malevolent bonds constricted around them. Morat turned at the approach of 5 shadowy figures from the edge of the trees. He quickly lit off a Fireball at them all but it exploded high to disappointing affect. The next several seconds saw Ryu surrounded and bloodied by 4 well armored shadowy warriors. A fifth assailant emerged from the forest and attempted to flank the party. A hideous creature with two fleshy tentacles erupting from its shoulder blades. It lashed out at Morat, and threatened to rip into the party’s back line. Ashdown, still bound, assessed the situation and identified this tentacled horror to be the greatest threat. Ash ripped off a malevolent lick from his bandore, burning the monster with the power of his awesome solo. Refocusing his assault, Ashdown acted again and followed up his initial lick with a stunning reprise. The foul creature would now be rocked by the echo of these assaults each time it was hit, taking damage and inspiring its assailant. Morat saw an opportunity, and was faced with a moral dilemma. All of the attackers were in range of one of his most devastating spells. But to hit them, he’d have to hit Ryu too. Ryu was severely wounded but the opportunity was too great, and Morat was still angry over the botched fireball. Throwing caution to the wind, and Ryu under the bus, Morat unleashed hell from his hands. The most powerful burst of fire Morat had ever conjured erupted forth, engulfing all before him. The screams of the assailants filled the countryside, as Ryu slumped to the ground… a mass of burned and bleeding flesh. As Ryu fell, Morat acted again and summoned a fountain of flame around the 4 soldiers now surrounding Ruy’s inert form. Fortunately for Ryu, Ashdown was nearby and came to his rescue quickly. Ryu had slipped one step closer to death’s waiting embrace before Ashdown brought him back. Morat’s cold tactical assessment left the four assaulting warriors reeling, and they were quickly dispatched by the party. The tentacled horror followed them. The Oriflamme had earned their name.

With the assailants defeated, the party commenced to searching the bodies. Again, no valuable items were found on the corpses. However, a strange stone was found on the tentacled creature along with a note. It was a smooth, grey stone… flat like a river rock. It seemed completely normal in Morat’s hand, but emitted tendrils of shadowy energy whenever it was touched by Ryu, Ashdown or Jigjo. Unsure of it’s purpose the party resolved to keep the stone for further study. The note was translated by Ryu but little could be made of it’s message. The party secured the camp, and resolved to get what was a now a much needed rest. Fortunately the only excitement came from a inquisitive bear that quickly wandered off without causing any disturbance.

Note on the body of the tentacled creature (with Ryu’s translation)

Shadow ambush note

View
Kruthiks, look out they spit

What’s in a name?

The party has a name! “The Sanguine Oriflamme”. This necessitated the commissioning of a banner and tabards. These will be made by an accomplished seamstress in Winterhaven. She will begin as soon as she can get worthy marterials from Fallcrest.

Kruthiks!

Alan Dale, one of the farmers that had fled with his family to Winterhaven, went home to assess the situation. Mounted, he rode around his property head swiveling as he expected monsters to charge him at any second. He was heartened to see that nothing appeared to have been burned and believed he had been spared the fate of many other farmsteads. But, as he searched he noticed the lack of his animals. He had left some horses, and goats. These should be somewhere near the property. Moving towards the north edge of his property he found the first of the goats. It was badly mutilated. He was quickly able to establish that the animal had been dragged here, to the mouth of the small cave which served as a hideout for his children, and a place to store seed potatoes. Not foolish enough to enter the cave, he tracked the blood trail back to it’s source. He found blood, fur, and strangely disturbed earth at the north edge of the main barn. As he was just about to dismount, a mad chittering emerged from the barn and hideous misshapen lizards charged him. His brain took over and before the scene completely registered he was leading his horse away at a dead run. Risking a glance back, he saw several of the creatures were the size of large dogs, and one closer in size to a bear. They ran with preternatural speed, but quickly gave up the chase. He returned to Winterhaven where he accosted Rond and demanded his assistance in clearing out the creatures, whatever they may be. The farmer has provided instructions on how to find the farm, the barn where the attack occurred, and that the cave entrance is obscured by the largest oak tree on the farmstead.

The party left at first light the next day. Accompanying Marla and her entourage on their journey to the keep as far as the Dale farm. Taking their leave of Marla, the party advanced on the farmstead. They found signs of disturbed earth, and the slaughtered animals Alan Dale told them to expect. After some exploration of the grounds, the party moved up to the cave. The cave’s entrance was narrow, and the party entered cautiously. Marc scouted first, and found a pitch black cave in which he both heard and sensed the movement of many creatures. Regrouping outside, the party decided to squeeze through the narrow opening together and take on the kruthiks that surely waited. Ryu let them through the narrow passage, pausing when he reached the cave on the otherside. Once everyone was filed into the passage behind Ryu, caustic spittle rained down upon them. This burning bile forced those who could make it into the cave, and Marc back outside. A Hive Lord, a massive bear-sized Kruthik burst from the cave floor before Ryu and unleashed a torrent of acid upon the conveniently lined-up party. A chaotic battle ensued, the party trying to get position inside the cave, the Hive Lord repeatedly burning and weakening them with his torrent of bile. Adult Kruthik joined the fight and the party quickly found themselves pressed against the fury of the incited beasts. The Party would get a kruthik pinned down only to be dismayed as it burrowed under ground and popped up behind them. The Hive Lord’s stubborn use of it’s acid spray quickly earned it the attention of the party. It took some time but eventually the beast was slain. The cleanup of the remaining Kruthik took a bit more time but eventually they were taken down as well. The party, exhausted, bleeding and full of nasty acid burns finally had a chance to rest. As they paused the ground at the back of the cave errupted in a dozen smaller Kruthiks, who quickly beat a hasty retreat through the many holes in the walls. Once they caught their breath the party searched around for items that may be of use. Amongst a pile of animal carcasses they found a hobgoblin’s skull and the remains of his pack. The pack contained a few bottles of alchemist fire, a small amount of gold and a note with an accompanying map.

Kruthik note

Translated:
Follow the route under the mountains. Meet up with the rest of the band. Take the supplies to the fortress. Tell Gargnak to prepare, additional troops are on the way.

Kruthik closeup

View
Ding Dong, The Dragon's Dead

The Dragon

After hearing the fearsome roar from the dark hallway, the party scrambled to catch their breath and get into position. They had only seconds to regroup before the owner of the bellow revealed itself to be a green dragon the size of a large horse. It started towards the throne before pausing in confusion and casting it’s gaze around the room. As it turned it’s head the party could see that it’s left eye was blind and it’s head deformed by a vicious wound suffered in it’s past. The dragon screamed in despair at the sight of so many dead kobolds. “Asatahil re loex! Sia thurirli shio loex! LOREAT!” it bellowed, and charged Ryu. The fight joined, the party used terrain, and what skills remained to them to keep the dragon from using it’s mobility against them. Its fearsome breath weapon proved ineffective, the party proving too strong for its lethal effect. Twice it breathed on the majority of the party, and twice it watched it fail to have an effect. The dragon found herself, bloodied, combat ineffective, surrounded… and it knew fear. Fear it hadn’t experienced since she was a wyrmling and her brother’s unprovoked attack. She had managed to flee that encounter, but had it not been for the Kobold in this den, she’d have surely died. Prudence won out and she suppressed her desire for vengeance and turned and fled. Despite the buffeting of her wings, and thrashing of her tail he short flight back to her bolt hole was punished by viscous blows to both her flanks. She had waited too long to flee, she was too hurt to make her escape. The vicious murderers of her beloved kobolds caught her, and she joined her tiny brood-lings in their long sleep.

Giddy with their victory over the legion of kobolds, and their dragon steward, the party did what any good adventuring party would do… they cast about for loot. Finding little in the Kobold den, their eyes fell upon the corpse of the dragon itself. It was now little more than a container for the alchemical item the imp had requested of them. But, what else of value could it hold? they wondered. What ensued was a terrifying series of acts of foul butchery as party members laid claim to different parts of the dragon’s corpse. Like jackels they descended upon it with their blades. Yah Sa Sin went in and extracted the elemental core for the imp before performing macabre dentistry and extracting a number of the beast’s fangs. Ashdown hacked off it’s talons, and the webbing of it’s wings. Marc, sawed off what remained of its head to be displayed as a trophy in their new home in Winterhaven.

Once this work was complete, the party explored the rest of the cave. They found a wealth of coin, and what appeared to be the result of a very successful kobold raid on an armor merchant. A few other magical items and valuable art objects rounded out the hoard.

Return to Winterhaven

Their gruesome trophies in tow, the party returned to Winterhaven. They presented the imp with his prize and were rewarded with access to the third level of the tower. This level housed a lab, with ritual books and reagents to power them. Having completed this task the party rested. The next day they split up and took time to wander around town. Ashdown got to work making potions from the newly acquired ritual book. Ryu met with Rond Kelfam about the state of the town, learning that the people we awakening from the nightmare of their last weeks. Mark spent time with his fans, The Marcsmen, figuring that he had better teach them to use the bow before they got themselves killed. The rest of the party just chatted with the locals and rested from the ordeals of the past weeks.

As the day wore on news of riders coming up the road from Falcrest spread through the town. The party went to greet these new arrivals. The group was a procession led by Marla Stonemantle with the familiar figure of Splug in tow. Splug had slipped his bonds and returned to his boss, Marla, with details of the mercenaries, Kalathel and the party’s entrance into the keep. Marla feared the party wouldn’t succeed in stopping Kalathel and quickly assembled what she could to attempt to secure the portal within the keep herself if needed. To her amazement, the party was successful in dealing with Kalathel, stopping the agents in town, and putting an end to the kobolds. The dragon was an almost arrogant addition to the list of their heroic deeds. She presented the party with two sets of magical armor and a small fortune in gold as their reward.

View
Winterhaven is safe?

The Tower

The party met an interesting little imp in the tower at the center of winterhaven. They were told they could rest there since the previous owner wouldn’t be needing it any longer. Elian, that previous owner was another agent of Kalathel’s within the city. The party had encountered him in the keep to the north, and put an end to him. The imp told them a bit about the tower, and made a deal with them. He would grant them access to more of the tower and the secrets contained within, if the party would help him track down some rare alchemical components. The first of these happened to be the concentrated elemental core from a green dragon’s gizzard. He seemed rather certain the party would have little trouble finding such a creature. They were granted access to the second floor where the sleeping quarters were before the imp disappeared in a purple cloud.

The Kobolds and Ironteeth

The Kobolds were finally hunted down and confronted in their lair. Weeks, after the initial raids on the farms surrounding Winterhaven, the people can get to work rebuilding. Having dealt with Kalathel’s insane plane to open the portal, and killing or running off his agents remaining in town, the party decided to move on the Kobolds. They were found were expected, hiding in a cliche; a cave hidden by a waterfall. They did not go without a fight, nearly 30 Kobolds and their Dolgrim leader Ironteeth were left in the den. They put up a fight both outside and within the cave. The fight was taxing on the party, but they prevailed, using nearly all of the tools and energy available to them. Desperately needing a rest the party found themselves facing yet another extension to the fight. Needing a place to rest, Ashdown plopped himself down on the only seat in the den… a very conspicuous throne. Unfortunately he forgot the first rule about Kobolds, they trap everything. He was spiked in the back by a vicious blade trap hidden in the chair back. This was followed by a clanking of chain and a rising portcullis from a dark hallway leading off the main chamber. A hungry, Draconic ROAR thunders up the hall

View
Session 4 recap

Session 4

After defeating the kobolds standing watch in the ruins of the keep, the party decides to press on. Ryu leads their careful descent down the stairs. As he reaches the bottom he steps on a loose flagstone, which thumps back into place. The sound startles a lone goblin warrior, who was walking away down a hall. Ashdown takes initiative and attempts to shock the goblin with a clever limerick cataloging its many inadequacies. Unfortunately the goblin fails to grasp the subtlety of the message and shrugs off the harassment. Zelathoth reacts and rushes to silence the goblin before it can shout for help. His hasty advance is halted when the floor suddenly drops out from below him. The hidden pit trap swallows Zelathoth, where he lands flat on his back and surrounded by a swarm of hungry rats. Ryu, now seeing the trap, uses his eldrich power to fly across the room and engage the goblin.

“That trap really is something isn’t it? I know it’s cliche but a well designed pit trap is the mark of a master. I keep those rats down there by tossing old meat into the pit. I think they like me. I kept one in my room for a while, until Bob got mad at it for stealing some coins. Hate that Bob! I made the covering for that trap myself. It looked good but I talked my friend Jassik, he’s a kobold… they are really good at traps. Though, not as good as me. Jassik is a wyrmpriest, he made that old tarp look just like the floor. I really liked Jassik, he was a nice kobold. I’m not sure he really wanted to be here. He had a pretty mate… or so he said, not really my type, and a clutch of koboldlings. He told me all their names but I forget them, there were lots though. Shame you had to murder him. I’m sure his kids will be just fine, you know… growing up without a dad and all.”

Finally regaining its wits the goblin unleashes a shrill cry for help… Jigjo translates it roughly as “Unholy depths of the nine hells! Guys, get up here… there’s a whole bunch of asses to kick! Oh, and Nob, you owe that Splug 5 gold… his trap got one!” He spits all this out in seconds while swinging wildly at Ryu, to no effect. The team spends several seconds moving into position or trying to fight off the gnashing teeth of dozens of angry rats. They are quickly joined by 3 more goblins. Two sharpshooters plug away with hand crossbows, while another warrior enters from an adjacent hallway. The fall and the rats wittle away at Zelathoth until he can get a breath and kill or scatter the rats.

“Sucks about the rats, they were really nice. They make great pets you know, really smart and super sneaky. I trained one to clean up people’s rooms, you know. He’d pick up little items people left cluttering their rooms and bring em to me. Bob stomped him though, accused him of stealing. Bob’s a jerk!”

The fight drags on a bit as both sides seem to find new ways to miss one another. The party uses the time to improve their positions and finally start to get the upper hand. The goblin warriors are the first to fall. This allows Ryu and Jigjo the freedom to close on the sharpshooters. The sharpshooters make a go of it, shifting and shooting their way around their barracks. It’s only a matter of a few seconds though before the party is able to surround and take out one of them. The last goblin, bloodied and scared… takes off down a side hall.

“That would be Nob, he’s a real stooge. HEY! Nob owes me some gold! …oh, guess I won’t be getting it now will I?”

Half the party runs around a corner and sets up to ambush the fleeing goblin. Ryu and Jigjo give chase, harrying the goblin as he runs… head on into the ambush. The party straight up murders “Nob, his name was Nob!” Nob ending the fight and establishing a foothold under the old keep.

“You know if you are going to write this story you need to make it more interesting. I’m trying to help but this reads like instructions for darning socks. I hate darning socks, you know… that’s kinda hard. We should write a book to help all those poor goblins erm ‘folks’ that get stuck darning socks for a whole gang just because they forget to give socks back when they borrow them. Oh, yeah writing… your story needs some dragons, you should add some dragons. You know what, you could call it Dungeons and Dragons… we’ve got plenty of dungeon. Hey look a rat…”

A Giant Dragon roars and charges into the hallway that houses our heroes. A small goblin (that isn’t Jigjo) gets casually stomped on as the mighty beast lumbers into the room. Shocked at the foul squish on it’s terrifyingly taloned toe, the dragon takes flight up the stairs picking the stain off its foot as it departs.

“Fine, FINE! no dragons!”

Ahem, where… ah yes. Our heroes find themselves in a baracks/guardroom. A quick search yields very little in the way of loot. Tossing the two cots reveals nothing more than a couple bedbug infested goblin mattresses and nasty many-stained sheets. Having explored the rooms, the party turns it’s attention to their next course. Jigjo quiets the party and listens to the sounds of the keep. From one hallway goblin voices can be heard, from another the sharp ring of metal. After a short deliberation the party decides to head towards the goblin voices.

Zelathoth, clearly drawing on tactical experience gained in the Last War, determines that the situation is ripe for an ambush of their own. He directs the party to take positions behind the walls and pillars of the room at the bottom of the stairs from the outside. Jigjo is tasked with drawing the other goblins out, and down the hall into the the ambush. A quick scouting reveals that the voices are coming from behind a door at the end of a long hall around a corner. After returning for a quick costume change with the help of Ashdown, Jigjo moves back into position. He shouts a warning in goblin, beseeching the goblins beyond the door to help in an attack. “Help, enemies in the keep! They are in the barracks, quickly you must help.” This has the desired affect of getting the attention of a surly hobgoblin and his retinue. After berating Jigjo for disturbing him yet again, the hobgoblin orders his squad to follow Jigjo. Hastily, Jigjo beats a retreat to the ambush room… leading the goblin squad into the trap. One of the goblin warriors charges ahead after he catches a glimpse of Ashdown in the room. Unfortunately for him, Zelathoth is waiting around the first corner and slices him as he runs by.

“I sure wish I could’ve seen the look on Bob’s face… Bob’s the hobgoblin. I don’t really think his name is Bob. I just call him that because he won’t tell me his real name. Bob is terrible at cards, but he’s good at making things squirm and tell their secrets. I really hate that guy. He killed a rat that I had as a pet. Got me locked up by accusing me of cheating at cards and taking all the ale rations. Imagine that! Me Cheating! I don’t cheat, it’s not my fault people keep dealing me 5 towers! He’s a sore looser… and a jerk too! Hate that guy! Where was I… oh yeah, that was a great trap. You guys are really smart. I sure am glad I decided to join up with you guys.”

The party trades blows with the goblins as they move down the hall. Ryu blocks their advance but takes a beating and briefly goes down before being healed back up. The Hobgoblin wields a red hot poker, a bad attitude, and some very special armor. His armor is able to delay his inevitable demise, shrugging off a volley of Marc’s arrows. However, eventually he is brought down by the combined efforts of the party. With the hobgoblin down, the warrior and two sharpshooters soon follow. One lone goblin sharpshooter, clearly brighter than the rest has been peppering Ryu with shots and ducking back around a corner. With the hallway cleared, Jigjo is able to rush down and engage the goblin. This last goblin doesn’t last long once the rest of the party is able to join. He goes down putting and end to this fight.

“See right here, you should describe Bob’s fangs. He’s got these disgusting yellow fangs and horrible breath. He breaths through his mouth and his breath is fetid even for a dungeon. What about Bob’s armor, he had this magic armor he was always braging about… though I guess it didn’t help him out in the end. You didn’t even mention that the Ryu guy was lit on fire by Bob’s poker. You should always mention when people get lit on fire. Stories with heroes on fire are always better than those without. What kinda thing is that Ryu anyway? I’ll have to ask him. He’s always so quiet but he didn’t suggest killing me so I guess he’s my friend. This next part is my favorite part.”

Horrible whining and crys for help can be heard from the room the hobgoblin had occupied. Investigating the sounds the party locates a sniveling husk of a goblin who introduces himself as ‘Splug’. Splug explains that he’s been incarcerated unjustly, accused of cheating at cards and various other infractions against his fellow goblins. Splug makes his case to the party, pleading for freedom. He explains that he knows the secrets of traps throughout the keep, and knows ‘passwords’. His barrage of information overwhelms even the just Zelathoth and executing Splug is briefly considered. In the end, the party decides to keep Splug close, figuring he may be able to prove valuable… somehow.

“Come on now, they knew how helpful I’d be right from the start. That’s why they asked me to join up with them. They even gave me Bob’s poker and let me grab some armor. We are going to take out that fat bastard Balgron. That’ll teach him to lock Splug in a cage!”

Splug’s fate determined, the party turns their attention to another of the goblin’s prisoners. One of the cages contains an unconscious kobold. Marc bandages the kobold, restoring it to consciousness. Awakened but confused, the kobold mumbles incoherently for a bit before regaining his wits. Under Zelathoth’s skeptical questioning the kobold reveals that his name is Issithik and he was the leader of the kobols south of winterhaven until recently. Kalathel ordered him replaced when he wouldn’t agree to use his tribe in more direct attacks against the settlements in the area. Issithik new that his people would never survive the task regardless of Kalathel’s promises. Ultimately he was unable to convince the party that they needed to immediately help him regain control of his clan. His commitment to end the attacks on Winterhaven fell on deaf ears. The party didn’t feel he was trustworthy and decided to stay focused on finding and stopping the ritual Kalathel is purported to be conducting.

“Jassik didn’t want to talk about this Issithik guy. He seemed surprised when I told him about him and asked if he was still alive. He got uncomfortable when I mentioned he was. I forget what else he said, I was talking to him about this cool idea I had for a pit trap. I’m glad we decided to continue after Balgron and not run off after the kobolds. Winterhaven is a crappy little town anyway. Only one tavern and it has a horrible selection of ale. Won’t be missed when it’s burnt down.”

View
Session 3 Recap

Session 3

Finishing up at the green dragon burial ground, the adventurers head back to Winterhaven. They carry the draconic skull the goblin and strange spectral apparition had dug up. The goblin, Agrid is with them… on a rope, held by Jigjo. Taking the road back, the party encounters no resistance. Indeed, nothing moves on the road. Pillars of smoke line the sky to the west, likely farms put to flame. The few farms along the road appear abandoned, carts partially loaded with goods left behind. Activity increases as they near Winterhaven. The town is bloated with people, refugees from the surrounding farms and homesteads. Guards at the gate stop the adventurers and question them about the Goblin in tow. After a short discussion, Agrid is given into their charge to be locked up in the towns stockade. Sharp goblin cries of protest are heard as the guards escort their charge out of the party’s sight. Having been relieved of the burdensome goblin the adventurers decide to try to find out what is going on by finding answers at the inn.

The inside of the inn is chaos. People occupy every chair, table, corner and unprotected wall. Families huddle together nursing their wounds and their loss. The proprietor, Salvana Wrafton, harries her staff to provide what comfort they can to for the mob. This seems to have been limited to providing wine and ale to try to calm them. The party notices a particularly shaken human family in a corner, what they take as the father has a bandaged and bloody shoulder. They decide to question them about their situation. The father tells them his harrowing tail of narrow escape from a kobold raiding party. He seems a bit unclear if these are goblins or kobolds but from his description it is clear what they are. The kobolds slaughtered some of the farm hands as they swept through the fields. The family was just getting ready to head to town with some supplies when they hit. Thinking quickly, the father threw his two children and his wife on the draft horses. Before he could cut the traces and mount himself, a kobold closed the distance, and hurled a javelin. A javelin imbedded in his shoulder, the father was able to mount a horse and lead his family on a mad dash to safety. His every possession left behind.

looking around it appears this story may not be unique. Many other families seem worse for the wear. Before the party can inquire further, Captain Kelfem approaches the party. He immediately inquires about their mission against the kobolds. He knows of the fight to save the dwarf at the crossroad, but is surprised by the news of the burial site. While he knows the actions the party has taken won’t have eliminated the threat, he feels Lord Padric should be informed. The party is quickly escorted outside to where Padric is organizing the guard and the disposition of refugees. Padric is surprised to see he party back so soon, and is shocked at the connection between the kobolds and an active death cult. The evidence of the skull, the map, and Douvan Stahl is overwhelming. He acknowledges that the party’s earlier questioning of townsfolk about death cults was more than just fear mongering. Something is driving these kobolds beyond their normal infrequent and light raids. They are organized and rampaging through the southern and western farms. He agrees that the kobold threat is likely a distraction to keep attention away from the keep to the north. However, he cannot ignore this threat… He pleads with the party to find a way to cut off this dangerous claw of their enemy. Zelathoth informs him that the party will be going after what they believe is the head of the dragon. Padric will have to find a way to deal with the talons and tail.

After Leaving Padric, they realize the next order of business is to figure out what to do with the skull. The realize that carrying around an object so strongly desired by the leader of a death cult is likely a bad idea. They cast about town for advice on how best to deal with it. Sister Lenora at the local chapel of the sovereign host wants nothing to do with it. Douvan Stahl is surprised they are still carrying it. The party decides that the risk of spreading knowledge of the skull’s existence isn’t worth asking additional people. After Ryo explains that the option of burying it or hiding it is poor due to the likelihood that it can be found through divination, the party opts to destroy it. Zelathoth places the skull on the ground in a quiet part of the town away from prying eyes. With a mighty blow of his hammer he shatters the skull. The party is not completely satisfied with this level of destruction. They take the horns and largest bits and scatters them around the town. Marc elects to toss one of the horns into a smith’s forge. Jigjo finds a secluded place to desecrate his. Finished with this task the party decides to rest at the inn for the night before heading out to the keep in the morning.

The party rests for about six hours before being interrupted. The following encounter is triggered.


“You are awakened from your slumber by screams from down in the inn. As you shake off the last of your weariness you notice the screams are punctuated by loud popping, like an over-full water bladder rupturing. The inn quickly becomes a cacophony of running feet, moving furniture and raised voices.”

The adventurers put on their gear and head downstairs.

Captain Kelfem bursts through the inn’s front door as you descend the stairs. His eyes, widened with fear, fall upon you and he pushes his way through the crowd. He pleads with you “please, by the sovereign host, you must help us. They are here, they are killing everyone, children… Oh gods… The baby, it just tore her apart.(tears stream down his face, you notice vomit stains and blood on what little of his armor he is wearing) kobolds, I think, but horrible, Ike nothing, hurry. We need to keep them from getting over the wail, ladders.” He pauses his frantic narrative, takes a deep breath and shudders, returning some amount of his composure. He continues “Sorry, this has shaken me deeply. I’ve seen more horrors this night than in all the years of the war. Some great evil has set it’s eye on this town. Something has created abominations in the shape of kobolds, they are getting into the city on ladders that had been set up for them after dusk. These monsters sprint through the streets, burst Into a home and slaughter everyone inside. The few we’ve intercepted have exploded in a cloud of foul steaming poisonous fluid. Several of the guard have fallen. I need help putting together teams to destroy the ladders. We can’t afford to go one at a time, we must go after them all at once. I’ve got guardsmen and the militia gathering up outside. But I need leaders for each of the teams. I’ll take one but I’ll need four or five more. Please we must hurry.”

The captain turns abruptly and pushes his way back to the door. He isn’t waiting. As he puts his hand to the door a scream followed by a WHUMP is heard outside, not far away.

As you recover from the captain’s onslaught you notice that the entire inn has grown silent, except for the crying of children, and the unconvincing words of comfort from their mothers. Very few men are inside, those that are are elderly or a bloody mess. Every adult eye is upon you.

Overnight the town has been infiltrated by raised kobold undead. These undead kobolds have been altered to explode, spewing poison and viscera once damaged. These kobolds are bloated and twisted versions of their living selves. Their eyes glow with a fell light, they scream with a menacing shriek, and they move with preternatural speed. When they are damaged, they shriek and begin to expand rapidly. after a couple of seconds they explode, spewing a burning poison and kobold zombie bits in the adjacent squares.

The zombies targets are the helpless farmers hiding in town. They are rushing over the walls on ladders they didn’t place. once inside the walls they sprint to their intended targets, rip them to shreds before heading off after targets of opportunity. they come in ones or twos from five or six spots along the wall around the city.

This horrifying introduction completed, the party exits the inn and begins a skill challenge. The party splits up, each taking the leadership of a squad. The squads are comprised of one regular guardsman and three famers from the militia. Each team is to explore the town for a breaching ladder and destroy it and any kobold abominations they encounter. Zelathoth and Jigjo successfully fight off abominations, find and destroy a ladder. Marc’s squad stumbles upon an abomination running through an alley with a screaming child. Twisting and shaking the baby the beast seems to relish in the pain and screaming. After quickly exploring his options, Marc fires an arrow at one of the monster’s legs. The arrow flies true tripping the creature and causing it to drop the child. Although free from the monster’s grasp Marc is concerned that the kid is close enough to be killed in the impending kobold explosion. Thinking fast, Marc gracefully slides between the monster and child, scoops the kid up and shields it from the blast. Marc’s squad is wildly inspired by this selfless act of heroism. They go on to find and destroy a ladder. Ashdown finds a ladder but can’t destroy it before an abomination crests the wall and kills his three militia team members. The party is victorious, bringing an end to the terror assault on winterhaven. They return to the center of town and learn from Padric that all the ladders have been dismantled. Padric thanks them and leaves with the guardsmen to sweep the town.

left alone and the town soundly defended, the party decides to push on to the keep. They are determined to gouge out the eye that has focused on Winterhaven. The adventures sneak up to the keep, bypassing the locations indicated on the map recovered from the kobolds. Jigjo’s scouting identifies a few kobolds and a lightly guarded hole in the rear wall. The party decides to make their entrance through this back door. The fights starts slow, the kobolds charging out of their positions to engage the party. The area inside this backdoor is hard to maneuver in. Rubble litters the area, a wall quickly forces the party to split to head off the engaging enemies. A wyrmpriest perches on the nearby wall and rains down spells with impunity. Marc finds positioning difficult and takes shot after shot as he wades through the enemies to get position on the wyrmpriest. He falls to these repeated blows but is quickly aided by Ashdown, who gets him back on his feet with some quick healing and words of inspiration. Jigjo finds himself flanked and taking a solid beating. Zelathoth manages to keep Jigjo healed up, but realizes it’s going to take more direct intervention to free him from danger. Clambering over the rocks, Zelathoth moves into position. He takes in the heft of his hammer, times his blow with the kobold’s shifting and swings a tremendous, skull shattering blow. The kobold is completely destroyed by the massive critical strike. Now freed from defending his flank, Jigjo makes quick work of the other Kobold before him. Ashdown and Marc bloody the wyrmpriest setting it up for jigjo’s killing blow. Throughout the fight Ryo steadfastly holds the western flank. He occupies two dragonshields, keeping them at bay until the rest of the party frees up to help finish them off. With their adversaries vanquished the party searches the corpses, finding a mundane amulet on the wyrmpriest. The amulet bears a symbol of the dragon below and is inscribed with a rams-horned skull. Searching the rest of the ruins reveals a set of stairs heading down beneath the keep. Shaken by the ferocity of the keep’s defenders the party decides to pull back and rest before exploring further.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.