ScalesOfWarSandbox

Previously....

Here is a brief history of what occurred during the first adventure of the Scales of War campaign.

  • The town of Brindol was ransacked by hobgoblins wearing the symbol of the Order of the Red Hand. During the attack, the hobgoblins stole some of the town’s artifacts and kidnapped seven people.
  • Councilmember Edward Troyas asked the heroes to find the hobgoblins, save the people and recover the artifacts.
  • After causing a riot, the heroes convinced a hobgoblin captive to tell them the location of the hobgoblin’s hideout. It’s Castle Rivenroar!
  • While traveling to Castle Rivenroar, the heroes got lost and disrupted a bunch of Kuthiks.
  • While camped outside of Rivenroar, the party had a bizzare shared dream. In the dream, the party was confronting a powerful demon named Belfagor! The demon insinuated that he was able to enter this world through the actions of Caedus. The demon also mentioned he first met Caedus at the Tower of the Sealed Portal.
  • As expected, Castle Rivenroar is full of various goblinoids.
  • Unexpectedly, the castle also seems to be inhabited by a health population of undead.
  • While searching the castle, the heroes defeated a trio of ettercaps and found the dead body of Kartenix, the guard captain of Brindol and father to one of the other captives.
  • Undeterred by the loss of the captain, the party moved onward and discovered Jalissa, an acolyte of Ioun. She seems quite shaken and clings to Hadrian.
  • Down in the depths of Castle Rivenroar, the heroes found the Hobgoblin leader, Sinruth! He attacked with a chain weapon with much skill, but the heroes defeat him easily!
  • Also in the Castle, you found an alter to Bane. Under closer examination, the heroes discovered that it originally was dedicated to Vecna!
  • Tired and beaten from the day’s battles, the heroes set up a make-shift camp inside the keep.
  • Before long, their rest was interrupted by a hobgoblin patrol. The hobgoblins discovered Sinruth’s body and were searching for intruders. A fight erupts. As the hobgoblins begin to lose the battle, they fled into the next room, alerting others of the heroes’ presence.
  • The fight continued to grow as the heroes’ enemies continue to flee into adjoining hallways and rooms. The heroes battle hobgoblins, were-rats, a carnage demon and a magic-wielding gnome. Eventually, the heroes are victorious and seek shelter in the keep’s temple.
  • Once rested, the heroes continue to explore the keep. They come upon the undead that haunt the ancient structure and quickly put an end to their “lives”.
  • Further exploration of Rivenroar Keep only reveals the bodies of the kidnapped villagers. Apparently, once Sinruth’s body was discovered and any patrols sent to the lower levels did not return, the remaining hobgoblins killed the hostages and fled.
  • With the town’s artifacts in hand and only one surviving villager, the heroes head back to Brindol.
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New Beginings

The day after their return from Rivenroar Keep, the heroes spend the morning looking for work in Brindol. On Councilmen Troyas’ suggestion, Sardis visits the Thirsty Zombie run by a half-elf named Lorak Balefrost. The Thirsty Zombie is known to be a promising locale for mercenaries and adventurers looking for work.

Lorak, himself, has a job for the heroes. His cousin left Port Haven with a cart full of dwarven ale over a week ago and has not yet arrived in Brindol. Another half-elf, Aelar, overhears the bartenders plight and asks Sardis if he may join in on the search. The bartender also mentions that a Brindol resident, Fenton Graylock, may also have a job for the heroes.

Hadrian arrives at the Thirsty Zombie with news from the Shrine of the Sun. Cale Graylock knows of a graveyard in the northern woods that’s infested with undead. He would like the heroes to clear them out so that he can perform final rites over the dead.

Lorak is then approached by a goliath named Machu Pichu. The goliath is searching for a man named Keaen Swiller. The bartender has met the man and knows that he lives in the woods to the north. He suggests that the goliath speak with Tura Fletcher, a jewelery merchant. Tura is a friend of Keaen’s and knows the approximate location of his cabin. She draws a map for Machu and the goliath returns to the Thirsty Zombie to find aid.

With the addition of Aelar and Machu Pichu, the party prepares to head north into the woods. Before leaving, Caedus visits Red Robes and Sundries, a magic shop run by Tamond Webb. Caedus mentions that he is looking for possible black-market magical items. Tamond requests 50 gold and agrees to have items within a week’s time.

The party then leaves Brindol and heads north. After a brief encounter with some ettercaps, the heroes arrive at Swiller’s cabin.

NOTES

This is the first session of the open world/sandbox game. Two new characters, Aelar (Corey) and Machu Pichu (Mark), joined the party.

Current Quests

  • Eliminate the undead lingering at the ancient Nerath graveyard for Cale Graylock at Shrine of the Sun in Brindol.
  • Return to Red Magic and Sundries in a weeks’ time to see magical items that Tamond Webb has procured. (Caedus)
  • Locate Keaen Swiller. (Machu)
  • Lorak Balefrost, owner of the Thirsty Zombie, is concerned about his nephew. Search the road leading to Port Haven for any clues to the nephew’s whereabouts.
  • An exotic pet trainer named Fenton Graylock is looking to hire adventures in Brindol.
  • Search for information about the demon Belfagor. (Caedus)
  • Restore honor to the Aubrek family. (Hadrian)
  • Find someone worthy of protecting. (Sardis)
  • Return to Jalissa. (Hadrian)
  • Avoid being discovered by the Bronzeknuckle Brothers. (Aelar)
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The Deep Heathen Swamps

The next morning, the party gathers outside of the Thirsty Zombie as discussed. While waiting for everyone to show up, Hadrian uses the scroll of Cure Disease to cure Caedus of his affliction. The process took a toll on the tiefling, but he survived the ordeal.

Once everyone arrived, the party debated on what path to take next. A couple of people wanted to pursue the rumors of people disappearing on the road to the north. Others wanted to continue investigating Keaen’s disappearance and head for the Deep Heathen Swamps to the south. In the end, the swamp vote won and the party began their journey.

Arriving at the swamp, the party was welcomed by a storm brewing in the distance. Their first encounter consisted of a fight with a shambling mound, a blood vine and a few drowned zombies. Sonnet and Mahel collected some marsh root for Tamond Webb and the party continued on.

They came to a shallow riverbed. It’s slick mud forced the party to move cautiously. The storm continued to drench the heroes and a small flash flood began to sweep through the river bed. As the water level began to rise, a group of bullywugs and a bog toad leapt out of hiding and attacked the party.

Swords clanged and spells whizzed through the air as the water continued to rise. Logs and debris from further up stream floated quickly past the combatants, threatening to knock prone anybody who got in its way.

During the combat, Sonnet yelled to the bullwug Mud Lord that they were only interested in finding Keaen and this fight was unnecessary. Upon hearing Keaen’s name, the Mud Lord becomes even more angered. One of the bullywug grapplers croaked out, “He is ours! You cannot have him!”

In the end, the party slew the bullywugs and the giant toad.

Notes

In the second encounter, i tried to do something a little different than usual with the floating debris and the harsh terrain. If i were to run it again, i would definitely change a few things, but on the whole, i think it worked fairly well.

Current Quests

  • Return to Red Magic and Sundries in a weeks’ time to see magical items that Tamond Webb has procured. (Caedus)
  • Collect 15 pieces of marsh root for Tamond Webb. (Sonnet)
  • Discover Keaen Swiller’s fate. (Machu)
  • Lorak Balefrost, owner of the Thirsty Zombie, is concerned about his nephew. Search the road leading to Port Haven for any clues to the nephew’s whereabouts.
  • An exotic pet trainer named Fenton Graylock is looking to hire adventures in Brindol.
  • Search for information about the demon Belfagor. (Caedus)
  • Restore honor to the Aubrek family. (Hadrian)
  • Find someone worthy of protecting. (Sardis)
  • Return to Jalissa. (Hadrian)
  • Avoid being discovered by the Bronzeknuckle Brothers. (Aelar)
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Establishing an Alliance

Fresh from their victory against the bullywug scouting party, the heroes decide to seek out the local lizardfolk and ask for their assistance. Unfamiliar with the territory, the heroes relied on Hadrian to guide the way. Hadrian was able to successfully track a small group of lizardfolk, but the trek crossed paths with a swampy lagoon of unhappy crocodiles. The party was able to adjust the crocodiles’ mood to a more neutral emotion with only a few swords and spells to the face.

At last, the heroes encountered the lizardfolk party that they had been tracking. Approaching with caution, Sonnet, followed by Sardis and Aelar, introduced themselves and explained their situation. The lizardfolk in charge seemed to believe enough of their tale to send a scout to fetch the tribe’s leader.

Convincing the tribe leader of the authenticity of the party’s tale was much more difficult. If not for the charisma and skills of Sonnet, the party would have surely failed. However, an uneasy alliance was agreed upon. The tribe leader agreed to send a handful of warriors to lead the party to the bullywug camp and assist in the assault.

The assault on the camp would take place on two different areas. The heroes were given the task of crossing a very shallow, but wide river and attacking the bullywugs from the east. The lizardfolk attacked from the west.

The battle for the river’s shore was hard fought. The party made quick work of the initial guards, but the reinforcements from within the camp were much hardier opponents. Still, like before, the heroes were successful. Before continuing onward, the party decided to take a small rest to regroup and catch their breaths.

Notes

Mark, who plays Machu Pichu, was unable to attend the session at the last moment. His character was played by Lauren. Sonnet was able to locate and safely dig up the remaining pieces of marsh root that he needed to deliver to Tamond Webb.

Current Quests

  • Return to Red Magic and Sundries in a weeks’ time to see magical items that Tamond Webb has procured. (Caedus)
  • Deliver the 15 pieces of marsh root to Tamond Webb. (Sonnet)
  • Discover Keaen Swiller’s fate. (Machu)
  • Lorak Balefrost, owner of the Thirsty Zombie, is concerned about his nephew. Search the road leading to Port Haven for any clues to the nephew’s whereabouts.
  • An exotic pet trainer named Fenton Graylock is looking to hire adventures in Brindol.
  • Search for information about the demon Belfagor. (Caedus)
  • Restore honor to the Aubrek family. (Hadrian)
  • Find someone worthy of protecting. (Sardis)
  • Return to Jalissa. (Hadrian)
  • Avoid being discovered by the Bronzeknuckle Brothers. (Aelar)
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Rescue in the Swamps

After their short rest, the part heads towards the center of the camp. They presence is discovered quickly and the bullywugs respond with force. Female bullywugs and children run for safety as a skirmish breaks out. On the other side of camp, the lizardfolk begin their attack.

The bullywug chieftain has little regard for his warriors and attacks the heroes with multiple area of effect spells that also damage his allies. For a moment, this tactic seemed to work as both Hadrian and Aelar were knocked unconscious, but the tables turned with a majestic word from Sonnet.

After slaying the cheiftain, Machu Pichu found Keaen drugged and restrained in a mud hut nearby. In celebration of their victory, the lizardfolk invite the heroes back to their camp for a feast.

Notes

This was a relatively short session as it really only included one “boss” encounter and a division of treasure.

Current Quests

  • Return to Red Magic and Sundries in a weeks’ time to see magical items that Tamond Webb has procured. (Caedus)
  • Deliver the 15 pieces of marsh root to Tamond Webb. (Sonnet)
  • Lorak Balefrost, owner of the Thirsty Zombie, is concerned about his nephew. Search the road leading to Port Haven for any clues to the nephew’s whereabouts.
  • An exotic pet trainer named Fenton Graylock is looking to hire adventures in Brindol.
  • Search for information about the demon Belfagor. (Caedus)
  • Restore honor to the Aubrek family. (Hadrian)
  • Find someone worthy of protecting. (Sardis)
  • Return to Jalissa. (Hadrian)
  • Avoid being discovered by the Bronzeknuckle Brothers. (Aelar)
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The Celebration Feast (an Epilogue)

With a final blow, the mud lord king falls at the heroes feet. Dark brown mud seeps out from a large gash running across his vocal sack. The group begins a frantic search to find the mysterious Keaen Swiller.

Caedus is the first to find him, curled in the corner of a mud hut. Dried blood and mud stains the stranger’s clothes and Caedus fears the worst. Hearing his call for help, Sonnet and Mahel rush to Caedus. After a closer inspection, they find faint traces of life, and with there healing skills are able to stabalize the injured man.

Meanwhile, Sardis, Aelar and Machu Pichu group up with their lizardfolk allies to chase off or strike down any remaining bullywugs from the camp. Once everything has calmed, the lizardfolk named Dactyl approaches.

“On behalf of my tribe, I thank you,” he says in a deep, raspy voice. “I am told that Tik’Coxyl, the one you call Keaen, is badly injured. We shall take him back to our camp and have our shamans see to him. You and your allies will join us at a feast this evening in honor of the great spirits of battle.”


The feast is an amazing experience. For all but Machu Pichu, the event is like none they have ever seen. The lizardfolk don elaborate headdresses and necklaces, they paint their bodies in extremely detailed designs. With surprise grace they dance around bonfires and chant. They are soon joined by semi-transparent creatures that look like a hodge-podge of different animals. These creatures are their spirit guides. Machu joins the festivities as the others watch in awe.


The following day, Keaen is well enough to travel. He bids farewell to his lizardfolk friends and leads you through the swamp back to Brindol. After hearing the story of his rescue, Keaen fills in some missing pieces.

“The lizardfolk – they are very territorial bunch. The Deep Heathen Swamps is their home and they have been known to kill those that trespass. Several years ago, a handful of young men decide to prove themselves as fancy, brave heroes by entering the swamps and bringing back the head of a lizardfolk. The bodies of all five were discovered outside the town’s main gate two days later. Well, everything except their heads.

Before the town council sent the town guard to ‘wipe out’ the lizardfolk, I managed to step in and resolve the situation peacefully. After about a year of building a relationship between myself and the lizardfolk, they invited me to partake in a sacred ritual that made me a member of their tribe. They named me Tik’Coxyl, which roughly translates to ‘Outsider With Respect’".

A couple months ago, the bullywugs arrived from somewhere in the south. There was a large battle and both sides lost many warriors. The swamp itself seemed to be suffering from their presence. Many of the animals and spirits that inhabited this land vanished. The plants became bitter and the trees began to wilt. I tried to talk to them in the same manner I first approached the lizardfolk, but they attacked me on sight.

I guess they saw me as a threat and tried to attack me in the woods north of Brindol. That’s why the lizardfolk shamans placed that glyph in my house. To warn me of another attack. And so when I felt the magic seal break as the bullywugs attacked, I grabbed my crossbow, bolts and began donning my armor. But unfortunately, the bullywugs had sent their mud men as scouts. As soon as they saw me awake, they attacked and held me until the bullywugs could take me down.

It seems the bullywugs were hoping to pinpoint my death on the lizardfolk to start another incident between them and Brindol. Lucky for me, though, you all showed up and were able to set things right."

Now, as you can imagine, the town was in an uproar. The council was formulating plans to hire mercenaries to storm across the swamps and slaughter the entire population. But that didn’t seem right to me, so I volunteered to handle the situation without payment. In return, the council would have to agree to give me two weeks before sending in mercenaries. They agreed as long as no other civilians were killed.

I had visited the outskirts of the swamps on occasion, but never had I journey more than a half mile in. In all truth, it was a scary thing to do. But I did it anyway. Walked right in. Now, I was careful to not disturb anything and to avoid as many of the creatures that live here as possible. And I was extra careful to look for any signs of the lizardfolk. Once i found something, I sat down and waited. For three days I waited until I heard a branch snap out in the high grasses. Everything became suddenly still and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. And as I peered through the foliage and the grass, I could just make out the outline of a lizardfolk. He was just crouching there, watching me. So, I continued to sit.

The next day I shot a panther, brought it to the same spot, skinned it, butchered it and then left it there. When I returned the next day, it was gone. I then began to bring other gifts. Small tokens that I carved from wood or beads I made from rocks and clay.

Eventually, when I arrived at my spot, I found something waiting for me. It was a necklace and a small medallion carved from bone and decorated with panther teeth. Two days after that, three lizardfolk stepped out of the foliage and grass to talk. Over a few more days, I was able to clarify the situation with them and they agreed to try to be more lenient towards trespassing townsfolk.

Brindol seemed happy having some sort of rules and order regarding the situation in place. The council forbid granting any city resources toward attacking the lizardfolk in retaliation of any slain trespassers."

Notes

We didn’t have a lot of time after the last session for a wrap-up, so I sent the above through email.

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Town Session #2

Machu Pichu

On the journey back through the Deep Heathen swamps on your way to Brindol, Keaen matches his pace with yours and the two of you share a hushed conversation.

“Thank you again for rescuing me. I know that it was not an easy journey. But it had to be in order to prepare you for what is to come.

There is so much to tell you, I’m having trouble knowing where to start.

As a warden of the wild, I have a strong connection to the primal spirits. I am able to change my form to become more like the spirits that surround us. When in this form, I can see a glimpse of the world as they see it. It is a inspiring sight to see.

It was perhaps a two months ago that Fate Weaver appeared to me when I was in my altered form. She told me of troubled times ahead. The web she spins has countless threads and she is finding it difficult to track each one. At the end of those threads that she is able to follow, many point to the Feast of Souls.

The Feast of Souls is a time when the demons of the Abyss seek to ascend to a higher existence. At one end of the spectrum are demons that prefer to save all their souls for the Feast in hopes to ascend dramatically and surprise their rivals with newfound power. Others prefer to consume as soon as a soul is collected. In either case the time before the Feast is often filled with ruthless fighting and sabotage amongst the demon horde. As you can imagine, a battle of this magnitude spills over into this world.

After hearing this form Fate Weaver, I asked for guidance. She told me to listen to the spirits and trust in them. Fate Weaver also told me that a champion was on the way.

Since then I have been trying to seek out places of power. Shrines where a connection to the Elder Spirits is strong. In my search, I met a Wilden, a plant-like creature that called himself Fiddenmarr. His people are charged with protecting a powerful shrine to The World Tree. Fiddenmarr called it the Sacred Grove of the Treant. I was making plans to journey there when the Bullywugs attacked me.

However, that is my path and not yours. You must seek your own guidance. On the plains that lie in the shadow of Mount Karakas is a circle of standing stones. It was build by a tribe of shifters may centuries ago. Seek your answers there."

Aelar

Upon your return from the Deep Haven Swamps, you head for the Thirsty Zombie for a drink and a conversation with your new friend Lorek.

“Aelar,” Lorek smiles weakly as you enter the tavern. “It is good to see you’ve return.” As you approach the bar, Lorek’s face wrinkles up. “Oh, but is not good to smell you, my friend. Did you bathe in dragon’s mess pot?”

“Lorelei,” he calls. “Be a kind woman and heat up some water for a bath for my friend here.” The barmaid smiles and walks through a door in the back of the kitchen. “It won’t be as fancy as what you may find at a proper inn or in Bramblewood, but it will get you clean.”

Lorek directs you to through the back of the kitchen and into the small apartment where he lives. There’s a wooden bed, a stuffed chair in front of a lit fire, and a chest of elven design. Lorelei stands in the corner of the room, pouring hot water from an iron kettle into a wooden tub.

The barmaid helps unbuckle your leather armor but leaves you to remove the rest of your clothes after drawing a curtain around the tub. She tells you that she’ll leave out a clean pair of leggings and a shirt for you.

Once bathed and dressed, you return to the tavern where Lorek has a mug of ale waiting for you.

As you talk, he informs you that a trio of halflings spotted a horse about a mile off the main road to Port Haven. The horse was still wearing its horse sheet with the Thirsty Zombie logo on it. They searched the area and found his nephew’s abandoned wagon.

The wheel of the wagon was cracked and the breeching dee broken .Some of the barrels of elven wine remained in the cart as well as a small purse of silver pieces hidden under the driver’s seat. Twenty feet away, they found where the wagon had apparently struck a rock, which would account for the broken wheel and breeching dee. The only tracks nearby was that of the wagon and horse.

Following the wagon tracks backwards, they found several footprints. Some seemed dwarven, some seemed human. The exact numbers were hard to tell. Two of the halflings continued to track the trail of footprints while the third returned to tell Lorek about their discovery.

It’s been two days though, and no further word from the halflings. The third one, Piper Hollowpot, went back out to look for them. Lorek pulls out a map and points to the location that Piper said her friends found the wagon.

Sonnet

As you approach Red Robes and Sundries with marshroot in hand, you hear a deep, rugged voice yelling from inside. From where you stand the words are indistinguishable, so you decide to get a little closer. Sticking to the shadows, you creep forward until you are underneath a window on the side of the small shop.

The yelling has quieted, but you can hear two voices. You recognize one as Tamond Webb’s. The other is unfamiliar, but sounds a bit orcish, or perhaps a shifter. Something with a strong overbite and teeth. Although you can’t clearly make out Tamond’s words, his voice remains calm and even. His guest, on the other hand, is full of emotion and his voice swells in volume from time to time.

You hear the following:

Tamond speaking calmly.

Then the guest, “… was not what was asked for. If Rathos knew about this, he’d…” There is a bang, as if somebody slapped a table and a flash of orange light.

Tamond speaking again.

The guest speaks again. It isn’t as loud as before, but closer. “… your sake, I hope you are right. The Syndicate does not handle failure well.”

A door that you swear was not there a moment ago begins to open. Still sticking to the shadows, you slink around to the front of the building. Once you hear the door close, you wait a moment and then chance a look. You see a well-muscled humanoid. His dark reddish brown skin is covered in coarse body hair along his shoulders, arms and legs. Big, pointed ears stick out from beneath a dark mane. As suspected, he has a strong, under-biting jaw and teeth. He wears hide armor and a morning star at his belt. In one hand, he carries a leather sack. In the other is a leather leash to a very large wolf. The wolf sniffs the air and begins to look back towards you, but its master pulls him forward.

After several minutes you enter Tamond’s shop.

If you had not overheard the conversation, you would have not known anything about it from Tamond’s demeanor. He is calm and straight forward as usual. After inspecting the marsh root, he deems it of adequate quality and gives you the hundred gold discount on the bandore as promised. You thank him and start to ask him about the conversation you overheard when he interrupts you by pulls out a scroll.

Tamond explains one of the students from the college gave it to him but he has little use for it and offers it to you. “It will teach you to summon a familiar,” he says. “Now, I trust you know the way out, I must return to my studies.”

Sardis

Sardis didn’t send me any specific instructions on what he was doing in town, but I did send him a response to the letter that he sent to his mother.

Dear son,

As always, I enjoyed receiving your letter.

I am not surprised that the cow-hearted cities of Feldon Valley are once again being threatened by the surrounding wilds. If they only would follow the example of King Gaius and take a more aggressive stance – even the thick-skulled goblins would learn to leave well enough alone. But, alas, Magistrate Dunhall is a fool and let the guilds gain control of Port Haven.

I understand your desire to help these people. It is a noble cause. But you could do so much more with the proper schooling. Instead of running around in the woods stabbing goblins, you could lead an entire army and defend kingdoms. I have spoken with Muriel Mahli at the Academy and she has told me that you are welcome to return at any time. I would not be the Archvizier to His Highness if not for the teachings of the Academy. I would have never had met your father…

However, you have your father’s adventurous spirit and I cannot fault you for that. If my pleas do not pursuade you, I suggest that you choose your travelling companions carefully. There are many in the world that are only out for themselves. Traveling with these people will only get you killed.

I have had numerous dealings with a number of mercenary groups. The ones that survive are the ones that establish trust. Jerimiah of the Allied Brothers told me once that the best thing he did was have everyone sign a contract before allowing them to join his group. Or, as he said it, ‘I don’t trust no person’s word unless it is written and signed.’ He said a written agreement instantly establishes trust. Everybody knows the risks and the rewards. Arguments over treasure, ideals, family, injuries, death or leadership that have been known to destroy other groups do not hinder the Allied Brothers.

Also, one more thing, son. Be on the lookout for a human with a half-elf son. The man’s name is Jeras Doyle. If you find him, bring him to me as soon as you can.

Love always,

Your Mother

Notes

I was fairly busy and so reminded the players to send me Town stuff later than usual and so I asked players to give me a couple sentence description of what they wanted to do and then I gave them a complete story rather than a back and forth like last time.

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The Trek North

Once again, the party gathers at the Thirsty Zombie. Sardis suggests that the party agree to a contract to make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them as being a member of the group.
All agree and the contract is signed.

Aelar then informs the group of the news of Lorek’s missing nephew. He declares that he is intent on finding the boy and that any and all are welcome to join him. Machu Pichu shares what Keaen told him about the Feast of Souls and the party agrees that since the circle of stones is in the same direction as where Lorek’s wagon was found that both tasks could be accomplished.

Following the information from Lorek, the party heads north along the road to Port Haven and then head into the woods where Lorek indicated. After some searching, the party discovers the wagon much as the halflings described it.

The two halflings that continued the initial search left a trail for their companion and the party was able to find it and follow it towards the mountains in the distance. A long their way, they discovered a wounded halfling laying in the mud.

The halfling’s name was Penny and she was at death’s door. The party bandaged her wounds and tried to encourage her to share as much information about what happened to her as she could. Before falling back into subconscious, Penny told the party that she had found that the kidnappings were caused by a clan of duergar living in the mountains. They were using the slaves to build “a gate”. Penny escaped by killing a guard and stealing a necklace that allowed her to teleport to safety. She then found a passage out of the underground hold through a tunnel dug by giant insects that severely wounded her. Before she could give any more detail, she passed out.

Not wanting to waste a day heading back to town, and not wanting to leave the halfling defenseless in the woods, the party decides to have Jalissa tend to Penny until she is ready to travel back to Brindol. The rest of the party would continue on their journey.

Continuing to travel towards the mountains, Machu Pichu leads the party to a circle of standing stones. The group performs a ritual that inspires another shared dream.

The dreams

Jalissa (Mari)

Carvings of demonic faces with twisted smiles stare at you from the massive door that stands before you. Beyond that door lies the demon lord. A chill runs through you. The journey to get this deep into his stronghold has not been easy. But you’ve done this before. You’ve braved the horrors and destroyed several demon lords. So why is this one different?

That’s easy to answer. It’s because this is Belfagor. The demon that fed off of Caedus, killed Hadrian and fed off the soul of Sonnet. A sudden pang of guilt washes over you, and your hand clasps the soul shard that hangs around your neck. You begin to doubt yourself. You wonder if there was something you could have done to place Sonnet’s soul in the shard like you did with Hadrian’s. You wonder if you were being selfish when you chose his soul over hers.

Aelar’s voice brings you back from your thoughts , “Jalissa?”

“Yes,” you confirm. “This is it. He’s in here.”

You step out of the way and look at your companions, possibly for the last time. Only one of the heroes that rescued you all those months ago has survived, but many others have come to avenge those that died. Aelar and Machu Pichu step past you, each taking hold of one the door’s iron rings. Behind them, knocking an arrow is the wilden ranger, Fiddenmarr, accompanied as always by his bestial companion Sundarr. Thob Fikodbabin, the dwarven runepriest from Redrock and Thatch, an Avenger of the Raven Queen, stands to your left. And finally, Mahel, shifting her grip on Moradin’s Hammer, says a silent prayer.

“Let’s do this,” yells Machu Pichu. Both he and Aelar pull the heavy doors open and head into the demon’s chamber.

Aelar (Corey)

Years ago, when you first accepted a job for the Bronzeknuckle Brothers, you never thought that you would end up defending the world from demon lords. You also never thought you’d find companions, friends that accepted you. Yet here you are, standing outside the Belfagor’s chamber. Sadly, not all of your friends are with you.

Jalissa, the human cleric of Ioun, stands in front of you, carefully inspecting the carvings on a massive stone door. You notice her clutching the small jewel that contains Hadrian’s soul that she wears around her neck. On more than one occasion, you have caught her talking to it as if the paladin could some how hear her. If not for Hadrian’s sacrifice, it’s possibly none of you would be standing here now.

The dwarven runepriest, Thob Fikodbabin, nudges you. When you turn to look at him, he offer’s you a swig from his flask. Ordinarily, the dwarven ale he favors would be too strong for your tastes. But not today. You take a swig and return the flask. It burns as it goes down, but you hardly notice.

You notice that Jalissa seems lost in thought. “Jalissa?” you ask.

“Yes,” she says. “This is it. He’s in here.” She moves out of your way as you and Machu Pichu step forward. Before opening the door, you take a quick glance to make sure the others are ready. Some of them haven’t traveled with you long, but everyone is here for the same purpose. Jalissa, Mahel, Thob and the shifter avenger, Thatch – three holy warriors devoted to the same goal; Fiddenmar, the wilden ranger from the Sacred Grove.

“Let’s do this,” Machu Pichu yells as he pulls open the door.

Thob Fikodbabin (Thomas)

Steadying yourself momentarily, you force a feeling of self-distance out of your mind. It was almost as if you mind thought it was someone else.

You stand before a large iron door. Faces of demons wearing twisted smiles are carved upon the doors surface. While not appealing to your sense of artistry, you grudgingly admit to yourself that the craftsmanship is impressive.

Aelar stands next to you, clutching his sword in his hand and trying to control his breathing. Understandable. Even you are a bit shaken by this place and you have the benefit of being a dwarf. You cannot imagine what the others must be dealing with. You give the half-elf a nudge and offer up your flask. He accepts it with a weak smile, takes a sip, and hands it back.

“May Moradin bless us all,” you whisper, taking a sip for yourself. As you screw the top back on, you eyes examine the symbol of Moradin etched on its side and your gaze shifts to Mahel.

A priestess of Moradin, god of creation. God of miners and smiths. God of the dwarves. It was because of Mahel that you agreed to help. Her faith inspired you to acknowledge your lineage and accept its responsibilities. As the King’s Priest of Moradin, your grandfather recorded the Angel’s Prophecy and pleaded that the King head its warnings. Unfortunately, the King’s greed outweighed his faith and so damned the kingdom into darkness and death at the hands of the demonic horde.

But today you will get your revenge. Today you stand at the entrance to the demon’s inner chamber. Belfagor, the demon that killed Sonnet and ate her soul. Luckily, you are not alone. Next to you stands Fiddenmar, the wilden ranger; Aelar, the half-elf sword mage, Machu Pichu, the goliath barbarian; Jalissa, the cleric of Ioun; Mahel, wielding the artifact, Moradin’s Hammer and Thatch, the shifter avenger of the Raven Queen. Even with these allies at your side, the encounter will be dangerous. By Moradin’s beard, its practically suicidal. But what kind of dwarf would you be if you didn’t try to take down that son of a bitch.

Aelar and Machu Pichu grab the door’s iron rings and pull the door open…

Machu Pichu (Mark)

So. This is it. It’s time to face the demon. It’s time to get your revenge. The spirits have guided you here. They watch over you even now. This is your destiny. Fate Weaver has showed you the many ways that this could end. You liked your chances better when Sardis was still alive.

Even with the recent loss, your chances of killing the demon lord is high. The chances of your survival are unknown. You look at those around you. Next to you stands Aelar, the half-elf sword mage. Jalissa, the cleric of Ioun prays softly to herself and the dwarf runepriest, Thob Fikodbabin, takes a drink from his flask. Mahel, the deva invoker, readies the hammer given to her by her god. Fiddenmarr, the plant-man that Keaen searched for, knocks an arrow to his bow. Thatch, the shifter avenger of the Raven Queen, lurks in the shadows at the rear of the group.

Yes. It is time.

You pull out your heavy axe follow Aelar up to the massive doors.

Beyond the doors, waits the demon lord, Belfagor. Belfagor. Your mind latches onto that name with the strength of a stone giant. Each time you say it, your brows furrow and your blood flows faster. Belfagor. It was him that kidnapped and tortured your sister for years. You can feel the anger building. Belfagor. It was him that possessed Caedus and slaughtered Hadrian deep within Mount Karakas. The anger grows stronger, slowly transforming into rage. Belfagor. It was him that feasted upon the soul within Sonnet.
Rage.

“Let’s do this,” you yell, pulling the heavy door open and charging into the unknown.

Fiddenmar (Robert)

A dizzyness distresses you momentarily. A feeling that you are not yourself. No doubt it is the demon’s attempt to dissuade you from your task.

You are Fiddenmar, the Ranger. You’re a wilden. A plant-like creature from the feywild. You and your animal companion, a mountain lion named Sundar, were charged with protecting the Sacred Grove of the Treant. But then he came. The demon Belfagor.

You are fortunate that you were warned by Keaen. He was given a vision by the elder spirits that live in all things. However, even with this warning, the demon’s attack was devastating. You fought beside the ancients as best you could. You had prepared for this event. The demon’s forces outmatched you, it was obvious. The treants told you to flee. To save yourself. But you stayed. The shrine to the World Tree must not fall. In the end, the shrine remained. But to call it a victory would be a horrendous sin. The Sacred Grove is little more than charcoal. Only a single tree still stands.

Feeling guilty, helpless and violated, you did nothing but sit where the grove once stood. You did not eat, or drink. Days past.

It was fortunate for you that Machu Pichu and his friends found you. They had been tracking the demon. It had killed two of their friends. A paladin of Pelor. And the misguided tiefling that served as the demon’s host. And eventually, more fell before the demon. Mahel. Sonnet. And just recently, Sardis.

But, Melora willing, that ends today. You stand before a massive iron door, carved with twisted images of demons. Beyond that door lies Belfagor’s inner chamber and your chance for redemption.

Machu Pichu and Aelar stand one either side of the massive doors. Jalissa, the cleric of Ioun prays softly to herself and the dwarf runepriest, Thob Fikodbabin, takes a drink from his flask. Mahel, the deva invoker, readies the hammer given to her by her god. Thatch, the shifter avenger of the Raven Queen, lurks in the shadows at the rear of the group.

It is time. Sundar lets out a growl and you knock an arrow to your bow.

“Let’s do this,” Machu Pichu yells as he pulls open the door.

Mahel (Lauren)

In the teachings of Moradin, it is written, “A single stone can start an avalanche.” Months have passed since first arriving in Brindol and protecting that tavern from the hobgoblin attack. And now, you stand before the inner chamber of a demon lord, wielding the hammer that is said to be the one Moradin used to forge the world.

It has been a rough journey. Not all of your friends survived. Caedus, Hadrian, Sonnet, and just recently Sardis. You look down at the small dog statue that you hold in your hands. Carved from black onyx, it is all that you were able to recover from your fallen friend. But somehow, despite the losses, you always managed to inspire others to join your cause. Jalissa, the cleric of Ioun. Aelar, the half-elven sword mage. Machu Pichu, the goliath barbarian. Fiddenmar, the wilden ranger. Thob Fikodbabin, the dwarven warrior. Thatch, the shifter avenger of the Raven Queen.

You think of another passage from the teachings of Moradin. “A finely crafted blade will never meet as many blows on the battlefield as it did on the anvil.” You are Moradin’s blade. He has forged you in the fire. Has beaten you with his hammer. And although some may find it cruel, you know that because of Moradin’s actions, you have become his weapon. Strong. Unwavering. Blessed.
Today is the day. Today it ends. The suffering, the torment. Today, right now, you stand before the demon Belfagor. The demon that crept into your life. That made a bargain with a young, frightened Caedus. That used him as a vessel for obtaining souls. Manipulated him towards evil. That orchestrated a series of events that has so far costs the lives of thousands of innocent lives.

You stow the small dog statue and draw forth Moradin’s Hammer. You catch Thob’s eye and nod, touching your holy symbol as you do. He smiles weakly and both of you turn your attention to Machu Pichu.

“Let’s do this,” Machu Pichu yells as he pulls open the door.

Thatch (Matt)

Your stomach lurches and your mind spins. For a brief moment, you feel apart from your body. A distance like you were not yourself. It stops as abruptly as it began.

Standing next to you are your allies. They have made your quest their own and that quest shall soon be fulfilled. Your pursuit is almost at its end. When it does, you pray that you will find peace.

In front of you, stands a large stone door, engraved with twisted faces of demons. Beyond that door, waits the inner chamber of the demon lord, Belfagor. The abysmal being has disgraced the Raven Queen by killing the angel, Enerot. It was only by consuming the angel’s soul that Belfagor survived the first encounter with the Raven Queen’s forces. This time he will not be as fortunate.

Machu Pichu and Aelar stand one either side of the massive doors. Jalissa, the cleric of Ioun prays softly to herself and the dwarf runepriest, Thob Fikodbabin, takes a drink from his flask. Mahel, the deva invoker, readies the hammer given to her by her god. Fiddenmar, the wilden ranger, knocks an arrow to his bow. His animal companion looks towards you and growls with anticipation. You growl in response as you shift into your more bestial form.

“Let’s do this,” Machu Pichu yells as he pulls open the door.


The party then rushes into Belfagor’s inner chamber. The demon lord mocks their struggle and declares that they will lose this confrontation. Just as combat is about to erupt, the heroes wake from the dream.
-——————
After the dreams the party questions Caedus about what they had just seen. Caedus is at first reluctant to say anything, but eventually gives a vague description of events. He says that in order to save those that he cared about, he unknowingly made a pact with a demonic force. Since then, he has committed some terrible acts, but is looking for a way to put things right and break the pact. He also revealed that he believes that if he dies, the demon will possess his body and come into this world and wreak havoc.

The party continues on their way and after some searching find the entrance to the ankheg tunnels. Upon entering, they find themselves in a series of twisting tunnels and passages. The terrain is difficult and present a few challenges, but the party continues onward.

Notes

This session didn’t have any combat in it. It had several skill challenges and a big role playing element during the dream sequence.

Although the other had already had a similar dream, this is also the first time that Mark or Corey had really heard of Belfagor. If you compare this dream with the one before, many things are different. Not only who is alive and dead in the dream, but several of the characters in the first dream are presented to new players in the second dream. These dreams also contain a number of clues to the upcoming adventures.

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Discovering the True History of Mt Karakas

The session starts out with the heroes in a battle against a nest of spiderlings deep within Mt Karakas in the Ankheg tunnels. As the spiderlings are almost defeated, an Ankheg appears, grabs Sardis and then burrows underground. The giant monster resurfaces nearby, still holding the swordmage, but the heroes assault it heavily and it dies.

Continuing their journey, the heroes come across Penny’s trail and follow it to a crack in the wall that leads into the abandoned dwarven hold in Mt Karakas. The party finds themselves in a large larder that hasn’t been used in several hundred years. As they explore, they find machines designed for processing grains and food stuffs as well as a large kitchen.

To the south, they find a small room with a teleportation circle and a dais that controls the magic. Inside the room is also a map that shows a Temple of Moradin nearby. Before activating the teleportation circle, the party agrees to investigate the temple.

Inside the temple, they find a dwarven ghost. Although he never introduces himself, Mahel recognizes his uniform to be that of the High Priest to the King. The ghost is surprised to see someone in the temple besides duergar or their slaves. When asked about the duergar, the ghost tells a story about the mountain and the Law of Depths. The main parts of the story are outlined below:

  • Moradin built the Mt Karakas as a new home for the Thane and his clan. Additionally, Moradin built the mountain to serve as a prison for a powerful demon buried beneath it. This fact He withheld from the dwarves, but he did enact the Law Of Depths which forbade digging to deeply into the mountain.
  • Many centuries past, until Joruun, the angel of Moradin, appeared and warned the High Priest and the King of a darkness that threated the entire clan if the Law of Depth was broken. The King had no intention of breaking Moradin’s law.
  • A war began between the dwarves and several denziens of the underdark. The dwarves were fairing badly until a mine-ager showed the king a new ore that he had discovered. When smelted into weapons and armor, the metal had magical properties. The king ordered a full squadron be outfitted with equipment made from this precious ore.
  • With their new weapons, the dwarves were able to defeat their enemies and reclaim the Eastridge portions of the hold.
  • After the victory, the King went to visit the mine that held the ore and was appalled that the mine-ager had broken the Law of Depths. The mine-ager, however, convinced the king to keep the mine open with the promise of the entire dwarven army equiped with the magical metal to protect the hold.
  • Soon thereafter, miners began to become more aggressive and this transition spread and worsened until they dwarves were no longer recognizable as dwarves. They had become dark dwarves or duergar.
  • The angel Jorunn appeared again just as a civil war broke out among the dwarves and the duergar. Joruun told all that would listen to escape the hold and head west across Feldon Valley. The Angel then returned to the hold and fought alongside the dwarves.
  • Joruun was killed in battle and buried in the tomb underneath the temple. Soon thereafter, the high priest was also killed.
  • The high priest also says that the tomb can only be opened by the High Priest. However, the duergar often attempt to break in and loot its treasures.

After telling his story, the High Priest pulls a scroll from his robes and hands it to Mahel before disappearing. The scroll holds the Angel’s Prophecy. Mahel reads the prophecy to the group who then begin searching for further clues around the temple.

They discover that the statues in the temple all represent a past King, his chosen Warrior and his High Priest. As they study each of the statues, they find that the High Priests all have the last name Fikodbabin and they find a statue of the ghost named Grimm Fikodbabin. Recalling the dreams that they have experienced earlier, they know they must find Grimm’s grandson, Thob, who is in Red Rock.

Before heading to Red Rock, the heroes still must contend with the Duergar and the slaves. Therefore they return to the teleportation room and activate it. There they meet a pair of guards that the party easily defeats.

Notes

Current Active Quests

  • Free the captured slaves in the Duergar lair located in the abandoned mines of Mount Karakas.
  • Find Thob Fikodbabin and obtain his assistance in opening the angel’s tomb.
  • Obtain the Hammer of Moradin (Mahel).
  • Return to Red Magic and Sundries in a weeks’ time to see magical items that Tamond Webb has procured. (Caedus)
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