Unsettled Territories

Shifter

Glyssa and Radost met up with a new adventurer, Gemma (She’s totally outrageous) and her pet sheep, Sprinklinz. They went to search out a dungeon. On their way, they approached what they thought was an injured dire wolf. They decided to finish it off, and the creature shifted into a Manticore and attacked, injuring the party. Radost stole the creatures shapeshifting ability, but was unable to control it, turning into a sea hag, whose hideous visage crippled Glyssa and Gemma. The party dragged themselves back to Fort First Light to recover.

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Smells like Burning

Last time you guys blew up a perfume shop (and got away without anyone realizing you did it), and investigated a dungeon that kept shifting as you explored it. Sorry for the brief adventure log, but there weren’t any major upsets, just your usual “chaotic neutral” shenanigans.

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The Cleric's Test and the Rise of Killer Carriage (Sponsored by Thaddeus J Spider's Spider Emporium)
Freezus, Even, Thordin, Thaddeus

Like most adventures thus far, this one began at the Broken Barrel, where Thadeus, Freezus, and Even were drinking. Thordin soon came by, looking for Thaddeus, and informed the group that Tristan Skipsilver had given them rooms in Hearthstone Hall. Thaddeus, heavily inebriated, was overjoyed at the news and walked back with Thordin. Thordin went to bed and Thaddeus passed out on the main staircase. Even and Freezus continued their festivities, and performed many songs as Killer Carriage. The band gained popularity through the night, and by the time the bar closed, the two found themselves in the company of a pair of local girls. Even and Freezus took the girls back to Hearthstone Hall, where they split up into separate rooms with one woman each. Freezus took the homely Anyssa, and Even took the marginally attractive Katniss.

Freezus and Anyssa’s “activities” woke the Thordin, several rooms away. Convinced someone was being attacked, Thordin began kicking in doors wielding his mace against whoever may be intruding. Freezus quickly made Anyssa invisible, and bluffed the cleric into believing nothing was going on. However, Anyssa, now invisible and startled by the cleric, opened the far window to escape the kerfuffle. A loud thud was heard shortly thereafter. Even snuck up behind Thordin and distracted him while Freezus cast sleep. They took the cleric back to his bedroom. Even went outside to find Anyssa, now looking like a limping swath of bedsheets moving down the street. Even cast a spell to disguise himself as Katniss, and convinced Anyssa that Even and Freezus were “bad dudes” and told her to meet her (Even) outside of town at the entrance to a particular dungeon that Even had knowledge of. The girl fled, and Even went back upstairs to find Katniss freaking out about her friend disappearing. Another sleep spell, and the gently snoring Katniss was placed in the cleric’s bed by Even and Freezus.

When Thordin awoke, he found himself next to Katniss and freaked out. The woman was unable to recall the night before due to the alcohol, and was confused. Thordin apologized, gave her some gold and blessed her before she left. Thordin confronted Even and Freezus, as he recalled strange happenings the night before, but the pair convinced the cleric that what he remembered were just nightmares after he had too much to drink. The cleric was confused and suspicious, and decided to spend the day and the crumbling temple of Torm in quiet reflection.

Meanwhile, Thaddeus J Spider took his earnings from selling spiders in the Under Alleys to the temple of Waukeen, and established a business for himself in the northern markets (Thaddeus J Spider’s Spider Emporium: More spiders, more value). With the help of the accountants and consultants at the temple, he was able to find employees to do the majority of “rock lookin’” needed to maintain a steady spider-supply, as well as trained employees who could maintain his booth in the northern market while he was adventuring. He also established personal and business banking accounts at the temple, and paid Freezus and Even to make a jingle for Thaddeus J Spider’s Spider Emporium.

Meanwhile, spurred by their successful performance the night before, Even and Freezus decided to plan a huge show the next night at the Broken Barrel. They began to make posters that they hung over town, and Even spoke with several merchants to acquire and modify a large carriage. Using the money they had collected from adventuring, the two purchased a carriage, two war ponies, and were even able to jury-rig a repurposed ballista to the back end of the carriage. The carriage was painted with flames on the sides and the name, “Ye Olde Pussy Wagon.”

The next day, Thordin spoke to Shad Kader on behalf of Tristan, but found the merchant king to be difficult to sway. He resolved to investigate ways he could change Kader’s indifferent attitude, and try again at a later date. He went to the Broken Barrel, where he noticed the patrons were going crazy for a now dish of cheese melted over crispy baked flour rounds. The patrons called them “Nachos.” Thaddeus joined him, and the two discussed potentially investigating the disappearances of missing hunters in the southern wilds.

As event time neared, a distant rhythmic stomping was heard as the war ponies pulled Even and Freezus, standing aloft on Ye Olde Pussy Wagon, through the large barroom doors and to the stage. Combing ghost sound and silent image spells, lightning flashed and fog rolled in as floating skulls flew about, whispering names. Killer Carriage bought the whole house a round, and proceeded to play a show that was, if not good, at least loud. It was certainly something people would be talking about.

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Information Gathering and the The Fluctuating Spider Market

Characters: Abraham Ulysses Madison, Radost, Glissa, Thadeus

Thadeus was drinking at the Broken Barrel, where he encountered Abraham, who was searching for his lost brother and father. Glissa arrived and struck up a conversation with Thadeus and was introduced to Abraham. Eventually, they became aware that they were being watched by a mysterious figure, once Thadeus’ cat ran over to the man. This man was Radost, who, like the others, was seeking work, and joined the party. Glissa knew that Cornelius Finch might have work available, so they journeyed to Hearthstone Hall, where Cornelius resided and where Thordin kept a room. The party found the hall quiet, save for a light in the upstairs office. They crept to the door and entered, where Glissa was surprised to find Tristan Skipsilver, returned from his trip.

After some persuading from Abraham, Tristan said that he had heard that Saxum was at war with the country of Bravek, and as a result, was pulling the guards from Fort First Light to serve in the war effort. This is also why Cornelius was no longer present. As a result of this news, Tristan journeyed to the Saxum Kingdom proper, where he made the case to the political leaders that governance of Fort First Light should be given to a council made up of the merchant kings and private citizens. To do this, a unanimous agreement would have to be made by the merchant kings to provide services to the kingdom of Saxum. Tristan planned to meet with the merchant kings over the next few months in an attempt to get them to agree to this, but knew that the Kings were especially proud and not given to playing nice with governments. Shad Kader, himself from Bravek, would be especially hard to convince, Tristan thought. He asked if the party would be able to help him by gaining the favor of the merchant kings and helping convince them. He also said that he would be unable to fund various missions for adventurers, as he had in the past, during this time, as he would be entirely focused on this. As a result, he offered the use of Hearthstone Hall to any member of the party who wished to keep a room there.

The party left to gather information about happenings in the area, and how they might gain the favor of the merchant kings. The left for The Historical Library, where they bumped into a pink haired gnome and a dwarf cleric, who gave them dirty looks but otherwise ignored them. They went inside to get some info from Tamlyn Theruvial, who told them Warriors on the March of Mourning (a musical band of assassins who attack high-profile targets, and announce their intent to assassinate by long marches in which they play dirges) have been sighted in the north, passing south through fishing towns. Rumor is they are on their way to the Territories. Tamlyn also spoke of rumors of a figure in the The Under Alleys who appears to be gaining control of the merchants there, forcing herself into a position similar to that of the Merchant Kings.

The party left to gather more information, greatly aided by the honeyed words of Abraham. These rumors included:

  • Wilhelm Splitstaff has finished the rough draft of his newest play. He will be auditioning players soon.
  • Many fur trappers and hunters have been attacked, and their camps are being found in ruins. Ingrid Thrashstorm is offering gold or items if anyone is able to put a stop to the attacks. A small wooden carving of a lion has been found at each site. The trappers were in a region that suggests they were hunting gemmed tigers, no doubt driven by the seasonal demand for furs (many merchants have been disciplined by the Merchant kings for selling cheap counterfeits).No tracks have been found at the camps, so no one knows who may have done it.
  • There are rumors of ruins discovered in the Stitch mountains which hold great power.
  • Dragons in the region are unusually active; the rumor is they are upset over the disappearance of one of their kin. They believe he was captured by a powerful necromancer.

The party thought it best to first pursue the rumor of the new player in the Under Alleys markets. They questioned people in the Under Alleys until they found someone who seemed to know something. Unable to convince him to speak, they captured him and took him to the abandoned Temple of Torm, where they interrogated him, learning little more than the fact that the mysterious person was apparently a gnome, and that business that did not fall in line with the gnome’s ideals seemed to disappear suddenly. They knocked out the man and left him in the Under Alleys, where the party decided they could most easily get this figure to reveal themselves by becoming merchants. Luckily, Thadeus never travels without his bag of holding filled with jars of spiders he has collected. The party spread out a blanket, and while Glissa and Rodast kept watch for anyone who seemed suspicious. Thadeus gave venom milking demonstrations while Abraham talked up the crowd, and Glissa and Rodast kept tabs on several well-armed “customers” who seemed to be hanging around and encouraging Thadeus to take his spiders to other markets. Towards the end of the day, Abraham decided that this customer’s interest belied a connection to the mysterious Under Alley Merchant and decided to use a charm spell to get him to spill information. Unfortunately, no one had noticed that the other merchants in the alley had been quietly replaced throughout the day with other well-armed people, most of whom attacked when they saw Abraham’s spell being cast. A fight followed, where the party left no survivors. They were somewhat richer from spider sales, but unfortunately had not gathered much information of value.

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Eve of Shadows, The Haunted House on the HIll
Crunky, Ruby, Glissa, Dogloth, Freezus, Even

The printing press that the party acquired for Tamlyn Theruvial was quickly put to good use by the librarian. All party members received a copy of the new local journal, The Beacon, which Tamlyn began publishing for Fort First Light citizens. The party’s journey was spurred by the information they found in the journal, which describes a local holiday called The Eve of Shadows. Eager to participate in the festivities, the party donned costumes that they purchased from local shops. Dogloth wore a simple cloak, Crunky wore his newly acquired tiger mask, Ruby dressed as Red riding hood, and Even worked dressed as a centaur, and Freezus (I forget what Freezus dressed as. An Icebox?)

The party began the Eve of Shadows at The Broken Barrel, where Even and Freezus regaled the tavern with songs and tales, ultimately forming the band, Killer Carriage. Afterwards, the party began to participate in the tradition of “frightening” others with their costumes in exchange for small treats. The party largely split themselves between the temple of Waukeen and the Ardent Company shop, both of which were handing out potions and small items. Most of the party bluffed their way into receiving multiple items by visiting the locations repeatedly, pretending to be different people who were just wearing the same costumes. Somehow, it worked, and several potions and small items were acquired.

After this, the player’s decided to test their courage at the haunted house on the hill, mentioned in their copies of the Beacon. Legend said that on the Eve of Shadows, the ghosts of the house would stir.

After asking Tamlyn for the exact location, the party took a walk north of town to where the house was. As they ascended the hill, the shadows seemed to grow more solid around them. When they entered the estate, the shadows grew around them, forming the structure of the once magnificent mansion. At the front of the mansion was a large fountain, and as they party approached, the spied the ghostly form of a young elf, who was waving her hands and saying something quietly. Even was able to translate what she was saying from Hakkari, and told the party that she appeared to be blessing the water of the fountain while cursing the house itself. She disappeared as they approached.

The party drank from the clear waters of the fountain, and found them to be unusually sweet. They bottled some of the water, believing it to have magical properties, and made their way into the house. As they entered, they found themselves in a large dining hall, where they say the ghost of a young girl who asked the party if they had seen her sister, before disappearing. Upon investigating the room, the party found human bones in the ashes in the fireplace. They also discovered that the antlers had been removed from the stuffed moose head, bloodied, and then placed on a vandalized altar of Torm at the far end of the room. Even used his bardic knowledge to reveal that bloodied moose antlers are the symbol of Cas, a demigod of spite.

The party made their way through a heavy curtain, which led to the kitchen area. From there, they headed north, into a small tunnel which led to a guard tower. Two ghostly guards attacked, shouting that they were sworn to defend the Brath family. The guards proved to be a difficult fight, and after the first ghost was dissipated, Even cast illusion spells to make it appear as if the little girl from earlier was in the room. This caused the second guard to stop fighting long enough for the party to gain the upper hand and drive him away. The party returned to the kitchen through the tunnel, hearing the bale of hounds from the courtyard outside.

Again in the kitchen, the party investigate the kitchen, where they found a pantry stocked with dry goods. In this pantry was a large dumbwaiter, which was locked. There was also a room under the main stairs here, in which the party found the corpse of a bespectacled youth clutching a wand of owl’s wisdom. As they approached the door to the west, they heard screams coming from within. They screams slowly died away. The door to that room was barred from the party’s side, and when the party opened it, three creatures attacked. The creatures looked like charred corpses that appeared to glow like coals from within. The creatures attacked by grappling party members, and allowing the heat from their bodies to burn the party. Once they were defeated, the party searched the room they had been in.
The room appeared to be a servant’s quarters. It looks as if a card game was being played here. Upon closer inspection, the party noticed that although their were four chairs, five hands of cards had been dealt. They then found a child’s size stool overturned under the table. Next to the stool was a slightly singed toy wolf, which the party took with them.

Having completed their investigation of the lower floor, the party returned to the main hall and made their way upstairs. Once upstairs, the party found themselves in a large hallway containing several doors. A set of glass doors on the left led to a balcony. There were three doors against the north wall. They opened the first, revealing the bloodied ghost of a dwarf who swore at the party and attacked. The party defeated the ghost, and searched the room, revealing architectural plans and a letter which contained the following:

“Mr. Gagrit, while we appreciate the plans you have submitted, I am afraid that we cannot change the architectural plans for Fort First Light at this time. I’m afraid my team has long had our plans approved by the Kingdom, and major construction has begun on Fort First Light, as you are aware. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. – Adrienne Skipsilver”

The party took the plans with them, as well as the two scroll cases they found in the bedroom chest. The next room was a washroom. Glissa inspected the mirror and found a hidden mechanism, which revealed a sliding wall panel, revealing a narrow secret passage way that led to secret doors into each bedrooms and a ladder to the third floor. The party returned to the hallway, where Glissa found another secret door. Entering the room, they found a coffin filled with dirt and containing an eyeless corpse. In the corpses’ heart was a wooden stake. Faced with the first corporeal body in the mansion, the party deduced that the corpse was likely a vampire, and cut its head off to be safe. The corpse turned to dust.
In the next bedroom, the party was attacked by a spectral half orc. The half orc attacked relentlessly, draining strength with his ghost touch. Dogloth was reduced to being feeble-bodied, and would have died had Even not cast invisibility on him to hide him from the ghost. The battle continued for several rounds and left the party weakened. The party healed themselves at the fountain outside and returned to the room, where they discovered several treasure maps in the bedroom chest. Glissa and Even took some time to copy the maps, then burned them, releasing the ghost from the item that bound him to this world. When the maps burned, the ghost appeared and ask that one of the party strike him down to release him. Dogloth struck the ghost down, and as a reward for letting him move on to the next life, Dogloth gained “ghost touch” for his weapon.

The party moved to more rooms to the east, discovering a library. In the library were several scrolls, a curious book called “Rune on Runes,” and several architectural plans that appeared to be final drafts. The party burned these plans, causing the dwarf ghost from earlier to be released from the house, leaving behind a bloody headband.
The next room was a gallery, filled with small statues and several oil paintings. The paintings that largely depicted a regal looking man, a beautiful woman, and two little girls. Someone had gone to each painting and covered the man’s face with blood.

The party doubled back to the passageway and took the ladder up, leading them to a secret door in a small closet on the third floor. As they exited, they found themselves in a large hallway, with doors to a few bedrooms. The ghost girl from earlier stood outside the first bedroom, looking upset and avoiding eye contact with the party. The party entered the bedroom, and found the corporeal corpse of a young girl that looked like the girl outside, lying on the bed with a silver dagger in her heart. The party thought it best to avoid dealing with that for the moment and moved on to the master bedroom.

In the master bedroom, the ghost of a woman sat admiring her reflection in the mirror. She asked the party if they thought she looked beautiful, and they said yes. When Glissa spoke, the woman became enraged, and attacked, casting fire spells until she was defeated by the party smashing her mirror. Once the mirror broke, the ghost was released to the next world. The party took the mirror, which allowed them to disguise themselves. In this room, they found the guards’ contracts, which they then burned, releasing the guards into the next world. The guards appeared to thank the party for freeing them, and left them with an enchanted sword and shield. The party also found the dumbwaiter key in the bureau, which they took. Before leaving the third floor, they checked the upper level of the gallery, which contained a broken statue of an elven woman.

The party returned to the first floor and unlocked the dumbwaiter. They took the dumbwaiter all the way down, which seemed as if it was going several stories deep underground. When they stopped, they found themselves in a stone room that contained a iron door with a small grate in it. Looking through the door they saw the flickering of torchlight and what appeared to be jail cells. They heard someone talking, saying:

“What’s that sweetie? No, I don’t think we should go upstairs. There’s so much work left to do here. No, I know Mommy’s up there. It’s the time of year for her to be restless again. But remember how she hurt you? Remember what she did? You’ll be safe with Daddy. Always safe with Daddy. Besides, we have new friends to play with!”

They then heard a second person begging for their life and screaming, only to hear the screams suddenly stop. Even, reacting to what he heard the man say, disguised himself as the little girl from upstairs, then walked into the room. There he saw the cells filled with mangled body parts, tables with corpses on them, two dormant flesh golems, and a handsome man in mages robes with a small, moving, cloth bundle on his back. The man saw Even and ran back to a rear room after activating the golems. One of the golems seemed poorly made and fell apart immediately. Crunky rushed into the room to attack the remaining golem, and Dogloth went into a barbarian rage. Crunky chugged a haste potion and attacked with his greatsword, and Dogloth struck with his axe. Ruby snuck around the golem and hit it with a powerful sneak attack, spilling its guts to the floor. The golem was soon done in. Dogloth rushed to break down the door the mage retreated to, and he broke it down. Ruby heard the mage say “wait, I can help you” and tried to stop Dogloth, but his rage was too great. He struck down the mage, finishing the battle. From the bundle on the mage’s back crawled an undead little girl. She was unable to speak, but the party assumed she was the sister the other girl was looking for. The party took the mute child up to the bedrooms, and took her in to the room where the corpse of the other girl was. Here, the two sisters reunited, and their smiling spirits were released to the beyond, leaving behind their stuffed toys, a wolf and a bear.

The party searched the house for any missed items, then walked back they way they came. As they passed the fountain, they found a unusual silver coin in the spot where they had seen the elven ghost previously.

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Tamlyn's New Toy
Crunky, Ruby, Thordin, Glissa, Thadeus

Each member of the party received a note from Tamlyn Theruvial, asking them to meet her at the Historical Library at midnight. When the party showed up, Tamlyn said that she had uncovered information leading to a very important item, and asked that the party assist her in the recovery of the item. She explained that if the information was good, and the item was what she expected, the party would need a cart to bring it back to Fort First Light. The cart, she explained, would be provided. Because she is a scribe and makes little money, she said she would be unable to pay the party in gold. Instead, she would pull some strings with people who owe her favors to acquire useful items that may assist them in their travels.
The party left the next day, arriving at the location after little over than a week’s travel. As they neared the entrance to the dungeon, the party spied a man playing a lute sitting outside the entrance. Crunky shouted that the man’s tunes were “sweet,” and the party approached the man. The man identified himself as Timmy, and told the party he was a travelling bard, searching for inspiration. The party listened to one of his songs and asked about how they may go about entering the dungeon, as a locked iron grate blocked it from the outside. Timmy revealed that he had the key and that he suspected the party was seeking the item within, but said that he did not think the party was worthy enough to obtain the item. He further explained that he was a servant of Oghma, the god of bards and scribes, and that the item within the dungeon should only be used by those who could use it wisely. He said that the dungeon ahead would test their wisdom and their strength, but should they see it to the end, the item would be theirs. The party insisted that they would like to prove themselves in the dungeon, so Timmy gave them they key.

As soon as the party crossed the threshold, they were teleported to a small room with no exit except a lock, heavy iron door. In this room was a single stone pedestal, upon which rested a lever. On the pedestal was written, “To open the door, flip the switch.” The party debated for several minutes, and finally Crunk flipped the switch, opening the door, and causing gold coins to rain from the sky. Timmy’s voice appeared in the room, praising the party. In the next room was a small platform that teleported the party to another room, looking similar to the first, save for the fact that there was no sign on the lever and the iron door was already ajar. The party flipped the switch again, prompting an electric shock throughout the room. Timmy’s disembodied voice said, “Who told you to do that?!” The party, slightly singed, moved on to the teleport platform and to the next room.

In this room there were nine chests. Timmy’s voice said, “You can choose wisely or unwisely, but you’ll have to choose at least one.” The party selected a chest at random, receiving a few items and opening the door. The party was eager to move on, but Thordin thought perhaps there may be some other treasures in the chests. Thordin opened a chest, summoning several bugbears that attacked the party, causing enough damage that they felt the need to rest for several hours. The party slept in watches, but those who were awake were unable to resist the urge to open more chests. Eventually, all the chest were opened, and the party collected some items and fought a harpy, a hellhound, and an owlbear which grappled Thaddeus and Glissa until it died, at which point it had to be moved before those party members suffocated.

Timmy promised that the next room was prepared especially for the party, but when they entered it, it was filled with two long tables, expensive golden and crystal furnishings, and tons of freshly prepared food and drinks. Timmy said, “Behold, the room of… wait. Oh, hold on. This room isn’t for you. Sorry. Go ahead and move on through, I’ll open the door.” The door opened, and the party exited the room, despite being compelled to sample the food.
The next room contained a simple well, upon which rested a wooden signed marked “Wishing Well – 1 Gold.” Each member of the party made a wish.

The party went to the next room, which contained a semi-transparent lever that glowed with ghostly power. Timmy said, “Don’t worry, I didn’t put anything in here that can hurt you. Just flip the switch, and off you’ll go. Although, if you do get hurt, we’ll get you patched up before the last room. ” The party tried in vain to move the lever, and after a few moments, Thordin’s shield began to move around the room of its own volition, casting searing light spells and bashing party members. Glissa suggested they allow a party member to die in order to move the ghostly lever. Crunky then attacked Ruby with her permission, causing her death. Ruby suddenly found that she was a ghost, and as ghost, was able to flip the lever, opening the door. Ruby was magically resurrected and the party was healed. They moved on to the next room.

The next room was large and divided by a magical barrier. Several goblins stood on the other side of the barrier. Timmy’s voice said, that opening the door may require infinite patience. The party defended against the goblins for several rounds as more and more goblins spawned, filling the room. Finally, they began to fight. Ruby chained several of the gobbling corpses to her body and ran at the barrier, discovering she could move through it. Each of the other party members grabbed a goblin and rushed the barrier. They defeated the goblin wizard on the far side of the room, opening the door. When they stepped through, they found themselves at the dungeon entrance again. Timmy said he was surprised they made it through, and true to his word loaded the item, a large crate, on to their cart.

The party returned to Fort First Light with little trouble and delivered the item to the warehouse that Tamlynn had told them about. The warehouse was filled with tables covered with large vials of ink and stacks of paper. A team of workers opened the crate, revealing several rods and rollers packed with straw. In a small box within the crate were metal plates and smaller metal pieces upon which were stamped letters in the Common alphabet. Tamlyn promised she would pull some strings to acquire some items for the party that had assisted her.

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Ten Tips for Being a Better Player
For anyone interested in roleplaying more

Found this online and I thought it might be useful for anyone who wants to be more confident roleplaying. I particularly like the “keep secrets” rule.

Have a Backstory: It doesn’t have to be expansive a paragraph is usually enough to let everyone know the feel of your character. Like a list of characters for a play it should let everyone know your character’s premise.

Improvise: Have your character ocassionally act on impulse and let the ramifications come. It surprises a GM and your fellow PCs and it keeps things fresh. Now It’s Personal: Grow attached to things. PCs naming their +2 returning Javelin “Diplomacy” adds a lot of flavor to simple things. Also if the same setting is ever revisited at a later time finding a relic from your past adventures is a lot of fun. Be Quirky: Give your charecter flaws. And not just the suggested ones for bonus feats. Make your Monk OCD and spend ten minutes trying to organize the tomb of a Chaotic Evil guy. Have fun with it. Other PCs will laugh or hilariously try and stop you. Fun for all. Keep it Simple Stupid: Don’t make the GM dig through pages of rules for your actions. If the GM simplifies something deal with it rather than attempt rules lawyering. Speeds up play prevents you from time hogging and will make more time for fun. Stay on Track: The first sidequest is awesome, the sidequest from that sidequest is questionable, after that its too much. He Tasks Me: Choose someone you hate. Don’t let other PCs know, pick an enemy and figure out why you loathe them. Keep Secrets: Pass notes to the GM. Collude with another player. Make sure people pay attention to your character. (Don’t hog the Spotlight though) Stay on the Rails: The GM probably has something awesome planned. And the rails are not nessecarily bad. Go off the Rails: The GM will be impressed and flustered the encounter will be more fun as its improvised and you shape the villian’s plans as much as the GM making a fun exercise in team storytelling. Don’t forget to have fun along the way.
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The Faceless One
Dogloth, Ruby, Thordin, Crunky, Even, Thaddeus

Cornelius sent the adventurers: Thordin, Ruby, Dogloth, and Crunky, along with two new companions, the sorcerer Thaddeus and the bard, Even Odd, to scout the ruins of an old stone temple. The temple, Cornelius explained, was known to become occupied during the rainy season as it was a perfect hideouts for bandits or other evil beings. The team quickly agreed to scout the area.

A week’s travel was spent moving along the farm roads until the party came to the temple, nested in rocky hills to the north of the farm lands.

The temple was situated high on a Cliffside, but a tower that appeared to lead to the larger temple complex had been built at ground level. Around the base of the tower were several piles bricks, as if construction on the tower had been performed recently. After activating a trap attached to the doors at the base of the tower, the party gagged on the sick smell of decay that burst forth from the darkened room within. Nonetheless, they pressed on. The floor in the room appeared to have been removed leaving only soft earth. The party moved cautiously throughout the room, fearful of traps. Ruby lit a torch so that the party could see, but this act alerted the ghouls and ghasts hidden in the earth below. They emerged and attacked the party. Thaddeus summoned a ball of fire, while the rest of the party attact with melee weapons. Even cast Hide from Undead on Ruby, rendering her invisible to the room of ghouls. After a few rounds, the ghouls still stood, and their numbers seemed overwhelming. Thordin called upon his god, Torm, and attempted to turn the creatures. Many were killed instantly, while the few that remained were quickly dispatched. The party journeyed up the tower to the next room.

The next room was mostly empty, save for a few crates. Ruby searched the double-doors for traps, and found that a trigger had been built into the floor. She was unable to disable the device, so some of the party tossed crates onto the trigger, unleashing a fullisade of darts which struck the crates harmlessly. Crunky broke down the door, revealing the exit to the bridge that connected the tower to the temple. The bridge was 40 feet off the ground and was a made long planks suspended by chain. There was no railing, and the rain made the bridge slick. In the distance, the party could spot a single skeleton waiting on the far side. Working together, Thaddeus and Even cast Ghost Sounds and Silent image, creating a ghost dog that lured the skeleton into attacking. What’s more, ghost dog also drew the attention of other skeletons the party had not seen. Thordin made his way across the bridge to turn the skeletons. Although the skeletons were quickly defeated, Thordin did not spot the two gargoyles perched on the ledge of the tower that he had just exited. Thordin and Crunky held the gargoyles at bay, though both nearly lost their balance and went tumbling over the side, while the party attacked the gargoyles relentlessly. After a long fight, the gargoyles were defeated, and the team progressed to the main temple building.

When a “ghost dog check” prompted no activity from the other side of the door, the party entered into the main room of the temple. The room had a door on every wall, and Thordin’s “detect magic” revealed that something magical existed on the doors at the far side of the room. The party headed right from the entrance, and found themselves in a large, dark room filled with cages (after sending ghost dog through first). Within these cages were unresponsive humanoid figures, two of who certainly seemed dead. The only exceptions were a deranged man mumbling to himself who did not communicate with the party, and a large black wolf, who appeared to be sleeping but suffering from some kind of disease. Ruby attempted to shoot the dog, but while the arrow clearly damaged the beast, it did not wake from its slumber. The party agreed that it would be unwise to free any of the creatures from their cages, and doubled back to the main chamber.

This time, the party headed left from the entrance, and did not send ghost dog through the doors before opening them. The stepped into a room filled with book cases and laboratory equipment, and were immediately attacked by several tiny humanoid creatures with bat wings. The fight, while not incredibly difficult, was somewhat frustrating, as the creatures size and speed made them difficult to hit. Dogloth was poisoned by the bite of one of the creatures, and seemed to move more slowly until after the battle, when a restoration spell was applied to him from Ruby’s wand. After the battle, the party searched the room, finding a number of scrolls. On the main desk were three vials of black liquid, which were given to Dogloth for safekeeping. Also on the desk was a kind of laboratory manual, which contained the following passage:

Subject One: Male elf. Practitioner of Hakkari (how lucky!)
Subject was forced to consume one oz. of substance. Screamed and writhed for almost a full hour, nearly removing restraints. Before termination, subject convulsed and affected paralysis. His eyes had grown completely black.
Subject Two: Male Orc
Subject consumed one oz. of liquid while under forced hypnosis. Subject no longer speaks or reacts to external stimuli. Skin appears to have been hardened somehow, but movement does not appear to be limited. Subject was removed to containment for further observation.
Subject Three:
Male Human.
1oz. of substance applied topicallyv(neck) . Subject described a burning sensation. Removed to observation for two weeks, upon which time flesh of subject had undergone necrosis, beginning where the substance was first applied. When all of his flesh had been consumed by necrosis, subject appeared to have died, ceasing all signs of life. However, after two days the subject began to move again, and gained full mobility after a week. Subject maintained sentience, but appears to have lost the ability to speak intelligibly, only rattling off spouts of syllables (or unknown language?) Subject shows signs of increased aggressing while in observation, paralleled by bouts of what appears to be weeping.
Subject Four:
Female elf.
1oz of substance applied topically (neck) . Subject screamed for hours and attempted to claw at her own flesh, succeeding in removing much of the skin at her wrists. Death from blood loss two hours later.
Subject Five:
Male Wolf
1 oz. Applied topically (Neck)
Approximately twenty minutes after application, subject fell asleep. He has not woken since. Subjects fur appears to be turning black and hardening. His hairs have begun to resemble quills.

The party then uncovered a secret door hidden behind a bookcase, which led to an upstairs bedroom. The party looted some armor, and Ruby found two rings which she hid from the rest of the party. There was a journal in the room, which contained the following passage:

Experiments with the black substance continue to fascinate and enthrall me. I can still hear the screams of subject one, and the memory causes my heart to race again. Perhaps there is something of a sadist in me.
The faceless one still troubles me. While I feel obligated to him for allowing me access to this knowledge, the words he speaks seem to cause a dissonance within my soul. How ironic that the beliefs I eschewed in my youth would prove to be the basis of my work, yet so radically misunderstood by those who practice those beliefs still. I still cannot believe it is true, not really. The faceless one claims that that the cycle of rebirth is not only true, but has already begun. Yet, according to the stories of my youth, it is over half a millennia too early for such an event. I would have laughed when he told me this, had I not already heard words of what I believe to be emissaries. Two have already appeared. That of vermin has already begun his assault on the territory, attacking a small farming village and, if reports are to be believed, the sewer system of the makeshift city to the east. He playfully nips at the settlers of the region, biding his time before his fangs are bared.
The other, I’m told, is feared by local orc bands as “the Death Follower.” If only they knew how wrong they were! At least death can be reversed.
I wonder if the temple is aware yet. They surely are not expecting such news, nor searching for the omens.
I feel as if I stand on the precipice of creation and nihilism.
And what of the Faceless One? I suspect he too, is one of these emissaries. I am relentlessly curious and utterly terrified by the world he claims to come from, and what he claims he shall do to ours. I do not know why he chose me to act as one of his agents in this world, but I do not question. What he has done to that thing in the main chamber, I scarcely thought such a feat was possible. His power is that of a demigod. If he is no such thing, than I cannot help but wonder what the gods of his world are like. To bind our worlds together using that beast as a conduit… perhaps he is curious to see what effects the black substance will have on it. I must admit that I too am curious, but I am glad that the faceless one has the creature contained. For extra insurance, I have magically sealed the door to the main chamber. The password is the name of subject one.
If I see this all through, then I will have knowledge – TRUE knowledge – of the nature of existence. Although seeing what awaits us at the end, I no longer sure such knowledge is to be desired.

Now that they had a clue on how to open the door, they went to investigate one of the corpses in the cells. Crunky began eviscerating the corpse with his bare hands, exposing himself to the black bloody liquids within, but appearing to suffer no ill effects. The party found a wedding ring containing the first name of the victim, which they used to open the door.

Worried that there may be something on the other side of the door waiting for them, Thaddeus and Even combined ghost sounds and silent image once more to produce a sexy skeleton which they sent through the door ahead of them, assuming it would distract anyone on the other side. Dogloth opened the door, and immediately was struck with a fireball. The flames spread through the doorway, damaging much of the party and knocking Dogloth unconscious. The party ran away from the doorway to regroup and heal. At this point, Thordin behaved strangely, and seemed to be filled with energy. A burst of light emanated from him and the party was healed.

They went once more through the door, revealing large room filled with stone benches, a large pool filled with the black liquid and an altar. On the wall behind the pool was a large, swirling vortex from which ghostly chains emerged and sunk themselves into the pool. In the room, a mage and a floating orb covered in eyestalks were ready for battle. The orb seemed thrown off by the party, and spun frantically for a few seconds. Dogloth and Crunky set to work on attacking the orb while Ruby and Thaddeus approached the mage. Thordin focused on healing the group while Even used support spells and sang lovely songs to inspire them. The orb attacked Dogloth and Crunky relentlessly, but they ultimately won. The mage fell to sneak attacks and scorching rays. All the while, something in the black pool churned the waters.

With the mage and orb fallen, the party searched the room. A quick search of the mage yielded a few items. The mage appeared to be an elf, scarred as if the skin had once been stripped from his face. In an attempt to break the spectral chains, Thaddeus was tied to a rope and tossed into the vortex. When he returned, what he saw had rendered him mad, and he was unable to speak for several days after. As the party watched the black waters, a figure emerged from the vortex. He wore mages clothes, and had wild gray hair, though his face was obscured by a smooth ceramic mask. He asked the party what had happened and to whom they belonged. After this, he turned back into the vortex. The chains began to break.

As more of the chains broke, the party saw a young gold dragon break the surface of the black water. The party waited until all the chains had broken and the vortex disappeared. The dragon pulled himself from the water and heaved himself upon the stone floor. In a conversation with the party, he told them that he had been captured by the necromancer, and that the black substance had corrupted him beyond return. He asked that the party make it so that he could not leave this temple to hurt anyone, and shapechanged into a tattooed, elven man. He gave the party two bags of holding (I) for their trouble, as it was all he had to give them. After discussing it among themselves, they decided to stuff the dragon in a bag of holding and take them with them. Thus, one of their bags was at the weight limit, but now they had a dragon? I guess? Then they traveled back to Fort First Light.

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Rise of Fire
Thordin, Crunky, Ruby

Cornelius summoned these adventurers, knowing them to be trustworthy and capable. Ruby went alone, as the onset of the rainy season left Dogloth home with a cold, as he is accustomed to more moderate climates. Thordin and Crunky, who had worked together before, met with Ruby and Cornelius. Cornelius seemed visibly frustrated with Tristan’s extended access, as it limited their ability to hire adventurers to assist with protecting and restoring Fort First Light. Cornelius explained that a small amount of funds were available, and asked if the adventurers would be interested in scouting locations that were known to consistent hotbeds of criminal or nefarious activity. It was his hope that removing such elements from these locations may ensure that they do not become more problematic during the rainy season.

Cornelius gave two options: explore a cave system often used by smugglers, or explore a temple north of the farmlands which has likely become a refuge for bandits driven from the farm roads by Tristan’s hired patrols. The team, sensing the possibility of profit, opted to clear out the smuggler’s cave.

They traveled by foot through the mud-slicked roads, and encountered no threat greater than a small pack of dire wolves, which they quickly disbanded. Once at the cave, they made their way through the narrow tunnels, encountering traps and light resistance from armed guards. They descended deeper into the cave and found a small dock where the river ran through, inhabited by a few smugglers and some caged wolves.

The team fought a difficult battle. Crunky held off a heavily armored attacker, while Ruby ensured that the wolves stayed cage, despite their master’s efforts to release them. Thordin attacked a pyromaniac wizard, who suddenly ran to where the cargo was and removed a single item: a domed, cylindrical container, wrapped in cloth. Thordin saw a glow coming from within the container and pursued the wizard as he tried to escape on a small boat moored nearby. Thordin cut off the wizard’s means of escape before killing him. After the battle, the team examined the container. After much debate on how to approach the unknown but clearly magical object, Crunky said “fuck, it” and removed the cloth as Thordin and Ruby looked on from a distance. The container was revealed to be a cage that contained a small bird with flames on its body. Thordin identified the creature as a phoenix, and the party decided to take the bird with them back to Fort First Light, despite the creatures illegal nature.

While journeying back to town, the team realized that the bird did not respond to any stimulus, and appeared to be perpetually sleeping. More curiously, the phoenix did not seem to age or grow during the trip, despite their usual quick growth rate. It was determined that the cage held the bird in stasis.

The party returned to Cornelius and collected their earnings and revealed their possession of the phoenix. Cornelius was concerned about who the smugglers would be transporting the phoenix for and why, and suggested that the party release the creature or leave it in his care until it could be arranged for the creature to return from the desert region from which he came. The party decided to leave the creature with Cornelius for safekeeping, but Ruby requested that she be there when the creature was handed off to whoever would be taking it back to its home.

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The Shifting Dungeon
Ruby, Dogloth

While Freezus went off… somewhere… Dogloth and Ruby headed to the library, where they encountered Tamlyn Theruvial and Wilhelm Splintstaff in an argument. Wilhelm wanted Tamlyn to return a book, but she said the book had been lent out. She gave Ruby and Dogloth the journal for Cornelius, but told them she could divulge some secret info about the journal’s author if they would seek out Wilhelm’s play, The Solitary Fish Ripper. The book had been lent to a local fisherman, Ishmael Ginn, The two stopped at The Broken Barrel, where they joined the conversation about the Simbi religion and heard rumors of a man claiming changelings had killed his family. In the morning, they met a man who sold information on an unexplored dungeon he had found. The two agreed to buy the information and split any profits from their exploration 80/20. They later found Ishmael Ginn, who was sorting his fish into piles of “normal” and “lucky” before ripping the “lucky” ones in half looking for treasure.

“Not every lucky fish has treasure, but only lucky fish have treasure.” -Ishmael Ginn

After returning the play to Tamlyn, she gave them a translated journal of an adventurer who had been searching for some kind of relic in the stitch mountains. According to a not left in a hidden part of the journal, he had left further information on his journey in another journal, which he hid in the Under Alleys “behind the pure fall.” The clue, Tamlyn believed, referred to the Hakkari symbols of purification that kept the waters of the sewers clean. The party decided to check out the dungeon before returning the translated journal to Cornelius Finch.

Is bears.

When they found the dungeon, they entered, finding only a room with a door. Dogloth burst through the door, which had been loosely bricked from the other side. Here they began to hear the grinding noises that would follow them for the duration of their journey. There they found the corpse of a Paladin of Torm, who had been dead for some time. They continued on, to a room filled with darkness, in which they fought a shadow. Further still, Ruby got locked in a room with a spinning hourglass that could be reset by pressing a button. Once the hourglass emptied, the doors unlocked, and the party used this area to rest. The journeyed on, where they encountered a sleeping Ogre barbarian that they accidentally woke. The Ogre attacked, but ultimately Dogloth exploded it with a critical hit that was just flat out obscene. When the party tried to leave the room, they found the door was blocked by a wall of solid stone. After waiting and resting several hours while trapped in the room, they once again head the loud grinding sound, and the stone slid away to reveal the forest. When they emerged, they found themselves high on a hillside from where they started, far from where they entered the cave, and much farther than they should have logically journeyed.

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