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Current campaign The World in Ruin
Current date in the City of Rodin: 11 June, 3040
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The World in Ruin

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DM:Iain McDonald
Based in:Aquadis
Started:9th April 2014 ; 13th January 2016
Ended:17th December 2014 ; Ongoing
Characters:Baron Sir Alric Ludd, Polyphemus, Thoron'alata, Zankul Urthadar

Mac's 13th Age campaign based on Aquadis.

Part One

Session 1

All going about normal day to day business in the Institute when hear an alarm shout from outside, near the South Gate. Lots of people gathering, Dean Georgiou, other students, etc gather on the rampart above the gate. Exhausted horse approaching at speed with a human clinging on until just before the wall. Dean dashes to the fallen man, Thoron'alata calms the horse. "Lizardfolk raiding Devon's Holding" gasps the man. Dean asks for volunteers to go to hold the lizardfolk off. Many students step forward, the Dean selects Polyphemus, Thoron'alata, Zankul and Alric to go forth, handing them horses.

Devon's Holding is 15 miles, 2 hours steady ride south from the Institute. In between are fortified farms. It's unusual for such holdings be attacked and lizardfolk normally keep to themselves, though raiding is in their character. Immediately head south at best speed.

Run into a goblin ambush! Easily defeat them and retrieve some coins.

Continue south as quickly as possible. See a pillar of smoke, see building collapse. Reptilian corpses, seem to have been slain as they fled, no combat happening. Villagers tending to the wounded. Lizardfolk wear blue feathers. Asked by Piann to help her husband Devon and 20 comrades who pursued the lizardfolk into the Lizard Marsh some 15 miles south west, furious as Devon's son had been killed by them. Probably half a day's travel ahead. Clear trail to follow. Seems lizardfolk took a circuitous route so they don't lose any loot in the swamp, save time by taking a more direct route.

Marsh has lush vegetation, thick reeds. Plunge in, searching for lizardfolk. Find many human bodies, some ripped to pieces. Amongst them is a black dragon?! It seems injured from earlier fighting, wheezing, sword poking out of it but has detected us and moves to attack. Fight for our lives, somehow achieve victory, if it had been at full health it would have been a very different outcome. As the dragon dies, it screams very loudly, likely alerting fellow dragons in miles around. Retrieve the sword from the dragon, seems to be enchanted, it's named Brightfang.

Tracks lead onward...

Session 2

No time to rest on laurels, there are still Devon and comrades to rescue from lizardfolk. Easy to follow trail through marsh, thick vegetation, tall reeds. Hope to return to dragon's corpse later to extract some alchemical ingredients, scales for armour, etc.

Ambush! A family of highly poisonous lizards.

Continue on. Carrion birds ahead, remains of a fight, dead humans, horses and poison lizards. From livery, humans are clearly Devon's colleagues, though not Devon himself and tracks continue, though diminished. Odd that the bodies had not been buried.

Further along. Path between a large hillock and some deep water. Movement in the brush ahead, heavily armed lizardfolk wearing red and brown pelts.

Large lizardman with one eye steps forward and speaks with us. Sir Alric explains our mission to rescue Devon and company. When blue feather lizardfolk mentioned, One Eye offers information as it seems advantageous for him if we battle the blue feather clan. One Eye asks for an alliance. Requests all humans to leave swamp and red pelt clan in peace. They are pleased we defeated the dragon, evidently been watching us. May be some diplomacy needed with nearby human farms but can worry about that another time.

Head on, find a clearing. Camp of blue feather lizardfolk. Huge tree and boulder. Lizardfolk examining household items, weapons and armour - robbed from Devon's Hold. Several dead human bodies, including Devon we think. One sentry on guard atop the rock.

Without hesitation, we launch an attack while the lizardfolk are distracted. Blitz a few of them, reinforcements emerge from where they'd hidden nearby but we are swiftly victorious.

Check for survivors, including Devon, but sadly none. Gather some wood and build a funeral pyre for the humans, with some alchemical assistance. Dispose of lizardfolk in the deeper water. Collect the possessions belonging to Devon's Hold to return them.

Start heading back. Collect some body parts from the poison lizards and dragon for alchemical research and crafting items, also take dragon head trophy. Red pelt lizardfolk come and help guide us safely through rest of marsh. They reiterate alliance with us.

Return to Devon's Holding with the sad news. Mention of the dragon causes terror. Tell the humans to avoid the marsh and not to attack the red pelt lizardfolk. Return all the stolen possessions we recovered. Much grief all around, though recognition that Devon was foolhardy in his angry charge into the swamp. Devon's wife gives us Brightfang and some gold coins as a reward. Stay overnight and help with the repairs.

Next morning head back to the Institute, triumphantly bearing the dragon head. Report to the Dean. Tell him all the gory details. He is amazed we fought a black dragon and lived to tell the tale. He thanks us for having volunteered to help Devon's Holding and for all our exploits. He will send a representative to the swamp to formally speak with One Eye and the red pelts. Hoping that no larger dragons ever appear to avenge the dead one.

Couple of quiet days, try to get back to everyday life, though now minor celebrities and centre of attention. Start to work the dragon parts to eventually make weapons, armour, alchemical reagents, etc. Reinforcements sent to Devon's Holding.

Group of armed men arrive at the Institute. Summoned to see the Dean, with him is a man in shining armour, the Baron de Vere himself! He has a problem, his sister Arwen has been abducted by Baron Gerwain!

Gerwain was visiting from Stormhaven and likely headed back there. The Baron wants us to travel a route through Laughing Hollow in pursuit. He and his guards will follow two alternate routes, one of which is apparently in orc territory. He offers various rewards for our assistance. Gather further information and details before we depart. Various rumours circulate the Institute about what's going on.

Head on out. Before reaching Laughing Hollow, we are attacked. Warning volley of arrows shower all around. Man in scale armour orders us to leave as "the Baron and his new lady want to be left in peace". They fire again, targeting horses, obviously trying to slow our pursuit. We rush in to engage and defeat them. Take one captive for questioning.

Session 3

Captured guard is called Paddy. We question him but he has given his word to serve Baron Gerwain and doesn't talk much. We plan to abandon him but he pleas that it'd be a death sentence and he'd prefer to be taken prisoner, giving his word to cooperate. He wants us to bury his comrades but we don't. At his suggestion we do take weapons from fallen guards and dispose of their armour in a pond. It does seem like he's been trying to delay as much as possible.

Continue on in direction of Laughing Hollow, following horse tracks, seems about 6 people ahead of us, maybe 6 hours ahead of us. Becomes clear won't catch up before nightfall, trees getting thicker making progress difficult especially in the dark, time to pause for a rest.

Just ahead is a shack. Signs that people with horses rested here a few hours ago, presumably our targets. Make camp. Set watch overnight. A band of undead attack in the middle of the night! Paddy given a sword and helps fight - gains some respect for Sir Alric.

Realise that the newly risen undead were actually the guards we had killed earlier! Somehow they had risen and pursued us through the night! Cremate them this time.

Next day. Depart early and make best speed. Paddy on his best behaviour.

Run across a family of bears to try and maul us. We'd lose too much time on the Baron if we turn around and leave their territory. Fight the bears off, scaring them away rather than killing them outright.

Press on. Obvious trail to follow. Seem to be quickly gaining on our quarries. Very dense trees force us to dismount.

Appearing before us, lovely young lady, recognises we come from Institute, introduces herself as Lady Arwen, asks if we've come to rescue her. Says she was drugged by Gerwain but managed to escape.

Just then, Gerwain and guards step out of the trees. Gerwain is arrogant and unpleasant. Despite this, his word is law. He challenges us to combat to settle the matter.

Interrupting proceedings, a volley of arrows from nearby undergrowth takes out Baron's guards, fired by goblins. Goblins then run away, with Baron in pursuit. Arwen encourages us to aid him.

Follow Baron, find goblins attacking a female elf. Thoron'alata calls to the elf to reassure her. Goblins attack. Baron and guards help fight the goblins. Arwen tries to aswell. Blitz the goblins.

Elf is named Ellerandil. She was tracking some orcs, who were planning an attack on coast road to east. Wishes us to go and deal with the orcs.

But still have Baron to deal with of course. He challenges Sir Alric to a duel to the death! Sir Alric is winning, to avoid death Gerwain offers his sword and title to Sir Alric, and he will flee into exile as a craven coward (though his evil demeanour suggests he may return). Good job Arwen was present to witness this. Will need ratification by the Duke. It's a very rare event. Plus the sword turns out to be magic!

Still have Paddy with us. Supposed to return Arwen to Baron de Vere, but she wants to accompany us to battle the orcs. And have Sir Alric's legal arrangements to figure out.

Session 4

Cremate the slain guards.

Ellerandil sends us to confront a band of orcs. Meanwhile she is finding where they came from and will report to the Institute. While Sir Alric and Paddy protects Lady Arwen, the rest of us rush to fight the orcs, stop them from preying on merchant traffic on the coast road.

Still within Laughing Hollow, travelling on horseback in a NNE direction (we entered from the east). Ambushed by a giant spider. Combat 1/4

Leave Laughing Hollow, heading for coast, still following obvious orc tracks. Crest a hill, see orcs ransacking a merchant train, wagons on fire, bodies on the ground, some guards still valiantly holding off some orcs, protecting a few remaining merchants.

See an orc shaman about to unleash a second wave of orc warriors. We ambush the shaman from range, trying to attract some orcs our way so the merchant guards are not overwhelmed. Polyphemus goes nuts with deadly chemicals, but gets smashed by an angry berserker. Somehow Polyphemus is revived by a bizarre chemical mixture. Meanwhile, merchant guards are prevailing against the other orcs, encouraged by our presence. Orc morale breaks and they try to flee but are cut down. We prevail, a mighty and bloody victory! Combat 2/4

The merchants are relieved. Cremate the dead. Sir Alric gutted to have missed the fight. We help merchants recover their belongings and escort them down the road to Daggerfish. Get everyone back to Institute safely. We are local celebrities (again). Report to the Dean, especially the actions of Baron Gerwain.

Next day the Baron de Vere returns. Glad to be reunited with Arwen and indebted to us. Rewarded with magic items, crafted from the slain black dragon.

Discuss the duel with Baron Gerwain. Confirm Baron offered his sword and title in lieu of his life, agreed by Arwen. There will be local diplomatic implications. Need to send word to the Duke. Baron de Vere will sponsor Sir Alric's claim on the title. Baron Gerwain ought to flee Aquadis in exile, though may not as he has powerful family/allies.

Also inform Baron about the orcs and the druid. With good timing, Ellerandil arrives. She tells of a large orc lair near Laughing Hollow, provides a map. We confirm we slew the whole orc band raiding the merchants. She asks us to investigate why orcs have come down from mountains and moved there, the Baron and Dean agree.

Session 5

7 May 2014

Grab some supplies in Institute. As a secondary task, Dean has asked us to map the surrounding area as best we can, to improve the Institute's knowledge.

Head out for the orc lair, following the druid's instructions. Initially follow the coast road before heading west towards Laughing Hollow, where dire wolf pack attacks! Harvest some trophies/chemicals. Combat 1/4

Rest overnight, seemingly without event.

Continue on the next day, not beyond edge of Laughing Hollow, reach vicinity of orc lair, as best we understood the directions. Thoron'alata scouts, finds entrance to natural cave, with two orcs on watch above the entrance. Fail when sneaking closer, sentries attack, kill them swiftly before they can raise alarm we hope, hide their bodies. Combat 2/4

Venture into cave, Thoron'alata sneaking ahead. Cave is empty except a trapdoor in the floor. Leave horses in the cave. Lift trapdoor slightly, faint sound of snoring, climb ladder down, seems to be a natural cave network, though stone worked roughly to level the floor, crude door, winding passage.

Ambushed by two orcs, who call in reinforcements before we kill them. Combat 3/4

Continue further into cave network which remains quiet, despite our earlier fighting. Sir Alric's sword blazing with light attracts another orc attack as we enter a crude armoury. Find a suit of plate armour marked with the symbol of Pelor, rusted and tainted on the inside. Combat 3.33/4

Explore onwards, through a door into a room with many storage chests and unnatural cold caused by brown mould. Avoid it for now, hope to collect some later for alchemical research. Combat 3.67/4

Next room, sleeping area - orcs led by a priest of Gruumsh. They were waiting for us. Badly hurt the priest, who flees, orcs try to cover his escape, cut them down, hot pursuit after the priest, deeper into the complex, blunder into orcish nursery, priest flees further, blunder into orcish barracks/infirmary, mass battle ensues!

Session 6

14 May 2014

Blitz our way through the remaining orcs. Thoron'alata has a worrying moment but otherwise fine. Combat 4/4 Level 2, Incremental 1

We kept the shaman Grekak alive for questioning. Trying to learn if orcs were sent here, or if orcs are fleeing something, as we have impression of something powerful (dragon?) in the mountains. He is a slippery customer and reveals little. Leave him bound and gagged while we explore rest of complex. Collect various random treasures.

Use a key taken from Grekak to open an otherwise locked door, to reveal a storeroom filled with looted items taken from human merchants, including lots of beer and wine. While searching, Sir Alric attacked by incredibly dangerous rot grubs, which need cleansing by fire. Combat 0/4

Explore further. Find a couple more orcs, one in a drunken stupor. Kill them easily, find two jail keys on them. Combat 1/4

Passage to two sturdy doors. Unlock one, revealing a half-elf prisoner named Lorian Darkleaf in a bad state, he was a merchant from Stormhaven in a caravan which was attacked by orcs, perhaps intended for ransom? Give him food and he heads home on his own as best he can, desperate to get out of the orc lair immediately.

Unlock other door, leads to prison cell containing a human, orc and goblin all chained up, showing signs of torture. Also remains of a dead goblin and dwarf.

- Human is Delar Mysharin, another merchant from Stormhaven, held for ransom, recognises the name Lorian. Give him food and he departs swiftly, seeking safety.

- Thoron'alata executes the goblin summarily.

- Orc, named Kargak, was imprisoned by chieftan Ogrok, for arguing that the tribe were foolish to move so close to and attack humans. Kargak asks to be released, says he will show us where Ogrok is and help us fight him.

There are still two other doors in different locations, both barred from the other side. Kargak takes us to one of them. Kargak batters on it, howling a challenge to Ogrok. Smash it down, face off with Ogrok and bodyguards in his chieftan's hall including a "throne". Kargak charges Ogrok but is rapidly sliced down. Dangerous fight, we hurt Ogrok mightily and he drops back to try and escape out of a hidden door but we finish him off then tidy up his minions. Combat 2/4

Investigate hidden door Ogrok was trying to use. It's very heavy and seems it could be very hard to open from the other side, concerned about getting trapped so we leave it for time being.

Search orc treasure chamber, find lots of valuable stuff. Interrupted by an orc spying on us, fleeing when noticed. Presumably there are further orcs beyond the other barred door...

Session 7

21 May 2014

Go to investigate final barred door which we suspect has further orcs beyond. Discover that the shaman Grekak has disappeared, presumably rescued by the same orc who spied on us.

Smash door down, two orc guards beyond. Thoron'alata annihilates them. Combat 3/4

Another door leads onward. Ease it open. We find Grekak (still injured) and more orcs including a wizardly orc named Kron Daka. Messy, cluttered room, incense burning on a brazier. All hell breaks loose. Kron Daka hurls alchemical fire flasks around until Polyphemus put him in his place. Reinforcements enter from the next room. Thoron'alata annihilates them. Combat 4/4

Polyphemus restocks his alchemical reagents and such. Also find some strange wooden objects, Cyclopean in origin, containing rare alchemical recipes. Most intriguing for Polyphemus to decipher.

Final chamber of the orc lair is a shrine to Gruumsh, including a ruby-eyed statue of the orc god. Both Polyphemus and Thoron'alata are superstitious of the temple and don't even enter - they are both scared of the ramifications of disturbing an evil temple.

Return to secret door, just Polyphemus and Thoron'alata explore beyond. Damp and slippery, natural tunnels, signs orcs routinely used this area.

Find a door to a torture chamber, inhabited by an orc torturer who is immediately slain. Seems the orc lair is even bigger than we first thought. Regroup right next to secret door. If we all decide to proceed, could become trapped. Maybe we should return to report to the Druid and Baron, though clearly the mission to deal with the orcs is not yet complete. Level 2, Incremental 2

Session 8

11 June 2014

Manage to jam the secret door to stop it closing permanently. Metal bars groan under strain, likely won't last forever!

Head back downstairs and explore, various passages in various directions. Sounds of water.

Find a burial chamber. Expect it to be a human or possibly dwarf crypt. Turns out to host orc shaman bodies? They animate as ghouls when we enter. Battle is joined, swiftly destroy the undead menace. Combat 1/4 The orc burial chambers clearly pre-date the current orc inhabitants, by perhaps 50 years. Wonder what made them leave but now we know why they chose this particular location to setup a "new" base. Search area and recover some trinkets.

Find a leaking fountain which seems magical, can be used for scrying on different areas within the complex, but only places previously visited.

Continue on, find two ogres in a large meeting room. Sir Alric charges in. A mysterious human assassin bearing an unknown religious symbol also enters the fray - very well prepared for us, presumably via the scrying fountain. He nearly takes out Thoron'alata in a sneaky manoeuvre. Very dangerous fight ensues. Kill ogres but assassin well protected by magic, uses hit and run tactics and moves to escape after letting slip that he'd been paid to kill us all - wonder if he works for Baron Gerwain? Assassin summons "mud men" to cover his retreat, taking down Thoron'alata before departing, after torching some evidence and fetching some orc allies. Polyphemus barely revives Thoron'alata plus rescues a piece of burning parchment. Sir Alric gets engulfed by mud men. We eventually prevail though of course assassin was long gone. Combat 2/4 Reach Level 3

The saved piece of parchment read:

Quote:

..... the idiot failed so order Golatra to attack. If his sister won't co-operate you know what to do. One last thing, this Sir Alric, elim.....

Session 9

18 June 2014

Combat 0/4

Finish searching the orc lair. Sir Alric desecrates the altar to Gruumsh.

Return safely to the Institute, along with Paddy (who now works for Sir Alric) and the two merchants from the orc prison. Report to the Dean, explain in summary how we removed the orc threat but don't mention certain vital facts (e.g. the name Golatra, Assassin's holy symbol) - may follow up with a more detailed report in a couple of days.

Relax. Catch up with duties. Sort out loot. Investigate magical items. Buy some runes. Deal with fellow students.

Next day, Ellerandil arrives, talks to Thoron'alata and they journey outside the Institute. She has news for him, reveals herself as a fellow Sylvarran and shows him the very well hidden and secret elven settlement of Sylvanbardh, which has been a secret enclave of Sylvarran. Thoron'alata meets Thoron'danel, an ancient elf, who had a vision of Thoron'alata's arrival and a prophecy that it was finally time to return home to Sylvandale after centuries in seclusive safety. The prophecy also suggests a great evil is afoot, threatening the world, despite the recent defeat of Orcus yet further dangers abound. And somehow Thoron'alata will be involved?! Thoron'alata then speaks with Tamerel, another Sylvarran, who provides some special Arcane Archery training.

Thoron'alata asks Ellerandil about the name Golatra and shows her the letter. She gasps in recognition - dire news, Golatra is the leader of a group of hill giants who dwell deeper in the mountains. Where could be the target of a giant attack and who could order such a thing? She doesn't know Assassin nor the holy symbol but suggests ogres are normally connected to giants. This bad news may hasten the departure of the elves back to Sylvandale.

Sir Alric receives a letter. Formal request to attend an official enquiry into alleged events involving Baron Gerwain. Head to Stormhaven "at your convenience". Various other local dignitaries also summoned. Sir Alric speaks the Dean for advice. Situation is somewhat overwhelming and controversial! It seems orcs and monsters are not the only dangers to face.

Polyphemus works hard in alchemy lab, beginning to figure out the Cyclops recipes. Polyphemus spends time in library intensively researching the symbol carried by Assassin but to no avail, it's a real mystery.

We all reconvene to discuss recent developments and our findings. Speak to Dean and share everything we know with him. Get the Dean to figure out what the mysterious symbol might be, he spends an hour presumably doing some magical communication involving Camero himself - it's connected to Emberil Aloustini, related to the demise of Orcus. This means Assassin must be very dangerous indeed.

Doors bursts open, injured guards stagger in, Knottwood Keep is under attack. Baron de Vere and Lady Arwen are in danger! We depart immediately and make best speed.

Outer gate was destroyed by hill giants who then left left. Ogres led by a minotaur assault the defenders, directed by a hill giant watching from a nearby hill. As we arrive, an ogre drops Baron de Vere. Orcs are pillaging and trashing the place. Charge in and fearsome battle is joined! Focus completely on the minotaur who is confused by Thoron'alata's magic and kill it quickly. Blitz down the ogres too. Very impressive display (of dice rolling!). Sadly the Baron de Vere, Captain Parlin, Father Arazmus and many men-at-arms died in the action, though the Lady Arwen and some men-at-arms survived.

Combat 1/4

Seeing what just happened, the giant and two ogres approach...

Session 10

25 June 2014

Giant and ogres are advancing on the castle. It seems all the survivors are in the castle courtyard - the Lady Arwen and a handful of men-at-arms. Lady Arwen is now the local ruler, following her brother's death. Figuring that a castle can be rebuilt but we can't raise the dead, we decide to flee, taking body of Baron and others with us. No sign of immediate pursuit, presumably the giants are looting the keep.

Head first to Daggerfish. Lady Arwen warns them and orders an evacuation to the Institute, as the village can't withstand a giant assault. Send messengers to outlying settlements. Zankul offered post as captain of Lady Arwen's guard (to replace Parlin). Takes a couple of hours to sort everything, including funerals for the castle folk other than the Baron, luckily no sign of giants in the meantime.

Thoron'alata heads off to Sylvanbardh to warn and report to the elves.

Continue on to Institute, escorting the villagers, seems safest place to gather. Report to the Dean.

Via magical scrying, see that Keep has been ransacked, wooden structures burned. No sign of any bad guys. Good news is they're not moving into the Keep. Bad news is they are at large in the region and who knows where they will go next or what other orders they might receive.

Leave Institute in hands of senior staff, hoping it will be safe from the giants. The Dean, Lady Arwen, the villagers, two rescued merchants and us head to Stormhaven, along with the Baron's body for a formal burial. It's a long, slow trek north.

After a couple of days peaceful yet anxious march, a forward scout brings news of three ogres setting up an ambush ahead. Sir Alric and Polyphemus head on to face them and blitz them down, though Sir Alric bravely takes a pounding.

Combat 1/4

Continue travelling safely for another couple of days. Met on the road by Gerwain and some soldiers. Apparently come to lend assistance but deeply unpleasant and abrasive about it.

Hang on, how did Gerwain know about us being here? We (and the Dean) sent no word north. Only way Gerwain could already have knowledge of what happened is if he is involved. Keep this revelation to ourselves for now.

After a few more days we get to Stormhaven. Thoron'alata has caught us up en route.

We donate 500gp to help house and feed the refugees from Daggerfish when they arrive in Stormhaven. The two rescued merchants offer to help as much as they can. Lady Arwen also offers support.

We then head to Mistral Taverna where there are rooms reserved for us, as per Sir Alric's summons letter. Oddly, the building seems built to giant proportions (though has normal sized furniture), and the barman Gruenab seems to be a hill giant?! The Dean is not surprised though we all are. Turns out Gruenab has been running this inn here for years.

News and gossip - savage trolls killed Baron Terbus - argument as to Athena or Rodinia being better, navies sometimes clash in "military exercises" - Baron Kallis has gone missing and been ransomed - merchant ships being lost to attacks by Rodinian ships. (Seems to be a bad time to be a Baron!)

Sir Haldren, paladin of Pelor speaks to Sir Alric. There is a temple in Stormhaven, which is where Baron de Vere's body is sent.

Sir Haldren complains that Stormhaven is going downhill, senses a growing evil, strange people about the place, adventurers don't stay long as they get robbed, sounds like doom and gloom. Arrange to meet Sir Haldren the next day to visit the temple and sightsee. Notice an odd man in blue robes with blue jewellery, trying to eavesdrop, who left abruptly at the same time as Sir Haldren.

That night Sir Alric dreams of many robed figures searching in a huge, dim cavern, find a glass globe, cluster around it and chant louder and louder, as though the glass might break, many depart, leaving 4 figures to guard the globe.

Early appointment with Sir Adolphus Serro to make statements, many official witnesses including a priest of Pelor, under oath. Conclusions will be heard the next day. Sir Serro privately mentions he is worried Stormhaven is in danger and urges us to continue to investigate recent events.

Return to inn. Waiting for us are group of city watch who order us to accompany them...

Session 11

2 July 2014

City watch arrive at Mistral Taverna, interrupt our breakfast. They ask some questions, including some about Sir Haldren. It seems Sir Haldren was attacked last night. We are ordered to come and answer some questions, taken away in a "prison wagon". Seems a bit heavy handed but we are behaving politely and cooperatively.

Arrive in a courtyard of a fortress, main Stormhaven guard base. Speak with Nestor Mordon, the Deputy Constable, who asks further questions about Sir Haldren, specifically what our conversation was about, goes on for several hours, we remain outwardly patient and cooperative. All seems over the top but eventually we are allowed to leave.

Head to Temple of Pelor to see how Sir Haldren is. It's the busiest temple in the city and is located in a posh area. Shiny white marble construction, fancy grounds. Huge hall, enough for 600 worshippers, beautifully decorated, no expense spared.

Sir Alric takes the lead. Ask after Sir Haldren. Get to visit him in infirmary. He apologises for getting us involved and being hassled by the guards. He describes what happened to him.

After leaving tavern, nearly home, suddenly felt lost and confused, approached by a robed man but then struck on head from behind and kicked on floor by three robed figures, eventually they stopped and left, still confused, prayed to Pelor and memory returned, made it home badly injured.

Ask questions about what happened. Nothing was stolen. Definitely seems to be magic involved. Remind him about the blue robed man in the tavern. It triggers a memory in Sir Haldren, who recalls the man in the tavern wore a symbol, which further description turns out to be the symbol of Embril Aloustini!!! Of course we don't let Sir Haldren know this.

Sir Haldren asks us to visit his lodgings and retrieve some of his belongings. We take the opportunity to inspect the crime scene nearby but nothing stands out. Go to his lodgings, it's been ransacked. Fortunately can recover the 3 items he requested (clothes, portrait of his parents & interesting carved wooden paperweight). Checking the door, looks like lock was picked. Clearly not a wealthy man so not a common burglary, must have been after something specific.

Return to Sir Haldren. Give him the items. Warn him his room had been ransacked. Ask him about the wooden object. It opens to reveal a woman's ring - the ring his father gave to his mother on the night they were betrothed, saved for obvious sentimental reasons (doesn't seem magical). It's a mystery what the ransackers may have taken or been looking for. Arrange to meet him tomorrow, depending how our meeting with Adolphus Serro goes.

Return to Mistral Taverna. It's evening now. Gruenab has an anonymous note for us. "Leave the city if you do not wish to be harmed, stay if you wish to risk your lives." Delivered by a young lad.

While eating evening meal, overhear some rumours:

* People going missing in the slums recently.

* Once every 13 years the river turns blood red under the first moon of autumn, which is imminent, and 12 years since the last occasion.

* Temple of Pelor cannot be infiltrated, protected by scores of clerics.

* Vampire reportedly stalks the streets.

Night passes seemingly without event. Sir Alric has another dream similar to before.

Head to meet Lord Adolphus Serro. Present is a scowling Gerwain. Lady Arwen and the Dean are also here. Various official witnesses, clerks, etc. In the absence of Baron de Vere in person (R.I.P.), it seems the case is essentially word of Sir Alric (a nobody) vs Gerwain (very influential). However, Adolphus Serro announces that further investigation is needed, which upsets Gerwain such that he flounces out. Court is to be adjourned for 2 weeks while the matter is examined in finer detail.

Lady Arwen complains, upset that her word doesn't seem valued, inheritance goes only to a male line, not to her. Adolphus does seem to personally sympathise with us and is trying to stall but that's as much as he can do to help us. Law does technically seem to be on Gerwain's side as things stand and we all (including Lady Arwen) face a long prison sentence. Oh and coincidentally, the priest of Pelor who verified that Gerwain spoke the truth in his statement, left the city today after apparently been given an urgent assignment in the Empire of Rodinia, hmmm.

Go to see Sir Haldren. He's not able to advise regarding the dodgy priest. Revisit his lodgings. Start tidying. Discover some strange powder, a reagent for a spell intended to reveal invisible items. It seems nothing is missing so no idea what the ransackers were after, a mystery.

Start to head back to Temple of Pelor. En route, spot a blue robed person, notably short, carrying packages. Follow them as discretely as we can to a house. Seems normal so take note of the location and continue on to the Temple. Notice another blue robed figure, Sir Haldren makes chase, we stop him, but the blue robed person disappears.

Speak to High Priest of Pelor. Explain about the incident with Baron Gerwain. Mention how a recently departed cleric of Pelor vouched for the Baron's truthfulness. The High Priest takes this seriously and is disturbed by the incident and the implications. He offers to officiate in the event of a retrial if Lord Adolphus accepts and will investigate the dodgy cleric on our behalf.

Sir Haldren suggests to visit silversmiths to enquire about the silver symbol worn by his attackers (secretly, that of Embril Aloustini). Use a careful cover story about what we're looking for. We speak to a few, then find one who seems to know something, but then he clams up when we mention it's a gift. Don't make a fuss, take it at face value, watch his stall and then follow him home. It seems his name is Goldie and everything seems normal. Take note of the house location.

Return to Mistral Taverna. Woken in middle of the night by Gruenab with an urgent message by a cleric of Pelor, it's an emergency "Sir Haldren has been attacked and is near death, his future is with Pelor, he has asked for you and has information which is life and death, make haste." We rush across the city in the middle of the night.

Just after passing the market, feel a magical assault of a confusion effect and sense attackers moving in... Was the message genuine or was it a ruse to get us here? The leader is wearing blue robes.

Session 12

9 July 2014

Ambushed! It's the middle of the night and we are rushing to Sir Haldren's death bed. Is he really in trouble or was it a ruse? A highly trained team of professional assassins (same style as Assassin) swarms over us, led by a spellcaster in blue robes and bearing the symbol of Embril Aloustini. This is serious.

Yari is swiftly taken out, while holding them off Thoron'alata. The wizard doesn't even join in, the assassins are doing such a good job. Polyphemus is next to fall. Yari struggles back to her feet as Thoron'alata unleashes a blast of elven arcane magic and fells an assassin.

Combat 2/4

Even though the fight is clearly in their favour, the wizard orders a tactical withdrawal, taking their dead colleague with them. Shortly later, a squad of city watch arrive on the scene, demanding to know why we are out in the middle of the night. Zankul takes them to task and gets us out of trouble.

Reach Temple of Pelor without further problem. Sir Haldren is apparently fine. Don't disturb him and return to Mistral Taverna.

Visit Sir Haldren. Tell him about the false note. Still no clear idea why his lodgings were searched. Check over his armour and weapons which are stored at the temple.

Borrow Sir Haldren's ring, as the only item of significance we can think of. Thoron'alata magically disguises himself as a random human. He then takes the ring to Goldie's stall to ask to have it valued. Hope was Goldie might recognise the ring and give himself away but he doesn't seem particularly interested and quotes 15-20gp for it.

Head to the Shack Town slums to check on the Daggerfish refugees and ask after bad happenings in the area. Maybe if we repeat the enquiries that may have got Sir Haldren into trouble, the same trouble will come to us. Daggerfish people are glad to see us. Father Nikolai runs a shrine to Pelor there, seems to be a good place to start. He confirms mysterious disappearances, vanished without their belongings, none were criminals.

One of the vanished left a diary, which mentioned:

* Commotion when 5 city watch (led by someone who, from the description, sounded like Nestor Morden, the Deputy Constable) arrested someone in the middle of the night, pointing out normally the city watch never visited the slums. Wonder if this was one of the "disappearances".

* A woman screaming then sudden silence, asking next day he learns a girl called Mara had vanished never to be seen again.

* Enquiries at the Citadel (guard HQ) for help were rebuffed.

* Strange man in the area, staring at people as if searching for someone.

Latest rumours

* City treasury burgled but nothing taken

* Strange monkey-like creatures cavorting nearby

* Temple of evil cult used to be located in an area called Great Burn where there was a big fire

* Vampires

Zankul makes subtle enquiries regarding the pickpocket arrest mentioned in the diary. Officially he was released the next day without charge, with the approval of Nestor Morden. But he seems to have never been seen again.

Level 3, Incremental 2

Session 13

16 July 2014

Messenger brings a letter summoning us to see Lord Cerro. Rumours swirling around the tavern about attacks on Athenian merchant ships, apparently by Rodinian navy vessels.

Make haste to visit Lord Cerro. Watch out in case of being followed.

We learn that the ransom of Baron Kallis was paid by his family, sadly they received only his head in return. So now only Baron Tiberius remains more senior than Gerwain. Currently, line of command goes Duke Angiou, Baron Tiberius, Gerwain.

Tiberius is currently in mainland Athena and advised to remain there in safety, though also less able to be involved here in Aquadis.

Lord Cerro confirms that Rodinian warships attacked Athenan merchants. It also seems that several members of the Imperial family were assassinated on the orders of the Lich King and so the Rodinian legions are readying to assault Marlek. The Rodinians claim to also have evidence that Athena are in league with Lich King. The Duke will need to leave Aquadis in one week to visit the capital to vote. Cerro wonders if the Rodinians are behind the recent troubles on Aquadis?

King Morgan of Mochica trying to mediate between Rodinia, Marlek and Athena to diffuse the situation.

During the meeting with Cerro, message arrives, more bad news - the Duke has just gone missing from his chambers?! Could Rodinia be responsible? He implores us to investigate.

At this point, we share our suspicions regarding the Cult of Embril with Cerro. He tells us a Cult of Orcus was in Stormhaven before and was put down by some adventurers working with the city watch and Temple of Pelor. If the Cult has returned they need dealing with. He suggests talking to the Temple of Pelor.

Go and take a look at the Great Burn. Located in middle of a busy neighbourhood. No clearing up done since. Low fence around it. No sign of recent traffic.

Go to Temple of Pelor. Speak to Sir Haldren, tell him news about Baron Kallis, Duke Angiou, etc. Tell him what we know of the Cult of Embril. Ask him about the Great Burn and the Cult of Orcus. Discover that Sir Haldren's grandfather defeated the Cult, wearing the same armour as Sir Haldren wears now.

Speak with High Priest and other senior clerics of Pelor in an official meeting, Dean attending also. Sir Haldren explains his bad feelings. We tell them pretty much everything we know. The priests are seriously worried. Need to act quickly, though temple resources are stretched thin.

Dean suggests Lich King and Embril may be working together, to set Rodinia and Athena against each other.

Learn that the "priest of Pelor" which witnessed Gerwain's evidence was actually an imposter whose whereabouts is now unknown. This brings the whole trial into question. Hence the temple extends its public protection to us. This will hopefully keep Gerwain from hassling us openly.

Discover that Sir Haldren's grandfather also bequeathed a diary, stored in the temple vault. Maybe this is what the cultists searched Sir Haldren's quarters for? Quickly scan the diary for relevant info:

Cult discovered after concerned parents had teenage children recruited into a 'club'. Local priest Nyman spoke with the club, afterwards he was attacked. Temple of Pelor investigated, found secret passage to underground chamber, signs of evil rituals, doorway to huge chamber marked with enormous symbol and partially built altar of Orcus. Clerics fought a demon disguised as a woman who blasted them with lightning. Concocted a plan to trap the demon in an eternal prison rather than killing her. Spared the young cultists who had been duped and could now be reformed. Began a fire to cleanse the area, which got out of hand and caused the Great Burn.

There is resonance with Sir Alric's recent dreams of figures trying to break a glass globe.

Thoron'alata speaks with Ellerandil. Apparently the giants have retreated from Knottwood Keep and the Institute is safe right now, though still not safe for people of Daggerfish to return home.

Zankul checks guard records. Finds out that, for past few months, a couple of heavily laden people arrive late every night with deliveries for the Great Burn area.

Middle of the night, go and investigate the Great Burn as discretely as we can. It's very unstable and dangerous, don't get far before deciding to leave again.

Decide instead to hang out and see if any of those deliveries turn up. Indeed we spot two people laden with baggage. Follow them to a warehouse which even at 4am is open. Strong smell of fish and many cats in the vicinity.

Boldly walk in. Confronted by a foreman. Ignore him and head downstairs despite threats to call the watch. Enter storage cellar. No sign of the two people we were after. A bit of gold greases the foreman's palm and he directs us to an office and hastily departs. Searching reveals a secret trapdoor and steps leading down.

Demonic dretches attack!

Session 14

23 July 2014

In a sewer pipe, huge swarm of demonic dretches attack in a heedless fashion, many being sliced down by Sir Alric as they clamber on top of each other, so eager to attack. There are dozens of the filthy, disease-ridden beasts to hack and blast our way through. Combat 3/4

Explore the sewers, searching for the two heavily-laden people we'd followed into the warehouse, but also wondering where all those dretch came from. See the occasional deep boot print amidst many dretch claw marks.

The sewer pipe ends in a huge pit filled with bones and skulls, both human and animal, also some elves, dwarfs, etc. Some bones show signs of weapon attacks, others show tooth or claw marks. Most are broken up and haphazard. It's not clear how they got here or why. Investigating the bone pit, wondering if the two heavily-laden people might have walked safely over it, causes a load of bone fragments to animate and attack! Combat 4/4

A side tunnel forks. Both passages end in trapdoors up, into buildings, not grates in the roads. These presumably lead to warehouses near to the fishmongers, but must have been closed and quiet, not active like the fishmongers were.

Carefully open one of the trapdoors, to the building we think closest to the fishmongers. All is quiet and dark. This place is filled with sacks of milled flour. No signs of recent passage, though some suggestion the trap door was used relatively recently. Try the second trapdoor. Find another quiet warehouse with no signs of immediate passage.

One interesting observation. All three trapdoors show recent use and lead directly to the dretch-infested sewers. So whoever has been coming this way must be able to control or avoid the dretch. And if they can control them that means they are clearly evil.

Thoroughly search the sewer tunnels for secret doors to no avail. However, spot a bootprint right by a wall which suggests a way through. Hey presto we find a hidden entrance. Into an empty, featureless room, with no tracks, which we'd expect someone entering here from a sewer to make. Surprisingly find another secret door in the sewers next to the first. It leads to another empty, featureless room. We think these may be "decoy" rooms deliberately constructed to confuse people searching for a hidden lair.

That leads us to locate a third room. Unlike the first two, this is not empty. Skeletal remains of large animals are piled on the floor. A large magical symbol of Embril Aloustini is marked on one wall. Traces of footprints lead out of the sewers.

When we enter, the bones animate in the form of skeletal hellhounds and leap to attack! Their fiery breath and sharp teeth are nasty, though they seem bound to the room and are somehow empowered by the symbol of Embril. Shut the door and retreat to consider a plan.

Thoron'alata and Polyphemus rushed in and immediately disrupted the magic symbol. This deanimated the skeletons long enough to remove three of them from the room. So when the magic reactivated, only two hellhounds remained for Sir Alric and Yari to hold off. More magical tampering disabled the symbol and we were rid of the other two. Combat 1/4

No obvious exits, though some traces that people recently entered this room from the sewers. Searching reveals a hidden door. Beyond, various people donning robes but they don't notice us and leave. We then enter and spot a couple of brown robes and some pamphlets relating to the worship of Embril. The only other exit is yet another secret door, to a room with more robes, candles, incense, etc.

Unfortunately, Sir Alric is spotted while peeking through the door. A couple of cultists come to investigate, seem to be unarmed civilians. After some questioning from Sir Alric they seem to be relatively innocent and gullible, so they were allowed to leave and advised never to return.

We all don robes as a mild disguise (except Yari!) and continue deeper. Find robed people queuing up outside some ornate double doors. We join in at the back, trying to remain inconspicuous. The big doors open and we all begin to file in as part of the crowd.

At the front of the chamber are several demons, Baron Gerwain and a bound Duke Nassos! It seems to be a ceremony where they are freeing a demon from a smoky orb with a plan to possess Duke Nassos (a fate similar to an old King of Albion).

Time to disrupt an evil ritual and save the day!

Session 15

6 August 2014

Time to disrupt an evil ritual and save the day!

The ritual is intruded upon by Assassin, who somehow unexpectedly alters the ritual to summon a "dragon aspect of Tiamat" instead of the demon we expected. Perhaps we need no longer fear the Duke getting possessed. The dragon aspect consumes a demon and then vanishes along with Assassin.

The high priest orders Gerwain to kill the Duke. Amid a lot of confusing developments, thwarting Gerwain and saving the Duke seems like a good start. Gerwain gets taken out very quickly, knocked out to later face trial. Meanwhile a demon starts killing the massed cultists. The cult leaders have several nasty magical tricks, most of which seem to target Thoron'alata. Sir Alric frees Duke Nassos, hands him a weapon from the fallen Gerwain then smashes down one of the cult leaders, Mara. The demon pauses killing minor cultists, brings Mara back to life and joins in the carnage. Thoron'alata risks his life to unleash an apocalyptic magical barrage which takes out most of the opposition! However, once again the cultists heal their comrades. An evil curse confuses and causes some of us to fight amongst ourselves, things look bleak. Polyphemus executes Baron Gerwain so he won't survive in case we need to flee. Finally we prevail somehow against the odds. We capture the high priest, Embar Dessid for interrogation though it's unlikely he will break. Combat 2/4

Duke Nassos "requests" we search the temple for written evidence regarding the cult. Find a hidden door.

Investigate, face more demons and lower-ranked priests. More evil confusion, more fights between Yari and Sir Alric. Polyphemus unleashes hell and wipes out the demons while Thoron'alata befuddles a priestess. The priestesses drop Polyphemus and Thoron'alata. Down to Sir Alric to save the day! Oh no, Sir Alric drops. Down to Yari to save the day! Sir Alric somehow staggers to his feet and we prevail by the skin of our teeth. Combat 3/4

Continue searching and discover some vital paperwork. Depart the evil temple, taking Duke Nassos to safety. In the city, convene a meeting of all the most important people. Explain to Duke Nassos about all recent events. He thanks us for all our efforts. It seems the Cult of Embril planned to replace the Duke with a demon and set Athena and Rodinia to war, with the Cult allied to the Lich King of Marlek, though somehow Tiamat is also involved in all this?

Reach Level 4 (Combat 0/4)

Session 16

13 August 2014

4th level

The Duke charges us to go and rescue a Bronze Dragon which has been trapped by giants, in order to begin making Athena look like they are on the side of good - rather than the side of evil dragons as it currently appears. This bronze dragon happens to be an Aspect of Bahamut which will help to balance the recent release of the Aspect of Tiamat.

Sir Alric talks privately with the Duke about feeling awkward about taking on his Barony, but the Duke assures him it will be fine. Alric also talks to Paddy and they continue to work on their relationship. Paddy is going to go to Alric's new barony and do some reconnaissance and check out the lay of the land there.

Ellerandil tells us that she needs to acquire something from her grove in Laughing Hollow - which has been ransacked by giants. We agree to escort her there.

We each crash out and have powerful dreams: -•Alric dreams of being a dragon rider flying across a map of the world. The world all appears conquered by tyrannical law and order. No one is happy. The banner of Rodinia covers the world. Dragons fight each other and the Rodinian legions crush all. In the east are good dragons and an army lead by knights of Pelor.

* Alata dreams that he is in a natural environment with Yari when he sees a dark cloud approaching. The animals run in fear until they pass him and then they gather behind him. The cloud is the herald of an army on the march. An army of Rodinian legions. Behind Alata is an army of Fey creatures set to oppose the legions. Alata can sense a powerful evil presence leading the army but he does not know what it is.

* Polyphemus dreams that he is in a large group of evil spell casters, wizards, clerics etc. He is in the middle as all the spell casters attack him with their deadly magic - destructive magic. Poly counters the magic and acts as a defender of the world against their evil magic, in a titanic spell battle.

* Zankul dreams he is facing the Legions of Rodinia but instead of knights or animals, Zankul leads an army of the common folk who look to him as their protector and general. He is the hero to the common man. He leads them into battle to protect their life style and existence.

The next day, Alric is made into a Baron and given a coat of arms and all the pomp and circumstance pertaining to his new position. There is no time for a formal ceremony yet (Alric is happy as he is not a fan of ceremony).

Polyphemus and Zankul (the locals) stay behind in Stormhaven whilst the others (the foreigners) set off to save Athena. Hmmm. We first head to Baron Gerwain's lands - now Baron Alric's. There is a big keep here - bigger than Knottwood, and in very good condition. The lands are fertile and well tended. A perfect location to retire. Baron Alric talks to a few commoners but keeps his identity a secret. He gets a feel for the lay of the land this way. The locals are a bit suppressed and guarded - probably due to Gerwain's lordship over them. Alric is shown around his new keep and introduced to his (large) staff. He is shown the dungeons and vault. Alata and Ellerandil explore the immediate countryside. Paddy is left behind as proxy and to find out what is what here whilst we move on south.

A few days later we reach Knottwood Keep to find it is still inhabited by giants. At least one hill giant leads a band of slightly less than a dozen ogres. With half our band off playing in Stormhaven we decide we can't risk trying to retake the Keep so we move on towards Laughing Hollow and Ellerandil's grove.

Along the way there we are ambushed by strange marsh creatures with long tentacles. Ellerandil tells us they are Otyughs. Alata uses an array of magical arrows to pepper the foes and Alric smites them with the awesome power of his divine faith. Feeling the need to impress Ellerendil, Alata mutters an arcane word and sends an arrow dripping with powerful acid right into the last Otyugh's eye, killing it instantly. The elven druid is most impressed. (Combat 1/4).

Further on we spot the shadow of a dragon flying above us. It turns and flies to us, landing in the road ahead. It is a very large red dragon. It looks majestic and an engine of destruction. Amazingly we see that Assassin is riding the dragon! This cant be good. Surprisingly Assassin converses with us - thanking us for helping to release the Aspect of Tiamat and warning us not to go against the giants. It is clear they work for him (which we pretty much already gathered). They then fly off towards the mountains. We wait until they are out of sight and then swear at them. We discuss Assassin and the way he has used us to aid him in releasing the Aspect and the way he tends to like to lord it over us. We wonder if he actually wants us to kill the giants or not. Either way we will be going after them...

We head on towards Ellerandil's grove discussing Assassin and his personality. We travel carefully and upon reaching it we spot ogres in a stand off with a large bear. The grove is natural and beautiful. There is no cottage or abode here but there is an ancient stone circle. Baron Alric roars a challenge and charges across a bridge headlong into the ogres whilst Alata enchanted one ogre to attack the other. The ogres are easily dispatched. (Combat 2/4).

Ellerandil handed Thoron'alata the Garb of the Sylvarran. It was a gift from the leader of Sylvanbaard, Thoron'danel. They were kept in trust for an elf with a tiger at his side, from a prophecy.

Session 17

20 August 2014

Discussions were held about what to do next. Ellerandil told us that giants moved between Knottwood Keep and the mountains where the giants have a base. She tells us that the giants' base in the mountains is a giant hill fort. She also tells us she has found a superb ambush site along the route that the giants have been taking. She also suggests that when we take Knottwood Keep back we need to have men at arms to hold it - or it will just get taken right back. We agree this is a good plan - we should hit the giants and whittle them down.

We travel out towards the spot Ellerandil suggests, with Thoron'alata scouting ahead. We spend a quiet and uneventful day traveling. At night we stop and camp in a well defended spot. Just before dawn our rest is interrupted by a pair of loathsome, rubbery, hungry trolls! It is a really hard fight but we overcome them. Ellerandil thinks the giants have probably driven the trolls down out of the mountains by the giants (they are too dumb to be used as slaves by the giants). (Combat 3/4)

We break camp immediately and get a good start. Around mid morning we come across the path which the giants use. We travel on to a good spot for an ambush. We spend an hour or so scoping out the area and planning some traps. Then we begin to set up the traps. It takes us hours and hours to set up a series of natural traps, dead falls and rock slides with a view to creating a killing ground which will funnel the giants into the path of the oncoming Knight of the Sun. Thoron'alata is an expert at setting up ambushes and his knowledge is paramount. Ellerandil asks if we really want to do this, and determined, we agree. We sit and wait...

Some time later 2 hill giants, 2 minotaurs and 3 ogres come up the pass, carrying between them what looks like a chest of treasure on a poled bier. Crazily Ellerandil decides to unleash the rock slide onto the giants, taking us into combat with them! (Combat 4/4) All hell breaks loose. We trigger the dead fall to stop their retreat. The minotaurs get impaled on spiked traps and hoisted into the air by rope traps sprung from trees. Thoron'alata unleashes a huge explosion by firing a concealed barrel of fire oil. Baron Alric charges valiantly into the fray, rushing in to melee with over a half dozen giants, single handedly. If only there was a bard here to record this epic fight. Alric slashes his sword across the throat of an entangled minotaur and first blood falls to the adventurers!

From the south come a troop of bears, coming in to attack the ogres. Meanwhile Thoron'alata and Yari double team the second minotaur and with freezing arrows and slashing claws they rip the second minotaur to pieces. 2 hill giants and 3 ogres still remain. The giants and ogres are still burning from the explosive fire oil but the flames wont last forever. The hill giants are strong and pulling themselves out of the mire which Ellerandil had caused in the killing ground. Alric stepped up to the first hill giant who was half stuck and on fire and slashed it across the chest, causing it to stagger terribly.

Meanwhile in the south the bears are occupying the ogres in the mud - it looks like a close fight there too, but the ogres are winning the encounter.

The first hill giant swings his massive club down at Baron Alric and the Knight easily deflects the blow with his magical sword, the club smashing into the ground next to the paladin, making a huge hole in the ground. The second giant, still stuck in the mud and boulder field, throws a rock at Thoron'alata and misses, the elf's reactions just letting him duck under the missile by inches. Baron Alric strikes his giant a mighty blow but even with Pelor's aid the blow does not fell the mighty giant. Yari slashes it and Thoron'alata sends an ice arrow into his chest but the giant is standing by will alone. It smashes its club down onto the paladin, staggering him with the sheer force of the blow. Thoron'alata is missed by another boulder, diving to the side as the rock flies over him once more. Alric shakes his head, shakes off the crushing blow and runs the giant through the chest with Sunstar! One giant remains...

Ellerandill heals the bears, giving them a fighting chance against the ogres but the ogres are slowly beating the bears into oblivion.

We all concentrate fire on the ogres fighting the bears - to avoid running into the mud where the hill giant is. The allows us to defeat the ogres and free up the bears. Now there is only one ogre and a hill giant left both in the marsh. The hill giant screams in anger and launches another rock which clips Thoron'alata and sends him flying back into the dirt, stunned. Yari, seeing the elf collapse springs valiantly at the hill giant and engages it. Thoron'alata staggers to his feet and launches 2 ice arrows into the giant. The giant defends himself against Yari but Yari is nimble and dodges his blow. Alric rushes in and stabs the giant. This unbalances the giant enough that its swing flies over the knights head by inches.

Thoron'alata changes target to the last ogre who is on the edge of the swamp and stuns it with a rainbow arrow. This encourages the remaining bears to swarm the ogre, leaving the giant for us to deal with.

The stunned ogre swings its huge club down and almost crushes the life from a poor bear, but its confused state of mind was enough to make the blow a glancing one. It pushes all the bears aside with his mighty club and starts to flee. Alric slashes the giant across the chest and rips open a huge gash.

Thoron'alata places two arrows into his bow string, pulls it to his cheek, mutters an arcane word and lets fly. The two arrows streak towards the remaining hill giant and fleeing ogre and hit both in the eye. Both drop to the dirt dead. Somehow we manage to successfully ambush and defeat 2 minotaurs, 3 ogres and 2 hill giants! Victory was ours! (Combats 4/4)

Session 18

27 August 2014

Alric and Thoron'alata go through the treasure we recovered from the giants. We distribute the magical findings and also find a small hidden journal which appears to have belonged to a paladin of Pelor. Baron Alric decides to read it in the evenings and find out more about it.

A bird arrives and tells Ellerandill that Zankul is headed south with a whole bunch of men at arms but that some large creatures (giants?) are about to ambush him. Alric and Thoron'alata jump on their horses and make great haste to try and warn Zankul and his men.

Meanwhile Zankul and his wagon train have spotted the ambush and are setting up defenses. The scouts report ogres, minotaurs and a giant are about to hit the wagon train. About this time Thoron'alata and Alric arrive.

A huge array of ogres appear on the horizon. Thoron'alata fires volley after volley of powerful magically enhanced arrows into the ogres and minotaurs, followed by an array of arrows from Zankul's archers. Some of the giants are already bleeding from scores of arrows. Behind the ogres a two headed giant appears.

Thoron'alata sends an acidic arrow into the two headed giant as the other giants rush forward. One of the minotaurs is dropped by an phalanx of pikemen trained by Zankul but the remaining minotaur smashes into Zankul. Incredibly the warrior stands firm and the giant bull bounces back! Baron Alric wades into a collection of ogres as the pikemen and swordsmen are finally engaged. Melee is formed and chaos reigns, although the men at arms prove well disciplined.

Zankul takes the minotaur's attention and as he does a lone pikeman decapitates the bull. The minotaurs are down and the men at arms cheer. But many ogres remain and behind them the two headed giant plucks Thoro'alata's acid arrow out with disdain.

The tide of battle begins to turn against us as the ettin charges into the fray and the ogres are emboldened and begin to slaughter the men at arms. The soldiers are well trained but cannot stand up to a small army of giants. Losses mount up on our side.

Zankul smashes the ettin and an ogre in a furious rage and then Alata suddenly feels the power flow through him and fires off a series of shimmering rainbow enchanted arrows, dropping three ogres in succession. Alric rallies the men at arms around him and holds up three ogres single-handedly, also helping his companions, healing Zankul with the power of Pelor. Zankul leads his men into battle, smashing an ogre to the ground.

This seems to rally the men at arms and the archers drop two ogres to the floor. There are only a few ogres left standing now and the pikemen and swordsmen swarm them, leaving the ettin to fight Zankul. The last guardsmen rush in alongside their leader. Yari also rushes in. It is a huge melee. Things look to be going well for us. Alric comes in and drops the last ogre. Only the ettin remains. Not even an ettin can survive the onslaught and he drops amid a shower of arrows and sword blows.

We count our losses and find that only 3 men at arms have been killed, and the priest heals those who were injured. It was not as bad as it once looked and the men are happy with their leader. (Combat 1/4).

Zankul reports on the state of the nation and says that the Duke is after reports on the state of the Aspect of Bahamut and also the state of Knottwood Keep. We tell Zankul where we have got to. Thoron'alata sets out with Zankul's scouts and helps teach them the ropes. Alric and Zankul raise the morale of the men (which is not hard as it is already high). Lady Arwen thanks us for our work. Baron Alric pays the men a bonus for their success. We load the fallen onto a wagon with a view to burying at the Keep.

Arriving at the keep we see ogres and minotaurs plus at least one hill giant with a huge two handed sword over its back. We decide to watch the keep all day and as night falls we head to the location where Lady Arwen told us a secret passage from the keep emerges. We drop into it and Alata hides the exit with his wood-lore. Alata takes the lead.

Breaking into the interior courtyard, we ambush a loan ogre and take him out quietly. Alata sneaks forward with a view to magically sealing the main doors to the keep to keep the hill giant in. Unfortunately the moon peaks from the clouds at a bad time and a minotaur spots him. Alata quickly ensorcells the doors and drops back as Alric and Zankul wade in. The minotaur screams and the keep comes alive.

Two ogres come to the help of the minotaur. Yari holds up one and the other sweeps into the warriors. Alata weaves an incantation to confuse the minotaur and then the hill giant smashes the doors to the keep open. The minotaur charges one of the ogres and impales it into the wall. It then shakes its head and shakes off the spell.

Alric rushes into the ogre impaled by the minotaur and smites it heavily. Sunstar blazes and the ogre drops. The ogre swats Zankul aside and rushes Alata but the elf ducks gracefully. Alata rolls and skips aside and draws a bead on the ogre and minotaur. He hits the minotaur in the eye with an ice arrow and it drops.

The giant rushes Zankul and smashes his two handed sword into the ground, splitting flag stones as the warrior deflects the blow with his shield. More ogres appear, coming to the giant's call. Alric engages the ogre who was fighting Alata. Zankul slashes a mighty blow across the belly of the one-eyed hill giant and gains the monster's respect. Alata summons his Sylvarran power and unleashes a torrent of shimmering arrows, killing one of the ogres and peppering the other and the giant. The giant tries to reach Alata but Zankul stands in his way, taking a hammering blow onto his shield.

Alric dances with the remaining ogre, slashing it with Sunstar. The ogre pushes him away and rushes Alata but Alata's nimble dodging keeps him safe and Yari leaps on the ogre's back. Zankul continues to fight one-on-one with the one-eyed giant as Alric continues to chase the ogre around but can't kill him. The ogre batters Alata to the ground and, leaping over him the ogre tries to run. Yari rushes after him and downs him.

Alata draws back and fires three shimmering arrows into the one-eyed hill giant, dropping it stone dead. (Combat 2/4)

Knottwood Keep is ours.

Session 19

3 September 2014

Tiamat is 5-headed queen of all evil chromatic dragons, eternal enemy of Bahamut. She seeks entry to and dominion over the world of Rodinia. She has 5 aspects, one of which was let loose into Rodinia by recent events under Stormhaven. If Tiamat enters fully, the only way to stop her would be for Bahamut to enter fully also. However it's currently imbalanced, as none of Bahamut's 5 aspects are free. We know 1 of Bahamut's aspects is trapped under a giant fortress in the centre of Aquadis. Meanwhile, Embril and the Lich King are causing chaos and destruction, though Embril's base in the Abyss is under assault from the epic heroes of Magma Force. The legions of Rodinia are on the march through Nagastan towards Athena. It's all kicking off, with the forces of good beleaguered on many fronts.

Sir Alric has discovered a journal of a paladin of Pelor from ~1000 years ago in Albion when the king there was replaced by a demon. It will take some time to read and understand fully.

Polyphemus has brought some special surveying equipment with him, for the study of leylines, to help an Institute colleague with some research. The lowlying "civilised" areas near the Institute and Stormhaven have already been surveyed, but Polyphemus has been asked to survey the mountainous interior as best he can. Polyphemus gets to study a second set of wooden Cyclops tablets recovered during the recent ambush of giants.

Stock up on provisions and supplies. Ellerandil provides a rough map showing the location of and a suggested route to the giant stronghold where we believe the aspect of Bahamut to be held.

Thoron'alata scouting ahead of the rest of us. About 10 miles into our journey, find tracks of ogres, minotaurs and giants and sounds of such creatures approaching. Ambush them, don't want any chance of them wandering back down the valley to trouble Knottwood Keep. Thoron'alata unleashes elven fire magic as Yari, Sir Alric and Zankul charge in, while Polyphemus unleashes a dangerous lake of napalm which his informed colleagues know to avoid standing in. A hail of arrows drops all but one of the badly damaged giants and the final one tries to flee but to no avail. Combat 1/4

Carry on and find a hidden valley with a huge giant steading in the centre. Perform some recon. Weather is misty and damp. Sneak in for a closer look as there seem to be various options and obstacles, including movement inside a lit watchtower, a pack of wargs in the main courtyard, etc. Everything is built to giant scale.

Pick a plan. Manage to get right up to the base of the watch tower. Thoron'alata uses elven magic to float gracefully up. He observes one giant on watch. Ropes are dropped down to allow his comrades to ascend but the highly alert sentry hears something and moves to investigate. Hoping to prevent disaster, Thoron'alata leaps into the tower and magically blasts the giant out of the window! It crashes 40' to the floor, winded and wounded and then executed by Zankul and Sir Alric before he could even cry for help.

Thoron'alata hears giants talking lower in the tower, it seems they think their colleague upstairs tripped over whilst drunk. We all climb up the ropes and gather in the upper room of the guard tower. Thoron'alata sneaks down to find a couple of dozing, drunken giants. We pile down and smash them quickly. Combat 2/4

Somehow the alarm has not been raised and we are inside the giant fortress. While deciding where to head next, a side door opens and out emerge two stone giants, much more imposing than the hill giants faced thus far!!!

Level 5, Increment 1

Session 20

10 September 2014

Eek stone giants! They wish to exterminate us! They have very tough skin, our normally-mighty sword blows are like pinpricks. Thoron'alata's arcane attacks are more effective. The first giant begins by jumping and stamping on us, trying to knock us back into the room so his buddy can also get involved. Polyphemus hurls a flask of highly volatile sulphuric acid into the face of the lead giant inflicting grievous wounds, before Zankul decapitates him.

The fight continues into the corridor and the second stone giant. Zankul bears the brunt of its rage, though is sustained through it by Sir Alric's blessings of Pelor. Polyphemus sets the giant alight, who then flees in seek of assistance, oh dear what can of (giant) worms have we opened?!

We set off in hot pursuit but it seems the stone giant has fetched a load of young hill giants to assist him, they swarm all around us, protecting the stone giant, who almost burns to death but drops back to seek healing. Thoron'alata uses elven magic to escape the crush and tactically withdraw. The giants get in each other's way in their eagerness to attack and we pick a few off.

A random thought occurs, perhaps we could disguise ourselves as young hill giants for later infiltration?

The hill giants begin to shove us about the place, disrupting our defensive formation and pushing us back down the corridor, away from the stone giant. It turns into a real battle of attrition. Eventually enough hill giants drop that Zankul bursts past and hacks down the stone giant, who'd been hurling boulders at us throughout the fight.

Meanwhile, the giants take their frustrations out on Thoron'alata, dropping him and blocking the rest of us off from helping him. Luckily he pulls through by himself.

Somehow all this carnage has seemingly not yet attracted any interest from the other giant inhabitants, no doubt they are used to unruly and noisy youngsters. As the losses mount, the giants start shouting to summon reinforcements before all lay dead.

We press on, into a room where two adult hill giants are waking up and reaching for weapons. Charge in to face them. We want to smash them quickly so the fight will not escalate yet further as we are desperate to catch our breath. Drop one quickly but Sir Alric is badly injured in the process, then chop the other to pieces. Phew, that was non-stop action!

(Combat 3/4 & Combat 4/4 - it was a huge fight!)

Level 5, Incremental 2

All seems quiet. Maybe we can hole up and do some scouting before considering our next move. Presumably the aspect of Bahamut will be held underground, can we find a way down? How many more giants still lurk in this complex?

Session 21

17 September 2014

Quote:

In his downtime, Sir Alric has been reading the journal of Edwin de Vere, a paladin of Pelor around 750 years ago, in the land of Albion (far away from here). He was a firsthand witness at the formation of the Knights of the Sun and the joining together of Artenach, Thyr and Muir. He later saw Artenach's betrayal, replacement as head of the order by Sir Banner (the first grandmaster) and the raising to demigodhood of Thyr and Muir.

There was also details of the Sword of Karith, given to Banner by Muir, handed down from grandmaster to grandmaster before being lost in the Great Desert. Many searched for it and eventually it was uncovered and fell into the hands of Sir Mangarack, an agent of the Demon Prince. Recently, King Morgan tracked down and killed Sir Mangarack in the Black Swamp, recovered the Sword of Karith and took up position as the head of the Knights of the Sun.

Sir Alric's revelation is that the journal refers to three holy swords. King Morgan has one of them. What happened to the other two? More reading is required...

Thoron'alata sneaks off to scout. In one room he thinks there are four hill giants. In another it seems there are two sleeping hill giants. Three other doors seem to lead to corridors or larger areas which open out, with some distant sounds of giants but none apparent nearby.

We decide to try and take out the sleeping hill giants first. It's not heroic or sporting but it's practical, especially as if they woke they could block our escape route to the main gate. Sneak up, coup de grace inflicting grievous wounds, waking them and then we quickly smash them. Combat 1/4

Next, head to the room with four hill giants. Open the door and unleash hell, then the giants bring the hurt. One bursts out of the room, opens a nearby door whilst bellowing for assistance, before Thoron'alata finishes him. Dire wolf reinforcements arrive along with a handler! Polyphemus angers the giants with his toxic chemistry such that they target him specifically and drop him, though Sir Alric mutters a prayer to Pelor bringing Polyphemus round instantly. The handler sets the dire wolves on us, then heads off to fetch yet further reinforcements, seemingly everyone! Meanwhile we kill the wolves. Combat 2/4

A huge army of stone and hill giants advance, with colleagues sent to surround us. Yet somehow against impossible odds we beat a fighting retreat and escape the steading outside into the mist, aided and abetted by a mysterious barbarian who appeared out of nowhere. As we catch our breath we ponder our next move...

Session 22

1 October 2014

We escaped the steading and disappear into the mist. We catch our breath and bind our wounds. But then we realise they've unleashed the wolves to chase us down! We find a place to make a desperate stand. These aren't normal wolves, they breathe icy cold all over us. We fend them off as best we can, surrounded and overrun. After killing a few of them, the rest turn and flee. However, some slower ogres and minotaurs were following up... so the wolves turn and attack once again. And then an ettin arrives, things are getting serious! We finish off the smaller creatures and the ettin takes the opportunity to depart. Rather than pursue we pause to gather our strength. Combat 3/4

As we head back towards the steading, there seem to be small bands out and about, searching for us. We manage to ambush one such group and obliterate it. Combat 4/4

We make a bold plan. Thoron'alata sneaks on ahead. The rest of us rush up, under a hail of boulders from guards up above which massively hurt Alric. We pause to gird our loins. Thoron'alata magically unbolts the main gate and we burst inside. A host of giants await us, guarding internal doors. They hurl a volley of boulders as we charge in and engage. Hmmm they hurt pretty bad. So we turn around and flee into the night. Combat 1/4

It's time for a different plan.

Session 23

29 October 2014

Whilst the rest of us huddle in the mist, Thoron'alata sneaks up to the steading for some stealthy reconnaissance. He detects dire wolves and hill giants in the main courtyard. Seems giants are still on high alert from our previous assaults.

Decide instead to try and ambush a giant patrol. Swiftly locate a suitable group, with 1 minotaur, 3 hill giants and 3 dire wolves. Loiter with intent atop a small bluff. Launch an assault. Alric bears initial brunt. Polyphemus rains down fiery death, but attracts attention and smashed by a load of tossed boulders, requiring a potion from Thoron'alata. We drop some of the bad guys, then a minotaur charges up and smashes Polyphemus, requiring more healing potion. Soon only one giant remains and he breaks off and flees. We catch our breath. Combat 2/4

Move up and watch the steading for an hour. Patrols been called in.

Various plans are discussed. One reasonable idea involves using Polyphemus' alchemist acid to burn a hole in the outer wall and entering that way. We do this and enter a small building separated from the main hall. Find ourselves in a deserted barracks (our previous attacks presumably taken their toll). Exploring the other rooms, equally quiet.

Dire wolves obvious beyond a door out into the central courtyard. We concoct a plan whereby Yari lures wolves in, one at a time, for us to kill. The courtyard cleared of wolves, there are still 2 pairs of hill giants, 1 at each gate. We split up to engage them both simultaneously. They loudly sound the alarm. We blitz them 3 of them down before stone giant reinforcements begin to arrive...

Session 24

5 November 2014

Eek, stone giants - run away! Still a last hill giant blocks the gate, which is closed and locked still. Zankul lifts the bar and pushes the gate ajar, while Thoron'alata blasts the hill giant. The way out is clear. Combat 3/4

There's the sound of a bellowed command from inside the steading, one of the stone giants is shoved out into the courtyard and the door slams shut behind him. He doesn't seem overly impressed with being forced to deal with us by himself, turning to pound on the door. We take the opportunity to depart in one piece.

We then see him leave the compound in a strop, unhappy with his lot in life. We decide to further ruin his day by following and then ambushing him. He parlays, we agree to let him go if he'll tell us what he knows. He think that Golatra sacrificed him, to buy time while they prepared further defenses. Still over 20 giants remain, but we have killed over 30 of them so far! Golatra is scared of us and has lost the desire to fight. Perhaps Golatra is open to a deal, though bearing in mind he's doing a job for Assassin and the cult of Embril Aloustini so may not have much scope for negotiation. He has no info regarding whatever's underneath the steading, Golatra let nobody or very few people down there. He is not interested in allying with us against Golatra. Combat 4/4 Level 5, Incremental 3

Return to steading intending to bargain with Golatra. We display the internationally-agreed signs for peace and make our presence obviously known. The place is quiet and as we left it. We enter the compound and bang on the main door. Muffled negotiation occurs through the thick door, first with giant guards and then with Golatra. When we mention what's underground, the door opens and Golatra comes out to face us alone.

We talk. Golatra seems genuinely surprised by mention of an imprisoned bronze dragon. He said he'd agreed to work for Assassin and the Red Dragon, after being threatened with destruction. It seems he is desperate to secure safety for the hill giants, given their heavy losses. He mentions that Assassin gave him a metallic circle made of very strange black metal, which he keeps underground. We suspect this is related to the captive dragon, so perhaps the giants have been unwitting meat shields after all.

He gives us access to the stairs down, but secretly, as he is keen to retain face in front of his people. We venture in and downward. Our way out is blocked by a falling portcullis. We seek a secret door, as indicated by Golatra. Unfortunately it seems to be guarded by a family of manticores. Combat 1/4

Find some chests, search through them after the strange metal link. Baron Alric suffers a grievous wound and loses his left hand, ouch! Polyphemus preserves it in liquid nitrogen, hoping we can get it reattached somehow.

That puts us off checking the other chests. Instead we start searching for hidden doors, eventually finding one, which leads into a deadend passage, which features levers, and spyholes which reveal a large onward area. One lever lifts the portcullis, the other closes the door to the manticore room. A secret door leads onward into the area we spied on. This area, lit by smoky torches, shows signs of heavy traffic, both giants and others.

Should we continue to explore, or should we check the dangerous chests, where is the strange metal object?

Session 25

19 November 2014

Return to the treasure room. The trapped chest which maimed Alric seems different to all the other chests, so they presumably lack that same trap, though may have different traps. Thoron'alata uses elven magic to safely unlock the remaining chests from a distance, one of which seems to feature a poison needle trap.

Deciding that the poison needle is significant, Thoron'alata takes a closer inspection of that particular chest, which contains many low-value gems. He finds a false bottom, which is guarded by a second poison needle trap and this one hurts! Sadly the false bottom area is empty. The other chests contain various valuables but nothing like the special item we are after.

Begin searching the area for secret doors and soon find one nearby the bottom of the stairs, leading to a small room with a further selection of chests and other receptacles.

Luckily we spot signs of brown mold before blundering into it, though on closer inspection it turns out to be an illusion. While approaching to take a closer look, Polyphemus narrowly avoids falling into a pit trap!

Begin a plan to fill the pit with chests from the other room but it doesn't seem like it will fill deep enough. Go with an alternate plan, whereby Yari leaps across the pit holding some rope in her mouth.

Thoron'alata and Polyphemus clamber across the rope. First to check is the illusionary mold. It turns out to conceal a cache of various magical weapons.

Investigate a broken barrel, which turns out to be illusionary, concealing a well-made water-tight cask. Inside, is a magical chain of mysterious black metal, undoubtedly what we came for. There's also a scroll tube which contains a map of a location called Glacial Rift in a mountain range in Nargastan. The chain gives off arcane vibes of teleportation and seems attuned to 2 places, the Glacial Rift and an unknown destination.

The other chests have piles of coins, gems and jewellery. Take whatever we can carry. Decide to return to the Institute before doing anything further with the black chain. The way back up has been comprehensively blocked off.

Explore to find an alternate route to the surface. Encounter various small gangs of ogres, minotaurs and bugbears. They seem to have been sealed in by Golatra too. It seems the teleportation chain is the only way out!

We squirrel ourselves away in a treasure room, seal the door to avoid interference. Lay out the chain and invoke the teleportation magic to the unknown destination... fortunately it seems the magical chain travels with us, though it now only has 1 attunement (the Glacial Rift).

The area we are in has ancient but well engineered stonework, at giant scale. It's magically lit and deathly silent. No idea where in the world this is. We explore, finding double doors, cold beyond. Opening them, we meet a pair of frost giants.

Attempt a bluff that Golatra sent us to inspect the guards at the far end of the teleportation device. They don't seem to recognise the name and respond with hostility - it seems they only expect to see Assassin arriving this way. We swiftly dispose of them. Combat 2/4

Opening the doors reveals a pair of stone giants, equally hostile!

Session 26

26 November 2014

We charge the unsuspecting stone giants. Swiftly blitz them down. Combat 3/4

Beautifully made double doors lead onward. There is a faint sound of deep breathing, which turns out to be a huge fiery giant who seems to have been waiting for us. Quite possibly the most dangerous foe we have ever faced! We call upon all our deepest resources, Zankul coming very close to death. Combat 4/4

Beyond the fire giant are more beautifully made doors, these ones decorated with 5 dragon heads of all the "evil" colours. Opening these reveals a room with a truly gigantic bronze dragon which is restrained by six chains. Five of the chains are connected to the floor and guarded by a large dragon (one of each chromatic variety) and the sixth attaches the bronze dragon head to a massive block of stone.

Charge in to save the day in an epic battle against all flavours of evil dragon! Polyphemus unleashes a cataclysmic fireball which ironically obliterates the red dragon plus severely hurting many of the others, though his companions are somewhat singed. The four remaining dragons close in, bathing us in several flavours of dragon breath and focusing attacks on Polyphemus, dropping him. Sir Alric saves Polyphemus with Pelor's blessing. Somehow we prevail, the fight getting easier with each foe downed but still pushing us right to the limit. Combat 1/4

Bronze dragon is barely clinging to life, eyes closed, doesn't respond to us. The chain connecting to the stone block radiates supremely powerful magic. Alric and Zankul start trying to break the other 5 chains, while Polyphemus sees what he can brew that might revive a dragon. After the 5 chains are broken, the dragon wakes and takes in a very deep breath, then exhales all over the remaining, special chain which melts before the onslaught. However, the breath seems to drain the last spark of the dragon's life. At least it dies free.

A ghostly dragon rises and departs, leaving us with great sorrow, yet also great joy to have met a dragon aspect. Before it goes, it warns us of a further source of danger - there is something even more powerful and evil behind all the other foes we face (Lich King, Embril, Tiamat) - look to the Abyss... There is then a wash of divine glow which completely heals us, empowers our magic items* and restores Alric's lost hand! Level 6

* they all count as +2 champion tier versions of whatever they were before

Session 27

3 December 2014

Remove some parts of the dead dragons for the purpose of academic research and magical item manufacture in the future. Thoron'alata intertwines the bronze dragon sinew with the black dragon sinew already in his bow and boosts its power.

Leaving the dead dragons behind us, we continue to explore the giant complex. We need to figure out where in the world we are and how we might return home to the Institute.

Opening the next doors reveals a room with Assassin and a huge red dragon. We bids us enter. The dragon doesn't seem happy with us. An unwell cyclops is trapped in a prison cell nearby. Assassin congratulates us for freeing the bronze dragon aspect, and tells us the war between Bahamut and Tiamat is well and truly on. He says we will meet again where no doubt we will continue to play the role assigned. But for now he will leave us to face Firestorm, as he vanishes through a portal... The huge red dragon turns out to be the single most deadly opponent we have ever faced! No match for us though. Combat 1/4

Deduce from magical residue at the portal location that Assassin went to Nagastan. The portal is gone however.

Talk to cyclops. He is near death, beyond saving, but has a glimmer of hope after seeing Polyphemus deploy alchemy in the fight with the dragon. The cyclops has an item which he asks Polyphemus to transport to friends of his, though its not immediately obvious who or where they are. He then dies.

Remove yet more dragon parts for future use. Search for secret doors.

Hear sound above us, getting louder, like something tunneling in? Hide behind the cyclops to see what's coming. Chunks of stone fall in the main room, so the cyclops room turned out to be a safe choice. A huge hole opens and we can see sky.

We then see several dragons - gold, silver, bronze and brass. It seems they had come to assist and rescue us. They are grateful for us having saved their brother. They fly us up and out. It turns out we'd been in a small complex, purpose built to imprison the dragon aspect, located just a couple of miles away from the Hill Giant Steading, not miles away across the world after all.

The dragons first fly us to the Institute. It's about a month since we left and everyone is happy to see us return along with the amazing sight of the dragons. We drop off various items, grab library books for needed research and set staff researching our new magic items.

We meet with the Dean, update him on everything we achieved. He has news too, from the Abyss, where despite facing huge odds, Magma Force are winning and the demonic forces are weakening. Sadly however, war is spreading elsewhere in the world, as more nations are being drawn in, bringing refugees and famine. Nagastan is bearing brunt of Rodinia legions as they march on Athena. Athena plans to send aid to Nagastan.

Polyphemus gets the Dean involved in researching the item given by the cyclops.

The dragons then take us onwards to Stormhaven. Huge crowds form to see the dragons. The dragons then depart for aerial battles versus the forces of Tiamat in the skies above Athena.

Report to the Duke and the High Priest of Pelor in private. Further news of need for aid to people of Nagastan. Zankul is promoted to the rank of Major and tasked to lead elite group against the vanguard of the Rodinian legions. Of course the rest of us volunteer to go too. This should buy time for Athenan forces to gather strength.

We have a couple of days in Stormhaven:

* Polyphemus receives word from the Dean, that the cyclops item is a sign of membership to a group of powerful and reclusive cyclops alchemists. They are said to be based in Nagastan. Study of the item should reveal clues to a location.

* High Priest of Pelor speaks to Sir Alric regarding a holy sword said to be found in Nagastan. A paladin journal in his possession should reveal further clues.

* High Priest of Pelor is intrigued that Erathis, goddess of civilisation, whose goal is to unite the whole of Rodinia into a single empire, supports the military action when Erathis is usually a close ally of Pelor.

* There is mention of the Blood War, which pits demons vs devils. A group called yugoloths have also joined this battle.

Things are getting well out of hand and on a cosmic scale!!!

Session 28

17 December 2014

Now they are able to, the good dragons will take battle to evil dragons, which should help remove the impression that Athena is on the side of evil.

All of Athena's (and Nagastan's) diplomats are trying to negotiate peace with the Empire of Rodinia. For now it's falling on deaf ears, the Rodinians are uncharacteristically keen on war with Athena. Rodinia are backed by Erathis, so-called goddess of civilisation so it seems odd she supports such carnage and chaos.

Alric receives updates from Paddy and Lady Arwen regarding Knottwood Keep and its lands.

Zankul meets some potential recruits for his elite commando unit. They will be sent on dangerous missions to remove particularly dangerous targets.

Alric reads his journal of the Paladin de Vere. One page refers to a vision where he was tasked to take a sword to Nagastan. When waking from the vision he found the sword had appeared in his room. He made a long trek to an unidentified mountain in Nagastan. He delivered the sword to a "one eyed giant". With that burden lifted from him, he continued to Athena where he settled in Aquadis and founded the De Vere dynasty.

Dean speaks with Polyphemus and promotes him to the rank of Professor within the Institute.

Elerandil gets a druid grove and stewardship of the whole of Aquadis.

Yugoloths have moved against the demons of the Abyss (already under assault from Magma Force).

Gather supplies, check gear, restock reagents, polish armour, etc, etc. Depart on long ship voyage.

During the voyage, Polyphemus studys his cyclops artefact and Alric studys the paladin journal. Realise that they both seek the same location, a mountain in northern Nagastan, we know general location. Unfortunately that is behind enemy lines. It seems there will be no magic portals to help travel there.

After uneventful journey of a few weeks on a magnificent Athenan warship, accompanied by all sorts of support staff and soldiers, reach shores of Nagastan.

Land on a sandy shore. Met by heavily armed archer horsemen on small but sturdy ponies. Hold a meeting with their leader, despite a language barrier. Agree to a day's journey on horseback to visit a tent city (thousands) - an awesome spectacle. In the centre are large pavilions, virtually buildings rather than tents. This is home to an army of Nagastani.

Visit the main tent and meet with their leaders, led by Horselord Chak Tern. Tell them we come to face the Rodinian legions. They seem unimpressed Athena sent hundreds, when Rodinians number in tens of thousands. Still any help is better than no help and more Athenans are on the way. Offer our assistance.

Main problem is group of elite Rodinians which spearhead the legion's assault, called "the Immortals" which seem unbeatable, Nagastanis have never defeated them. They infiltrate the Nagastan camps and take out leaders and raze strongholds.

Otherwise, Legion marches based on its supply chain. Any work to disrupt this will help. Alternatively knocking out some leaders will slow their progress. To seal the deal we guzzle from wineskins in an ancient Nagastani tradition. Given a detailed map of Nagastan, notice an obvious mountain in the north, though of course the Legions are between us and there.

Our goals are to defeat the Immortals, disrupt the supply chain and take out Rodinian commanders. We will have some assistance from Nagastan and our Athenan troops but mostly we are on our own.

Part Two

Session 1

We are currently in a tent city in mid-Nargastan, as guests of the horse lords, led by Chak Tern. Centrally located with hills to north, west and south for some defenses from oncoming Rodinian legions. The usually independent tribes have temporarily set aside their differences in the face of serious threat. They've not all gathered yet but already there are thousands gathered.

Accompanying us are various Athenian diplomats, officials, generals, admirals, etc plus a few hundred troops.

Relaxing by our tent, nursing hangovers. We are amazed to see Dunbar, who previously saved us from certain death?! What a crazy coincidence. He joins our strike team.

Alric and Polyphemus have personal goals at a mountain just across the border in Tana Toradja, north of the big river fork.

Big commotion kicking off in the camp. Raving lunatic arrived, claiming to have vital info about the Empire. But refuses to speak to anyone except "the dragon rider". So the frustrated Chak Tern orders a beating and torture. We get summoned to the scene. Even the horse lords are uncomfortable, but Chak Tern is merciless. For some reason he decides we 5 "foreigners" are to blame for misfortune. His face flickers magically to that of Assassin. Oh dear. Horsemen loyal to Chak Tern close in...

... when something huge lands nearby, stirring up a cloud of dust. It's only a gold dragon! It shields us with a wing and announces us as dragon riders under its protection. All the Nargastani drop back in awe. Chak Tern (Assassin) kills the lunatic prisoner, orders the Nargastani to kill us and the dragon and then departs. The horsemen advance though are clearly worried.

Sir Alric announces that Pelor himself has told him that Chak Tern has been replaced by an imposter. The dragon lifts Alric onto his back. It's an impressive sight. The Athenian diplomats step forward to plead our case. The horsemen realise that Chak Tern was somewhat dishonourable (killing an unarmed prisoner). Things calm down.

Then a shout from Chak Tern's tent. Chak Tern has been murdered! Presumably Assassin killed him earlier in the day, posed as him for a time and has now departed. We clearly have good alibis but are still under suspicion. Escorted to our tent under house arrest, though accompanied by the dragon.

The reason the Dragon (named Silver) came here was it was bringing news from Athena for us. Its arrival at our time of difficulty was coincidence. Good news, evil dragons in Athena are losing. Sahuagin are attacking ships, both Athenian and Rodinians. Dwarfs in the Underdark report that drow are on the offensive, very organised, the Spider Queen has been roused.

All this trouble was kicked off by the assassination attempt on the Emperor of Rodinia, which seemed due to Athena and Marlek. We wonder if Assassin was behind that attack, and perhaps intentionally failed knowing it would cause even more trouble.

We need to buy time for Athena by aiding Nargastan against the advancing Rodinian legions. Though the Rodinian soldiers are victims of this too. Erathis, goddess of civilisation, is driving them on. Despite the recent unpleasantness thanks to Assassin's subterfuge, we need to keep the Nargastani as allies.

Strife now spans the Rodinian continent, the seas, the Underdark, the skies and even across the planes to the Abyss.

Spend a day in house arrest while the Nargastani debate and resolve the recent incidents. We are then summoned to a meeting. They have decided that Chak Tern was not himself and accept our innocence.

So once again Athena and Nargastan are firm allies. We are shown tactical maps, showing the Legions advancing to reinforce Honshu border and Marlek border. Two armies entered Nargastan. Navy sailed around Maya into Athenian waters. Meanwhile Athenian forces reinforcing their border and authorised to enter Nargastan to fight the Rodinians.

An important task we could help with is to reinforce a forward camp which expects an attack by the Immortals, to show resistance and defiance. We hopefully also gain insight to Immortals tactics, to pass on to our comrades and allies so they can better combat the hitherto invincible Immortals.

What's happening in the jungles of Maya? Maya is a staunch ally of Nargastan. Could they be approached to provide aid against the southern army? Mayans could help disrupt the Rodinian supply chains, to protect their jungles from being raided for food and timber. Also, Maya is the opposite of civilisation i.e. Rodinia i.e. Erathis i.e. a prime target should Nargastan fall.

Yari exhibits strange behaviour, pawing at Maya on a map?!

Travel safely across Nargastan to the designated forward camp. If we can prove ourselves and gain kudos here, it will widen scope of our potential future activities.

Middle of first night, Thoron'alata and Yari on watch when... faint sounds of bodies hitting the ground, arrows flying, stealthy figures invading the camp and killing many. Time to earn our kudos!

Session 2

Thoron'alata awoke his comrades and then despatched a volley of magically enhanced arrows in all directions into the darkness, severely wounding several of the elite Rodinians and dropping one of them.

Zankul and Alric rose and moved to engage the incoming foes. Thoron'alata continued his all out assault with a flaming arrow enveloping many of the attackers, but also some Nargastani allies (oops). Polyphemus opened a toxic flask, which wafted poisonous fumes all around. Some of the attackers fired volley after volley of arrows into us as others leaped in to attack. Alric and Zankul smashed their foes aside. Thoron'alata and Polyphemus next unleashed the power of lightning in their own particular idioms, taking out many attackers.

Thoron'alata had been striking to subdue. We were surprised to see one of the few remaining attackers kill his subdued allies (presumably to prevent questioning) before disappearing into the darkness. Only one attacker remained. Zankul and Alric dashed over to apprehend him. We capture him unconscious for questioning.

The Nargastani are somewhat panicked and upset. Zankul takes charge of the situation and gets them all calmed and in control again. We tend to the dead, reestablish sentries and defences, get the camp back on a war footing.

Polyphemus has a hunch. He peeks behind the mask of the captured Immortal and realises it's a dark elf not a Rodinian! We then realise the bodies of the dead Immortals have mysteriously vanished? Could all the other Immortals actually be drow rather than Rodinian troops?

We try and fail to question the drow who is not at all cooperative. He then bites a poison tooth and dies. With his last breath he says "the master will not be pleased ... master I will serve you, let me atone for my error ... assassin".

We despatch riders with urgent news of the drow's secret involvement.

Rest of the night passes seemingly without event.

In the morning light, we look for signs of the drow and find a faint trail where the lone survivor escaped. We immediately head out.

After maybe an hour, into some more rugged terrain, we hear the sounds of voices. Thoron'alata sneaks closer. He recognises one voice as Assassin! He overhears him say "I promised I'd deliver them to you, they are walking down the trail towards you as we speak". Loud, deep, sibilant reply "Yessss!!!" Thoron'alata has been spotted! The ground shakes as a huge black dragon approaches, accompanied by Assassin who then vanishes.

Battle is joined with an angry dragon! He claims to have hunted us for months across vast distances. Apparently the dragon in the swamp near the lizardfolk of Aquadis was this dragon's son. No wonder he's grumpy.

The dragon breathes acid fumes all over Zankul. It seems largely impervious to Polyphemus' chemicals and Thoron'alata's arcane arrows, but luckily Alric and Zankul brought swords with them! The dragon hits very hard but concentrates on Zankul who is very hard to kill. In desperation, Polyphemus ends up in melee jabbing with a dagger. We eventually wear the dragon down and it attempts to flee but Yari leaps on it. Somehow Polyphemus ends up dealing the fatal blow with his poxy knife!!!

Yari sniffed a trail out. We still have drow to catch...

Session 3

We just killed a dragon! (~8am) Yari sniffed a trail out. We still have drow to catch...

Follow trail a short way. Also find signs of Assassin? Keep on tracking for a few hours, heading roughly north west. Thoron'alata being stealthy, rest of us much less so.

Stumble across body of a drow? (~12pm) His throat was slit and his armour (incriminating Rodinian uniform) removed. Perhaps by Assassin tidying up loose ends?

After much effort find very faint trail onward. A little while later (~2pm), realise we've been spotted by a hidden Immortal in the undergrowth ahead who disappears off, we guess to set up an ambush.

Do our best to turn the tables on the ambushers. We fail. 25 Immortals arrive to apprehend us! We face them head on. Death or glory.

We wade in with swords, arrows and toxic chemicals. Immortals (disguised drow) begin to drop though we are getting hurt. One of them leaves (fetching help?).

We battle grimly on. Thoron'alata unleashes a barrage of arcane power which takes out a few. Polyphemus poisons all stood near him.

Yari sadly drops, so Thoron'alata runs in and stands over her. We continue hacking them down but Alric drops.

Polyphemus fires off an incredibly lucky lightning bolt which fries a few. Thoron'alata continues the arcane assault. Alric staggers to his feet and beheads his foe.

Drow numbers are dwindling rapidly - we killed 22 so far! Reinforcements are headed this way! They howl for our blood and escape seems impossible. We grit our teeth and stand our ground as a fresh horde (another 23) approaches.

We take the fight to them. They shoot us. We begin falling over. Things look bleak.

A figure materialises. It's Assassin. He commands the drow to hold. To humiliate us, he demands we hand over our magic items and gear. He will stash them in the Immortal stronghold. He challenges us to retrieve them.

But for now we must return to the Nargastani in our underwear.

Session 4

Start heading back to Nargastani forward camp. Quickly run into a heavily armed figure - Captain Corvus, second in command of Zankul's brigade. It seems the brigade ignored Zankul's orders to remain at the camp and decided to track us and join to assault the Immortals. They are aware of our recent victories and difficulties. Re-equip in a rudimentary fashion (+1 weapons and armour).

Corvus presents a scouting report of the fortress, a Rodinian army construction. There are approx 200 immortals. We have 250 soldiers in Zankul's brigade. Come up with a cunning plan of attack. It seems we have the element of surprise. While soldiers take the perimeter under archer cover, we'll head for the main building in search of leaders.

The assault commences with volleys of arrows. Two columns of Athenan soldiers head for the two gate areas. We accompany the troops at the north. Battering rams are brought up. Gates smash down. Mass melee throughout the courtyard. A path is opened up through the chaos to get us to the main building.

Assassin is inside the main building, protected by drow and an ogre mage. Drow hold the doorway against Zankul while the ogre unleashes lightning blasts. Assassin seems surprised to see us so soon. He leaps in, wielding a Hellblade.

Thoron'alata and Yari attack the drow. Alric charges in and smites Assassin. Polyphemus hurls chemicals at the archers. Zankul focuses on Assassin, who has some tricksy magic which confuses Alric into attacking Zankul! Thoron'alata starts taking out drow archers. Ogre summons a cone of intense cold, afflicting both friend and foe, killing one of the drow.

Assassin teleports away from Zankul and Alric, straight into melee with Thoron'alata. Yari races to her master's aid. Polyphemus finds something unexpectedly toxic in his new supplies, which kills a couple of drow, releasing Zankul and Alric. The ogre emits another gust of cold. Assassin shimmers but Thoron'alata shoots him anyway.

More cold from the ogre catches Assassin, who lashes out with his Hellblade and head butts Thoron'alata who crumples to the floor. Alric pours holy energy into the elf, bringing him back to his feet. Polyphemus clobbers Assassin with his sack of supplies. Again Assassin drops Thoron'alata to the floor.

Alric beheads the ogre! The rest of the battle is going well for our forces. Polyphemus binds Thoron'alata's wounds. Zankul charges in and strikes Assassin with all his might, finally defeating him after all he has done to us. He turns out to be a strange creature called a Cambion Hellblade. The drow break and try to flee but our troops pursue and mercilessly cut down as many as they can.

Retrieve our magical gear. Find other items of interest. And some valuable information.