Agust 12, 1066: Underneath the ruined city streets, the party rested in an old chamber that was once part of the sewers. While it was cold and damp, they were able to rest and regain their strength.
As they were breaking camp, Grumbarch, the short portly earth spirit quietly walked into the room unnoticed until he spoke. He told Salen to keep an eye on his companions who were contracting a form of madness, that seemed to affect the Eladrin most of all. It seems the land still which was conquered by the Eladrin exerts the anger of the former king.
Grumbarch led them through the old sewer ways until they reached a ladder and a grate which open up to the city. There they battled the Hag who had a thunderous howl that sent those caught in it flying back. She brought part of a building down on top of them, but the party stood over her in the end.
The party thought it best to return to Rasmark to see just how quickly the madness and the feeling that their brains were being grabbed would subside. It took a week. During that time, Salen met with Varis, the Half-Elf worshiper of the Raven Queen, at her shrine. He remained secretive, but was direct with Salen and told him he wasn't sure if he could trust Salen just yet. It seems he's dealing with something dangerous. He did reach into a pouch and show Salen a symbol of a bloody spiral, but said nothing more, other than if he was interested he should investigate the symbol a little bit on his own. It is linked to a darkness that's brewing.
Lunnin chatted for a little bit with Wella. She told Lunnin that Sauls left Rasmark, headed north, but from asking around nobody really seemed to notice or knew where he went. They took a trip to the cave that Sauls frequented down river past the Halfling farms. Inside the cave they found piles of dead animals, whose blood was squeezed out to form a large spiral on the ground. It was definitely some sort of altar to a god that neither Salen nor Kaltes were familiar.
Sophia heard back from her contact in Dagonshire that Zarathustra and some of her army were holed up in the region. It seems that they've been visiting the four libraries on the Lake Miskatonic. The details were unknown to her contact.
Nicomacheus took some of Rasmark's patrol and headed south to deal with the Gnolls.
Kaltes suggested that they try and find out more about the city in the forest and head north to Dagonshire. So north they went through the wind lands. He never visited Master Carnum a single time after receiving the mark, so he has no knowledge if these were the libraries he could gain access to or if that mark would be a blessing or a curse for where he was going.
Experience: 6,275 + 540 = 6,815xp
DM Note: Still thinking about how to deal with combat length. Some seem to be halving the HP of monsters, which I might do, but that seems off. The prime time in a regular battle is rounds 1-5 when the monsters are in full force. Once a couple of monsters out of a five monster group goes down it's no longer prime time and into at-will the last two to death time. Halving HP shortens garbage time, but it also shortens prime time, since four people attacking what is basically a pre-bloodied creature can take it down in 2-3 rounds reliably and prime time is over in half the time.
I don't want to shorten prime time. I want to shorten the boring at-will to death time. Once the combat is essentially over, I don't need 15 minutes to confirm it or drag it out just as long with monsters attempting to flee from an unwinnable battle. Also, an automatic, oh well and you just kill them is weak too since it offers no consequence.
What I'm thinking of doing is once combat enters that point where there's two guys left and nobody in the party is even close to going to 0, bloodied stragglers attempt to flee (basically, they've lost morale) at the start of their turn, using the save mechanic. If they save, they flee. If they fail, the PCs converge and kill. Save penalties of course for multiple PCs on a critter (-2) or someone blocking the only way out (-2), for example. Anyone adjacent to the critter can sacrifice a healing surge to impose a -5 penalty to the save roll. A 20 always succeeds and the monster flees. If you've got that last critter slowed or worse, then they auto fail if threatened.
The healing surge sacrifice is there to represent the one or two hits someone might take during this time if we rolled it all out.