The Architect of Ruins

In Search of The Defiled Temple of Kord
Session 21

Agust 25: It was still fairly early in the morning when the party finished searching out the Otyugh’s lair for gear and coin. They then set out to find the cultist’s lair, which Coram believed was likely the old Temple of Kord within the ruins outside Dagon. Finding it quickly wasn’t a simple task as the visibility poor was poor from all the debris flying in the wind. As they progressed further into the city, the buildings were more intact the closer they got to the windwall, which is the opposite of what one would expect—Kaltes saw it was likely some sort of supernatural effect, but wasn’t able to determine exactly what it was.

To get a better vantage point, Lunnin climbed on top of a building and spotted a Gnoll war band on the ground on the other side of the building. Federin crept toward the Gnolls with the Polygot Gem in hand to listen to their conversation. Through the wind he heard them arguing over which way to go in order to find the Temple of Kord.

Salen thought to perhaps gain some information by speaking with the Gnolls, but they had no respect for the Diplomatic tact that he was using and sought to kill him and the party on sight. Their leader was a summoner who for much of the fight hindered the party with swarms of ravens from the air and swarms of vermin from the ground. Things started to look very grim for the party, but they were able to endure the assault long enough to find an opening in the onslaught.

The search for the temple lead them through a patch of Daggerthorn Briars, which tore through some of the party. As they finished healing up from the search, a duo of cultists spotted the party and started running toward their temple screaming for the gates to be closed. Federin and Lunnin were able to rush up the steps and close in before the large stone doors could be shut, preventing the party from being locked out of the Defiled Temple of Kord. The rest soon joined and beat back the initial attack at the entrance.

Skill Challenge, Find Temple: 0xp

Skill Challenge, Storm the Entrance: 1,000xp

Combat: 3,300xp

Experience: 717 + 9,503 = 10,220xp

DM Note: Remember, the approved sources list is just a pre-approved thing. If there’s something from Dragon that interests you, ask. Most of the Dragon stuff is good, just there’s the occasional ridiculous thing.

View
The Elder Eye
Session 20

Agust 24: By good fortune, Lunnin climbed up the sewer ladder and pushed the manhole up and saw Coram walking down the street, who climbed down to join the rest of the party. Varis approached from one of the tunnels and said that there are spirals all over the sewers of Dagon. Since he knew the layout of the city better than the party, he urged them to be vigilant up top while he destroyed the spirals below.

The party returned to the street and crossed the bridge into the area of the city where many of the aristocrats and wealthy retired adventurers kept their mansions. As they approached the mansion of Wynne-Jones, they saw Zarathustra leaving the estate. Federin stopped her for a brief conversation, where he found that Zarathustra’s main goal is to deliver Sola from it’s current condition that she believes is a direct result of the last Eladrin Empire of Aeristhyde.

Wynne-Jones is a retired adventurer. His home is decorated with many trophies, with the three heads of a chimera taking a prominent spot over the fireplace in his reading room. He seemed agreeable to providing the party with a map of Ihniko if they prove hardy enough to defeat the cult of Tharizdun in Dagon. Wynne-Jones mentioned one way to combat the madness aura of Ihniko is to drink dandelion wine.

Upon leaving his mansion, they saw fires coming from the Temple District. They ran there to find demons feasting on town guards and priests. They were able to get there in time to save a few lives.

Kaltes began to sense a presence watching them, a presence that would make it difficult for them to rest, should the watcher know where they were. So they took to the wilderness to try and escape the gaze of the eye, forcing Kaltes to separate from the party and find a safe place under a rock near the shore.

In the morning they began their head-on assault of the cult’s lair.

Temple Run Skill Challenge: 500xp, got there in time to prevent guards from being eaten.

Evade the Eye: 250xp, partial success.

Combat: 3,150xp

XP: 650 + 8,853 = 9,503xp

View
The Cult of the Chained God Attacks
Session 19

Agust 24: Federin, Kaltes, Lunnin, Orophin and Salen started the morning from the Temple of the Raven Queen. Coram spent the night elsewhere, keeping an eye on things in Dagon.

Before they could leave the temple, they were stopped by a city inquisitor for questioning about the murder of Gonsai Nobuzerri (this is the tough looking librarian the party spoke with the night before at the library). The inquisitor, whose distinguishing feature was a mangled right hand, let them go after he was satisfied with the questions, which seemed more in line with trying to rule the party out as suspects rather than to find reason to arrest them.

The wizards did some more research at the libraries. In addition to learning some of the history of Ihniko and the nature of the city and the forest, Kaltes found the name of a former adventurer who now lives in Dagon, Wynne-Jones, who had written a few journals on it. Federin spent the day tracking down Zarathustra and found she likes to take her meals at the Whistle and Drum and spends quite a bit of time in the libraries. Contrary to the rumor on the street, Federin learned from the barkeep of the Whistle and Drum that her army did not desert her, but she in fact had sent them elsewhere. Lunnin heard a strange rumor from a barkeep about a crazed individual who proclaimed everyone’s death.

When they regrouped that evening, the party decided to pay Wynne-Jones a visit. Federin found out the old man lived in the manor district. Retired adventurers who keep their heads about them live very well, apparently.

The city streets are dark at night. None of the lamps on the street get lit anymore, so people are required to bring their own light. There are many places to lay in ambush. A cultist unleashed his Shadow Hounds on the party as they made their way toward Wynne-Jones’ estate. These hounds drained light from the air and blinked from one place to another at will. After taking down the hounds, the cultist fled into the sewers and the party followed, subdued, and then interrogated. The cultist seemed less afraid of the party than he should have.

After dispensing with him, they heard some more cultists in the sewers. They followed the sound to a chamber where they had painted a spiral on the ground. After the fight with two cultists and some rats of almost unusual size, Kaltes determined that the spiral was likely used as an anchor or relay point for a large scale ritual. He altered the symbol in an attempt to ruin it.

Inquisitor Skill Challenge: 500xp

Combat: 2,550xp

Per Character: 610xp (8,853xp)

DM Note: Someone please remind me during combats after the first two or three monsters go down, that when bloodied, the remaining monsters might become easier to kill (save or die when hit while bloodied, basically). I forget that I want to do this while I’m running the encounters.

View
Nolan's Journal
Information after restoration

That night, Orophin performed a ritual to restore the burnt pages that were scattered around the room where Nolan Hunsugahr was murdered at the Frog and Toad Inn in Dagon.

Journal of Nolan Hunsugahr

View
Blood Spiral
Session 18

Agust 23: The party searched the camp the next morning. Most of the valuables must have gotten away with the Wyvern, but they did find a case of red wine. Ares passed through the encampment, but the party was unable to get him to reveal too much of what was going on, save he was going to track down the Wyvern. Coram noticed a sunrise etching on Ares’ scabbard. Kaltes believes that is the emblem of The Golden Sunrise, an order that throughout history has sought to topple the power-mad.

They made their way to Dagon, the city on the shore of the Lake Miskatonic. A storm curtain cuts through the middle of the dark lake. This storm curtain is the border of the winderlands and takes the entire eastern horizon. Much of the stonework in the city is covered in dark mold and moss. The cobblestones on the street are broken. Debris clogs sewer drains. Few street lamps are lit at night.

After seeing the lowest of the low at The Sly Minstrel, the party headed for the temple district in hopes of finding someone who might do something with the information they had about a possible retaliation strike that might occur from the PCs wiping out an Orc raiding band. Coram and Lunnin went to the Bahamut Temple and Salen went to the Raven Queen Temple. Federin, Orophin, and Kaltes stood in the square.

While Coram relayed the information to a priest at the Bahamut Temple, Salen saw the body of Zara (fellow worshiper he met in Rasmark) on the ground. Blood still flowed from a vicious gash through her neck and collar bone. He called for help. As soon as he did blood red glow began to emanate for a red spiral on the temple floor. It was a gate, through which four Carnage Demons and two Thorn Demons emerged. Salen carried Zara out. The demons began defiling the Raven Queen’s Temple.

After the battle, they were able to keep Zara alive long enough for her to relay that she was waiting for Varis to return to Dagon. She warned of the cult, which summoned the demons and that Sauls is involved, that they need to “look out for him”.

Salen’s task was to re-sanctify his temple. Lunnin went about the various taverns to set out feelers to be able to find Varis quickly should he return to Dagon. At the Frog and Toad Inn, the owner asked him to look in on one of his guests. When he opened the door he saw a mangled corpse and some burnt sheets of paper from a torn up book scattered around the room. Lunnin quickly got the rest of the party, minus Orophin who was at one of the four libraries. After an examination of the room they pulled the eyelids back from the corpse. There were glowing spirals in his eyeballs. They quickly shut his eyes as Kaltes determined it was some form of scrying magic.

The body was that of Nolan Hunsugar, the master at the Library of the Nobuzerri. They stuffed the corpse in their bag of holding and made for the Nobuzerri. The innkeeper paid them 10gp to not mention his inn.

At the library they spoke with a man who had an unusually powerful physique for a librarian (no introductions were made). He kept an even expression throughout the encounter. He told them he would take care of things and asked them not to trouble Nolan’s family with this news.

In the evening some of the party tried to gather some information and heard mention of the murder. Word spread quick. There was also chatter about cultists and some mockery of Zarathustra, whose few remaining troops appear to have walked out on her.

Room Investigation + 400xp

Informing of Possible Retaliation + 200xp

Sanctify Temple + 200xp

Experience: 1,500 (combat) + 800xp / 6 = 383xp for a total of 8,243xp

After completing their next extended rest (when we start next time) Salen and Coram begin the day with an additional Action Point.

View
Shot in the Back
Session 17

Agust 21, 1066:  The party found a ditch to hide out and rest for a few minutes while planning out a course of attack. During that time an arrow lodged into the earth a few inches from Orophin's head. There was a note attached, written in Elven which said, "I intend no harm and warn of my approach – Ares".

A few moments later an Eladrin warrior slid into the ditch, on his feet, with his weapons sheathed. He had the fair features of his kind and kept his hair braided. He asked a few blunt questions about why the party was attacking the orcs he was assigned to observe. He seemed to want to know something specific, but the party apparently didn't have that knowledge so he backed off and told them to carry on however they wished.

Ares did pass on that the leader of this band of Orc raiders was a Human, and that they were likely part of a larger gathering of forces up north to an Orc leader named Moordrok. He seemed to brush this Moordrok off as yet another power hungry general in need of beating down.

On the approach to the oasis, Federin saw several Orcs walking up the pathway to the top of the plateau. They were carrying bags, likely all the loot they've been grabbing from passing caravans. If they wanted the loot, the party had to advance immediately, which they did.

They rushed into the oasis and dealt with some raiders as they neared the tents of the encampment. Lunin was momentarily blinded by campfire ash and dying embers, while Kaltes received several hard hitting blows from an Orc brute, aided by a shaman who was able to outline the areas on Kaltes that the wizard would have a harder time defending a hard hitting blow from an axe. The party overwhelmed them in the end.

There was no time for rest as all the loot had already been brought to the top of the plateau. As soon as the rider was ready, he would fly off on the Wyvern, taking all the treasure with him. In between the top of the plateau and the party were 16 lackeys trying to stop them. Orophin and Kaltes blasted the way with Scorching Bursts so that the others could advance as far as they could. An Orc managed to tackle and push Lunnin off the pathway to the ground below.

Federin quickly got to the top and stopped the Human fighter from securing the last bag to the Wyvern. A crossbow shot was enough to get the fighter to toss down the bag and face the challanger. The rest of the party followed up the hill.

This fighter used a technique to make remaining in close quarters with him difficult. The constant swinging of his greatsword secured glancing blows to anyone around him. While not solid and direct hits, they could whittle down several opponents at a time. He also had a sword technique that let him stike key arteries. He landed such a blow on Coram, who fell from the blood loss, though he was revived a few moments later.

Federin scored a massive Coup de Gras on the unconscious fighter caught in Orophin's Sleep spell, which sapped the fighter's ability to trade blows with Coram, Lunnin, and Federin. Kaltes had shut down his escape route when the wizard slept the Wyvern in mid-air, who then crashed to the ground. The fighter had to wait for his Wyvern to recover, forcing him to stay longer than he wanted. 

In desperation, the fighter called for his Wyvern and hoped it would be there when he jumped off the plateau. The Wyvern swooped in and caught the fighter perfectly and sped off. Orophin ran to the edge of the plateau and fired a Magic Missile at the rider speeding off on the Wyvern—it was their last shot at victory. The bolt hit the rider in the back, who slumped off and fell to the ground. Dead.

Experience: 2,950 (combat) + 200 (quest) = +525xp for a total of 7,860xp

DM Notes: Escaping from a grab also comes with a shift, which wasn't being granted to the fighter when escaping from Bigby's. I write this so that I or someone else remembers the next time an escape occurs.

Shooting down the fighter get you guys an extra magic item and the Wyvern crashing to the ground dislodged an extra money bag, good job.

Also, Martial Power stuff is legal for the campaign. On initial review it looks like what a good splat book should be, more viable options for different types of that class. There's new feats and some powers that are good for all build types, but mostly it opens up new types of Fighters, Rangers, Rogues, and Warlords. Some nice shield powers in there too.

I like updated character sheets so much that it's where I draw inspiration from when figuring out treasure. Plus, whoa nice sheet there for Coram.

EDIT: Oops! Battlerager seems slightly broken.

 

View
Orc Raiders
Session 16

Agust 20, 1066: Travel through the wild lands was made far easier with Orophin's incantation of the Endure Elements ritual. Given the cost of the ritual and the harshness of the environment, it is clear why most people never leave safe harbor of their birthplace. They lack the wealth and/or stamina to make that journey.

 

Upon entering Dagonshire, the party saw a pathway through a lightly wooded grassland terrain. A few minutes on that road, they heard the sound of some Orcs demanding some coin. While they could not see how many Orcs there were nor who they demanded treasure from, the party charged ahead to deal with them. About a dozen Orcs had surrounded a lone Dragonborn traveler. Though they had the advantage in numbers, the Orcs were not a match for the party.

The Dragonborn introduced himself as Coram, who declared he wished to be the mightest warrior and he couldn't do that trapped in a training hall. After a very brief exchange of names, the Dragonborn accepted the invitation to travel with the rest of the party.

They continued walking on the road until mid-day until they reached the Village of Barany, which was a farming village similar to Rasmark, but a bit smaller in size. To get some bearings on this territory none of them were familiar with, the party took a meal at The Orange Drake, where the owner (Anderson) mentioned that the caravan that should have passed through Barany a week ago had not yet arrived. It was coming from Eplhamer, which itself was only a week away by caravan, so he fears the worst and suspects that the Orc sightings in the area points to Orc bandits sacking the caravan. Anderson mentioned that he himself only had a passing interest in the contents of the caravan, but some of the merchants and aristocrats in Dagon might be glad to see the contents of the caravan. 

That night they stayed at The Orange Drake with the intention of getting an early start in the morning. Federin, Content Not Found: 8427, and Orophin stayed a bit later in the ale room after the others retired for the night. An old senile man with a bent back caught the attention of Federin. He wanted to know their exploits. After satisfied with what the party had said, the old man pulled an old folded up map that he had tucked under his arm. It was a partial map of The Lost City (Ihniko) inside of The Black Forest. He and his companions had retired before they could find a path to the palace. Old men have their reasons for things and he parted with the map for nothing other than knowing more capable hands than his could complete the task.

Agust 21, 1066: In the morning the party left to investigate what happened to the caravan. Anderson mentioned an oasis a few hours into The Windwalls, what it seems he refers to as the wild lands. Sure enough, a whole bunch of Orcs had made camp in the oasis. Federin scouted ahead and figured at least 30 orcs made up the band. It also seems one of them rode a Wyvern of unusually strong stock.

Seeing as a direct assault might be suicidal, they drew out some of the Orcs by firing a flaming arrow into one of their tents to fight in the broken land outside of the oasis. The gulleys funneled the Orc assault to keep the party from being quickly surrounded. A dozen Orcs tried to take the party down, but failed.

After the battle, the party drew back some to give themselves enough time to regain some of their strength.

Experience:  6,815xp + 520xp = 7,335xp

Added a ruling on Flaming Sphere in the rules page.

View
Shrieking Hag
Session 15

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.

Input welcome.

View
Assualt Continues
Session 14

 

Agust 11, 1066: The party stood in the middle of an underground city street that was covered with rubble from the decaying buildings. A creature kept screeching nearby, the apparent lord of this area, sending its minions to defeat the party.

A fat little earth spirit offered to give them a place to rest. He mentions the party looks a little battered and could use a place to recollect their stregnth if they would just feed him some gems. The party decided to press their luck and see if they could hold out long enough to catch their breath.

After fending off a party of Wights and Zombies, they tried to hide out in an old building. Unfortunately, the buildings are not tightly sealed and with three light sources active, it provided a homing beacon for a pair of Ghouls and Blazing Skeletons to beat down the door. They were forced to find another place to rest after dealing with the last wave of attacks, but the phantom lord of the area continued to summon minions and a quartet of woodland spirits beat through the doors of their well lit hut.

This last wave nearly saw Kaltes fall and with no sign of rest happening soon, they fed the earth spirit 400gp in gems and he opened up a hole in the ground and lead them through a series of tunnels, likely the former sewers of this fallen city and showed them a secure place to rest.

Experience: 5,725xp + 550xp = 6,275xp

DM Notes: After taking a look at Consecrated Ground, it is obvious that some wires were crossed during the write ups of the rules. Until there's official errata to fix it, I'll add the following "Once created the zone range is 1." I think that actually allows you to move it 3 squares and you basically have to remain in or adjacent to the zone.

You are free to swap back to this power next session.

 

View
East Gate
Session 13

Agust 11, 1066: The party emerged from their dreary but safe hidey hole. It would appear that the two Humans and two Elves that they had heard about were discussing something, Peytor an agile looking Human male, Hagar the brute Human male, Lia the Elf female with the bow, and Mailee the Elf female with a mace. The party had a brief conversation and pretty much got that they were mercenaries. Peytor suggested they go in different directions so as not to get in each others' way. As they left, the party overheard Peytor joke with Hagar about a Mr. Skull-man.

After searching underground for a little bit, the party found a path back above ground into a mega-intersection of branch pathways. They walked into a vine trap that left both wizards prone and vulnerable to a Twig Blight beating. During this fight, Lunnin was pushed off the edge and fell down to the forest floor.

The area Lunnin fell into appears to have once been a warehouse district. Most of the buildings are in ruins but a few remain intact. In one of these they found a safe that had some gems still in it. However, their exploration of the building startled a wraith on the second floor. It flew away and soon enough they began to hear a horrible shrieking noise that appears to be alerting all the creatures in the area to beat the snot out of the party. It's difficult for the party to catch their breath in between encounters.

Experience:  5,175xp + 550xp = 5,725xp

For next time level up your characters. While any daily and item powers you have used count as used, your 5th level daily is considered unused. You have it available. Add the Hit Points you get for the new level to both your max and current hit point total. If you were going to retrain, you can retrain, but that level slot is still considered used if it has been used.

The locating skill challenge requires two more successes, before your third and final failure. One of those successes has to be something other than a Perception check. The characters are in a ruined city, on the street, trying to find where this commanding wraith is located. 

The challenge won't reset, because, ugh, not looking forward to that. Instead, bad things might happen.

 

View

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