The Architect of Ruins

Death Taken
III.

They let the last wounded spider run off into the ruins of Helmsgaard and collapsed to the floor to regain their strength. After a few minutes of rest and refocus, the party made their way back to the entrance. Shouting and saber rattling could be heard from down the hallway. Naryl moved forward and saw many of the townsfolk had entered the caves armed, trying to forcefully remove the Kobolds from the caves.

Rhaan and Gazal were able to get the townsfolk to leave the caves while Mesa led the Kobolds back through the door. The Kobold who acted as their leader, Pun-Pun, gave Mesa a password in Draconic that he could use should he need to come through their territory. With that the inhabitants of Nibelheim resealed the door.

Two Days

They spent the next day taking it easy and on the following morning received a written invitation to meet Ruta Skadi at The Temple grounds at sunset.

During that day, Mesa met Longtooth Shifter while he was gathering medicinal herbs by a stream. From the looks of it the Shifter had been traveling for a long time. This stranger introduced himself as Edmund Dantes and said he was searching for an ancient temple to a serpent god that he believed was in the area.

Meanwhile, at roughly the same time, Macarius found himself tending to the family mill. It was slow and extremely dull. An Eladrin male, a few years ahead of his twilight, entered the mill, remarking how little has changed since he’d been in Nibelheim several years ago. He talked with Macarius about his mark. He introduced himself as Immeral Lavondyss of Rasmark and he was in Nibelheim to partake in Oktoberfest on last time. Before leaving he placed his “second gift” onto the counter. It was a small tube of residuum.

Late that afternoon an island, floating in the sky, emerged from the southern stormwall and drifted northward. It was visible for about an hour or two before disappearing over the Ghylfang Mountains and into the northern stormwall.

When they met with Ruta, she mentioned the island was a sign the Feywild was moving. She talked about the mark, the prophesy, and how the Feywild Masters will seek them out and kill them in order to maintain their hold on Sola. Only one of them would have the power to truly end the hold that the Feywild had over Sola.

She suggested that they seek a vision from The Oracle as to the nature of their fate. She produced five blue pills and five red pills. The blue were chosen by those who believe they controlled their fate. The red were chosen by those who believed that their fate was already set. Naryl and Reuse chose red, while the rest chose blue. All but Mesa consumed their pill, so he stayed behind and did not receive a vision from The Oracle.

Strange Vision

Rhaan saw the Great Primal Beast driven off a cliff by a creature whose shape kept changing and could not stay fixed in one form. Naryl saw a jaguar crushed by Melora. Gazal saw Telmerik, but it was not what she expected to see. These were fleeting and almost incoherent visions that seemed to last for moments.

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Soon the five of them began to see the same vision. A death white tree, stripped of bark, devoid of leaves, branches like claws clutching upward to the sky, rose from where the oracle stood. From that tree descended four wraiths, malevolent spirits that sought to remove life from the living. They first attacked Naryl and Reuse, but soon brought death to each of the five.

With a start, the five of them awoke and found themselves in the garden outside The Temple with Ruta Skadi. She asked what they saw. Naryl asked if she knew what would happen, but Ruta did not. Had she known, she would have warned them. In spite of their near death experience, Ruta Skadi believed the fact they shared a common vision was evidence of a common path ahead.

Nine Days to Oktoberfest

The next morning all six went up to see The Oracle. They found four dead bucks and a dead doe, placed in a circle around The Oracle. Naryl decided to properly send off the spirits of the bucks. With Rhaan’s help, Gazal brought the doe down from the mountain. Ruta states that the deer had likely taken their deaths and spared them last night. What compelled the deer to take their deaths, Ruta couldn’t say.

Naryl suggested they leave immediately. Gazal suggested they go to Telmerik, where they could find out more about The Marks, Feywild Masters, and the storm. Mesa felt he needed to find the underground temple he fell into over a year ago and wished to avoid Edmund Dantes, the Longtooth Shifter he encountered the previous day. Mesa reckoned it shouldn’t be more than a couple of days to find the temple and see if there’s anything to be gained from it for this journey.

Metagame

For returning the Kobolds to Helmsgaard, the party completed a minor quest of their own design (there are benefits beyond XP for this). They were beaten in the combat with the wraiths and gained no combat rewards. This brings the experience total to 683XP.

Also, rather than info dump you at the game table, the info dump is linked in the text above and here: Feywild Masters.

Question of the Week

It’s dinner, you’re hungry, what’s the preferred method of dealing with it?

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Master of Puppets
II

Thick spiderwebs covered the back entrance to Helmsgaard. The small path which the kobolds hacked through the webs could still be seen as well as several dry corpses strewn on the floor. Mesa sought the spiders attention and began to burn away at the thick strands of spidersilk. Two spiders as large as humans pounced, followed by a swarm of a hundred blood sucking spiders, each about the size of a hand. The giant spiders seemed a bit weak, at least, not as fierce as they looked.

The webs made progressing further into the city difficult by making it hard to see more than twenty feet ahead. Rather than stumble through the city at random, Rhaan thought about the best place in a Dwarven city for a queen to lay eggs. Narrowing the search down, this let Mesa and Macarius easily follow the trail to a hole in the middle of a stairwell that led down to a mining cave.

Rhaan and Reuse descended through the hole in the stairs. Rhaan held a sunrod in his teeth, which illuminated much of the cave. It was a large, rough hewn cavern. Several tunnels connected to a the cavern and there was a stream as well. There was only one building, which was surrounded by Kobolds who stood up as soon as the two were halfway down the rope.

The Kobolds surged toward them. The rest of the party quickly dropped down the rope into the cavern. As the last of them made it into the cavern, a giant spider about the size of a grizzly bear, burst from the building. Once face to face with the Kobolds, they could see that they were corpses controlled by the spider, using her threads to move them about like puppets.

Naryl slipped through the Kobold line and landed a devastating blow early in the battle. This frightened the spider into backing off and attacking erratically. She was unable to recover and the party finished her without very much trouble at all.

Afterward, the party searched Helmsgaard for any remaining hunting bands. The last hunting band proved very dangerous as the party had expended more of their energy dealing with the spider queen than they had thought. They spent the better part of the entire day and found no more hunting bands. This section of Helmsgaard was clear.

Meta-Game Information

So far, for first level you have completed 4 combat encounters and two simple skill challenges giving each character 583XP. A “quest” bonus is pending upon resolution of the Kobold situation. In the cavern, you spent some time scraping up coins and got 120gp (20gp each).

You have until the start of the next game day to make changes to your character for free. After that point, changes fall under retraining rules.

Observations

Try to think of using daily powers outside of boss battles. While it isn’t important right now, since you’re still close to a safe environment, you should think about a more timely use for daily powers in light of the slow surge recovery rate while in the field. Daily powers save surges.

So far I like having given monsters eyes, ears, and the ability to adjust if the discussion on what to do goes over what’s reasonable for the characters to convey in a few seconds. I’m seeing more individual decision making, rather than having every turn decided by committee. I’m not opposed to general discussion and strategy, just the slowdown of an entire table micro-managing each turn. What I’m seeing might be a function of low-level play, but we’ll see how it goes.

Question of the Week

It’s a busy Friday night at the Laughing Dragon Inn. The air in the big tavern is thick with smoke and conversation. The entertainment has the crowd in a party mood and Otto is yelling last call. How’s it going?

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Broken Agreement
I.

21 der September:

Perhaps random chance, or not, six bearing the Sola Mark gathered around a stack of wood piled in the town square of Nibelheim, a northern town, surrounded by the Gylfahng Mountains. In recent years, Nibelheim has grown famous for an Oktoberfest celebration. Much of the town is busy preparing for the festival and not just the shops and inns, but also houses which get thorough cleanings to accommodate the relatives pouring in. The surrounding towns in Wagner’s Haven converge on Nibelheim for a weekend of food, lagers, ales, and dance. It’s a big party and every year Otto, of the Laughing Dragon Inn, tries to make it bigger and better than the year before.

After digging some post holes, the six managed to get several of the townsfolk to take over the task of actually hammering in nails, sanding boards, and putting the stage together. With the construction in more capable hands, as per Otto’s suggestion to pretty it up, they decided to find things to make the stage more festive.

As they picked flowers and vines from the forest and fields outside of Nibelheim, a pair of children walked down the path from the junkyard heading back toward town. Reuse, the towering male Goliath, naturally attracted the small children’s attention and they came running to see what he and the rest of them were up to. After hearing that the children had been helping small reptilian creatures in the junkyard, Macarius Tanalva who had lived in Nibelheim all his life, knew this wasn’t a good thing and suggested to his companions that they investigate these creatures.

They walked up the road to an opening in the mountains. The junkyard is a giant pit inside the mountain where the craftsmen, artisans, and inventors toss their scraps and failed experiments. In turn, others travel to the junkyard for materials. During the day, sunlight provides some illumination, but the villagers have setup arcane lamps to provide enough light to make the tunnel and scrapheap fairly save to navigate. The scrapheap is at least one hundred feet across and contains several generations of stuff. From the pit area, there are several tunnels that lead deeper into the mountains in all directions, much like spokes from the center of a wheel.

As they stopped to look around, a small reptillian humanoid scurried from the scrap heap into the far tunnel in the back. It was as Macarius suspected. Kobolds have come back to the junkyard tunnels. Five of the six carefully entered the tunnel to follow the Kobold. The female Tiefling, Gazal of Aherin, remained behind. She thought it unwise to pursue. The Kobolds had claimed the tunnels as their new village and had no plans to leave. A brief skirmish ensued, but the Shifter, Mesa of tribe Ruhgzsh, called for his companions to pull back. Naryl Talowyn, the Elf, also felt they needed to assess the situation and the withdrawal began.

They returned to Nibelheim and spoke with Otto, the mayor of Nibelheim and the owner of the Laughing Dragon Inn. He seemed troubled by the return of the Kobolds. He explained that several years ago, Kobolds had moved into the tunnels and their numbers rapidly grew. They began raiding the farms, leading the residents to fight the Kobolds back to where they came, which was Helmsgaard, an abandoned Dwarven city. It seems a back entrance from the city opens into the tunnels near Nibelheim. The villagers beat them back to the abandoned city and accepted a truce so long as the Kobolds agreed to never cross the door. It seems the Kobolds have broken the agreement. Otto was certain that in a short time, the tunnels would be filled with Kobolds and if they weren’t beaten back now, a lot of blood would be spilled later.

Afterward, Naryl sought out Ruta Skadi, the Half-Elf soothsayer, outside of The Temple. She was gazing at the stars when Naryl found her. The situation with the Kobolds troubled the Elf and he hoped Ruta could fortell one course of action as being better than another. She pointed to two stars in the sky which have been drifting closer together. The closer they got, the closer both were to destruction, which described the situation in the junkyard of Nibelheim. It was clear the Kobolds do not mean to be an invading force, but necessity would turn them into invaders by next spring as more of them crossed into Nibelheim. Allowing the Kobolds to stay in the tunnels would spell ruin for the town.

Gazal and Mesa chose to stay the night at the junkyard. None of the Kobolds emerged from their tunnel.

The six met at the junkyard that morning, some were ready to force the Kobolds out. Gazal asked Rhaan for some strong spirits. He ran back to Nibelheim and returned shortly. By then, Gazal had wrapped her hands in cloth and asked the Dwarf to soak the cloth with the alcohol. She decided to enter the tunnels, which the Kobolds had surely setup for ambush, to find out why the Kobolds had broken the agreement made twenty years ago. Mesa accompanied the Tiefling.

In speaking with the Kobolds, Gazal learned that a brood of giant spiders had taken over the abandoned city where the Kobolds lived. The Kobolds had actually carved the magically sealed door out from the wall in order to escape the spiders. When Gazal and Mesa returned to the party, Gazal suggested that if they could clear out the spiders, perhaps the Kobolds would return to where they belonged. It was clear they would fight rather than return to what they felt was certain death.

With that, the six entered the abandoned Dwarf city.

Question of the Week

On any given afternoon, what’s your character doing?

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Explode on Impact
Session 39

Soon after the Shadow Demon phasing through the metal floor, the party quickly made their way back to the room near the entrance of Tartarus. While Randuil had Arcane Locked the door, it wouldn’t stop any of the Shadow Demons from phasing through the wall. They set up a watch and took their chances on resting up.

Day 9:

They emerged from their safe room. Chances are they would not be able to use it again. Tartarus was much quieter. The arcane lines still glowed, but the intensity of the energy passing through them was less intense.

They returned to the room where they fought the Shadow Demons and saw it continued to a boiler room. The way through seemed tight. They could also see a blue glow several layers down. Kaltes could tell it was from more than one large source of light.

When they exited the room, Dri saw a large pot-bellied Solamith waiting in the hall. The demon ripped three skulls from its belly and hurled it at the door. The explosion caught all of them. The sound of the explosion brought Mezzodemons and Canoloths out from the other rooms in the area.

They decided to enter the boiler room from the bottom floor. The doorway was a large door that needed to be lifted from the floor to open. Ryva held the door open for his companions. As Grundin and Lunnin stepped into the passageway, the familiar darkness of a Shadow Demon fell. Randuil quickly moved through the darkness, but when he reached the other side he did not like what he saw. A giant flame serpent with blackface and many charred hands, so he turned around, telling the rest what he saw. They agreed to retreat and try another way.

Unfortunately, a Solamith a couple of floors above was hurling skulls down on them. He was in too good of a position that the party had no choice but to re-enter the boiler room they tried to escape. Kaltes cast a Stinking Cloud, which didn’t do much damage, but was effective in nulling the flame demon’s attacks long enough for Dri and Lunnin to destroy it. A trio of Kalaka demons were able to rip into Randuil, Dri, and Kaltes, who had a near deadly moment as each Kalaka slid him closer and closer to the flame demon. Fortunately for Kaltes, his defense was strong enough to keep him away from the flame demon.

After the flame demon died, the Kalakas decided to flee. Lunnin and Ryva pursued one down a narrow stairway and down a hallway. After dealing the finishing blows, the two Halflings could see movement at the end of the long dark corridor.

Meta:

  • Encounters, current day: 2
  • Milestones: 1
  • Encounters this level: 6
  • Current Level: 11th
  • Bottles of Dandelion Wine: 31

Try and have an 11th and 12th level item in mind, as these are the remaining slots for this level. Again, since we’re doing a crash course in Paragon Tier, I’m letting you guys decide the most advantageous item drops for the party.

I’ve not adjusted any of the monster stats since we’ve hit Paragon Tier. Next time, I’ll adjust them again.

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Upstairs Downstairs
Session 38

Day 8 (continued):

The party looked up the steps at the floors above. They could feel the heat through the Endure Elements ritual and they felt that the waves of heat bearing down was only getting hotter. The arcane energy veins were flowing with energy leading to the top of the tower. Continuing up through that heat didn’t look like a good idea, so the party reversed course and traveled down the steps to the first basement, where it was within the comfort of the Endure Elements ritual.

There were demon guards at the stairwell that didn’t pose too much of an obstacle. In searching the first basement level, they came upon a locked room with several stacks of shelf cases. On the shelves were metal parts. Grundin put some of them in his pack.

As they continued to search the room, they were attacked by Shadow Demons. The demons had knocked a few of the party unconscious, but after a long battle, the demons fled, phasing through the floor. Unfortunately, this leaves the battered party in a tough situation. No doubt the Shadow Demons are calling for help from down below. The room they’re currently in, may or may not be one they can secure, not to mention the Shadow Demons can phase through the wall and floor anyway.

Meta:

  • Encounters, current day: 3
  • Milestones: 1
  • Encounters this level: 4
  • Current Level: 11th
  • Bottles of Dandelion Wine: 33

Even though it was a 2-hour encounter, I liked the last fight. Toward the end of it though my brain was fried.

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Enter Tartarus
Session 37

Day 7, Continued:

The party enters Tartarus. The three remaining warriors from the hundred that charged tell them that they will guard their backs while inside.

Embedded into the metal walls and floors are veins of arcane energy that flow upward. There are also patches of brittle mineral deposits on the metal surfaces. The arcane energy creates an audible thrum throughout Tartarus. The air is also very hot, so Randuil cast an Endure Elements ritual to avoid heat exhaustion. After fighting magma demons and a beholder, they rested inside a storeroom, secured by an Arcane Lock cast by Randuil.

Day 8:

In the middle of the tower is an open shaft that continues both up and down. Grundin mentions that the engine of Tartarus would most likely be down below. The party decided to advance up the tower to investigate exactly what the arcane energy was powering. They made it up one flight of steps before they were attacked by a Canoloth, Kakalaka, and a Mezzodemon Beastlord. They found a Transposing Trident +3 on the Beastlord.

Meta:

  • Encounters, current day: 1
  • Milestones: 0
  • Encounters this level: 2
  • Current Level: 11th
  • Bottles of Dandelion Wine: 33

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A Ring of Fire
Sessions 35-36

A field of fire surrounded the monolith, which Grundin believes is the core of the Tartarus, the floating Eladrin battle fortress that fell into Ihniko Forest. Grundin knows that Tartarus has been hidden in the forest ever since it fell. Those in his order knew that The Aeristhyde Empire closely guarded its technology and had tried for centuries to reclaim Tartarus, but failed. If the engine of Tartarus is even partially intact, recovering it would be a major boon. But, first they needed to get past the fireball cannons mounted all along the towering structure.

An audacious Halfling walks to a lake where hundreds who seek the lady of the lake wait for her return. He gathers a small army of Dwarves, Dragonborn, and anyone else willing to rush the tower. The Halfling brings them to the edge of the fiery field. The guns of Tarturus pointed straight at them ready to fire as soon as they crossed the line. Walking along the edge of the field, the Halfling gets his men ready for a suicide run to the monolith. They charge, the Halfling and his comrades in front. Fire pummels the rush of men. The ground explodes and foul smelling smoke stings their eyes.

They make it past the ring of fire. Only a handful of the score remain. A large demon from the tower approaches. He rips an orb of fire from his belly and hurls it at the survivors. The Elf rushed forward, wanting none of that, and kills the demon before it could tear into itself again to produce more pain. Demons emerge from the fire and smoke and the survivors hack through them and eventually make it to the base of Tartarus.

As they climb the ramp up to the entrance, they see that the foul smoke swirls around Tartarus in a spiral pattern.

Meta You are now level 11. Select a Paragon Path.

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Under the Water
Session 34

Day 4 Continued

After taunting the serpent for most of the battle, the serpent fought until the end. The party jumped into it’s pool and were almost hauled in by Cyclopse nets. They broke free and floated in the underground water way, a Water Breathing Ritual allowed them to avoid the Cyclopses entirely.

They traveled half a day through the water until they saw a cavern underneath the water. For some reason the cavern wasn’t filled by water even though the waterway continued above it. There were a bunch of shipwrecks. A skeleton crew attacked them, sad creatures really.

You are now Level 10.

Shaw can select a Level 11 item. It can be any item, but must be Level 11. Ryva found a stone that tells him a monster’s weaknesses. Randuil found a Cape of the Montebank.

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Day in Court
Session 33

Day 3 Continued

Math and the other pilgrims entered the campsite area and moved toward the broad leaf sapling that emerged from a Cloudwatcher’s corpse. Math and the others were quickly losing their Elven features and were becoming broad leaf saplings like their fallen comrade. The young boy said he did not know he was like this and apologized. He lay down a quiver with a mottled surface and said, “this is a gift from all Cloudwatchers.”

The compass shuddered and showed Ryva two possible crossings. One directly in front, the circle of broad leaf saplings showed the symbol of a gavel onto the compass. The needle also pointed in the direction Sauls disappeared. As Dri made his way to collect the quiver, the ground rumbled as several dark needled tree creatures emerged from the hemlock to destroy the broad leaf circle.

The party defended the circle from the hemlock tree creatures and then pursued Sauls through the knotted hemlock forest that was dark as night. A sea of a demon vermin marked Sauls’ trail. The party waded through the clawing, fire-belching, psychic attacking demon vermin, hacking and blasting their way through. The demon were crafty, launching several attacks that caught the heroes unaware. Unfortunately, the sea of demon vermin gave Sauls enough time to disappear through the portal and sever its link just as the party emerged from the vermin sea.

Just as they caught their breath, hemlocks to the west were falling, smashed down by an unseen beast which let out an angry roar. It sounded large and bestial, like that of the boar. Kaltes instantly remembered his conversation with Wynne-Jones. It was the Urscumug, the Spirit of Anger, as the old man liked to call it. The creature called out the outsiders who has defiled his forest. The party decided not to find out what he meant and returned to the sapling circle. The circle had grown in the short time they were away. They stepped into the crossing.

When the party emerged on the other side of the crossing they found themselves in some type of courthouse district of Ihniko. Judging from the vivid colors, the number of fey creatures walking about, they were in a feywild zone. They did some shopping and got some rooms at The Orange Troll, where Dri got some information about the area, namely the court house, where he learned was the court of a Judge Cloudwatcher. During the shopping excursion, a shady robed figure spoke with Randuil, asking him if he could find anyone for them. When Randuil said no, he asked if there was anyone pursuing him that he’d like the man to find. When Randuil again said no, the man seemed happy with that statement and left.

Day 4

They entered the courthouse where there was an argument going on about what to do with the missing Lady of the Lake. There were three factions. One wanted to wait for her to return. Another sought to investigate. A third wished just to replace her with a new Lady of the Lake, but they needed to find an attractive Elven woman. After some discussion, the Cloudwatcher agreed to pay the party to investigate by answering Dri’s questions.

They learned of the Fomorians, who have extensive tunnels underground, and sought passage back to the lake via these tunnels. An abandoned wizard’s tower provided an entry point into the Fomorian tunnels, where they met GAR, who was anything but GAR. He agreed to show them the way to the lake if they would take care of a serpent for him.

He led them to a cave with a pool of water, a massive door on the far side, and a large chain that led into the water. After Dri disturbed the chain, a large black serpent arose.

Rewards

Treasure: Cloudwatcher’s Quiver

Quest: +500 bring pilgrims to campsite

Combat: +2,450xp

XP: 17,925xp

DM Notes: You have 41 bottles of dandelion wine.

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Witch Hunters and Demons
Session 32

Day 3 Continued

The party hurried the pilgrims through the woodlands, keeping themselves shielded from any position that could be seen from a distance. Both the canopy and forest floor was awash in yellows, oranges, and reds from the leaves, signs of a mid-autumn season. Their trek lead to a discovery of a small cave where they could safely hide the pilgrims, so they could set an ambush for the pursuing White Cloaks. The hunters were caught off guard and never could mount much of a retaliation.

Things were not what they seemed. After liberating a suit of +3 Wyvernscale Hydra Armor, the White Cloak’s clothing started to vaporize. Instead of Eladrin warriors, it turned out that the White Cloaks were plant creatures. And then when they returned to the pilgrims, Grundin noticed that what at first glance looked like body hair on the pilgrim’s legs and feet was actually a very fine looking moss. The pilgrims were honestly oblivious that it was moss.

Dri scouted ahead of the party. He easily found the chasm with the rope bridge. The forest on the other side was dark green and almost solid hemlock. He returned to inform them that he didn’t see anyone at the chasm, but did see a campsite in the woods on the other side.

After some deliberation and scouting they cautiously approach and listen to Sauls call Kaltes an idiot. Demons come out of hiding and Sauls leaves, but not before killing Cloudwatcher, who collapses into a pile of plant-life.

Rewards

Treasure: +3 Wyvernscale Hydra Armor (I particularly like this because it creates a choice between Second Chance to avoid the crit or activate the armor—once in a while it might be something to weigh).

Skill Challege: Evade and Ambush (800xp)

Combat: 4,800

XP Total: 17,433XP

NOTES

With Player’s Handbook 2 coming out, I’m going to handle introduction of the new material differently. Things that apply to already existing races/classes are available as soon as the book is released and someone has the text available.

New races, classes, and item groups will become available after being unlocked via quest completions.

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