Zane: Age of Enlightenment

Session 8a - Gangsta At-Will
There is a fan, and something hits it, even if it rolled a 3.

The group cleans up from their ‘clearing’ of the Yellow Scarf gang. Billywig and Shamgar decide to poke through some of the crates, finding mostly empty crates but also all manner of illicit goods ranging from loaded dice to illegal drugs.

The two get some sort of contact buzz from the burning of the drugs in the warehouse smelter, and the rest of the group decide to drag them back to the VEx base to recover. Shamgar works off the effects in the morning, but the halfling does not. Getting a list of recent VEx recruit attempts that failed for one reason or another from Captain Masaki, the group heads off, starting at the top of their list.

Raheil seems to be a young human bard in training, living in the basement of his mom’s house. He is overjoyed by the presence of the VEx recruiters, and jumps at the chance to prove himself again, but his mom is dead set against it. The crew negotiates with the mom to let Raheil join, and after the small concession of a new seat cushion for her chair, Raheil is grudgingly granted permission. Just as well, as Raheil mentions that he has some friends who were also looking for membership into a house, and that they’re located at an inn down the street.

This inn is also were the tiefling Keiver is working. A serious tiefling, Keiver also jumps at the second chance the VEx/Dres alliance offers him. Raheil brings over four more friends and the group hires another three at 5 gp apiece.

With nine down and needing three more to fill their quota, the group makes its way to the last man on the list, Stenndar. His home is empty, but peering into the window Tullie notices a yellow bandana folded up on the man’s bed. Knowing another fight is bound to be upcoming, the group makes its way to a house in the slum where the yellow scarfed hoodlums are known to congregate. Everyone makes simple work of the toughened thugs standing guard outside the small walled-off garden, but their leader holds off the assault long enough for a mass of initiates to reinforce the area.

What happens next moves all too fast for the PCs to really digest. The initiates can do little, being more than a minor hindrance then an actual threat. The toughened gang members are taken down brutally one by one. Once the last real member drops, the party offers sanctuary for 3 of the initiates, implying the others would meet the fate of the gang leaders. Three are chosen, (a water genasi with a moustache, a smelly gnome and an ugly half-elf) and the rest are told to run for their lives. The group gives chase evocative of a cross between “The Running Man” and the “Running of the Bulls.” The PCs begin slaughtering the initiates indiscriminately without exactly realizing that these initiates are not officially part of the gang, guilty only of maybe disorderly conduct. Everyone except Dash stops the chase, but Dash is more than capable of dispatching 20 young punks on his own. The scene ends with a grizzly quarter-mile of carnage down the streets of Varuna.

Word of the attack travels faster than the party. After reaching VEx, Captain Masaki instantly demands the resignation of all involved in the “Yellow Blood Massacre.”

End Arc 1

Treasure: none

View
Session 8b - A Place Called Vertigo

The PCs start the session with an initiative roll and with Umalli leaping into an empty crate for protection. Blaine puts a couple arrows into the dwarven taskmaster and then bails off of the crate stack he was standing on, disappearing from the view of most of the enemies. Grafton and Thud are also behind or on top of things at the moment, meaning that almost the entire enemy force’s attention turns to Darnis, who is the only one on the ground. No less than four foes converge on Darnis, though Thud manages to pull one away next turn. A “conga line of doom” soon forms with nearly everyone granting and receiving combat advantage from flanking somehow. Darnis must spend all his healing on himself save for one utility power that goes to Blaine after he fails at a fast getaway. Snipers on the crates attempt to keep their position strong by leaping across the mountains of storage, but end up falling on their faces most of the time. Grafton shows them how it’s done, clearing a 30’ horizontal leap in wolf form and put the “fur” of god in the ranged cowards. Thud also gets in on the leaping action, literally crushing one of them beneath his massive armor. Once the enemies are knocked out and _also _ shoved into crates, the group obtains some 80’ of chain and heads back to the mess hall.

Grafton and Blaine sneak up to the doors of the hall and chain them shut. Thud lights the building on fire with his Hunter’s Flint and some prepared kindling, creating an unusual situation. The fire is invisible from more than 10’ away and gives no smoke or sound. This means that the occupants inside won’t have any warning of their doom until it is far too late and, rather than going unconscious first from the smoke, will burn to death fully aware. The group is slightly disturbed by this, but becomes distracted stepping back and forth over the 10’ line, watching the fire appear and disappear, seeing the building burn or just mysteriously turn colors and fall apart. After a few minutes of macabre amusement, the party goes to the final location of the depot – the main receiving hall.

The receiving hall is oddly empty and opens into a large foyer with stairs going up each side into separate rooms. On the ground floor is a set of large double doors. The party decides to start with the second floor and work downward, heading up the stairs for the door on the left. Within, they find the quartermaster’s quarters. The room is modest but comfortable and the quartermaster clearly likes to write. On the desk are letters; some are to the quartermaster’s son who has decided to become a bard. He is clearly not happy about this decision and is writing furiously against the idea. The quartermaster also appears to be engaged in a play-by-mail strategy game with the captain of the 15th (not 17th) Chericlo cavalry. Thud and Darnis determine the worst possible next move, make it on the quartermaster’s behalf and place it in the outgoing post.

Next, the room on the right side of the second floor – the war room. A large table with a map of Sedna sits on it with well-crafted pewter pieces representing the various Redoran units. Guecumar and a couple other outposts are crossed out by hand with large red “X”s. Still, Redoran units are stationed near Hlalu and Telvani settlements. Thud scoops the pewter pieces into a bag. Nothing else seems of interest until Blaine notices a false panel in the corner. Upon opening it, there is a small passage leading.. somewhere. The passage inexplicably converts into (non-magically.. like it gives way to) a tunnel as the PCs crawl through it. At one point the PCs pass, they experience severe vertigo, but only for a moment. Thud’s Eye Loupe shows him that they are now underground though by all logic, they should be crawling thirty or so feet in the air over the camp! The tunnel opens up in the side of a bullet-shaped cavern where a spiky brown dragon sleeps curled up like a dog around a pool of water and a ring of earth. Grafton in beast form once again smells the scent of rotting meat and fruit; it appears to be emanating from this location! Darnis is able to piece together from secondhand knowledge and some environmental factors that this must be a henge and that the dragon may be drawing power from it. Unwilling to face the fearsome beast at the moment, the party crawls back through the passage into the war room.

At last the PCs enter the double doors at the bottom of the stairs and the inevitable fight breaks out between the party and those eating in the private dining area. Due to some excellent initiative rolls and incredible first-strike damage by Blaine, the fight ends quickly and without much difficulty on the part of the PCs. The commander of the squad threatens the group with the dragon beneath them, to which Thud replies “We’ve already killed it.” The foes do not believe until Grafton looses a Thorn Spray at which point some of the lackeys show doubt. Their doubt is fairly short-lived, though as they themselves are also fairly short lived. Two rounds later, the Varunal Expeditionaries have captured the Redoran supply depot!

End Arc 1

Treasure:
A bag full of pewter figures
Helm of Opportunity and Counterstrike Guards (from the floor manager dwarf)
50 gp in assorted coins
1200 Fame for taking the fort

View
Session 7b - Junk in the Trunk

The session begins with Dwarina explaining Gaelen’s Timeless Curse.

Near the beginning of the Immortal War, a dwarf community was involved with negotiating an alliance with some drow and other less savory folk from the Underdark. Both sides were god-fearing (though not necessarily the same gods)) and an alliance seemed mutually beneficial. Not all of the dwarves were behind this idea, though. A rift soon worked its way through the community, splitting the dwarves ideologically. Before tension grew into hostility, a dwarf named Gaelan proposed a solution. He had received a message from an unknown extraplanar entity who offered them safety and the knowledge that “nothing would ever have to change” if they so desired with seemingly no payment required. A group of 20 or so accepted this offer and immediately upon doing so, found themselves in the current location of Respite with Gaelan missing.

For these dwarves, time has stopped. They neither need to eat, drink or sleep, they do not age and they do not die. They also may not leave the village boundaries, merely teleporting to the other end of the town if they do. The weather is unchanging, crops grow abundantly and there’s nothing any of them can do to affect permanent change in their world. Though they do not technically live the same day over and over again, they might as well. There is only one exception. If someone who is not part of the village is killed and buried in the land, they resurrect as a dwarf within 48 hours. This is the only way to add new population to the village and though the dwarves find it reprehensible, the sheer boredom of their existence drives them to attempt it when possible. Dwarina is an example of one such incident.

By day, the dwarves produce food and supplies for House Redoran and in return, get stories and information from the outside world that they could not get otherwise.

The party decides that they will need the assistance of the dwarves to get into the depot undetected. They go to visit Arlen at his home. Negotiations initially go well, but when Umalli calls Arlen out on the town’s misdealings, things get a little testy. Ultimately, it’s 5 able-bodied young adventurers versus one old dwarf; Blaine holds Arlen down while Umalli brands him with the Hand of Femrish to make his point. Arlen relents and the town holds another mid-morning feast to keep the front guards occupied while the PCs sneak in under the depot through a tunnel.

The group comes up in the corner of one of the barracks in the depot and promptly alarms several of the Redoran militiamen to action. Grafton drops a large wall of thorns in the middle of the hallway to slow down the reinforcements, but that results only in the militiamen breaking through the flimsy walls of the barracks to get to them… or failing to do so in hilarious fashion. Much of the combat takes place with the PCs pinned in a very small room until Umalli runs out a side door to get some breathing room. Grafton follows suit while Darnis, Thud and Blaine regroup, outmaneuver the men in the barracks and take control of the room.

The battle spills over to the outside of the barracks as a few of the militiamen take the roundabout approach to reaching the party. Thud and Darnis are a bit slow to get out, and Grafton/Blaine beat them to the punch, protecting Umalli from inadvertently playing Defender once more.

There’s nothing all that interesting in the barracks except dirty socks and underwear. The party switches into Redoran uniforms – except for Thud who is restrained by his massive army. Lacking any other option, Thud climbs into a trunk with a bunch of dirty laundry and the party pretends to be collecting the day’s laundry to move about the camp. In the next barracks, Umalli casts a cantrip on another militiamen’s cards, allowing him to finally win a game. This sets off a fight between the militiamen which the party uses as a cover to move in and incapacitate them. They get put into a trunk, too, but not the one that Thud is riding around in.

Next stop – the mess hall. It is in fact lunchtime and much of the camp is eating. The party decides to lock the doors and burn the place down with the militiamen inside, but they will need more supplies to ensure the “security” of the facility. To this end, they take a shift working in the warehouse and, once most of the other militiamen have left, proceed to jump the current floor workers…

To be continued…

Treasure:
50gp in gambling money

View
Session 7a - Yellow Scarves and Red Blood

The diplomatic party of Dash, Shamgar, Tullie and Billywig moves on from the cave of heretic Shifters to House Dres. They are met at the door by a stiff, spiteful porter who does his best to turn the party away but is dismissed by the leader of House Dres, Alauniira. Alauniira invites the group to share a meal and discuss the situation at hand with Redoran and the upcoming strike against them. Billywig and Tullie do their best to extend diplomatic relations with Dres despite Shamgar’s seeming idiocy and fascination with women’s clothing. Alauniira excuses herself for a few moments to attend to some official business, leaving the group to contend with her five advisors. The party spends the time buttering up the advisors, displaying various talents in history, arcana and arm wrestling, among others. When Alauniira returns, she gets the signal from her cohorts and agrees to the alliance, but on a condition. It seems Dres is a bit shorthanded for help these days and so can not contribute manpower to the cause. If the party can bring twelve new recruits to the House, though, they will be happy to train them and loan them back to House Indoril and the Varunal Expeditionaries.

The party agrees and begins their search for fresh meat. They are soon sidetracked, however, by a cry for help. Several thug-types wearing yellow bandanas, scarves and kerchiefs have surrounded an older gentleman and are attempting to get money from him – perhaps by blackmail, extortion or force, it isn’t exactly clear. The PCs step in without hesitation and a long battle ensues – and by long, something like 17 rounds. The combat starts out well enough with Tullie pulling minions off a platform to their doom with her Executioner’s Noose and Billywig hurling lightning bolts with impunity. Shamgar and Dash engage the ground troops in melee but are stymied by their phalanx-like defenses and ranged support.

Frustrated, Dash takes off to the south to eliminate the pestering crossbowmen and does so Pulp Fiction-style. This unfortunately leaves Shamgar to hold the front line of the fight and is unable to do so himself. The flail-wielding thugs begin to encroach on Tullie and Billywig. Tullie manages to stay mobile enough to dodge many of the gang’s attacks and Shamgar continually pits himself between the gang and Tullie to protect her. Billywig, meanwhile, attempts to scramble to safety on top of one of the platforms that the gang’s minions occupied early. This turns out to be a bad idea when one of the thugs knocks him off the 30’ platform for significant damage. The party calls for Dash to help and Dash begins to come back but stops at the older gentleman and demands a healing potion. When he claims to have none, Dash kills him and searches his belongings. True to his word, he does not have a healing potion.

Dash’s delay in returning to the party is nearly catastrophic. One of the thugs traps Shamgar in a corner and beats him to literally within an inch of his life. (One more failed death save or 5 damage would have sealed it) Another successfully splits Billywig from the group; only through dumb luck and an outstanding use of the Second Chance racial power does Billywig survive. Eventually, Dash returns and helps Tullie finish off the remaining thugs. Tired and daunted, but utterly furious, the group returns the man’s body to his family and then trudges home to the VEx HQ to regroup.

While they rest, Dash spends some time at one of the city’s seedier locations – a house of loose money and even looser women. His knack for games of chance draw the attention of a Yellow Scarf crime boss. Dash is offered, amidst good drink and strong hallucinogens, an interview with the syndicate. He accepts and relays this information to the group back at HQ. They (confusedly) form a plan by which Dash will go to the interview and find a way to cause a distraction of sorts so that the rest of the PCs can break in and, together, clear out the gang’s holdings in this location. Dash enters the old factory by the back door – Tullie follows discretely in a ventilation shaft. The interview goes well but Dash just can’t leave well enough alone and attacks his new benefactor, a large Goliath named Vilhelm. Wrestling, table throwing and punches ensue, ending up with Dash being tossed out the door into the main area with Vilhelm in pursuit. All appears lost for Dash when suddenly Tullie teleports down to Dash, grabs him and teleports them both back into the ventilation shaft.

The entire party then enters via the ventilation shaft, crawling in it high over the main floor. Tullie drops her Noose onto one of the workers, aided by Shamgar and when she can’t quite strangle her victim, is forced to set her noose on fire to finish the job. This all occurs fairly discretely, allowing the party to drop down into the factory floor and pick up a surprise round.

Leaping from crate stack to crate stack, the PCs clearly have the advantage. Tullie gets into a duel of sorts with another Assassin, but leads him into a hammer-and-anvil trap where he is annhilated under the combined force of Dash and Shamgar. Billywig’s lightning pays off once more as he toasts gang members across the room and flies Shamgar into a key position to hold off the melee attackers. Dash again demonstrates his melee superiority against other dual-wielding thugs, nearly dropping one with each attack. Almost as soon as it starts, it’s over and the party has control of the old factory.

Treasure:
850 gp in coins
200 Fame and 200 Karma for clearing out the gang’s base
Battle Harness +1 (x2)
Spiked Jacket +1

View
Session 6b - Digging Up the Past

The covert ops group of Umalli, Blaine, Thud, Grafton and Darnis confers briefly to determine what their next target should be. The supply depot? The training grounds? The financial backing? Ultimately, it is decided that the first strike should be against the Redoran supply depot and so the party leaves quickly.

As the party approaches the depot’s location, they are met by a surprising sight – a village of dwarves surrounds the front area of the depot. The dwarves pile out of their various homes and workplaces and schools and such to have a public feast in the north end of the village, abutting the depot. Several of the guards come out of the depot to enjoy the meal and share stories of their travels and adventures. Even wearing their VEx identification, the party is welcomed to sit down and enjoy the bountiful food.

Everyone enjoys the meal fully, but Umalli seems to take his enjoyment to new levels. He hungrily devours large quantities of meat, soup, bread, root vegetables and whatever else one of the friendly dwarves will hand him. Some of the rest of the group fear poison or foul play, but when Umalli isn’t negatively affected by his gluttony whatsoever, tensions ease. Arlen, the mayor/elder of the dwarven town – called Respite – suggests the party is weary of their travels and should stay for the evening in Dwarina’s inn/tavern. Wanting to scope out the area in preparation for their raid, the group does so willingly.

Late at night, the party is awoken by the sounds of talking and digging. The entire dwarven village is out in one of the fields digging shallow holes. Thud, Umalli, and Darnis go to investigate the digging while Blaine and Grafton use this opportunity to stake out the supply depot and its guard rotation. This latter scouting party doesn’t get much useful information except that the place smells of rotten meat or fruit to Grafton while he is in his wolfish form.

The rest of the PCs proceed into the field and offer to help with the digging. They are kindly told to go back to their rooms, but Umalli recognizes something in Dwarina’s voice and pushes the issue. Dwarina relents and hands them shovels, directing them to dig in certain spots. The reasons the party is given for this strange digging are flimsy and strange; when Umalli calls the dwarves out on their bluff, a fight breaks out – but oddly enough not before the dwarves apologize for what’s about to happen.

The ground gives way beneath the group, dropping Thud into a 10’ pit. This gives the dwarves – three individuals in melee, two crossbowmen and a generic angry mob – ample opportunity to attacks the squishier Darnis and Umalli. Thud quickly climbs out of the pit, though and begins holding off the more heavily armored dwarves while Umalli unleashes the elements in torrents to drive the mob away. Darnis gets in a couple good shots here and there, improving the magic in his allies’ weapons, but spends much of his time administering healing to the other two party members while he himself deftly avoids attack after attack. Things begin to look grim but Grafton and Blaine arrive just in time to double-team the crossbowmen in the backfield. The most bizarre thing occurs, though, when the PCs begin to notice that any “dead” dwarf drops to the ground in nearly pristine condition as if sleeping, with no scars, burns or injuries. Having narrowly escaped death, the party buries the comatose dwarves in the pit Thud fell into and then leave, camping outside of town.

The next morning, the party returns to Respite and it’s as if the events of last night never happened. Once again, the town is out in full force eating with the guards of the depot. The group approaches Dwarina who, fully cognizant of the previous night’s events, invites them into her inn once more, serves them breakfast and prepares to explain Gaelen’s Timeless Curse.

Treasure: none

View
Session 6a - I Get to Heal Him

The diplomatic group of Billywig, Shamgar, Tullie, Dash, and Hoerig receive a briefing from Captain Masaki on the two houses the group will be meeting with: Hlalu, the second most powerful of the major houses, led by a Tiefling known only as Heir 27 and Dres, the drow-led house holding the most sway of any of the houses.

The group, split amongst themselves where to start, make their way to the Hlalu headquarters once Masaki finishes the briefing. After a short wait, the VEx diplomats met with Heir 27, who brings along two of his own siblings/advisers, Lineage and Effort.

The negotiations start off simple enough, both sides opening admitting recent Redoran attacks, and on the surface Hlalu seems interested in an alliance. But as details start to be negotiated, the Tieflings are hesitant to commit to anything, leading the VEx contingent into making the first demand, men to bolster the ranks of the attack.

With a framework of the demands on the table, Heir 27 agrees to assist if the group handle a small task for Hlalu. One of the properties in Hlalu controlled land, owned by a Mr. Weatherstone made a request for armed assistance, making preposterous claims about demons stealing his livestock. Suggesting that taking care of this matter would be an excellent show of faith, the VEx group make their way towards the Weatherstone property, whose mansion is topped with an ominous giant steel crow.

Mr. Weatherstone is more than pleased when the heavily armed group arrives, not seeming to notice the VEx insignias worn by the mercs. His story is similar to what Heir 27 had said, claiming demons have been stealing his livestock and that they are hiding in a nearby cave. A quick investigation of the livestock area supports this claim; the smell of brimstone mixes with the normal muck of such a place.

Making their way to the cave, the group casually enters, not expecting there to be an imp swarm and a small pack of heretic shifters waiting for them right inside the cave. A fight that seems to be going somewhat too easy for the VEx group becomes chilling when a haunting female scream of pain and terror echoes from deeper within the cavern.

Dash, either in his battle rage or desire to save the pitiful victim runs ahead. Hoerig follows to watch over the half-orc, while everyone else takes a quick moment to catch their breath. When the remaining three pushed on, they find Dash standing on top of a small mountain of broken bodies, with demons composing the leeward and shifters composing the windward. Hoerig’s collection of bodies is somewhat more pitiful, but he is there mainly as the distraction that fuels Dash’s grisly engine of destruction.

Billywig’s arcane storm clears the cavern of most of the remaining demons and heretics, making room for the larger demon hiding in the back of the cave. It tries everything in its foul bag of tricks, including stampeding the VExers, but in the end it is not strong enough to take even the tired and bloody Dash down.

The horrific scream fills the cavern again, and this time, tired and battered, everyone pushes on. This final section of the cave has a small fetid pool of water, more heritic shifters, and a humanoid woman bloated to four times her size. The VExers watch as another shifter is born fully grown from the tortured woman, who gives no sign of slowing down her tainted reproductive ways.

The final onslaught is enough for Dash to fall, finally accepting aid from Hoerig and Shamgar that he had been refusing up to this point. Hoerig lets his new groupmates see the trick he can do when he disables the magic sword the priestess was going to gravely wound Dash with. Tired and nearly out of breath, the group clears the cavern and give the poor woman the release from her twisted existence that only death can grant.

As the group finally gathers their wits and their breath, Tullie notices a small portal that leads to some accursed plane. After tinkering with it and making things worse, Shamgar performs a ritual to seal it up, preventing any more demonic incursions.

Treasure:
Vicious Longsword +2 and Command Circlet from the cult leader
Ritual Books: Feat of Strength, Magic Circle and Duplicate
30 gp in coins
50 gp in contraband religious items
250 Fame and 450 Karma for defeating the cultists

View
Session 5b - Facepalm

The session opens with initiative rolls as Thud continues to beat the Trailblazer with his massive hammer. Garek – the man Hoerig was mistaken for – arrives with reinforcements and all hell breaks loose. Bugbear stranglers try to choke the life out of the party while wardancers throw the PCs around with their massive flails. Most of the party ends up pushed and prone at some point though Hoerig manages to do so with some style, offering to hear his enemies’ terms of surrender. (“No, yours. Not ours.”) Umalli spends nearly all of the fight on his @$$, but finds that he does a lot better in a seated, relaxed position; his arcane whirlwinds blow the stranglers away from their victims. Grafton comes around in a pincer manuever and tries to take Garek down, but ends up being grabbed and tazed repeatedly. Thud comes to his rescue and with additional support from Umalli, he is able to escape. The party shows solid teamwork in eliminating the threats, though not before losing a couple of houses to sabotage.

Garek attempts to escape but his arcane glider is brought down by one of Umalli’s whirlwinds. Grafton retrieves him in beast form. Thud preferred to kill Garek, but Umalli has another idea. He uses his burning hands to brand Garek’s face with the symbol of his quasi-deity, the Hand of Femrish, and sends him back to the Trailblazers of Sednaas a warning to House Redoran to mind their own business.

The next morning, the PCs are met by an odd event. A short, pudgy man is in the middle of the town near a wagon, prophesying about the “stone bear” that “lives in a tree” and will “imprison the people in their homes.” This man is Pung and pretty much all of the current occupants of Guecumar ignore him. He is known for his obscure, outlandish prophecies that never seem to come to anything. While most of the group tries to talk to [Pung and figure out what his story is, Thud meets alone with Nimiwi about the Guecumar Contract. Nimiwi and Thud fly into the air over Guecumar and strike a bargain – Guecumar will be protected and blessed by the primal spirits so long as it never exceeds a certain predetermined boundary. Nimiwi draws the first draft of boundary with a multicolored light, but Thud is displeased. He negotiates so that the town will have access to wood and mineral resources in exchange for lesser westward expansion and the inability to build near the Yuir Temple. In short, the community is self-sufficient and stable, but as a resource towards increasing the influence of House Indoril it’s too small to be meaningful.

The rest of the party on the ground sees the strange light circling the town, but is unable to determine its source before negotiations are finished. Thud goes to plant the Eifa Tree at Nimiwi’s order (the tree symbolizes the contract) and the rest of the party returns to Pung to learn more about him.

Pung produces a small crystalline box within which some kind of entity lives. The entity has knowledge of the past, present and future and informs Pung of such things. Darnis takes the box from Pung and communes with the entity inside while the rest of the party (still sans Thud) hears about Pung’s personal history. It seems Pung was a simple merchant for many years until he came into possession of the crystalline box. The box first informed him ahead of time who would visit him and what merchandise they wanted, but as time went on it revealed darker secrets. Pung became a preacher of sorts, alerting the world to the evils that threatened it. The box tells Darnis not to trust fey creatures, for they are fickle and turn on you at the worst possible moment. It tells him there are ‘better options’ and then when asked for a sign, replies audially “The tree has been planted” in a high-pitched androgynous voice.

This prompts the group to go find Thud, who has just finished planting the Eifa Tree, thus sealing the contract with Nimiwi and the primal spirits. When Hoerig goes to tear down the tree, Nimiwi stops him and together, she and Thud explain the Guecumar Contract to the rest of the group. Also, a very large spirit bear arrives and makes its home in the tree, changing shape and size so it can rest comfortably in the currently small tree. At rest, it appears to be made of stone.

At first, the group is angry at Thud for making such a bad decision on his own, but eventually many of them come to terms with it and are simply angry at Thud for making such a decision on his own in general. It is decided that he alone will face whatever the Varunal Expeditionaries have to say about the contract. Umalli however is unmoved, referring to the contract as a “fence” and that the bear’s presence is a ‘policing’ effort, though the rest of the group is assured that it is a powerful ally in the defense of the town. A meeting is held to explain the contract to the townsfolk, who are also quite resistant at first. A grumbling acquiescence is reached. Neither Pung nor Umalli are present for this meeting.

The next morning, Pung’s wagon is seen leaving town without so much as a goodbye. The PCs decide the crystalline box is better kept in their hands instead of Pung’s, so they go to find him. Conveniently, his wagon is stuck in a very large hole, which turns out to be a nest of giant ants. The ants attack the wagon along with Pung and his entourage. The PCs help defend them from the ants, but when the ants are gone, Pung’s paranoid nature gets the best of him and he turns on the PCs, commanding his followers to prevent them from taking the box. The fight is relatively quick and when it is over, the party has the crystalline box, Pung, his followers and a better mode of transportation (the wagon) back to Varuna.

Treasure:
500 Fame for the Guecumar Contract
80 gp from the bugbears, 45 from Pung’s followers and 800 gp bounty on Pung
220 gp arcane from scavenging the giant ants and Pung’s wagon
Pung’s Magic Prophetic Jewelry Box

View
Session 5a - How To Eat Fried Worms
A little gamey, but otherwise not bad!

Billywig, Shamgar, Tullie and Dash have completed everything they reasonably can in the village of Kore and are about to leave when who should come back but kEQir Qu’Qatl, checking in on his “son’s” handiwork. He insists on inspecting the new militia, but Shamgar is quick to tell him to ‘get on somewhere else.’ kEQir leaves in relative peace, leaving the group with a warning (a threat?) of death without his help.

Shamgar is keen to go track kEQir down and find out just how much dragon he really is, but Billywig and Tullie convince him that Tullie’s vision regarding Mircolis and the others is a more pressing matter. Upon further describing the vision, Billywig recalls seeing the location along the road from Fort Kront to the Mushroom Henge, or at least one kinda like it. The troupe returns to the main road and locates two likely spots, both of which have seen some violence recently. Shamgar’s knowledge of physiology determines that only one of these places has seen monster-on-humanoid violence, so the the group scours the area. Around the site are many small holes in the ground, some already there when the group arrived and some dug up by Shamgar. Tullie points out a bump in the ground where Shamgar digs up a dead worm, and not just any worm. This is a huge worm – as big as two clenched hands around and a couple feet long with one end boasting an orifice lined by nasty-looking teeth.

Billywig finds another round of holes nearby, but this time, the holes house live worms! Three of them pop out of the ground to ambush the party and when the group fails to annihilate the first set in the first round, one of the worms makes a screeching sounds and calls even more worms – smaller worms with claw-like appendages and one really big worm that spits acid.

Dash draws first blood but his incredible slicing blades only go to show that the worms are a little bit more than the group first thought. Dash hews one in half with a single blow, but it simply regenerates its back half and continues fighting. He eventually puts it down for good and, just to show off his martial prowess, kills another little skittery worm by watching the sidewinder-ish motions it makes and following Rule 1 of swordsmanship, “put your sword where your enemy is GOING to be.” He then engages the gigantoworm mano-a-wormo.

Shamgar takes a couple of nasty bites early on, but is able to use his cloak to his advantage and back away into safety. He engages another of the starting worms and aids in Tullie who is WILDLY successful against the slimy creatures. She dodges bite after bite, claw after claw, teleporting around the field like some crazy, tiny horned goddess of battle. Her primary contribution is to sear the sensory organs of one of the larger worms, which proceeds to eat (and/or slam into trees ) several of its own cohorts. She also discovers the worms’ sensitivity to heat.

Billywig has trouble early on delivering a magical beatdown to the worms as several of them simply bury themselves to avoid his Whirlwind, but after freezing a couple of them over, he finds his rhythm and commences to fry worms one after the other with his lightning bolts. Striking large worms and arcing the electricity to the smaller ones becomes a tried and true tactic. It also makes them edible, as Shamgar and Tullie find out by experimentation. Billywig prefers to stick to rations.

After the battle ends, a small black rock snake slithers onto the scene, which Shamgar recognizes as belonging to ‘that Pegasus kid.’ Sure enough, Pelagius stumbles out of the brush in a bad way. He explains how he got separated from Mircolis after the initial worm attack and has been unable to rescue his uncle since. He has managed to stall the stinging scorpions that have Mircolis surrounded, but is running low on spells and high on fatigue. Tullie tries to offer him fried worm, and after some hesitation, he eats one. He then leads the PCs to the clearing where Mircolis lies unconscious.

Tullie engineers a new and creative use for her Executioner’s Noose – brachiation! She loops onto a nearby tree branch and goes flying in Tarzan-style to rescue Mircolis but is ambushed by four shocking scorpions who force her to retreat. The scorpions have a big brother of sorts – a massive armored beetle that Dash immediately locks onto. Shamgar launches himself at the scorpions and spends much of the combat grabbed, though it doesn’t affect his efficiency very much. He wakes Mircolis with his “magic” who tries to escape but is grabbed by yet another scorpion. Mircolis attempts to escape several times and Tullie tries to drag the scorpion back with her noose, but as the beast continues to drag Mircolis into the woods, all appears to be lost.

Shamgar methodically breaks grabs and smashes scorpions with his giant axe in his inimitable style. Dash finally gets the jump on the big beetle and, inspired by the beetles’ own pincers, delivers an “up-top/down-low” scissoring attack that drops the armored behemoth. It is Billywig, though, who saves the day in the end. He directs Pelagius to throw whatever he has left at the escaping scorpion, but to no avail. Was it the frustration of not being effective in the fight so far? Perhaps seeing Mircolis dragged off reminded him of his daughter? Whatever the case, something in Billywig snapped and with a decisive stomp of his foot, the escaping arthropod was launched high into a tree where he slammed into a branch and hung from his tail like a macabre warning to all other enemies – ‘stay the ** away!’ Upon witnessing this, the final scorpion fled leaving the party to regroup.

Mircolis thanks the group profusely for their help. He begins to relate the tale of his misfortune but Tullie cuts him off and retells her vision. This disturbs Mircolis greatly who then proceeds to tell the party a little bit more about the history of Haumea. The reason Haumea became a theocracy alone among all the major nations was the area’s tendency to ‘leak’ back and forth across other planes. The barriers between the Feywild, Shadowfell, Astral Sea and other dimensions are all a bit weaker in Haumea so communication with the gods was easier and more productive. Additionally, the area had unique threats that were best handled by those wielding divine power – demons, undead and similar abominations that occurred “naturally” in the region. The temples divided up the land and protected it from these threats. With the Haumean government folded and the power of the gods eliminated, such horrors have been allowed to flourish in the area. Mircolis muses briefly on whether the otherworldly threats or the zealousness of the faithful were more problematic, but doesn’t seem to come to a conclusion. He apologizes for not telling the party sooner, but did not want to involve more people than were necessary. Seeing Tullie and Billywig’s weapons and hearing about the vision, though, convince Mircolis that the group is now in too deep to be ignorant. He also tells them that he is a representative of the Circle Tower, one group among others who have taken up the call to purge Haumea of its uncleanliness. A noble house of Chericlo and a warlord of Quaor are similarly involved.

The group decides that is must get Mircolis and Pelagius back to safety and so forego finding Staff, Mircolis’ missing monk bodyguard. Walt has apparently run off somewhere babbling about a new henge and “more power.” The group returns to Fort Kront where Tullie’s charm quells Sgt. Ruk’s anger about the group’s extended leave of absence. They report in all that has happened and are told to return to Varuna while decisions are made.

Treasure: 150 karma for saving Mircolis and Pelagius

View
Session 4b - Dragon Balls

Upon starting day 4 of their exploration, Blaine returns to the temple to stand guard with Umalli and generally relax. The rest of the group pushes forward.

They arrive in a vast stone valley. As the group descends into the valley, they notice that among the general debris of the area are hundreds and hundreds of stone faces, seemingly melded into the ground. Grafton knows the faces are not chiseled, but somehow magically created, though Darnis does not quite know how. A fully upright statue further down the basin wall attracts Hoerig’s attention. It is an attractive eladrin woman, fully clothed, wearing a serene facial expression. She stares forward and slightly up. When the party fixes their gaze in that direction, they see a small hut. The group decides to go to the hut, but are stopped by a blast of arcane energy that chokes them in dust and gravel. A man with a wand threatens them, wondering aloud just how many graverobbers he’s going to have to fight off. He descends from his perch atop a heap of debris and demands that the PCs drop their weapons. The group, sans weapons, convinces the strange man that they are not grave robbers but merely travelers. The party’s lack of fey convinces him and he identifies himself as Fleme (pronounced “flame”). He is a human who’s village was teleported into the Feywild whole and the inhabitants petrified, though their petrified forms appear eladrin instead of human. Fleme has been trying to find a way for several years to undo the magic of the valley but has been unable. He seems to think that the arcanists of Hyloneme might be able to help him, but he has no way back and is unsure of leaving the Feywild and his “home.” The party convinces him that they have a way back and some contacts that could help with the situation. Fleme agrees and wants to bring his fiancee Ella (the stone woman) back so that he can ensure the magic will work before returning to the Feywild. Ella is too heavy for the party to carry and so he tearfully leaves her behind, instead bringing along his dog, Scout, who has similarly been turned to stone. Fleme knows why he was not affected by the transformation, but will not reveal why to the party. It seems he is ashamed somehow of this secret and so the party does not poke further into the matter.

The group, with Fleme in tow, heads south to the village of Arnis where they receive a less than warm welcome. The gnomish, pixie, brownie and otherwise mini-fey inhabitants of the town have a distate for big, nonmagical creatures. Fleme explains that he comes to Arnis occasionally for fish, but a merchant quickly tells them there are no fish and that they should scram. It seems the village is slowly starving since they can not get their boats offshore due to four dragons that are destroying their boats and eating the fish.

When the party arrives at the docks, they see a couple of gnomes prepared to launch a boat to try to get food. They offer to take down the dragons and are met with immediate derision. Still, their impetuousness prompts one of the gnomes to make a bet – 100gp that the party can’t kill the dragons. Hoerig immediately accepts; the gnome says “fine, it’s your death. And I’m going to take all your stuff when the dragons finish you off.” The other gnome, amazed but seeing the opportunity for profit, runs back on shore and announces the PCs’ foolhardiness to the town. More bets are placed, with the second gnome acting as bookie. Darnis places 20gp at 7:1 that they’ll even come back alive. Thud continues the bravado, asking what reward they will receive from the town for saving their livelihood. Glimwocket the jeweler presents the party with two crimson stones if they can do it, but is clearly not afraid of losing the gems.

The boat puts off and within moments, is under attack by four dragons, two Large and two Medium. They immediately open up with rending claws, scaring the party something fierce, but they retain their resolve. Grafton summons kelp from beneath the surface of the water to hinder the dragons and keeps at least one tied up well each round for several rounds. The two parties trade blows until a gnome sailor launches a harpoon at one of the larger dragons, and gives Thud the chance to leap onto the beast’s back! He grabs it by the neck, drags himself up and delivers a crushing blow to the dragon’s skull. This signals the rest of the party to focus their attention on the dragon. Aided by Darnis’ magically burning weapons and another harpoon shot, the first monster drops.

The fight is far from over, however. Both Hoerig and Darnis burn through every healing ability they have, including utilities, and nearly everyone uses their second wind. Most of the party is bloodied at some point, and usually multiple times, except for Darnis. Despite being the target of as many attacks as everyone else, Darnis is apparently invincible while on a boat. Things look especially grim when the other large dragon roars, stunning Thud and Grafton and knocking over a mast onto the ship, blocking movement. Hoerig thinks quickly, though, and commands the gnomes to hurl the fallen mast at one of the smaller dragons. They hit and the beast goes into the water, entangled and stunned. This frees Thud to rejoin the party surrounding the other large dragon. The gnomes catch smaller dragon #1 in a fishing net and proceed to beat it to death with oars while the party deals with the other two dragons. The larger dragon attempts to grab Hoerig twice, each time meeting a swift punch to the dragonballs resulting in an escape. With double flanking and several leader bonuses, Grafton finishes the long and difficult fight with surprising efficiency, knocking smaller dragon #2 prone so the gnomes can tie it up and then performing a crude tracheotomy on the other large dragon while in beast form.

Exhausted, but victorious, the party returns to shore, receiving their winnings, the jewels and the famous ‘slow clap.’ During the night’s festivities, the group learns that the town was once in possession of a book that had rituals involving teleportation and revivifying petrified remains (among other things) but the book was bought by a man named Berrian Truescourge many years ago. That book was called the Tome of Twilight Boughs. The party also arranges to have Ella brought back to the Yuir Temple by the Arnis villagers so that Fleme can continue his research.

Upon returning to the Yuir Temple, the party finds the captured eladrin dead and Umalli and Blaine unconscious. The pair inform the rest of the PCs that the captives escaped somehow and knocked them out. They know little more than that. Nimiwi is nowhere to be seen. Searching outside reveals foottracks heading in many different directions and a wagon trail headed toward Tarmek. With less than two days to spare the group decides to head back to Tarmek to talk to the magic dealer there. He unfortunately knows nothing about any captured dryads and when asked about petrification magic, mentions only that he thought there was a book somewhere that talked about it, the Tome of Twilight Boughs.

The party finally races back to the Yuir Temple with almost no time left before the Temple is due to return and are met by a half-dozen eladrin in front of the entrance. They are clearly glad to see the party and offer refreshments. They explain that they had come by a couple days back to visit Berrian and take an order. Upon entering the Temple, they saw several men carrying out Umalli’s and Blaine’s (assumed) corpses. The captives explained what had happened to them and demanded weapons to strike down the PCs when they came back. The merchants asked for money, the captives didn’t have any and decided to try to simply take the goods by force. The merchants defended themselves but had not yet disposed of the bodies. They have since returned several times and have been sending out search parties to find the rest of the PCs at Blaine and Umalli’s request.

Before the Temple leaves, the PCs do some business with the merchants, led by an eladrin who calls himself Whitman. They trade one of the jewels they received from the Arnis villagers and Hoerig’s ability to handle dangerous magical items for several pieces of magical gear. While the party peruses magical equipment, Hoerig is handed all manner of cursed and malfunctioning items to “hold while my guys get the residuum off of it.” A shield that engulfs the wielder in flames when hit, an amulet that delivers random shocks, a moldy shirt that keeps away pests, some tainted troll parts and all other manner of disturbing items fail in Hoerig’s presence and are recycled. Hoerig claims a magical bedroll for himself and crawls into it shaking after that ordeal, whether the magic works or not! Whitman also gives the party a tracking armband so that if they ever end up in the Feywild again, they can find the merchant wagon.

Finally, it’s time to return home. All 6 PC’s, Nimiwi, Fleme (with Ella and Scout) and a bunch of crazy new gear enter the Temple for the last time and are carried back to the Natural World.

Treasure:
240gp in winnings
100gp Luck/Karma and 90 Fame for defeating the dragons
Lv 4 Power Jewel
Watchful Ruby Eye – traded for a (+1 Deathstalker?) Greatspear, a +1 Lullaby Craghammer and a Restful Bedroll

Purchased:
Thud’s Eye Loupe

View
Session 4a - Daddy Issues

Having cleared out the clerics from the abandoned temple, Shamgar, Tullie and Billywig wait for the White Dragon to return. Mircolis and his group, Walt, and the recruits (sans one) return to Fort Kront; a half-orc named Dash stays behind, not interested in going back to the fort all that much.

Several days later, the party’s patience pays off. A roughly human-looking man with white dragon wings flies to their location carrying a large sack of.. something. He descends upon seeing Shamgar and begins questioning him.

The dragon identifies himself as keQir Qu’Qatl and asks Shamgar about his early life. He essentially ignores Dash and Billywig but thinks Tullie might be Shamgar’s slavegirl or consort. He has a passing interest in Tullie’s “abilities.” (‘so.. son.. is she any good? If she weren’t with you, I might like to try her myself.’)

KeQir has been curious as to whether he had any children but confesses that the possibility didn’t come up much since he suspected most of the mothers “wouldn’t have to deal with them long anyway.” He also asks Shamgar if his wings have come in. Ultimately, he tells Shamgar that this is his territory – his protectorate – and that they will have to conduct their business elsewhere. The lands to the southeast near the coastal desert are not yet claimed and so he should go there instead or back to Sedna – pretty much anywhere that isn’t Haumea, really. Shamgar agrees to leave and so keQir picks up his bag and flies away.

The group is on its way back to Fort Kront when they hear a loud “BOOM” and a flash of blue light, that resolves into an otherworldly pulse. Tullie is immediately interested and wants to invesigate. The party encounters the village of Kore, but does not enter at first. They spot keQir fighting a large fiery demon and so rather than go to the village or the light (to Tullie’s dismay), Billywig and Shamgar aim the group at the fast-moving melee of ice and heat.

The group tries to keep pace with the battling ballet but is unable to efficiently and loses healing surges in the process. They come to a clearing where the demon has ambushed keQir with a pair of trolls. The combination of trolls and demon would probably be too much for keQir and so the group draws the trolls’ attention while the duo of deforestation goes on wrecking the wilderness with their combat. The combat goes surprisingly easy and with the exception of being grabbed a couple times and one troll using Shamgar as a weapon against Dash, they bring the monsters down. The problem occurs when the trolls stand back up after being defeated – several times! It’s Billywig and Tullie to the rescue here; when one troll falls, Tullie douses it in lantern oil and Billywig strikes it with lightning to ignite the oil. Shamgar and Dash go to work on the other fallen troll, once again proving that any problem can be solved if you just hit with a sharp object over and over and over again.

Now convinced that something needs to be done about that weird pulsing light, the party heads off toward it and finds an unconscious woman near a dark and frayed portal. Shamgar and Billywig determine the woman’s problems are not physical, but mental – the result of some trauma. The woman is incoherent until (Billywig? Dash?) scares the heck out of her again and Tullie slaps some sense into her. She begins raving about ‘red death’ and dying every night in her dreams. Shamgar casually tosses a rock into the portal which triggers the attack of a swarm of kruthiks. The fight is short and relatively uneventful except for a bunch of kruthiks being thrown around and the woman (named Redra) nearly being killed for real by an escaping foe.

Redra explains her story. Her mother, Kirstal, had nightmares every night. The same dream, over and over again, On the night of Redra’s thirteenth birthday, Kirstal awoke from a nightmare-plagued sleep, sprang to her feet, and ran screaming into the night. Redra followed, calling for her mother and trying to rouse her from her panic. The pair raced through the forest near their home until Kirstal stumbled at the edge of a sinkhole and fell in. Redra arrived at the edge of the depression just in time to see a swarm of kruthiks tearing her mother to pieces, leaving only her bones behind. The next night, when Redra fell asleep, she experienced her mother’s nightmare, down to every detail. She dreamt it again every night since. Hoping to avoid her mother’s fate, Redra sought answers. Her plight led her to a wizard named Bartleby, whom she persuaded to tutor her. For seven years, Redra immersed herself in the study of magic in the hope of finding a way to rid herself of the cursed dream. During her studies, Redra became convinced that the dream-monster was neither a symbol nor a generic fear but a specific, real entity. Three weeks ago, Redra formulated a ritual that opens a portal to the plane of dreams. This was the key she could use to end her nightmares forever . . . or so she thought. Convinced that her trial was nearly over, Redra cast the ritual at dusk in the nearby graveyard. She intended to call forth the monster from her nightmare and confront it so that she could destroy it and free herself from its influence once and for all. When the portal opened, the terrifying beast of fire and smoke stepped from the realm of dreams. The creature attacked Redra immediately. It believed Redra was dead when she fell, so it moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere.

Unsure that keQir would be able to deal with the nightmare demon, the party decides to confront it directly. They go through town to where the monster is rampaging just on the other side, but first run into the townspeople of Kore who have keQir surrounded and are blaming him for the monster’s presence. He denies having summoned it and claims to be protecting them from it. Furthermore, he blames the PCs for it’s presence and when the townspeople turn on them, he takes flight to places unknown. Dash quickly convinces the townsfolk that he’s not with the rest of the party and the people demand answers from Shamgar. Tullie and Billywig escape the lynch mob by magical means, leaving Shamgar to fend for himself. He doesn’t have answers except to explain that keQir is clearly not to trusted and that his team will deal with the demon. The townsfolk are hesitant to leave the protective shelter of keQir’s wings (both literally and figuratively) but are willing to listen if the group does in fact slay the demon. The people also commission Dash to keep Shamgar “in line.”

On the way out, the party is stopped by Bartleby. He asks the party to not implicate Redra in the demon’s summoning due to her sad story and having nowhere else to turn. He claims she is a talented sorceress and wishes to see her develop.

The party confronts the nightmare demon in the forest wreckage. Its foulspawn mangler cohorts attack directly, using their bone daggers both at range and up close to keep the PCs on the ropes. Dash is dropped twice holding the monsters back and both Shamgar and Tullie are worried by the manglers’ Dagger Dances. All the while, the nightmare monster goes invisible and attacks suddenly and with seeming impunity. The party must work well in concert to get rid of the manglers so that they can deal with the demon next. They eventually whittle down the demons and Billywig has a close scare when the invisible demon breaks though their ranks and unleashes a nasty surprise on him!.. that misses. The groups trade blows until the demon makes a fatal mistake – it unleashes a powerful fiery attack against Tullie who has undergone her diabolical transformation. Its assault is entirely negated by her fire resistances and though Billywig attempts to kill-steal, Tullie delivers the final blow to the demon, invoking the the full might of her shadow magic to fell the abomination. Bathed in the demon’s blood, her swords gain magical abilities. The PCs return to Kore to deal with the fallout.

Treasure:
280 gp of arcane reagents
Flaming Weapon +1
Pouch of Nightmare Dust
50 gp coinage
200 gp fame
200 gp karma/luck

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.