Princes of the Apocalypse

To Beliard
  1. A Brief History Lesson
  2. Red Larch Advisory Council
  3. Feathergale Spire
  4. Ambush

A Brief History Lesson

The party was asked if they would stay a night and meet with Red Larch's Advisory Council.  Because the citizenry of Red Larch was still realing from the discovery of the Believers and the actions that were committed below the township, an advisory council of some of the more prominent members of the town were called to oversee things until the investigation of the murder accusations were completed and a new mayor could be elected.

Present at this closed meeting inside the Swinging Sword was Imdarr Relvaunder, Priest of Tempus, Lymmura Auldarhk, Devotee of Sune, Harburk Thuthmarrilar, Sheriff of Red Larch, Jalessa Onra, Butcher and Harburk's wife, and Helvur and Maegla Tarnlar, Clothiers of Fine Apparel.  Imdarr stated that Harburk requested that he start this meeting and so Imdarr opened with a brief history of the land that Red Larch was founded upon.

Roughly 6,000 years ago the Dwarven Kingdom of Besilmer was established here in and around the Sumber Hills.  King Torhild Flametongue had brought his clan here and they established a great city that existed above ground which is notable because not many Dwarven cities are so accessible.  The two lasting remnants of King Torhild's creation are the Stone Bridge, near Beliard, and the ruins of the Halls of the Hunting Axe which is reportedly where King Torhild was buried under after dying in battle against a Hill Giant while defending the Stone Bridge.  After the King's death, the Dwarven Kingdom eventually fell to a number of invasions of orcs and trolls that swarmed through the lands.

Roughly 600 years ago, a knightly order called the Knights of the Silver Horn took it upon themselves to clear the land of orcs and goblins and began searching for the ruins of the lost dwarven kingdom.  They inhabited the various ruins and keeps that were found, repaired them and used them as center points to combat the raiding tribes that continued to plague the land.  This effort, too, was done in vain as more invasions from orcs and trolls and drow raids plagued the land, overrunning the various bastions the Knights of the Silver Horn had attempted to rebuild.

The recent settlement of the Dessarin Valley is credited to the rise and success of the city of Waterdeep.  As Waterdeep grew, the populace expanded and settled the surrounding lands.  Much of the towns that populate Red Larch are under 400 years old, many only having been established within the last 150 to 200 years.  The people are tough and hardy which is what is required of those who seek to create a homestead that is far from any intervening governement body.  Many of these settlers are not aware of the troubles that have plagued the landscape, often referring to any known ruins as being haunted or evil without knowing how or why they feel the way they do about such ruins.

Red Larch Advisory Council

Imdarr ended with admitting that he is a member of the Order of the Gauntlet, an order that has tasked itself with seeking out evil, uncovering it, and defeating it out in the open as a means of inspiring the populace that such deeds are capable.  The order has a network of operatives that watch and weigh in on events so that evil isn't given a chance to find purchase which is why the party's uncovering of the Larrakh and the Believers here in Red Larch were so surprising.  Now that the party has brought in more information about an Elemental Earth cult worshiping Ogremach had actually set up a monastery in the area has been very troubling.  They now fear that the rumors and reports of orc incursions to the north and west is something that the council of Red Larch is not comfortable to idly sit and wait for news to come to them.

Imdarr has received a message from an associate, an Erned Stoutblade, a knight within the service of the Order of the Gauntlet, that he is seeking assistance as he leaves Yartar to investigate the rumors of the orc incursion.  Lymmura also shares some information that has been passed on to her that an animal messenger was also sent to the elves of High Forest for aid and that aid has been sent, but no word as to whether or not it has been received.  

Feathergale Spire

Milpot purchased a pair of Draft horses at a discounted rate of 42 gp each.  A wagon and the appropriate harnesses were granted to the party for free with letters of introduction that they carry with them the interest of the Red Larch advisory council.  Badges were stamped for those interested in wearing them, showing three trees growing from a larch leaf and one bright red ribbon was handed over to Mojo, the stitching of "Miss Red Larch" having been recently removed, but pleasant enough if seen from a distance.

The party traveled to Feathergale Spire to pick up Griffin's Bane, Idra's horse and regale Thurl and the Feathergale Knights with the deeds of the Sacred Stone Monastery.  Milpot had taught two musicians that he had hired to accompany them his song of deeds and left the musicians there at the Spire to entertain the Feathergale Knights over the next two weeks of their contract.  Savra approached both Idra and Milpot and offered to sponsor them each into the order if they were interested.  She explained that this such a sponsorship was rare for those without family connections or who were titled, but not unheard of.  She felt, and she believed Thurl Marosska felt the same way, that both Idra and Milpot had shown themselves to be of strong character and who seemed to identify with what the Feathergale Society believed in.  After consideration, Idra asked if he was permitted to bring his own mount if he came back.  Savra was surprised but was able to hide her confusion as Idra explained that he did not have one yet, but that he might when he got to return.

Ambush

On the road to Beliard, the party encountered two hunters who were walking down the road.  They walked with staves and had short bows slung on their backs.  They stopped and moved to the side of the road as the party neared and spoke with the party for a brief time before moving on down the road in the direction that the party came from.  As the party continued, three familiar stone armored earth cult warriors stepped out from behind rocks along the road.  They spanned the road, halting progress and advanced on the party.

Sensing the ambush, Idra leapt off of Griffin's Bane and charged the two hunters which had drawn their short bows and were preparing to fire on the party from behind.  Merrick also jumped from the wagon and charged the second bowman as the rest of the party tried to deal with the heavily armored guardians before them.  As Idra fought sword and elbow against the bandit and hearing the battle behind him, Idra yelled out a command, "Griffin's Bane, Attack!"  The horse, only knowing one trick, proceeded to sit down on his haunches and chew the remnants of the sage grass he was eating.  Griffin's Bane seemed unfazed at the chaos and mayhem that went on around him and remained sitting until the encounter was over.

During the course of the battle, the draft horses panicked and bolted, tearing off down the road while Milpot attempted to regain control over the runaway wagon.  Grick, the dwarven palidin, leapt off of the wagon to land on the ground and charge the evil foes… at least that is how he imagined it in his head.  What the rest of the party saw was Grick losing his balance and teetering backwards like a ballerina until gravity kicked in and brought him crashing onto the ground, knocking the air from his lungs.  Lurching to his knees, the dwarven paladin of Moradin took a moment to catch his breath before bringing his hammer to bear.

Mojo was beaten down by one of the earth cult guardians who was subsequently destroyed when Grick's warhammer struck him with a holy aura.  The stone earth armor exploded from the body of the human it covered; the body flopped and rolled limply before coming to rest.  Milpot had managed to regain control of the wagon after a couple of rounds where he was fighting the panic of the horses.  Spinning the wagon into a sliding stop, he leapt off of the wagon and ran back to the fray.  Idra and Merrick had managed to down another of the earth cult guardians between the Country Club attack from Idra's twin elbows or the spiritual attacks of Merrick that were fueled by Trithereon.  It would be difficult for anyone to claim any one attack was more effective in this fight thought it was Merrick who managed the felling blow.

The lone guardian fought on, refusing to go down or to yield to the party.  He mentioned that Marlos Urnrayle had commanded that the heads of this party was brought to him and their presence on the road seemed to indicate that the earth cult had some means of tracking the party or knowing what their motives were.  Unfortunately for the lone guardian, the party proved to be too much and he wilted under the numerous blows from the surrounding party members.

 

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Downtime In Red Larch
  1. Paladin's Backstory
  2. March to Red Larch

 

Paladin's Backstory

Amongst the prisoners was a Dwarf Paladin by the name of…. Grick?  The dwarf paladin was accompanying a cleric of Moridan who had received visions of dwarven ruins in the Sumber Hills and came in search of them.  The two had paid passage down the Dessarin River from an elderly boatman called Arik.  Arik described the Sumber Hills and much of the Dessarin Valley as having become dangerous over the last few years.  Stories and rumors of banditry had increased and Arik claimed surprise than an old haunt, a keep known as Rivergard Keep was populated when they passed by on the river.  

Several armed men yelled out that Lord Jolliver Grimjaw was taking tolls on this river to pay for the repairs and upkeep on the keep that he had made a claim on.  Arik claimed to never having heard of any Grimjaw, so he flashed them the sign of the fig and used his boat hooks to push the chain that spanned the river and in which the armed men used to halt their down river traverse.  Continuing down the river, the men from the keep warned of river bandits, claiming that Arik would pay for not having paid his toll.

An hour or so later, Arik and the two dwarves saw men in ragged clothing man small skiffs who paddled out to meet them.  Something within the water had tipped Arik's riverboat over and the raiders snatched the drowning dwarves and the boatman from the river's depths and rapids.  Having secured them, the 3 were eventually brought back to Rivergard Keep and made to listen to a priest drone on about the "truth of the deep waters".  The two clerics got into a little more than a theological debate as the priest was killed and Garrick…? was bludgeoned until he lost consciousness.

The two prisoners were then handed over to a Larrakh, a crazy priest who castigated his underlings with threats of the elemental earth and who eventually had gotten everyone lost within the Sumber Hills.  Upset that he was behind schedule, Larrakh led the group of 2 plus a number of other prisoners from an earlier ambush and led them south, outside the Sumber Hills, until he could find some familiar landscapes to continue on with.  As he led his party back towards the Sumber Hills, men flying on giant birds attacked form the sky.  Some of the prisoners tried to attack and free themselves, but eventually one of the bird raiders was brought down while another of the bird raiders absconded with a Waterdavian Noble who had been one of the prisoners.  Larrakh performed a brief ceremony for the dead, piled rocks on top of their bodies and then led the group into the hills until they reached the Sacred Stone Monastery.  

March to Red Larch

The party found themselves with 17 recently freed prisoners who had been starved for several days and in no shape to travel the party chose to rest at the monastery until the freed prisoners were healthy enough to travel and the party members had managed to heal themselves. up.  

The travel to Red Larch was slow and worrisome.  Figures along the horizon, out of bow shot, were seen to be dogging the party and the line of freed prisoners.  Axel mentioned that he thought it might be gnolls, and was worried only if Red Larch was further away.  He felt that the group they traveled with was simply too large for the gnolls to take on with their current numbers and worried that if Red Larch wasn't their destination that they would probably be running into a trap.  The gnolls, however, seemed to lose interest or melt into the trees as Red Larch came within view and the freed prisoners found themselves being welcomed into the tents and emergency shelters that had been constructed within the Red Larch's market square.

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The Price of Freedom
  1. Cessation of Violence
  2. The Undead is Further Harassed
  3. Reinforcements
  4. Death of a Companion

Cessation of Violence

"Right, so, enough of this bullshit or I cut the half-blood's head off!"  Jorth, the Orog, had knelt down and had placed a serrated knife under Milpot's neck while he was unconscious .  The jail keeper's subordinates took a half step back and took up defensive poses while Drool stood off to one side with his heavy club drooling.

Jorth had explained that as far as he was concerned, the party of heroes had won.  The stone monks had fled down below into the depths of the earth where their Earth Temple was located.  He mentioned that their leader, Hellenrae the abbess and blind monk, had retreated down below about an hour before with 2 minotaurs carrying a heavy trunk.  He also mentioned that 4 Duergar had also came down the stairs and fled through the tunnel network with large sacks on their back filled with food and probable loot.  Jorth was tasked with killing the prisoners and fleeing down below, but he was finished with taking orders and decided to go off on his own, as well.  Seeing as the heroes had returned, he figured that the prisoners probably were worth some coin.  Both Hellenrae and the duergar left with gear and loot so he was going to let the party members continue being the heroes for the right price.

During the tense negotiations, Mojo managed to cast a charm spell and bring Jorth under his influence.  While charm doesn't really change one's nature, he was much more inclined to work with the party and so gave the party Milpot's unconscious body before the final death save could be failed!  With the token of good faith, the party retreated back up to the upper level to devise a plan and look for whatever was of value that had been left behind.  He gave the party 2 hours to return or he would then begin killing the prisoners.

The Undead is Further Harassed

While the party began investigating the abandoned rooms of the monastery, Kleckhain returned to the Lich's quarters and began asking the undead revenant questions.  With a bit of uncanny luck, the revenant reiterated that the party's struggle with the monastery was not his and that he wanted no part in it.  When pushed with the suggestion that the party could help ensure that the monks did not return, the undead figure offered them respite should they need it in his adjoining room.  He admitted that the name Samular Caradoon that the party members discovered on the sarcophagus below was the undead's brother and that the undead was made by an act of his brother's own doing some 600 years ago.  

Feeling like this was as much as he was going to get out of the revenant, Kleckhain left to go find the rest of the party.

Reinforcements

As the party continued their search for things to buy the Orog off, they discussed what options they had open to them.  They had already been in the thick of it several times that day and so most of them were tired and the spell caster's available spells were low.  Ultimately the party weighed in on the Feathergale Knights that were patrolling above to assist them or to at least offer their suggestions as to what was to be done.  

Petrov had remained behind, apparently having delegated the escorting of Qarbo to the Feathergale Spire to a subordinate, and welcomed the chance to go below and bring his vengeance onto those responsible for the killing of his brother.  With Petrov, 2 Feathergale Knights would escort him and the party felt better with their numbers boosted.

Several options were discussed, many plans suggested and then tossed aside as there seemed to be a differing of opinion as to how to deal with Jorth and his guards.  Merrick was fine with paying Jorth and his orogs off while Mojo refused to give away any of the loot that they had managed to find during their search.

The party had managed to find Qarbo's quarters, a room that they had stumbled upon earlier and then left when one of Qarbo's bodyguards rose in the night.  The room had been ransacked and a large chest smashed open.  A few coins littered the room, but the bulk of the party's materials remained behind.  Merrick's shield and holy symbol was found as was Milpot's lute and Mojo's spellbook.  The money that they had acquired before having journeyed to the Monastery seemed to have been looted by the Duergar.  Off in one corner of the room a small chest was missed since it was lying underneath a broken bunk.  Qarbo’s Chest

Knowing that once the charm spell wore off that Jorth would be wise to what had happened, Mojo and the party didn't think that Jorth would be open to much negotiation.  The party decided to try and assault the room from multiple sides in coordination with one another.  Much of this plan was based on being able to contain Jorth and his guards in the room and limit their means of escape.  Petrov and the Feathergale Knights were instructed to stay out of eyesight in the mausoleum until he heard fighting and then rush in.

Unfortunately, whatever plan had been finalized fell apart once the party members exited the mausoleum and saw one of the orogs peeking through the door watching the passage way.  Upon seeing the party, the orog moved back into the room, leaving the door slightly ajar.  The party moved forward, giving up their design to send a sorte to the other side of the guard room, and opened the door.

Jorth and both orogs were spaced around the room standing behind 2 prisoners each that had their hands tied behind their back and were standing on their knees.   Jorth immediately took hold of the situation and made sure that he was taken seriously by reaching down to one of his prisoners and cutting their throat as the party looked in.   Hollering for the money to be paid, Kleckhain moved forward with his fake bag of treasure.  Tired of having to play nice with the party's interests and wanting to take out his frustrations of being called 'First Down' (a nickname the Duergar had apparently given him) thew the bag of random junk at Jorth, striking him in the chest as he charged Drool, the ogre.

Initiatives were made and a brutal battle commenced.  One of the orogs ran out of the room and was surprised to meet the rest of the party and later reinforcements on his own.  Drool and Kleckhain exchanged blows as Jorth and Merrick battled each other.  Outside the room, the orog managed to take Idra down with his heavy longsword, Kleckhain managed to bring down the Drool but was subsequently cut down by Jorth after Merrick had fallen.  As the party pressed into the room, chaos continued to ensue and the party watched in horror as Petrov used his arcane arts with an area effect spell that killed some of the prone and defenseless prisoners (as well as damaging Jorth).  Jorth and his lone orog guard decided to flee the room out the north passage.  The party attempted to cut Jorth off, but the maze of tunnels confused them as they set up in juctions and waited for the orogs to present themselves, which never happened.

Idra had been revived and even his speed was not sufficient to catch up with the jailers as they retreated.  Merrick was revived before he expired, but Kleckhain passed through the veil and his body laid still amidst the gore of the bloody exchange.  Petrov offered to take Bruldenthor with them back to Waterdeep which the party agreed to as they tried to figure out what to do with the rest of the prisoners and what to do with the body of their fallen companion.  

Jorth’s Room

 

 

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Into the Depths of the Sacred Stone Monastery
  1. Retreating Duergar
  2. Abandoned Alter Room
  3. Crypts and Zombies
  4. Double Secret Surprise Attack

Retreating Duergar

After taking a short rest, the party returned to the Stone Monastery through the side door that led into the kitchen.  Various pantries had been left opened and rifled through and several fruits and vegetables were strewn across the floor showing signs that someone had been through here after the party retreated into the canyon.  From the kitchen a faint light could be seen emanating from the Mess Hall as well as some movement which stopped about the same time the party stopped and began listening to what was going on in the room to the south (Mess Hall).

A guttural voice yelled out from the Mess Hall, "Your war with the Stone Monks are not with us.  We're leaving."  Having guessed right, the party exchanged words with the deserting Duergar.  The Duergar that had managed to hold onto their lives had collected the bodies of their brethren and lied them out on top of the tables within the Mess Hall.  Some attempts had been made to clean the bodies and their fallen comrades held onto their hammers with one hand while holding a fist full of gold coins in the other.  Candles had been set up near the heads of the fallen showing at least a minimal attempt to revere the dead.

Refusing the leave through the kitchen where the party was, the Duergar exited the south through the hallways of the monastery where the quarters were and where the party had staged their initial ambush.  They carried with them their weapons and sacks of food stuffs and equipment that they had gathered together and the echoes of their footfalls retreated down the hallway past where Milpot could see them as he watched them from the doorway of the kitchen.

Abandoned Alter Room

When the party entered into the mess hall, they noticed that the doorway that lead to the Alter Room had been left ajar.  Deciding that they should at least inspect and make sure that there were no foes at their back, they retraced their steps to the alter room and found it empty and dark.  They listened for the noises that they initially heard that came up from below the alter room at the bottom of the stairs and where Mojo had been attacked by the half ape/beetle creature but heard nothing.  They crept carefully down the stairs, peering into the darkness and keeping a close eye on the barred off section to the west but saw no movement and heard nothing of the shifting that they had heard before.

The barred section of the room cut off the western 20 feet of the chamber and was only accessible by a sliding cage door which was locked.  A door along the western wall of the chamber was seen to be left slightly ajar as Mojo used mage hand to sift through the piles of debris that were made up of various bits of clothing and pieces of bone from previous meals.  Along the eastern wall was another metal reinforced door which was locked which the party decided that they'd use Kleckhain's talents for opening doors and threw him into it, forcing the door open.

Crypts and Zombies

A tunnel extended to the east and ended in another brass door roughly 40 feet away.  Listening for noise and hearing none, the party picked the lock and then opened the door into ha huge vaulted mausoleum.  Niches carved into the rock along the wall held the skeletal remains of those interred therein.  Shreds of clothing adorned some of the figures and there were a few stone and wooden coffins lying about the room.  Another large, brass door was positioned on the southern wall of the room.  The mausoleum was large enough that even the dark vision of the non-humans in the party could not see the back end of the room so Merrick cast his light spell on a few rocks and hurled them into the room to shed light towards the far end.  After a couple of botched attempts, the room had light both 10 feet away from the party as well as deep within a second vaulted area far beyond the first room.  A large stone sarcophagus could be seen along the eastern wall of the second vaulted section.

Milpot, the "Dungeoneer", warned the party about the dangers of trapped rooms and proceeded to leap heavily onto the stone tiles as he checked for pit traps and floor triggers.  Being the expert that he is, he proved to the party that no such traps existed and so they began to make their way into the room splitting up as Milpot and Merrick moved to inspect the southern door and Mojo moved east to investigate the stone sarcophagus.  As Mojo stepped into the second vaulted room, bodies from within the niches of the walls began to shift and rise as 6 very undead bodies rose to assault the party.

Mojo was assaulted by 2 zombies and had 2 others looming towards him.  Knowing that the party's success relied upon their stealth and being able to surprise the Stone Monks, Mojo resorted to his quieter spells of Thunderwave and Shatter on the zombies retreating away from the attentions of the gnome molesting undead.  

Idra was attacked by a lone zombie and in a fit of desperation and shell shock, whittled the zombie down to pieces with his short sword and vorpal elbow.  Having downed his opponent and having entered into a near manic fury, he charged a second zombie from across the room only to find that it collapsed in front of him from the glare that he gave it.  Idra either did not notice the several arrows that Axel had been firing into this zombie or refused to, Idra claimed victory over this combatant and moved on to carry "Idra's Elbow" to the rest of the undead scum.

Kleckhain, Merrick, and Milpot spent several rounds wailing (and missing) a single zombie that refused to fall.  Kleckhain entered into a rage early into the encounter only to end up chopping the shit out of the door frame, completely missing the zombie round after round.  Merrick wailed heavily onto the lone zombie only to frustrate himself at the undead refusal to fall.  While it was probably the smashed lungs that led to the groaning sound from the zombie, none of the party members wanted to believe that this lone zombie was laughing at them as the party pressed a 3 on 1 advantage to no avail.  Milpot also struck with his glaive, unfortunately with little effect and after 5 or 6 rounds of attention the invincible zombie fell to Idra's Elbow as he leaped over the head of Milpot and struck the laughing zombie in the temple, collapsing it and crying 'Cherry Pick!' to himself.  The last zombie fell to Axel's arrows and Mojo's Flame Bolts giving the party a few moments of respite before they heard the scraping of metal on stone from the hallway connected to the southern exit.

The creature that had haunted Mojo's dreams charged into the room.  As large and lumbering as an ape, covered with the chitinous carapace of a beetle, and armed with bronze blades that had been sutured into its hands, the creature thrashed about wildly and smashed into Kleckhain with one of its claws and a tore out a chunk of his neck and shoulder with its mandibles.  Kleckhain was lucky to have entered into his third rage of the day because this had made him partially resistant to the creatures attentions.  Round after round its attentions fell back onto Kleckhain as the rest of the party continued to miss and occasionally hit the creature.  Milpot patted Kleckhain on the back, giving him an encouraging word while stepping back out of melee reach of the creature, unfortunately this inspiring word did not do anything to help Kleckhain's aim or accuracy as he continued to miss each round while being randomly chosen to be caressed by the enraged monstrosity before hand.  (Every round Kleckhain was rolled to receive the beastie's attention and every attack G made for Kleckhain missed horribly – maybe if Milpot is treated well, he will rewrite the account of this past week's encounter…)

Merrick called upon Trithereon to assist in this fight by granting Merrick extra attacks with his war hammer and Mojo boosted his Witch Bolt spell which struck the creature with staggering impact round after round.  Arrows flew from Axel's bow and even Idra sliced and elbowed the creature, encouraging Kleckhain to strike it with his axe, but the might of the creature continued to hammer and tear chunks from his body, making him reel back and his attacks ineffectual.  The creature finally was brought down to a number of heavy blows by Merrick and a final spark from Mojo.  After the creature fell to the ground in front of Kleckhain, the party looked at one another and then as one, continued their assault on the fallen creature, making sure it was dead.  Mojo continued striking it with his Witch Bolt until the spell faded and then used magic had to float the broken halfling skull he had pilfered from the creatures lair to mouth, "Yeah, see.  That's the second time I beat you, no matter what anyone here says!" in a rather terrible, high pitched, 1950's radio voice.

Double Secret Surprise Attack

Moving out of the mausoleum, the party discovered the crazy network of tunnels that the prisoners had drawn in the dirt days ago.  A doorway across the hall was found to be the one that interred into the room where Jorth, the ogron, and the prison guards lived in and had escorted the party members through when they were interrogated by Qarbo.  Milpot could hear the slurpy breathing from the other side of the door as Mojo saw Drool, the ogre guard, standing off to the right side of the doorway that led to the stairs that exited up onto the second floor.  The rest of the room was empty, the sleeping pallets and mounds of crap were still in their original places and the well which had been full of water was still present.  Drool was armed with a huge club but had virtually all of his attention on the closed door.

Milpot devised a cunning plan, he told the party that he'd run around to the other side of the room and surprise the ogre from the rear.  Once he struck, the other party members would come in from this side of the room and they'd have the ogre dead to rights.  As Milpot stealthed through the empty passages, he was already imagining the tale that he'd weave and how he, the bard, was the hero of the day.  Not some stuffy cleric in shining armor, nor some micro mage with a weird skull fetish, or a loopy scatter-brained elf, not even a disgruntled barbarian of a dwarf whose talent seemed to be attacking doors and door jams, the hero would be the bard.  Smiling to himself and casting a minor enchantment to increase the devastating nature of his attack, Milpot quietly opened the door, walked the short steps behind the drooling ogre and smashed him with his glaive.  Surprised, the ogre cried out in pain, Milpot struck again, laughing to himself as the verses were writing themselves and he could envision the tavern wenches already lining up and swooning under his attentions…

Furs flew up into the air, bodies moved, as Jorth and his two ogron underlings sprang from underneath their sleeping mounds and charged the lone figure before Mojo could even open the door.  Jorth struck Milpot with his great axe, dealing a devastating wound, and causing the iambic pentameter narration in Milpot's head to falter only to be dashed as Drool swung his great club around and smashed Milpot to the ground, turning the revelry into a dirge.  The party members swarmed in and combat began, only to be paused after the first full round to wait until next week.  

 

 

 

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Skullduggery and Kitchen Wars
  1. Snooping through the alter room
  2. Mess Hall, Kitchen, and midnight snacks
  3. Duergar Patrol and Silence Spells
  4. Battle of the Stone Kitchen

After fighting the gargoyles and stumbling into the undead's laboratory, the party decided to enter into the Alter room through its eastern door.  While attempting to be very careful and quiet, Milpot twisted his ankle and fell back into Merrick.  Merrick stumbled and then the stitching on his pack gave way opening up and dropping a number of pots and pans onto the stone floor.  As the cacophony quieted down, Milpot kicked his leg out to steady himself and kicked the last pot across the floor.  Darkness disguised the flush faces as the rest of the party glared at the two clumsy party members as they picked up the bent pots.  Milpot managed to find a number of scrolls in Qarbo's desk which he stashed into his bags to read when time allowed.

Creeping through the monastery the party found and cleared the Monastery's Mess Hall and the Kitchen.  Finding an exit from the kitchen to the outside the party felt more secure that they had an escape route should they need one.  After Milpot filled his pockets with pepperoni and cheese, they made their way into the living quarters of the Monastery.  

The party investigated a few rooms that seemed to be designated as sleeping quarters.  A patrol sent them hiding into one of the rooms that had a number of sleeping pallets strewn around the room.  Staying quiet, the a pair of rough looking Duergar walked towards them down the hallway and turned to go into the kitchen making comments about getting food.  Merrick jumped out of the room behind them and cast a silence spell which blanketed the area to keep any combat noise from waking the rest of the Monastery up.

After Kleckhain, Idra, and Milpot pressed forward, one of the Duergar turned invisible and tried to escape through the door into the Mess Hall.  He was injured but managed to retreat out of the reach of the party as they brought down the 2nd Duergar.  Milpot and later Kleckhain ran after the invisible Duergar and eventually caught up to him outside as he raised an alarm, yelling about intruders.  The noise echoed off of the canyon walls which intensified the volume.  Once the Duergar was brought down, the party quickly caught up with one another as the outside party was trying to enter into the kitchen and the inside party was trying to exit the kitchen.  Feathergale Knights flew overhead, looking to see what the activity was all about.

Deciding to make a stand outside with the aid of the Feathergale Knights, Milpot rushed back into the kitchen to try and slow the oncoming denizens of the Monastery.  Unfortunately, Milpot had misjudged the timing and who exactly was pursuing them and found himself facing two of the Black Earth Guards in their living suits of rock armor and wielding their immense studded clubs.  The combat started inside the kitchen and eventually drew the rest of the party from the outside inside.

Behind the Black Earth Guards, Qarbo was able to cast spells into the kitchen unseen from most of the party.  A shatter spell took out Idra and damaged Milpot.  Axel took aim from the back of the kitchen and began shooting the Black Earth Guards with arrows, finding cracks and seems within the armor, drawing blood.  Mojo reentered the kitchen and began casting spells, zapping the stone shrouded warriors and Kleckhain moved in to enter hand to hand combat.  

Qarbo began taunting the party at this time, saying he was very pleased that they had returned and that Ogremoch would caress them with his power as he cast an Earth Tremor spell, knocking Milpot prone onto the ground and causing damage to Idra's limp form.  Merrick moved in and managed to cast a healing spell on Idra, reviving him before the broken room and the area effect spells could put him to sleep permanently.

As Qarbo turned to run from the party, Milpot managed to turn the corner and cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter on him, causing Qarbo to fall to the ground with insane laughter.  The party then moved on Qarbo, tying him up and gagging him and brought him outside the Petrov, who had landed to see what was going on.

The party took a short rest on the bluffs overlooking the Monastery.  Merrick read through the scrolls that was found on Qarbo's body and that Milpot had picked up from the writing desk inside the Alter Room.  After reading through endless prose and banal 'insights,' Merrick managed to draw this information from the texts:

  • The scrolls were written by a Marlos Urnrayle who claims to be the Prophet of Earth
  • Marlos claims to have received visions and dreams that led him to a place called the "Fane of the Eye."
  • Within the "Fane of the Eye," Marlos found a holy implement of Earth Power named "Ironfang."
  • Marlos established the Temple of Black Earth in the ruins of an abandoned dwarven stronghold which lies underneath the Sacred Stone Monastery.
  • Marlos nurtures something called the Black Geode and when all is ready, "the Evergrowing Mountain shall come and remake these lands in his own image."

 

Petrov offered to take Qarbo back to the Spire for interrogation but couldn't guarantee that Qarbo wouldn't live through his attentions.  While this didn't seem to surprise the party, nothing was done to secure Qarbo's health when the party turned to go back into the Monastery.

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Gargoyles, Mushroom Stamps and Hakuna Matata

After a long debate over whether or not party should accept the aid from the Thurl and the Feathergale Society, the party decided to go in at night and under stealth the party took Thurl up on his offer and returned to the Monastery.

The infiltrators flew around the Monastery to assess whether or not there were any sentries.  Finding none and noting that there was some torch light within the monastery, they decided to be dropped off in the garden on the northeastern side of the monastery.  The garden was walled off by a stone wall, but in using ropes and being dangled from the Feathergale Knights' mounts, they proceeded to repel into the garden.

As the party was being lowered, 2 of the many stone statues came to life and surprised the party while they dangled from their ropes.  Idra and Mojo were both attacked and suffered wounds, before being dropped off into the garden.  Once the stone statues had attacked they seemed to be focused on their sole prey and ignored the rest of the party.  Other party members were dropped off onto the ground and began moving towards the combat to help out Mojo.  Idra, being the furthest away, was left to his own devices.

The party fought hard but most of their attacks seemed to do little against the gargoyles' stone bodies.  The Feathergale Knights began casting Frost rays and throwing javelins down at the stone statues as the Idra and Mojo suffered from the gargoyles attentions.  Idra finally succumbed to the gargoyle that he was fighting just as Mojo finished his gargoyle of with a firebolt spell.  Once the gargoyle was brought down it collapsed in a mass of gravel and broken chunks of rock.  Turning to face the party, Idra's gargoyle dropped down and executed a professional WWW move, mushroom stamping Idra's forehead before flying towards the party rest of the party.

Idra's gargoyle ended up dropping Mojo before being smashed to bits by Merrick who had finally had a chance to bring his wrath into play.  Other actions of note was some ineffectual archery made by Axel and a failed inspiration roll by Milpot who had attempted to bring on a haka but instead thought of Hakuna Matata which seemed to sooth and calm the half-orc when he was trying to inspire himself to war.  Unfortunately, the hakuna matata became an ear worm and continued to echo in Milpot's head as combat finally came to an end.

The party used some of the other statues in the garden to block one of the doorways leading into the monastery to slow down any monks responding to the noise from the combat in the garden then proceeded to enter into the garden's most eastern doorway.  This led them onto a landing between two flights of stairs.  To the right the stairs led up into a large room, the left stair way continued down to a copper plated door. 

Kleckhain, having warn his cordoroys, forgot that his choice in attire was a detriment to his stealthing ability and so was surprised that when he brought his head up out of the stairwell.  He was met by two glowing orbs staring back at him from a desicated head that peered over the top of a work table.  Surprised and perplexed he stared at the undead figure as the creatures voice resonated throughout the room and stair well, "Leave my rooms, I have no part in your struggles."

Kleckhain hesitated and tried to get some information from the Chatty Cathy of an undead only to pick his nose and hack a loogie on the floor from a poor charisma roll.  Kleckhain seemed to feel that there was still some information to glean from this figure and so pulled up Milpot to aid him.  Unfortunately Milpot still had hakuna matata playing in his head and he also picked a nasty booger from his nose, snorting and hauking another fine loogie (making yet another poor charisma check) doing nothing to impress the undead figure who at that time was rising from his seat.  

The party left when the undead figure threatened to fill the room with poison gas.  They first stopped at the lower, copper plated door which had swollen and held firm  in the door jam and after a failed attempt by Kleckhain to push it open Milpot decided not to force it for fear of the noise it would make if a serious attempt was made.

We left the night with the party exiting back into the garden, looking at the stack of statues in front of the door that they were deliberating on entering…

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Respite and a Griffin Hunt

The party sat with Savra, a Feathergale knight, and went over what had happened in the Sacred Stone Monastery.  She admitted that she ordered scouts to patrol the area around the stronghold to keep an eye out for the party members and was given a message when one of the Feathergale knights spotted the group being led through the Dessarin Hills to the north.  There was some confusion as to why the party was being taken north but Savra seemed confident that any alliance that the priest, Qarbo, was trying to make with the Hill Giants had failed with the infighting that had taken place.

The Feathergale knights lost one of their own, a Sir Andre Rideford, and had another knight wounded, Henry Grosmont, when his vulture was struck from a thrown boulder.  Overall the rescue had cost the Feathergale Society two of their giant vultures, the wounded one having to be put down after the thrown boulder had broken Henry's mount's wing.

The party mentioned that the monks had several prisoners who were forced to tunnel seemingly random tunnels under the monastery.  They also mentioned that one of the Delegates from Mirabar, Bruldenthor, had been taken prisoner though very little about how or why was known.  This seemed to interest Thurl who claimed that many nobles in Waterdeep have interests in line with Mirabar's and any disruption in trade or business could effect not only the interests of the nobles, but lasting effects on trade in general.

While Thurl and the Feathergale Society dealt with the death of one of their knights, an option was offered to the players to reequip them from the Society's own stores, and perhaps repay the Society for the loss of two of their mounts.  A pair of griffins had been known to roost to the north within the canyon that is shared by the spire.  At this point in time, the griffins had likely laid eggs and griffin hatchlings, when properly raised and trained, proved to be excellent mounts.  Should the party find one or more eggs, then that would be a generous effort on the part of the party members to honor Andre's loss and that of the society's.  Having learned that griffins favored horse meat, the party turned to Idra, the only mounted member of the group, to bring along the bait in hopes of drawing the griffins to them.

Having caught a case of the Wednesdays, Kleckhain and Mojo opted to stay behind and rest up.  Kleckhain was feeling rough from the kicking he had received from the Hill Giant Goremuck and Mojo was a nervous wreck without his spellbook.  The rest of the party, with Axel in tow, set off to hunt down the griffins.

On their way, the party ran into a small pack of gnolls led by a female gnoll pack lord.  The party adapted fairly well to their newly acquired equipment and fought off the gnolls, allowing only one to escape sans tail.  Axel was beaten down during the fight, but that was nothing new for the party to contend with.  

The griffins spotted the party from afar and flew towards poor Peanut who now had a burlap sack over its head.  Combat was severe, dropping Axel again, and scarring Peanut with the massive claws from the griffin.  The party managed to take the griffin down and by use of the gnoll tail that Idra had claimed as a prize from the previous encounter, Peanut was coaxed to stay put and not flee from the rabidly hungry griffins.  

Post combat, Merrick ended up climbing up the cliff face with the use of a climbing kit and retrieved two griffin eggs from the griffin's nest.  

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Prison Rules
Sometimes you own the situation, other times the situation owns you...

The party wakes up having been stripped of their clothing and equipment wearing what is essentially burlap bags and shackles on their ankles designed to limit mobility.  They have been seperated in 3 different cells so that they can not see one another but within easy distance to hear one another if spoken clearly.  Other men and women (mostly human, a few halflings, and a single dwarf) were also inside the cells.  Fresh bruises and lacerations could be seen with blood having dried on their skin and peasant clothing.

The prisoners mentioned having heard what they thought was an earthquake above and the clamoring of battle.  They had hoped that a rescue was being conducted until they saw the limp bodies dumped into the cells.  After a few questions the party found out that the longest anyone had been here was six weeks.  There had been others before, but their captors didn't seem to be too interested in keeping their captives alive.  They had been spending their time mining tunnels, for what purpose or for what reason none of them new.  Most of this information came from two humans, a young boy who claimed to be a merchant's son, Den, and a drover named Jaden.

The lone dwarf in the cells piped up, saying that there was nothing down in this rock to mine.  There was not gems or valuable metals, only stone.  He introduced himself as Bruldenthor and asked if the party had been sent by Mirabar to rescue "us."  He claimed to be part of a delegation from Mirabar that had been ambushed by men wearing stone armor and riders on humongus beetles that burrowed through the ground.  His account was interrupted several times by various party members trying to come up with a means of escape.

After the party had managed to rest for a short time, a mean looking ogron came down the hallway escorted by a pair of smaller ogrons and an ogre.  As the ogre, Drool, began feeding the prisoners and giving them water, Jurth, the chief ogron, refused the party members food, claiming that if they didn't work, they didn't eat.  Jurth seemed especially amused when Millpot pointed out that they could not work if they were not fed and then told them that Qarbo was not happy with them and wanted to ask them questions.  Jurth pointed to Idra and the two smaller ogrons led him upstairs into a grand alter room.

Qarbo was a young human male with an evil leer and a smirk plastered on his face as Idra and later the other party members answered a series of questions which were designed to find out who the party was and why they had assaulted the monastery.  When interrupted or displeased with an answer (especially if the party member had the audacity to show frustration at Qarbo's questioning) he had them beaten by two massive guards who war a living type of stone armor and wielding large stone clubs.  Out of the party, only Milpot managed to return to his cell walking, the others having tried to resist or fight against Qarbo and his minions.

Despite the honeyed words of Milpot or the insistence of the other party members, Qarbo either did not care that the monks had 'attacked first' or that they had let them in.  He admitted to the party that he suspected that they had tortured La Roche to gain knowledge of the monastery because even though La Roche was an imbecile he would not have risked the ire of the Eternal Earth by freely giving up such information.  He did not seem interested in allowing the party members to join, or recruit for them, and claimed that their failure to make it past where they were subdued was enough for Qarbo to claim that they would die as sacrifices to Ogremoch.  Merrick seemed to get the worst of his interview, refusing to state that Ogremoch's power was greater than Tritherion.

After once again waking up with little health, the party was brought out and given large casks of whiskey to carry as Qarbo and an escort led them out and away from the Monastery north into the rough terrain of the Dessarin Hills.  

Qarbo led the party with 4 monks and a pair of burrowing land sharks until they entered into the lair of a Chief Meta Goremuck, a hill giant of immense girth and stupidity.  Qarbo had been negotiating the trade of the party members for slaves that the hill giant chieftain possessed.  The party read how tense the situation was, neither the stone monks or the hill giant (who had called for reinforcements) seemed to trust one another.  While Goremuck was having difficulty in understanding how 5 slaves was better than 3, Milpot struck a stone monk by surprise with the barrel of whiskey he had managed to slip off of his shoulders.  The barrel smashed and dropped the monk, spilling whiskey over the ground and himself.  

Two Feathergale knights on giant vultures flew down from the skies, one attacking Qarbo, the second grabbing Milpot and retreating to the West.  This surprise and chaos that the vultures brought set off Goremuck who moved in to attack with his smaller brethren.  Kleckhain managed to break his bonds and start his escape but was intercepted and dropped by a stone monk who then moved to take out the other weakened members of the party. 

Savra, the Feathergale knight who had first greeted the party at the spire, landed her hippogriff on the ground as two other Feathergale knights picked up party members and flew off.  The last two to escape were Idra and Merrick, Merrick called upon Tritherion to smite the unsuspecting monk with a Guiding Bolt and then Idra finished the stunned monk off with a series of uncanny and confusing elbow attacks breaking and dislocating both of the monk's knees.

The party was brought to the Feathergale Spire where they were fed, mended, and given beds to rest upon.  

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Assault on a Monastery
The problems of planning too little...

After entering in through the monastery's front door and taking out the two guards the party decided to press on into the monastery.  Opening the door to the right, a corridor continued and then turned left.  2 doors were on the right so the party went ahead and opened the first one.  This opened into a somewhat oblong Scriptorium where 4 monks were sitting at desks writing or copying papers. As the door opened, one of the monks stood up and saw the party in the door. Initiative was called for.

 

The four monks split up into pairs, the closest two converged onto Merrick as he charged into the room.  The second pair of monks ran to the back of the room and entered into the main hall from the second door.  From there they began running up the hallway towards the rest of the party who had yet to fully exit from the main entrance room.  Combat ensued, Merrick took quite a bit of damage from the stone monks but the party finally managed to take the monks out but not before one of them cried, "Intruders!"

 

This brought 5 more monks from deeper inside the complex to enter into the fray just as the party were mopping up the Scriptorium monks.  Idra and Kleckhain moved forward to attack the monks as they came, down the hallway.  4 of the monks looked very similar to the ones that you met in the entrance and in the Scriptorium, the fifth monk wore a gargoyle mask that had no eyes.  During this combat Mojo had used a thunder wave spell to concuss some of the monks and the noise shook the monastery's foundations (alerting the rest of the monastery that bad things were happening).

 

A second and third thunder wave spell continued to emphasize that the monastery was under attack so the entire populace began moving towards the party (unknown to them at the time).  After Kleckhain downed the monk he was dueling, leaving an open path to the blind monk, the blind monk attacked.

 

She was unnervingly fast, and her skin seemed hard as stone.  The two traded blows (and words) for a few rounds, some of Kleckhain's attacks were parried and her speed seemed to allow her to counter attack after these.  Kleckhain fell as the blind monk's attacks struck him in several pressure points, eventually knocking the enraging dwarf out.  Idra, had been holding onto his last Ki power and once his long duel with a stone monk was concluded used it to attack the blind monk once the dwarf had fallen.  Unfortunately, Idra had taken enough wounds that when one of his attacks was parried, the blind monk managed to counter and catch Idra off guard, downing him as well.

 

The rest of the group were a short pace away (20-25 ft. away) and were using the doorway into the Scriptorium as a defensive point.  Poor Mojo continued to be dropped and raised which made it difficult for him to be truly effective as the monks continued to push into the room and eventually be whittled down.  As combat continued, more monks entered in from the direction that the party had come from, as well as a pair of Dueregar that shifted into Large size and seemed raring for a fight.

 

The blind monk retreated from combat after the Milpot used his wand of magic missiles and Merrick cast Guiding Bolt doing a combined 39 points of damage in a round.  The blind monk retreated after this through a side door and was soon replaced by 2 more stone monks that bound Kleckhain and Idra while stabilizing them.

 

Eventually the party inside the Scriptorium became entrapped and in one round both Axel (the NPC) and Mojo fell to the Dueregar's heavy mauls.  Milpot attempted to go invisible, but even at a disadvantage a stone monk managed to strike his form, taking him to zero.  Merrick was the last one standing as 4 monks and the 2 giant Dueregar converged on him.  Merrick went down, managing to take a monk with him while calling on his god, Tritherion to bring vengeance upon these foes.

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The party did much better and lasted a lot longer than I had thought they would.  Unknown to you guys was the number of denizen within the monastery or how they would react to such a breaching.  You all killed 11 stone monks and made the blind monk, who carried herself as some sort of leader, retreat.  I know morale was low, but the party really did grind through the numbers.  When you all come to, everyone finds themselves spread out in 3 different barred cells that have been hewn out of the stone underground.  Your gear has been stripped, armor taken, and you are standing around in your skivvies.  There are other prisoners in the cells around you when you wake.

That is where we will start next week.

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Party Cohesiveness and Loyalty

Last night wasn't as intensive as the fight in the Tomb of the Moving Stones but there were quite a lot of important social work that happened.  The recent cult activities have put a lot of pressure on the town of Red Larch so Harburk and company will struggle to bring the guilty to justice and find out what all is involved.  Barragustas is imprisoned and though the party wasn't as keen on Harburk's initiative with regards to him not running out and arresting various members of Red Larch, he did seem like he took his role seriously and would see the investigation through.  Unfortunately, this is how things tend to go in small, close-knit communities.

 

John brought this up last night and I'd recommend you all give it some thought to how you want to mesh the character's together within the party.  We started this as a series of one-shots so that we could touch on 5e and see what is what so the character development and inter party cohesiveness wasn't as important then.  You all have faced some relatively challenging and dangerous foes and with the aid of each other has managed to pull through (if somewhat distressed at falling rocks and/or seemingly dead bodies).  Magic item disbursement would be something else that you may want to consider.

 

Magical items in 5e is not as prevalent as it had been in 3.5.  It would be very rare to find Ye Olde Magic Shoppe in the world of 5e because the prices for said items would be ridiculously high.  Only the very rich could afford to purchase and item, and it would be far cheaper to hire assassins to hunt down and eliminate an owner of a magical item than it would be to go and purchase it outright.  You may come across a seller of such an item(s) but this would be a rare encounter and one that would usually bring about some degree of suspicion as to the integrity of the seller.  

 

As I said last night, after having defeated Larrakh, there is much left open for the party to decide on what to do and where to go.  Greenboot was a fine choice to investigate though you are starting to see why his exclamations have been doubted in town.  Your hiring of (young) Axel "Rose" Penley the ranger was an interesting one which has brought up hirelings and henchmen.  The going rate for skilled Hirelings is 2 gp./day and so I'd thought I'd touch on an optional mechanic that has been introduced: Loyalty.

 

So, Loyalty is a tracking chart that the GM uses to keep track of how loyal and honest an NPC is towards the party.  Overtime, with good relations, an NPC may not only view their employment to the PCs as important but also believe in the party's goals and desires.  NPCs with high loyalty may even put their lives in danger to save party members.  NPCs with low loyalty may desert or follow their own goals in ways that might be adverse to the party's goals.  People are people and so will have their own motivations and desires – loyalty is just one way to see how their goals and ideals mesh with those of the party.

 

I'm also using the Loyalty chart to help me keep track of those party members who have ties to Organizations (Zentarim, Order of the Gauntlet, etc.).  Your stature within these organizations will also rise and fall based on your ability to accomplish goals that the organization you are tied to are interested in.

 

Anyway, just a few tidbits to fill up your email today.

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