Angharad Campaign (2012)
This Campaign took place from about August 2012 through about May of 2015 over 55 sessions. I had a lot of fun for my first foray back into DMing after 10-ish years.
- 1 Campaign Materials
- 2 Adventuring in Eradain
- 3 Campaign Log
- 3.1 Introduction
- 3.2 The Characters
- 3.2.1 Aed (Human Angharad Cleric of Lugh) (now an NPC)
- 3.2.2 Drust (Human Angharad Bard/Barbarian)
- 3.2.3 Nemsey (Human Angharad Druid of Lugh)
- 3.2.4 Rowan Melandar (Human Angharad Rogue)
- 3.2.5 Neferirkare (Nefer) (Human Harad Wizard) (now an NPC)
- 3.2.6 Brand "Torchbearer" (Human Angharad Ranger) (now an NPC)
- 3.2.7 Maertagh Fionn (Human Angharad Wizard Cleric of Selene)
- 3.3 Campaign Start
- 3.4 Clan Fionn Politics
- 3.5 Owlbear Cave
- 3.6 Goblin Raid
- 3.7 Brand and Nefer
- 3.8 Return to Crosswatch - Suspicions
- 3.9 Depart Crosswatch
- 3.10 Disputed Grazing Lands
- 3.11 Investigation
- 3.12 Return to Ceirin
- 3.13 Owlbear Cave
- 3.14 Dungeoncrawl - Beyond the Ancient Aqueduct
- 3.15 Dungeoncrawl - The 'Deep Cave'
- 3.16 Dungeoncrawl - Troglodyte Warrens
- 3.17 Dungeoncrawl - Troglodyte Necromancers
- 3.18 Ogre Hunt
- 3.19 Troglodytes Retaliate
- 3.20 Dungeoncrawl - Deeper into Troglodyte Lair
- 3.21 Dungeoncrawl - Breaking into the Trog Elites Lair
- 3.22 Dungeoncrawl - A Room Too Far
- 3.23 Dungeoncrawl - On the Run
- 3.24 Dungeoncrawl - Recover and Reinforce
- 3.25 Dungeoncrawl - Back to the Caves
- 3.26 Dungeoncrawl - Necromacer Temple
- 3.27 Dungeoncrawl - Ancient Magic
- 3.28 Mabon Festival
- 3.29 Escort the Tithe
- 3.30 The Information Broker and Travel to Templeton
- 3.31 Sun Temple of Lugh Part 1
- 3.32 Sun Temple of Lugh Part 2
- 3.33 Return to Rhyas
- 3.34 Would be Kidnappers Trail
- 3.35 Uthain
- 3.36 The End
Materials for the 2012 Angharad campaign using Pathfinder rules.
Adventuring in Eradain
Eradain is a homebrew campaign world with elements taken from any different sources - fiction, movies, history, gaming materials, etc. Game play is a low fantasy, open ended sandbox style fearing action with role play threads based on player interest and direction. As a low fantasy setting, adventures in Eradain will attempt to capture some grittiness and moral quandary. Eradain is also a low magic world where some items defy full identification. Adventures will be primarily overland in temperate woodlands and rural towns. Encounters are location based and are not necessarily scaled to character level.
It is the year 82 of the epoch known as The Burning, and the players are in the territory of Clan Fionn for the Festival of Litha and the annual Fianna Competition. The Fianna is a loosely organized militia dedicated to the defense of the Angharad people. Being one of the Fianna is considered an honor and only the toughest and bravest may join their ranks.
The annual competition in Rhan Fionn is one of the largest in the region and many compete either for the coveted Fianna slots or for the prize purses offered. The competition itself is a grueling multi-day obstacle/survival course designed to test the skills and mettle of the participants. The competition grounds have been set up in the center of Rhan Fionn at the roadhouse known as The Four Winds. The characters are all known to one another from around the territory and they have decided to join up as a team for the competition.
The Character descriptions below are the 'most current' versions including information that may or may not have been revealed during game play and after level advancement.
- Priest of The Circle, Brehon and Inquisitor, Aed is seeking the truth behind rumors and omens of witchcraft in the area. Aed seeks to join the Fianna as a tool to continue his quest.
- Aed is from on a farm in Rhan Fionn. At a young age his potential was noticed by an itinerant priest of The Circle and he was taken to the Sun Temple of Lugh as a novice. Working earnestly and thriving under the priests there, especially his elderly mentor Sorcha, Aed is trained as a Brehon (knowledgeable in the laws of the Angharad people). After completing his studies and training Aed was sent back to Rhan Fionn to investigate rumors and omens of witchcraft. He has spent the last several months traveling the territory ministering to the people and acting a judge and mediator, seeking to confirm the rumors or prevent false accusations from causing mayhem. Aed sees joining the Fianna as a tool to help further his quest.
- Drust is from a commoner farmer family in the goblin plagued territory of Cerdwigg to the west. He left the farm to join the militia to fight against the goblin threat and was among survivors of the terrible Battle of Prywn Crossing. Upon returning home, he discovered his family farm had been raided and all that remained was a burnt out shell and a mass grave. He drifted for a time from town to town, picking up enough work to get by and telling stories of valor in taverns for space on the floor and a full cup. Drust arrived at Rhan Fionn in time for the spring planting and has been working as a farmhand for several months. Something from his past haunts him and Drust sees joining the Fianna as a way to gain redemption.
- He bears the magical glaive named Faoiseamh which means "Respite" in the old tongue.
- Raised by a wild druid mother, his blood filled with the elemental power of fire, Nemsey carries a rare Sparkblade scimitar, a legacy from his unknown father. Nemsey is joining the Fianna as a way of seeking his heritage and his destiny.
- Nemsey was born of a wild Druid mother thought to be “touched by Pan” (a god of fey and chaos among other things) and raised in the forests north of Rhan Fionn. Unable to adjust to civilization herself, Nemsey’s mother frequently left him in the care of the kindly people in the Fionn village of Carumyr. When Nemsey came of age and gained the ability to summon elemental fire, his mother returned. She took him to the dark woods and taught him the deeper mysteries, how to wield scimitar and fire and the secret language of the Druids. Last winter solstice she brought him a scimitar engraved with runes and the spark of fire on its blade. She said only “It’s from your father. Keep it safe...You will need it someday…” and refused to say more. When spring arrived she once again disappeared into the forest. Nemsey yeans to know more about his heritage and sees joining the Fianna as a step towards his destiny.
- In addition to the Sparkeblade, Nemsey bears the magical gauntlet known as the Claw of Imbrol.
Rowan Melandar (Human Angharad Rogue)
- A non-gifted black sheep of the magically blessed Clan Melandar, Rowan seeks to make her reputation among the ranks of the honored Fianna.
- Rowan hails from the city of Tilith the southern capital city of Angtiria. A daughter of the powerful Clan Melandar, Rowan had no magical arcane or divine spark and was a disappointment to her family. Left to her own devices she roamed the streets of the city with other youths and became a pickpocket and shoplifter. Looking for a way out of town after getting in trouble with both the authorities and a local gang she joined up with a band of traveling tinkers who needed protection and appreciated the customers her dagger juggling tricks could draw. She traveled with them for nearly a year before the tinkers arrived in Rhan Fionn seeking business at the Rhan Fionn for the Litha Festival and Fianna Competition. Rowan sees joining the Fianna as an opportunity to earn a reputation and show her worth to her family despite her lack of magic.
Neferirkare (Nefer) (Human Harad Wizard) (now an NPC)
- Nefer is the son of a noble house of Haradan who was more interested in his magic than ruling people. At a young age, Nefer shown an aptitude for the arcane and his father humored him by allowing him to study with the royal vizier. But when it appeared that Nefer was too interested in magic and began shirking his duties as first son his house, the father forbade him from continuing his arcane studies. The royal vizier, who had come to enjoy the time tutoring young Nefer (also, loving him like a son), thought it would not do harm to allow Nefer to study magic as long as he committed to royal obligations. Upon discovering the disobedience of his direct and divine decree, Nefer's father makes an example of the vizier and executes him. Devastated by the loss of his master and tired of the heavy-handed and oppressive rule of his father and the theocracy, Nefer leaves his family, his noble heritage and his birthright behind and heads north on search of knowledge and freedom. Neferirkare with his raven familiar is currently in Angtiria looking for magic and adventure. Unbeknownst to him, his father has sent guards, retainers and spies across the land in search of him.
Brand "Torchbearer" (Human Angharad Ranger) (now an NPC)
- Brand is a ranger of Arawn. He is followed by the Pict Hadotti that Brand rescued from troglodytes and Hadotti gave Brand his sobriquet/title. It was eventually revealed that "Torchbearer" was a mispronunciation into Angharad and the literal Picti translation is "Lightbringer".
Maertagh Fionn (Human Angharad Wizard Cleric of Selene)
- Maertagh is the son of Clan Fionn Elder Kene who owns most of the lands around the Four Winds Tavern. He is a Deacon of the Circle reporting to the head priestess of the Seers of Selene. His familiar is a raven, Mr. Humphries.
- Maertagh is 22 years old. He is 5' 10" tall, with brown hair (with a hint of red), green eyes (depending on the light, sometimes appearing more blue and/or grey), he weighs 154 pounds (or 11 stones). He is not particularly well muscled, but seems well suited for both the devotional studies of clerics and the arcane studies of wizards. He has a strong loyalty to family/clan and fellow adventurers and generally wants to use his abilities to make life better for everyone (not just clan, family and companions).
- He is the youngest of 4 children - a brother is the eldest, then two sisters, all roughly 2 years apart (so 28, 26 and 24). None of them are adventurers, all are reasonably competent Aristocrats. The brother is married, no children. The older of the sisters (the heir) is not married. The younger of the sisters is married with 2 young boys (ages 6 and 4). The younger of the sisters worked very hard out in the field to help people when there was flooding a few years back, and (unless there is discrimination against women for it) has been a member of the Fianna since she was old enough.
- He wears suitable garb for clerics of Selene - kilts. The adventuring clothing is much more simple, practical and rugged, including stout boots and jerkins with pockets (and cloak as needed). He also has 1 set of ceremonial garments, "The full 9 yards" Great Kilt. (If there is anything like a Clan Fionn tartan or plaid, that would naturally be a part of it as well.)
The players competed in the annual regional Fianna Competition for the privilege of joining the famed Fianna. A local Clan Elder Laithan Fionn induced the party to take his foster daughter on their team in exchange for free room and board for six months at the Four Winds roadhouse (which is a Fianna hangout anyway). Their main competition was from a group headed by Farne son of Clan Elder Lyniver. The players were introduced to Fianna Gold Band judge Belorm, a well known face about the territory and a frequent visitor to the Four Winds.
- The Fianna Competition rules:
- "Competitors are to follow all instructions given by the judges (marked by an orange ribbon) and stay within the boundaries of the course (marked by white ribbons) or be disqualified. Observers may be located anywhere along the routes. There are four spots available in the Fianna at this event this year, and your teams should be of four persons. You may have larger teams, but only the first four across can join the Fianna. You are now free to finish team selections and prepare yourselves for tomorrow. Be at the starting line at dawn..."
The first part of the competition involved going through an obstacle course and solving various problems, for which they were awarded red (penalty) or green flags (a win) or no flag (a pass), each designed to test their mettle (social skills, combat ability, tactics, physical ability, etc.). The competitors have to move different distances (typically 3 miles but some challenges are back to back) in a race like fashion to the next challenge for a total of 14 challenges. At the end of the first day the flags would be tallied and determine a team's start times for the second day. The second day and final part of the competition would be an endurance race around the mountain Tor Gweddan through potentially dangerous territory.
- Example Encounter
- The obstinate farmer - "I've got something you need to do your duty as Fianna, but I'm obstinate and won't give it to you. What do you do?" Successful use of social skills vs. the NPC's DC would win a green ribbon. Using trickery or intimidation would give no flag (a pass). Use of violence in any form would yield a red flag (penalty).
During the race through the wilderness the PC's encountered and killed a patrol of Serpent's eye goblins with a map, indicating they were searching for a "deep cave". Goblins are not normally found in organized bands on a mission in this territory. Nearby they found a cave with an Owlbear nest (along with a number of dead goblins). Over several days of competition the party won the competition and became local celebrities.
Later back in the local town of Ceirin, they were with Aed visiting the local Temple of Lugh when local guardsmen came to the temple for assistance. The scene they were brought to was a local drug deal gone bad with a twist, dark religious implements were found charged with negative energy which killed a guard. Channeling positive energy dispersed the auras. Among the implements was found a broken amulet or holy symbol.
Clan Fionn Politics
Clan Elder Laithan Fionn invites the party to his manor house to celebrate their victory, where he explains the three factions among Clan Fionn. Normally a suitable and capable Queen is chosen to lead a Clan, but Clan Fionn has a prophecy that the original bloodline must rule for the clan to prosper. The trouble is, (according to Laithan) the current Queen of the bloodline is spoiled and mismanaging the clan wealth and politics with other clans. One mostly urban faction supports the Queen, the Prophecy and the status quo. Another faction, mostly rural, wants a new queen and screw the prophecy (Lathain is a leader in this faction). The third wants to be left out of it, but generally supports the prophecy. Laithan lobbies for the support of the new Fianna, not directly in the conflict, but the gist is by 'I think the clan is in for hard times and I want to be proactive... by doing good things for the clan under my direction, my faction can gain prestige'. The group defers, choosing not to be seen as supporting one faction over another.
Returning to the Owlbear cave, the party crept in only to find the beast was not at home. Exploring the cave, it was found to be very extensive with unusually large fungal and insect growth. Found in the cave was evidence of old and also ancient construction and a somewhat recent expedition by unsuccessful spelunkers of some type, one was found to have a complete amulet similar to what was found in the drug dealer's house. They also found access to a hidden shelf in the mountain above the cave with a monolith left by the Ancients, still filled with mysterious power and thought to be source/reason of the unusually verdant cave systems. At the far end of the caves an aqueduct system left by the Ancient's was also found.
Upon attempting to exit the cave system, the owlbear had returned. The party fled into a small tunnel (where the Owlbear had to squeeze), but Nemsey delayed a round too long, and was mauled falling lifeless to the floor and then pursuing the party. After escaping by an alternate route, they saw Nemsey had drug himself out of the cavern, leaving a bloody trail behind him, but now unmoving. Above the body is a murder of crows, filling a tree as thick as leaves. While they watch the owlbear ambles out of the cave following the blood trail. As it closes upon Nemsey, the murder begins to become agitated, from silent to filling the forest with their caws. When the owlbear nears Nemsey, the murder erupts and begins harassing the owlbear, eventually driving it off into the woods. Nemsey is found to be unconscious and near death (hero points were used to avoid death) and he will forever carry facial scars from his mauling.
Back at the Four Winds for rest and resupply, they receive word of a goblin raid at the nearby Brin Quarry. Several dozen serpent's eye had attacked and some the miner's/quarrymen were trapped. The PC's arrive just as the goblins are pulled out, this time they are accompanied by several of their hobgoblin masters. They are driven out, but a band of nearly a dozen escape. The players pursue even after finding out the raiders receive reinforcements. The goblins are defeated again, but again a number escape, in particular the hobgoblin leaders, and they flee into the wilderness. It is guessed that this is a further attempt by the goblins to find the "deep cave".
The party tracked the raiders northward into the forest, and found that they had been joined by reinforcements. They were nearing the Silver River as dusk approached when they came upon the goblin camp and battle ensued. A contingent of goblins, including at least two hobgoblin leaders once again escaped, leaving their remaining minions to face the wrath of the party. At the end of the battle the party took a goblin prisoner, but being wounded and low on spells from their second battle of the day they decided to camp for the night. The prisoner knew little of value, except that they raiders were "looking for deep cave".
After many days they manage to track them to a cave, and find even more goblins, very much deeper in human lands than should be expected. The party observes a large amount of activity by the goblins as they scout the lands around, and they conduct minor raids over a week (with mixed success), foraging for additional supplies to supplement their dwindling rations and keeping cold camps. Here are the details from one of their last skirmishes:
- One day after observing a foraging party leave the cave, they venture in to make an attack. At the entrance a sentry goblin scampers off into the darkness shouting warnings. Not wishing to press to far from the entrance, took up station where they could still see the exit and waited the goblins out for over an hour. Then they noticed a goblin attempting to sneak past them from the outside. They killed the sneaker and spotted another, but as they headed towards the exit, a hail of arrows greeted them (either a foraging party had returned early, or there was another exit that allowed a force to be moved in behind them).
- Soon after the attack from outside, more goblin archers began to attack from within the cave, catching the party in a cross fire. Soon almost everyone had been wounded, so the party decided to rush the goblins outside and escape. Nemsey cast an Obscuring Mist to help cut down the goblin accuracy from the rear. The goblins on the outside withdrew in the face of the humans attack, some staying behind to slow them down, while others fell back still shooting, however their sensitivity to daylight and firing into melee cut down their accuracy. Eventually the party made a break for the forest. The goblins lost four or five, including some of their special serpent archers and almost everyone in the party had wounds, and both sides disengaged.
- However, once night fell the goblins sallied out and the party was tracked to their camp and attacked by a hobgoblin a bugbear and a dozen goblins. The party successfully fights them off, killing the bugbear, but the hobgoblin and some serpent archers escape. When daylight comes the party decides its gotten to hot to stick around.
The group heads to the nearby fort Crosswatch to rest and resupply. Fort Crosswatch is communal Angharad defense against goblins and humanoids from the mountains, manned by Angharad from most Clans in the region. At this point Aed the Cleric is now an NPC.
Brand and Nefer
While resupplying and sharing their findings with the fort commander, they are joined by Brand the Ranger and Nefer the Mage. The reinforced party travels back south and conducts several more raids, cutting into their numbers substantially, but the goblins receive substantial reinforcements from coming from someplace to the north. Leading the reinforcements is a Serpent Eye Warmaster, a terrible general of the goblinoids which has a serpent's head. Undaunted the players stage a daring raid through an alternate entrance directly into the hobgoblin leader's lair. They manage to slay two shaman and several hobgoblins as well as gather some loot and intel:
- After defeating the shaman and throwing back the goblin's first sortie, the players started ransacking a few of the rooms. The goblins had the hallway covered with archers, making Drust pay big when he crossed between rooms. While the archers were nocking arrows, Brand and Rowan moved up to the next set of rooms. From the darkness of the main room, a sibilant voice invited the "thresh-kreen" (moving food with teeth) to parlay.
- A few shouted words were exchanged and then Brand threw a torch into the darkened main room. A mini-horde getting organized to attack was revealed, about two dozen mixed goblins and hobgoblins with a few bugbears and the snake-headed Hob Warmaster. The Warmaster clarified his offer to be that if the party surrendered, their deaths would be swift... Brand's response was to pin a goblin to the wall with a javelin when it moved to douse the torch.
- Deciding to retreat, a well placed Obscurement and Grease spells kept the goblins fumbling and bumbling FOREVER in the hallway while the party grabbed what loot it could and retreated back to the escape shaft. Upon arrival it was found that the covering boulder had been rolled back into place. Drust and Nemsey climbed to the top and after a heroic effort (5 hero points burned) the raging barbarian managed to roll the boulder aside.
- The party is now strung out up and down the shaft with the goblin and hobgoblins close behind, and an unknown number waiting up top...
Luckily there was only a small party left at the exit (the others went back to the main attack, thinking the party was cornered) and the party manages to leave.
- However, the party didn't take any action to hide their trail and they were tracked down about four hours after making camp. After an aborted attempt to flee, the party turned to fight. Everyone was hard pressed, being wounded and out of spells, but after most of the goblins and then the bugbear and a (few?) hobgoblins fell, the goblinoids morale broke and they fled into the night. Drust is severely wounded and unconscious but stabilized.
Return to Crosswatch - Suspicions
Fleeing the goblins through the forest they decide the brave the Old North Road (rumored to be troll territory) and escape to Fort Cam (a wooden stockade manned by forces from Crosswatch). The party made it to the Old North Road without incident (except for a close call for Brand with a grizzly). They then pressed on to Fort Cam on horses conjured by Nefer. The party told their tale to Captain Haldwyn. In turn the Captain told the party that tensions have risen between Clan Fionn and Clan Moryan over the disputed grazing lands. Captain Haldwyn also advised them that Nefer and Brand were wanted at Crosswatch. After and evening telling stories, drinking and eating, them party headed out to Crosswatch escorted by a squad of militia.
Upon arriving at Crosswatch, the gate was opened for the party and soldiers were waiting to take Brand and Nefer "in for questioning". Sergeant Branoic Heth in particular looked like he was going to cause trouble for Nefer and the party started placing hands on weapons (I could hear the collective growl from the party). Captain Scarling showed up then, and dressed the Sergeant down before escorting Brand and Never to the keep to meet the Marshal.
It seems that the day after Brand and Nefer left with the Fianna to go fight goblins, a commoner from the village shot a crow and found a message tied to its leg. Some suspicion was generated by the timing of Nefer's departure and the crow messenger (Nefer he is a foreigner wizard with a raven familiar who speaks many strange languages who was not popular with many people in the fort). The Marshal on the other hand was looking for Nefer's expertise to see if he could read or translate the note, written in an unknown language. The note was written in Draconic and said something to the effect of "Expedition imminent. Date not set."
Crosswatch had been on alert and lockdown for some days and suspicion had run rampant through the fort. Marshal Mabryn revealed that he had been intending to run a pre-harvest raid against goblinoids farms to the west, but between the spy and the issues between Fionn and Moryan, he was unsure he would continue with his attack plans.
At the same time hostilities between Clan Moryan and Clan Fionn have escalated over some disputed grazing lands. Clan Moryan is withdrawing their troops which will probably be followed by a withdrawal of Fionn, substantially weakening the fort just before harvest raids on goblin farms.
Everyone has agreed to spend a few days at Crosswatch resting and recovering and engaging in various activities.
Brand spends time on patrols, solo and with the Crosswatch militia and sparing with Rowan. Brand observes a higher state of suspicion, thought of a spy in their midst has everyone on edge. Drust dives into the local rumor mill, picking up tidbits about the Marshal's history as an exile from his clan and about renegades who have worked with goblins in the past, including a tribe to the south of Crosswatch. He also tells tales, classic hero stories and about the party's recent adventures. Nefer spends some time researching the Dwarven runes found on a shield and war-axe taken as booty from the goblins. He discovers old records about trade with Dwarven smiths "from the east" showing payment for weapons that were never delivered. The shield and axe both seem to be of an old style, but neither bears any signs of rust. The shield has some rough scratches on the inside, created hastily in Dwarvish fashion. The drawing, while crude uses notations which Brand cannot decipher. He determines that it is some sort of three dimensional mapping system and that some type of expert would need to be consulted to learn more. Nemsy spent time with Aed examining the ancient foundations that Crosswatch had been built over, noting that they still contained feint magic and speaking with a local druid about the history of Crosswatch. Rowan spent time with each of the other party members, assisting Nefer with the Dwarven runes, doing performances with Drust in the evening, and sparring with Brand and other soldiers of Crosswatch. Aed spent time ministering to the soldiers and settling minor disputes in his Brehon role and examining the old foundations with Nemsey.
On the first day the Marshal recruited the party spell casters to assist in a magical search of the fort searching for any evidence of the suspected spy, but nothing was found. On the second day the lockdown was lifted. On the third day three keelboats arrived from Weisand and a Clan Moryan herald brought orders for a recall of Moryan troops.
That night after hearing tales of the party's exploits, the Moryan herald invited to party to travel downriver with him. Sometime near mid-day the boats underwent a small hail of arrows from goblins hidden in the trees. Some small wounds were suffered by lucky shots, but there were no casualties. The rest of the day the herald and Drust exchanged stories, news and songs and made a subtle offer that if the party should get tired of 'serving those faithless Fionn' that they could look him up in Weisand.
Late in the day the boats approached the Silver River and Silferd, a small walled settlement guarding the ford. Silferd is manned by Clan Fionn soldiers and militia and upon spotting several boatloads of Clan Moryan soldiers approaching they sounded the alarm and started cranking up the ballista. The Moryan herald calmly stepped to the front of the boat and held up his staff wrapped in white cloth, announcing that there were two bards and Fianna on board. The party noticed that there were a number of dead sheep beached along the shores of the Silver River. At the docks there was a small parlay between the Clan Fionn captain, the river clan 'port master' and the Moryan herald.
It seems that sometime in the early hours of the morning, someone attacked Clan Fionn sheep herders, killed them and then not only scattered the flocks, but drove a large number of them into the river, wounding many in the process. This is a serious escalation of the conflict between the Moryan cattle herders and the Fionn sheepherders and also a 'sinful' waste according to most Angharad sensibilities.
The party decides to investigate, maybe see what can be done to stop conflict between the two clans, and the next morning they head upriver to the 'scene of the crime' where they discover (and dispatch) two river drakes found feeding on sheep.
Disputed Grazing Lands
The party investigates the escalation of conflict in the grazing lands between Clan Moryan and Clan Fionn.
After entering the Clan Moryan herder camp and speaking with Devis, Drust noticed that he seemed to be holding something back in his tale of the slain Moryan herders. Rowan slipped out and followed Devis after he left and noticed him berating one of the herders named Charl working in a nearby barn.
The party confronted Charl and he quickly broke, spilling out that Devis had killed one of the herders in a drunken rage (because they had lost some of their herd to Fionn rustlers), killed the second to hide his crime and then bullied Charl into helping him cover everything up and blame it on Fionn.
The party pursued and caught Devis at the Moryan settlement of Brekken's Point, taking him before Kae Moryan (leader in Brekken's Point) and the bard Madrin Moryan with their accusations and witness.
Bard Madrin Moryan wanted to take word of these events to his sister Neva (acting as envoy in Ceirin). Traveling by boat to Ceirin with the party, Madrin acquired a writ of safe passage from Vaemyr Fionn (Balif of Ceirin) for Madrin to accompany the party Fianna to investigate events further. While in Ceirin, Drust commissioned a smith to craft a masterwork weapon.
The party returned to Silferd, (the only new news was rumors about what they had discovered) and has moved on to the Fionn sheepherder camp to investigate the murder of the Fionn herders and the senseless sheep slaughter.
The party entered the Fionn sheepherder camp and found them preparing to attack the Moryan. Unable to convince the Fionn leader to stop the attack, the party sought out the surviving eyewitness the young boy Belin, who was still in shock. Able to get through to the boy, the party discovered that one of the murderers was in the camp, the boy had heard his voice. The party quickly determined that the militia man Berne (who nobody really knew and who could not be found) was the voice the boy had heard. The Fionn leader was also discovered to be under the influence of an enchantment. After getting the Fionn to stand down, the party tracked Berne away into the forest.
The party found a camp in the woods, hastily abandoned with masks and Fionn militia clothing buried in their waste trench. Setting off in pursuit of the man on the horse (not following the tracks of the men on foot), the party went straight to the Moryan herder camp, and found them also arming for a fight. It seemed that a "Moryan herder" had come into camp some time before warning everyone that Fionn was coming for blood, before riding off to Brekken's Point to carry warning.
Now with Fianna, Fionn and Moryan in the group the party commandeered horses and went to Brekken's Point. They found the place on alert. Even though the place was locked down and searched, the "Moryan herder" wasn't found. It was later discovered that the murderer Devis had been killed (after the lockdown), apparently victim of a snake bite...
The party spoke about returning to Ceirin to catch up on events there, possibly to investigate the strange amulets found in town there or in the owlbear cave.
Return to Ceirin
The party finished off their investigations in the disputed grazing lands at Brekken's Point and took a boat to Ceirin. Near the area of the river where the sheep-slaughter occurred, the party spied several more river drakes on the shore. Then there was a sudden thump and shudder and they quickly realized that an elder river drake was attempting to capsize their boat. After a close call with a few people thrown into the river the drake gave up and went to look for easier prey.
During those 4 days various party members intend to:
- Brand wants to spend some R&R at the Harlot, re-supply for the pending dungeon-crawl, and possibly find an archer retainer/hireling/henchman to join the party.
- Drust wants to get in some training and practice with Bard Velan and also meet with his friend the mage Maera to discuss purchasing potions and how to activate the Lesser Powerstone.
- Nemsey was going to seek out a friend of his and induce him to join the party (a Cleric to replace Aed) and possibly research hidden/lost/uncommon spells (he's interested in some specific advanced players guide spells I believe).
- Nefer was going to visit with Eldach the Sage, see what spells he might have available for copying and also investigate some sore of long term residence arrangement. It was suggested that he might consider working something out with Maera the mage, who is establishing her wizard's lab a few miles away (but I don't know if Nefer likes the idea or if Maera will either...)
- Aed (who has been an NPC for a number of sessions) begins to take over duties at the Temple of Lugh because the head priest Gllucan is in ill health and he will no longer travel with the party.
During this time Drust works with a smith associated with the Ceirin Temple of Lugh:
- The smithy commissioned to create Drust's masterwork glaive is located directly across from the Temple of Lugh in Ceirin and the master smith (Kithier) frequently works with the priests of Lugh when crafting any unique items. Upon receiving a report from Aed and being approached by the smith for an additional Foundry Stone, Deacon Gllucan began sending over novices to the smithy to add the blessings of Lugh to the project (repeated castings of 0-level Guidance). With the assistance of apprentices (Aid Another) and the blessings of Lugh (Guidance), the masterwork glaive was completed successfully (but no "critical success" as rolled by Kelly). The blade itself is the masterwork component and it is decorated with a beautiful never-ending spiral decoration of the type favored by the Angharad with a stout ash wood haft.
- Next, Drust requested Maera perform the research into the incantation which would be used to activate the Lesser Powerstone and enchant the masterwork weapon. Powerstones are artifacts left by the Ancients, created out of a green glass like stone (similar to obsidian) called laen which is harder than steel. Upon hearing the details of the forging of the weapon, Maera created an incantation incorporating Aed (as a priest of Lugh) into the enchantment process. Maera performed the incantation at her lab and upon completion the Powerstone melded into the blade, filling in the spiral decoration with the green laen.
- Also at the culmination of the incantation, Aed's eyes rolled back into his head and he began speaking in the old tongue (ancient Ang)… Aed himself is most familiar with the language (being related to his studies on the Ancients), but he does not remember what he spoke. When he came back to himself those present tried to repeat what he had spoken, but only a little could be figured out (the whole episode has taken on a dream like quality and is difficult to remember).
- Some of the words that could be remembered and translated might include "giant killer" or "giant killed". It was also hard to tell or whether the phrase was referring to the wielder or the weapon itself... The one clear thing is that the name of the weapon is Faoiseamh which means "Respite" in the old tongue.
- Subsequent study using spellcraft shows that there is some unidentifiable conjuration/evocation magic within the weapon in addition to the standard transmutation magic associated with magical enhancement.
After spending a few days at Ceirin the party heads back to the Owlbear Cave, looking for revenge after Nemsey's mauling the last time and to hopefully uncover the Serpent's Eye Goblin's interest in the "deep cave" (which they suspect is the Owlbear Cave).
Luring it out into the open, the party is able to make pretty quick work of the beast this time with few wounds. They then set out to explore deeper into the caves.
The party progressed through the previously explored sections of the caves until reaching the Ancient Aqueduct tunnels, avoiding the more shy flora and fauna and encountering only some tentacled darkness causing creatures (one which was killed). Near the extreme downstream end of the Aqueduct tunnel another cave opening was found with a small sucking whirlpool where the party found some lizard-humanoid tracks. Spaced on a higher section of cave above the whirlpool were some crudely carved stone figures depicting humanoid forms with tentacle creatures enveloping their heads...
Dungeoncrawl - Beyond the Ancient Aqueduct
Near the point of no return at the end of the Aqueduct Tunnel a break was found in the wall leading to the whirlpool room where 4 crude totems stood watch and reptilian humanoid tracks were found. Further on, it appeared that natural caverns had formed around the remains of the Ancient's tunnels. In one section most of the walls had collapsed, leaving only one smooth wall and the floor 4' above the natural caverns. In the center of this floor was a large 4' totem, and in the dim light a writhing mass of something could be seen at it's base. After approaching the brighter light of the torch revealed a massive swarm of centipedes, disturbed by the light, they swarmed toward the light (and anything warm blooded nearby), damaging and poisoning several party members. A burning hands wiped out half the swarm, but it came on and the party retreated to the whirlpool room. As the mass of insects rolled onward, most were swept up by the water in the whirlpool and the rest dispersed. The large totem had yet another humanoid figure with its head and body enveloped by a tentacle creature, but this was larger, with fewer tentacles and more eyes. The eight eyes of the totem were of black onyx. After careful inspection, they were pried out of the statue and added to the party loot.
Following the remnants of the Ancient's collapsed hallways, a large room was found looking something like workshop with tables and benches of hardened stone, with the far section of the room collapsed back into rough natural cave leading downward. Within the room were two metallic looking objects within alcoves, one mostly crushed by tons of stone, but another resting on a rack. It was oblong and smooth, had two broken out "eyes", and limbs that appeared retracted or inset leaving its sides smooth (it was torpedo shaped), and one silvery metal umbilical with a frayed end hanging from its side.
Brand scouted the passage down, and found that he could discern a trail of some sort through the rough boulders and when he detected a flickering light ahead, he returned and led the rest of the party downward. After a steep descent the pass reached a sudden dropoff into another large room. A crude wall of natural stone mortared into place could be seen ahead (complete with arrow slits), but a huge gap lay in the center of the wall, with stone blasted/busted in. Standing guard at the gap in the wall stood two flaming skeletons (the source of the light).
The party began to drop warily one by one into the room, and when three were down, the skeletons suddenly reacted to the party creepily changing from perfectly motionless, then suddenly their heads swiveling and moving to attack. The party rushed the skeletons and after a quick but vicious fight the skeletons were destroyed.
The room showed signs of battle, broken crude weapons (spears, stone axes, etc.) and bones were found in the room. Beyond the wall, there were more signs of battle with scorch marks and evidence of burning oil used as a weapon. Moving along the party went through more natural caves which became steadily drier and contained less of the pervasive fungi and large insect life. Then the party encountered a huge cavern with a vertical shaft some 100' across, with a spiral pathway carved into its walls leading even deeper. One breath of air coming from the shaft and those with Dungeoneering declared it an entrance into the Underdark.
It was surmised that this might be the "deep cave" that the Serpent's Eye Goblins might have been searching for.
Choosing to bypass this, the party continued its exploration of this level, moving back toward the richer fungi filled sections. Shortly after, their light disturbed a colony of nasty bat like creatures with claws and teeth that caused bleeding wounds.
Dungeoncrawl - The 'Deep Cave'
After the party's fight with the claw-bats, they continued back into the richer fungal growth areas of the caverns and found a large chasm almost bisecting a tunnel. After carefully bypassing it they moved to investigate a corpse on the other side, a husk of only skin and bone, when tentacles dropped from the stalactites in the ceiling and wrapped around Brand, and another with a massive stinger poked and skittered on his armor.
One of the stalactites pulled away from the ceiling with a slurping pop and a tentacled creature dropped next to Brand. It was the same color as the stone of the caves and had glittery eyes around its body, very much like the large totem discovered in a previous session. As the party hacked at the creature and Brand struggled to escape, it began to drag him towards the chasm. After being severely wounded, the creature released Brand and slithered off into the darkness of the chasm.
Already feeling weak from their previous battles, the party sought a place to rest. They considered an out of the way corner near the Underdark and dithered for a time before deciding it would be a big drain on oil and torches to keep light going over the 18 hours or so until the divine casters would get their spells back. Ultimately the group ended up climbing the natural chimney to the cliff top shelf where the Ancient obelisk stands. Aed (in NPC mode) was keen to visit the site and study the stone. It was realized that direct periodic direct study of the obelisk (followed by time spent in study of notes taken) would allow a cumulative Arcana bonus in delving into its secrets.
The next day the party passed through to the aqueducts and were attacked by the darkness causing creatures, which fled after being wounded. They moved on to the whirlpool-totem section and decided to finish exploring on that level. One natural cave filled with fungi appeared to maybe lead to another tunnel. Rather than wade in, someone threw a rock at the far wall. The disturbance caused a huge glop of green slime to fall from the ceiling dissolving everything beneath it in a bubbling hiss as it ate its way down to the bare stone.
Backing out and taking another tunnel, they found additional passages left by the Ancients, as well as the matching upper portion of the chasm (40-60' or so higher up). There was no sign of the tentacle creature. Tantalizingly across the chasm could seen a continuation of the Ancient tunnels.
Soon after the party was attacked by more of the bleed causing bats. In the midst of this fight a particularly vile looking patch of fungus began to move and started hurling globs of disgusting slime at nearby party members, which burned like acid. After a quick fight the fungus was destroyed by fire and blade and the bats were killed or driven away.
The party is standing before a circular ramp created by the Ancients and a choice of going up or down.
Dungeoncrawl - Troglodyte Warrens
The party ascended the Ancient spiral ramp about 30' to another level and decided to explore (the spiral ramp extended both up and down). Through the right hand door the party found four cages. One contained a giant cave lizard (about dog size), a second had a deranged reptilian humanoid (revealed to be a troglodyte) trying to attack anything that it could reach. A third had a human. A scrawny, scarred and tattooed human, who stared blankly at the wall until Brand moved across his line of sight. Then in a nasty hoarse voice he muttered, first in his Pict tongue and then in Angharad "Torchbearer, if'n you be a real man then this cage will be opened..." Suspicious, Brand hesitated, but tossed some food and water to the man. Eventually the party released the Pict, who was named Hadotti.
The first thing he wanted to know was whether the sun still shown and who was going to lead him to it. The party wasn't ready to turn around just yet, so they gave Hadotti some healing, armed him with a battle axe and continued to explore.
Along the travels through the tunnel Hadotti occasionally shared some of his story. Although healed, Hadotti's voice is very rough and it seems to be painful for him to speak. When asked why he was in the cage, he said "for meat". His story was that he was from the Acail Pict tribe from a region of the forest to the northeast. He had been exploring a cave he found looking for gems when he was attacked and captured. He has been at least months as a slave, and he hinted "terrible things" were done to him. He knows a little of the layout of the level they are on (the troglodytes don't use much light so he's been blind in the dark most of the time), he said that he came from the same direction the party did and that at least once he was taken someplace else higher up where some of his blood was drained by a chanting troglodyte (spoken with a shudder).
Beyond the cage room was a large hall with an unusual stone pillar with bodies of troglodytes around it. As the party approached four of them rose in a shamble and the party was attacked by zombies. Hadotti leapt in with his borrowed battle-axe. The party found a mud filled passage with stepping stones, and then a grand cavern where fungi was being cultivated by three troglodyte farmers who were quickly defeated. A strange squeaking sound heard in the hall turned out to be five zombies operating some sort of bucket and pulley system carrying water away through the ceiling. Next, after a muddy slog they found a stone chest, bobby trapped and empty.
Traveling down another tunnel Hadotti said that they were nearing the main living area of the troglodytes. Hadotti also said that these troglodytes were the 'commoners or serfs' and that their masters, "very different, dark scales, hard to see" lived somewhere above. In another even larger cave with cultivated fungi gardens the players found, fought and killed almost a dozen troglodytes.
Dungeoncrawl - Troglodyte Necromancers
After finishing the fight and killing about 10 troglodytes in the fungus farm room, the players found an egg chamber for the troglodytes. Hundreds of eggs filled the room, some so old they were calcified. At the rear of the chamber a few dozen eggs were found that appeared to be healthy, and the party fought and killed 4 troglodytes guarding the nest. The party decided to return to the surface to rest and recuperate.
Exploring further on the way back to the surface, the party was able to make several areas of their map connect before encountering 4 skeletal trogs in a mud filled tunnel. The noise of the fight also attracted the attention of some giant centipedes.
After reaching the surface the party made camp near the Gweddan Monolith. Hadotti approached Brand, caught his attention and gave him a bit of a sucker-punch, knocking Brand down. Hadotti said, "THAT is for throwing me food like a dog instead of opening that cage for a man Torchbearer." After that he reached down and offered his hand. Brand said, "My name is Brand." Hadotti nodded and said, "Aye, Brand Torchbearer." (Hadotti can now be a henchman of Brand fully under his control as a follower).
With a lot of daylight left, Brand, Hadotti and Rowen went hunting. The hunting party successfully brought in enough food to extend the stores another day. After returning from the hunt the rest of the day and night passed uneventfully. Brand, Hadotti, Nemsey and Aed opted to spend the night near the Monolith. They woke feeling extra refreshed from the night.
The next day the party re-entered the complex. When they reached the Aqueduct tunnels, the bullseye lantern revealed a troglodyte, dressed in finer clothing and in leather harness, armed with axes and war-darts. It's scales were a dull black that blended in shadows of the cave, and it was obviously stronger and in better health that the ones slain previously. On its arm was a leather gauntlet and one of the darkness causing creatures that haunt this section of the caves (a darkmantle). The shadowy troglodyte held the tentacled creature aloft like a falconer. Backing the troglodyte were 4 skeletons.
The party rushed in to the attack. The darkmantle flew off the trog's arm and plunged the front ranks of the party into darkness. The party was immediately split up, Brand and Hadotti and Drust at/near the front, with Aed and Nemsey and Rowan to the rear. When the darkmantle flew to attack Brand, he caught it on his spiked shield and followed up with a shortsword stab that killed it. Still disadvantaged by the darkness, several party members took a beating, both Nemsey and Hadotti fell unconscious in the battle. The troglodyte was dealing vicious wounds, and was elusive, several attacks missed it shadowy form. Brand (using a hero point) rushed in to the dark to pull Nemsey away from being swarmed by skeletons. Outside the darkness the party was able to rally, destroying the skeletons, but the troglodyte escaped.
Brand and Drust considered immediately going after the troglodyte, but spent a few precious rounds lighting (a torch?) allowing it to escape.
Hadotti (when he recovers sufficiently to speak) tells the party two things, that the troglodyte they fought was one of the leaders of the elite troglodytes he had seen before. He also says to Brand, "Torchbearer, I could ken a few of the curses that trog was slinging at ya. It was pissed you killed its pet and it was sayin something about what it wanted to do with yer corpse..."
Deeper into the lair there was a big battle with zombies and elite troglodytes in the room of the dark pillar just past the cage area where Hadotti was rescued.
After the fight with the trog zombies, the party decides that they are running low enough on supplies (food, torches, oil), to make a trip back to Rhan Fionn. Leaving the caves about 10am, they discover that sometime over the last few days the body of the owlbear has been disturbed and goblin tracks have been found.
The party spends about 5 hours tracking the goblins as they head north around the east side of Tor Gweddan and then turn back 3pm. No longer being slowed by tracking you returned to the vicinity of the caves and look for a secure place to camp in the forest. More recent tracks are found of someone else who had been scouting the area sometime in the last day or so, this time booted feet, but the tracks are lost before much else can be determined.
After an uneventful night in camp the party sends the next two days heading back to the Four Winds Tavern. Arriving in the late afternoon, the party sees 3 or 4 rough looking men outside the tavern seemingly harassing one of the Four Winds barmaids. It turns out these men are other Fianna just flirting and joking around. After some mutual butt sniffing, sharing of news and displaying of trophies, the party goes into the tavern and meets with Fianna Belorm and Tenetty to catch up on news.
Recap of Loose Plot Threads
Belorm has the party members share news of their adventures as they recall them, and he quickly focuses on a few key mysteries/points:
- There was a Serpent's Eye Goblin Warmaster and a sizeable force based further east and more into human lands than they have ever been encountered.
- There was some sort of spy or informant in Crosswatch using animal messengers to carry notes in draconic, relaying information about military movements/readiness.
- The conflict between Moryan and Fionn over the disputed grazing lands disrupted some of Crosswatch's military plans.
- The grazing lands dispute was provoked/escalated by unknown individual(s), who were skilled at disguise and had influenced at least one person with some sort of charm or suggestion magic. At least one person involved and being held prisoner for his crimes was killed by snake venom.
- The Serpent's Eye goblins have some interest in Tor Gweddan (the "deep cave"), most likely in the Underdark entrance discovered by the players.
- The symbol found in the Tor Gweddan caves on the bodies of human explorers there is from the Nathair Pict tribe, known to be located south-east of Crosswatch.
- The Nathair pict symbol (with a negative energy aura) was also found in a drug dealer's house in Ceirin. A variation of this symbol was also found on a (somewhat recently) deceased body in the Owlbear/deep cave.
Belorm congratulates the party on everything they have accomplished, in particular being persistent in tracking and thrashing the goblins. He advises that because of their efforts in the disputed lands, that the Moryan soldiers have returned to Crosswatch and Marshal Mabryn was about to launch a delayed offensive into goblin territory afterall. Belorm thinks the Marshal will send a sizeable patrol to the goblin cave after they finish their other expedition and he will spread word among the Fianna in case anyone is passing through the area.
Neither Belorm nor Tenetty are sure what to make of the party's more recent adventures, except that the goblins obviously have some interest in the Underdark entrance and there may be a tie in with the Nathair Picts.
Finally, Belorm reveals to the party why he is here with six other Fianna. He was hoping to recruit additional help (specifically the party) with a band of about 5 ogres that have come down from the mountains. The ogres have been responsible for some mayhem around Weisand area and he wants to hunt them down. Belorm estimates that it would take 4 days by boat upriver or 3 days on foot by the road. Then he starts talking about going "Fianna Pace" and making it to the location in less than 2 days...
At the Four Winds, Fianna leader Belorm reveals to the party why he is here with six other Fianna. He was hoping to recruit additional help with a band of ogres that have come down from the mountains. Belorm estimates that it would take 4 days by boat upriver or 3 days on foot by the road. Then he starts talking about going " Fianna Pace" and making it to the location in less than 2 days... Belorm has gathered together 6 other Fianna, 4 regular warriors, and two silver armband leaders 'Scout' and Adept Nira.
At Fianna Pace the party covers 36 miles the first day (normal would be 24), and odds are that some will be fatigued at the end of the day.
In the first stretch heading out of Rhan Fionn, various commoners about their business wave and cheer for the Fianna passing by. A stop is made at the village of Carumyr where Belorm meets briefly with Laithan. Laithan acknowledges local party members and Brand's note, says he will catch up on the news with Tenetty and offers to feast any of the Fianna who return this way after dealing with the ogres.
After leaving Fionn territory, Belorm asks Drust to start a cadence and the pace is picked up, eating up the miles. At the end of a hard 10 hour day on the road the group arrives at the river clan settlement of Bend and Belorm covers the costs of the food and lodgings. Everyone socializes over a few ales. Drust works on some more cadences for his repertoire. Brand and Belorm get into a deep discussion about tracking and the differences in their fighting styles. Nemsey asks Belorm if he has heard anything about called "The Eternal Tower".
Belorm says that he has heard of something called the Eternal Tower, some cursed necromantic tower which is rumored to have been destroyed several times, but seems to reappear in another location some time later. He says the last he heard of it was when it was destroyed a decade ago, but he was not directly involved.
The next day the group moves at a normal pace and arrives at Liar's Rest (another river-clan boat stop, famous for its card-tavern and named after a dead cheating former owner). News is gathered and the current situation is that a militia patrol was destroyed only 5 of 10 men escaping. The tougher soldiers are patrolling Clan Moryan lands trying to keep sufficiently close to call for reinforcements as needed. After armoring up, the road is left behind and that night is spent camped in the dark wood.
That night, as stories are being swapped around the crackling campfire, Belorm tells of the Lost Temple of Silvanus, a mere 30 miles or so as the crow flies to the east. The Temple of Silvanus was the sight of the last battle between the old order of the Blood Druids and the Circle during the Angharad peoples religious schism called the Great Reformation. At the end the mad leader of the Blood Druids harnessed the power of all the blood and dying warriors of both sides for some great ritual. Everyone in the holy valley was slain and something terrible was released there. Now the hills round the valley are haunted by the restless dead and some beast of darkness rules the valley called "Beatha Na Fir" which means the Eater of Men. Belorm says that between Weisand and Medrius (where the new temple of Silvanus and the Fianna HQ is at) runs an old forest road that passes along the northern boundary of those haunted hills. He warns that if any should pass that way traveling east, to be sure not to linger near those hills at night. He says that he has been in those hills himself and slain the ghouls there and looked upon the valley shrouded in mist, and heard for himself the roaring howl of the Eater fighting with something in the mist...
The next day and a half is spent tracking the ogres to their lair, the top of a jutting hillside with stones around the top like battlements on a castle wall. Soon after the area is spotted, the other Fianna start calling it "the crown".
A few hours are spent observing the ogres from other nearby hills and communication magically facilitated by Drust up in a tree, then the party moves forward with a diversion/ambush seeking to split the ogres up into manageable groups.
Eventually an illusion of a wagon load of salted meats is created and made to suffer a broken axel. The illusion is bolstered by Brand breaking a branch and Rowan imitating the voice of one of the illusional wagon folk. The ruse works perfectly as only one of the ogres even bothers to leave their perch. The first ogre is brought down quickly but the others jump up and start moving down the hill. One slides down the steep side of the hill to the west and the other three take the spiraling path down to forest pasture. Clashing with Drust, Brand and Rowen and hampered by difficult terrain the hill-sliding ogre drops next. In the meantime Nemsey casts an Entangle significantly slowing one of the ogres heading west and the other two are forced to take a roundabout path to avoid grasping plants. The solo ogre drops after taking a hail of missiles (including a 21 point crit from Belorm). The other two press onward, but are delayed by elementals summoned by Nemsey. Neither one lasts long, and soon only those two ogres remain and the Fianna start to converge on them. Wolfrick delays too long and ends up being charged by one of the ogres and nearly gets his block knocked off, but he is able to escape. A number of Fianna warriors drop their bows and set their longspears to receive a charge, but no charge is forthcoming as Drust, Brand and Hadotti rush in to engage the ogres in melee. Soon the remaining two ogres are defeated and a great cheer goes up from all the Fianna.
- Nemsey asks Belorm about "The Eternal Tower" and he says it is a legendary necromantic tower which is periodically destroyed, but then crops up someplace else after a time. Belorm last heard about it a decade ago.
- Belorm also speaks of the Lost Temple of Silvanus, lost when the Circle defeated the old order of the Blood Druids, the restless dead in the hills around the valley and the "Beatha Na Fir" (the Eater of Men) that haunts the valley of the temple.
Late afternoon on September 16th, the Fianna and friends clean up the battlefield after the ogre battle, taking loot and heads and leaving the rest for the scavengers. The next day the Fianna led by Belorm travel to Weisand (Rhan Moryan), distributing gold, silver and copper to the people and leaving ogre heads with guards, militia and locals along the way. In Weisand, Herald Madrin Moryan meets the Fianna and hosts them at his father's manor. Once again he tries to temp the Fionn based Fianna over to Clan Moryan. While convincing, he offers nothing specifically different than what is already being given in Rhan Fionn (room and board), but hints that someday the 'faithless' Fionn will reveal themselves and that they are welcome in Rhan Moryan. On the 18th the party and those traveling south board a keelboat heading south and spend an uneventful day on the river and a night in Silferd.
Arriving in Ceirin on the 19th, the rest of the Fianna head their own way while the party heads to the Four Winds arriving about mid day. There has been trouble while they have been away. In the darkest hours of the 15th and 16th, farmer's homesteads near the village of Pron have been attacked and as many as 20 people have been killed. Initial reports makes it seem that it was the troglodytes.
Upon arriving in Pron to investigate, they are shortly set upon by Pendald Fionn "lord" of the village. He harangues the party for delving into placed they weren't meant to be and bring death and destruction to Rhan Fionn... "Meddling in things best left alone in the dark, and now terrible things have happened. This blood is on your heads! If you want to search for danger, take yourself off to the wilds, someplace away from good innocent folks, where your folly wont bring others to grief!" Brand defends the action of the party, basically saying that the creatures which attacked are evil, engaged in necromancy and needed to be destroyed. Pendald was not much mollified, but brusquely ordered guardsman present to escort the party to the scene of the latest largest attack, before stomping off muttering. Drust later advises the party that while Pendald's outrage was genuine, the elder Fionn may be more concerned about the damage to his property and loss of production, than any particular farmer's life.
At the scene of the attack, several houses composing three homestead farmer families are found ransacked with signs of violence everywhere. The houses are thoroughly looted. In particular, cloth and fabrics and wooden implements and things like pots and pans are taken. Of the bodies, few are found except for young children, killed by slashing weapons and by claws. Tracking reveals troglodyte tracks, that the goods were hauled away in wheelbarrows, and that the bodies of the farmers were drug to a central location. Later most of them rose and walked away into the forest, at least a dozen, leaving all told about 5 or 6 bodies unaccounted for.
Setting out immediately, the party is able to move at normal speed and have no problem tracking the troglodytes and the shuffling tracks of what are assumed to be zombies (the trogs display absolutely no woodcraft). The trail leads directly to the owlbear cave. Outside the cave, what is left of the rotted carcass of the owlbear is gone. Several small trees have been cut down and all the remains are a few wood chips and stripped branches. Everything shows that it has been drug into the caves.
- Moryan once again offers the party a home in their territory
- Clan Elder Pendald Fionn is angry at the party for 'stirring up trouble'.
- The troglodytes attacked homesteaders in Rhan Fionn near the village of Pron, and have likely animated the dead into zombies. They appear to be also looting material such as metal, wood and cloth.
Dungeoncrawl - Deeper into Troglodyte Lair
The party entered the owlbear cave and pushed to the Trog lair, slaying more undead guardians at the dark pillar room. An attempt was made to burn the bodies, but little consideration was given to the poor farmer folk brought to a terrible end. After exploring, the party eventually arrived at a grand room submerged in about 2 feet of water and filled with pillar glowing a gently green color. On a dry patch basking in the glow of a pillar was an underdrake, a large six legged reptile with glowing green eyes. As the party approached the creature attacked. While battling the underdrake three elite troglodytes appeared through a secret door to join the fight, but they were quickly overwhelmed and the party cut them down when they attempted to flee.
Game Date 9/20 - Late in the day the party had just slain the large six legged "underdrake" and decided to return to the monolith to rest from their encounters. Upon arriving at the surface, they encountered Aed and a stranger who was introduced as Maertagh Fionn.
Aed had sent a report to the Sun Temple about the monolith and other findings, and Maertagh was sent to investigate by the Circle. Aed had escorted Maertagh to the monolith and they were both studying the stone. Maertagh is a wizard and cleric of Selene and a son of Kene Fionn, the clan elder who is lord over the territory where The Four Winds is located. Like Aed he has a keen interest in the magic of the Ancients.
Game Date 9/21 - Morning brings a foggy day, obscuring sight of the forest below the shelf of the monolith. The party descends back into the caverns, showing Maertagh their findings along the way deeper into the complex until they eventually reached door to the dark pillar room. They found the door had been barred from the other side, but effort with a crowbar made short work of it. Once again corpses in various states of decay could be seen by the light of the lantern strewn about the base of the pillar, both human and troglodyte.
Entering the room caused the undead to stir and six zombies rose shuffling toward the party. Brand and Hadotti led the way and were soon fully engaged by the zombies. Then from the flanks moved in four of the elite dark skinned troglodytes and the party was hard pressed, trying to pull back into the hallway. On the opposite wall illuminated by bullseye lantern a creepy skeletal shadow was seen skittering off to the right and lost in the darkness.
Maertagh called upon the power of Selene and two successive channels blasted the zombies, but only two fell. Two of the elite trogs were pressing into the hallway stomping out the torch which had been dropped. Brand and Hadotti were hard pressed and taking wounds from the zombies and the flanking elite trogs. Then the shadow creature struck into the middle of the party, its insubstantial touch sucking life and strength first from Drust and then from Maertagh, who succumbed and fell, dropping the last remaining light source. The elite trog made to smash the lantern, and loss of the light might have been the end of most of the party, but it just missed, only causing the lantern light to flail wildly in the hall. Maertagh heard one of the troglodytes cursing his compatriots (in Draconic), wishing they had placed forces to come up behind the invaders (the party). That one died trying to smash the party lantern, so it may have been a leader.
Drust recovered enough to re-enter the battle and brought his magical glaive Respite into play against the skeletal shadow. The laen etchings of the magical glaive glowed briefly with power and his massive blow shredded the skeletal shadow creature completely through. It gave off a faint wail that receded as its shadow substance dissipated like wisps of smoke.
The tide of the battle completely turned on this point. The two elite trogs threatening the light had been killed, several zombies had fallen and all of them were still smoking from the damage inflicted by Maertagh and the skeletal shadow and just been spectacularly destroyed... the remaining two elite troglodytes withdrew, their retreat covered by their zombie minions.
After mopping up the last of the zombies, the party healed enough to complete their retreat, taking the unconscious Maertagh with them back to the surface by the monolith. The party spent the next 24 hours healing and recovering their strength.
It is now 9/22 in the morning of another foggy day.
- Aed and Maertagh have studied the monolith and believe it contains magic related to fertility and growth and believe it to be responsible for some of the verdant fungal growth in the caverns below. They believe that with further study they may be able to create an incantation which can harness the magic of the stone for their own purposes.
Dungeoncrawl - Breaking into the Trog Elites Lair
The morning of 9/22 brings another foggy day. Fully recovered from the last battle at the dark pillar room, the party descends once more into the upper caves, proceeding cautiously over the bridge, through the aqueduct and into the remains of the tunnels of the Ancients. The party ascends up to the troglodyte warren and up another level, discovering a door wedged half open, requiring a squeeze to get through and a dead end collapsed room beyond. This would be a good defensible location, but it lacks a second exit. Returning to the troglodyte warren, for once no undead rise in the dark pillar room and all is strangely quiet.
The party quickly passes through most of the less trogs lair and back to the green pillar room. On the 'beach' where the underdrake was defeated, there was no sign of the creature. Instead, a circle of about a dozen or so corpses was found surrounding an arcane circle with a 2x2x4 block of dark stone at it's head. After cautious probing, all the dead remained dead. The party carefully tends to the human dead, pulling them from the pile and giving them the blessings of Nanna-Sin (one of the aspect names of the goddess Selene). Drust attempts to move the large stone block but it is heavy and touching it makes his skin crawl. The arcane circle is obliterated and the whole scene is also blessed by Maertagh.
The party moves upward to the next level and discovers a stout wooden door barring the way with closed slot about chest height. When the party attempts to open the door, the slot is opened and spears erupt menacing those trying to break through. Those in range suffer wounds, but the door is forced open with the aid of Maertagh's crowbar. Beyond is a plain room with two troglodytes who flee in panic around a corner. The party pursues in time to see them slamming a second door barring their way. This door also has a slot for spears. Once again braving the spears, Drust forces open the door but the party pays a bloody price.
Once again the elite troglodytes are taken by surprise at how quickly Drust's strength defeats the door. The party floods the room and although they put up a fighting retreat the troglodytes are overwhelmed. One escapes out the only exit and flees into the darkness. Drust and several others pursue but are hampered by the darkness. At a four way intersection the last severely wounded troglodyte managed to evade Drust's attack and is poised to flee again.
- The normal undead guards at the dark pillar room were absent.
- The green pillar room showed signs of some necromantic ritual and the underdrake body is missing.
Dungeoncrawl - A Room Too Far
The session started up with pursuit of the last surviving troglodyte elite door guard, who is quickly dropped by Hodotti. The bodies are drug back to the guardroom, then looted (24gp worth of obsidian added to party loot) and decapitated to prevent animation. At the four way intersection, the two less traveled paths are searched. One a dead end and the other to a giant lizard lair. The lizards are not aggressive and don't attack, so the party bypasses them.
The last branch leads south to a large room filled with clear water in which fish can be seen swimming. The water is shallow enough in most places to be waded through. The party takes the left most passage to a dry hall. A left turn leads to a closed locked door. Rowan makes quick work of the lock and beyond is another pool of clear water with two of the Ancient's green glowing pillars. In the pool are numerous troglodyte skeletons, most are bare bones others are in various states of decomposition. It's noticed that the water is very clear considering its decomposing contents. A drop of blood from Rowan revealed some type of ameba creature in the water eager for a taste. Leaving that behind, they pass through another shallow water-filled room down a hall and to another green pillared water filled room. This one is filled with pale frogs. They are swimming, resting on lily pad like growths and clinging to the walls. Leaping, crawling, squirming about in bunches, they are creepy but non-threatening. Beyond another door is a 50' hall opening into a room where firelight can be seen.
Approaching the room, two burning troglodyte skeletons are seen and the party attacks. Fully entering the room reveals three other exits (one in each wall) and also four more enemies, two elite troglodytes two zombies, and a vicious fight erupts.
The burning skeletons engage while the elites and the zombies take up a defensive stance at the south tunnel which can be seen to ramp upwards. The skeletons inflict many burning wounds on the party and are defeated but four more troglodytes arrive from the west tunnel and join the battle. One of the trogs at the south tunnel shouts something like "defend the temple!" (Maertagh translates?). The fight draws out and most of the party are wounded despite constant healing from Maertagh and Aed and only two of reinforcement trogs have gone down. Most of the party is spread throughout the room between the two troglodyte forces and just as the party starts talking retreat, the trogs who have been guarding the south tunnel (temple?) order the zombies to attack and then enter the fray themselves.
Brand is struck two vicious blows by the zombies and is bashed into unconsciousness. Hadotti is also dropped after moving to retreat. From the north tunnel two elite troglodytes can be seen heading to the room leading the huge skeletal from of the slain underdrake, its baleful green eyes causing dread even from down the hall.
As the party retreats, Maetragh delays just long enough to use a last channel energy and pays the price as he is mauled by the zombies. This sacrifice is enough to heal Hadotti who plays dead as the troglodytes all leave the room in different directions in pursuit of the rest of the party.
After they leave, Hadotti gulps down a healing potion taken from Brand, but he is left sitting in the dark with Brand's life leaking away. As far as the party knows both are down and likely dead by now from their wounds.
Fleeing, the party is strung out from the frog room to the shallow water room. Drust is in the lead, followed by Rowan, then Nemsey and Aed together and finally Maertagh brining up the rear. Pursuing Maertagh are two elite troglodytes and two zombies and there is reason to believe the other troglodytes will be summoning reinforcements and moving to cut off the party's retreat.
- The under-drake has been animated. Additional obsidian teeth have been wired to its jaw, its green glowing eyes remain and it seems to have a menacing aura of some sort that seems to affect the troglodytes.
Dungeoncrawl - On the Run
The session starts with the party fleeing the last battle along the path they entered, most of the party is bloodied and they have little or no healing left. Drust and Rowan are in the lead and further back, slowed by their armor are Aed and Nemsey, followed by Maertagh who had delayed previously for one last channel. Left behind were Hadotti and Brand.
Of immediate pursuit, only two trog zombies can be seen shambling along in the wake of the party with two elite troglodytes backing them back in the darkness out of sight, seemingly reluctant to speed ahead of their minions. After widening the gap to a safer distance, Nemsey and Maertagh launch distance attacks at their pursuers (force bolts and a summoned eagle), opting to harass the living elites, although they suffer wounds they only seem slowed by the pace of their undead minions.
In the meantime, Drust arrives at the Fish-Pool room, and as he move toward the exit, the undead underdrake and two elite troglodytes come through another passage into the room. If the party had not been hustling toward the exit, their retreat would have been cut off. The drake is completely submerged, but can be easily seen in the clear water and by its glowing green eyes. The underdrake moves to attack Drust while the two troglodytes move to cut off Nemsey and Maertagh.
Drust gulps down an enlarge potion, shouting that he is doing what he can to hold back the underdrake and keep the exit open. Aed uses the last of the healing from the wand on Drust. Maertagh puts on a burst of speed and evades being cut off by the trog elites, but Nemsey is temporarily caught between, only managing to escape by uncanny luck. At one point Maertagh overhears some of the troglodytes shouting about taking another path to cut off the party's retreat and two of them head out of the room. Mr. Humphrey's (Maertagh's Raven familiar) also attempted to distract the enemy to help save his master and a squawk and flurry of bloody feathers is the last seen of him.
Drust and Rowen manage to fight a rear guard action until everyone reaches the exit hallway, but once the underdrake emerges from the waters of the pool, the full weight of its dreadful gaze falls upon Drust and he is paralyzed temporarily by fear. He manages to break free of the effect in time to retreat, but the underdrake and elite trogs are hot on his heels and he is one wound way from falling.
In the guardroom the party has gained just enough of a lead to slam closed one of the doors they forced open previously and Rowan uses a key filched earlier to lock the door. The underdrake and troglodytes first attempt to force the door, but soon change strategy to just destroy the obstacle by ripping it apart. As the party retreats back down through the lower level they can hear the slamming and eventually the cracking and splintering of the wood, followed by ominous silence. Still a precious lead was gained, allowing some party members to regroup, while others pressed on toward the exit.
Then a minor miracle occurs, near the Dark Pillar room the lead party members encounter Hadotti standing over a prone Brand, weapons out and relieved to see allies. Brand is unconscious, his face looks a bloody mess and badly swollen, but he is stable. Hadotti says that all the troglodytes went off in pursuit of the other party members, and he slung Brand on his back and took a different tunnel. He is not sure which way he came from, but he has been wandering around in the dark for a 'few minutes'. As the group continues to the exit, two elite troglodytes emerge to block the stragglers, but are quickly overcome.
After this last threat, the party managed to stay ahead of any pursuit (or the troglodytes broke off) and they straggle through the other levels to the owlbear lair and out once again into the sunshine....
- The underdrake has some sort of magical effect that incapacitates foes. Distance or it being underwater muted/negated the effect.
- There must be some sort of secret tunnel or entrance that Hadotti and the elite troglodytes used between this level and the next up.
- Hero points were expended to save Brand from death. As a consequence he has a broken nose that wont heal straight. If revived, he will also have a concussion and will suffer a –2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks until fully healed.
- Maertagh senses Mr. Humphrey's recovery and his intention to escape the cave and rejoin his master, but he is hurt (disabled at 0hp and staggered) and soon may be out of empathic link range.
- The whole game night took place over about 3 minutes game time, followed by about 30 minutes or so to exit the caves.
Dungeoncrawl - Recover and Reinforce
Game date 9/22 - The party stumbles out of the Owlbear cave at about 11am. After taking some time to bandage wounds and create a makeshift stretcher for Brand, the party heads back toward Rhan Fionn and safety, making camp with little daylight to spare after about 6 hours. The camp isn't the best, but there's no time to find better. Everyone decides to make due without a fire, so a meager cold meal of chewy smoked meat, hard bread and old cheese is washed down with stale water. Even the usual prestidigitation spice hardly covers over the taste of the leather wrappings (you were down to 3 days trail rations left total).
Still, its good to be out of the caves, under the stars and the night is warm, everyone is alive, and best of all nothing threatens during the night.
Game date 9/23 - Aed tended everyone's wounds through the night, using the last of his clean bandages and with the dawn and the god's blessings, much needed healing to is spread throughout the group. Brand is recovered, but suffering a concussion that lingers until he is fully healed. Aed delivers the news to Brand that his nose is already partially set, the only way to fix it would be to re-break it and even then he's not sure what the results would look like.
Soon after breaking camp, a light rain starts, making a soggy slog that persists all day. The party leaves the forest behind and enters Rhan Fionn proper. The party is greeted from time to time by locals going about their business and just a few miles from the Four Winds the rain finally lets up. Not long before arriving Maertagh channels the blessings of Selene to refresh party members from the fatigue of the long march and along with Drust they dry and clean the party up with liberal use of prestidigitation. Feeling somewhat refreshed the party enters the Four Winds, already filling with folk taking their ease after a long wet day.
Head's turn and greetings are given to the returning Fianna. Alcohol is high on most everyone's list. Drust orders a gallon of ale to share, and migrates to the corner where some other Fianna are tucked in, while Brand and Hadotti head to the bar for something stiffer. One look and without a word yet spoken Tenetty opens a bottle of something clear and potent.
Before long, Drust is deep into the tale of the battle with the underdrake in the green pillar room (or was it the undead underdrake the the clear pool room?), while Tenetty discusses tactics with Brand and everyone contributes to the story and discussion. Tenetty also reveals that some city guardsmen have been sniffing around asking specifically for Drust, Brand, Rowan, Nemsey and "that Pict" they were with. "Told em you were off patrolling the woods gainst those beasties that attacked Pron. I must have a reputation or somethin cause they didnt talk to me much and didnt splain why they wanted yah."
The party makes plans for the next raid on the caves, discussing tactics to be employed, equipment and magic to be used. The three Fianna are want to join in the local heroes in the raid. None of them have fought much underground and are eager for the adventure. Eventually Drust takes his leave and heads out to visit Maera and the rest of the night passes pleasantly for everyone.
Deep in the night after Luna has set, Maertagh seeks a still pool mirroring only the light of Selene, but the portents are unclear and Maertagh senses only a vague feeling of distant danger.
Game Date 9/24 - Drust arrives at the Four Winds with Maera, who brings her potions and she does a brisk trade selling all her available stock in healing potions. Basic equipment is purchased from the local outfitter (who carries all basic equipment, ammunition, simple weapons, non-metal armors and a smattering of martial weapons such as spears, bows and longswords). Then the group heads to Ceirin to purchase a some more unique equipment not available locally.
Brand visits the Temple of Dana and finds the priestess of Arawn, who he tells of the events within the caverns and asks her blessing. When the priestess begins to mutter the standard blessing, when the aspect over Arawn envelopes her briefly (Brand receives a Boon of a 2 round Bless that will activate in his next combat).
Dungeoncrawl - Back to the Caves
Last session the party began on the morning of 9/25. Joining the party for this raid are (NPCs) Aed the Cleric, Hadotti the Pict, Maera the Wizard/Adept and three bronze armband Fianna warriors. The trip to the caves was uneventful, but the party moved cautiously to the caves. Brand found tracks outside the cave, Serpent's Eye goblins together with other booted feet (less than a dozen goblins with three medium sized booted feet). Additional signs were found deeper inside in the vicinity of the chimney up to the monolith shelf.
Inside the aqueduct tunnels, the party is roped together to prevent any slip and slide incident and just before it becomes steeper at the whirlpool room, two skeletons stand sentry. After attacking them from range, a command in draconic calls the skeleton back around the corner. After shuffling together the lead party members finally achieve safe ground a fight with two skeletons begins and soon most of the group is plunged into darkness.
Very quickly a light spell is cast and counters the darkness where it overlaps, from deeper in the tunnels a whistle is heard and a darkmantle flutters away. The two skeletons deprived of their protecting darkness are quickly dispatched. Deeper in, signs are found that many troglodytes have traversed the area from their lair above towards the region below where the entrance to the underdark lies. Exit waypoints chalk marked on the walls previously by the party were found to be defaced. The party remarked the walls as they passed through and a brief survey of the area shows no other unusual signs or ambushes and all is clear until they reach the ominous open door leading to the dark pillar room.
A large pile of bodies is has been stacked about the pillar. Once again ranged attacks are launched and the pile begins to stir. Rising from the charnel mess are four zombies and two skeletons. The party stays in the hall, Brand and Hadotti form a font line while Drust uses Respite from the rear rank. The party is wary of additional sneak attacks, sending fire arrows to the backside of the room looking for lurking troglodytes, but no other attacks materialize and a brief but vicious fight the undead are defeated.
Session #46 Due to a change in tactics and luck the party was able to push on immediately after the fight in the dark pillar room (the party started concentrating on using slash and bludgeoning weapons on appropriate undead types). They were able to find the secret entrance to the level above, finding empty barracks-like rooms apparently recently vacated.
Thanks to Maertagh's familiar Mr. Humphries, the party spotted the undead underdrake at the scene of their last defeat and hasty retreat and guarding the entrance to the "temple". With plenty of time to prepare spells and priestly blessings, the party pushed into the room, facing the underdrake and two zombies, but strangely no troglodytes. The battle was long, the fear-paralysis gaze of the underdrake was keeping the hard hitters out of commission most of the time, but the clerics and wizards whittled it down with ranged attacks. The underdrake's razor obsidian enhanced teeth inflicted deadly wounds, but harassed as it was from all sides it attacked foes randomly and missed often. The creature was incredibly tough, but eventually after nearly two minutes (20 rounds) it was worn down and destroyed.
Gathering themselves together the party moved up the ramped hallway toward the "temple". This section of the complex is different, the humid warmth and the troglodyte stench giving way to a cooler atmosphere. The utilitarian and crumbled tunnels of the Ancients also changed as they ascended into better maintained smoother darker walls, still bearing a dull polished sheen. To the right a tunnel branches off, curving away, but ahead the tunnel narrows and a misty haze obscures vision of what lies beyond.
Crossing over or being close to this threshold the party members in the front ranks are able to see what must be a lower portion of the clifftop monolith of the Ancients (bottom portion of the monolith stone on the surface). Flanking it are two weak torches (giving off a dim light), surrounding the monolith are arcane circles in chalk and paint. Around the chamber are also huge clusters of crystal like "growths", also surrounded and connected to the arcane circles around the monolith. The crystals themselves seem to be obsidian-like with projections of black onyx (neither is really a crystal, but appear to be 'grown' here somehow like crystal). Drust surmises (with a good arcana roll) that the arcane markings are somehow siphoning power from the monolith to grow the black onyx and obsidian like crystals. There are signs of recent and hasty harvesting of the black onyx (another arcana roll reveals that this is a key component to certain necromancy spells).
As a group the party moves further into the room (so everyone can get a better look) and as soon as stronger light fills the room, zombies and skeletons are revealed...
Dungeoncrawl - Necromacer Temple
The undead formed a wall across sections of the cavern, directed by an echoing voice in Draconic from back in the shadows. The players rushed forward to face the wall hacking at the wall of undead flesh. Despite the oppressive aura of the troglodyte's necromancy and the extra strength it granted the skeletons and zombies, they quickly began to fall (reinforcements and better weapons choices). Moving from cover a troglodyte revealed itself. Unlike the smooth dark scaly skin and healthy appearance of the other elite troglodytes, this one was withered, a shriveled wrinkled thing, obviously ancient. It bore deep and hideous scars where entire furrows of its flesh seemed to have been scooped away and it wore numerous amulets, bracelets and armbands.
It immediately began casting spells at the leading fighters. All to no avail, spell after spell and channeled negative energy, were all shrugged off by the party with no effect or minimal damage (I don't think they failed a single save). Finally, all its minions dead, it was surrounded and overwhelmed, spitting and fighting fanatically to the end.
The party then spent time searching every room, only finding a few skeletons and zombies guarding certain rooms and some nasty violet fungi which were burned down at a distance using cantrips.
Some remnants of the Ancients were found in the form of sealed chambers or doors. The doors were protected by powerful magic and none could be opened or damaged. Some had been cracked open or broken by stress in the rock ages past and showed them to be chambers with oval centers and covered with Ancient's runes, top to bottom. Also found were what appeared to be the personal chambers of several troglodytes. One was covered in arcane runes (like a chalkboard where work was in progress, obviously the work of the troglodyte who scribed the arcane circles of the crystal chamber), another was the chamber of macabre skinned specimens and the attached skinning chamber (including table with blood channels and tools of the trade) where the remnants of several human children were found. Loot was found, but most of it appeared to be items missed and left behind after a hasty departure.
The party surmises that most of the remaining troglodytes have fled into the Underdark except possibly for a few stragglers or those not wanting to leave their lair.
There are now two directions left to go a ramp up and a ramp down...
The party choose to take the ramp up. This tunnel although definitely constructed by the Ancients seems to be of later construction, more like the utilitarian tunnels located deeper below, less polished than the rest of the "temple" level. At the top of the ramp is a 10'x15' room with a stone door. Unlike the other doors encountered so far, this one was obviously crafted by the Ancients, and appears to roll into the wall.
Rowan moved forward to examine the door and the room was enveloped in a magical blast of acid, severely burning several party members who had entered the room. Everyone froze and the rest of the room was checked, but no additional traps were found. The door itself was massive with no obvious locking mechanism, but it refused to budge. Two crowbars and four members of the party strained at it, and finally after several heaves and with a crunching sound the door shifted smoothly to the side. It was discovered that on the interior side, someone had placed a small stone to jam the door.
Beyond was a large chamber, a granite altar was in front of the door, a large mural to the left and in the dim light at the far side of the chamber could be seen a raised dais with a larger altar and beyond that a large round door. Entering cautiously the party examined the closest altar, but did not detect any active magic.
The mural on the left appears to have been added some time well after the construction of the room. Etched, painted and chalked into place on the walls. Mostly done in black and white with color for highlights, it depicted a titanic creature. Its lower torso was composed of several serpents with many heads (bringing to mind stories about hydras), a humanoid torso and arms and head and sprouting from its back a multitude of other serpentine heads. The lower portion of the creatures was drawn in an elongated and fading manner suggesting a long distance into emptiness. The middle portion of the body lays partially on some sort of terrain of chaos, smoke and fire. The clawed hands grip and rip and fracture the terrain... Its head is shrouded in darkness with only its eyes visible, which seem to gaze at a person no matter where they stand, in which were two faintly glowing gems (the gems detect as radiating illusion magic). The whole image gives the impression that the creature is poised between pulling itself out of the void behind it or slipping back... The heads sprouting from its back spread out as if questing or seeking for something. Each one of them have been redrawn from the original to appear like troglodytes features and faces. The rest of the mural (approximately half or a third of the drawing) has all been totally defaced.
After the party begins to move into the chamber, a strange sound begins to reverberate through the room. The sound is unsettling in the extreme and on queue zombies and skeletons emerge from flanking portions of the room. Everyone managed to scamper back to the entrance, but the Fianna Brietta was caught flat-footed and surrounded by undead. Luckily she only took minor damage and was able to withdraw. A brief battle ensued at the bottleneck of the door and the undead were destroyed. During the battle, Brietta spotted a troglodyte deep in the dimly lit part of the chamber. Maertag cast a force missile at the troglodyte, but it disappeared. Drust also realized that at some point the strange sound had faded away unnoticed.
The large door behind the altar is engraved with a seven pointed star diagram with symbols recessed at each point. At the top point filling the recess was an object about palm size also bearing a symbol which seemed to be shrouded in shadows, yet detected only faintly of illusion magic. Rowan examined the gateway, found no traps and pulled down the object, announcing she was going to keep it for herself (identification shows that the wearer can once a day use a "shadow blend" ability, similar to Blur spell except that it cannot be used in bright light, duration 1 minute).
It was surmised through study (Arcana rolls) that if the other recessed points were filled with the appropriate parts the gateway should open.
Also found was a "A Tome of Dark Leather" written on some type of vellum, and bound in dark troglodyte hide/leather which appears to have some remnant of its light absorbing quality. Inscribed on the front cover is an interlocking draconic fire symbol. The book appears to have information about the incantations and rituals the troglodytes used to animate the dead and an extensive section on the qualities of dragon fire (the book can be used to research necromancy or evocation fire spells).
In another room was found what appeared to be a sleeping snake, but which ended up being an Iron Cobra, an inactive construct intricately constructed of about 100lbs of heavy black iron. After study, Maertagh thinks that with some magical working he could activate it and give it a new command phrase. Brietta has volunteered to carry the Iron Cobra until it can be further researched.
- What appears to have been a main temple of the troglodytes was explored.
- A mural depicting a titanic multi-headed snake creature was found with magical gems for eyes. A large portion of the mural has been defaced.
- An Iron Cobra, a magical construct was found, and with study it could be activated.
- A "Tome of Dark Leather" was found containing knowledge of necromancy and fire evocation magic.
- A gateway was discovered with seven points and seven symbols. It was surmised that if the symbol points were filled with the appropriate objects, then the gateway would open.
- There was one symbol present in the gateway which Rowan appropriated for herself as an amulet. It gives a magical "shadow blend" ability.
Dungeoncrawl - Ancient Magic
The party explored the remainder of the caverns in the Ancient's 'temple', encountering some magical traps and a few stray undead. At the lowest point of the temple the base of the monolith stone was found surrounded by numerous magical pillars, obscured by some type of field that seemed like a sheet of water. Beyond the pillars could be seen a water elemental forming into a column then crashing back into a wave and sometimes frolicking in the water in a fey-like humanoid form. It appears to be generating large amounts of water. The pillars were too narrow to allow entrance, but no ill effects were suffered by pushing limbs between the posts, and no actions seemed to attract the notice of the elemental.
In one corner of the chamber was another round room with more magical pillars, except that one was cracked and broken. Beyond was what appeared to be a bowl of fire above an altar with an object on it. Closer inspection revealed that the object was a three fingered gauntlet. Every attempt to move past the pillar resulted in the flame manifesting as a fire elemental which attacked, and no other action seemed to affect it (water from the other elemental was acquired and splashed about and several type of other approaches were attempted). Finally, several languages were attempted and the elemental reacted to the Sylvan language spoken by Nemsey with the cryptic comment "Only the worthy may pass".
Nemsey moved into the room and was not attacked. He was able to retrieve the gauntlet and when he put it on, the elemental whooshed and disappeared into the gauntlet. Later after identification it was found to have the following properties:
- It is called the Claw of Imbrol
- The gauntlet has three clawed fingers and may be worn on either hand.
- It is crafted of leather and some unknown alloy that has an appearance like electrum (a silver gold appearance). It has a star or sun like symbol in the palm.
- It may be used as a spiked gauntlet, but does slashing damage instead of piercing.
- It counts as magical (but does not have any bonuses).
- It may be used by anyone proficient with simple or natural weapons.
- Its properties only work for a divine caster with the divine domain of Fire or Destruction. For a divine caster with the Fire domain, it grants a bonus domain of Destruction or vice versa (if you have Destruction it grants Fire). This is in addition to any other domains. (For 5th possibly Light and Tempest?)
- The elemental spirit entered the gauntlet and the wearer has a one-shot charge of Burning Hands at CL=PC level.
- There are other powers or properties not yet identified.
After completely exploring the remainder of the level, the party jammed the Ancient's doorway (the only known entrance into the area) and spent a night at rest undisturbed. The next day the party left the temple area and returned to where the underdrake was encountered and explored the remaining rooms. Some additional loose loot was discovered but it is evident that the troglodytes have retreated taking many of their belongings with them.
One suite of rooms seemed to belong to some of the leaders. Another area appears to possibly have been a treasure chamber of some sort (now empty). In another set of pillared rooms, was discovered another evil altar with an open book (a tome of ink and vellum, bound with plaques of thin obsidian and etched in draconic with the word "Metamorphosis"). The book is valuable for the obsidian plaques alone, but can also be used for magical research in transmutation. The next room contained a ball of darkness suspended by ropes between 4 dark pillars, at the bottom of which were numerous bones. Use of a light spell revealed a trapped darkmantle which was eerily moaning and fluttering about its cage. It was quickly destroyed with arrows.
Down another level a water filled tunnel was explored, and may also have been a treasure chamber, now also empty except for a few stray coins. It was noticed since the undead are no longer powering the pump room that the water level has risen higher ('dry' areas are now muddy and muddy areas are now submerged).
Satisfied that all known passages had been searched the party proceeded to the aqueduct and followed it against the current until it sloped too steeply upward and footing became treacherous. It appears that the tunnel goes vertical, and it was surmised that the water elemental may be the generating the water for the aqueduct.
Finally leaving the caves, the party spends day or two returning to the Four Winds Tavern where they will arrive just in time for the Autumnal Equinox celebration of Mabon. Everyone plans to spend the festival week resting and recuperating and engaging in various other activities.
Session #50 (Most of the Festival Week is 'downtime activities')
Greeting Day - Opening ceremonies presented by Elders and Priests.
On the first day of the Festival, the party has a meeting with Laithan, Kene and Tenetty with whom they share all the details about their exploration of the Tor Gweddan caves. The Elders plan on sharing this information with select other Clan Elders, in particular Vaemyr Fionn (the Clan Warden) and Keedon Fionn (the Clan High Priest). Maertagh helps his mother Kene and his sister preside over the opening ceremonies of the holy week. Nemsey and Rowan relax at the Four Winds, eating, drinking and sleeping.
Traders Day - Merchants and peddlers have a trade fair and start opening booths for the days ahead.
On the second day Drust and Maera procure some finer clothing ('noble attire'). Nobody does much this day except rest and relax with or without partners (there is no shortage of partners for the local Fianna heroes if they want company).
Games Day (3rd day of Festival) - Informal competitions, races, wrestling. At night there will be entertainments, storytelling, feasting and bonfire dances.
Drust and Maera go to Carumyr and assist Laithan and Eitaen with events at the village. Nemsey travels with them, then heads into the woods north seeking his mother Anwen. Maertagh helps his family oversee activities in the plaza in front of the Four Winds and scribes some scrolls. Rowan rests during the day, but when the evening fires are lit, she dances among the bonfires with all the revelers in the shadow light and occasionally entertains younglings with sleight of hand tricks until deep in the night. Later she leads a couple of bold young pranksters out, sneaking about doing things like swapping caramel apples for caramel onions, stuffing shoes with bits of cloth, and rigging doors to drop hay on people’s heads when they open them, etc.
Priests Day - Most significant of the festival days. This is the equinox, day and night are equal. The moon Selene is full on this night (one of only 4 times a year) and her sister Luna is in the last quarter (half full, waning). Many ceremonies (marriages, handfastings, naming days, etc) and religious observances happen on this day.
Nemsey travels to where is last encountered his mother, where he had been granted a mysterious vision, but was unsuccessful locating her. He decides to use his abilities the next few days to scout the land seeking mature Darkwood.
In the evening after most of the regular ceremonies, Laithain takes Drust and Maera to a gathering of Fionn Elders in Ceirin. This is a social gathering and highlighting the evening is the guest Baacha Mabryn the Tanist (heir) of Queen Saene Mabryn Tiran from the city of Gwindnyr (upriver to the west). While not an official political gathering, and people flow from group to group, some of the tensions between elders can be seen in the three cliques that they gravitate into. There are other notable citizens and guests in attendance such as Velan the Bard, the Moryan herald Neva and a visiting Elf merchant from Feylin. At some point in time Laithan moves to introduce Drust and Maera to Baacha Mabryn, and she turns to Drust and says “Ah! Greetings cousin Fionn, we haven’t been introduced yet. I was wondering why you had decided to join the Fianna.”
Drust looks about the room at all the faces of Clan Fionn and really feels a pang because there is a strong resemblance to his family and it reminds him of them. Laithan steps in smoothly to correct Baacha’s error, and introduces Drust and Maera as winners of the Fianna Competition just held, etc., etc. Later Laithan is gazing at Drust with this speculative look on his face. “We really should spend some time to talk about your family and history. I never have asked…” (this conversation has not happened yet)
Warrior’s Day – The more experienced warriors and clan members compete in more martial and formal competitions.
Various party members participate in the competitions and continue their general revelry.
Bard’s Day – This is the last day of entertainments.
Various party members participate in the competitions and continue their general revelry. Drust in particular spends some time polishing his storytelling skills. In addition, he spends time with Tenetty learning about the Fianna (Drust also let it be known that he is interested in gaining rank among the Fianna himself). He also turns over to her a Fianna gold arm band that was found among the loot of the troglodytes and asks he she has any knowledge about who it might have belonged to.
Nemsey spent most of the days searching for Darkwood (using his knowledge of nature and spending 4 hours a day for 3 days flying as an eagle). He was successful and located a stand of trees at a location approximately 20 miles west of Ceirin, in the dark wood region just north of the Cynon Hills. Nemsey was only able to determine the general location and note that there was webbing seen among the lower branches of the trees. On the trip to the Sun Temple, he plans look into what is required to obtain permission from the Circle to harvest any of this resource.
Info about the area where Darkwood was spotted: South, between the Cynon Hills and the Sinann River lies the Cynon road. This is the primary land route between Gwindnyr and Ceirin. Most travelers use the river if they can afford it, as the road is plagued by both bandits and strange creatures that come down from the haunted hills. The region north of the hills is mostly uninhabited dark woods stretching to the Ostorath mountains. However this region is also thought to be the home of the Nathair Pict tribe. The symbols that have appeared from time to time in Ceirin, Drake's Maw (and now in Rhyas see below) was recently discovered to be the symbol of this tribe. It was not recognized as Nathair previously because it is a different variation of what they have used in the past.
Lord’s Day – The is the last day of festival where the elders and priests hold closing ceremonies.
On the last day of the festival, most of the party members met with several prominent Clan Fionn Elders, including Marshal Addrin Fionn (daughter of Elder Vaemyr Fionn the most powerful of the clan families), Lathain Fionn, his niece and heir Eitaen and Kene Fionn, Maertagh's mother. Tenetty was also there (the meeting was at the Four Winds), but she kept to the background. At the meeting, Drake's Maw was discussed and what should be done about the complex there, the Ancient's magical artifacts and the Underdark entrance. After some discussion and suggestions by the players, the Marshal decided to send some patrols to the area around Drake's Maw (but they would be infrequent since the entrance is in dark woods about two days from Ceirin). After sharing information about events at Tor Gweddan, the Elders urge the party to take news and firsthand information about these developments to the Sun Temple of Lugh and the party agrees to do it.
After the Marshal departs, Kene and Laithan make a separate request of the party, asking that they escort the tithe from themselves and several other Clan Elders directly to the Sun Temple. This is unusual because the tithes are normally gathered for the entire clan and delivered together. This is more evidence of the friction among the Clan Elders and there were hints that such funds were mishandled in the past. Traveling with the party are Laithan's niece Eitaen and her bodyguard Yeoman Bacha, a grey haired but obviously tough female warrior. It is decided that traveling my river is probably safest and fastest and the next day is spent preparing for the journey.
- Nemsey has acquired a unique and mysterious magical item called the Claw of Imbrol. He has also discovered mature Darkwood.
- Drust has nominated naming the cavern complex "Drake's Maw".
- Brand and Hadotti leave the party to visit his people and then make a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Arawn (they are now NPCs).
- At a gathering of Clan Fionn Elders at mid-festival, a visitor from another clan accidently addresses Drust as 'cousin'. Looking around the room, Drust suddenly notices that there does seem to be a distinct familial resemblance between himself and all the Clan Fionn families. Laithan looks speculatively at Drust afterward and says that they must have a conversation about his background and family some time.
Escort the Tithe
The trip downriver is quick and uneventful even with pushing on after dusk to arrive in Rhyas. Rhyas is an independent trade town set on the south bank of the Sinann River and is a major stopover point for goods traveling further downriver or to the Sun Temple. At Rhyas the boat crew is rewarded by Eitaen and then suitable lodgings are found for the group.
Maertagh and Rowan stay at the inn with Eitaen and Bacha to guard the tithe, but Drust and Nemsey decide the sample the nightlife of Rhyas with Mr. Humphries accompanying them. Later at a random tavern near the wharfs called Lampblack, Drust is in the middle of a 'tale of daring do' when a scuffle is heard from another part of the inn.
Investigating the sound, a female warrior is found surrounded by some unsavory looking thugs. Stepping in to give assistance, Drust is shocked to discover that it is his sister Kylan, his only surviving family member. Between Drust, Nemsey and Mr. Humphries, the thugs are dealt with quickly, some fleeing without even fighting once the odds shifted against them. During the scuffle, one is heard to mumble something about "the reward" to the other thugs when trying to encourage them to fight.
After the fight there is tension between the siblings. Kylan obviously doesn't want to even look at Drust, responding to his offer of help with only "Thank you brother, you've done quite enough for the family already, I'll be on my way." Also just as obviously (to Drust with his sense motive), she is hiding something else from him, darting a look at one of the inn rooms. Rather than push it, Drust backs off and Kylan quickly leaves the Lampblack by the back door.
The bodies of the thugs are searched, but they don't have much, their weapons, a few coins, and one has four smoke sticks and a set of thieves tools and the now well known amulet of the Nathair Picts... The town guard eventually shows up, but there are plenty of witnesses and Drust and Nemsey are both Fianna, so there are no repercussions once a couple of coins change hands.
Later, while he is trying to gather what information he can about his sister, Drust receives a second shock as his youngest sister Gwenifar (who he though was dead) slipped into the tavern. After a brief tearful reunion, Gwenifar explains only very briefly Kylan doesn't tell her anything, that they seem to have been on the run for months, never staying in one place for long. She also says that she must get back to Kylan quickly before she is discovered missing. Finally, she reveals shyly/embarrassedly that the two of them do need something... money. She asks if Drust has any to spare (eyeing his new clothing as she asks). Drust manages to scrape up about 50gp worth of coins and valuables to give her. Drust tells her that he can usually be found at the Four Winds (or word can be left for him there). Gwenifar promises to work on Kylan to re-establish their relationship and then departs.
Drust wants to find out more about his sisters and who may have attacked them and why (what "reward" were they talking about?). Using his social skills and a few hours (Diplomacy Gather Information result = 26 sheesh) he finds an 'information broker" named Jozan who feels he has a debt to replay to the Fianna...
The Information Broker and Travel to Templeton
Session #51 (Note - the recap notes are missing, here are some of the play session prep notes and guesswork of what happened during the session)
Jozan the Information Broker, uses many phrases in thieves cant (translation added in parenthesis). Every dot dot dot is a pause for Drust to ask questions or interact.
Drust speaks with Jozan who goes on for some time about how a Fianna helped him out of a tight spot once and about how generous she was and...
"Beggin yer pardon goodman, if they be of importance to you, but were just interested in some bit (money)..."
Jozan goes on apologetically for some time until Drust reassures him that he is not upset with him, slipping in other references to generosity...
"Rumors say that the pair (his sisters) be worth a bag of tin (silver) to someone and that word could be left at a particular tavern o'er on the docks... The Brass Bottle... Though you wont rightly see it written, there be a bottle hung from a string above the door... I don't want anybody to be saying Jozan has a long tongue (an informant), so if you forget who it was you talked to... I just hear things you know? I don't really know the facts but I heard the place is a stalling ken (a fence) where folks can go to brace up their swag (sell their loot). They're birds of a feather (a gang) them duffers (cheats who sell smuggled goods). Unless you have some sense and some expense money (a bribe), if you ask the wrong questions, the bouncers there will take you out back to have a chat (kill). Then again, they may have heard that you sent Smed and Brevan legit (killed the thugs attacking his sister), so who knows maybe they see you coming and they'll take a dive (go hide out)... Of course I won't go switch on you (sell information), no not Jozan, no after you've been so fair to me an all (still looking for payment for his info)... It'd be my guess - I just hear things you know? It'd be my guess that those duffers don't do much spiriting away for amusement (they don't normally do kidnapping), someone else has to be doing the flag waving (planning)... I'd say it has to be from upriver... I have a pair o'eyes (a lookout) on a business down at big forks (Tilith). That's all Jozan knows... for sure... preciate it you didn't mention Jozan, no reason for anyone to think there's a hole in need of plugging (an informant)..."
The next day the party travels on to Templeton and the Sun Temple of Lugh. The trip is uneventful and eventually they arrive at the border of the town, a river ford. Immediately on the other side is the Shrine of the Blessed Cartis where travelers make a copper donation and receive a pewter token. Lodgings are found...
Sun Temple of Lugh Part 1
Session #52 (Note - the recap notes are missing, here are some of the play session prep notes and guesswork of what happened during the session)
The party completes escorting Eitaen and yeoman Bacha to the Sun Temple and stay with them until their tithe has been received and logged with all due ceremony and Eitaen officially says that the Fianna have completed their duty as escort.
Maertag goes to meet with Elvonal the High Druid of Selene (the highest ranking priest of Selene) to discuss the party's findings and his upcoming elevation. While Maertag is making arrangements Nemsey takes this opportunity to attempt to research additional information about the Claw of Imbrol in the temple library. With some assistance from a librarian he was able to find that the symbol on the palm was one of elemental chaos and that it is actually a very ancient lesser artifact. Nemsey realizes that he will need help to do additional research (research is not one of his skills and this is something that may require a Sage).
Eventually it is determined that the party should have an audience with the Arch Druid (Neal Readda, Arch Druid of the West, a cleric of Lugh). At the appointed time, they are escorted into the council chamber. The party is one of several groups waiting their turn and listening as the Circle conduct open business and hears petitions.
Present with the Arch Druid is Momach the High Druid of Lugh (a Cleric of Lugh known for his martial prowess and for being wielder of the Searing Spear a holy relic), Elvonal the High Druid of Selene (Maertagh's superior), Sorcha Halewen a Deacon of Lugh, Larne Tunaire a Deacon of Inanna, and Trethne Moryan a Deacon of Luna. Numerous other lesser priests are in attendance as well as the Temple Guard. The party is formally introduced to the Circle one at a time by a herald with their names and titles (Maertagh Fionn son of Kene, Priest of Selene, Drust of the Fianna, Rowan Melandar of the Fianna, Nemsey, Fianna Druid of Lugh).
Elvona gets a far away look after Nemsey is introduced and she leans over and whispers something to the Arch Druid. The Arch Druid rises and speaks to Nemsey, "Wilder. Step into the Light of Lugh with me." Nemsey complies and steps into the glowing sunlight with the Arch Druid for a moment then he speaks, "You bear the symbol of Lugh, but it is not the heat of the sun I feel within you, but something else... Who do you worship?" Nemsey proclaims his faith in Lugh, but the Arch Druid seems unsatisfied. He asks, "Who do you worship?" Nemsey is confused the once again affirms his faith in Lugh. "You border on blasphemy wilder, whatever prayers you mumble in the dawn, they are not for Lugh's benefit."
The Arch Druid's eyes take on a definite glow of the power of Lugh and he speaks firmly to Nemsey, "Upon you I pronounce this Doom. You must reconcile that which is within you and find the true divine that your soul follows. You have until mid-winder to present yourself to me and profess your true God. Until then, you may not be elevated (advance in level as a divine caster). If you fail to attend me at the appointed time, you will be branded a heretic and banished. If it is found your soul follows an outer spirit, you will be purified by Lugh's Flame..."
The room is shocked by this strange turn of events and in that stillness the Arch Druid walks to his council seat. Whispered speculation erupts among the others attendance. But then Elvona stands and on that queue the herald pounds his staff for order. Elvonal then turns to the council and gives and gives a brief intro, "Many of you already know Maertagh, and these others are winners of the Fianna Competition at Rhan Fionn during Litha. They have been traveling the land and have come to bring us news and information about something they have found in their travels..."
Having practiced a bit, Drust steps up and uses his bardic skills to tell of their recent adventures, focusing on key points:
- The monolith discovered on Tor Gweddan, and the Ancient magic found in the complex underneath (the magic pillars, the related necromancy).
- The Ancient elemental related areas and magic found, including the Claw of Imbrol.
- The magic Doorway found and their guesses about it requiring seven 'keys' to open (I don't believe it was revealed that Rowan has one of these keys in her possession).
- The unusual troglodyte necromancers that seem to have been driven out.
- The Underdark entrance and their guesses about the Serpent's Eye Goblins.
- The signs found of involvement by the Nathair Picts.
The Circle council spend at least an additional hour asking questions and discussing the meaning of this information and possible responses. Among the ideas discussed boil down to ignoring the threat, exploring and exploiting it, burying it or attempting to destroy it. There is significant debate about the perils and benefits of these options.
The council also queried into the party's level of interest in future involvement with the site as the finders and the ones responsible for driving out the Troglodyte Necromancers (if they have been truly driven out). (The player response was a little vague. Nobody seemed hot to do something like take it over and make it their own base, but nobody wanted to just leave it entirely in the hands of the NPCs either.)
The attitude of the council in general:
- Arch Druid Neal Readda: Made no comment and seemed neutral, even with keen sense motive applied.
- High Druid of Lugh Momach: "You've destroyed a nest of evil it sounds like they will not recover for generations." (Ignore/Bury)
- High Druid of Selene Elvonal: "Let us pray and look for signs..." (Neutral)
- Trethne Moryan Deacon of Luna: "This lies close to Fionn lands and they are unreliable. Fionn should bear the expense for their own protection and not the other clans." (Bury, obviously her Clans attitude about Clan Fionn was affecting her thoughts)
- Larne Tunaire Deacon of Inanna: "There are too many dangers left already by the Ancients, we cannot abandon this to dark forces, and these necromantic pillars seem an abomination..." (Destroy)
- Sorcha Halewen Deacon of Lugh: "This should be explored, perhaps we will found a new great temple for the Circle or discover more powers of the Ancients... At least we would know more about what is there. Bringing light could illuminate the right path...." (Exploit)
After much discussion, the Arc Druid has everyone step away while the council confers more privately for a moment. At the end of the discussion, he announces that further study and investigation must be conducted and that an expedition will be mounted to reach the site, secure it, and gather additional information for further consideration by the Circle. Trethne Moryan also adds that news of this must be sent to the Great Druid soon as well. (Drust's sense motive detects consternation about this from Larne Tunaire Deacon of Inanna and also from Elvonal High Druid of Selene, but various types of approval from Sorcha Halewen Deacon of Lugh and several other attendant priests.)
Sun Temple of Lugh Part 2
Session #53 Immediately after the meeting with the Circle council.
Game Date 10/4 - The Circle Council has decided that something must be done about the findings at 'Drake’s Maw' and an expedition is to be created to investigate further and make recommendations. Everyone was confused the worried about the pronouncement of the Arch Druid about Nemsey.
For the remainder of that day Nemsey goes to the main altar of Lugh to pray. Drust waits by the council doors to seek guidance about Nemsey from one of the priests in attendance. Maertagh goes to pray and purify himself for his ‘elevation’ that night in the sacred grove. Rowan leaves the temple to get a better feel for the underbelly of Templeton.
Later when the Sun Temple Council completes its business for the day, Drust encounters Deacon Sorcha Halewen as he exits the hall (the High Druids and the Arch Druid seem to have left by another exit). Deacon Sorcha is Aed’s direct superior. Drust asks some basic questions about how the Circle feels about people associating with ‘renegades’ like Picts (and possibly Nemsey if things don’t go well for him). Sorcha basically says that individual men must be judged for themselves... and while there are Pict tribes that are more benign than others, most of the tribes worship evil spirits and are thus enemies of the Angharad gods. Later in the discussion Drust asks questions about “the Arch Druid’s intention” (or something like that), and Sorcha quite deliberately explains that it was the God Lugh making his will known through his vessel, not something the Arch Druid decided to do on a whim.
After some further discussion about religion and the possible implications of the Arch Druid’s Geas on Nemsey, Sorcha asks Drust if he can take him to see Nemsey.
Drust and Sorcha approach Nemsey at the Altar of Lugh, where he is fervently praying for guidance. They respectfully wait for him to pause. Sorcha, one of the temple artificers, is very interested in the Claw of Imbrol. He carefully examines the Claw while it remains on Nemsey’s hand. Nemsey asks for guidance about the Arch Druid's words, but Sorcha only looks at him impassively and says that he cannot give Nemsey any answers and then he takes his leave.
That night after a ritual cleansing Maertagh walks to the sacred grove accompanied by the High Druid Elvonal where they discuss the ritual and Maertagh’s role in the discoveries at Tor Gweddan. Subtly Elvonal makes it clear that if Maertagh wishes to gain the title of Deacon and advance in rank (as well as level), that he would need to assume some type of leadership role in Tor Gweddan expedition, and that he should consider carefully because Circle politics can be deadly as well as rewarding. Maertagh decides to accept the responsibility. During the ritual at the grove among the sacred stones he is formally acknowledged in his new priest level and Elvonal bestows upon him the rank of Deacon. Maertagh now has authority within the Sun Temple. That night Maertagh sacrifices the silver and gemmed necklace to Selene seeking guidance from the Goddess… He gains a feeling that to ignore the findings within Drake’s Maw would be a mistake, but none as to whether the future hold weal or woe.
Game Date 10/5 - Maertagh spends the day seeing to administrative duties planning the Sun Temple’s expedition to Drake’s Maw and the Tor Gweddan Ancient monolith. At the end of the day Maertagh’s role has been cleared up and initial plans are laid. It will take about a week before the expedition will be ready and Maertagh’s presence will not be needed until then. Drust spends the time researching religion and Nemsey continues to pray for guidance.
Return to Rhyas
Game Date 10/6 - At Drust’s urging the party hits the road back to Rhyas, he is determined to find out more information about his sisters and who it is that may be hunting them. The group turns in their badges to the Shrine of Blessed Cartis and travel uneventfully to Rhyas. They decide to stay at the same inn Eitaen took them to (The Weary Badger) where they order a meal and divvy up the expenses. That night Drust regales the Inn crowd with tales about the Fianna Competition and later he finds someone to chat with that happens to know the location of the Brass Bottle.
The party finds the place and indeed there is nothing marking the building except a brass bottle hung from a string in front of a dive on a small street not far from the docks. They send Nemsey out to watch the back and Mr. Humphries is on aerial lookout while Maertagh and Drust enter the tavern.
The place is dark and smoky and the clientele are a rough looking bunch. Drust enters the room wearing his nobles outfit, but with armor and weapons obvious with Maertagh priest of Selene in his kilt right behind. The place grows quiet at this interruption by unwanted company. Drust moves to an empty table and slams a fistful of gold down along with his dagger, “I’m seeking information about…” (DC 24 Diplomacy check with both carrot and stick evident for all). Drust notices several eyes darting to a man in a back corner who looks at Drust from behind half lidded eyes. The man nods someplace to Drust’s right, gets up, flips back a curtain at his back and leaves. Before Drust can puzzle this out a nearby woman introduces herself and says that she can help. She says straight out that she has two pieces of information to sell as she eyes the gold greedily. She says she'll what’s on the table for the first, and if he likes what he hears, he can pay the like again for more.
The woman reveals that there’s a gang over in Ceirin that “deals in a bot o’ the X, and they put the word out about them girls”. Drust asked a few more questions, but the only other useful information was the general location of their hangout in Ceirin. After some haggling (that doesn’t go anywhere, she knows he can afford it), Drust coughs up another 10gp. She takes the gold and says, "Word has it that a fellow comes along visiting the Bottle out of twig (in disguise) from time to time and before that he be in Temple togs (clerical vestments)... He comes along about once a month normally... but this visit was out of style (not normal)... An he met with the same mob (group) that wanted them girls..."
Meanwhile, Nemsey and Mr. Humphries manage to track the suspicious man who slipped out of the Brass Bottle. After concluding with the woman there the party head over to yet another tavern called The Lampblack. When the party enters, they see the man having conversation with Jozan, who appears to be sweating. The man is slightly surprised that he was followed, and tosses his head at Jozan, who beats a hasty retreat. The man is dressed somewhat better than the other thugs and unsavory folk about. He is obviously armed with a wicked looking morning star and seemingly confident even with (three?) Fianna facing him. An expression of realization momentarily dawns on him and he mutters something about eyes in the sky.
The man does not give his name and he is obviously not used to having any man question his business, but he lets it be known that he is "an upright man about the docks... (the gang boss) and he left the Brass Bottle "because it wouldn't do for my people to be telling tales while I'm about to see it. But I could see yer a man that wouldn't take no fer an answer about your kin, so I gave them the nod." (his approval to give Drust information). The man takes his leave, but unexpectedly he turns to Drust and throws in a parting comment, "If you feel the need to speak again some time, you can leave word for 'Gar' here at the Lampblack."
Would be Kidnappers Trail
The game starts early morning on the 7th of Patchwall (Oct) at Rhyas. The party stocks up on supplies and departs for Ceirin on foot following the road on the south side of the Sinann River. The first day they march an extra hour and stay at an inn at Darwy’s Crossing. Drust tells some stories and Rowan skulks about town getting to know the area. The next day is spent traveling and the group stays at one of the river camps called Gwen Valley with a taciturn cloth merchant heading upriver, several peddlers, and river-clanners with a boatload of ore from Argenton. On the third day the party arrives at the Ceirin Ferry, where the Fianna and priest of Selene are given free ride across the river to Ceirin.
The party heads straight from the ferry to the Laughing Wench (aka The Harlot) about early afternoon. Drust gathers information about a snowstorm in Daga pass ruining a House Runiver merchant, a 100gp bounty on a murder named Fearam son of Ishal, and that a Black Stag has been seen near The Tump (a landmark in the south, the Black Stag is an ill omen). Drust is able to find the name of the local drug gang, the “Grey Hand” and the name of the boss “Uthain”, but it isn’t until he asks a few more pointed questions and flashes one of the amulets that things get more directly interesting.
A Harlot employee named Redd approaches Drust and asks if he needs any X (an illegal drug). In conversation Drust lets it ‘slip’ that he might have information to sell about a woman being sought by the Grey Hand. The man is being slightly cagey, trying to find out where Drust can be found “once I pass the word along”. Something in the conversation causes Redd to suddenly notice he’s speaking to Fianna about kidnapping a woman, and he recognizes Drust as one of the competition winners… He backs away quickly, mumbling an apology and makes himself scarce.
In the meantime Nemsey, Maertagh and Mr. Humphries have moved outside and are doings some basic recon. Mr. Humphries immediately spots a lookout on rooftop of the warehouse location the players had been given directions to. Nemsey, then beast shapes into a cat and goes about looking for a way to gain access to the warehouse. He has just spotted a way for a cat to get access to the roof when Maertagh gives him the head’s up that someone appears to be headed directly to the warehouse.
It’s a messenger urchin and after repeated knocking at the door, a peephole opens, followed by the small door. Nemsey, alerted to this opportunity, darts in between the boy’s feet and gets inside the warehouse. Dodging a kick and a curse from the man opening the door, Nemsey runs under the wagon and hides nearby.
The warehouse is filled with crates and barrels and various goods, with an area set up with beds and a table where three or so other thugs are dicing. Above the sleeping area there is a loft. The door opener and message urchin exchange a few words “Ascos sends word that Fianna are snooping around asking questions…”. After the boy leaves the door is bolted shut and the thug repeats the message to Uthain who shouts back down from the loft “Alight boys we’re closing up shop for a few days, get moving…”
While the thugs start to gather up their belongings, Nemsey takes the opportunity to return to his normal form and vacate the warehouse, but he is seen as he slips out. The door is bolted as he moves away from the warehouse, but someone was watching from the peephole slot.
The party gathers back together to discuss what to do next when Mr. Humphries spots the thugs leaving the warehouse by the back entrance. Drust, being the fastest, is able to make it around the back way in time to identify the thugs who are splitting up every which way to blend with other foot-traffic. He also spots a man that appears to be better dressed (who he suspects is Uthain) and starts to follow him.
The whole party is trailing Drust who is trailing Uthain. Walking casually, Uthain might have been lost in the normal street traffic except for Drust’s shadowing and Mr. Humphries aerial recon coordination via Maertagh’s message spell.
Uthain heads around several buildings, circling around, and spots some of those trailing behind and knows he’s being followed. Knowing the jig is up, Drust charges and tries to trip Uthain, who dodges easily and bolts down the street, ducking into an alley. Around the corner Drust tries to an intimidating shout, but the cold look Uthain throws back over his shoulder in response instead sends a shiver up Drust’s spine. Uthain barges through a door into a chandler’s shop followed hotly by Drust and now also Rowan. Workers squawk and scatter amid their pots of bubbling fat. Between Drust and Rowan, Uthain takes several small wounds, then Uthain busts out the front of the shop into the main square near the Temple of Lugh, where he falls into a heap, wailing and calling for help.
The rest of the party catches up and a small crowd has gathered around the scene.
(Note - this would have been a great opportunity for a buckle and swash style chase scene, but I wasn't prepared for it and we got bogged down counting out squares over a large section of map.)
Session #55 (also incomplete recap notes filled in by memory)
The session starts with the man thought to be Uthain collapsing into a heap in the square not far from the Temple of Lugh, wailing over the wound he has taken and calling for help (“Stop! Don’t hurt me! Please help!!”). The scene quickly draws a crowd, but the authority of Maertagh, clearly a priest of the Circle and the locally known Fianna prevent any well intentioned interference (“This man is a criminal, this is Fianna business…”). Drust begins to pull out some rope and Uthain makes another attempt to flee, however he is surrounded and after taking another wound he surrenders again and is restrained. Shortly two town guardsmen arrive, one an older man, the other younger and a little beefy. The older one charges forward (sense motive reveals he is looking for some heads to bust), but everything is under control and the party quickly explains that they have caught a criminal. “This man is part of a criminal organization… there is evidence he is implicated in drug dealing and kidnapping…” (I believe a successful diplomacy check was made). The older guardsman named Blidd quickly decides that this is a matter for a higher authority (“Aight, enough. You need to speak to the Captain.”). The beefy guard with half lidded eyes is named Dudry.
The group troops off to the nearby guard headquarters. Along the way Drust shares additional information about the events months past (The drug house and the necromatically charged religious implements found). After a brief pause at the duty desk, everyone goes into an interrogation room. Blidd leaves and Dudry stations himself near the door eyeing everyone curiously but not saying anything. Maertagh takes a moment to tend Uthain’s wounds.
The party is in what an 'interview room' and begins to question Uthain. He is mostly silent and gives away little even to Drust's impressive Sense Motive. Eventually Captain Nyssa arrives, but it is clear she is indisposed with some gastrointestinal illness, so with just a word of "lock him up and I'll deal with it later", the players are left to their own devices for handling Uthain. He is taken down to the cells below. There are several sturdy cages in the cellar area with small barred windows at street level and Uthain is locked into one. The party continues its questioning of him while Dudry stands by impassively observing. Maertagh attempts several spells including Zone of Truth, but to no avail (the party did an excellent job of interrogation, but Uthain was a tough cookie). The most they could get out of him as some half admissions to occasionally dealing with 'shady business', while he mostly professed his innocence to the guard and protested about his treatment. One thing became evident through this magical questioning, was that Uthain seemed particularly resistant to magic. Finally when they were out of spells and making no progress, Maertagh used his Knowledge Domain Lore Keeper skill.
Lore Keeper (Sp): You can touch a creature to learn about its abilities and weaknesses. With a successful touch attack, you gain information as if you made the appropriate Knowledge skill check with a result equal to 15 + your cleric level + your Wisdom modifier.
This revealed a number of disturbing things, first it indicated that Uthain was definitely NOT human, it confirmed that he had spell resistance, and revealed that he possessed other spell like abilities.
Maertagh tried to keep his discoveries under wraps, but it was evident to Uthain that he had revealed something somehow. At that point he stonewalled completely, his expression changed from pleading and whining to completely stone-faced and he stopped speaking entirely. The party left the room and discussed what they had discovered. At a loss for what to do next, they impressed upon the guards that Uthain was very dangerous and went off to consult with Eldach the Sage.
At the residence of Eldach, they knocked on the door, which was eventually opened by the Sage's servant. The man attempted to get the party to make an appointment during business hours ("The Sage is next giving consultations in three days..."), but Maertagh pulled rank as a member of Clan Fionn and a Deacon of Selene and Drust emphasized their standing as Fianna, and the man was forced to bring his master. Eldach himself came to the door in a lounging robe, a fussy man put out by this interruption to his day, but the group impressed upon him their seriousness and they explained their need....
This is where the campaign left off. I was under a lot of pressure at work and decided to take a break 'for a month', but that was May of 2015.