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Blood Brethren Trilogy actual playby David Keyser
My ongoing D&D RC/2E AD&D hybrid campaign of 6 real time years is about to embark on the Hollow World Blood Brethren Trilogy. I have decided to commit to capturing this adventure saga as it happens in this thread. Hopefully people will get some entertainment out of this, and I hope to pull this off.
The biggest challenges will be fixing the problems, enabling the players to understand the plot, and avoid the massive suspension of disbelief when the players(not the characters) find out the world is hollow. While I don't think it will happen, you never know when a player will walk away from a game because of something too hard to swallow. Granted most of these guys are unlikely to do that with the time they have invested in their characters, but you never know. I do have a substitute player that knows the world is hollow, but he has no way of knowing this adventure involves that.
I have also been customising the adventure based on the PCs. Some lead-in elements were already established before the first official session of the adventure. One of the PCs had a bad run-in with Irila Kaze two years before current events, and is a student of the Glantrian School of Magic. Another PC is familiar with some areas of the Broken Lands and had seen a previous caravan delivered to the Broken Lands. I had run adventures DDA1 and DDA2, and while Wastoure was never found or even seen, he was quoted in the trial as having come from the centre of the earth. No one picked up on that clue, except for the substitute player.Description of the PCs
Solutions to some timing problems
Prince Udan's companions
Not counting henchman, followers, etc,
The PC party
Roko, Shire Halfling Fighter/Thief 8th level, Master 7th level
The only PC in the campaign from the beginning, back when it started in a tavern with a doppelganger. An ex-pirate who decided to travel and see some of the lands of the Known World. Specialised in the skills of scouting and infiltration while with the party, he later returned to the Shires serving a stint in an army Fang on the eastern border. Having apprenticed as one of the Masters he has been selected for a unique assignment despite the fact that his power is weaker in this role...an emissary abroad for critical missions. His selection is based in part on a unique short range teleportation power he has developed, a mental skill derived from an obscure tome recovered in Blight Swamp.
Major Equipment : Blackflame Dagger, Shortsword +2(det inv x3 daily), elven chainmail, ring of invisibility
Attitude to Glantri : Hostile
Cacius, Thyatian Forester 9th level
Cacius joined the campaign shortly after it started, on the third adventure. Combining great strength with magical power all encased in plate mail armour, this character has been the major powerhouse the other PCs rely on when the combat gets started. He currently rules the Alfheim fiefdom of Emerlas and has gained international fame as the knight with the golden blade after a dramatic assassination attempt on the Thyatian Emperor was averted by Cacius alongside the red gladiator. That blade was later destroyed in sealing off a threat from the Nightmare Dimension, and now he is known among the elves as the dragon slayer. He carries the ancient faedorne sword called Scorbane.
Major Equipment: Platemail +2, kite shield +3, Scorbane
Attitude to Glantri: Indifferent
Thorfio, Human Glantrian Mage 8th level, 2nd Circle Illusionist/Dream Magic
Although not native to Glantri, and with unknown parentage, Thorfio soon made Glantri his home in order to pursue magical study at the Glantrian School of Magic. He plays the role of aloof mage to the hilt, and is a ruthless killer when necessary. His exploration of Lion's Castle in Ethengar gave him the leverage to serve as a lieutenant to Urmahid Krinagar, acting as both a spy and assassin. More than two years ago while in a restricted area in the School's library he uncovered some forgotten documents which hinted at promising forbidden magic. Before he could study the details he was discovered by Irila Kaze, who got him banned from that section of the library. Thorfio carries a grudge, as he suspects she used what he found for herself. [What he found turned out to be a collection of writings on Thanatos, which put her on the path to greater magical power and illegal worship.]
Major Equipment : Staff of power, dagger +2, numerous magical defences
Attitude to Glantri : Friendly
Kier, Hsiao 5th level [equivalent to 9th level cleric]
Kier attached himself to the party for a time intending to recruit them for recovery of some old hsiao nests. It took some time before the rest of the party perceived they were dealing with a sentient being. Kier is a Neutral philosopher, making him something of a renegade amongst his own kind. His affinity for melee combat rather than relying on his magic is also unusual. Kier's close connection with the Immortals has let him perceive that war and great powers will soon rise to conquer or destroy entire nations and peoples, and he is determined to stop what he can. Despite laws against worship in Glantri Kier has established contacts amongst the Belcadiz Elves and certain regions in New Alvar afford him protection. He is also the only party member familiar with the Broken Lands, having managed to infiltrate deep into King Thar's underground kingdom on a successful mission to destroy a weapon dominating Thar.
Major equipment : rod of smiting, red steel claws, hsiao armour +2(feather fall x1 daily)
Attitude to Glantri : Slightly friendly
Su-Taki, Ochalean Chow-Chow Lupin Ranger 8th level
Su-Taki's visit to the mainland resulted in slavery and forced fighting in the gladiator arena, but he soon befriended a Thyatian hero named Cacius and escaped to freedom while stopping a coup that sought to seize Thyatis from the emperor. His personal research into the scattered lupin clans inspire his travels while serving the second purpose of carrying out a vendetta against Alphatian wizards whom he perceives as amoral lords that see themselves as gods. Having recently begun learning druidic magic from a lich on the Ierendi islands, he now debates whether he will use his newfound power to work for his original goal, liberating his homeland from Thyatian rule. He carries the Alphatian crafted blade Zalco, bound with the spirit of one of the last of the nearly extinct brass dragon race.
Major Equipment: Zalco, mithril shortsword, kite shield +2, elven chainmail
Attitude to Glantri : Indifferent
Sigiric, Darine Gypsy Bard 9th level
Sigiric has the gift of foresight, through dreams and his mystical tarot deck. This has aided him in being in the right place and the right time, including joining the Shire army as a mercenary in time to meet Roko and join his Fang. Sigiric is collecting ancient scrolls left by an ancestor, whose gift of foresight was so strong as to predict some of the events Sigiric would encounter in his time. Sigiric uses his ability to forewarn the rest of the group of the dangers they face, although the clues don't always make clear what action should be taken.
Major equipment : Scimitar +2, elven chainmail, Tarot deck, violin
Attitude to Glantri : Ambivalent
DM Commentary : My goals in this session were simply to get everyone on board, and have Sigiric read the cards to give them a taste of what they could expect. If you have any questions about the cards which showed up, feel free to ask, but I expect people familiar with the adventures will be able to guess the meanings. Up to 12 cards could have been drawn, depending on die rolls. We normally meet in person, but this session was played on OpenRPG as one player was travelling for work. To duplicate the card reading in person, I sent 12 emails to Sigiric's player, so that he could roll and select the numbered email for each card.
Also, the substitute player is for Thorfio's character, which is why you see his name as fake Thorfio in the chat log.
: (445) DM Dave: Kier, you relocated here in the winter, and have been laying low
: (445) DM Dave: So Sigiric, in the fall of 1002 AC, after leaving the Shires, and staying for sometime in Karameikos, you and your new followers depart for Glantri
: (445) DM Dave: You reached Corunglain, the city marked Darokin at the bottom of the map...
: (445) DM Dave: And joined up with a larger caravan heading for Glantri
: (445) DM Dave: You have your choice of where you guys camped out once inside Glantri, whether in the big city or in one of the towns
: (445) DM Dave: Ok, the rest of you are outside Glantri for the new year 1003AC
: (445) DM Dave: Roko, you are in the Shires, having finished your training with the new mental powers
: (445) DM Dave: You are in Wereskalot, when a halfling krondar visits your home
: (445) DM Dave: The halfling coolly informs you that two suspicious looking humans are in town and looking for you.
: (445) DM Dave: Krondar, "Don't like the look of them, appear to be mage types, you want us to throw them out of town Roko?"
: (445) DM Dave: I assume you want to check them out though?
: (458) Roko: yep
: (458) Roko: i say that i will gladly meet the fine people that are looking to meet up with me
: (458) Roko: i also send a message to mrs mulgor about this, and say that i will follow up immediately upon returning
: (445) DM Dave: You observe them from a safe vantage point
: (445) DM Dave: And quickly recognise one of them as Thorfio
: (445) DM Dave: The other man you don't recognise, but he is Ethengarian, probably a mage as well.
: (445) DM Dave: The last time you saw an Ethengarian mage, it was during the Halfling Harpoon Debacle
: (445) DM Dave: So you realise these guys being out in the open could start a riot.
: (458) Roko: i usher them in to the nearest krondar office
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio introduces you to the second mage, at the krondar station
: (445) DM Dave: The man is Ethengarian(Mongolian) but you are surprised he has blue eyes.
: (458) Roko: i stab his eyes
: (445) DM Dave: "I am Laran, it is an honour to meet you Roko.
: (445) DM Dave: We need to speak in private
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "Roko, I have an urgent matter to discuss, and you have an established reputation in the Known World."
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio, "Glantri has a big problem Roko."
: (458) Roko: "before we talk about saving the world, why is an Ethengarian here?"
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio, "Every year, to maintain the peace between Glantri and the humanoids in the Broken Lands, they bribe the goblins by sending a caravan."
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "Thorfio wasn't sure if you would come, so I came as well to try and convince you."
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "I understand Glantrian mages are despised in the Shires."
: (384) Cacius: I'm in emerlas, right?
: (384) Cacius: not with everyone
: (445) DM Dave: Yes ben, you are next
: (384) Cacius: word
: (445) DM Dave: This is getting the PCs together
: (384) Cacius: :::smokes the pipe:::
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio, "Roko, this year, the caravan set out to reach the local goblin queen, same as always."
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio, "But it has gone missing."
: (458) Roko: i ask thorfio why i would want to do business w/his friend
: (458) Roko: and why he'd bring one of those scum with him to my home
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "Roko, if the caravan isn't found, the goblins will start a border war, invading Glantri."
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "Glantri has a standing army, but the humanoids will hit the villages and civilians."
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "Roko, you helped stop a war between Vestland and Rockhome."
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "I am making a personal appeal, representing one of the Princes of Glantri, to help me stop another war, before it starts."
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "We have tried conventional methods, and magic, nothing has worked."
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "We need individuals who are exceptional, and think outside the box."
: (458) Roko: then how do you expect me to be of assistance?
: (458) Roko: i have magic and conventional methods
: (458) Roko: i mean, i do tend to always find the backdoor to almost anything
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "Thorfio has offered to gather his old adventuring comrades and bring them to Glantri City. There you can get briefed and assist in trying to locate the caravan."
: (458) Roko: have the others been approached?
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "Exactly Roko, we need that expertise. You and your friends may find something we missed."
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio, "Kier and Sigiric are already in Glantri, I will visit Cacius and Su-Taki next, Laran will be prepared to teleport you as soon as you are ready to leave the Shires. You won't have to walk it."
: (458) Roko: awfully thoughtful of you
: (458) Roko: :-)
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "If you are willing, take as much time as you need, but we can't afford to wait for conventional travel."
: (458) Roko: thorfio, i will do this only because it's you asking
: (458) Roko: i will be watching my back around those Ethengarian types
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "Roko, you have my personal assurance that no harm will come to you in Glantri, the ruling wizards have decreed that all foreigners which are brought in to assist with locating the caravan will not be harmed or experimented on. Even halflings and dwarves."
: (458) Roko: that's reassuring
: (458) Roko: however, if i help, and if we succeed, i would like assurances
: (458) Roko: assurances regarding your treatment of my people
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "Of course."
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "I will let you speak with the minister in charge, he can explain what we can do."
: (458) Roko: i would like to hear that from someone with real authority
: (458) Roko: excellent
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "Of course, each of the principalities has its own laws, but halflings do have allies among some of the pincipalities."
: (458) Roko: i chuckle
: (458) Roko: and shake my head
: (445) DM Dave: Ok, Cacius, and Su-Taki, Thorfio also appears, teleports with scrolls, and locates each of you at your current location
: (443) Su-Taki: *shakes head*
: (445) DM Dave: He makes the same appeal, to help him find a caravan and stop another war
: (458) Roko: "another" war :-)
: (445) DM Dave: With the plan to teleport you to Glantri City should you accept
: (445) DM Dave: Yes, the first being Rockhome and Vestland, the city of Rhoona
: (445) DM Dave: Draco tried to start one
: (445) DM Dave: ok, any other questions?
: (384) Cacius: did everyone else accept?
: (445) DM Dave: If not, and assuming you all agree, you find yourself in Glantri City, Sigiric walking it, Kier flying in, the rest are teleported in
: (443) Su-Taki: I'm all for exploring. if killing bad guys is included, cool
: (419) Kier: I'll fly in
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio locates you Kier, and makes the same appeal
: (445) DM Dave: He is surprised to already find you in Glantri
: (443) Su-Taki: what's in it for the rest of us?
: (445) DM Dave: You are also given assurance Kier, that you won't be arrested for high crimes of practicing religion in the capital.
: (419) Kier: I'll have protection as well?
: (445) DM Dave: Laran, "There is a substantial bounty placed for recovery of the caravan Su-Taki."
: (445) DM Dave: You get full protection Kier,
: (419) Kier: I'm in
: (443) Su-Taki: we want the protection to extend at least 1 month upon completion
: (458) Roko: dave: i ask for 48 hours to prepare before leaving
: (445) DM Dave: In fact, Roko even gets Laran as a personal bodyguard during his visit
: (443) Su-Taki: meh....money I have
: (445) DM Dave: Of course
: (458) Roko: so i can talk to my superiors
: (458) Roko: and mrs mulgor
: (445) DM Dave: ok
: (458) Roko: i would like to see if they have anything i should take care of while there, as well as instructions on how to get the 'assurances' in place for my people
: (458) Roko: (whispering): which is why i dont want to be the one working to get the laws passed
: (445) DM Dave: The main city downtown, with the elaborate architecture, the Great School of Magic, the noble estates and the Government buildings, are in a canal city, like Venice
: (458) Roko: (whispering): :-)
: (458) Roko: (whispering): i would like to delegate to someone
: (458) Roko: i burn it all
: (445) DM Dave: So you guys actually need to take a gondola in order to reach the briefing area
: (445) DM Dave: Magical energies surge through the city like the water that fills the canals.
: (445) DM Dave: As you ride a gondola to the House of Ministers in the early afternoon, you feel a sudden wind, unusually fresh, and laced with odors of cinnamon and freshly cut grass.
: (445) DM Dave: After the wind passes, an elderly woman leans out of an upper story window outside the canal
: (445) DM Dave: "Sorry" she cries to anyone who listens, "Missed a bit on me perfumery cantrip. Won't happen again."
: (458) Roko: i go along w/everyone
: (458) Roko: and act surly
: (445) DM Dave: Soon your gondola docks at the House of Ministers.
: (445) DM Dave: A huge solid building, nothing short of an earthquake could move it, and in that way it resembles the bureaucrats who work inside.
: (445) DM Dave: The walls are stone slabs, as blue as the ink on a duplicate purchase voucher.
: (445) DM Dave: You don't see any doors.
: (445) DM Dave: Instead a man in a plain blue military outfit stands next to a gold rectangle painted on the wall at ground level.
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio leads you up to him.
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio, "Ferdinand Drachenfels."
: (445) DM Dave: The man was eyeing Roko and Kier suspiciously, but snaps to attention when re recognizes Thorfio.
: (458) Roko: i stand as closely as i can to the guard
: (445) DM Dave: Ferdinand, "Sorry sir, I assume you are here for the briefing."
: (458) Roko: and stare at him
: (445) DM Dave: He utters a word
: (419) Kier: I stare back as well
: (445) DM Dave: "Intraparietes"
: (445) DM Dave: And the marked area disappears, a passwall lets you into the building.
: (445) DM Dave: Ferdinand avoids your gaze, both of you
: (445) DM Dave: No combat tonight
: (445) DM Dave: just breifing, and some investigation
: (445) DM Dave: and possibly a card reading
: (446) Sigir: I need a scanner for my folder :-)
: (384) Cacius: I mean eventually
: (458) Roko: no
: (458) Roko: no cards
: (445) DM Dave: yes cards
: (458) Roko: no
: (445) DM Dave: I spent some time on those
: (445) DM Dave: so we are doing them
: (458) Roko: [1d100] =>  = (4)
: (458) Roko: i pick sigirc's pockets
: (458) Roko: :-)
: (446) Sigir: was that your charisma check to convince the DM?
: (384) Cacius: is there a finite amount of cards? because by the law of averages, we must be getting close to the good part, right?
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio escorts you guys to the great hall.
: (445) DM Dave: yes cacius, I believe there is
: (445) DM Dave: But I will bring up some pics of the city later
: (445) DM Dave: The place is crowded with mages, a few adventurers, mercenaries, and wanna-bes.
: (458) Roko: am i the only halfling
: (458) Roko: i try and look fierce
: (445) DM Dave: A few rogues, and some veterans
: (445) DM Dave: yes you are the only halfling
: (458) Roko: extra fierce
: (445) DM Dave: A large number of these people look very green, novices.
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio does greet one man, a warrior claymore wielding soldier.
: (443) Su-Taki: *looks down at Roko; then, looks away as he chuckles*
: (445) DM Dave: You guys take a seat, and a minister enters.
: (458) Roko: as we're walking i comment about laran's blue eyes
: (458) Roko: i kick that chuckling bastard in the shins
: (445) DM Dave: "Lord Harald of Haaskinz, Archduke of Westheath, Deputy Minister of the Interior"
: (445) DM Dave: The man looks elderly, with thinning gray hair, a thick waist, and you can tell his left arm is withered.
: (445) DM Dave: He speaks in a high voice with the barest hint of a lisp
: (445) DM Dave: Lord Harald, "Thank you all for coming."
: (443) Su-Taki: good idea, Roko, i need to test my new armour
: (445) DM Dave: "The ferocious goblins of Queen Yazar, are pacified every year with a caravan of valuable goods which leaves Glantri City and proceeds into the Broken Lands."
: (445) DM Dave: "In addition, the caravan is always accompanied by one noted mage of Glantri, as well as one of Queen Yazar's brood."
: (384) Cacius: we're going to help them pay off the terrorists?
: (445) DM Dave: "One of us, and one of them."
: (445) DM Dave: "The caravan is always met by another of the brood of Queen Yazar, and the exchange is made."
: (445) DM Dave: "The new member of her brood returns her to Glantri, a hostage prince to be well cared for by Glantrians, while the former hostage brings the caravan goods to Queen Yazar."
: (445) DM Dave: "The hostage for this past year was Prince Kano Arrow's Whisper."
: (445) DM Dave: "Of course we were hononred to host His, uh, Highness" Harald says this part in a dry and unpleasant tone
: (445) DM Dave: "The caravan consisted of"
: (445) DM Dave: "Ten wagonloads of goods, 20 horses, 15 drivers, 10 guards, one mage passenger, and Prince Kano"
: (445) DM Dave: "The mage passenger this year was Deputy Treasury Minister Irila Kaze"
: (445) DM Dave: Now that is a name you guys have heard of before
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio knew her
: (445) DM Dave: And didnt' like her
: (445) DM Dave: She was only briefly mentioned, while you were in Ierendi
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio apparently butted heads with her in the past
: (445) DM Dave: The name rings a bell, so Thorfio explains.
: (445) DM Dave: Thorfio, "She cut off my access to a restricted area in the Glantrian library a couple of years ago."
: (458) Roko: how does the minister react to thorfiosexplaation
: (445) DM Dave: He doesn't notice, the hall is too big
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "The caravan travels to the upper Plateau of Zyrd in High Gobliny, a distance of 175 miles."
: (445) DM Dave: harald, "The trip takes about a week to get there for the caravan."
: (445) DM Dave: harald, "And a week back"
: (443) Su-Taki: what sort of guards did the caravan have?
: (458) Roko: and how many?
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "The caravan this year held silk, glass, ceramics, precious metals, spices, perfumes, ivory, tortoise shell, aromatic sandalwood, resins, honey, salt, dried fuit, furs and leathers, and a flock of six fine hunting falcons."
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "10 guards."
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "5 warriors in the Glantrian army, and 5 mages in the Glantrian army."
: (443) Su-Taki: *growls*.....ceremonial guards?
: (458) Roko: i ask harald the obvious: why are you paying tribute? are you not a powerful and magical nation?
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "15 of the horses were also part of the cargo, the 5 most senior staffers would ride back, the rest would walk."
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "In answer to your question my dear child"
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "Wait...I am sorry, my dear halfling"
: (443) Su-Taki: *stiffles a chuckle*
: (458) Roko: i step forward saying 'excuse me?'
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "It is simply more cost effective to pay the goblins off each year rather than have them raid the borderlands."
: (445) DM Dave: Harald waves you off, "My apologies, my eyesight is not what it used to be."
: (443) Su-Taki: *glances at his rings*.......
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "We save money bribing them each year, and ensure their compliance with their hostage."
: (458) Roko: i'm seriously about to do something stupid
: (458) Roko: [1d20] =>  = (4)
: (445) DM Dave: made your wisdom check!!
: (458) Roko: :-(
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "The caravan set out from Glantri City eleven days ago."
: (462) FakeThorfio: *whisper to roko* Please, I need the goodwill of this place, don't do anything TOO insane...
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "It camped at the riverside village of Trintan on the second day."
: (458) Roko: i drop mocha
: (458) Roko: moka, sorry
: (458) Roko: :-)
: (445) DM Dave: "The next morning, it followed the Vesubian River south into the Broken Lands."
: (384) Cacius: I don't think dropping your pretentious coffee drink is gonna help here
: (445) DM Dave: "No one has seen it since. The trail disappears in the high mountains that mark the Plateau of Zyrd. Not surprising, as it is impossible to track anything through those rocks."
: (443) Su-Taki: *rofl*
: (443) Su-Taki: what have you tried so far? location magic and what else?
: (458) Roko: have you sent out scouts already?
: (445) DM Dave: "Magical scrying has produced no results, the caravan carries protective wards. But something has blocked all scrying, beyond the protections of the caravan."
: (445) DM Dave: "Queen Yazar dispatched a war messenger to Glantri City within a day after the caravan's expected arrival."
: (443) Su-Taki: yes, do your trackers report any trace?
: (445) DM Dave: "We had already sent out cavalry parties to search for the new hostage we were expecting, Prince Udan Axe-Thrower."
: (445) DM Dave: "We searched, sending units of Glantri army and militia into the Broken Lands to search."
: (445) DM Dave: "So far they have found nothing, but..."
: (445) DM Dave: "The Broken Lands are too dangerous, too large, and too difficult to traverse in large parties."
: (443) Su-Taki: the oafs must have obliterated all the tracks if there were any.....
: (445) DM Dave: "Foot soldiers and horsemen travel in groups, and the search has been slow."
: (445) DM Dave: "Yazar's goblins are shadowing the soldiers, and making war chants and threats."
: (458) Roko: can we have a detailed map showing where all of the curent searches have happened?
: (445) DM Dave: "We need people who can quickly and efficiently searched."
: (462) FakeThorfio: All scrying spells attempting to find the caravan or any member of it have failed?
: (445) DM Dave: "Yes, we will provide maps to show the planned route of the caravan, as well as locations of search parties."
: (443) Su-Taki: second obvious question....could the kidnappers have inside help?
: (445) DM Dave: "That is correct Thorfio, all of our scrying efforts have failed, someone powerful is blocking our efforts."
: (384) Cacius: and you were leaving that part out til when?
: (445) DM Dave: "Impossible on the Glantrian side, Deputy Minister Kaze is above reproach, although I cannot say the same for Prince Kano"
: (445) DM Dave: "Prince Udan also appears to be missing."
: (445) DM Dave: "Although we cannot confirm if Queen Yazar is holding up her end of the agreement."
: (445) DM Dave: "The army and militia are searching even now without success."
: (445) DM Dave: "Should any party here locate the princes and the caravan, we are prepared to pay an honorarium of 15000 gold coins."
: (445) DM Dave: If you find the caravan within five days, we offer a bonus of 2500 gold coins."
: (445) DM Dave: A bunch of other fellows in the hall screech or whistle at that amount.
: (445) DM Dave: Harald, "Are there any questions?
: (384) Cacius: 'honorarium' dave, you pronounced it wrong
: (458) Roko: yes
: (445) DM Dave: laf
: (458) Roko: lol ben
: (443) Su-Taki: bah....money i have....offer me something of value
: (384) Cacius: yeah, there's no way we're helping out a bunch of mages for gold
: (458) Roko: agree
: (446) Sigir: little reward for a pretty significant risk
: (443) Su-Taki: yeah, someone who wants to start a war with mages has to be thinking he's got all the cards
: (443) Su-Taki: I'd rather fight a beholder
: (445) DM Dave: ok, lets finish the questions
: (443) Su-Taki: probably less dangerous
: (458) Roko: the only way i would agree to help is if there were major changes with the way that these "people" treat the hin
: (445) DM Dave: But to your objections...
: (445) DM Dave: Let's just take a look at the cards
: (443) Su-Taki: like I said "money, I have....offer me something of value."
: (445) DM Dave: Ok, besides the cards
: (445) DM Dave: Kier has some attachments and contacts with a large wine estate outside New Avlar
: (443) Su-Taki: metagame: basically, we're saying that gold isn't enough
: (445) DM Dave: That would be threatened by a war
: (445) DM Dave: That is fine
[As the Q&A continued, most of the PCs were very much against getting involved, the exceptions being Thorfio and Kier. Sigiric, having premonitions, suggested leaving to find a private room for him to try a card reading.
: (445) DM Dave: But Sigiric informs you that a card reading is in order, as he has had some premonitions about this.
: (419) Kier: lets have a reading then
: (445) DM Dave: We can fast forward to that, and then come back to this
: (445) DM Dave: Sigiric you have the emails and are ready?
: (446) Sigir: rolling a d12?
: (458) Roko: i ask for a private room, no scrying, for us to discuss
The group files out, leaving the rest of the attendees to continue asking questions of Lord Harald.
: (445) DM Dave: Ok, hang on Sigiric, need to break out my images...
: (445) DM Dave: ok rady
: (445) DM Dave: ready
: (445) DM Dave: roll d12
: (443) Su-Taki: cool....Dave mispronounces even in text....
: (446) Sigir: wow. that's a first
: (445) DM Dave: heh
: (446) Sigir: I think I'm going to savor the moment...
: (446) Sigir: [1d12] =>  = (10)
: (446) Sigir: First Card : The Hermit
An ally, someone not with great power, but great insight. One that we need to be successful. We need him (or her) to find our way. In fact, there may be more than one individual signified by this card.
: (445) DM Dave: ok, roll again
: (446) Sigir: [1d12] =>  = (9)
: (446) Sigir: Second Card : Six of Coins
The card of generosity, of charity. Our way will be much easier should we follow this path. It will unlock doors and get us to our goal.
: (445) DM Dave: next
: (446) Sigir: [1d12] =>  = (6)
: (446) Sigir: Third Card : King of Coins
Good news. The King of Coins represents someone practical, dependable, someone with both skill and success. We have an ally in all of this, we just have to find him, or maybe he will find us.
: (446) Sigir: Fourth Card : Eight of Swords
He isn't free however. He is captured, somewhere, in captivity. The card indicates this is of temporary durance, we may not need to free the King of Coins in order for him to assist us.
: (445) DM Dave: Sigiric draws a fourth card
: (445) DM Dave: ok, next card, and reroll any duplicates
: (446) Sigir: [1d12] =>  = (12)
: (446) Sigir: Fifth Card : Three of Coins
A card of skill. It indicates all of our various strengths will be needed to win the day, but also that we may be able to achieve great power in this endeavor.
: (445) DM Dave: Sigiric draws again
: (446) Sigir: Sixth Card : Ace of Swords
Great power, power like none of us can even imagine. Guys, we really need to do this...one word of warning though, we may find ourselves at a disadvantage at first. We may lose a fraction of our skill, in order to regain it and multiples more.
: (458) Roko: i think the deck was staced
: (445) DM Dave: ok, roll a d6 Sigiric, for continued reading
: (458) Roko: *stacked
: (445) DM Dave: laf
: (446) Sigir: [1d6] =>  = (1)
: (445) DM Dave: next card, roll d12
: (458) Roko: *waits for the bad shit to come*
: (446) Sigir: [1d12] =>  = (10)
: (445) DM Dave: reroll
: (446) Sigir: [1d12] =>  = (3)
: (446) Sigir: Seventh Card : Death
Damn, this card is never good. We are once again set in opposition to this scourge. If we stop this war we save lives, but this could also mean the mastermind behind this whole affair is a powerful undead, or some other manifestation of death.
: (446) Sigir: oyvey
: (458) Roko: sigh
: (458) Roko: lets stop whie we're ahead
: (384) Cacius: not much of the bad stuff that we got before really came to fruition, so I'm not concerned about anything good coming from thiese
: (445) DM Dave: roll d6 againssigiric
: (419) Kier: cards before were great!
: (446) Sigir: [1d6] =>  = (3)
: (445) DM Dave: another card
: (458) Roko: omg stop rolling
: (446) Sigir: [1d12] =>  = (9)
: (458) Roko: it always ends in badness
: (445) DM Dave: reroll
: (446) Sigir: [1d12] =>  = (10)
: (446) Sigir: [1d12] =>  = (5)
: (445) DM Dave: reroll
: (445) DM Dave: good
: (446) Sigir: Eighth Card : (inverted) Queen of Swords
A treacherous enemy. One of our adversaries in this. This woman, or female entity, is powerful and has already betrayed the agreement between Glantri and the goblins. Either that or the caravan.
(443) Su-Taki: have we ever gotten a reading without the death card?
(445) DM Dave: roll d6 sigiric
(419) Kier: we always get it somewhere
(446) Sigir: [1d6] =>  = (3)
(419) Kier: again!
(445) DM Dave: another card
(446) Sigir: [1d12] =>  = (4)
(446) Sigir: Ninth Card : (inverted) Sun
Upside down, this card means a clouded future. Or triumph delayed. Fortunately this means whatever has happened it is not too late, we may be able to set things right. However, this card seems to mean more this reading. Something unusual is going to happen. I don't see how the Sun could be threatened, perhaps an eclipse? The inverted Sun has a meaning which eludes me.
(445) DM Dave: roll d6
(384) Cacius: test
(446) Sigir: [1d6] =>  = (3)
(445) DM Dave: and the card reading ends
(458) Roko: good
(458) Roko: i was about to chop off sigiric's hands
(445) DM Dave: Ok, you wanted another incentive
(458) Roko: no offence, sigiric :-)
(445) DM Dave: Ace of Swords
(445) DM Dave: Three of coins
(384) Cacius: I d'ought we stopped before or right after dead'
(445) DM Dave: You got it
(384) Cacius: haha
(419) Kier: some goods ones in there
(384) Cacius: rogue or pirate filter...
(445) DM Dave: So what do you guys think?
(443) Su-Taki: should be amusing
(419) Kier: I'm in
(446) Sigir: we're all dead
443) Su-Taki: i think we all know who the queen of swords is.....
(384) Cacius: I'm waiting for promises of something good enough to tear me away from my college building
(458) Roko: yah im getting bored in the shires
(419) Kier: I'll wait untill we are all ready
(443) Su-Taki: metagame: so, let me get this straight
(445) DM Dave: Lord Harald is still answering questions in the main hall
(458) Roko: ummmm
(446) Sigir: hmm, that ace of swords
(443) Su-Taki: go into the wilderness, find brat and beyotch, bring either them back, or proof that they're dead
(445) DM Dave: and recover the caravan goods if possible
(384) Cacius: ok, I missed that part
(446) Sigir: I can deal with "if possible"
446) Sigir: sounds like a cakewalk, guys. Wanna do it? :-)
(419) Kier: We can throw the goods in the bag of holding
(384) Cacius: I love cakewalks
(445) DM Dave: The reward depends on bringing it back of course, or getting it to Queen Yazar
(419) Kier: easy
(419) Kier: Roko - at least you can teleport out now if it is tough
(458) Roko: i will only accept if 1) the party goes along, and 2) a hin delegation will be heard and the attacks on our people are stopped
(384) Cacius: oh wait, that's catwalks
(458) Roko: kier: i can teleport 100m
(446) Sigir: better than nothing
(443) Su-Taki: that may be enough to get out of danger :-)
(445) DM Dave: Roko, you wait until the end of the Q&A to ask that of Lord Harald? Thorfio suggests on waiting for that at the end.
(443) Su-Taki: remember, you don't have to run fast from the lion....just faster than the guy next to you :-D
(445) DM Dave: You guys go out into the hall?
(458) Roko: yeah
(445) DM Dave: To listen to the last few questions?
446) Sigir: of you use animal empathy on the lion
(445) DM Dave: You guys return to the hall
(445) DM Dave: Just in time to hear one of the questions
(445) DM Dave: Young man, "Are the goblin women good looking?"
(445) DM Dave: Harald, "So any way, are there any other questions?"
(443) Su-Taki: no....we are not taking some idiot with us.
(445) DM Dave: Another questions asks for descriptions of Irila Kaze and Prince Kano
(443) Su-Taki: i draw the line at the brat
(419) Kier: he can be our meatshield
: (384) Cacius: there's no restrictions on goblin killing is there?
(445) DM Dave: Harald, "Kano is a sort of a hulking young goblin with lots of black hair and...how to put it? a boisterous attitude"
(445) DM Dave: harald, "Only fight goblins in self defense please, Queen Yazar may take your aggresive actions as a declaration of war"
(443) Su-Taki: okay, so not a brat, more of a a-hole type
(445) DM Dave: Harald, "Deputy Minister Kaze is a fine woman of respectable years, white hair, thin, no nonsense about her. Shrewd in magic, a solid citizen really."
(458) Roko: i recommend that our party dress in Ethengarian military garb and go goblin hunting
(445) DM Dave: any other questions from you guys?
(443) Su-Taki: funny, you don't look any more Ethengarian than I do
(458) Roko: goblins aren't that smart
(443) Su-Taki: true dat
(446) Sigir: but there's usually lots of them
(443) Su-Taki: yeah, swarms of munchkins will still kill us
(445) DM Dave: so no other questions?
(458) Roko: anyways, i ask harald that if we are successul, will he accept a delegation from the shires to discuss an immediate end to the mistreatment of our people
(443) Su-Taki: we'll do it out of game
(443) Su-Taki: i'm drawing a blank at the moment
(445) DM Dave: Lord Harald, "Of course, I can attend that matter personally, emissary Roko"
(445) DM Dave: if there is nothing else...
(458) Roko: nope
(458) Roko: hoh, one more question
(445) DM Dave: When the audience is over, most of those present..;.
(445) DM Dave: yes roko?
(458) Roko: i ask for an apology regarding the child comment
(445) DM Dave: Lord Harald, exhales heavily
(458) Roko: yes, i know it's painful, but i insist
(445) DM Dave: Lord Harald, "I am sorry you halflings are so thin-skinned you would actually take offense to such an innocuous comment."
(384) Cacius: good enough?
(445) DM Dave: should I roll for initiative?
(458) Roko: i thank him, and let him that i understand that the creep of years can easily affect one's vision and judgement
(443) Su-Taki: Lord Harald, you do realise you're asking us for help? Would it kill you to be civilized?
(445) DM Dave: Lord Harald, "Hmmph, I suppose you are right Sir Lupin, after all, we are desperate."
(445) DM Dave: Oh by the way Su-Taki, there are a few lupins among the audience
(445) DM Dave: We can handle that offline
(384) Cacius: when you're desperate, you should be more than civilized
(419) Kier: Great it all worked out
(384) Cacius: I expect grovelling, but you can continue the comments about the halfling
(443) Su-Taki: I walk over chat with the various Lupins in the hall
(445) DM Dave: Ok at the end of the audience, many of the attendees rush out, obviously in a hurry to leave the city and start tracking.
(443) Su-Taki: oh....wait....there are multiple groups going out? great...
(445) DM Dave: As Su-Taki chats with the lupins though, Thorfio tells you all, "Let the idiots rush out into the Broken Lands, they won't find anything."
(458) Roko: i look pointedly at thorfio
(443) Su-Taki: Casius, did you have that special "anti-backstab" plate included with my new chain mail?
(445) DM Dave: Thorfio, "There has always been something not right about Irila Kaze, no matter what Lord Harald says, and I am going to find out what before we leave."
(384) Cacius: of course?
(445) DM Dave: Thorfio, "The answers to that are here, not in the Broken Lands."
(443) Su-Taki: i didn't trust her anyways
(443) Su-Taki: you and Sigiric's cards pretty much confirmed my feeling
(445) DM Dave: Thorfio, "I should have paid attention to her more closely, and Kano has been here for a year as well."
(443) Su-Taki: any feel for if Kano can be reasoned with?
(445) DM Dave: Ok, next time we meet, Thorfio and the rest of you follow up on some leads in the city, before heading out
(445) DM Dave: Thorfio never met Kano, although he did see him from a distance
(445) DM Dave: So he doesn't know
Of the three cards which didn't enter play, two were warnings about the Blood Brethren, and the last was an inverted World card.
The players proceeded to investigate Irila Kaze in this session, and in doing so picked up much of the information that can be found on pages 10-12. The reason I started this adventure with a PC carrying a grudge against Kaze was to give every incentive for the players to do their homework before leaving Glantri City, which will allow them to better understand the overall plot later on.
Thorfio used his contacts and Sigiric used his people skills to get cooperation from people in the House of Ministers. They started by getting permission to search Kaze's quarters, and in doing so realised she had packed as if never coming back. They also detected the unusually strong odour in her liquor cabinet. They then asked around for any friends of Kaze they could talk to, which eventually led them to the Scribe of the Chamber Terinna Kollrahb.
As a Master Roko is limited in his spellcasting unless he returns to the Shires so I was surprised he cast a Know Intent spell before talking to her. Thus he quickly picked up that she was looking for a bribe when she mentioned she couldn't discuss official business, suggesting the PCs would need to pay the proper fees in order to get the correct licenses. After dumping 60 gold and a couple of platinum pieces on her desk she told them everything she knew. Roko was also taken a bit by the woman, probably because the player was taken with the image he had of her after I described her.
Roko, "I love women that have their hair cut in a bob."
Cacius, "I don't recall him saying her hair was cut in a bob."
Me, "I didn't but this is a fantasy game so it is now cut in a bob."
Terrina's leads guided the PCs to check entrance records for her source for regular deliveries of Treesblood and to the Archives to learn what Kaze and Prince Kano had been researching down there. After learning Kaze got regular deliveries from the Gambling House, and had very few visitors, they went to check out the Archives. They threw money at the Official Archivist even though she declined it, and then went to work exploring the section the archivist said Kaze had visited often.
As a result they know a bit about the Blood Brethren, and they picked up on "resurrect" in the mention that the bodies were entrusted to "some kindly monks for hiding, that none could ever resurrect their foul peril."
They found the second scroll as well, and determined it had been torn recently, but at least they had a name, Barleycorn Monastery.
Before leaving the Hall of Ministers they visited the alchemist Tenebras to purchase some potions, and got into a conversation with him as he tried to sell them a homunculus. When they mentioned in passing Irila Kaze he mentioned her having ordered a homunculus only to have it killed right away and have the brain ground up. Thorfio immediately made a skill check to do the research for what kind of spell would use such a component, and he rolled so well I skipped having Tenebras tell them and just informed Thorfio that after pouring through some books later there was allegedly a spell powder of oak in acorn which can be used as a mass shrinking or diminution spell and it used such a component.
Su-Taki, "Well that explains why no one has found the caravan, it has been shrunk."
The PCs then left the House of Ministers to visit the Gambling House, at which point I spread out the GAZ3 City of Glantri map. This led to a few observations, like, "Venice has tons of bridges to cross everywhere, I am not seeing enough bridges here", "It must be the fault of the gondoliers union", "Wait, the wizards have more bridges on their section of the city", "those inconsiderate bastards". Followed by the players figuring where the water was deeper(the southern section) where it was more shallow(the northern section) and then inspections of individual ships and boats to see if they were correct, and which ones were ships with sales and which were gondolas. When I mentioned they saw a wizard's gondola chugging along with the power of a water elemental an immediate new reference was coined for water elementals- "outboard motors".
Upon arriving at the Gambling House the PCs ignored the games and went straight to the bar, bought a round of drinks and began tipping heavily, before sliding into questions. They soon learned they wanted to speak with Sendrian Leddo, who handled deliveries. While killing time for his shift to come on, they discovered a feature attraction at the Gambling House, Boldavian Roulette.
Su-Taki, "Is this anything like Russian roulette?"
Me, "Yes, only with wands."
The PCs then observe as two mages, each with a stack of 12 wands, take turns picking up and firing the wands at each other, hoping to pick the one wand with a single remaining charge, while all others are useless sticks.
I let a couple of players take on the rolls, giving them a rare opportunity to use the d12. Around the 9th or 10th draw one mage finally hits paydirt, and randomly rolling it was determined it was a wand of lightning. A moment later one mage is lying badly singed on the floor with 20hp of damage and the other mage is collecting the 4000gp purse.
At that point Roko wanted to try it.
Roko, "Guys, I should totally do this, I have a good save against wands. I can survive this."
But then he realised it didn't matter if you survived the wand, it is purely random who picks up the charged wand first. After waffling a bit...
Cacius, "If you really need to do this, go ahead."
Roko, "I should still do this...no never mind, forget it."
Eventually Sendrian arrived and answered the PCs questions, letting them learn a bit more about Treesblood, as well as the fact she had cancelled further deliveries.
The investigation extended into a second day, with the PCs learning from the equerry Kaze had gathered hair from the horses, only confirming their belief the caravan has been shrunk as that would be another component used in enhancing the shrinking spell. They also learned there was an explosion by Baron's Gate as the caravan assembled, which makes them believe Kaze was sending a signal to someone else that the caravan was departing. They have also been trying to fit Kaze's fascination with Sind and its pantheon of Immortals into the puzzle but nothing has presented itself.
The players intend to investigate Prince Kano's activities before departing Glantri City, but we wrapped up with this-
Su-Taki, "So we know a powerful mage has betrayed the caravan, and has entered the Broken Lands in order to resurrect an evil long buried in an ancient mysterious monastery.
Roko, "Gentlemen, I believe we have found our way into a D&D module."
As my SOP, no HW materials are ever visible on the table, I photocopied the necessary pages and cut away anything which might give the game away with an accidental glance.
Solutions to some timing problems
Last week's game session was cancelled as it was election night and our host is in the middle of his house being electrically rewired, so I will post some timing difficulties and problems which I intend to address in the first module.
Some are outright problems that need to be fixed, others are difficulties which may or may not manifest as a problem.
Page 7 The caravan set out eleven days before the start of the adventure. It takes about six days to arrive, and Queen Yazar dispatches a war messenger within a day after the caravan's expected arrival.
So give the messenger a day or two to get to Trintan, and from there someone teleports with an urgent message to Glantri City, and within a few hours everyone in the city knows the caravan is missing.
Problem- That doesn't give a lot of time between the call for mercenaries and the briefing by Harald. We are looking at 4 days tops, more likely 2 or 3 days. If the PCs aren't in or near Glantri City at the start of this adventure, they have to use magical travel to get there.
Solutions - You could just extend the timeline backwards since it precedes the adventure. Harald does a later briefing. For myself, I had a couple of PCs in Glantri nearby, and one PC in Glantri City that would get the word very quickly and could do teleport duty to round up the rest of the PCs. It wouldn't hurt to have Queen Yazar send the messenger early, since she is hardly patient and she would know something was up when the caravan isn't spotted approaching.
Page 13 describes the Dream. Mentioning "first night's camp". That could mean the Broken Lands but seems to imply the first camp outside Glantri City, as it goes on to mention encounters on the road inside Glantri. The dream doesn't provide a source, but mentions Asterius couldn't do it because the World-Shield blocks any sending from him as he is trapped in the Hollow World.
Problem - It also can't be Asterius because Asterius isn't trapped in the Hollow World yet. Until Thanatos springs his time trap, Asterius and the other Immortals are just fine in the present. Once the time trap is sprung the PCs lose access to most clerical magic, and the module suggests that is a bad idea to do so in civilised lands. For my PCs I agree, they could easily get distracted if they aren't in the remote Broken Lands before this happens.
Solutions - The dream never has to be explained, and you could move it. I may spring the dream the same night the time trap is sprung. I have the advantage of a PC with precognition.
Page 17 Tylon's presence, the Grasping Dark spell on him, and his testimony put the PCs mere hours behind Irila Kaze, Kano and Udan. Page 64 mentions someone just missing his save, as Tylon does, might have an hour or two of painful life left. Even if we stretch this to a few more hours, the PCs are close on the trail at this point.
The PCs then explore the dungeon, which is unlikely to take long, as it has been cleared out. It is possible they could waste a lot of time, but more likely they will only lose an hour or two in the dungeon.
Page 25-26 detail how the PCs emerge from the tunnel into an ambush of Azcan warriors. This tunnel they traversed with the same speed as Kano and Kaze did, so they lose no time on that score. And yet...
Problem - Assuming the very likely scenario that the PCs are only 4-8 hours behind Kano and Kaze, we have big problems. In that lag time the following happened.
a) Kano has already made the trip hundreds of miles to convince the Azcan leaders to switch over to his ceremonies. A trip where he had to walk or fly, as there is no teleportation in the Hollow World. Page 32 mentions Kano was on the road leading prisoners to the capital. As the PCs emerge after the initial battle, they see the ceremony performed from afar as the image ascends into the sky.
b) An Azcan runner ran by, noticed the tunnel, continued on his run, made a report, and the military dispatched troops to reach the site and wait in ambush. All in a few hours.
c) To top it off, half the soldiers are supposed to have already gone through the ceremony Kano performs. Which means he got there, did the ceremony, dispatched the soulless warriors back into the army, and then they got assigned to watch the tunnel. Unless Kano wanted them assigned there, but even if he did, this all had to happen in a few hours.
In short, we have a big timing problem. The adventure seems to assume Kano has over a week's head start, but that head start was mostly lost due to Kaze waiting for Thanatos to spring the time trap. Even if you let them go down sooner, if you let them go down days sooner, that leaves Tylon dying from the Grasping Dark spell for days. Neither is a desirable solution.
Solutions - You could change the Grasping Dark spell, giving it a longer duration and giving Kano a greater head start. You could have Kano cheat on teleportation. You could just ignore the problem because the PCs might never pick up on this time discrepancy. Myself, I plan to delay the PCs after they find Tylon, although details haven't been ironed out yet, I am working on it.
Pages 39-47 describe the pyramid the PCs enter to find a way to reach the Smoking Mirror. It mentions skeletons of priests who were forced to enter the pyramid by Kano and were killed.
Problem - Skeletons? Even if the PCs wasted lots of time getting to the capital, which is unlikely, those corpses shouldn't be skeletons. Unless they were vulnerable to superfast decay for some magical reason.
Solutions - Superfast decay works for me. So does describing them as corpses not skeletons. Or they don't even have to be the result of Kano, but some shake-up from decades ago.
For this session I pulled out Dungeon Magazine #28, which contains a Side Trek adventure known as Manden's Meathooks. For those unaware, Manden's Meathooks was actually an encounter written for HWA1 Nightwail, but was cut for lack of space. It ended up in Dungeon Magazine as a 3 page short adventure. This encounter is designed for 3-6 PCs of levels 4-6 though, a party that would be a bit understrength in the Blood Brethren trilogy.
What I like about this adventure
1) It shows some of the effects of the crisis in Glantri. With military patrols and units in the Broken Lands, the lands they normally protect near Glantri's southern border are undefended, allowing this group of brigands to prey on the Wizard's Road.
2) It gives the PCs a combat situation when they are at their optimal capacity. The rest of this adventure the PCs will be at reduced capacity, as clerics lose spell casting and in the Hollow World many spells don't work. For this group the forester will also be bereft of spells.
3) The encounter is designed for humour and the PCs get a chance to start off with an easy fight. It also gives the players a chance to synergise with the new player controlling Thorfio.
To briefly summarise, a brigand group, Manden's Meathooks, led by Jask Manden, have moved from beating up goblins in the Broken Lands to ambushing small parties along the Wizard's Road. They recently slaughtered a group of low level adventurers(one of the early groups looking for the caravan) and acquired an ointment of tanning, a ring of life protection, and a hurricane lantern.
Manden tried the ointment, turned orange, and has been drinking ever since in their dugout hideout inside a dried up gorge a few miles from the road. His lieutenant, Tobias, has hit on the lantern as a way to quickly rob passer-byes. Simply leave the lantern at a campsite where lanterns are provided for convenience, and wait for someone to stop and use it.
In any case, back to the adventure...
While the PCs had been following specific leads and investigating Irila Kaze, Sigiric gave directions to his Darine followers to dig up what they could on Prince Kano by asking around the city. A band of gypsy thieves, toughs, bards and actors loyal to Sigiric, they had been entertaining in Glantri City and making contacts since arriving here several weeks ago. On the second day of their investigations, two arrived at the Baron's Gate where the PCs were asking questions, to inform them they had found a drinking buddy of Prince Kano, who was waiting for them at the Boatmen's Tavern. He was ready to talk for the right price.
Su-Taki "I love having our own spy network."
Upon arriving at the gondola port below the tavern, they watch as some hapless fellow is thrown out of a window from the tavern above to land in the canal. The man struggled to surface, calling for help, as everyone ignored him. This changed as a gold coin flashed in his hand, with several gondoliers racing to get to him first. The PCs looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and went up the stairs.
They find two more of Sigiric's band drinking with a low-class stevedore. A few coins later they learn that he was indeed a drinking partner of Prince Kano's, at least until the goblin started spending all of his time with some elderly woman in the Glantrian government. Further questions reveal Kano doesn't like brandy, does like ale and whiskey, and his favourite pastimes were drinking heavily, bragging about the superior toughness of his goblin clans, bragging about his ancestors, and chucking rocks at small pets from a gondola. The PCs weren't surprised that Prince Kano claimed to trace his ancestry to the Blood Brethren.
Thorfio also confirmed the works he found in the Glantri School of Magic library are no longer there, likely confiscated by Kaze.
On the third day, after purchasing a supply of whiskey, Treesblood, and healing potions, the party leaves Glantri City and proceeds to follow the route of the caravan to Trintan. Sigiric's band is with them.
Along the way I mention the numerous campsites dug out along the sides of the Wizard's Road, as well as roadhouse inns. They reach Nyra by pushing hard the first day, and arrive after dark. Thorfio decides to lay low and not draw any attention to himself, as there are still a few members of the Elven Liberation Front and the Free Armed Elven Resistant Youth that may carry a grudge after an unfortunate misunderstanding during his last visit to this river town. The rest of the PCs learn nothing of value, other than everyone in Nyra is obviously tired of talking about the caravan. They do ask if a single elderly woman or a lone goblin was seen in Nyra the last few days though, suspecting with the caravan shrunk one or the other may already be back in Glantri.
The next day the PCs arrive at Fort Monteleone and find a skeletal garrison. No one is willing to help them, until Kier spots a friend, a Belcadiz elf that worked at a vineyard Kier managed for a period of time. The elf confirms much of what they had heard before, with the additional information that the new hostage goblin prince, Udan, was missing. He had left Queen Yazar's fortress but had not arrived in Glantri. Search parties were still focused on the caravan however, as it was clear Queen Yazar cared more about her bribe than about her brood.
The PCs stayed at an inn at the fort that night, and headed out for Trintan in the morning.
Cacius, "New Jersey?"
Me, "No Trintan, not Trenton."
It was late afternoon, as they stopped temporarily at a campsite, when all hell broke loose.
At first no one had any idea what was happening. One moment everything was calm, the next hurricane winds and water droplets hitting with the force of stinging needles were everywhere blasting through the party, wagons and campsite. Roko was hurled backwards and cracked his head on a pillar, knocking him unconscious. Only Thorfio and Cacius managed to hold onto their gear and hit the ground in a controlled manner.
As soon as it came, it was over, but suddenly six disreputable louts were among the camp, laughing, mocking, and grabbing every loose valuable they could find, while kicking people in the ribs as they ran by. The PCs, utterly disoriented, struggle to respond.
Mechanically, PCs take a Dex check at a penalty of -8 for the first three rounds, those who make it can attack with a -4 to hit and a -4 to Dex that round.
On the first round only Cacius is able to act, swinging at a brigand approaching him, but missing. On the second round a brigand grabbing Roko's weapons gets hit by 4 magic missiles from Thorfio, the resulting damage is described as blowing the guy's arm off.
The brigands quickly realise they are in trouble and attempt to run, but two are held by Kier while two more are felled by magic missiles from Sigiric and Thorfio. The last brigand, carrying the lantern, almost made it to cover at the nearby treeline, but Zalco dimension-doored Su-Taki right in front of the brigand's path, and he was brutally cut down.
Waiting in that treeline are Tobias and a number of other brigands ready to ambush pursuit. However, seeing how fast their fellows were put down, I had Tobias make a morale check before taking the opportunity to have everyone open fire on Su-Taki's unprotected back. Failing miserably, Tobias signals the brigands to retreat.
Back at the campsite, the PCs had two questions. Where did the brigands have their lair, and who opened that damn lantern and set off the hurricane. The two prisoners were more than happy to sell out their fellows, especially as they knew Tobias had abandoned them without a fight. Unfortunately no one was willing to fess up that they had messed with the lantern, although it was fairly certain it had to be one of Sigiric's Darine.
Su-Taki, "I knew there would be a downside to having these guys around."
Leaving the gypsies guarding camp, the party followed their prisoner as they were guided to a camouflaged gorge a few miles from the Wizard's Road. Horses were tied off in various areas around the gorge, but no brigands were visible, being in the gorge or the dugout cave in one side of the gorge.
Roko went invisible and scouted into the gorge, returning 40 minutes later confirming half the brigands were in the cave, with the leaders toward the back, near what looked like an escape tunnel which led deeper underground. Roko also reported the leader was very orange and very drunk.
Sigiric, "Our prisoners say that was from an ointment? What kind of an ointment turns you orange?"
Su-Taki, "Protection from fire?"
Thorfio, "Protection from sun?"
With Roko able to approximate where the tunnel was and where Tobias and Manden were in that tunnel, in relation to the surface, the PCs hatched a plan and got to work.
Thorfio cast a dig spell (with Kier casting a silence spell to mask any noise) and unearthed a hole in the roof of the tunnel slightly behind Manden and Tobias. As both turned at the sudden light, Su-Taki and Sigiric slid into the tunnel, with Kier close behind.
Manden, "This month just sucks."
Sigiric hit Tobias and Manden with a glitterdust spell, and both failed their save. Su-Taki started carving into Manden while Kier swooped down onto Tobias. Cacius cast a dimension door into the tunnel, getting on the other side of the combat, to block off any of the other brigands from helping.
The fight didn't last long. Cacius webbed the tunnel, capturing about 5 brigands, and made short work of the one man who managed to avoid the web. Tobias fell in combat to Kier and Sigiric, while Su-Taki scored several wounds on Manden. Drunk, blinded and badly wounded, Manden tried to flee away from his attackers, only to have Cacius literally clothesline him.
With the leadership out of the way, we stopped for the night, as it was getting late.
Most of the party is in the tunnel, and may have a bit of difficulty as some brigands have rushed out of the gorge and spotted the hole. Roko is on the surface invisible though, and has yet to make a move. The brigands are only level 1 though, so it won't take long for them to realise they are in over their heads.
Even though the PCs had taken down the brigand leadership, more brigands were rushing out of the gorge, grabbing weapons, and racing for their horses to engage. Roko and Thorfio were still up top, waiting for them to cluster toward them and the gaping hole.
When that happened, Thorfio hit the largest group with a confusion spell, while Roko dropped his favourite item, moka** the marble mastodon. All it took was one charge from moka and the chaos of the confusion spell to convince all mobile brigands to flee and scatter in all directions. When the confusion ended a total of 9 brigands were killed with two more badly wounded. In he tunnels they had more prisoners, five brigands snared in the web, and Jask Manden.
The players pulled a ring of life protection from Manden, some coins and gems, and a nearly empty walnut box which held what was left of the ointment of tanning. As it grew dark the PCs relocated their camp near the gorge and interrogated their prisoners individually. The brigands claimed they had been operating on the border of the Broken Lands robbing individual goblins until the Glantrian military had crossed the border, leaving the Wizard's Road unprotected. Thorfio got particularly irritated, refusing to believe anyone could survive living off goblin muggings, and started making creative threats. Most of the brigands were willing to give up that Manden kept most of the treasure hidden in a secret stash.
Despite considerable effort and a cure serious wounds, Manden was unable to achieve any coherence, so the players let him sleep it off.
The next morning Manden was easy to convince, and led them to the buried chest half a mile up the gorge. Aside from the coins, the players found a strange reptilian animal skin and a jewelled statuette.
Cacius, "I say we wait on the road until the brigands respawn so we can get more magic items."
Me, "This isn't a bad Alfheim magic point, or World of Warcraft."
The players arrived in Trintan in the early afternoon, meeting up with two of their henchmen that had stayed away from Glantri City. Sigiric immediately dispatched his people into the various inns and taverns to learn what they could. There was a significant military presence in town, coordinating the search. The PCs avoided the Glantrian troops and started seeing if there were any records they could find in town on the Barleycorn Monastery.
No records were found, but Sigiric's team came through again, reporting back they had gotten one of the old timers who had lived in Trintan all his life talking at the Broken Ale Tavern.
Upon finding the old man they just sat down nearby and let him keep talking.
"Like I recollect my grandma tellin' me 'bout monks who lived out there. Monks! Human as you an' me..." looks sharply at Roko, and Su-Taki in distaste, "...or leastways me. They lived out'n those forsaken mountains, growin' barley for bread an' preachin' t' the monsters. Even kept some o'them monsters upright an' behaved for, oh, long time."
"But like I'm sayin', that's a cauldron there, boil yer flesh after a time. Monsters finally got 'em. Never heard no more about 'em myself, an' been dragon's years now."
The next morning the PCs set out with a map showing the possible route of the caravan. A sign crying "Danger! Go back!" in many different languages warns them as they cross the border into the Broken Lands.
<Aside, would Glantri really put up such a sign? They do need caravans to cross back and forth through the Broken Lands to reach Darokin.>
Viewing the land, grass thin and dead, grey clouds, starved looking rodents, a moist hot wind, and brown foothills, the PCs decided to head for High Gobliny, tracing the probably route of the caravan. From the old man they surmised a likely location for the monastery was the mountains, and High Gobliny was as good as any to start.
<Aside, a potential problem in the adventure is there isn't too much to point the PCs toward the plateau, unless they decide to follow the map. My players may have surmised that if Kano was bragging about his ancestors than the monastery might be in High Gobliny but if they did they didn't mention it to me.>
Kier was sent up high to scout out surrounding areas, and quickly identified two major Glantrian military camps on either side of the river, one near Orcus Rex, the other in Bugburbia. The PCs crossed the river the first day and pushed deep into the mountains, camping on the caravan route on the west side of the river.
On the second day they crossed over the river again travelling along the possible caravan route, aside from the occasional Glantrian patrol or mercenary band, Kier spotted an abandoned war orc war machine off the trail. The PCs stopped to investigate, and even briefly debated repairing it so moka could pull it. Shelved on the later to do list.
The group noticed a band of six goblins following them at dusk. Anticipating an attack Roko went invisible and got behind them. When they only hid and threw a few rocks and insults Roko spooked them and caused them to flee.
That night in the mountains, Sigiric had an enigmatic dream. He and his fellows stood in a huge bowl of tan stone, trying to flee from a black ooze. When it touched their feet, it hardened to black glass, flowers sprung up, stems turning to vines, vines writing and covering their bodies. He woke up with a strong sense of desire.
Bard describes the dream.
Kier, "So what does it mean?"
Thorfio, "It means the bard needs to stop watching hentai tentacle porn."
Su-Taki, "Maybe the tan bowl is referring to a crater?"
Roko, "Too many craters around, unless it refers to the big crater west of the river."
The PCs almost got sidetracked into doubling back and visiting Trollhattan. Fortunately Kier had previously visited inside that crater and told them it was a lush swamp, not really fitting a tan bowl. The group decided to continue to follow the possible trail east.
<Note: At this point, Cacius has lost his connection with Ilsundal, and can no longer cast spells. Kier will no longer be able to recover spells above level 2.>
Later that day, however, the goblins returned, and as they grew more annoying Thorfio cast a sleep spell that disabled 3 of them. The rest ran as the PCs approached.
During the third night, however, the goblins returned. They were noticed in the early morning hours, at which point Sigiric put the rest to sleep.
In the morning the PCs considered what form of torture they would inflict on their tormentors.
Su-Taki, "I say we stake them next to some anthills."
Thorfio, "Are the ants out here deadly? I'd rather not anger Queen Yazar."
Roko, "Thorfio, do you have a dig spell memorised?"
Thorfio, "Yeah, why?"
Roko holds up the walnut container holding the remnant of ointment of tanning recovered from Manden, "I have an idea."
Later that day, a Glantrian band searching across the same route, stopped suddenly.
"There's something you don't see everyday." the lead scout said bemusedly.
Before them, off the trail, were six goblins buried up to their necks in the soil. It was clear they had been struggling in the open sun for hours, but would not break free for sometime more without help.
But even more odd, each goblin had a large letter scribed over their sloping foreheads in bright orange. The goblins had been buried in such order that the letters spelled the word
This fourth day of travel the PCs encountered only an indifferent band of bugbears and hobgoblins that had likely been mauled by a Glantrian troop, as well as a few terrified humanoid animal herders.
But this changed in the afternoon, when one goblin goat herder actually waved to them, and let them approach. It appears to be a young goblin female, and she was mostly curious about Su-Taki, thinking a gnoll was travelling among humans.
And when they asked her the standard questions about the caravan, she said yes, she had seen it, and she had seen exactly where it went..."It stopped near the Plateau of Zyrd, at a totally inappropriate place, at a totally inappropriate time in the middle of the day, in the heat of the sun."
She observed two individuals ascend the hill that led up to some tall mesas near the plateau, and then come back down, and then the whole caravan went up. When asked if she had told anyone else, she replied no. She moved her herd afterwards for a few days to graze in another area, and upon returning and encountering human(Glantrian) patrols, she was put off when they stole some of her goats and threatened her when she protested.
She offered to lead them to the exact spot where she saw the caravan, a couple of further hours of hiking east.
Upon arriving, they gave her a very generous reward in gold, and ascended the hill. Although there were no caravan tracks up the hill, they arrived at the base of a mesa where they identified ruts in the ground that must have come from heavy wagons. Thorfio cast invisibility on Kier, who flew up and found a flat-topped mesa, more lush in vegetation than elsewhere in the Broken Lands, where the ruins of five or six buildings had once stood, only one still seemed fully intact. Barleycorn Monastery.
The plan at that point was to have Kier fly Roko up, and have Roko scout inside the ruins, while the group waited below. As soon as they both got up there though, the two heard a groan from some nearby bushes. Carefully checking it out they find a man lying on the ground.
** Moka deserves its own explanation. I played the old Dungeon adventure years ago with the marble mastodon controlled by goblins, as I am a sucker for gimmicky adventures that centre on a creative use of a magic item, as you may have guessed from this hurricane lamp side trek. The PCs ended up with it, and thus began an escalation of player use versus DM counter of said marble mastodon. The mastodon has saved them a couple of times when I underestimated the strength of what I threw at them though, so the item has had its ups and downs.
Moka has caused quite a few notable quotes over time, the most famous when moka was locked in a combat that was slowly disabling each of his attacks, leading to the cry,
"You're nerfing my mastodon!"
Moka, pronounced "mocha", has a background of being an ancient Tuman(module B8) war mount. The name of the mount is the word "conquer" in the Tuman language, which the players decided would be moka, allowing them to use the word that doubles as the acronym, 'Mastodon of Kick Ass'.
A couple of module notes before the session-
I mentioned there is no real direction to the monastery in my last post other than the map, but that is not true, as the party can interact with the band of goblin flunkies harassing them in order to get an idea of the monastery. This assumes a party is willing to parley with the goblins, which my party doesn't. The module leaves it open as to where the goblins first show up, but it doesn't have to be High Gobliny if the PCs go in a different direction.
I do notice that this approach of the module brings it into possible conflict with GAZ10. According to GAZ10, the Plateau of Zyrd is taboo for all but shamans, so most goblins shouldn't know what is up there. Technically the ruins are on a mesa just south of the plateau, but it seems most goblins would be unlikely to know about it, unless that taboo is regularly violated by the humanoids, which is certainly possible.
I also realised before this session that the actual timeline for the caravan and the PCs arriving at the plateau is on the inside cover of the module. I recalled it being there but never bothered to look at the inside cover. The module text gives a pretty clear idea, but the cover is handy. Of course, it makes the assumption the PCs will race straight toward the plateau, instead of taking much time to explore or investigate in either Glantri or the Broken Lands.
In any case, the session picks up on OpenRPG where we left off last time. Two players were travelling and the plan was for them to log in, but that didn't happen, so we played two players short this session.
(19) DM Dave: If you read the recap, Kier and Roko are up top
(19) DM Dave: The rest of you are at the base of the mesa
(19) DM Dave: Su-Taki, as Kier was scouting up top, you took a look at the wagon indentations
(25) Su-Taki: do i smell anything odd? like brandy....?
(19) DM Dave: Trying to determine how the tracks were obscured or removed from lower down on the hill
(19) DM Dave: You do find something odd.
(19) DM Dave: Not brandy...
(19) DM Dave: Droplets of some viscid, greyish slime
(19) DM Dave: viscid greyish slime
(25) Su-Taki: viscous?
(19) DM Dave: Many of them lie beside the cart tracks.
(19) DM Dave: Viscid is a synonym of viscous
(25) Su-Taki: how big a drop are we talking?
(19) DM Dave: Many droplets.
(22) Sigiric: about ooze-sized?
(19) DM Dave: No, an ooze leaves a slime trail, but these are only droplets
(25) Su-Taki: yeah, small, rain drop sized or football falling from space sized?
(19) DM Dave: rain drop size
(22) Sigiric: Thorfio, do you know enough alchemy to analyse this?
(25) Su-Taki: does the ooze smell like the homunculus brains we saw back at that lab?
(19) DM Dave: No it does not
(19) DM Dave: Actually, as the sun shines on them, you can see they are slowly evaporating in the sun.
(25) Su-Taki: i take some of the ooze in an empty vial
(19) DM Dave: ok
(25) Su-Taki: as much as I can get
(19) DM Dave: As you search, you find more droplets of twos and threes around the area.
(19) DM Dave: Not near the cart tracks
(19) DM Dave: But near the base of the mesa
(20) FakeThorfio: Do I have any idea what it is?
(19) DM Dave: You have not seen it before.
(25) Su-Taki: wait....do i see some sort of pattern?
(25) Su-Taki: like "here's where the guards stood....there's where a wagon would be"
(19) DM Dave: No pattern Except that it is around all the cart tracks
(25) Su-Taki: do the cart tracks end here?
(19) DM Dave: A slime trail tends to leave a streak, rather than droplets.
(19) DM Dave: Yes the cart tracks end here
(19) DM Dave: And pretty much begin here
(25) Su-Taki: so, something from the spell leaves ooze?!?
(19) DM Dave: No trail up the hill, without the help of the goblin Roorgh, you may not have found this place.
(20) FakeThorfio: It have any smell?
(19) DM Dave: It does have a faintly nauseating smell.
(19) DM Dave: very faint though
(25) Su-Taki: i walk back down the hill and tell Zalco to search for magical residue
(19) DM Dave: detect magic?
(25) Su-Taki: i also have him examine the ooze in the vial
(25) Su-Taki: yes, Zalco can do that, but it's short range
(19) DM Dave: Zalco casts detect magic
(19) DM Dave: Zalco, "Hmmmmm"
(19) DM Dave: The slime is detecting as very, very faint magic.
(19) DM Dave: However
(19) DM Dave: Zalco finds a faint outline on the grass
(19) DM Dave: Around the last length of caravan tracks
(25) Su-Taki: nice
(25) Su-Taki: what's it look like to him?
(19) DM Dave: The outline forms a complete loop as wide as a wagon and as long as ten wagons.
(19) DM Dave: Zalco, "It outlines the entire caravan."
(25) Su-Taki: so, there was a pattern, i just didn't make my INT roll.....
(19) DM Dave: The outline is on the grass, but you closely examine the grass itself, nothing of substance marks the outline.
(19) DM Dave: The droplets do not quite match the outline.
(19) DM Dave: In some places it does, in others it does not.
(19) DM Dave: Also the outline is of stronger magic than the droplets.
(19) DM Dave: Zalco, "Different manifestations of magic."
(19) DM Dave: If no other questions, we cut to the top.
(20) FakeThorfio: would identify do any good on the ooze?
19) DM Dave: You could cast that if you wish Thorfio
(19) DM Dave: It might help
(20) FakeThorfio: sure
(19) DM Dave: identify takes some time to cast though correct?
(19) DM Dave: If so analysis will occur later
(22) Sigiric: 8 hours
(19) DM Dave: Ok Kier, you and Roko heard some moans from the underbrush on top of the mesa.
(19) DM Dave: You and Roko are invisible
(22) Sigiric: but if you detect magic, you could determine the school of magic
(23) Kier: this is where we see the man on the ground
(23) Kier: do I recognise him?
(19) DM Dave: Zalco cannot determine type,
(22) Sigiric: Thorfio could, or I could
(19) DM Dave: You do not recognise this young man, about 17
(25) Su-Taki: is he wounded?
(19) DM Dave: He is lying on the ground, possibly having crawled under the bushes.
(25) Su-Taki: Roko gives him some water
(23) Kier: does he look like he is from the caravan?
(19) DM Dave: Kier, you study him, something is clearly wrong, but it is not clear he is wounded.
(23) Kier: I ask him his name
(19) DM Dave: The first thing you notice, is there a greenish sheen all around him, like a pulse or wave effect.
(25) Su-Taki: wait....
(19) DM Dave: Remember you and Roko are invisible
(19) DM Dave: He appears to be unconscious, wait..his eyes are fluttering a bit, he is struggling between conscious and unconscious
(25) Su-Taki: Roko whispers to the kid....who are you?
(23) Kier: we'll observe a bit more
(25) Su-Taki: he then moves to a different location
(19) DM Dave: The youth moans a few times, coughing.
(19) DM Dave: After Roko tries a few more times.
(19) DM Dave: He wakes up
(19) DM Dave: He cries out, louder, he seems to be in tremendous pain.
(25) Su-Taki: I'm a thief...not a doctor
(19) DM Dave: The greenish sheen is still there, like he is inside a green bubble...almost
(23) Kier: any healing I can do without turning visible?
(19) DM Dave: no
(19) DM Dave: cast a spell and turn visible
(19) DM Dave: He is awake now, "Is...someone there?"
(22) Sigiric: how far from this tableau am I?
(19) DM Dave: You are at the bottom, a 300 foot climb using the rope anchored at the top
(25) Su-Taki: Roko says yes...then moves again
(19) DM Dave: Youth, "Damn, hallucinating, I am going to die."
(23) Kier: I'll ask him what happened to him
(25) Su-Taki: Roko: you're not hallucinating....I'm just cautious
(22) Sigiric: I'll climb
(19) DM Dave: All of you guys are in good enough shape to climb up hand over hand
(25) Su-Taki: okay, we go one at a time
(19) DM Dave: The boy coughs, "Please, if someone is there, show yourself."
(25) Su-Taki: Su Taki will go last....
(23) Kier: I'll go back to the party to let them know what we found
(25) Su-Taki: Roko loosens his backup potion, then hides behind a bush, and pulls off his ring
(19) DM Dave: Actually, the rope is sturdy enough for everyone, very thick coil of rope.
(25) Su-Taki: yeah, but I don't trust you Dave
(25) Su-Taki: it would be just like you to have an attack while we're all climbing
(19) DM Dave: Roko is with the young man for a few minutes while you guys are ascending.
(25) Su-Taki: *gurggle*
(19) DM Dave: Kier keeps a sharp eye out for attackers as you climb.
(19) DM Dave: Young man, "Please, sir, I...must speak to a Glantrian official. They must hear what happened."
(25) Su-Taki: Roko: we're from Glantri...we're searching for you
(19) DM Dave: Young man, "Cough, cough...not much time, please, I need to speak to a Glantrian mage, only they will know what to do."
(25) Su-Taki: Roko: one is on his way....
(25) Su-Taki: R gives the kid water
(19) DM Dave: The water washes off of the green field, it is definitely a field.
(20) FakeThorfio: up the rope I go
(25) Su-Taki: can Roko cast know intent?
(23) Kier: Once the rest of the party is up I will go back to the guy
(19) DM Dave: Roko can cast know intent
(19) DM Dave: However, he cannot regain his spells, without a trip back to the Shires
(19) DM Dave: Roko studies the young man carefully, and notices something even more alarming.
(25) Su-Taki: the ooze is moving?
(19) DM Dave: no
(22) Sigiric: wow. that's a bummer
(25) Su-Taki: Kier...use your truth ring
(19) DM Dave: The young man, inside the field, is growing darker, in the sense of a shadow growing deeper across him.
(25) Su-Taki: we want to know his state of mind...
(22) Sigiric: on a kid?
(25) Su-Taki: never know.....
(23) Kier: It will only let me know if he is telling the truth
(25) Su-Taki: but this is a DnD module
(19) DM Dave: Thorfio, you reach the top, scan the area, and join Roko.
(23) Kier: I don't think it lets me know intent
(22) Sigiric: dispel
(25) Su-Taki: Dave....would a person hallucinating know if he was lying or not?
(25) Su-Taki: Sigiric....good idea
(19) DM Dave: He might not, and the ring won't pick up on that if he thinks it is the truth
(25) Su-Taki: have Thorfio cast it
(23) Kier: do I sense that a cure spell might help him?
(25) Su-Taki: kid wants to talk to him anyway
(23) Kier: he wanted a mage
(19) DM Dave: You have no idea, you and Thorfio have never seen this before
(19) DM Dave: The young man's eyes get a glimmer of hope when he sees you Thorfio.
(23) Kier: lets see what he tells thorfio
(19) DM Dave: "I'm-" the young man coughs, hard
(25) Su-Taki: okay, Thorfio casts dispel magic
(19) DM Dave: "I'm Tylon, from Kopstar town in Bergdhoven."
(19) DM Dave: Glantri
(25) Su-Taki: Kier, hit him with a minor heal as well
(19) DM Dave: Every word seems to hurt him
(23) Kier: I'll give him a cure light
(23) Kier: does it help?
(19) DM Dave: The spell has no effect.
(20) FakeThorfio: Have I ever seen a field like this?
(19) DM Dave: no
(23) Kier: I'll ask him what is hurting him
(20) FakeThorfio: tell me what you have to tell me, Tylon
(25) Su-Taki: we need to know what he knows
(20) FakeThorfio: we will do all we can for you, but your message is vital.
(25) Su-Taki: i think the DM is going to gack him
(19) DM Dave: Tylon talks without stopping now, as though he's rehearsed what he wants to tell you, and he wants to tell you, and he wants to get it all out.
(19) DM Dave: "I hired on as a driver. Easy journey I thought.
(19) DM Dave: Didn't much like Prince Kano, but we didn't have to see much of him. He spent all his time with that minister, Kaze, her name."
(23) Kier: I'll use one charge on the ring of truth to sense if what he is saying is true
(19) DM Dave: "A week and a half back, Kano ordered us off the route.
(19) DM Dave: Said he wanted to check out a place his ancestors had lived once.
(19) DM Dave: The officers of the escort objected, but after a private conversation with Kaze, they came back all eager to go."
(19) DM Dave: Did someone cast dispel magic?
(20) FakeThorfio: side note: Kaze is the chick I dislike.
(25) Su-Taki: Thorfio did
(19) DM Dave: Thorfio, you cast a dispel magic.
(19) DM Dave: No effect
(20) FakeThorfio: OK
(20) FakeThorfio: What I expected
(25) Su-Taki: is this the same ooze as below?
(20) FakeThorfio: it's not ooze, I don't think, it's a green force-field like effect
(19) DM Dave: Back to Tylon, "We turned up into the mountains, went a ways, and camped. She waved her arms and said some things behind us, and our tracks disappeared.
(19) DM Dave: She and Kano rode up further for an hour, then came back in a fine mood."
(25) Su-Taki: yeah, i figured that
(22) Sigiric: does Zalco detect magic on the force field?
(25) Su-Taki: or ethereal for that matter....
(19) DM Dave: Yes, Zalco reports this magical field is extremely powerful, "Su-Taki, it is like some kind of gate, like the portal in the Dwarven Mine"
(22) Sigiric: ugh
(19) DM Dave: Tylon, "Five days ago, Prince Udan comes up to meet us, like he knew we were up here all along.
(19) DM Dave: Those princes and Kaze led us to this rock tower here, and then we all climbed the rope to this old ruin.
(19) DM Dave: The three of them went down below there, under the building, and we all heard flames and explosions.
(19) DM Dave: None of us wanted to go help them, though, for they'd spooked all of us by then. All but the officers, the ones Kaze talked to.
(19) DM Dave: They came back up loaded with loot, but nobody I know got to see it.
(19) DM Dave: The princes said we'd be waiting here for a while.
(19) DM Dave: A few days, they said. Somebody asked why, and Kaze chanted something. A spell.
(19) DM Dave: It turned everybody friendly and trusting, everyone but me.
(19) DM Dave: Except me, but I didn't let on. Nobody asked anything more."
(25) Su-Taki: someone made his saving throw
(25) Su-Taki: what happened over the next 3 days?
(25) Su-Taki: *gurggle*
(19) DM Dave: Tylon looks at you, "They just waited, checking the mesa edge...waiting. And drinking
(19) DM Dave: Then last night....
(19) DM Dave: after dark, the three of them tensed up, like they'd heard a voice or something, and without a word to anyone they went back down below.
(19) DM Dave: I heard sounds, like chants and screams. Horrible sounds all night.
(19) DM Dave: They came back up a few hours ago"
(19) DM Dave: He coughs again, harder
(19) DM Dave: "And those princes looked all different, looking around like they'd never seen this place before, and moving like they'd never walked before."
(25) Su-Taki: were they stumbling, or walking funny?
(19) DM Dave: They walked funny, yes.
(19) DM Dave: "Kano had a black monkey on his shoulder. It never made a sound. How'd he get a monkey down there?"
(20) FakeThorfio: the 3 of who tensed up?
(20) FakeThorfio: Kano, Kaze and Udan?
(19) DM Dave: "The three, Irila Kaze, Prince Kano, and Prince Udan, his brother, the one to be the next hostage"
(25) Su-Taki: like they were undead funny or clown funny?
(19) DM Dave: Coughs again
(19) DM Dave: "We all climbed back down to the caravan."
(25) Su-Taki: Roko gives the kid holy water
(19) DM Dave: It pours off him, without touching him.
(20) FakeThorfio: down below, as in they climbed down the rope to the bottom of the mesa?
(19) DM Dave: "Yes, we all climbed back down to the caravan. Kaze told us...
(19) DM Dave: told us to stand still while she sprinkled this strange powder all around us and the wagons.
(19) DM Dave: Then she started to chant, and I felt funny."
(22) Sigiric: I examine the aura around Tylon and wrack my brain for any knowledge of its origin or nature (bardic knowledge)
(19) DM Dave: "I ran.
(19) DM Dave: But suddenly there was Kano, right in front of me...didn't see him..he picked me up, flew back up here.
(19) DM Dave: He laid his hand on me, that was all....what did he do to me?
(25) Su-Taki: wait....he "flew"?!?
(19) DM Dave: "Left me for dead. I looked down as he flew me up, I looked down, and the caravan disappeared! Poof, gone!"
(25) Su-Taki: since when do orcs (Kano's an orc, ne?) fly
(20) FakeThorfio: goblin, not an orc
(25) Su-Taki: okay, so when did goblins fly?
(22) Sigiric: right after the pigs
(19) DM Dave: "I collapsed. Kaze and Udan joined Kano a moment later."
(25) Su-Taki: heh
(25) Su-Taki: "where did they go?"
(19) DM Dave: "Kano went back down into the ruins with the minister.
(19) DM Dave: Udan floated away into the sky.
(19) DM Dave: left me for dead...
(19) DM Dave: oh mercy...
(19) DM Dave: Sir, tell my family, in Kopstar I love them
(19) DM Dave: Tell the wizard princes, I held on, I made sure to hold on, long enough to tell you..."
(19) DM Dave: He is now convulsing, the shadow is so dark now he is almost a silhouette
(22) Sigiric: bardic knowledge on the aura?
(19) DM Dave: Sigiric you did a bardic knowledge check?
(25) Su-Taki: last questions? anyone?
(22) Sigiric: [1d20] =>  = (13)
(22) Sigiric: bleh. bad dice
(19) DM Dave: You made it, thanks to a bonus and earlier research
(22) Sigiric: oh, ok
(19) DM Dave: You recall a legend about the Blood Brethren, and the records in the Archive also mentioned it.
(19) DM Dave: Their deadly Grasping Dark
(19) DM Dave: Suddenly Tylon screams
(22) Sigiric: a spell?
(19) DM Dave: You see the air shimmer around him, and there's an awful smell.
(19) DM Dave: It was never clear if it was a spell, but most likely
(19) DM Dave: The smell is that of dead bodies.
(19) DM Dave: His skin is turning purple like a bruise.
(19) DM Dave: and then it is dead black.
(22) Sigiric: death by box text
(19) DM Dave: His clothing too It's all turning dark, as if night were falling but just over him.
(19) DM Dave: He turns into a living, moving silhouette.
(25) Su-Taki: we back away....
(19) DM Dave: Tylon screams harder, and now you see him again, inside the silhouette.
(22) Sigiric: quickly. Not slowly
(23) Kier: I'll fly up out of range
(19) DM Dave: He looks smaller, and then you realise he's receding from you into the distance.
(22) Sigiric: oh, that's not good...
(19) DM Dave: into the darkness inside the silhouette
(19) DM Dave: And all around him, at his throat and his arms and his legs, you see dozens of hands.
(25) Su-Taki: oh...fun......
(19) DM Dave: Greyish green hands, with the wrong number of fingers, and no fingernails, but claws.
(25) Su-Taki: Thorfio....Sigiric.....? any ideas?
(19) DM Dave: The hands drag Tylon's body down, further and further into his own silhouette.
(23) Kier: I'll try to turn the hands
(23) Kier: any effect?
(19) DM Dave: No effect Kier, it is like you are looking into a window of another plane of existence
(19) DM Dave: Just before he vanishes in the dark, you see blood streaming from his nose and mouth.
(20) FakeThorfio: I have absolutely no idea.
(22) Sigiric: I think we may know what happened to the caravan
(20) FakeThorfio: Especially if a foul smelling ooze is left behind from this
(25) Su-Taki: yeah, they're deader than proverbial doornails
(19) DM Dave: blood streaming from nose and mouth...
(23) Kier: nasty spell
(25) Su-Taki: i capture some in a vial
(19) DM Dave: Then theres' nothing left but the silhouette, and that vanishes like a shadow in sunlight.
(22) Sigiric: Thorfio, pay attention to this... you may want to learn it
(20) FakeThorfio: heh
(19) DM Dave: Nothing is left there, no slime.
(19) DM Dave: If it wasn't clear, you realise Sigiric, the legends of the Grasping Dark obviously white washed the reality
(22) Sigiric: I'd guessed
(19) DM Dave: heh
(19) DM Dave: Action?
(19) DM Dave: Ok, let me show you a quick map of the surrounding area
(25) Su-Taki: we run away....quickly
(19) DM Dave: laf
(22) Sigiric: spray the ground with a fire extinguisher full of holy water?
(19) DM Dave: you may pour holy water if you wish
(22) Sigiric: worth a try
(25) Su-Taki: yeah...do it
(23) Kier: I'll sprinkle some
(25) Su-Taki: oh...was I able to capture any of the blood?
(19) DM Dave: You pour it over the ground where Tylon lay.
(19) DM Dave: Blood?
(20) FakeThorfio: it was all behind the field
(25) Su-Taki: never mind....
(19) DM Dave: right
(19) DM Dave: ok, quick description, I will set aside the map for later
(20) FakeThorfio: Deus ex slaughterca.
(19) DM Dave: The monastery consists of five stone buildings, built in a beehive style.
(19) DM Dave: Each structure is a small circular dome, or at least they were
(19) DM Dave: One, a small windmill stands apart from the rest along the plateau's edge.
(20) FakeThorfio: OK, now that the immediate issues are done, time for me to start identifying, I think
(19) DM Dave: The mills grindstone lies in the dirt, only one wall of the windmill still stands
(19) DM Dave: The other four buildings stand together in what was once a meadow, now overgrown with weeds
(25) Su-Taki: do I see any recent tracks?
(19) DM Dave: Three of the four buildings are now ruined piles of rubble
(19) DM Dave: yes tracks lead into the only intact building, the fourth
(25) Su-Taki: Roko puts on his ring and walks closer once he is invis again
(22) Sigiric: begin falcon aerial observation
(19) DM Dave: part of the fourth still stands, black against the horizon like a scorched tree.
(19) DM Dave: The falcon reports nothing close, it does observe a few humanoid sheepherders below
(19) DM Dave: Roko scouts...
(19) DM Dave: He comes back minutes later
(19) DM Dave: Roko, "The inside of the building is mostly collapsed, but the floor holds a trap door.
(19) DM Dave: The trap door has been blown open, shattered into splinters."
(25) Su-Taki: do any of the other buildings have anything in them?
(19) DM Dave: The other buildings are ruins, do you have Roko scout, or do you guys all search?
(19) DM Dave: The building doesn't have anything in and of itself, Roko tells you, but he hasn't gone down into the cellar below
(25) Su-Taki: have Roko complete his surface area search
(25) Su-Taki: i don't want to find out we left a pack of undead behind us
(19) DM Dave: Ok, just search for potential opponents
(25) Su-Taki: we're not in any hurry, right?
(23) Kier: we have the time to search
(19) DM Dave: It won't take much longer before dark, but no, no hurry
(19) DM Dave: ok, Roko scouts the other buildings
(20) FakeThorfio: As I said, I wanted to start with the identifying once we got done talking to that guy
(19) DM Dave: ok
(19) DM Dave: Roko reports only animals in the ruins, and in the surrounding area.
(19) DM Dave: Owl, field mice, a pine marten.
(25) Su-Taki: no cemetery?
(19) DM Dave: Cacius perks up at the sound of the marten
(19) DM Dave: A marten is a ferret like breed
(22) Sigiric: I hold back Kier to keep him from dive-bombing the rodents
(23) Kier: new pet!
(19) DM Dave: If there is a cemetery, it has been obscured, or under the rubble of one of the other buildings.
(23) Kier: I'm hungry - go for the mice
(20) FakeThorfio: I continue casting!
(22) Sigiric: I attempt to locate the monastery's scriptorium
(19) DM Dave: But Roko has not entered that trap door.
(19) DM Dave: scriptorium?
(25) Su-Taki: library
(23) Kier: looks like the next step is going down the trap door
(22) Sigiric: library/scribing room
(25) Su-Taki: it's kinda like a vomitorium...only different
(22) Sigiric: we're going to be a while waiting for Thorfio to finish identification
(25) Su-Taki: so, 1 intact building on this whole plateau
(19) DM Dave: correct su-taki
(19) DM Dave: The windmill has one intact wall
(19) DM Dave: But the intact building has...
(19) DM Dave: empty rooms, except for the main room, which has a hole in the floor.
(19) DM Dave: Where there used to be a trap door.
(19) DM Dave: Until someone shattered it to splinters.
(25) Su-Taki: any magical residue?
(25) Su-Taki: or ooze for that matter
(22) Sigiric: let's wait for the results of the identification and then head down. In the meantime, I'll mem some new spells
(19) DM Dave: No sign of ooze, however, by the time you could look, it may have evaporated
(25) Su-Taki: i was thinking wizard eye.....
(19) DM Dave: You guys camp for the night?
(23) Kier: down the trap door
(23) Kier: while we camp
(19) DM Dave: You guys camp outside, or in the building?
(25) Su-Taki: well, we'll need that later
(25) Su-Taki: outside as far as possible from the intact building
(19) DM Dave: Wizard eye can be done this evening
(25) Su-Taki: cold camp
(19) DM Dave: Ok, you guys make camp, in a sheltered area of the ruin of one of the other buildings...
(19) DM Dave: When ready, Sigiric, with a heavy armed escort, enters the building and sends the wizard eye down...
(19) DM Dave: But before we do that, later that night, Thorfio finishes casting identify and studies the substance...
(19) DM Dave: Thorfio, you reach a conclusion about the slime.
(22) Sigiric: we can wizard eye in about an hour, during daylight
(19) DM Dave: It is a waste product...of a very, very powerful magical creature.
(20) FakeThorfio: What creature?
(20) FakeThorfio: Demon? Devil? Insurance Salesman?
(22) Sigiric: great
(22) Sigiric: politicians...
(19) DM Dave: Unknown, and you have studied many such substances.
(19) DM Dave: It is unique, however, there are some elements in common with demonic substances.
(19) DM Dave: But it is not a demon.
(23) Kier: sounds fun
(19) DM Dave: Sigiric casts wizard eye, and sends it down into the trap door.
(19) DM Dave: By the way, the splinters, when you study them, are partially charred.
(19) DM Dave: A wooden ladder leads six feet down to a staircase five feet wide and barely six feet high.
(19) DM Dave: This flight of stairs, roughly carved from rock, winds down into total darkness.
(19) DM Dave: Dust gathers in every corner, but fine layers of it that once coated the floor have recently been blown away.
(19) DM Dave: You descend the eye down the stair case
(19) DM Dave: The low ceilinged staircase winds down
(19) DM Dave: You pass a claustrophic cylinder carved into the side next to the staircase.
(19) DM Dave: You investigate it.
(19) DM Dave: It appears that it once may have been a watch post.
(25) Su-Taki: anything there now?
(20) FakeThorfio: claustrophic? Huh/
(25) Su-Taki: *gurggle*
(20) FakeThorfio: English, por favor?
(19) DM Dave: Claustrophobic
(19) DM Dave: sorry, though that was a word
(19) DM Dave: blame the module
(19) DM Dave: There is stone mortar work that would seal off the cylinder from the staircase.
(19) DM Dave: The stone mortar work has collapsed partially however, exposing the cylinder above thigh level.
(19) DM Dave: someone could stand in there and defend the staircase
(22) Sigiric: keep moving the eye through
(19) DM Dave: You explore the cylinder, just enough room to reload a crossbow, but not nock an arrow
(19) DM Dave: Nothing
(19) DM Dave: You continue down
(19) DM Dave: Another watch post, again the cylinder is empty, with the mortar stonework partially collapsed
(19) DM Dave: Bottom of the stairs is about 30 feet from the top
(19) DM Dave: Another poorly laid mortar stone wall blocks the passage.
(19) DM Dave: A door, hanging by one hinge, is the passage through the wall
(19) DM Dave: The metal hinges on the door have been broken, most likely recently
(19) DM Dave: The door is barely hanging on by its bottom hinge
(23) Kier: send the wizard eye through then
(19) DM Dave: Wizard eye peeks past the door
(19) DM Dave: You see what looks like a large natural cavern.
(19) DM Dave: The floor is rough brown rock, marred by the stumps of a few cut stalagmites.
(22) Sigiric: does the infravision from the eye show any heat signatures?
(19) DM Dave: No heat signatures.
(19) DM Dave: But you see, the entire area is trashed.
(19) DM Dave: The monks used this cavern as a central passage, with several doors on the sides, for dug out side caverns.
(19) DM Dave: Every last door, and the entire central passage, has been subjected to explosions and fire.
(19) DM Dave: All the doors have been blown to pieces.
(22) Sigiric: I sweep at max eye speed
(19) DM Dave: Soot lines the ceiling when you investigate
(19) DM Dave: You sweep the side caverns?
(19) DM Dave: The whole area is full of dust, soot and mould, still in the air.
(19) DM Dave: Empty iron sconces are present
(19) DM Dave: ok, there are a total of eight rooms off the central passage
(19) DM Dave: seven had doors on them
(19) DM Dave: all blown off
(25) Su-Taki: the dust and soot are still floating? hmmm....
(19) DM Dave: At the end of the passage, there is another hole, it looks like they shattered the wall there
(19) DM Dave: You find two rooms look about the same, with piles of wood scraps and shards, it looks like they were old crates, each one has been smashed to pieces.
(19) DM Dave: You find another room, closest to the stairs, completely charred along the walls, it looks like a fireball exploded in here.
(22) Sigiric: no fresh footprints in the dust on the floor anywhere?
(19) DM Dave: You find a room with what looks like shattered casks.
(25) Su-Taki: any liquid on the floor?
(19) DM Dave: At the back of the shattered casks, you find what must have been a secret door, wide open.
(19) DM Dave: You send the eye into the secret room?
(22) Sigiric: actually, I think it's better to get the lay of the land with the eye
(19) DM Dave: Ok, you don't enter
(22) Sigiric: we can investigate nooks and crannies in-person
(19) DM Dave: You realise that soot and ash are still falling from the ceiling, that is why the air is choked with dust and ash.
(22) Sigiric: if I run out of large area before I run out of time, I'll look in the various rooms
(19) DM Dave: You find a chamber with wooden desks, high stools, and an open basket with blank scrolls
(19) DM Dave: the scriptorium!!!
(22) Sigiric: nice!
(19) DM Dave: You enter another room, inside is a thick cloud of ash
(19) DM Dave: Impossible to tell what is in here
(19) DM Dave: You find a room that may have once been fine, but what once may have been wood panelling is charred on the floor.
(19) DM Dave: There are several pieces of a statue here.
(19) DM Dave: It looks like the statue was smashed to pieces.
(19) DM Dave: The last room...
(19) DM Dave: You try to enter the hole at the end of the passage
(19) DM Dave: The wizard eye is dispelled.
(22) Sigiric: how long is this passage in total?
(25) Su-Taki: oh...goody.....
(22) Sigiric: oh, joy...
(19) DM Dave: The passage is about 90-100 feet long
(22) Sigiric: friggin' beholders
(19) DM Dave: With eight rooms along the sides, one of which is at the end
(19) DM Dave: ok, anything else while you guys camp overnight?
(25) Su-Taki: but wait....we have a book on beholders...did Sigiric memorise it?!?
(19) DM Dave: You guys do have the book
(25) Su-Taki: or Thorfio for that matter
(23) Kier: we still have the book
(19) DM Dave: But sigiric did not see a beholder.
(19) DM Dave: If anything he believes he tripped some defensive ward
(25) Su-Taki: beholder kin.....
(22) Sigiric: it's in the bag. I didn't see one... but I know anti-magic fields when I encounter them
(22) Sigiric: the kin didn't have dispel eyes
(25) Su-Taki: yeah, looks that way
(19) DM Dave: Any questions?
(23) Kier: that's what happened with the last wizard eye
(25) Su-Taki: we have to start going room by room now...
With the players holding off on investigating the underground caverns they start to give Kano the lead the next section assumes he will have. As it stands, he will have close to a 24 hour head start should things go as they plan tomorrow.
So let's see what I come up with to push that lead a little more...
Prince Udan's companions
As I mentioned before, I had several ideas for delaying the party to give Prince Kano the time he needed to get into position. The first such delay is Prince Udan's companions.
HWA1 has the elves instructed to wait for Prince Udan's friends to reach him, and that is only an excuse to get the PCs to the Hollow World. While the module has those friends never show up, I decided to build a humanoid party using GAZ10, making it something of a match for the PCs. While it doesn't matter to the adventure, in my campaign Udan prior to these events was a powerful humanoid warrior in his own right.
Prince Udan's companions-
The Bruiser 9th level Common Orc
A warrior dedicated to Karaash, wielding the classic toothed blade with weapon mastery, wearing mismatched chain and carrying a massive shield. The only one besides Prince Udan's mom to best Udan in combat, so he was hired as his personal bodyguard.
Counterpart - Cacius
The Flyer 7th level Red Orc
A skilled skinwing flyer that has raised his companion from birth. Rides a 7HD Skinwing. Saved Udan from a fatal fall and became fast friends.
Counterpart - Kier
The Berserker 5th level Bugbear
One of Prince Udan's childhood companions. He fights with a massive oversized two handed blade, possesses the fighting frenzy skill, and carries a potion of speed.
Counterpart - Su-taki
The Shaman 8th level Goblin, 6th level Shaman
Prince Udan's mentor, and the one who knows something is seriously wrong. Besides, this whole area is supposed to be taboo.
Counterpart - Roko
The Mad Wokani 5th level Goblin, 5th level wizard
There may be better spellcasters out there, but this guy has the advantage of being completely nuts. Going into this fight he knows he may be outmatched with his paltry spell list, but he has one ace up his sleeve, a scroll of anti-magic shell. Charge in, cancel out the opposing magic and stick a knife in them...sound like a plan.
Counterpart - Thorfio
Udan's mate 6th level Goblin warchanter and Wolfrider
Her job is just to hang back and bolster everyone else. Rides a dire wolf.
Counterpart - Sigiric
Plus 2 level 4 Goblin Wolfriders & Dire wolves
Veterans of High Gobliny campaigns and general muscle.
Counterparts - A couple of NPC henchmen with the party I haven't mentioned yet.
Udan's companions use levitate spells to get everyone to the top of the mesa during the night, and approach the ruins from the opposite direction. It is before dawn when they spot a camp of outsiders near the ruins, and begin closing in after preparing for battle.
I deliberately matched up a humanoid counterpart party both for amusement value and to give some reason why the elves would mistake the party for Udan's people. Koresh spent too much time describing their abilities rather than physical characteristics.
We left the PCs off with them camping for the night. Being in hostile territory they had sentries posted, and Sigiric, as the first hint of light cracked on the horizon, left his watch point to quickly alert his fellows. His familiar, a falcon, has spotted movement on the mesa.
Most of the party were already awake, and so quickly moved into defensible positions. They spotted the opposing group and began preparing themselves. Noting one humanoid was magically hasted Thorfio hit him with a dispel magic as he closed in, and dispelled his speed(30% chance, just my luck).
So the intent was to get PCs fighting their counterparts, but the best laid plans of DMs rarely survive contact with the PCs. As the humanoid party closed, Cacius moved out front to engage the Berserker, while Su-Taki fought the Bruiser on the flank. The Berserker, without his speed couldn't generate the attacks to inflict much damage against Cacius. On the other side, however, the Bruiser and Su-Taki were pretty evenly matched. Both have weapon mastery with their main blades, and the way I run the deflection rules is rather than make it a saving throw, it is a flat X% chance, 10% for the "skilled" level. This actually came into play as both turned aside each other's attacks on occasion while dealing punishing blows to each other the rest of the time.
Kier took to the air and quickly spotted the Skinwing flying up the side of the mesa behind the party. Sigiric, however, threw a hold monster spell which affected the red orc but not the skinwing. Thus, no net on Kier, and the next round as Kier and the Skinwing closed Sigiric hit the Skinwing with a ray of enfeeblement. End result, Skinwing and red orc crash-dive onto the mesa with Kier at the top of the pile.
Being invisible Roko got in a backstab before going toe to toe with the Shaman, while Thorfio behind a screen of henchmen targeted the Warchanter. Then the Mad Wokani got into melee range and Thorfio's Mirror Images shut down, with the goblin wolfriders getting in and fighting PC henchmen bunched up with Thorfio and Sigiric.
After a few rounds of combat and observing the skills of their opponents, the players realised what was going on.
Sigiric, "Guys, we're fighting the Linear Guild!"*
The PCs gained the upper hand when Thorfio was able to disengage and finish off the warchanter, while Roko and Cacius put serious hurt on their opponents and the centre melee between goblin and PC henchmen turned as dire wolves started dying and Kier leaped into that fray. The humanoids failed a morale check and with no where to go they surrendered. Remarkably, though, most of Udan's companions were still alive, albeit barely. The Bruiser fared the best, and only grudgingly lowered his blade.
Realising the PCs might summarily execute them, the Shaman offered to blab everything he knew, and promptly sold out Udan/Koresh. The PCs learned someone down below the ruins might be waiting for them to take them to Udan, and that the password to gain their acceptance was the goblin words for "Red Light".
More questions only confirmed that Udan had some kind of greyish worm on his shoulder and wasn't acting like himself, especially the magical powers.
The session ended with the PCs dispersing the humanoids at intervals to climb down the mesa, and then enter the ruins to explore.
One question which came up for the first time, when duration spells are shut down in an anti-magic field, are they dispelled or just suppressed until the anti-magic field is left? I ruled only suppressed, so when Thorfio got away from the Mad Wokani, his remaining mirror images came back.
* For those who read Order of the Stick, no explanation of the Linear Guild is necessary. For those who do not read Order of the Stick, no explanation of the Linear Guild is possible.
Ok, maybe not, the Wikipedia page on the Linear Guild can fill you in.
This session was spent exploring the cellar, caves and tunnels under the Barleycorn Monastery, all more or less described in the module itself. Thus I won't spend a lot of words narrating Roko invisibly slinking from room to room searching carefully as the rest of the PCs waited at the top of the stairs to hear back from him. This is often SOP for this group, with the players not minding listening to my descriptions and Roko's interaction with the environment.
I mistakenly thought that the map for this area wasn't in the adventure itself, stupid of me not to check the module inside cover. Amazingly, by studying the text descriptions I actually got very close to the layout of the actual map, although I had seven rooms instead of six. I only noticed the map on the inside cover two weeks after this session.
The little mole was found, with Roko assuming it must be important for it to be mentioned.
The miniature horse was found, with the initial assumption it was a magical statuette similar to Moka or an obsidian dog(Sigiric has one of these). Later they realised it was probably part of the caravan, but for now it is stored in someone's pack.
No one knew what amphorae were, I guess I was the only one who remembers studying Roman culture and Latin. Once they looked it up online they knew what I was talking about.
Despite the fact that the PCs noted the magical iron spikes set in the prison chamber, none decided to dig one out of the wall. One very useful tool against the Blood Brethren will not see play.
I was very tempted to have the ghost monk mentioned in the text make an appearance, but decided that would give too much info to the PCs at this point if they talked to it. They did find a scorched outline on the cave wall of the room it was in when blasted by Kaze.
Carefully noting the chamber where the Blood Brethren were imprisoned, Roko explored the recently dug tunnel found within it, and was startled upon finding the massive 40 foot worm in the cavern beyond. When it didn't move he cautiously checked it out, and was disturbed to find a red lobster like creature with barbs sunk into the worm just behind its apparent sensory organ near the mouth.
Cacius, "That lobster thing sounds interesting, you should take it off the worm and see what it does."
Roko, "Oh yeah, I'll put it on your head to see what it does."
Relieved to see both creatures were dead, Roko then heard the voices of elves beyond the worm. Observing them for a bit he went back to get the others, and the group followed the route with him to confront the elves.
The encounter went peacefully, the PCs gave the password, and tried out the necklaces which the elves handed to them. The elves, of course, berate them for taking so long, which actually made more sense for the way this adventure is going than it would be based on the assumptions in the text. It has been almost 24 hours since they arrived at the monastery, with Kano and Kaze having proceeded to the Hollow World no more than 2-3 hours before that.
On a sidenote, we used to have a player who actually was a Shadowelf PC that played a few adventures in the campaign when the game started. Only that player knew who shadowelves were, and the rest of the party noted some of the PCs quirks but never realised anything more. Some of the PCs know of legends of shadowelves, and Cacius knows they are real, but the quirks of the Schattenalfen reminded the players of that Shadowelf PC more than anything, so there was some willing trust.
The conversation was brief however, for the elves told the PCs that while they were waiting, a group of fierce winged creatures had attacked them from an adjacent cavern. While the elves had driven them off with magic, one of the creatures had taken the device the elves need to "summon the earth creature that can transport us through the earth to reach Prince Udan".
Time to introduce another delaying element to this adventure. However, doing it this time evoked a certain amount of frustration...
Roko, "WHAT?!? How can anything be alive down here? It is too far down, there isn't any air circulation, any creature would suffocate before too long. This is totally unrealistic!"
<DM Note : "Uh oh! Suspension of disbelief is cracking. Not good.">
Cacius (player openly laughing), "We have been playing this game...for how many years? And you are just bringing this up now?"
(turns to me still laughing) "Dave, I just wanted to let you know, fireballs are totally unrealistic."
Roko, now looking sheepish, "Ok, never mind, I was just giving the DM a hard time."
Su-Taki, "Side-treks, I hate frickin side-treks."
Who are these winged creatures? What are they doing down here? How do they avoid suffocating? Can the PCs recover the device? And if suspension of disbelief is cracking now, what happens when the PCs reach the Hollow World?
Answers to all these question will be revealed...