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Campaign journalby RPGPundit
The PCs decided to spend this session clearing out Alendalan's forest hex in Alfheim in preparation for his dominion.
Sir Firearm wasn't present. His player was ill, and of course, so was sir firearm. If he ever survives his immortality quest, no doubt he'll be the immortal patron of explosive diarrhoea.
The PCs go to the Alfheim hex, with travel being much simpler now thanks to the scroll of shelter (everyone crams in there, and Alen casts Teleport Object on himself).
And they start the work of clearing out. Alen finds out that his hex is bordered on two side by the River of Monsters, and that a confluence of magical influences make the place susceptible to the random appearance of monsters. They also learn that at this point, something like a third of all the trees in Alfheim are infected with this mysterious disease that is causing them to twist and warp.
This bears itself out early one night in their examination. Corwyn is on patrol, when suddenly he notices a Gate forming in the ground below them, and out spews a Horde of earth elementals!
Now, if you've not been a very attentive reader, you might have failed to notice that Alen has a long history with the Elementals. Ever since he learnt "Conjure Elemental", he's been giving them silly names, making them do pointless tasks, and generally abusing of them. The players had heard that the entire elemental planisphere was ****** off with him, but they had yet to suffer that wrath.
This night, they did, in the form of eight giant earth elementals who came looking for Alen. It was clear that they only wanted him, the other PCs could have just let them take him, but they felt too much loyalty, and joined the fight. These weren't ordinary Elementals though, they were the tough guys of their plane; and the fight only ended because Corwyn very cleverly flew with Alen high enough that the elementals couldn't reach. Their lack of flight made success impossible, so they returned through the gate to their plane, and the gate shut down.
The next day, Alen decided it was time to talk with an elemental to find out how he could make things right. He conjures an earth elemental up, and Corwyn casts speak with monsters. He asks the elemental what he must do to set things right.
The Earth Elemental responds that he personally would like Alen to be mashed into little bits, but he's not the one who runs things in the plane, he just works in an office. For a start, though, they don't like being conjured, much less for silly things.
A very depressed Alen agrees not to conjure him anymore. He asks the Earth Elemental if there's anything he would like, thinking of a gift for him.
"well, I like a bit of zinc now and then, but who doesn't?"
The PCs don't have any zinc, so they give him a handful of gold coins. "Here you go!"
The Earth elemental looks at the coins incredulously, "what are these for?"
"well, we don't have any zinc, but you can have those..."
*blink* "I can't have sex with THESE!"
Anyways, the PCs let him go and continue on their way, leaving the greater elemental problem unresolved for now.
They keep travelling through the woods, with one night having an encounter with some dire giant flying squirrels, but nothing major happening for a bit.
Then suddenly, as they're walking one day through the woods, they all feel a great chill. Galafilo shoots up into the air, knowing that "great chills" are usually a sign of impending doom. Looking around, Corwyn spots a creature in between a couple of warped trees. Its a giant black humanoid figure; and by black I mean as in "negative space", a great empty shadow, nothing, where there should be something.
Its a nightwalker.
Galafilo throws an axe at it. Its a +1 axe but even so absolutely nothing happens.
Corwyn decides to turn it. It SAVES. This scares the hell out of Corwyn, because he had no idea that any undead could have a save vs. turning.
Galafilo fires a lightning bolt that gets sucked right into its blackness, for no effect.
And Duroc, Duroc charges at the Nightwalker, hits it, and does 20 damage! The little dwarf that the others had along as a mascot is all grown up, and doing massive damage!
But its the Nightwalker's turn. It summons up a Phantom Shade to attack Alendalan, tries a gaze attack at Corwyn, and proceed to beat the crap out of Duroc, injuring him seriously and destroying his prized +4 shield!
On their turn, the others fight back with a barrage of spells (Alen), turnings (Corwyn), and cowardice (Galafilo, surprisingly, who decides to stay in the back "covering" Corwyn, rather than go in and fight the Nightwalker with Duroc). None of these tactics work. The only one who's doing damage to the thing is Duroc, with his mighty blows. Corwyn manages to destroy the Phantom Shade with this turning attempt, though.
Then the Nightwalker pounds on Duroc, bringing him down to only 1 hit point above zero! He also destroys Duroc's armour, leaving him with nothing on but his undies!!
At this point, its unclear which is the greater horror to behold, the nightwalker or the dwarf in boxer-briefs.
Next round, Corwyn casts a full cure on Duroc, Alen fires an arrow at the Nightwalker (no damage), and Galafilo finally grows a pair and charges the thing. Unfortunately, his +2 axe doesn't do any damage either. He notes Duroc is hitting (and doing damage) with a +3 warhammer. So Galafilo grabs Corwyn's +3 mace.
The nightwalker pounds Duroc and Corwyn this turn, injuring them both seriously.
Corwyn retreats, and Alen Dimension Doors down to the level of the battle (he was up in a tree until then), and tells the others to hold on till they can get to him, not to run.
They keep bashing the creature, but after all these rounds they estimate the creature still has something like 70% of its hit points. The Nightwalker bashes them some more, and Alendalan gets to them, casting Haste. Duroc and Galafilo hit, hard.
But that's not all. Corwyn had retreated in order to read a scroll. He reads it. Raise Dead Fully, cast on the Nightwalker. Now, the creature is looking seriously hurt.
It fights back, though, its gaze attack finally hitting the mark, as Galafilo drops dead. But now Duroc hits it twice as hard with the haste, and Corwyn reads yet another Raise Dead Fully.
The Nightwalker fights on vainly, Duroc hits it again, and it is no more.
When it explodes, a number of items shower to the ground where it once was. The PCs check it out, and end up discovering among the items a Rod of Inertia, an Ear Ring, a sword +1, +3 vs. Giants; and most importantly, another scroll of protection from magic. Corwyn casts Raise Dead and Full Cure on Galafilo, and they move on.
There's also a treasure map there, which the PCs decide to follow the next day. It leads them to a small cave filled with Thouls. They bash the Thouls, and find some good coins and jewels.
Later, they get to a particularly infested area, filled with the warped trees. Among the trees, they spot a strange creature with the body of a buffalo, a long tail with a bony point at the end, a craned long neck, and the head of a boar. A dreaded Catoplebas! And it has a mate.
The PCs attack with their eyes closed, avoiding the death gaze of the creatures. They kill it rather quickly, as besides the death gaze the Catoblepas isn't all that deadly. They find a pair of huge diamonds stashed beneath one of the twisted trees, and a lucky rabbit's foot.
That night, they are attacked by a giant dire rabbit. Alen charms him, and charmed, he agrees to serve Alen, though the bunny swears that someday, he will "feast on Alen's liver".
They keep going, narrowly missing encounters with giant dire kittens and a giant dire mole with gender identity issues.
They cannot escape the gang of giant dire butterflies, though. They attack in the night, trying to buffet the PCs with their wings. When Corwyn casts Speak with Monsters on them, and asks "why are you attacking us", the butterfly replies, "eh, it seemed like it would be fun at the time". Corwyn manages to determine that these are a gang of teenage Giant Dire Butterflies with bad attitudes.
Fighting them, they kill all but one, that gets away, and another that Alen turns to stone.
Corwyn comments at this point: "Alfheim DEFINITELY has an um... interesting ecology"
The following night, they run into a giant owl with high-level clerical spellcasting abilities. This is a Hsiao, the guardian of the woods. The PCs aren't sure what to make of him, till he casts "Speak with Elf" on Alendalan, and asks him why he's disturbing the poor woodland creatures.
Alen responds that he's just clearing his hex to make a very nice eco-friendly stronghold and that he's killing monsters, but not woodland creatures, unless they attack him first.
The Hsiao responds: "I'm investigating reports that you assaulted some giant butterflies"
"They assaulted us!! They attacked us first! They're gangsters!"
"Surely not! That butterfly is from a nice family."
"Its true, I swear!"
"You swear you won't harm any woodland creatures?"
"Alright, but you watch out, because if I hear anything else I'll come here and cast some serious clerical smack down on you".
The next day the PCs, nearly done their work of wood-clearing, run into a band of Grunalf elves, who tell the PCs that they're on their way to a Juvenile Court Proceeding at the request of the Hsiao. The PCs tell the elves about how they have heard a lot of rumours about Shadow Elves being around (The Grunalf clan, ever paranoid about the massive international shadow elf conspiracy, are convinced the shadow elves are causing the warping of the trees). The PCs ask where the elves heard about those rumours.
"A giant butterfly told me"
"Watch out for those! Some of them attacked us and later told the Hsiao that we attacked them!"
"Frankly"; replies the elf leader, "I'm not surprised. Those giant dire butterflies are always causing trouble, most of them come from broken homes you know."
"Really? But the Hsiao said they were from nice families"
"Between you and me, the Hsiao is pretty naive. Hell, he's so out of it, he even thinks the Giant Mole is straight."
Corwyn mumbles, "definitely an interest ecology, this Alfheim..."
But by then, the PCs are done their scouring, and the elves bring them some surprising news: Ylaruam, or at least one Emir and warband from the same, has invaded the barony of Biazzan in Thyatis! This bodes very poorly for Thyatis, and it also bodes very poorly for the PCs trade routes, as a war in that area would cut off the routes that the PCs caravans were taking.
Indeed, while Alen goes to the Grunalf clanhold to work out the cost of his dominion construction (it only costs him 50k gold pieces, and will be ready in 90 days), Corwyn and the gang return to Darokin City, and Corwyn learns that his caravan has come back thirty thousand GPs in the hole. Its been a very bad year for Darokin economically, and the trade routes are suffering.
The PCs determine that next, they will set about figuring out a possible dominion site for Duroc, but that will have to wait till next week.
For now, its Kaldmont 28, the last day of 1006. And what a mess of a year its been.
The PCs are:
Alendalan, Patriarch of Asterius lv. 32
Duroc Dwarf Lord, lv. 11
Alendalan, Elven Lord Wizard, lv. 10
Galafilo, Halfling Sheriff, lv.8