SecondDarkness

In the Beginning...

The Second Darkness campaign began a week ago.

The disparate group, who were all planning on joining the 'Cheat the Devil and Steal his Gold' tournament, were approached by a mysterious man, claiming to work for Lymas Smeed. He wanted a man known as the Splithog Pauper killed, and whatever funds he carried recovered. The group would be rewarded with half the takings.

 After a casing of the St Caspierian's Mission, the group moved in, and made friends with Mumsy, the cook, by helping her brew up some stew…with a little something extra from John Dalton helping to ensure everyone was feeling calm and restful afterwards

 Mumsy, happy with the help, told the group about the gang upstairs in the flophouse. The group made the most of the info, and split into two groups, hoping to surround their quarry.

 Much hilarity ensued, as the group managed to involve enemy after enemy in a single brawl, on the top floor. The last shot was a crossbow bolt, aimed at the Splithog Pauper, just as he was climbing out of the belltower and away, instead falling to his death.

The group gathered up all of the valuables, and returned them to their contact, receiving their cut just before the day of the tournament at the Golden Goblin.

View
Cheat the Devil and Take His Gold

This week, the party attended the "Cheat the Devil and Take His Gold" tournament at the Golden Goblin gambling house. The casino was decked out in an infernal decor, with multiple succubus-costumed waitresses, and smoky torches adding to the atmosphere.

 The night began with the group participating in several games of chance. John Dalton and the Dwarven specialist did quite well, ably assisted by the Kobold and Arras. Sadly, Krark did not do very well, and lost the first few games that he played.

Just as the group were starting to make headway, and descend into the lower circles of hell, the two Dwarves and John spotted a person in the gent's privy readying a scroll of some sort, and noticed a woman and several thugs in the crowd tensing for action. Krark and the Kobold, oblivious, gambled on.

Over the next few moments, the group foiled a robbery attempt. In the ensuing chaos, the patrons in the Goblin expressed their displeasure, and demanded their money back. Saul eventually conceded to pay out all chips at 110% of value, as his regular staff quit on the spot.

Impressed with performance of the group, Saul offered to hire them as special operatives, under cover of them working for him in the gambling hall. The group agreed, and helped get the Gold Goblin back on its feet.

New staff were hired, including Samaritha Beldusk, a lovely elven transmuter, looking for a temporary job while she waits for an opening in the Cyphermages. The casino reopened, and Clegg Zincher, the man responsible for Saul losing his hand came to visit. Clegg left behind a welcoming gift in the form of a death threat, and a man-size Cindersnake.

Over the next few weeks, despite a few hiccups, the group slowly improved the lot of the Gold Goblin, helping it overcome its financial troubles, and by the end of the 3rd week, the Goblin broke even for the first time in months.

And then potential disaster struck – the Floor Manager, Larur Feldin, was reported as having gone missing while delivering a regular payment to the moneylender, Lymas Smeed. Saul asked the group to investigate.

The group went to Smeed's townhouse, and in the process of asking for entry, discovered a torn and bloodstained cloak belonging to the floor manager in the alley. They broke down the door into the house, and were confronted by a giant, vicious baboon, along with Smeed himself. Despite Krak being felled during the battle, the baboon was killed, and Smeed captured.

In the ensuing interrogation, Smeed complained that he had not seen a payment from Saul in months, leading the group to conclude that the floor manager had been skimming the payments for some time, and had obviously decided to skip town with the largest payment yet. They re-negotiated with Smeed to come and collect the payments himself from the Goblin once a month, and returned Smeed's belongings to him, with some apologies for the misunderstanding. After confirming that Feldin was nowhere to be found, the group spent some time trying to locate his exit method from town, with no success.

The group returned to tell Saul of the new arrangements, who quickly decided to give the group a raise, and made them full partners, promising to give them the Goblin when he retired in a year.

View
The Reveal

At the beginning of the session, things had settled into a bit of a routine at the Gold Goblin. For the first time, the gambling hall broke even, and shortly thereafter, even made a profit! A number of strange happenings also occurred, blamed on the Blot – all of the weather vanes suddenly turned and pointed in one direction, some of them snapping off and falling to the ground. On another occasion, items of metal suddenly became magnetised for a few minutes.

This hall's performance was aided by the troubleshooting characters being sent on a mission to retrieve some quality alcohol, which had arrived too late for the tournament. On their way to the docks, a large tide suddenly came inland, and almost washed the poor Kobold out to sea.

The party decided not to take any muscle with them, and arrived at the docks in time to see the ship's captain being handed a bag of gold by a man in armour, standing in front of a wagon with the casks already loaded. Sensing trouble, the party immediately sprang into action, and killed the armour-clad warrior and his thugs. The casks were then returned triumphantly to the Goblin, and the armour given to the Dwarven tactician.

Samaritha Beldusk resigned her posiiton with the Goblin, to take up an apprenticeship with the Cyphermages. Despite some talk with John Dalton about alternative arrangements, Samaritha departed. At the same time, John spotted a mysterious cloaked figure on a roof across from the gambling hall.

 The next day, the Gold Goblin was raided just after closing, by a large force, led by a Half Orc ninja. In spite of the group being spread throughout the Goblin, the raiders were fought off, and afterwards identified as likely belonging to Boss Croat due to the Half Orc. The group decided to close the Goblin for a day or two for 'rennovations'.

The following evening, Saul called the party together, and told the group of the interesting news that Overlord Cromarky was acting neutrally to the Goblin and its staff – although the gendarmes did not interfere in the raid, they also did not help it. Saul also revealed that he had heard through his contacts of a meeting between important capos of the crimebosses involved in the raid, at a place called the Spar, in the swampy area near Riddleport known as the Boneyard. He sent the team out to disrupt the meeting.

On their way to the ambush, the group were approached by the cloaked figure that had been seen earlier – he introduced himself as the elf Kwava, an employee of the Shin'Rkorath mercenary group. He revealed that he had been watching the Goblin for some time, suspecting that Saul was in league with the Drow, but looking for proof. He learned that Saul had decided to dispose of the group, and so had sent them to be ambushed at the meeting by wererats. Kwava could no longer stand by, and so assisted the group, giving them silver blanch, and leading them to the other side of the Spar, to enact an ambush upon the ambushing wererats…confused yet?

The group prepared for the combat, with many spells and extracts being consumed. The Dwarven specialist was the first to charge in, discovering that his target was a dummy! Luckily, a real target was just in front of him, and he struck the first blow against the wererats. Soon, the rest of the group was engaged. Krark the Barbarian struck a might blow, but was subsequently covered in a tanglefoot bag, spiced with rancid meat. This concoction attracted a swam of flesh-eating cockroaches from nearby, and Krak spent the rest of the battle trying to remove them. After a short struggle, the wererats were silenced, and the cockroach swarm destroyed.

During the struggle, the Kobold was bitten by one of the wererats, and the wound began to burn with the sting of infection.

The party now stands at a decision point – already, they have talked about returning to work at the Goblin, but going undercover to locate the evidence Kwave desires. What will happen next?

View
Payback...almost

After the fight against the wererats, the group rested and recuperated in Kwava's camp for two days. Kwava told them all he knew, and let them know he was on the lookout for any information about a renegade elf.

The party decided to try and bluff their way back into the Goblin, not knowing that Saul had already heard about the wererats. Saul had already hired additional muscle, and closed down the Goblin temporarily. When the party arrived, they were spotted approaching the front door, and the muscle readied to beat them off.

The battle in the Goblin was long and protracted. Missile fire from archers on the catwalks above convinced the party members to try and get UP. Sadly, they had different ideas about how best to achieve that.

Segnar charged across the main hall, trying to get to the stairs.  His stumpy dwarven legs meant the trip took some time, not to mention the bouncers that got in his way.

Krark decided to climb up the walls to the catwalks. Once there, he quickly cleft a pair of archers in twain, but was then surrounded by reinforcements. In the middle of a rage, he was cut down by a pair of flanking rogues.

On the floor below, Arras and John had kept up a steady rain of fire, while the Kobold Sorceror was doing his best to disable the opposition. When the reinforcements showed up, they had the numbers to pelt some missiles down below, and the Kobold also fell.

In the meantime, Segnar had made it up the stairs, only to be  met by another pair of thugs. His Korvosan guard armour nearly impervious, he started chipping away at the enemy defences In the distance, past the thugs, he could see a figure moving away.

John rushed to assist Segnar, and finally caught him up. Arras, moving in the same direction a little more slowly, spotted Saul leap off the catwalks above, and head for the stairs to the basement arena. Thinking to slow him down, Arras rushed over, and found his path blocked by an invisible Old Scratch.

Upstairs, John and Segnar finished off the last of the thugs, and rushed back downstairs to stop Saul. Finding Arras engaging the imp, they assisted him, and eventually worked their way through the infernal resilience of the creature.

After reviving the kobold, and finding that Krak no longer drew breath, the remaining four went downstairs, hoping to catch up with Saul. Instead, in the arena stands, they met with Bojask, the animal handler. Bojask, outnumbered, quickly dived down into the arena proper, and called for Pigsaw. Segnar followed him down, landing on his neck and breaking it.

The next few moments saw the culmination of the group's animal collecting activities, as Segnar was attacked by Pigsaw, an ape, and a viper, all at once. The rest of the group pelted the animals with missiles, and eventually they lay still.

After a short rest, the party noticed that the sand of the arena floor had recently been disturbed. Sweeping the sand away revealed a trap door leading under the floor.

At this moment, help sent by Kwava turned up, in the form of an Elven witch and a human sorcerer. Unnoticed by all, the Kobold sorcerer, feeling the opportunities in Riddleport were gone, fled the scene unremarked.

The new group climbed down into the newly-revealed caves and tunnels. After fighting through Swamp Barracudes, Darklands Sentinels, Troglodytes and Gricks, the party finally arrived in living quarter, and could hear voices ahead. One of the voices turned out to be Saul's. The other belonged to a drow woman – the drow was berating Saul for ballsing up his end of the bargain.

How will this end?

View
Drow and the Devil's Elbow

This session resumed where the last left off – the group had just arrived at the entry to the workshop of the drow Depora Azrinae. Visible at the back of the cave was part of the Cyphergate. Several of the runes had been chiselled off the surface of the Cyphergate. Just inside the entrance to the cave were a pair of Dretches. In the middle of the cavern, Saul was on his knees before the drow, asking for forgiveness.

 The group was quick off the mark, and John Dalton moved in past the dretches to engage Depora and Saul. Depora reacted quickly, and stabbed the alchemist with her hand crossbow bayonet, glistening with poison. John's training held, and he resisted its effects.

 Segnar the dwarf moved in to engage the dretches, and slashed the first in a vital spot. Vanessada followed Sengar's example, and moved in to engage the second dretch, but failed to hurt it. The sorcerer threw a magic missile at Depora, and was able to pierce her mystical defences. The dretches wer finally able to act, and tried to scratch at the party, causing some damage to the lightly armoured among them. Saul attacked Segnar, but failed to hurt him. Arras moved in and shot one of the dretches dead, despite his lack of magical weaponry.

John Dalton once again tried to smash the drow, but could not penetrate her defences. Depora punished his impudence by stabbing at him and the Elven ninja beside him. The venom in John's system told, and he crashed unconscious to the floor. Segnar slashed at Saul, wounding him badly. Reacting quickly, Vanessada stepped over his John's unconscious form, and slashed Depora with her blade. The remaining dretch tried to cause fear in Segnar, but the stout dwarf was merely shaken briefly. Saul returned Segnar's attack, and was able to find a chink in his armour, but luckily it was in a non-vital place. (i.e. Saul rolled 4d6 for damage, and managed a total of 7…) The sorcerer moved in front of Arras and threw a splash of acid at Depora, now wary of her innate resistances. Arras had to take more than a step to get around the sorcerer, and shot at the dretch again, not seriously hurting it.

Depora continued to stab at Vanessada, hurting her, but no longer having any venom on her blades. Segnar duelled with Saul. Vanessada tumbled into position on the other side of Depora, providing Segnar with a future flank, and wounding Depora mildly. The sorcerer continued to splash Depora with acid. The dretch, now fearing it might suffer the same fate as its companion, lost control of itself, loosing a foul stench in the cavern. The sorcerer immediately began retching, as did Saul. Arras, resisting the stink, finished off the dretch.

Depora stabbed at the opponents surrounding her, manging small wounds. Seizing the opportunity, Segnar finished off Saul with a quick thrust. The sorcerer continued to void his stomach violently, but had managed to move out of the stench. Arras tried to hit Depora, but failed to penetrate her shieldwork. Depora, finally sensing things were going against her, activated her cloud of darkness, and made for the ladder to the surface.

The two dwarves, unhindered by the sudden dark, tried to give chase. Vanessada, more nimble than her short companions, leapt up the ladder after Depora. However, Depora's slippers of spider climb allowed her to quickly exit the shaft. Seeing an approaching ship, she began walking up onto the Cyphergate. As the party emerged from the darkness, they could see Depora up above, and began pelting her with as many missiles as possible. For a moment, it looked like the drow might escape. But then a might shot from the dwarven archer felled her, and her body drifted slowly down to the habour.

Collecting itself, the group retreated back to the Gold Goblin to recover from their ordeal. After a short ransacking session, and the beginnings of negotiation to sell the Goblin, the group handed the drow workbook over to Kwava, along with details of Saul's operation. It turned out that Saul had been funneling all of the funds made by the Goblin into Depora's operation. Depora had been building and maintaing some sort of hidden habitation on the island of Devil's Elbow for at least the last 12 months. As the group discussed their next move, a whistling noise was heard outside.

A streak of light arced down from the sky, a falling star traveling a southward course. Yet the star did not burn out – indeed, the streak lengthened and soon seemed almost as if it were hurtling directly at Riddleport. As the streaming light drew near, panic gripped the streets, but a moment later the falling star arced over the city and out to sea, trailing behind it a smoky scar and the sound of thunder.

The star streaked out to the south, reflected by the sea below, and then a moment later it struck the island of Devil's Elbow out to sea. A strange false dawn seemed to rise to the south as a brilliant blast of light filled the horizon. Several moments later, a tremendous explosion rolled through Riddleport as a powerful earth tremor struck. The quake wasn't enough to destroy buildings, but it was enough to knock some shingles from roofs, shake objects off of shelves, or crack the Sandpoint glass windows in several of the city's more affluent structures. As the tremor continued, an angry orange ball of fire rose into the sky on the horizon over Devil's Elbow, spreading in an ominous mushroom-shaped cloud.

By this time, much of Riddleport had gathered at the wharves and southern points of town for a better view of the distant holocaust. A few minutes later, the water of Riddleport Bay suddenly retreated into a bizarre and sudden low tide, revealing several sunken wrecks and flopping fish and more than a few stranded sharks. The group recognised the signs of an approaching tsunami, and immediately fled from the waterfront. Fortunately, the shape of Riddleport's harbor minimized the impact of the tsunami, but still, a few moments later, the water came rushing back in toward Riddleport, a 7-foot-high wall of churning froth that slammed into the waterfront with incredible power. Several smaller tsunamis struck Riddleport in the surrounding minutes, but these were not severe enough to do much more damage. In the end, the tsunami dealt more damage to Riddleport than the tremor. Dozens of ships were damaged, a few were sunk, but more were left stranded as far inland as Wharf Street. Many of Riddleport's piers were ruined or damaged, and several of the smaller buildings along the waterfront were destroyed or partially collapsed.

Over the next several hours, the crimelords and overlord of Riddleport mobilize in a way rarely seen in the lawless city, working together to put out fires, save citizens who have been swept out into the harbor, or kill angry and disoriented reefclaws, sharks, bunyips, and other dangerous sea creatures that suddenly became stranded in the city streets.

View
Great Skymetal Rush

After the tsunami, and the climactic combat with Depora Azrinae, the party relaxed and performed some mercantile activities for the next few weeks. Although they were eager to investigate Devils Elbow, the damage inflicted by the tsunami and the number of other expeditions already underway meant they could not find passage.

Segnar was able to tell the rest of the group about no less than four other expeditions – the Gas Forges (supported by the Overlord), Avery Slyeg, Clegg Zincher and the Cyphermages.

First order of business was finding a buyer for the Gold Goblin. John Dalton first approached Clegg Zincher, but no answer was forthcoming. The local manager of the Gas Forges, Tromard Roldheim, approached the group with an offer, though – an overall price of 20,000 gold, with 8,000 up front, and another 1,000gp a month. Also, in addition to cash, Tromard offered goods from the forges at a discount of 20% off the normal price, such as Adamantine. Since this was the first time the group had the luxury of selling off a large number of items, and in turn stocking up, stock up they did on a number of improvements to the group’s gear.

Once the shopping was done, Kwava approached the group again with a request. His superiors had been in contact, and had asked if the party would investigate the Drow installation on Devil’s Elbow for them. To aid with this, they had hired passage on a vessel named the Flying Cloud.

The captain of the Cloud, one Josper Creesy, invited the party to dinner on his vessel to get to know them better. Over dinner, the captain regaled the party with the tale of Devils Elbow, and Virashi’s Curse. The group were fascinated by the tale, but as it drew to a conclusion, Vanessada and Arras noticed a crackling noise from outside. A voice called out ‘Fire! Fire on the Docks!’

Glancing out the portholes, it was immediately noticable that the fire had caught on the rigging and sails. On shore, some helpful people were already cutting the hawsers holding the Cloud in place. Standard procedure at the Riddleport docks is to cut burning vessels adrift, to avoid any danger of the fire spreading to other ships. However, most of the group discerened that the people cutting the lines were likely doing more than their civic duty. Segnar opened fire from the porthole, and the rest of the group ran outside to give chase. After a short but brutal battle, the attackers were dealt with, and the fires extinguished. Still, damage had been done, and a day was required to repair the rigging and replace the sails.

Once the repairs were complete, the 5 hour journey to Devil’s Elbow was uneventful. Sailing up to the island, the impact site was obvious – a crater hundreds of feet wide, surrounded by an even larger swath or burnt trees that had been knocked flat in a burst pattern around the impact site. The region’s frequent rainstorms and damp conditions had prevented the fire from consuming the entire island, yet in all nearly a quarter of the island’s forest was destroyed by the impact. No signs of life were visible, with the exception of a thin plume of smoke roughly midway between the two lighthouse towers, at the height of the island’s ridge.

Captain Creesy was very nervous as his vessel approached the island. He told the group that he would rather not stay in the region, and instead arranged for a pick-up date. John Dalton agreed to a day a week away, with the proviso that he be able to contact the Captain earlier by magic if required. Captain Creesy agreed, noting the 5 hour trip time from Riddleport. As this arrangement was made, a bright light flashed out from the peak of the island’s central tower, a sparkling blast of pyrotechnics that lasted for several seconds before expiring.

The Cloud sailed up to the old piers to allow the group to disembark, with the Captain saying they would not stay a moment longer than required. As the part made their way to the docks, a voice called out from the seemingly abandoned warehouse buildings. The speaker turned out to be Gravin Goldhammer, the leader of the Gas Forge expedition. Accompanying him were two other dwarves and two humans, all with torn and filthy clothes, looking tired and haggard. Gravin immediately stated he’d had enough of ‘this cursed island’, and requested passage back to Riddleport. A short interrogation of Gravin revealed that they had been attacked by low, fast monsters – none of the survivors of the 13-man expedition had gotten a good look at them. However, some of the expedition had been bitten or slashed, after which their wounds had gone bad. in Gravin’s words ‘Some sort of sick got in them, and then, when they died, it came back out their faces. Torag’s scars, but that were a sight I’d like to unsee. Came right out of their faces like they were tongues, and then my own men attacked us.’ Gravin reported that the men were put back down, and the bodies burned. He urged the group to get back on the Cloud and return to Riddleport with them. Being made of sterner stuff, the group set off into the wilderness.

A short hike up the overgrown path lead to the main village of Witchlight. No repeat of the earlier lights had been seen, but turkey vultures could be seen circling overhead. Five crumbling buildings comprised the remains of the settlement, perched on edge of the island’s central ridge. The only intact building appeared to be the central tower – the other stone buildings were still standing, but none of them seemed to have an intact roof. As the group approached the tower, they found four corpses strewn in the path between the buildings. The fact that the circling scavangers had not yet landed to feed indicated something unusual was happening with the bodies. An examination showed they were slain by numerous slashing blows and what appear to be bite marks. More horrifying, however, was the mutilated nature of their faces. Each body was missing the lower jaw – in its place was a nauseating gray-green, twitching tendril that looked almost like a bloated tongue. As the group approached for a closer look, the bodies all rose up and attacked. Although they reacted more slowly than the party, they still seemed to move much quicker than ‘normal’ animated corpses. However, the sorcerer was sure they were still undead, and attempted to attack with Disrupt Undead. This spell worked, confirming their nature.

After a short combat, during which the ‘zombies’ were eerily silent, the corpses were again laid to rest, and the bodies burned. The group moved on again to the central tower.

The fifty foot tall circular watchtower, standing on the edge of a steep slope overlooking the sea, was made of stone. However, no seams or individual blocks were apparent – it was as if the entire tower had been formed from one block of stone. An enclosed octagonal platform protruded from the tower roof. A small, reinforced barracks was attached to the bottom floor of the tower, and the only entrance appeared to be through here. The outer door, once made of solid oak, collapsed entirely as soon as touched. The room inside was empty, but spattered with blood and other signs of combat.

The group approached the internal door, which was made of solid iron. Unsure what else to do, they knocked. The viewing portal slid back, revealing a pair of familliar green eyes. Samaritha Beldusk opened the door, exclaiming her relief at seeing familliar faces.

Inside the tower, Samaritha explained to the group what had befallen her. Apprenticed to Fenella Bromathan, Samaritha had accompanied her new master on the Cyphermage expedition to the island, along with 10 other minor wizards. In the first two days of the expedition, the Cyphermages made camp in the ruins of Witchlight, and looked for signs of skymetal. There did not seem to be ‘enough’ skymetal, considering the number of craters on the island, which the mages initially put down to the activities of other prospectors. Now, the survivors have come to suspect other reasons. Two nights before the group arrived, the mage’s camp was attacked by large numbers of creatures, and were torn apart. The few that survived, including Samaritha, did so by retreating inside the watchtower and barricading the door. They could do little more than watch as the bodies of their dead, left in the rubble, rose and staggered off into the surrounding woodlands.

Fenella was among the first to die on the night of the attack. Since then, Samaritha has taken charge of her fellow mages. Periodlically, she travels to the top of the tower to fire off an eye-catching pyrotechnics spells, in hopes of attracting the attention of the others on the island for help. When Goldhammer’s men arrived late yesterday, the cyphermakges thought they were rescued, but could only watch as the men refused to approach the ruins further without being met outside – a tactic that ended poorly for them as they were ambushed and slaughtered by the creatures lurking in the nearby woods. When the mages sighted the Flying Cloud, Samaritha did her best to attract the ship’s attention with another pyrotechnics spell, and had been considering a risky flight down the mountainside to seek aid. Fear of the creatures, and a sense of duty to her fellows too injured to move kept her in the tower until now. She suspects the creatures have noticed the party, and might well be massing for another attack.

Not knowing what to call the creatures, she has described them as best she can. John Dalton recognised them as Akatas, and is aware that they are resistant to magic and venomous, laying their eggs inside the fatal bites. Samaritha finishes by practically begging the party to heal her injured companions and then lead them off the island to safety. After the group explains that the ship will be some time in returning, she says she wishes to remain holed up in the relative safety of the tower until the ship returns, especially now that night is falling.

View
The Fall of Witchlight Tower

As the group finished their conversation with Samaritha about the Cyphermage’s situation, a call from the watch above sounded, bringing chills – ‘Here they come again!’

A large swarm of Akatas stampeded silently out of the surrounding woods, and began to look for any way into the Witchlight Watchtower. Pounding on doors and shuttered windows, they flowed over the tower like a tide of night.

The group began to attack the Akatas as best they could from their vantage points, on the observation level of the tower, and from the arrow slits. Akatas fell, only to be replaced by their fellows, still beating at the various entrances to the tower. Then, a tremor shook the tower. Segnar was immediately aware of what was happening – the tower itself was a solid lump of rock, extruded from the ground and strengthened with interior supports. However, it stood on a ridge, overlooking the sea. The weight of the Akatas was causing the ground around the tower to become unstable, and it was likely only a matter of time before it gave way.

The group continued to rain missiles, acid and bombs onto the Akatas, until one of them finally broke through on the bottom floor, and mauled one of the remaining cyphermages. Segnar and Vanessada ran downstairs to stem the tide. Another, stronger, tremor shook the tower, knocking several people from their feet.

Seeing what was likely to happen, John prepared to leap from the tower. On the bottom floor, Segnar moved in to plug the breach in the defences, preventing any further Akatas from gaining entrance, while Vanessada moved to stabilise the cyphermage who had been injured in the breakthrough. And that was when the foundations the tower had been raised on collapsed.

The tower, being quite strongly constructed, fell over onto its side and began to roll down the slope, towards the lagoon below. In the chaos that ensued, several of the party were able to extricate themselves from the tower, and rode the avalanche of soil in its wake to the bottom.

As the tower and debris hit the water, a strange thing happened – all of the Akatas in the water suddenly began silently thrashing, as the sea water burned them like acid. After a short time, nothing remained of any of the strange creatures that had been swept into the water.

After rescuing the cyphermages from the wreckage of the tower, the group made camp on the beach, seeing this as the safest place in case of further Akata attack. Contact with the Captain of the Cloud Dancer was made, and he arranged to be at the docks the next morning.

During the night, a pair of harpies attacked the camp, but the group was able to fend them off with little trouble.

The following morning, the group and the Cyphermages made the arduous trek up the ridge back to Witchlight, and then down the trail to the docks to meet the Cloud Dancer. The surviving Cyphermages gratefully boarded the vessel, with Samaritha promising to get in touch via Sending every 48 hours.

The group then trekked back onto the island, towards the crater. After some time travelling through the wilderness, they began to search the crater for signs of skymetal, or other items of interest. A small quantity of skymetal was recovered, but nowhere near as much as would be expected from the size of the blast, despite spending quite some time searching. John briefly set up a research site, to examine the remains of the Akatas and the skymetal, and sure enough, a small group of Akatas attacked.

Moving on the next morning, the group began to make their way towards the ruined tower at the eastern end of the island. Along the way, they met with a patrol of thugs, led by Akron Erix, Clegg Zincher’s right-hand man. John immediately asked for an audience with Clegg, and the group was taken to their camp.

The camp itself seemed to be setting up for the long haul. A partial palisade had already been erected, and it was clear that it was being extended to eventually surround the entire camp. Empty wooden cages had been built at the rear of the encampment as well. Clegg’s pavillion, and immense red tent 15 feet tall and twenty feet wide, was just as ostentatious inside as out. Divided into two rooms, the ‘sitting room’ the party was led into was opulent.

After a short while, Clegg spoke to the group, and basically outlined his plan to capture Akatas for his arena. He requested that the group help out with a few tasks, namely capturing some Akatas alive, and perhaps helping to remove some of the larva from his infected men, without killing the larva. The group readily agreed, and Clegg said his men would pitch a new tent for them, right near his.

Segnar noticed during the conversation that Clegg had acted a little strangely. He had avoided saying certain things, and used strange ways of saying others. Segnar was convinced that Clegg was under a magical charm of some sort.

John and Vanessada were shown to the infirmary tent by Akron. Both worked to save the few infected men, while John also attempted to remove the larval Akatas alive. The first attempt resulted in the host living, but the parasites dying. Akron told the pair that he knew Clegg’s priority was for the larva to survive, and so they retried their efforts, and were able to save both on the second attempt.

At this point, the group retired for the night, and the session came to an end.

View
Assault on the Sea Caves

(GM Note – This post covers two related sessions, as I was slack and didn’t write up the previous session)

The following day, the group started in on their first tasks – to locate more noqual, and to capture an Akata alive. After a quick hunt around the local area, the group was able to locate a group of Akata, and were able to knock one unconscious. This creature was returned to the cages at camp. They once again asked for payment from Clegg Zincher in raw noqual ore.

That night, there was an attack on the camp by a small number of Void Zombies and Akata, and they were fought off relatively quickly.

Later in the night, Segnar, on watch, observed Clegg Zincher sneaking out of camp. Not wanting to awaken everybody, or alert Clegg, he work Vanessada, and set her to trailing Clegg. Clegg followed a mostly-hidden trail from the camp, to the cliff at the southern edge of the island. At the cliff, Clegg followed a hidden ledge down the face, and then stopped in front of the cliff face. After a short time, part of the cliff face swung open, and Clegg entered. Not wanting to be caught, Vanessada returned to camp, and informed Segnar of all that had transpired.

The following morning, under pretense of scouting for further noqual, the group instead followed the trail, and investigated the cliff face. After some time spent working out how to spring the entrance open, the group were confronted by Drow soldiers inside a hidden cave. A seemingly short battle started, but very soon, several other combatants had joined the fray – a Drow Druid, and his lizard pet, who blanketed the area with an Obscuring Mist, and then a Shadowy Demon creature. The Drow soldiers, Druid and pet were all dispatched qquickly, but the Demon took more resources and time to put down. Just when the group was making headway, the Demon suddenly melted to shadow and fled.

Rather than push forward, the group decided to retreat, and explore behind it. A collapsed tunnel was discovered, and a boarded-up entrance to another cave. The boards were covered in Undercommon runes that read ‘Do Not Enter!’. So, of course, the group broke down the boards, and entered.

Inside the dead-end cave, the group were confronted by a ghostly woman-headed bird. Vanessada quickly realised this was the ghost of Virashi, and taunted her by saying ‘Your boyfriend’s dead!’ Enraged, Virashi attacked. In the ensuing battle, the party was again mildly injured, but Virashi was destroyed.

The first session ended here, as the group recovered, and waited for the Obscuring Mist to dissolve.

At the beginning of the second session, the group moved through the tunnel, now clear of mist. Seeing options to go North or South, they moved southwards, towards the cliff face. At the end of this tunnel, a cave was found that appeared to have served as the Drow Druid’s quarters and lab. A partially dissected Akata corpse was here, and showed signs of having been experimented on. The cave also had a peephole, looking out over the ledge and secret cave entrance. The group quickly searched the room, but found ntohign of interest.

Moving back down the tunnel to the north, another set of quarters was found, with only personal belongings. To the west, the only way onwards was covered with a sheet of leather, through which could be heard the roar of the sea.

Past the leather barrier, the group were confronted with a very large natural cavern, open to the ocean. At least 80’ high, 3 large columns of stone broke apart what would otherwise have been a large pool of water, surging as fed from the sea. A trickling waterfall to the north showed the origin of the cave. Wooden platforms led from the beaches ringing the cavern to the other side. The very perceptive group immediately saw a pair of Drow guards hiding on the platforms, and a more commanding Drow woman named Shindiira (as the group would discover later) on the far side of the cave, packing a trunk with belongings.

Vanessada, acting quickly, seized another chance to use her drow boots, and ran around the edge of the cavern wall, directly to the Shindiira. Meanwhile, the rest of the group moved to engage the Drow soldiers. A Glitterdust spell disabled both of them briefly, and John Dalton and the Dwarf archer quickly advanced into missile range, and started pelting the pair. Segnar, slowed by his armour, made his way onto the platform towards the soldiers, backed up by the Sorceror.

The Drow leader, dazed her lone opponent with a touch, and stepped back towards the water. On the following round, Shindiira attempted to Suggest that Vanessada go for a swim, but the Elf showed her kind’s resilience to charming effects, and stabbed her. Shindiira, confident in her abillities, began casting a spell, only to have Vanessada stab her again in response. Used to pain, Shindiira completed her Waterwalk spell. Suddenly, a blur of black and white motion surged out of the water – a huge Orca attacked Vanessada, biting her and injuring her badly. Thinking quickly, and not wanting her opponent to escape, Vanessada moved in and grabbed Shindiira, then ran up the wall while carrying her, and dropped her, thinking to dash her over the rocky ledge. Shindiira laughed, while featherfalling to the ground, and then walked out onto the surface of the water.

Back on the other side of the cavern, the soldiers became part of a pratfall series of events. Hand crossbow bolts bouncing from his steel shell, Segnar advanced up to one of the drow, and engaged him. The sorceror moved behind Segnar, and caused him to vanish. Seeing an opportunity to introduce Segnar to the Orca, the drow attempted to push Segnar’s now invisible form off the platform, but fumbled the attempt. Segnar used his agility to sidestep the Drow, and end up behind him, and finished him off. The second drow soldier backed away, firing his crossbow ineffectually again, and Segnar finished him off. Sensing the threat in the drow woman, Segnar moved to the edge of the platform, and shot at her with a crossbow. The sorceror moved up beside segnar, and attempted to burn the Orca. The Orca, enraged, surged across the cavern, and flying up out of the water, bit the sorceror. Shindiira, seeing an oppotuniry to cause harm, chanelled the evil will of her patron, and severely wounded Vanessada, Segnar and the cleric. Panicked, the sorceror attempted to back away from the Orca, not realising just how far out of the water it could reach, and then tried to cast another spell. The Orca reacted, and cut the sorceror down.

At the same time, the archer attempted to slow the Orca down from range. John, seeing an opportunity to rescue his downed companion, flung himself into the water, and began acting as a distressed fish, to attract the attention of the Orca. Amazingly, the Orca immediately moved over to John, and attempted to bite him. John, for his part, also attempted to grapple the Orca, but for his troubles, was bitten again with little effect. Shindiira moved over behind her pet, and sent out another pulse of evil energy. Vanessada channeled the will of Callistria to counter these effects. Shindiira, seeing half of the group busy with her pet, moved around onto the platform at the front of the cave, intending to run out the front. Segnar, sensing victory, jumped over a gap in the platform to get to his enemy…and, mistiming his step, fell instead down into the water below, and found himself struggling to keep his head above the surging tide.

After releasing one final wave of evil power, Shindiira fled out the front of the seacave, running along the tops of the waves. Faced with the choice of chasing after a powerful opponent alone, and keeping her friends alive, Vanessada stayed, and again channeled her goddess’s will, saving the sorceror, and healing the others. Shortly afterwards, the group finished off the Orca.

In the aftermath of the battle, the group decided to fortify the cave they were in, and spend the rest of day resting and healing. Ransacking the cavern, the group uncovered a supply cache, and discovered a number of clues as to the activities of the Drow on the island. Apparently, the Drow had used powerful magic to pull down the skystone. The devastation of Devil’s Elbow was the testfiring of a terribly powerful weapon. Among the belongings, they also found a map of Celwynvian, along with markings of Drow patrol routes.

The following day, the group explored the remaining areas of the island – the two lighthouses at either end. Travelling first to the eastern end of the island, they passed through Clegg Zincher’s camp, only to find it thoroughly deserted. At the eastern lighthouse, they found it mostly intact, but the only item of interest was a long-dead corpse at he bottom of the cliff, clutching a magical sword. While examining this find, the group was attacked by a Hydra lurching out of the water, but the creature proved no threat, and died quickly. Crucially, though, after this encounter, the group neglected to heal their wounds.

Travelling to the other end of the island, and arriving at dusk, the group found the other lighthouse to be collapsed. Amongst the rubble, they disturbed a nest of Giant Centipedes. Although these proved to be no more challenging than the Hydra, as the group finished them off, a more powerful foe. Emerging from the gloom, a shadowy, insubstantial ghost raked Segnar, ignoring his heavy armour, draining some of his vitality. The group, quickly realising this creature was a wraith, surrounded it. Vanessada pulsed again with the channeled might of her goddess, while the sorceror fired off volley after volley of magic missiles. John attempted to distract the ghost to give Segnar a better chance to hit it with his magical weapon, while the Dwarven monk dropped his bow, and began punching with his potent fists. Segnar then noticed that the ghost was wearing 200-year-old fashion. Vanessada, immediately realising that this was the ghost of Yaris, the man who had built the town of Witchlight, taunted him with ‘I killed your girlfriend’.

Enraged at this news, Yaris turned on Vanessada, and slew her outright with one touch. This would normally have been quite unlikely, except that Vanessada had been badly hurt by the Hydra, but had not healed herself. The life-draining effect of the wraith combined with this damage to kill her outright.
After this event, the rest of the group redoubeld its efforts, and quickly dispatched the vengeful wraith, with no further loss. They then found themselves faced with a wraithly version of their former ally, but quickly destroyed it. Finally weary of the island of Devil’s Elbow, the group called in their transport, and carried the body of their friend back to Riddleport.

View
Trip to the Mierani

The dwarven core of the original group of adventurers, Segnar the tactician and Arras the Archer, along with the recent magical addition to their group, searched for replacements for John Dalton and the Holy Ninja. After a short time, they found a human cleric, carrying a tower shield, and a shadowy emissary of the fetchlings.

The reformed group were approached by Kwava, who asked them to personally deliver the journals they had found to the Shin’Rakorath, in Crying Leaf, on the edge of the Mierani Forest.

Agreeing readily, the group geared up for travel, and left Riddleport behind them. Following the winding dirt road north alongside the Velashu River for the first two days of travel, the group eventually arrived at a small hunter’s trail, branching off to the west, around the Calphiak mountains. A short way along the trail, the group discovered a waystation with an inn, and decided to stay for the night.

The next morning, just as the group were preparing to leave, a man stumbled into the village with a tale of an attack on a lumber camp in the foothills of the mountains. The innkeeper asked the group to look into the attack, and with some reluctance, they agreed to do so.

The group followed a trail north into the mountains. Along the trail, they encountered a strange sight – in the middle of the road was a wriggling arm, green-skinned and covered in warts, apparently severed at the shoulder. The knowledgable members of the group immediately suspected trolls, and had their suspicions confirmed when a large troll stepped out of the woods, carrying the corpse of a dwarf. Reacting quickly, the group dispatched the troll with little effort.

A short while later, a sound of booming footsteps echoed through the air, and an angry-looking female Hill Giant strode into view. She asked the group if they had seen her husband – he has not been home for several days, and she has found his wedding ring, discarded in the undergrowth. The group had not seen him, and could not help, but promised to keep an eye out for him.

(Yes, for those keeping score at home, I do believe this is the first social encounter the group has had that did NOT inadvertently end up in a combat…)

Arriving at the lumber camp, the group found that it was covered in a pall of smoke and mist. Outside the nearest building were several corpses, a mix of humans and kobolds. The cleric approached to examine the bodies, despite some of his companions warning of possible undeath. The cleric scoffed, saying that nobody would ever bother reanimating a kobold. At which point, the zombie kobolds promptly attacked.

After easily dispatching the zombies, and their support, the group continued to explore the lumber camp. Moving through several buildings, they blundered through a number of kobold traps, dispatching all resistance before them. Even the mighty kobold druid, Depnaakra, and his Scorpion companion were no match for the group.

The group next followed the simple trail left by the kobolds away from the lumber camp, and further into the wooded foothills. They shortly arrived at an ancient Azlanti burial mound. Fighting Shadow guardians at the entrance to the mound, and Water elementals, a belker, and Wights inside the tomb, they finally found their way to the architect of this plot – Merlokrep, the Wight Kobold King, and his undead scale-shields (hey, look – more undead Kobolds!).

Despite the horror of energy draining, Merlokrep and his guardians were quickly laid to rest by the group. Searching the tomb, they discovered the sarcophagus of the tomb’s actual owner, sealed with an arcane lock. Opening the coffin, they discovered the prince’s scepter (a magical rod of empowerment), and a stone tablet, carved with the words ‘Zelfin Cova’.

Their work done, the group returned to the inn, and were given the waystation’s thanks, and a free night of accomodation, before they returned to the road.

View
Forest Assault

After returning to the road to Crying Leaf, the group were quickly approached by a group of Velashu Horse Lords, inquiring about the current state of Riddleport. The nomadic tribesmen were leading a dozen horses, ready for sale in the port. The group bartered a trade for an item, in return for horses for each of them.

A short while later, the group entered the forest proper, mounted on their fine steeds. And were promptly attacked by a trio of Forest Drakes, intent on slaughtering them for fresh meat. Despite some early difficulties, the group quickly found their feet and fought back. After a pair of crackling lightning balls, and uncannily accurate bowfire, the drakes were felled.

A group of 5 elves then revealed themselves, stepping from the leafy shadows. Their leader quickly asked the group their business, and the human cleric over-rode the fetchling’s flippant reply, saying they were here to deliver important information to the Shin’Rakorath. The leader tersely introduced himself as Kaerishiel Neirenar, and confirmed they were expecting the party. He then commanded the group to follow, and left for the village.

Thinking quickly, the fetchling summoner cast Ant Haul on his horse, and himself, and loaded the Drake carcasses onto his steed for later butchering.

After a short, but silent, journey through the borders of the Mierani, the group arrived at the village of Crying Leaf. The village showed the signs of recent battle. Several buildings were scorched, and most citizens were armed with sword or bow.

Kaerishiel led the group to a low stone building, and then took his leave. The group cleaned themselves up, and refreshed themselves from the freshly harvested fruits and vegetables supplied to them. After an hour, Kaerishiel returned and led the group to see the leader of the village, Eviana Nirgassan.

Eviana, a strikingly beautiful Elven woman, dressed in a rich gown, introduced herself, and asked that the group give their word not to spread details of what happens in the Mierani beyond its borders. The group quickly assented. Eviana then asked to see the information they had brought, and the group presented the drow journals.

After a review of the contents, Eviana offers the group a pouch containing 200pp in payment, but the human cleric refused, asking if they could perhaps accept goods instead. A deal was made to provide the fetchling with fine elven chain.

Eviana then went into detail of the situation they face – how the drow have a strong presence in Celwynvian, yet are difficult to bring to battle. How each time the ruins are attacked in force, the drow disappear, only to return later in strength. Prior to this, Eviana and Kaerishiel believed the drow were somehow retreating to the Darklands, but the information contained in the journals revealed the truth. In fact, the drow were retreating to some extra-dimensional space known as the Armageddon Echo.

Eviana informed the group that she needed to confer with her contacts in Kyonin, but asked if they would wait until the matter had been decided. She felt that the group would be an asset in any battles to come, and that she would be willing to pay rates equal to those paid to the Shin’Rakorath. Both of the observant dwarves in the group noted at this point that Kaerishiel was angry over Eviana’s words, though concealing it.

The group returned to their accommodation, and spent the afternoon looking around the village. With not much to see, they enjoyed and evening meal of roasted vegetables, bread and wine, and retired.

The next day, Eviana again called the group to her conference room. Unlike the previous day, Eviana was dressed in shining elven mail, a blade at her hip. A number of other armoured elves were also present, poring over maps of the ruined city of Celwynvian. Greeting the group, Eviana informed them that the decision had been made to bring war to the drow, and to attempt to reclaim the ruined city for good. Eviana asked the group if they would join the efforts, and they quickly agreed, without even asking about a fee.

Kaerishiel escorted the group to their lodgings again, but stopped once the building was in sight, saying ‘I think you can find your way from here. I am done guiding you. You have no idea of the danger you have walked into.’

4 hours later, the armed forces of Crying Leaf were arrayed for battle. Leaving only a small contingent of elves to defend and maintain Crying Leaf, the main force moved out of the village, headed for the ruined city. Unlike a human or dwarven army, the elven force was not ranked or in columns. Instead, they marched in skirmish groups of 4-8, giving them better capability to navigate through the forest, and to give the enemy smaller targets should they be discovered.

The journey to the city took just over a day, with a camp roughly halfway. The journey was largely without event, the forest predators giving the elven host a wide berth. During the trip, Kaerishiel’s distrustful gaze was never far from the party.

The host arrived at the city, and camp was made. Tents were provided to the group. In the evening, a dinner was held for the army commanders. Early in the evening, Eviana refused to talk of the coming battles, and instead asked of the flora and fauna in this part of the forest. Whispers were heard of the great forest wyrm, Razorhorn, who had sided with the drow.

After dinner, a strategy and planning session was held. The leader of the scouts in this area, Shalelu Andosana, presented her report on the ruins, and outlined the way into the city. A basic plan for assaulting the city was quickly laid out, and then contingencies of all sorts were discussed. Eviana asked the group if they would assist with taking one of the drow watchposts, a ruined library. Kaerishiel vehemently disagreed, stating that his men should be entrusted with taking the library, while the party instead is used to guard the camp. The group, predictably, disagreed, and in fact they should be at the vanguard of the assault. In the end, Eviana decided to follow through with her original plan, and have the group assault the library. For the rest of the meeting, Kaerishiel throws cold glares at the group whenever no one else is watching him.

The next morning, the group assembled before the ruined library. After a quick check for enemies revealed a watch on the roof, preparatory spells were cast, and the group hastily attack. In the space of less than a minute, 6 drow foot soldiers, 3 giant spiders and 6 dretches are dispatched, and a female drow captain captured. Searching the library itself revealed a number of useful items of intelligence – an ancient globe containing the intellect of one of the original librarians, and a number of books on one of two subjects – astronomy and the Great Beyond. Of particular note, one bookmark denotes a page dealing with the properties of the ‘realm of shadows’, and how time can be ‘mutable in such a domain’.

Relieved by elven scouts, the party returned to the command post, and found Eviana. The human cleric presented her with the globe and books, and Eviana thanked him. She then gave them their next assignment – the Alchemical Workshop.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.