Monday, April 28, 2008

Session 6: Rest and Relaxation?

After their triumphant return to Cauldron, the party spent a few weeks living a little. Thorne went into the arena, (barely) emerging victorious against Velga the dwarven brawler. Acturus spent his time rooting around the Broken Tower Republics embassy for information on the ruins beneath Cauldron, and dwarven contact with the ghoulish threat.

Mal went drinking with Thorne, then went to talk to Sgt. Hecl'eatl. The meeting went south when the Sgt. made a rude comment about Thorne's use of the orcish language. The Sgt. showed him a thing or two about bare-knuckle fighting, and Thorne mutely promised to return the favor another day.

Mal forwarded several invitations she had received from the Knights Morthane, inviting the group to the country manor of Sir Uckscot for hunting and entertainment. They purchased horses and some new clothing to appear a little more presentable.

Miguel brought the golden Olman ceremonial breastplate to Casorati for advice, and Casorati agreed to help him sell it for a commission of 25%. They brought it to Tygot's Old Things, an antique shop well known in Cauldron. Tygot and his blink dog companion welcomed the two, and a peculiar bidding war began. Tygot would inspect the item, mumble a bit, and then quote a figure. As Casorati and Miguel would nod sagely, the blink dog would growl. Tygot would then up his figure. The offer topped out at 2800gp for the breastplate, which turned out to be magical. Before selling it, they decided to bring it by Skye's Treasury and have it identified. It was revealed to be a very old piece, and having the ability to increase it's wearers bearing and force of personality (that is, Charisma). The next morning they brought it back to Tygot, and also had some very nice bacon sandwiches.

The session concluded with the party traveling to the town of Trader's Rest, where they will meet their guide to the manor.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Session 5: Grand Central Station

The previous session had ended with Casorati entering the Starry Mirror, and so this session began with the immediate aftermath. Casorati was in a hexagonal room, similar to the one he had left. All the walls were of a similar sapphire tint. On each wall stood a duplicate of the Mirror, showing a reflection of the room in a different color. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet were all represented.

Thorne entered the mirror as well, and spent a great deal of time marking walls and micturating on various surfaces in an effort to track his path. Each room he entered appeared to be a new room, with no marks or left objects from the previous room. After each six rooms he entered, he heard a soft sigh. He eventually grew bored with experimenting, and went to sleep.

Acturus believed he had discovered the secret, and walked into the mirror. After trying out several different combinations of colors, he decided to try out the spectrum, ROYGBV. He ended up in a sand-choked chamber on the edge of a great desert, with only the blazing sun and howling desert winds for company. He decided to return to the Starry Mirror instead. Thumbing through his notes, he found two combinations of colors he had transcribed from the floating runes, and tried out the first of those. It brought him to an underground chamber, filled with the nearly-mummified remains of a sacrificial victim and presumably his sacrifices. The room was barred from the inside. After working the copper-plated bar free, he explored the catacomb, eventually finding his way past several rooms to the great prayer chamber. A tall statue of a somewhat bestial man and a great serpent dominated the room, with the man swinging a sword made of fire and ice. A large slab of granite carved with Olman glyphs adorned the base of the statue. Daylight filtered in through cracks in the walls and door, which was covered in gold sheet. Three leering demonic faces adorned the door, with each demon's mouth forming a keyhole. Having no key, Acturus left downstairs to try and find his way out.

Meanwhile, the rest of the expedition took careful notes of the runes, their individual combinations of gems, and what lay beyond the portals. Mal found one portal that showed the silhouette of Cauldron in the distance, and organized the expedition to leave. Before they disembarked for the journey through the Mirror, Sir Uckscott and Miguel traveled back up the passage towards the sounds of voices they had heard earlier. They saw the ramshackle ruins of an ancient city bearing marks of the spellweavers, as well as more recent constructions of Dwarven and some other style. All over the underground city crawled ghouls, of all sizes and shapes. Groups of sentries marched back and forth, which Uckscott and Miguel avoided. A great bonfire was burning in the center of the cavern-city, and a steady stream of bound humanoids were being thrown into it by ghouls. Uckscott and Miguel were too far away to see details, and did not want to attract attention to find out. They ran back to the Mirror and joined the expedition on the other side. Miguel then took a detour, trying the list of possible combinations trying to find Acturus. Luckily, he found him on the second try.

The whole group then descended the cliff face, painfully aware of their exposed nature. The valley before them sheltered a great ziggurat, on which a tall spire was built of black stone. A stairway ran up the outside in a spiral, and around the top a great segmented stone worm curled. It did not bear marks of a dragon or serpent, and its origin and nature were a mystery that the expedition declined to investigate.

After coming across a warparty of palanquin-borne Yuan Ti and their human soldiers and avoiding them, the expedition beat a hasty retreat back to civilization, risking no open fire and praying for salvation. This session ended with their return to Cauldron, where they received their payment for the task completed and gracious thanks from the Council.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Session 4: Exploring their Environs

After being closed off from their previous path, the expedition had only one choice: deeper into the Underdark. After a short jaunt through the tunnel, they reached a three-way intersection.

The passage to the left led down to a water-filled crevasse, crossed by a gleaming bridge of greenish marble. A golden statue jutted from the ceiling, ruby light from an orb clutched in its hand illuminating the cavern and reflecting off gemstone eyes. A golden dome protruded from across the crevasse, and a set of double doors set into the cavern wall at the far end of the cave. At least 15 ghouls could be seen milling about.

The passage to the right led down a set of double doors, carved with a representation of a six-armed humanoid creature. Another set of bones and glyphs marked the extent of the ghouls' territory. A mystic zone of silence surrounded the door, and the party decided to avoid it.

After traveling down the center passage for a long period of time, they came to an underground cavern filled with the tangled roots of a deepwood tree. It was in this cavern that Mal, scouting ahead, encountered a small patrol of ghouls. Three armored warriors in helm and breastplate, a lean ghoul as scout, and a ghoul with a bloated stomach ran through the cavern, not noticing Mal. She opened the combat with a blast of firey doom, and the rest of the expedition soon found themselves in combat with the warrior ghouls. The bloated one hurled dark energy that burned Mal's arm, and when Miguel was immobilized, it tried to infect him with small tentacled growths that erupted from under its skin. After all the ghouls were slain, Acturus engaged in some swift surgery to remove the growths before they could take root in his flesh.

Soon after the deepwood grove, they came to an obviously crafted tunnel, leading to the left and right. To the left, they heard the echoing sounds of a great number of voices, and to the right was silence. The party went right.

The passage ended in another line of bones and glyphs on the wall. Acturus touched the glyphs, translating them as "This ends the domain of the Great Eater, death for our kind lies past here." The heavy stone doors opened to a touch, opening onto a large circular room split into several tiers. A hemispherical network of stone beams surrounded the inner circle of the room, with contained a ten-foot high black stone obelisk glowing with an inner golden fire. The stone beams were invisible from inside the circle, and 26 red runes floated in the air outside of them. Acturus touched the obelisk, and some of the golden fire spread to his hand. Every movement of his hand left glimmering trails of flame in the air.

He began tracing the runes that floated above. When he completed one, the floating rune expanded into a red-tinted view of some distant place. As he concentrated on the vista, six gems appeared in his mind. This pattern held true for all of the floating sigils he focused on, although only eleven of the twenty-six showed anything besides darkness or swimming fish.

The next room was a hexagonal room with a large stone throne, facing a dull, silvery mirror on one wall. Acturus sat upon the throne, and the mirror shimmered into life, showing a reflection of the room sans throne or people.

Casorati stepped forward and touched the mirror, and then found himself alone in a blue, hexagonal room.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Session 3 Epilogue

The grunts and calls of the ghouls echoed through the constricting cavern. Miguel ran through the tunnel, stopping and staring back every few seconds. Thorne and Casarati had vanished up ahead, and Wolf kept stopping and gazing at the surrounding stones as if he intended to pull them down by strength of will alone. Sir Uckscot and Sir Shatterhelm were trading places, one falling back while the other plugged the gap against the oncoming horde of ghouls. Mal was nowhere to be seen, her dark clothing and features fading into the shadows. Acturus maintained his position near the front line of defense, using his wand to heal the knights when he could.

Wolf let out a whooping call of victory. He had found a fallen chunk of stone, greater than man-sized but potentially movable. Thorne came rushing back, assisting Wolf while Miguel desperately dug smaller stones out of the way. The stone teetered up on its end, and only Miguel's quick assistance prevented it from toppling down immediately.

"Get back here, fools!" Wolf called, grunting with the exertion of manipulating the giant rock. Sir Uckscot and Acturus jogged past, and Sir Shatterhelm barely made it past before the stone came crashing down, smashing a pair of pursuing ghouls into foul paste.

"Wedge it in!" called Sir Shatterhelm, pointing at the smaller rocks thrown aside by Miguel. Sir Uckscot and Miguel stabbed through the gaps, cutting at any foolish ghoul that risked itself while Wolf, Sir Shatterhelm, and Thorne put their backs to the rock and wedged it up with the smaller stones.

After five minutes of frantic clawing from the other side, silence came like settling dust. The expedition had bought themselves some time to regroup. Heartbeats gradually slowed, and breathing soon became easier. A few questions were in need of answers: where were they, and how would they return to the surface? What significance was a pack of intelligent, speaking ghouls, capable of taking hostages? What ghoul had ever created art, even so much as a cave painting? And just where had those ghouls run off to?

Session 3: Expedition to the Underdark

The party joined an expedition of 14 men, led by Sir Uckscot (a squire of the great Sir Alek Tercival) and Sir Shatterhelm of the Knights Morthane. They met with five goblin Bucbens at the former site of the goblin encampment, who agreed to guide them to a place of a thousand ghouls, a strong fortress of their ancient Enemy.

It took days of spelunking until the party had reached the border of the ghoul's territory. A line of scattered, gnawed bones crossed the passage, and a mural of white smudged runes marked the walls nearby. Images of a fanged mouth were common.

Midway through their third "day" of the journey, they reached a vast underground lake. Long, ropy tendrils of fungus hung from the stalactites above. Small islands of the growth dotted the surface of the green, glowing lake, connected by the tendrils to globular pods far above. A series of five great waterfalls thundered water into the cavern. Sir Shatterhelm produced a series of wooden rods from the packs, which assembled into two long boats.

The crossing of the great lake was made more interesting by a great creature beneath the water. Its long white-gray body and baleful white eyes regarded them from beneath the waters. Casorati produced an illusion of a third vessel, which was promptly attacked by the great creature. The waves created by its gargantuan inhalation of water knocked several members of the party overboard, and it was only after some frantic swimming and rowing that everyone made it onto the far shore.

Two paths were open to the party: the goblins told of a passage under the water, that would bring them into the ghoul's territory without their notice, and a more dangerous path that led to the great cave-in that the goblins had engineered to seal in the ghouls. The party decided to avoid going back into the water, instead taking the other route.

That "night", Mal and Thorne found themselves on watch when Mal noticed a flash of pale skin in the darkness. One of the man-at-arms who has accompanied the expedition was ambushed and dragged off into the darkness by a pair of long-limbed ghouls, triggering a confused melee in which five ghouls were killed. Mal, Miguel, and Thorne chased after the abducted man. The tunnel led to a deep pit, with water at the bottom. The ghoul who had taken the man had him gripped by the neck, with a claw at his throat. It spoke quickly, gesturing at the man it held. As Thorne charged, the ghoul slit the man's throat and fell backwards down the pit.

A few minutes later, the Knights Morthane and the party stood gathered around the pit discussing the ghoulish incursion. A thrown sunrod revealed the scope of the threat: a tide of ghouls climbing up the tunnel at them! They fell back to a narrow tunnel, minimizing the advantage of the ghouls numbers. Many ghouls were slain, but they kept coming. After a few minutes of brutal combat and confusion, they began to fall back.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Council's Reply

King Tai Morthane's reply:

Interesting report we have here. No doubt some of the council will
advocate the forcefull removal of these goblins. However, if there
story is even remotely true, we have much bigger problems on our
hands. i would like to see a full investigation into the goblins'
claims. We need to know if there are undead, who is manipulating
them, thier numbers, where they reside beneath the city, and how they
got to be where they are... We will sponsor any who are willing to
investigate this matter, but I would like it to be handled discreetely
until we know more. I do not need a scare running thru the people of
this town.

As for the goblins, if thier claims are true then we will work with
them. But any further theft or crime will not be ignored.

Tai Morthane


Arvestan, Hand of the King, announces the following:

King Morthane has decreed that the council will advocate a cautious,
yet accepting dealing with these goblins. We shall look further into
the allegations of a new threat to our way of lives, doing our best to
ascertain all dangers, within and without. Let us all be assured in
this time of rumor, panic will make more problems for us all then calm
resignation in the trust, believe, and faith that we of the council
will not only keep our citizens informed, but also safe. So say King
Morthane, all hail his Justice and Majesty.

Arvestan


Meanwhile, rumbles of discontent are heard from the dwarven community of Cauldron, at the affront to their honor by thieving goblins being treated as equals.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sergeant Hecl'eatl's Report to the Heavy Rollers

Sergeant Hecl'eatl reporting. One of the groups organized via the barracks posting board and assigned to preventing burglaries in the merchant's district has uncovered information of an interesting nature. In their spelunking, they discovered the perpetrators were a tribe of goblins referring to themselves as the Bucben. They assure me the burglaries have been stopped. The Bucben were stealing food and supplies from various homes in the area, and cast-off arms and armor from the Socket. All of this was supposedly to arm themselves against a subterranean invader, a force of undead that can only be slowed down, and never defeated. The adventurers responsible for this discovery believe that the date of these creatures introduction to be within the last quarter century, and they mentioned the necromancer Fetor Abradius. The undead described have some sort of poison or paralyzing ability, and have been preying on the Brokentower Republic's underdark caravans according to the goblins.

Due to their success on this job, I plan to set a new task before them. I require authorization to withdraw further funds from the compensation budget, as I cannot currently afford to keep them on retainer. I await orders before proceeding on this matter.

New Folk, and Old Enemies (2)

It was quickly agreed that only three men in a warren of goblin-infested tunnels would probably be soon eaten, and so it was that they found themselves back in the light of the sun. Acturus went to the Sergeant to request more help, while the two tribesmen went to bathe in the lake and have a hot meal. Sergeant Hecl'eatl promised to send a few new faces to join them on the morrow.

It was then morning, and they stood around the sewage grate in the merchant district that they had climbed out of the previous day. The gnomish beguiler Kasorati, the tiefling outcast Mal, and the masked Miguel soon found themselves arguing with their three "teammates," and only after their commotion was noted by a patrol of Grayshirts (Peacekeeper militia) that they decided the sewer was perferable. Retracing their path of the previous day, Thorne led them into battle against two carrion crawlers. The foul worms had crept upon the bodies of the fallen goblins, and were rather irritated at the interruption. Thorne brushed of all of their paralyzing poison, but Wolf was not so lucky. He was brought down by their poison, and barely escaped with his life as the others finished them off.

A narrow passage leading up a light incline confined the party, leaving them in a strung out line. Goblin voices were heard up ahead, and soon a deep rumbling filled the hall. An five-foot wide boulder came rushing down the tunnel, giving them barely any time to more or be crushed beneath it. Wolf rushed forward, determined to stop the boulder with his own body. Thorne and Miguel joined him, throwing all of their weight against it. For a moment it seemed they would be able to stop it, then the stone brushed them under and aside, leaving them wounded and battered on the ground. Poor Kasorati froze in the path, and was knocked down as well. Meanwhile, Acturus and Mal ran back into the chamber and were barely able to avoid the rolling stone.

The goblins up ahead were heard talking back and forth about the results of their rolling rock. Wolf yelled loudly in Goblin, "We're dead!" and suddenly silence reigned up above. When the party had caught their breath, they advanced into the next chamber. A goblin archer in a hidden alcove let fly an arrow, piercing Thorne's thigh and dealing a great deal of damage. He was stunned by the sudden attack, letting out a great cry of surprise and rage. As goblins boiled out of the shadows, a confused melee of reigned. Mal's eldritch bolts and Kasorati's illusions disrupted the goblins, and Wolf was able to capture one of the goblins unharmed. The goblin showed spirit and berated his captors for failing to appreciate the "bucben" sacrifices that kept the surface worlders safe. His name was Bucbenglub, and he led them back to his people's encampment.

After ascending another long trap-filled tunnel (to no ill effect, due to their guide), they were ushered in to meet the chief of the goblins, Bucbenglemgerlmfyelg, and one of the only common-speaking goblins, a craftsgoblin named Gelkbenhevelgerlm. After hospitality had been provided in the form of food, drink, and comfortable seating arrangements, Bucbenglemgerlmfyelg (or Glem, as I shall hereafter refer to him) told the long history of the Bucben.

In the age of the snake, no goblin was welcome on the surface or in the trees. The snake could defeat all foes, but not the goblins, for the goblins could see through their illusions and tricks. The goblins were forced to live under the soil and roots, deep in the caves below. They lived in a great cavern beneath the world, a cavern that had its own sun and trees and oceans. They lived there for many generations, until the Enemy showed its face, and there was a great war. The Enemy was a force of the dead, some crawling on four legs and some walking on two. Their claws and teeth could tear a Bucben in two, or leave chilling poisons to kill him later. Those touched fell to fevered chills instantly. This foe was invincible, for every creature they slew rose again as one of them. They did not breathe, sleep, or eat. The Bucben fell back, retreating into narrow passages and collapsing them to slow the Enemy's advance. Always the Enemy would follow, though the Bucben have traveled nearly across the world. And now the Bucben have followed their path to the end, and the last battles are soon to be upon them.

After this story was heard, Kasorati came up with a plan: provide the goblins with weapons via trade, and thus prevent the thefts and raiding upon the people of Cauldron. He proposed a trade between the goblins and the enterprising kobolds of Bensvelks clan. The details would be worked out later, for now they would return to Sergeant Hecl'eatl victorious.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

First Session (1)

The bard Talking Wolf and his orc-blooded companion Thorne made their way into Cauldron, looking for a way to gain great fame and earn their wives. Through random happenstance, they arrived at the posting board (assuming either one was capable of reading it) at the same time as a few other individuals, neither of whom knew each other. Keelin, daughter of Tlaloc and Celeste, and Acturus Levolga, acolyte of the disgraced Church of Wee Jas, had also wandered into the Guard compound to peruse the bulletin board.

When Sergeant Hekl'eatl strolled out from his office, looking harried, he saw these four young ruffians gazing at seemingly the same posting. Seizing the opportunity, he corraled them into his office for a briefing. He laid out a job for this bunch of seeming ne'er-do-wells: 200gp a piece (a small fortune) to get to the root of a seeming conspiracy. Small thefts and burglary was plaguing the western end of the merchant's district, in the environs of the Fartraders Alliance, the Brokentower Republic, and the Socket (the new Arena of Kord). The group was loud and rude, leaving a sour taste in the Sergeants mouth.

The first destination was the Socket, where the party was introduced to Priest Harven of Kord. He gave a brief overview of the Socket's operations, had the two barbarians sign up for a show in the Arena, and then gave them a tour of the place when he had heard their business. He showed great excitement for the various beasts of the arena, and little worry about the thievery from the Arena. He showed them the bottom-most storage room, one with several small passages leading down into the bedrock of Cauldron. The room contained cast-off weapons, old blankets, trinkets and rusted armor. In short, it was an armory of sub-par weaponry. Nothing was missing that would be missed by those running the Socket, but where was it going?

Thorne noticed a footprint, small in size. It could have belonged to a goblin, a gnome, or perhaps even an orphan... Squeezing into the passages, they attempted to track the thieves. Down one extremely cramped passage, they heard voices speaking in a language none of them knew, while down another they found an exit into the Merchant's District through a sewer grating. Down another branch, they fought a gorged carrion crawler. After slaying the beast, they slit it open to reveal the partially digested corpse of a goblin. Their foes identified (though the idea that it was indeed orphans responsible still carried some weight), they hurried on down the passages.

A single goblin stumbled out in front of them, crying out in its guttural tongue. Thorne and Wolf rushed after it, running through a wider chamber split into two by an ascending ramp along one wall. They took the lower branch after the goblin, and so were caught entirely in ambush by the remaining five goblins hiding among the rocks. Wolf nearly fell, and only survived by going on the defensive long enough to catch his breath. Thorne was distracted by the first goblin, and fought a bitter struggle against his lithe and canny opponent. Keelin's velociraptor form was deadly to her foes, and Acturus skulked about mumbling about preparing the wrong spells for a goblin hunt. After a few of their compatriots had fallen, the rest tried to flee. A quick ghost sound confused one of the goblins, leaving only one to escape to safety. The other was quickly cut down.

During the adventure so far, the outlander's uncouth and savage demeanor alienated young Keelin so much that she vowed to leave them to rot in the tunnels, vanishing away in a flurry of scales. Acturus said nothing, content to wait and watch.

Thorne made an obscene gesture, and Wolf mumbled, "Whats got her in such a mood?" Thorne had a guess, and it wasn't fit for polite company.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A new day dawns...

This journal will soon be used once more, to chronicle the lives of new characters. The old campaign has drawn to a close, and new warriors will find themselves locked into a destiny not of their own creation.

Magnus