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Thread: Tauren's Price of Courage Game

  1. #1
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    Default Tauren's Price of Courage Game

    Welcome to the first installment of my Price of Courage campaign journal. If you're just joining us, I recommend you check out my journals for our Key of Destiny and Spectre of Sorrows games first. Otherwise, come meet our campaign's Heroes of Destiny and join us as we embark on the Age of Mortals' most epic adventure!

    The PCs
    Reichert (CG male satyr fighter 5/mystic ranger 4) The wielder of the legendary Shard of Light, this free-spirited fey warrior reconnected the Dragon's Graveyard to the mortal plane with a song. Played by pirategirl.
    Herschel Stanmann II (NG male Solamnic civilized human master 5/rogue 8) This young research assistant from the University of Palanthas slew the Silvanesti mystic Lothian in hand-to-hand combat, releasing the spirit of the last Dragonsinger into the River of Souls. Played by Luthen.
    Salinus Wavebreaker (CG male Dargonesti elf barbarian 4/mariner 3/fighter 7) Slain by the elven mystic Lothian in the Dragon's Graveyard, this easy-going warrior was miraculously resurrected and reborn as a furious ally of dragon-kind forevermore. Played by Salinus.
    Degamar Thunderarm (NG male Daewar dwarf cleric 10 of Reorx/mighty anvil of Reorx 5) A descendant of the dwarves that originally forged the Shard, this gruff warrior-priest has had his faith tested relentlessly in his quest to re-create his ancestors' accomplishments – and he's grown stronger for it. Played by Arclight.

    The NPCs
    Thanator “Shroud” Grave-Eyes (NG male afflicted kender nightstalker 9/rogue 6) The bearer of the legendary staff of bones, this solemn kender mystic destroyed the Betrayer with a powerful blast of searing light in the Heroes of Destiny's final battle to purify the Dragon's Graveyard.
    Cam (N male camel) This ornery pack animal was trained to fight by Reichert in The Desolation and has survived more adventures then any common pack-animal has any right too. Therefore he gets his own introductory blurb.

    Session #1 - Welcome to the Big Leagues
    So before we started the next module we did some “house-keeping” in-between games. The Heroes of Destiny spent two “days” re-cooperating on Quinari's Island and at the empty Elder Shrine under the watchful gaze of the spirit dragons. During this time they inventoried and identified the magic items taken from their foes and re-distributed some of the considerable wealth and equipment their overburdened camel was carrying. Honestly, pirategirl did a detailed inventory later that evening after the game (which is when she discovered Cam was 300 lbs. over a heavy load), but this is the time in-game the heroes' would have handled this business. The extra three-hundred pounds of coin was re-distributed amongst the saddle-bags of the party's remaining five Nordmaarian steeds.

    Herschel traded his +1 heavy mace (Degamar's old weapon) for Lothian's +1 heavy mace of wounding and claimed his foe's circlet of persuasion. Salinus eagerly grabbed the mystic's cloak of resistance +4 and Reichert took his ring of protection +4. The satyr and the kender split up the healing potions and everything else went onto Cam to sell later. The party also redistributed the Tears to the two divine spellcasters, Degamar and Shroud. They'd be able to make use of the artifacts healing powers in a pinch (although the concluding events of SoS had drained them of charges - they had about 1 apiece at this point). Nobody really wanted to touch the Betrayer's stuff (especially when touching the lich's mace resulted in some temporary negative levels for Herschel).

    The heroes also spent some time getting to know Shroud's spirit companion, the wild gnomish woman Wrenthistle. All of the thing's she'd witnessed since she started haunting the kender had her re-considering her course of action. After some extended conversation she agreed to do less haunting and more helping. She had been a well-respected academic lecturer and story-teller while she was alive and promised her expertise and magic (she's a bard) in the future. Parrick was still missing, but at this point it was safe to assume their ghostly friend wasn't coming back for whatever reason.

    When the heroes exited the Dragon's Graveyard it was fast approaching evening. As Reichert studied the stars in the sky he realized that at least four months had passed since they'd gone in. It was now late summer, probably sometime towards the end of Summer End. Herschel's theory about how time passed between the planes had been proved correct. The party made their way to the beach and then up the narrow cliff side trails to the grasslands proper as the Portal closed itself behind them.

    Waiting for them at the top of the cliffs was the elven death knight Dalgonus Brightwind and his burning, zombified griffon steed. Scattered in the grass around him were the corpses of some heavily armed ogres and some huge wasp-like beasts outfitted with riding saddles. Judging by the smell, they'd been dead for a few weeks. Dalgonus only wasted a few moments promising Herschel his death before he attacked.

    Shroud's eyes flashed with necromantic energy as he attempted to cast command undead on the death knight. Impressively the little guy beat the knight's Spell Resistance, but the strong-willed death knight ignored the kender's commands to flee. Reichert, still astride his horse, had been leading the camel. He dropped Cam's reigns, lowered Huma's lance and charged. The dragonlance sparked off the death knight's breastplate in an impressive fashion, but didn't do any damage. Salinus rode forward in a wide, flanking arc and dismounted, much more comfortable fighting on foot.

    A quartet of ghouls sprung from their hiding places in the tall grass. Two of them charged Salinus, while the other two piled on Reichert. Degamar, enjoying a solid connection with Reorx's power once more, took this opportunity to drop to drop a flame strike on the death knight (now a safe distance from Reichert) as Herschel missed with his bow. He failed to beat Dalgonus' Spell Resistance. Arclight threw his d20 across the living room for that second time that day.

    In an impressive display Shroud pounded the staff of bones against the earth and shouted dire warnings at the ghouls, sufficiently cowing the monsters. Reichert ignored the ghouls and charged the death knight again with Huma's lance. This time he hit, doing 35 points of damage altogether. We also learned that getting attacked by ghouls makes Salinus “...so...ANGRY!” However, activating his barbarian rage apparently also makes him roll badly. His first attack with his trident was a natural 1 (but only a miss), but his second stab with Grave-Eyes killed a ghoul. His next trident attack was another natural 1 (and another miss). His fourth attack hit, but just barely failed to kill his opponent. So he used a Heroic Surge and finished the job.

    As the death knight stabbed Reichert a few times with his own lance the other two ghouls charged Salinus and actually scored some hits (basically taking away his extra hit points for rage). Herschel scored a great hit with his bow (10 points) and Degamar activated his new 5th level anvil ability, wrath of creation, and charged. The ability lets the anvil bypass crafted armor like it's not there once per day. Suddenly the death knight's 29 AC was something like a 13. He got hit by the dwarf's earth-breaker – hard!

    Shroud's attempt to cast searing light at the death knight failed to beat it's Spell Resistance and Reichert missed his attacks. Salinus managed to disable both of his opponents before he slaughtered one of them. That last ghoul attacked savagely, with no regard for its own safety, missed the sea elf, and took itself out of action. At this point Dalgonus had about 30 hit points left. The death knight decided that perhaps vengeance was best served at the front of larger force and spurred his unholy mount into the sky to begin his retreat. Herschel meanwhile, fumbled his shot, and very nearly fell off of his horse in the process.

    Degamar was not about to let the death knight escape and be allowed to keep harassing them. He cleverly targeted the wounded zombie griffon with a searing light spell and blasted it into nothingness. However, instead of falling the death knight began to gently feather fall to the ground to the boos of the players.

    Reichert was there waiting for him with the Shard of Light, but turned over his shoulder to his bloodied and furious looking sea elf friend. “Sally,” he called expectantly. The sea elf barbarian sprinted to the satyr's side. However, as the death knight hit the ground he slammed the tip of his greatsword into the ground detonating an explosion of abyssal fire that hit Reichert and Salinus. Surprisingly, it barely singed the heroes and Salinus was on the death knight like lightning, piercing the seams of his full-plate with his nasty little dagger. The next round, as Reichert prepared to strike, the Shard's crystal blade transformed into a beam of pure light! Slipping through the death knight's armor like it wasn't there the satyr slew Dalgonus Brightwind with two quick hits!

    I'd hoped to unlock the Shard's last power in the final battle with the Betrayer, but pirategirl decided to use the Dragonlance of Huma for most of that fight instead. I figured a death knight was just as appropriate battle to reveal the weapon's mystery power. I also explained to pirategirl that this ability doesn't normally affect undead, but I wanted a cool reveal and this seemed appropriate. She was okay with it.

    EDIT: Interestingly enough, after reviewing large chunks of my old campaign journals it turns out that Axarandes actually told the party about this ability of the Shard's, but without the players knowing how to do it, I guess we all just forgot about it. Either way, Reichert knows about it know and that's what counts!

    As the rest of the party marveled at the Shard's transformation Shroud had dismounted from his horse and was crouched near the dead ogres, casting a spell. Herschel started to interrupt, but decided to watch instead. A ghostly ogre appeared, grabbing everyone's attention, and the party watched as the kender nightstalker conversed quietly with the dead giant. After a few minutes the spirit faded away.

    Shroud told his friends that the ogres were part of the Essekar mercenary company. They'd been hired by Gilthanas to kill them! However, while they were waiting around for the heroes to appear the death knight and his undead griffon and swooped in, killing a few them and their spider-eater mounts, driving the others away. Herschel had heard of the Essekars. They hadn't been operating in Nordmarr long, but they were supposed to based in the ruins of the nearby village of Haant. He also knew that these particular ogres were devoted to Sargonnas. Shroud confirmed this.

    The party weighed their options. They had been charged by the spirit dragons in the Graveyard to take the Tears of Mishakal to the temple of the goddess in the city of Kalaman to the west. An overland trip there meant either traversing the foreboding Shadowglades swamp or heading south through the dangerous jungles of Lahue. Travel by sea would be faster and Pentar was the closest port city Herschel knew of. That was somewhere northeast of Haant, he thought, and not to far. The party decided they needed some answers about what Gilthanas was up to first and the ogres were their best lead for now. They elected to ride for Haant and bust some heads for information.

    And that's as far as we got! Most of today's session had been devoted to finishing Spectre of Sorrows, but we're going to try to play again at the end of the month if we can swing it. I switched the Essekar ogre encounter in the module for my own re-occurring villain, but I thought opening Price of Courage with a battle with a death knight was a great way to welcome the party to high-level adventuring.
    Last edited by Tauren_Kai-Jere; 09-27-2012 at 02:06 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Session #2 - Haant

    The PCs
    Reichert (CG male satyr fighter 5/mystic ranger 4) The wielder of the legendary Shard of Light, this free-spirited fey warrior reconnected the Dragon's Graveyard to the mortal plane with a song. Played by pirategirl.
    Herschel Stanmann II (NG male Solamnic civilized human master 5/rogue 8) This young research assistant from the University of Palanthas slew the Silvanesti mystic Lothian in hand-to-hand combat, releasing the spirit of the last Dragonsinger into the River of Souls. Played by Luthen.
    Salinus Wavebreaker (CG male Dargonesti elf barbarian 4/mariner 3/fighter 7) Slain by the elven mystic Lothian in the Dragon's Graveyard, this easy-going warrior was miraculously resurrected and reborn as a furious ally of dragon-kind forevermore. Played by Salinus.
    Degamar Thunderarm (NG male Daewar dwarf cleric 10 of Reorx/mighty anvil of Reorx 5) A descendant of the dwarves that originally forged the Shard, this gruff warrior-priest has had his faith tested relentlessly in his quest to re-create his ancestors' accomplishments – and he's grown stronger for it. Played by Arclight.

    The NPCs
    Thanator “Shroud” Grave-Eyes (NG male afflicted kender nightstalker 9/rogue 6) The bearer of the legendary staff of bones, this solemn kender mystic destroyed the Betrayer with a powerful blast of searing light in the Heroes of Destiny's final battle to purify the Dragon's Graveyard.
    Cam (N male camel) This ornery pack animal was trained to fight by Reichert in The Desolation and has survived more adventures then any common pack-animal has any right too. Therefore he gets his own introductory blurb!

    With the exception of the dwarven cleric the party took a few moments to search the festering corpses of the ogres and their gigantic insect mounts for anything useful. In addition to their weapons and armor the heroes salvaged two potions, which Herschel quickly identified as potions of jump and cure moderate wounds. Degamar took the potion of jump (he's had his share of mishaps over the years in this department) and Reichert took the healing potion. They took some arrows, but left the ogres' lances, chain shirts, and bows behind.

    After the party set up camp about a half-mile away Degamar cast detect magic and began to Appraise the death knight's arms and armor. The only thing that wasn't magical was Dalgonus' greatsword; his lance, full plate, shield, amulet, ring, and bow were all magical. The mighty anvil was able to identify the +1 lance, +1 full plate, ring of feather falling, and the +1 composite longbow [+3 Str]. Herschel took the ring and Salinus took the bow (even though it was basically identical to his current one); everything else was loaded on to Cam to sell later.

    The next morning Salinus took a refreshing dip in the Turbidus Ocean. Once the sea elf had refreshed himself the Heroes of Destiny mounted up and headed for the ruins of Haant. It was a warm day, but the breeze from the ocean made it a very pleasant ride. As it approached mid-day the grasslands become more heavily forested and the PCs started spotting ruined farmhouses and the like as they got closer to what they assumed was the Essekar base of operations.

    Herschel spotted a large tree house about a hundred-feet away at about the same time the ogre look-out inside saw them. The ogre let out a horrible wailing scream, not unlike a horse dying; a noise that quickly answered by more of the same throughout the woods. As the heroes readied themselves for the worst the look-out flew away on a huge spider-eater towards the ruins a couple hundred feet behind him through the trees.

    The party dismounted and spread out. Herschel and Salinus took up firing positions behind some trees while Reichert and Degamar moved up to check out the tree house. Shroud hung back with the horses and the camel. With the dwarf covering him with his crossbow the satyr scrambled his way up the tree and into the tree house. The ogre had obviously gotten up there by flying because the rope ladder was lying in a tangle up up top. Aside from a quiver of over-sized arrows and some obvious signs that the ogre had been using his watch post as a latrine there was little of interest inside besides the view.

    From up here Reichert could see hundreds of yards before him (easily able to spot the route they had approached from) and into the ruined village behind him. A small force of six mounted ogre mercs were on their way. Five were on the huge magical wasps Degamar had called spider-eaters. Another one was riding a huge a mottled green and brown armored snake monster that skittered forward on dozens of tiny legs. It looked very similar to the lighting breathing creature they had killed on the beaches outside of Flotsam.

    Now even though the ogres knew someone was attacking I still gave the heroes the advantage of a surprise round since the ogres were running straight into a small squad of readied archers. Everyone opened fire as the ogres came within range and Degamar, Salinus, and Herschel scored hits against multiple targets before we even started the first round.

    Reichert added his own arrows to the next volley from his position in the crude ogre watch tower as the Essekars lowered their lances and charged. Degamar was hit first by an ogre lance, then stung by the huge wasp the ogre was riding. The Daewar mighty anvil scored a 37 on his DC 22 Fort save and easily ignored the effects of the poison. On his next turn (he was dead last in Initiative) he dropped his crossbow and pulled out his earth-breaker. The other ogres spent their turns maneuvering their mounts through the woods to charge the rest of the party.

    Reichert cracked off a few more shots, scoring solid hits, while Salinus slung his hefty longbow over his shoulder in the blink on an eye, Quick Drew his wounding trident and Grave-Eyes, and used a Heroic Surge to get into melee range and unleash a nasty full-round attack against the snake-monster. He did 32 points of regular damage and 2 points of Con damage. That sapped another 18 hit points of damage. Herschel kept his fire concentrated on the ogre riding the snake-thing (the party had decided that was the leader) as the monster attempted to snatch the sea elf up in his jaws. Salinus was quicker, however, and stabbed it with his trident for 17 more damage and discouraged the beast from swallowing him whole.

    Degamar got stung again for 15 damage (a number I continued roll against him for the duration of the fight for some reason) and continued to ignore the affects of the spider-eater's venom (for the entire fight actually). He never failed his save thanks to a +17 Fort against poison. He did did get bit for some more damage as he fended off the ogre's stabs with his lance and hit back for marginal damage with his big ol' hammer.

    Seeing a pair of ogres attempting to flank the group Shroud used a scare spell to scatter the horses and the camel, confident Reichert could track them down later. In the afflicted kender's mind it was a better that the animals be lost then mauled or killed by giant insects. This done Shroud retreated towards Herschel's firing position behind a tree on the other side of the battlefield.

    A critical hit from Salinus for 26 damage, followed by two more successful attacks that round from the sea elf dropped the snake monster. Herschel kept firing at the rider, even as a spider-eater rider swooped around the tree he was using as cover to attack him. Although he Dodged the ogre's lance the wasp's stinger caught him in the side, doing 38 points of damage on a critical hit. He saved against the poison at least, but he had just lost half of his hit points in one attack. In the same round another spider-eater pounced on Shroud and stung him for 18 damage. The kender failed his saving throw and went rigid as the spider-eater venom paralyzed the nightstalker. Degamar continued to be stung and bitten. Reichert had taken out the rider of this particular spider-eater at the top of the round with missile fire, but the Essekar's mounts were turning out to be the deadliest half of this encounter by far.

    Seeing that Degamar was struggling and that the battle was quickly turning in the ogres' favor Reichert ditched his bow, drew the Shard and leaped from the tree house onto the giant insect's back, stabbing it for 6 damage. Despite having chugged a healing potion last round Salinus finished off the snake-monster's rider with a furious full-round attack that put the ogre at like -22 hit points. It was ugly.

    Herschel desperately dropped his own bow and swung for the fences with Lothian's +1 wounding mace, hitting the monstrous bug twice in the side of the head for a total of 17 points of regular damage and another 10 from Con drain. Unfortunately I then rolled another critical against the Palanthian scholar and did maximum damage with the monster's stinger. He took 42 points of damage, failed his save versus poison, and fell to the ground paralyzed and dying. In our games you die at -9 + your Con score. If not for that rule Herschel would have been dead right there. Instead he was at -12. Herschel's magic number would be -16. After that Luthen would need a new character.

    Salinus was fighting tooth and nail against another ogre and it's mount. He dished out like 23 points of damage against his opponent, but wound up taking 38 himself. He did avoid the effects of the poison, however.

    Now the spider-eater entry in the Monster Manual does not explain how they implant their targets with eggs. It's simply an exceptional ability that they're somehow capable of. Arclight pointed out after the battle that's is probably not something that's expected to be done in combat, but still, I think it should have been fleshed out. I decided it was a full-round action and had a spider-eater implant Shroud with some eggs this round. I figured with four ogres still up and almost half the PCs down the ogres weren't too worried about losing and let their mounts do their business instead of murdering Shroud and Herschel outright.

    Seeing Herschel and Shroud down, the badly wounded sea elf fell back to the tree house where Degamar and Reichert were still fighting. Salinus used another Heroic Surge (I think his third at this point) to pull a healing potion from his pack. The satyr had just scored two hits against his foes, one of which was a crit for 16 damage. No one could believe that the unmounted spider-eater was still up and still relentlessly trying to kill the dwarven priest after five rounds. Especially with the satyr on its back stabbing it over and over again while Degamar continued pounding it with his earth-breaker. Herschel failed to stabilize this round and was also implanted with spider-eater eggs.

    I treated the spider-eater's implant ability like an Improved Grapple. Since Herschel'd been stung successfully last round I decided the bug could lay it's eggs in him successfully this round. I also didn't have it do damage. The Monster Manual doesn't say it does, but like I said, it doesn't say how spider-eaters implant their targets either. It's a magical beast so I decided the stinger (or some kind of adjacent egg-laying organ) does the job painlessly. In my experience the kinds of insects these monsters are based on usually leave their prey alive to eventually be devoured alive. Basically, I decided I wouldn't actively try to kill Herschel at this point with the spider-eater.

    Things were getting desperate now. The ogres Salinus had been fighting had followed him last round, which meant Degamar and Reichert were now also being threatened by a second spider-eater and it's rider. pirategirl had Reichert use his head-butt attack for the first time in years at the end of his full-round attack. It missed, but the fact she took the shot meant the party was running scared. Reichert did hit twice with the Shard at least.

    Salinus tried to drink his potion, but got slashed by a massive falchion (the ogre had stuck his lance into the tree behind the sea elf on a fumble) and stung by a spider-eater. On top of the 30 points of damage he took he also failed his saving throw and was paralyzed. Shrugging off another stinger wound Degamar immediately cast a defensive heal on the sea elf. Suddenly their biggest hitter was back up with only 4 points of damage to his name.

    The next round Reichert drew his thundering dagger and went to town on the seemingly unkillable spider-eater. Salinus immediately entered a barbarian rage, dropped his potion (which lucky for him didn't break), and unleashed a furious assault with his trident and dagger doing over 50 points of damage and doing two points of Con damage! Degamar also finally had a round where he avoided being stung or bitten, although Salinus was stung for 17.

    The other two ogres had taken up covering positions with their composite bows last round, watching for any heroes that might a run for it (the melee was too crowded). One of them tried to shoot Reichert off of the back of the spider-eater, but cleverly shot the insect he was trying to protect instead for 8 damage. The ogres did not attempt shoot into combat again. Degamar, however, had given up on trying to thwack his opponents and finally turned to Reorx. He dropped a flamestrike on the ogre and spider-eater that had followed Salinus. The spider-eater made it's save, but the Essekar mercenary on its back was almost dead after taking 53 points of damage in one go.

    The fighters were starting to roll really well now, fueled by desperation or rage or just plain luck, I don't know. Reichert scored two hits with his weapons and Salinus savaged the wasp he was fighting. He hit with all four of his attacks and did 2 more points of Con damage plus 49 points. I feel like this assault killed another ogre and that finally broke the Essekar's morale. I do know from my notes that at this point half of the Essekar force was dead, so the other three wasp-riders scattered in different directions; east, west, and north. After Degamar cast cure critical wounds on himself defensively (he'd apparently gone from 153 hit points to 4 in 8 rounds) Reichert ended the battle next round with a dramatic booming critical from his thundering dagger that finally killed the lone spider-eater.

    Salinus immediately dropped his weapons double-moved to Herschel, while Reichert hopped off his dead foe and ran to Shroud. Salinus pried Herschel's jaws open and dumped a potion of cure light wounds down his throat. On Herschel's next turn he would have been at -16, a.ka. “dead.” He'd failed to stabilize the entire battle, actually rolling two 99s in a row at one point. He had narrowly, narrowly avoided death. The healing potion was enough to stabilize the scholar, but he wasn't conscious yet.

    This battle took us about two and a half hours to play out; a much bigger chunk of the session then I had anticipated. After Round 4 my notes were less detailed and harder to read. I do know there were a few attempts by the spider-eaters to snatch people up and drop them elsewhere (notably Reichert on top of the one spider-eater and Salinus at some point), but the grapple attempts were always ended by a successful AoO from the hero in question. I also rolled about as many natural 1s for the spider-eaters as I did criticals against the heroes. However, almost all of them were just misses. I know at one point a spider-eater swooped in too low and dug a big furrow in the ground with it's stinger that pitched its wounded rider to the ground. That might have been how Salinus killed the last ogre. I can't remember anymore. I also know that Degamar unleashed a fire storm on one of the Essekars and his mount in one of the later rounds of the fight. Either way, the heroes won a tough battle.

    Degamar joined Reichert in helping Shroud. The kender was wounded, but conscious. He just couldn't move. As he examined the nightstalker the cleric realized that his friend had been implanted with spider-eater eggs, which would hatch sometime in the next six to eight weeks and eat the kender alive from the inside. He didn't intend for that to happen. He cast neutralize poison and helped the nightstalker to his feet. Without much explanation beyond some terse instructions to come with him Degamar half-drug the sick feeling kender over to where Salinus and Herschel were and cast mass cure serious wounds.

    Herschel was finally conscious again, but still couldn't move. The dwarf knew that the Solamnic had been implanted with eggs as well, but didn't have the right prayers memorized to deal with it. The Tears didn't have enough charges yet to cast remove disease, which he would need to kill the eggs. For now the party elected to set up camp near the watch tower and put Herschel inside it for safe-keeping. Reichert spent the next Watch tracking down Cam and their scattered mounts, but also gathered some herbs and roots to help kill the latrine smell in the watch tower so Herschel wouldn't have to lay there helplessly smelling ogre piss (and worse) all night. Meanwhile, Shroud cast speak with the dead again and interrogated one of the dead Essekars, but he didn't learn anything new except that they'd been hired by Gilthanas almost two months ago. That got some grumbling from the PCs. Whatever the elflord was up to he had a considerable head-start.

    When the satyr returned Degamar summoned a heroes' feast, which took care of the spider-eater eggs growing inside the kender. Herschel couldn't eat in his current state. Once everyone had eaten and refreshed themselves Reichert and Shroud elected to scout out the ruins of Haant before it got dark. The nightstalker's spirit companion, the wild gnome Wrenthistle, joined them as they slipped stealthily up to the hole in the low stone wall that the snake-monster and its rider had come from. Reichert quickly spotted the burrow the creature had come from and a variety of old ogre and spider-eater tracks all over the place. They moved cautiously to the center of the ruined village where they found a few buildings that were intact and looked lived in.

    Finding little of interest in the Essekar's rank mess hall and filthy living quarters they found a sandy pit that had been dug up some time in the last hour the ranger guessed; probably while they were feasting nearby. There were signs of a few heavy chests being drug out of the pit. Reichert and Shroud quickly realized that the ogres had come back for their loot and left. Disappointed they scouted out the spider-eater stables and broke into the Essekar armory. There was nothing there that they wanted or needed so they returned to camp.

    The Essekars did not return during the night and in the morning Degamar methodically climbed up the rope ladder and freed Herschel from his paralyzed state with a prayer. The young man was shocked to find his friends eating and drinking at an ornate wooden table, filled with all sorts of delicious food and drink, and attended by golden-haired dwarven servants in fancy liveries. Starved from not eating for half a day Herschel dove-in alongside the others and quickly found that the more he ate and drank the better he felt. No one was going to have spider-eater larva burst from their stomachs anymore.

    After the meal Shroud, however, took a grim pleasure in explaining to Herschel that he'd been implanted with the gigantic insects' eggs and that they would need to perform surgery to get them out. The nightstalker pulled out his small silver short sword and instructed Herschel to lie down on the table as the servants were cleaning up. Bug-eyed the young man asked for a stick to bite down on at least and bravely climbed up on the table. Then the nightstalker did something he hadn't done in months – he laughed!

    You may or may not remember that after one of the ankheg attacks in The Desolation that Shroud had slept through, Herschel had woken him up by clacking the jaws of a dead ankheg over him. This had terrified Shroud and revealing to the party that their kender friend was now afflicted due to the events that transpired in the Peak of Malys. Shroud gleefully told Herschel that they were even now and Herschel forced an awkward laugh.

    Next: The Bone Reading!
    Last edited by Tauren_Kai-Jere; 09-27-2012 at 02:14 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Default Session #2 (cont.) - Rasca Reveals it All, Kinda' Sorta'

    The party rode for Pentar. They were responsible for delivering the Tears of Mishakal to the temple in Kalaman and Pentar was the closest port where they could catch a ship. Herschel also knew that Gilthanas and served as the governor of Kalaman for almost ten years after the War of the Lance and for a few months again about sixteen years ago. More then likely the elflord had old friends or enemies in the city that might give them some idea of what Gilthanas was up to or where he might be. Both times Gilthanas had left his position as governor because of the silver dragon he was in love with, Silvara.

    They reached the city walls early in the afternoon. The guards stopped them on their way in and demanded a gate tax of 5 stl per head, plus an additional 5 stl for each mount or or pack animal. Herschel immediately started to bargain with the men, but an incognito Reichert stepped in and scolded him, apologizing to the guards for his cheap friend. The party had more then enough steel to spare. Reichert threw in another five steel to smooth the way, while Shroud got directions to the waterfront.

    The party elected to book their passage to Kalaman first. After that they would find a place to stay for the night if they needed to and would hit the city's famous floating marketplace if there was time. It was a well-known fact that you could do all your business in Pentar without ever setting foot on dry land. Hundreds of ships, dinghies, and rafts were interconnected by rope bridges and gangplanks to form a floating network of shops, inns, and brothels.

    Salinus took the lead in asking around the waterfront about ships willing to take on passengers. It didn't take him long. In addition to finding a ship heading for Kalaman in the morning he also heard a lot of buzz about the explosive prosperity of the city since Lord Soth's perpetual darkness had been driven from Nightlund. No one had seen Gilthanas in Pentar recently, not since he was serving as the governor of Kalaman more then a decade ago. The Dargonesti mariner got them a meeting with the captain of The Laughing Gull, Captain Murn Gonderoth.

    Judging by the drooping red mustache and accent he was Solamnic. It didn't take him long to recognize the group as the band of adventures who had sailed with Captain Swift a few months ago. They'd bought him a new boat after his old one had been sunk after all. Plus, as the captain pointed out there weren't that many Dargonesti sailors in the world. He invited everyone to his cabin for drinks so they could discuss the terms of their passage. With free booze on the table Degamar was the first one aboard.

    Murn is actually an NPC from our original Dragonlance campaign, which has sort of petered out over the years as we made the Age or Mortals modules our focus. I'd like to reintroduce some of our old PCs and their allies as Price of Courage continues, but not all of the players are on board with this yet. Until then I have plenty of old NPCs to utilize for some extra fun.

    The PCs got along very well with the captain. They settled on the price for the trip and agreed to help out if things got ugly along the Goblin Coast. The region was famous for goblin pirates and Captain Gonderoth had made a career recently of fighting them on behalf of Kalaman and his friends in the Ergothian Merchant Marine. They swapped stories and learned that the captain hadn't had this ship long. He'd lost his old riverboat and his old crew to some “cutthroat assassins” back in Solamnia. Murn was actually able to tell them what day it was too – Reapember the second. They had been gone for a while!

    Agreeing to return at sunrise for their four-day voyage the crew loaded the heroes' Nordmaarian steeds into the cargo hold. The party took Cam with them and ventured into the city. They booked rooms for the night at the Monkey's Ear Tavern on Captain Gonderoth's recommendation and then did some shopping. They sold off almost all of the excess gear they stripped from their foes since leaving Flotsam and then converted a big chunk of those coins into more easily transportable gems. Also, with Degamar now being able to cast resurrection, they made sure most of those gems were diamonds. They have enough for at least seven casting now, I think. Some people bought more healing potions and everyone bought handy haversacks. Reichert also picked up a set of saddlebags outfitted with type I bags of holding; significantly lightening Cam's load.

    There was an argument in-character between Reichert and Degamar as the camel's load was redistributed over Huma's lance that spilled into the OOC realm. Arclight thought the big artifacts should be spread out more to allow for increased usage. However, no one else wanted the dragonlance and only Reichert and Salinus could use it without penalty (or could use it without penalty). Ultimately Reichert held on to it, but Arclight/Degamar did not seem happy with this and the disagreement put a damper on the rest of the session I'm sad to say.

    The party returned to the Monkey's Ear that evening for dinner, where the clatter of dice from one corner of the common room introduced them to Rasca. When the gangly half-kender started the conversation by saying he'd been expecting them weeks ago Degamar immediately pulled out his earth-breaker threateningly. Rasca threw up his hands and did his best to placate the surly dwarf and his suspicious friends, introducing himself as a traveling Calantine scholar who had been drawn here by his dreams and the signs he'd interpreted in his readings. He only wanted to offer them a fortune-telling session. He knew that their fates and the fate of Gilthanas were linked somehow and that the he needed to help them sort this out so he'd stop having weird dreams about sea elves and satyrs.

    Herschel sized him up with a few Sense Motive rolls and decided he was sincere. If push came to shove he was pretty sure he could take the skinny gypsy in a fight. Besides, he'd heard of the popular game of chance being used as a fortune telling tool in the out-of-the-way parts of Estwilde, but had never seen it done. The Solamnic scholar was interested in learning more. Shroud, a devoted fortune teller himself, told Rasca how he often used the stars to predict the future with his bones at times. He was also very interested to hear what Rasca had to say. Salinus blew the whole thing off and headed to the bar for a beer while Reichert, Degamar, Herschel, and Shroud went upstairs to Rasca's room for their reading.

    Degamar never put away his earth-breaker the whole time. Even as the half-kender lit candles and incense and instructed them to take their seats, the dwarf kept his hammer on his lap. Rasca then instructed them to close their eyes and clear their minds, breathing deep and opening themselves up to the strands of fate. Most of the group went along with his humming and meditation except for the dwarf, who kept both eyes on the half-kender at all times. After about ten minutes or so of this Rasca offered up two twelve-sided dice and told the assembled heroes to claim their fates. I did the same from my cross-legged position on the floor.

    Herschel and Reichert took the dice and rolled.

    “Earth and fire,” Rasca replied solemnly.

    Diving into his journal (as I stuck my nose in the module) he revealed that Gilthanas was now seeking the skulls of the chromatic dragon clans' progenitors. He also told the heroes where the skulls could be found with a series of cryptic clues (which I won't post in fear of pushing copyright laws). While the stunned quartet of adventurers tried to process this huge and unexpected information-dump Rasca gathered up his things and told them he'd be down at the bar if they had any more questions. Seriously, not a single PC said a word for like a minute after the reading.

    Herschel broke the silence first. He very much wanted to get a look at Rasca's journal. I thought about having Shroud Sleight of Hand it, but Rasca's Spot check put that well behind the afflicted kender's abiliites. Instead everyone headed back downstairs to talk some more. Degamar and Reichert went to tell Salinus what had happened, while Herschel and Shroud joined Rasca at the bar. The half-kender happily let Herschel look through his book, but the veteran researcher couldn't make heads or tales of it. He'd always heard that Calantine scholars used animal symbols in their readings and interpretations, but Rasca was using some kind of indecipherable mess that drew upon the power of the four elements. Anything Herschel could understand from the more recent entries was only because Rasca had just interpreted everything for him a few minutes ago. He couldn't glean any new information from the book and began chatting with Rasca about where he was from, how he got into Calantine readings, etc.

    Rasca made it very clear amongst the chit-chat that they needed to find Gilthanas and get those skulls. He also warned them that there seemed to be a powerful white dragon mixed up in all of this, but the signs were still vague as to what the monster wanted. He also made mention of a magic-wielding elven archer. After they found Gilthanas and retrieved the dragon skulls he suspected their paths might cross again. It was all up to the dice at this point.

    And that's where we ended it! I was pretty excited to finally know the end game of this monster and I'm happy to say I've don't know anyone who's rolled this ending yet! We're going to try to organize a game for May, but it's traditionally kind of a hectic month for everyone involved. If we don't get to play this month then our next session might just feature some guest stars from these very forums...
    Last edited by Tauren_Kai-Jere; 08-12-2012 at 01:52 AM.
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    Default Update!

    Although we didn't get together to play our regular game of PoC last month pirategirl and I met up with rogue, Majere, Bong Bellowsmoke, Spasseltock Nimblefingers, and Vittorio the Red, from these very boards, at Nathril's house and spent a weekend hanging out and playing some Pathfinder and Star Wars Saga.

    I had originally planned on running a session of this campaign during our "Gamerpalooza," but when Bong elected to resurrect his SoS play-by-post for a tabletop session I bowed out of DMing duties for the weekend and just played (hence my comments at the end of my last journal update)! It was great to meet more of my online friends, drink some beers, and game. Gods willing, I think Gamerpalooza will become an annual tradition.

    However, have no fear silent readers of this campaign journal! We're getting together this Sunday to continue PoC. Expect more updates sometime after that!
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    Default

    You played. Update please.
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    Default

    Patience my son. I shall have something up this week.
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    Default Session #3 - Around the Goblin Coast

    The PCs
    Reichert (CG male satyr fighter 5/mystic ranger 4) The wielder of the legendary Shard of Light, this free-spirited fey warrior reconnected the Dragon's Graveyard to the mortal plane with a song. Played by pirategirl.
    Herschel Stanmann II (NG male Solamnic civilized human master 5/rogue 8) This young research assistant from the University of Palanthas slew the Silvanesti mystic Lothian in hand-to-hand combat, releasing the spirit of the last Dragonsinger into the River of Souls. Played by Luthen.
    Salinus Wavebreaker (CG male Dargonesti elf barbarian 4/mariner 3/fighter 7) Slain by the elven mystic Lothian in the Dragon's Graveyard, this easy-going warrior was miraculously resurrected and reborn as a furious ally of dragon-kind forevermore. Played by Salinus.
    Degamar Thunderarm (NG male Daewar dwarf cleric 10 of Reorx/mighty anvil of Reorx 5) A descendant of the dwarves that originally forged the Shard, this gruff warrior-priest has had his faith tested relentlessly in his quest to re-create his ancestors' accomplishments – and he's grown stronger for it. Played by Arclight.

    The NPCs
    Thanator “Shroud” Grave-Eyes (NG male afflicted kender nightstalker 9/rogue 6) The bearer of the legendary staff of bones, this solemn kender mystic destroyed the Betrayer with a powerful blast of searing light in the Heroes of Destiny's final battle to purify the Dragon's Graveyard.
    Cam (N male camel) This ornery pack animal was trained to fight by Reichert in The Desolation and has survived more adventures then any common pack-animal has any right too. Therefore he gets his own introductory blurb!

    Rasca finished his drink, gathered up his tomes, and wished Herschel and Shroud good luck on their adventures.

    “Until next time,” Herschel said.

    “Until next time,” Rasca said with a wink.

    With that the Calantine scholar left The Monkey's Ear with his colorful patchwork knapsack dangling over his shoulder. The heroes re-grouped at the table Salinus had claimed for himself during last session's fortune-telling extravaganza and tried make sense of the clues Rasca had given them.

    Since my players have varying levels of OOC Dragonlance knowledge I sat down before this session and broke down the Bone Reading, verse by verse, with relevant knowledge skill checks. I think this was a good idea, since it allowed the players easier access to the knowledge their characters would have and gave me an opportunity to really consider what they would know and set some reasonable difficulties for the checks ahead of time.

    Between the satyr's extensive knowledge of Krynn's geography and the sea elf's ever flowing font of sea stories, Reichert and Salinus decided that the first verse of Rasca's rhyme indicated the green dragon skull was located somewhere on the Isle of Crystine, either in the broken down Tower of Magus or the ancient elven ruins of Baleph. Herschel was also convinced that Rasca was alluding to the fact that the long-dead Ghoul Queen, Sylvyana, ruled there somehow. While it was true she had been banished into the River of Time centuries ago by Waylorn Wyvernsbane and his companions, he wasn't exactly sure how such a thing would be possible and no one now about it. Then again they seen more then a few impossible things in their journeys since leaving Pashin. What was one more?

    The black dragon skull (which took Degamar and Shroud together to remember that the name of the dragon clan's patriarch was Corrozus) mentioned in the next verse Degamar believed to be in the clutches of the Queen of the White Overlord, Glacier, on Southern Ergoth. There had long been rumors that the powerful she-dragon was in charge of creating Frost's dragonspawn minions in the ruins of Khimel. Fetching that skull could take them into the heart of the Dragon Overlord's territory, the dwarf cleric pointed out grimly. It was a sobering thought for everyone at the table.

    The skull of the white dragon patriarch, Akis, they reasoned was being held in the ogre-controlled city of Daltigoth, also on the island of Southern Ergoth. Herschel knew that the ogres there were ruled by a powerful ogre titan name Tdnark, the son of Kthaarx (“Great,” Degamar muttered at the mention of a titan). There was no other possible interpretation, the young scholar said. It was the part about Tdarnk sending forth foul potions to entice that stumped them.

    Degamar, however, remembered the ogre noble from Ogrebond who appeared be strung out on whatever mystery potions the Black Robe kobold wizard, Yap, had been selling. There could be a connection.

    Reichert sighed and took a drink, “Guess we'll be seeing that guy again.”

    The skull of the red dragon Furyion was apparently tucked away in the wizard fortress of Bastion, a place Herschel thought was just a legend. The dwarven cleric, of all people, corrected him. There had actually been three Bastions built by the Orders of High Sorcery over the years, Degamar explained. One on the Shadow Plane and a second one that was built in the Khalkist Mountains after the first one was destroyed. The second one, unfortunately did not survive the War of the Lance. As Herschel lamented the futility of their task, Degamar corrected him.

    The third was built in secret in a Border Realm of the Ethereal Sea. It had, in fact, been instrumental in the Orders' initial strike against the Knights of Takhisis prior to the Chaos War. Unfortunately, after Takhisis stole the world no one has been able to find a way back to the place.

    “Oh great, we just need to find a lost legendary fortress that no one knows how to get to,” Herschel quipped.

    The heroes' task was becoming more daunting by the moment. In fact, the last verse of Rasca's reading stumped them completely. No one had heard of a conflict between the Legion of Steel and a red Dragonlord. Finding the skull of the blue dragon clan's patriarch looked to be impossible unless they could make contact with the Legion again.

    With exception of Salinus and Reichert the party elected to turn in for the night. Reichert trolled the tavern for some female companionship, but oddly enough, struck out. Salinus did better. He met a Nordmaarian woman at the bar named Ahuictala who seemed interested in the kind of companionship the sea elf was. After a few drinks they went upstairs to Salinus' room. I feel like at this point in the campaign I should probably point out that Salinus only has an 11 Charisma (compared to Reichert's 16). The sea elf's success with the ladies is pure persistence. Let that be a lesson to you gentlemen out there!

    The next morning the woman was gone; no fuss, no muss. The refreshed sea elf joined his companions downstairs for breakfast and together the heroes headed off to board The Laughing Gull and set sail for Kalaman. However, as they boarded Salinus noticed his companion from last night speaking with Captain Murnin Gonderoth. There was some money exchanged between the woman and the captain, they shook hands, and Ahuictala left in the company of a scribe or assistant the sea elf hadn't noticed immediately. She smiled at the Dargonesti sailor as she departed. Captain Gonderoth was grinning too as he approached his passengers.

    Murn clapped Salinus on the shoulder, “Someday you're going to have to tell me how you bedded Pentar's Mistress of the Docks!”

    I believe Salinus' exact response was, “Booze.”

    As the others boarded Captain Gonderoth pulled Reichert aside. The Laughing Gull had taken on five more passengers, he told the incognito satyr. While their steel was good the good captain encouraged Reichert and his friends to keep an eye on their belongings. He didn't like the look of the group. Reichert thanked him and promptly stripped Cam's saddlebags, laden with nearly all of their money and supplies, off of the dromedary's hump and took them with him to his quarters before the animal was taken below.

    They had fair winds and clear skies their first day sailing the Turbidus Ocean. None the less, Degamar remained at the rails paying very close attention to the waves just in case any more undead leviathans attempted to swallow the ship again. The dwarf kept his medallion of faith close and his charm of the manta ray closer.

    Salinus was the first to meet the second group of passengers. Out of habit the Dargonesti sailor spent the day above deck, helping the crew where he could and familiarizing himself with the ship. That was when he noticed the gigantic human woman staring at him. She was nearly as tall and muscular as he was, which was startling in it's own right. Her hair was pulled back into a single braid, which hung down to her butt. There was massive longbow slung over one shoulder and a greatsword sheathed on the other. She was in the company of four unsavory looking characters who looked like the kind of scum you could find loitering along the docks of any port on Ansalon.

    When the staring continued Salinus offered a tentative hello. The woman stalked up to him, put her smashed looking face inches from his, and looked him up and down.

    “Why are you blue?” she asked bluntly.

    And so the party was introduced to Sekloga, a burly dull-witted Nordmaarian woman also traveling to Kalaman. Reichert and Herschel showed up mid-way into the off-beat conversation. The satyr had actually tracked down the other group earlier in the day and had been following them around undetected for most of the morning, just in case.

    Salinus eventually managed to explain to her that he was a sea elf. He guessed he was blue so he'd blend into the waves where he lived for most of his life. This prompted the obvious question, “If you can swim through the ocean, why are you on a ship?” There was one point where things started to get a little dicey, only because Sekloga was convinced the elf was making fun of her, but the others interjected and smoothed things over. Eventually Sekloga left Salinus alone, although nearly every time he looked over his shoulder for the rest of the day she and her men were watching him.

    The captain invited the heroes to his cabin for dinner, but only Herschel and Salinus accepted. The sea elf did not want to chance another annoying conversation with Sekloga. Everyone else elected to take their evening meal with crew belong decks, Sekloga or no. Degamar took one look at the gruel and hardtack they were supposed to eat and conjured a heroes' feast for everyone. This instantly cured any grumbling from the crew about dwarves on ships being bad luck. It even seemed to soften Sekloga's sledgehammer approach to socializing.

    pirategirl used her character's time mingling with the crew to do a little information gathering; essentially trying to get Reichert and the party caught up on the events of the world. The sailors were more then happy to share their newest stories. The party learned the Palanthas had been liberated from the Dark Knights just a couple of weeks ago and that all throughout Solamnia the people were finally rising up to battle their oppressors.

    The Black Dragon Overlord, Sable, was dead. If you believed the stories she'd been killed a shadow dragon, although none of the sailors really knew what that was. Degamar, however, was proving to be pretty knowledgeable about dragons. He explained that they were mysterious creatures with varying origins - no two shadow dragons encountered ever came from the same place or had the same personality. Their breath weapon stole the life from a man, much like the touch of the undead. The crew enjoyed hearing the dwarf tell tales of these great beasts and in turn told him that the High King of Thorbardin, Tarn Bellowgranite, had been exiled from the dwarven kingdom. His followers had claimed the ruins of Pax Tharkas and were rebuilding them. Degamar wondered what could have happened back home for the Tarn to have been exiled a second time.

    Eventually the heroic feast started getting rowdy enough that the noise of the gathering began filtering up into the captain's cabin and disturbing Herschel and Salinus' quiet meal. After Murn went to check on things, Herschel and Salinus decided to go too. The twitchy cabin boy who had been serving them dinner wasn't a sparkling dinner companion. Down below Murn was confounded to find dwarven stowaways serving his passengers and crew with silverware and furniture that hadn't been loaded aboard that morning. Fortunately, Captain Gonderoth had spent plenty of time around adventurers. Taking it all in stride the easy-going captain ordered his men to crack open a keg of ale from their stores and joined the festivities.

    Thanks to the hero's feast no one was hung over the next morning. However, the wind had died thanks to a bad roll by the DM on the Stormwrack weather table, leaving the Gull dead in the water. That turned the crew's high spirits from the night sour pretty quickly. By mid-day Degamar found himself the target of more then a few hard stares and unpleasant curses and mutterings. However, the next day's weather was the exact opposite of the previous day's. A severe windstorm blew in from the northeast. A lesser captain would have been left stranded or capsized fighting the gale, but Captain Gonderoth aced his Profession (sailor) check. He turned the weather to his advantage. Soon The Laughing Gull was sprinting west across the choppy waves. As long as there was no trouble, the captain assured his passengers they would Kalaman by evening – a day earlier then expected.

    Naturally, fifteen minutes after Murn opened his mouth a pair of longships belonging to the infamous hobgoblin pirate Gnash launched from the swampy coastline and started rowing full-speed towards The Laughing Gull. While Captain Gonderoth tried to navigate his ship away from the pirates the heroes scrambled to the railings, missile weapons at the ready. Sekloga and her men joined them. Although her thugs didn't have a bow or sling amongst them, the big woman had her huge longbow loaded and ready for trouble. Shroud was having some difficulty navigating the deck of the ship in heavy winds. More then a few times the intrepid kender nightstalker was blown over. He eventually just gave and stayed down as his friends started sniping at the approaching pirate ships.

    Knowing full-well what was coming Salinus shouted to Degamar, “You take the one on the left. I've got the right,” then dove into the ocean and disappeared. The mighty anvil nodded, a prayer already forming on his lips. However, the dwarf waited patiently for the goblins to get within range.

    When the pirate ships were about four-hundred feet away Herschel fired the first shot. It was a fumble! The powerful winds set his arrow whipping back at him. Although he avoided being hit it did take his hat off of his head and send it skipping across the deck of the ship. He immediately went chasing after it while Sekloga took a shot with her massive bow and put an arrow into the water.

    As the goblin pirates got within about two hundred feet they opened fire with their small crossbows, but hit nothing in the terrible conditions. Herschel and Sekloga each hit a goblin. Herschel was surprised when his arrow didn't kill his target. These were hardier goblins then he was used to! At this point, Degamar decided the ships were close enough and unleashed a fire storm that engulfed the entire deck of the ship to his left. Captain Gnash was the only survivor. The badly burned hob immediately broke off his attack.

    Beneath the waves Salinus saw the flash of the dwarf's fire spell and knifed through the waves towards the second vessel. As arrows and crossbow bolts continue to fly between the remaining ship and The Laughing Gull Degamar summoned a wall of fire atop the row of goblin crossbowmen. Not that the fire wall could hurt the sea elf and with his major ring of fire resistance, but he elected to board the ship from the other side. He drew Grave-Eyes and his wounding trident, stalking towards the screaming burning goblins who were completely oblivious to the fact that they'd been boarded. All but one of them dove screaming into the ocean, determined not to burn to death. The last goblin spun and ran out of the fire wall, smack into the sea elf. He took a panicked swing, actually nicking Salinus for 3 points of damage, before the Dargonesti warrior took him apart the next round.

    Looking around, and seeing that most of the crew had already abandoned ship, Salinus lowered the pirate flag, and stuffed it into his haversack as a trophy. He yelled a hasty thanks below deck to the confounded crew of rowers and swam back to the Gull. Degamar ended his spell a moment later. Although Salinus ignored the goblins floundering in the water on his trip back Herschel and Sekloga made a point of picking them all off (no small feat with a -4 penalty from the wind). With Gnash's ship retreating and the second vessel paddling in a circle The Laughing Gull pushed onward, Murn laughing like a madman at the helm. True to the captain's word, the slate gray sea walls of Kalaman appeared on the horizon as the sun was setting.

    I should point out that, yes, I did cut the number of pirate ships the encounter called for in half. I had originally planned to use this encounter as an opportunity to spring something else on the party, but decided against it for my own secret reasons at the last minute. Instead of having the other two ships launch a surprise attack or something I just let it play out. We only had a few hours to play and I wanted to get to the meatier stuff in the city.

    I find that nautical battles as they're presented in Dragonlance modules tend to be pretty one-sided. No one ever sees fit to put a sea mage or a cleric on the bad guy's ships. They really are the D&D equivalent of artillery. Adventuring parties almost always seem to have one of these classes, however, and consequently the bad guys always get blown apart by spells before they can ever board the good guys' ships.

    Oh well. I wasn't too excited about that encounter anyway. Onward!

    Next: Delivery for the Temple of Mishakal!
    Last edited by Tauren_Kai-Jere; 06-30-2012 at 04:34 PM.
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    Default Session #3 (cont.) - The Lordcity of Kalaman

    Kalaman was unusual in the fact that there were no inns, brothels or restaurants along the water front. It was nothing but warehouses and customs offices. The Lords of Kalaman had decided years ago that allowing these kinds of businesses along the docks just attracted trouble. Captain Gonderoth informed his passengers that the closest inn was The Blind Cockerel, just past the Harbor Gate near the temple district to the east. Assuming they didn't mind the regular prayer services, he send it was one of the nicest inns in the city. When Herschel pressed him on the prayer thing the captain explained that members of the Church of Shinare met regularly in the inn's tavern to pray. Shinare had a large following in the city these days and the innkeeper didn't mind because everyone of those worshipers patronized his bar or inn in some fashion.

    Thanking him for the recommendation the group headed towards the city proper, but were stopped at the Harbor Gate by a group of guards. There were taxes to paid, and hefty ones too. Each person was required to pay fifteen steel and then there was another fifteen for Cam. This time it was the dwarf who started to gripe, but just like before when Herschel had raised a fuss in Pentar, Reichert shushed him and paid the money from the camel's new saddlebags of holding (type I). While the incognito satyr dealt with the guards Herschel struck up a conversation with a few more of the militia, discreetly inquiring where he might contact the Legion of Steel.

    The guard told him short of flagging down a patrol in the street, he wasn't entirely sure where they operated from, but he had seen Legion warriors around the city. He assured the young man that there was a lot less crime in Kalaman then there used to be, but he also recommend that everyone keep their coin purses close in the marketplace. There were still some local pickpockets causing trouble.

    That said the city had been prospering with the Ergothian Merchant Marine shipping to the city on a regular basis with Soth's darkness gone from the place. Another one of the guards collecting the group's taxes mentioned the recent Day of Hearing at the Temple of Shinare and the blessings Lady Jennetta had bestowed upon the faithful. When Herschel asked who the lady was the guard explained that she was high priestess of the church in the city. Their taxes finally paid Herschel thanked the guards for their help and the party found their way to the Cockerel.

    The city itself was a wonder to behold. It was the biggest human city Reichert, Salinus, and Shroud had ever been too. Even in the early evening the rutted clay streets were packed with jostling pedestrians and street vendors from all over Ansalon going about their business. Countless banners and pennants whipped in the wind from atop tall gleaming spires and twisting brightly-painted rows of houses. The Cockerel was a three story building built from brick and wood on the corner of a crowded intersection. They handed off the reins to their steeds and the camel to a stable boy and the guard at the door waved them lazily inside.

    A man inside promptly asked them if they were here for worship. The party declined and instead made their way to the bored looking innkeeper with the really long hair behind the bar. Herschel, however, struck a conversation with the cheerful fellow who'd greeted them, determined the find someone who knew how to find the Legion of Steel. They discussed evening prayers and made small talk for a few minutes and eventually Herschel asked about the Legion. His new friend Davon actually had some information! He'd heard the Legion operated out the fish markets on the east side of the city. The young devotee of Shinare also knew that the Solamnic knighthood operated out of Castle Kalaman and the Brass Tiger mercenaries were currently based at the Temple of Shinare. Rumor was they were in the city looking for a contact.

    Herschel was the only member of the party who hadn't worked with the Brass Tigers before, but he recognized the name from his friends' stories. He politely bowed his head and spent the next few minutes in prayer to Gilean alongside the Shinarites while his friends bought rooms and made themselves scarce. Herschel bough Davon a drink, got himself a room, and said good-night. Turns out his friends had already bought him a room so he had to go get his money back.

    The random inn generator from the Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide was a lot of fun; combined with the list of NPC traits from the DM's Guide The Blind Cockerel wound up being pretty memorable I think. pirategirl and I had rolled up a bunch of random inns and innkeepers a month or so before this, so it was fun for me to grab one from our index and squeeze it in. The Blind Cockerel with it's regular prayer services and guards seemed appropriate for Kalaman. I figured followers of Shinare frequented the place and the guards were coinswords in training. The innkeeper had gotten the “long hair” and “stares off into space” results and I had fun making PC address me two or three times before reacting. The inn also offered an ironing service which most of the PCs took advantage of.

    The first order of business the next morning was delivering the Tears to the Temple of Mishakal. Since a lot people were having their clothes cleaned and ironed I had everyone describe what they were wearing as they headed into the city. Degamar ditched his full plate and fancied himself up Daewar-style in his royal outfit, although he did keep his dragon-blessed shield and warhammer with him. Reichert and Salinus put on their sailor's outfits (with the satyr of course disguising his appearance) and Shroud and Herschel kept their regular adventuring outfits and weapons. They passed by the Temple of Shinare on their way to their destination, actually having to cross the street to avoid the bustling crowds overflowing from the temple courtyard.

    The Temple of Mishakal sat at a quadruple crossroad surrounded by offices, counting houses, scriptoriums, and theaters. The modestly decorated building was a long, single-story structure with rows and rows of windows and everburning flames on the upper level rotundas. Mishakal's infinity symbol gleamed brightly above the main entrance.

    Speaking with an acolyte inside the party asked for whomever was in charge of the temple, in this case it was a man known as Father Jon. The heroes were tight-lipped with their reasons for requesting the audience, but insisted it was urgent. Herschel eventually convinced the young man to pass their request along to the father and that they would wait patiently here in the temple until he was ready to receive them. The acolyte returned a few moments later, clearly confused when he told them that Father Jon would meet with them immediately.

    Arclight pointed out OOC that since Herschel had only introduced himself as Herschel Stanmann, the priest probably thought it was his more important, more popular father requesting an audience. That got some laughter from the players.

    The acolyte ushered them into the inner sanctum of the temple, where they met two people sitting on benches near a central pool of clear water. One was a tall, lanky human with thinning white hair and a cassock woven from various shades of blue. The other was an incredibly pale, dour looking elf with sharp features and dark clothing. The elf clearly recognized the heroes, although they didn't know him at first.

    The human had barely introduced himself as Father Jon when the elf started accusing them of breaking their promises to Shaylin to bring help for his people. Degamar had no idea who this elf was, but the others quickly recognized Naelathan, the kirath who helped them escape the Dark Knights in Pashin and eventually led them out of the city almost a half a year ago. When Father Jon intervened, and the heroes had a chance to explain themselves, Naelathan eventually apologized for his initial insults. Degamar and Shroud gave the priest the Tears and Father Jon promised to use them to help the Silvanesti people.

    Herschel then inquired if either of them had heard anything of Gilthanas lately, but neither of them knew anything. The young man warned them that if they should have any dealings with the Hero of the Lance in the future to be careful, it very well might be an imposter. He explained what had happened in the Dragons Graveyard, focused particularly on the fact that “Gilthanas” had shifted into the form of a white dragon to help them the Dragonsinger trials. Naelathan took some sarcastic jabs at the party when he learned that the Key of Quinari had been destroyed and for losing the skulls of the good dragon clan's matriarchs, but a well-placed retort from the sea elf shut him up.

    Father Jon lamented that this behavior on the part of the former-governor added a new and disturbing dimension to the rumors he'd heard from the other churches in Kalaman. It seemed that one of Gilthanas' old friends, a map-maker named Shala Mer-Kane had disappeared a few months ago. The whole incident had been very clearly distracting Lady Janetta, even if she denied it. There was a little more small talk, but eventually the heroes said good-bye to the Temple of Mishakal.

    At this point they elected to split up. Degamar wanted to visit the Temple of Reorx and Herschel was keen on tracking down the Legion of Steel in the fish markets. Shroud and Reichert elected to go with the dwarf, and Herschel's old bodyguard accompanied him to the fish markets out of habit.

    Although he'd been warned by Father Jon, Degamar was still a little surprised to find out that the head of Reorx's church in Kalaman was a human. To be fair, Father Zak Copperpiece was short and stout and bearded much like a dwarf, but he was very much human. Degamar was also surprised when the man greeted him by name and went on and on about receiving a member of the church in such high standing to his temple. It wasn't the first time that the heroes had been recognized in their travels, but none of them was used to it yet.

    At this point I formally introduced the PCs to the faction rules on p. 20 of the module. Given that Degamar had attempted to seek out a forge or a follower of his church in every town he'd been too, it seemed only logical to write up the Holy Order of Reorx as a faction the heroes could call upon. A gave the Order a Base Military Level of 4, a Base Social Level of 3, and a the heroes a starting faction rating of +4 and explained the basics of how the whole thing worked. I could see Luthen's eyes gleaming as he anticipated his meeting with the Legion.

    Zak promised Degamar the use of any forge of the place, free of charge, for as long as he needed it. Degamar had been drawing up some plans for a one-handed weapon of some kind, which he hoped to forge from dragonmetal, so he promised to take Father Copperpiece up on the offer. Zak admitted with a chuckle that he wasn't much of a craftsmen himself, which got a weird look from Degamar and the others. Zak admitted that he'd only been in charge of the temple here for a little over a year. He had actually won it in a card game the first night he'd arrived in the city. That definitely got some looks from the PCs!

    Laughing the clergymen explained that while he'd always followed Reorx he'd always been a bit of a gambler and a troublemaker. These sort of folks comprised what Degamar considered a fringe element of the church, but if he'd won the temple in a game of chance Reorx obviously wanted the odd little man in charge. In fact, Zak still ran a weekly card game and invited Degamar, Reichert, and Shroud to come. They were playing tomorrow night. Degamar and the others politely accepted the invitation and after some more small talk said good-bye.

    After their extended conversation, however, Reichert had a theory about the jovial cleric (a.k.a. passed a Knowledge [nature] check), and said good-bye in Sylvan. With a wink Zak said farewell in the satyr's native tongue without a missing a beat. Reichert immediately did an about-face and asked him exactly what he was. Still chuckling the father admitted he might have some fey blood in his veins.

    Settling down onto a stone bench Zak told them the tale of his roots, as he knew it. He hailed from the town of Elmwood, far to the south in Lemish on the outskirts of the Darkwoods. Reichert knew for a fact that those woods were crawling with fey, but let the man continue. Zak's father was the town drunk, an unlucky gambler who was none-the-less well-liked by the other folk in town. When he couldn't pay his bar tab or his debts the townsfolk always made him perform a silly dare and then called it even. Well, one night Zak's father last a great deal of money to a Palanthian merchant who was furious the man couldn't pay what he owed. The townsfolk stepped in on their village idiot's behest, urging the merchant to make him do something crazy and silly. The merchant dared Zak's father to spend the night in the Darkwoods.

    As far the people of Elmwood were concerned that was a death sentence, but to drunk to know better Zak's father took a old blanket into the woods and passed out under a great oak tree. The man said he had the best dream of his life that night – a beautiful woman came out of the tree and made love to him. The next morning Zak's father came out of the woods no worse for wear and merchant left town in a huff. A few months later baby Zak showed up on his father's doorstep swaddled in the same crusty bar blanket. Being a responsible drunk, Zak said, his father left him on the steps of the local church, convinced someone was playing a joke on him. For the next week, no matter where the man left Baby Zak, he showed up again on his stoop the next morning. Finally the man gave up and raised the boy as best he could, teaching him how to drink and gamble and live life to the fullest. Zak was much better at gambling then his father, he said pointing to the church he now ran.

    Zak is actually an old character of mine from a defunct play-by-post thread run by my friend Pharathyse years ago. He was a child of the forest (a template I created as a counterpart to the child of the sea) rogue/cleric of Reorx with the Luck and Earth domains – I always loved balancing the scoundrel with the priest so when I needed someone to head up the Holy Order of Reorx faction in PoC I brought back my favorite priest of Reorx. He seemed to be a hit with the players too and I had a great time dusting him off and bringing him back to life, so I'll put that one in the win column.

    Next: Herschel and the Legion!
    Last edited by Tauren_Kai-Jere; 08-16-2012 at 10:26 PM.
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  9. #9
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    Default Session #3 (cont.) - Factions and Intrigue

    The fish markets were easy to find. The further east you went, the stronger the smell got. In fact, past the guard barracks by the Warrior's Gate, the fish markets had the whole section of the city to themselves. Herschel greased a few palms and eventually made his way to Etharion Cordaric, whom he was told was a member of the Legion of Steel. The young man didn't look much older then Herschel and looked and smelled like a fishmonger – aside from the spiked chain wrapped around his padded waist like a belt. The young Solamnic astutely noticed the men in the stalls on either side of Etharion's were watching he and see elf very closely. Etharion was well prepared in case of trouble.

    I then introduced the Legion as a faction the heroes could exploit for resources in their adventures and although nothing came of it immediately, I suspect the Legion of Steel will be doing some Infiltrating and information gathering for the Heroes of Destiny next session.

    Herschel and Etharion got along famously. The Legionnaire put together who the adventurer was fairly quickly thanks to his tall, bright blue shadow – the heroes' reputations' proceeded them here as well. Etharion thanked Herschel for the intelligence he'd fed to the Legion cell in Flotsam regarding the Dark Knights of Darkhaven. Herschel was excited to learn it had helped the Legion's activities in the area (and I started the party with a +4 faction rating instead of a +3 because of this and lowered their rating with the Dark Knights of course). As they got down to business Etharion admitted he didn't know much about Gilthanas. The elven hero used to live in Castle Eastwatch and had kept in touch with the cell in Daltigoth during his time there, but no one had seen or heard from him recently. Herschel explained their own disastrous alliance with the Hero of the Lance and posed his own theory that something had happened to Gilthanas and someone was running around impersonating him.

    This brought Etharion around to Shala Mer-Kane's recent disappearance, how it had clearly been bothering Lady Jennetta, and the strange men in white cloaks that had been seen in the bars and taverns around Kalaman. Apparently some of Kalaman's kender and street urchins had seen someone enter the city via the Secret Way, a hidden passageway through the south wall of Kalaman about two months ago. The man had been dressed in a dark cloak, had an amulet or medallion around his neck, and had been whisked away from Ekatrine of the Five-Veils in her horse-drawn coach. Shala had disappeared not long after that, leaving her Daewar friend Donald Copperplate to run the shop.

    Etharion explained to Herschel that Ekatrine was the head of the Guild of Escorts in Kalaman and a person of interest to the Legion. She was suddenly very much a person of interest to the heroes (Salinus in particular in this case). Both Etharion and Herschel suspected Gilthanas or his imposter was wrapped up in all of these events now. Etharion, clearly interested in recruiting Herschel and his friends, invited him to a regular card game he played in at the Temple of Reorx tomorrow night so they could speak more. Herschel eagerly agreed, star-jewels in his eyes, and Salinus asked him if he was by chance related to Gwynneth Cordaric. The young man laughed and admitted she was his mother. Salinus avoided discussing his attempts to sleep with Gywnneth during his time with the Brass Tigers and the three men parted company for now. Herschel of course had a handful of fish.

    The party regrouped at The Blind Cockerel for lunch. While Herschel cooked some fish in the fire (much to Salinus' chagrin) they discussed everything they'd learned and agreed some more reconnaissance was necessary. Having heard Lady Janetta's name a number of times since arriving in the city Degamar, Herschel, and Shroud would head to the Temple of Shinare and see what they could find out. Reichert and Salinus changed into their fanciest clothes and agreed to take one for the team and “infiltrate” the Guild of Escorts for information. They promised earnestly that they'd stay as long as it took.

    On the way there, the disguised satyr and the sea elf discussed their plan. While they certainly planned to see what kind of pleasures the guild offered they also needed to get close to Ekatrine and find out what she knew. For now they agreed that they simply needed to establish themselves as customers and build up some trust. They'd play it cool for tonight and simply enjoy themselves.

    Salinus was a little overwhelmed with the choices available to him at the brothel, and in an inspired bit of role-playing that got pirategirl some bonus XP Reichert when stepped in and brashly picked out a trio of elven woman for him and sent him on his way.

    "That's how you do it in a brothel, son," he declared.

    The satyr then took a elven woman, a human man, and a minotaur woman for himself. When he paid for all six escorts in platinum Ekatrine herself made herself known and told him that if he required anything to send word to her personally. First contact had been made. The satyr thanked the beautiful woman and took his whores to a private chamber to “get under cover.”

    The others were having considerably more difficulty getting an audience at the Mistress of the Light of Shinare. The crowd they'd spotted earlier had not thinned out. It wasn't until Shroud finally flagged down an acolyte by waving the staff of bones around that they made any headway. They had spotted the flags of the Brass Tigers waving above a less ostentatious building attached to the main temple and the kender had quickly switched tactics, rolling a great Bluff. Shroud produced the pin that proclaimed him a member of the mercenary company and said he was just trying to get back to Gywnneth about some business. The acolyte seemed skeptical of the kender with the gruesome staff, but when the priest of Reorx produced his own Brass Tiger pin the party was ushered inside.

    As it turned out Lady Jennetta was in fact in-conference with the mercenary captain, who was very eager to see her old compatriots again (Brass Tigers = Faction #3). In fact, Gwynneth was worried when she only saw the dwarf and kender in the company of a human boy she didn't know. Degamar assured her that the others were fine, just elsewhere in the city. She picked up on the dwarf's inference pretty quickly and laughed, remembering how the care-free satyr and sea elf had carried on with some of the women in camp. After a lively reunion Gwynneth introduced Lady Jennetta to the heroes. Herschel immediately set about warning the mercenaries and the church against future dealing with Gilthanas and explained the prince's betrayal, his hiring the Essekars to kill them, and everything they'd learned since arriving in Kalaman. Gywnneth was delighted to learn her son, Etharion, was in town, giving the heroes' faction rating with the Brass Tigers a hefty bump right there.

    Lady Jennetta seemed confident that Gilthanas would not harm Shala Mer-Kane, but agreed the timing of it all was rather suspect. She promised that the Church of Shinare would be careful in any future dealings they might have with the elf. Gywnneth offered them whatever assistance they might need; they had in fact made her a great deal of money back in Sargonath. She'd been able to expand operations throughout western Ansalon as a result of the money she'd made fighting for the ogre titans. If they needed good fighting men they'd have them.

    Lady Jennetta also offered the assistance of the Church and had four small chalkboards brought into the conference room that she called the Tablets of Shinare. Anything written on one tablet would appear on the tablet of whomever the messenger was trying to contact. Lady Jennetta kept one, Degamar another, and Gwynneth the third. Herschel planned to give the fourth one to Etharion tomorrow. Herschel also donated fifty steel to the church before they said farewell. He then made a point of visiting the Temple of Gilean on the way back to the Cockerel, offering the same warning about Gilthanas to the priest there before donating another fifty-steel to his chruch and returning to The Blind Cockerel to wait for Reichert and Salinus.

    And that's where we left things! There's a pretty good chance we'll be playing again this weekend, but we're still sorting out our available Sundays for the month. Overall I was really happy to get the party to Kalaman and start immersing them in the big picture. Typing this just now I realized that I don't have to wait for next session to go forward with what was going to happen next. pirategirl and Salinus do share an apartment with me after all. I think there may be a mini-session happening later this week.

    It also looks like Luthen is going to pursue the Legion scout PrC for Herschel. Membership in the Legion was nothing we'd ever discussed prior to this session, but I always harbored my suspicions that once we got to this point it was something that might happen. It really does suit the character and I'm a giant fan of the Legion of Steel in general. Having a PC as a member will only make the story more interesting as this monster plot develops. I'm still guessing which chapter the party is going to pursue first, but I have some strong suspicions. We'll see what happens next session!
    Last edited by Tauren_Kai-Jere; 08-16-2012 at 10:27 PM.
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  10. #10
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    I see you hammering the Merkane angle. I did the same.
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