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Thread: Key of Destiny...after a fashion

  1. #1

    Default Key of Destiny...after a fashion

    Greetings all,

    For years, Key of Destiny has been that campaign that's always gotten away. Real life and other events always seemed to get in the way of completing the campaign. I finally went out and bought the books just so I could find out how the story ended, since the numerous groups I was playing in could never finish things.

    Fast forwarding to the present, I was working on developing a home brew world for a Pathfinder group (first time playing Pathfinder, in fact), and in the midst of a discussion with one of the players (who had, previously, been the DM of all the previous KoD attempts), the topic of KoD was jokingly brought up.

    Still wanting to actually go through the story, after all this time, I decided to adapt it to my homebrew world (and in the process discover that a surprising amount of my world actually fit Dragonlance perfectly).

    So, without further adieu, an adaptation of the Key of Destiny.

    The Heroes of our tale are:

    Jack Shaftoe - a human fighter/cleric, interested in wine, women, and gold.
    Ezarus Stormcaller - an elven wizard/cleric, who has spent the last few centuries as a scholar
    Hasdrubal Verkinatax - human wizard, from a merchant family
    Kelsier Vin - human monk, from a noble family.

  2. #2

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    Session 1, in which the heroes awaken in a corpse wagon, infiltrate an enemy city, and rescue a captured noble.

    After the War of Liberation, King Arvernus gifted the city of Arlathan to the elves, as thanks for their aid in fighting the orcs. The new Comte de Tengille, seeking to recoup financial losses his family had experienced during the war, invaded Arlathan, intent on using the elves as slave labour. Bolstered by minotaur allies, the Comte held the city until the minotaurs captured Arlathan for themselves, driving both the elves and the knights out. Moving north, the Comte’s forces captured the citadel at Palavan, which they still hold.

    Hired by the Baron Elmris Gwilen, the characters arrive at Palavan looking for information on Sir Nerian Aefre, a possible traitor to the crown.

    You awaken to the sound of crows. As you rise, you cough, wet mud expelling itself from your lungs. Above you, a cold rain falls. You find yourself in a corpse wagon, entering the walled town of Palavan. You had been hired by the Baron Elmris Gwilen to find the knight Sir Nerian Aefre, a possible traitor to the crown. Your search lead you to the outskirts of Palavan, a walled town occupied by knights loyal to the traitorous Comte de Tengille. You remember being attacked by bandits. It appears you lost, and yet, you find yourself still alive. Not only that, you’ve found a creative way of entering the town.

    Perhaps someone in Palavan will have information on Sir Nerian, or on the bandits that assaulted you.


    The heroes find themselves within an enemy citadel, freeing themselves of the corpse wagon they rode in on. Concerned more with the mission they were given, than finding the bandits that attacked them, the adventurers begin looking for information within the city. A window above them suddenly opens as a chamberpot is emptied onto the streets below. Most of the adventurers manage to jump out of the way, but poor Ezarus is unable to move fast enough. His shoes now soiled, he casts a prestidigitation spell to cleanse his clothing.

    From a nearby alley, the heroes hear a shout of “Your coins or your life, old man!”. They see a lone bandit accosting an unarmed man in the alley. Noble Kelsier shouts at the bandit, wishing to put an end to such thuggery. The bandit only smiles, as two thugs join him. Jack draws his mighty sword, threatening the criminals. Their coins. Or their lives. The lead bandit quickly hands over all the silver he’s stolen, running from the frightening Jack.

    Ezarus checked on the old man, losing all interest in him the moment the man’s health was ascertained. Kelsier had issues with Jack keeping the ill-gotten silver, but was unable to persuade Jack otherwise.

    Rumours were spreading through Palavan that a troubadour was in town. It was hoped he would have a good tale, to cheer up the occupied town. The adventurers hoped the troubadour would have information for them. All they had was a name, Sullivan, and a location, The Slaughtered Prince. Heading for the Prince, Jack’s attention was drawn to a comely half-elven courtesan. “Dove” offered her services to Jack, but before any arrangement could be negotiated, they were interrupted by goons working for Dove’s master. Blackbird wanted his pay, and Dove was late getting it to him. Jack was willing to pay for the girl until he realized just how much she owed. Instead, Hasdrubal stepped in, convincing the goons to give Dove a little extra time to get Blackbird his money. Grateful for their help, Dove offered to help them in any way she could. Jack could certainly think of one way, and agreed to meet up with her later that evening at the fanciest inn in town.

    The heroes continued on to The Slaughtered Prince, taking a seat and ordering ale and wine from the comely serving wench. Sullivan took the stage, telling the tale of the War of Liberation, of the crowning of King Arvernus as its ruler, of the heroic Mädchen and her ascension as a saint. Not a story one would normally tell in a tavern filled with orc sympathizers. A riot broke out, many of the drunken commoners loyal to the Comte de Tengille’s Blackcloaks beating up Sullivan.

    Having no taste for combat, Ezarus simply got up and left the tavern, leaving his comrades behind. Kelsier and Jack moved in to fight, while Hasdrubal called upon arcane might to convince many of the rioters to simply walk away and return to their homes. Sullivan saved, the adventurers tended to his wounds. He explained he was loyal to Sir Nerian, and came to Palavan seeking good men to rescue the missing knight’s captive daughter Jayna. Sir Nerian was no traitor to the crown, but with his daughter kidnapped he did what any loving father would: chose her over his king. If someone were to rescue Jayna from the brigands that were holding her, the chance for reward would be great...

    The group agreed to rescue the girl. Sullivan explained she was being held by members of the Order of the Ebon Eye, knights who turned to marauding when the crown couldn’t pay their wages. Their commander, Bestrald, had become little more than a petty criminal.’

    Finding the encampment east of the town, the group hoped to move quietly upon the camp, but alerted a sentry. Faced with great numbers, the heroes nevertheless stood their ground. Hasdrubal and Ezarus used their magic to put several of the guards to sleep, giving Jack and Kelsier time to focus their attention on the heavy-hitters.

    It was a difficult battle, and all four heroes were greatly injured, but they prevailed, leaving only a single captive. Investigating the camp, Kelsier found the captive Jayna, freeing her of her bonds. A student of the healing arts, Jayna used her arcane talents to mend the party’s injuries, as thanks for rescuing her. The group debated what to do with their prisoner, but upon learning that Jayna had been beaten and raped by all the bandits, Jack killed the remaining thug.

    The party headed back to town, Jayna wanting to let Sullivan know that she was safe, so that word could get back to her father. As they passed the town’s red light district, the heroes were knocked to their feet by a charging ogre! Pissed drunk, the ogre swung his fists at anything that got near. Mighty Jack, slayer of anything that got near him, fell before the drunken ogre. Ducking fists, Jayna used her arcane magic to get Jack back on his feet as Kelsier and Hasdrubal kept the ogre occupied.

    The ogre fell, Jack staying his blade. It was certain the ogre would awaken hungover, and likely in prison.

    End Session 1.

  3. #3

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    Session 2, in which the heroes discover the divine, flee from the Blackcloaks, and search for the missing elves.

    Having knocked out the drunken ogre, Garthak, the heroes had only a few moments to wait before they were approached by two squires. Their black and white livery, and the lily emblazoned upon their tunics identified them as Blackcloaks. Kelsier was civil, explaining to the soldiers that the ogre had been drunk and attacked them. It was clear the monk frightened the two squires, who looked as if they were barely old enough to shave. The Blackcloaks drew a scroll of parchment, the likeness of two figures drawn upon. One was a middle-aged human male, the other a beautiful elven woman. They were terrorists and seditionists, and the Blackcloaks wanted the two arrested (and, likely, executed shortly thereafter). None of the heroes recognized the figures, but Kelsier promised to let the Blackcloaks know if they did. The two young knights thanked the heroes, and then began the process of trying to drag an unconscious ogre to prison.

    Jack was eager to head to the Five Dragons Inn, where he had an appointment with the courtesan Dove, but as the heroes headed deeper into the city, a building near them exploded! A peasant, Jacob, bowled into the heroes seconds before the explosion, asking for their aid. He was a freedom fighter, and this warehouse was a Blackcloak munitions depot. Fearing retribution from the occupying army, he was hoping the heroes would protect him long enough to get to the Five Dragons Inn, where he would then disappear. Jacob promised to pay the heroes, which was enough to get Jack’s aid. Kelsier was more interested in handing Jacob over to the Blackcloaks, as they were the “law” in town. Jack managed to convince Kelsier that the promise of a reward was more important, so the group headed for the inn. Along the way, Kelsier noticed they were being followed. Calling out to their “shadows”, the group was greeted by two young teens. Jacob was their father, and they had been sent by their mother to take him home. Jack wanted his reward first.

    At the Inn, Jacob gave the heroes a star-jewel, an elven symbol that had been appropriated by the Graycloaks, freedom fighters operating throughout Valendia who were less concerned about politics, and more concerned with the good of the people. Ezarus was annoyed that humans would dare to use one of his peoples’ symbols. After giving them the star-jewel, Jacob explained that if they took it to the apothecary, they would be properly rewarded. Jack would have nothing of it. They would go, as a group, to the apothecary now. Jacob agreed, and led them to Old Omar’s Oddities. The half-orc owner, Klaudia, was a contact with the Graycloaks, and offered the group information on the order, telling them to head to Rannoch if they wanted to join. She also got to listen to a lecture from Ezarus on the use of elven symbols, despite her explanation that the star-jewel was chosen to represent unity between humans and elves, because of the half-elven founder of the order (herself a representation of the unity between humans and elves). As thanks for helping Jacob, she gave the group some gold, as well as a suit of finely crafted chain, and a finely crafted longsword.

    Returning to the inn and buying rooms, Jack took Dove up to his, where he had a religious experience. He dreamt of a bacchanalia, and of the horned god Damh. Elsewhere in the Inn, Ezarus was having his own dreams of the Seelie Court, and of Ceibhfhionn’s Well of Knowledge. The two awoke with the ability to cast divine spells, something the Cabal claimed was impossible.

    Awakening the next morning, Jack wanted to head to the Bazaar, wanting to sell some of the equipment they had found, and to purchase a new blade for himself. Jayna still wanted to return to the Slaughtered Prince to let Sullivan know she was safe, but was willing to follow the heroes. She did owe them her life after all. Dove escorted the group through town, giving them what information she knew. Before they could reach the bazaar, a nearby sewer vent exploded, hitting Hasdrubal with scalding water. A swarm of rats escaped the surging water, seeking fresh meat. Together Jack and Kelsier massacred the rats. Long would tales be told of the mighty Ratsbane brothers.

    Ezarus, inspecting the sewer vent, explained that it exploded because poor ventilation, and then launched into a discourse on proper sewer design, and all the various ways that Palavan’s sewers were not up to code. At the bazaar, the heroes met the weaponsmith Blackaxe. Jack sought to sell equipment, but was interrupted by Ezarus who wasn’t quite finished lecturing the group on the sewer system. Hasdrubal dealt with Blackaxe, convincing the dwarf to lower his prices, and purchase weapons and armour from the group at a reasonable price.

    Their business concluded, they headed for the Prince to help Jayna. Passing a darkened alley, they heard a scream. Their attention drawn to the alley they witnessed a figure in black kill an elven leper, before running off. Ezarus wanted to check on his fallen kin, yet concerned about rumours that the elves in Palavan were diseased. A cursory examination showed the elf was very dead (an acute case of being stabbed repeatedly). Moments later, a group of three other elven lepers emerged from the shadows, intent on avenging their fallen comrade, moving with a speed and grace that belied their supposed sickness.

    The group quickly explained their innocence, the elves apologizing for their initial anger, and asking the heroes to keep quiet. The elves were persecuted enough without drawing additional attention to themselves. They took their fallen friend and disappeared once more into the shadows.

    At the Prince, Jack left with Dove to pay off Blackbird while the rest of the group looked for Sullivan. The troubadour was nowhere to be found, the bartender explaining he disappeared quickly in the night, the Blackcloaks coming in to look for him shortly after. An old man by the fire beckoned the group over, telling them of a great and terrible destiny he foresaw for them. His prophecy revealed, he seemed confused by the presence of the group, wondering if they had ever met before.

    Jayna implored the group’s aid in searching for Sullivan, concerned he was only in danger because of her. Unsure of where to go, the group figured the Graycloaks might be able to help. Moving to leave the Prince, they were confronted by a corpulent beast of a man, recognizing them from the night before. Branding the group “Whitecloak lovers”, he shoved Kelsier, starting a second riot in the bar in so many nights. During the scuffle, the man fell into the fire, being burned badly. Jayna used her magic to heal him, but the crowd turned on her. She was a witch. She must have cast a spell of fire on their friend Hederick. She should burn for her black magic!

    The crowd pushed the heroes outside, alternating calls for the watch, and to burn the witch. The group thought quickly, pushing through the crowd as they headed for the alley they had encountered the elves in, hoping the elves would be able to offer sanctuary. They ran through the streets, the horns of the Blackcloaks sounding louder and louder, the watch getting closer and closer.

    From the shadows, an elf appeared, beckoning the heroes to follow him. An explosion in the distance went off, the elf explaining that it was a distraction from friends, and they should not squander this chance to escape. He cloaked the group in an invisibility circle, and led them to another part of the city. They had been summoned by “Shaylin”, an opportunity not afforded to all. Opening a secret entrance to the sewers, he told them to head south, and to look for an elven sigil. Ezarus recognized it. The symbol read ael ura ki in the Arlathan tongue. “The path is clear”.

    Descending to the sewers, the two mages cast spells of light, illuminating their path as they progressed south. Attacked by dire rats, the heroes made quick work of them, but Kelsier had been bitten. Jayna explained he had filth fever, but that it was easily treatable with a couple night’s rest. Moving south as far as they could, the heroes met a dead end, but there carved into the wall was the elven sigil they were looking for.

    End Session 2.

  4. #4

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    Session 3, in which the heroes learn of their great destiny, head for a forsaken temple, and meet returning orc invaders.

    Speaking ael ura ki, the heroes opened the secret door, entering the sewer home of the elves. Looking at the shanty town, it was evident that the elves weren’t just pretending to be lepers; there was an actual sickness among them, and it appeared nothing could be done to help them. Shaylin Moonborn, the elven leader, greeted the heroes, welcoming them to her tent. She had an almost angelic radiance about her, as well as a great sadness in her eyes. She began to explain why she had summoned the heroes: she had been having dreams, dreams she couldn’t remember, but which she knew involved them. Then she slipped into a trance, drawing cards from her fortune deck as she spoke.

    “You must hurry...the winds carry the voices of many spirits, and they are crying for help. You must keep the Forest’s Heart safe, otherwise all will be lost.” Shaylin’s voice was a soft monotone, almost as if she were chanting. “In the temple of the forsaken, you must find the Dawn Shard. It shall lead you on the path you have been chosen to walk.”

    Jack scoffed at the idea of “destiny”. Shaylin tried to explain the vision she had just had. Near as she knew, the Forest’s Heart referred to a staff cut from a heartwood tree at the centre of the Witchwood. In fact, Jayna carried such a staff and handed it to Ezarus, hoping it would help. The temple of the forsaken, she explained, was likely the ruins of Kal-Sharok. A temple city to the Seelie Court, it had been destroyed by an earthquake centuries ago. Proof, the Cabal claimed, that the gods didn’t exist. The final part of her vision involved the Dawn Shard. Millennia ago, when the Morning War ended, the All-Father cut three shards from the sun and gifted it to the mortal races. To the humans on the plains he gave the Dawn Shard. To the elves in the forests, the Midlight Shard. To the dwarves, in the mountains, the Dusk Shard. Each were promises that the Seelie Court would never wage a war that would threaten the world. Of course the three shards of light were mythical artifacts that had been lost ages ago, if they ever existed. Yet this was the “destiny”.

    Shaylin gifted the heroes with a map of the nearby area, showing them the path to Kal-Sharok as she bid them goodbye. They thanked her for her help, and prepared to leave the sewers through a secret exit to the surface. As the elves led the heroes out, they came upon a group of goblins rummaging through sewer refuse. The battle was over quickly, Kelsier and Jack making quick work of the goblins. The heroes searched through the refuse, recovering a fair amount of coin. It seemed lots of people lost silver and gold to the sewers.

    Reaching the surface, the heroes breathed in the fresh air. It was good to be out in the open once more. The plains of Valendia stretched before them. Marching across the open plains, they could see a Plainsman in the distance running towards them. Close behind the Plainsman were four cloaked figures, taunting the exhausted barbarian. Orcs. Jack drew his sword and charged forward. What fun, the orcs thought, as they rushed for the mercenary. Calling upon his god, Jack used divine magic to double in size, using his increased size and stretch to cleave through three of the four orcs. The fourth quickly fell as well.

    The Plainsman, Nightshade, thanked the heroes for their help. His village, Iceni, had been captured by an invading orc army. At long last the orcs had returned to Valendia. Speaking with Nightshade, the heroes learned that the orcs were searching for the heartwood staff. Apparently it was of some importance. Telling the heroes all he knew, Nightshade bid them farewell, resting momentarily before he headed to the village of Caerini. The heroes also left, continuing their march towards Kal-Sharok.

    As the sun set on their first day of travel, a dreaded landshark burst from the ground. Kelsier ran forward, pummelling the bulette with a number of lucky blows. Still the beast stood, biting into the hero. It seemed the stories of the creature were true: it was truly a terrible enemy. Thankfully, Ezarus’ divine healing was able to keep Kelsier and Jack standing, and the beast fell. This seemed like a good time to camp, the heroes moving away from the beast’s corpse before setting up camp for the night.

    With the new day, they continued forward. Reaching Caerini, they found the village in ruins. Tents had been razed, carrion birds flying overhead. In the centre of town, a crude gallows had been built upon which three charred orc corpses hung. Above them hung a sign, with a warning written in the orc language: any servant of General Delacroix who disobeyed orders or showed cowardice would suffer a similar fate to these three.

    There was nothing the heroes could do for the town, as the Plainsmen were already dead, so the heroes followed the orc tracks east towards Kal-Sharok. Near the cursed swamp, they happened upon the ruins of an old dwarven fortress. There, three owlbears decided the heroes looked mighty tasty. The combined might of the heroes proved to be too much for the creatures. Continuing forward, the path descended into water. Wading carefully, the heroes disturbed a resting hydra, the creature hissing as it attacked.

    Jack struck true with his blade, and though the creature should have fallen, it rose again, biting at Jack and Kelsier with its many heads. Jack began chopping the heads of the creature off, unaware that they would quickly regrew. Kelsier struck the beast with his Five Point Exploding Heart technique, the hydra’s heart exploding within its chest as it fell.

    The water receded slightly as the heroes saw the swamp of Kal-Sharok before them. The area was dotted with small islands, rope bridges stretching between each island. Tracks suggested orcs had been through a few hours earlier. Kelsier easily moved to the next island, but the others weren’t quite as nimble. Jack fell into the water, accidentally gulping the fetid water. Fortunately his constitution was hardy, and he didn’t get sick. Hasdrubal considered his options and rather than risk falling into the water, he summoned a floating disk, letting Kelsier pull him across. Ezarus and Jack liked that idea, and so Kelsier began jumping back and forth between islands, pulling the others forward. He was not impressed with the idea of being their pack mule…

    End Session 3.

  5. #5
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    Nice work. Besides Key of Destiny, I see elements of Dragons of Autumn in there too.
    I, Magus

    "However, when it comes to the heroes, the player characters and their opponents, Krynn has the same level of magic as the Realms or Greyhawk." - Cam Banks

  6. #6

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    Thanks. And you are correct, thought I'd change things up a little and throw in some other DL elements. I'm looking forward to them meeting Onyx

  7. #7

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    Session 4, in which the heroes trek through a cursed swamp, fight the invading orcs, and get ever closer to the ruined temple.

    Thick vines, woven into strong ropes, stretched like long spiderweb between two sections of land within the Cursed Swamp. Coming upon a fallen ironclaw tree, the heroes were greeted by a patrol of orc elite guards. Intending on capturing the invaders, the orcs repeatedly assailed the heroes with web and deep slumber. Kelsier was taken out of most of the battle, but Jack repeatedly shrugged off the spells. Hasdrubal also found himself captured by the webs. Ezarus cast invisibility upon himself and vanished for most of the fight, moving around and waking up his companions. Proving himself a thorn in the side of the orcs, they changed tactics, and began casting burning hands in an attempt to catch the invisible elf in the spray of flame. Eventually, Jack and Kelsier were able to slaughter the orc sorcerers.

    Heading deeper into the cursed swamp, the heroes began crossing a rickety bridge guarded by two orc berserkers. Hasdrubal blasted the orcs with colour spray, allowing Jack to effortlessly execute them.

    The swamp waters receded as the heroes at last reached solid land. Creeping through jungle, they could see an orc encampment up ahead. Massive ruins rose from the jungle undergrowth. Small broken towers pierced the cover of trees with their jagged points. Ferns and bushes sprouted through the flagstones in a plaza surrounded by small shacks and lean-tos. A huge bonfire blazed at the far north side of the open square. Beyond the fire, set in the remaining half-shell of a crumbled dome, a huge winged lizard stood, its wings outstretched to blot out any sunlight which fought its way through the thick jungle canopy.

    The huge wicker idol could only be one thing: a dragon. Yet, dragons had been hunted to extinction a thousand years earlier. The heroes hid and listened, while an orc priest led a number of soldiers in prayer extolling the virtues of the Dark Queen, Sarya, and how she was going to lead the orcs in conquest of the human lands.

    Gripping his staff, Birchcore, tightly, Hasdrubal cast fireball, instantly incinerating most of the gathered orc soldiers. Angered, the orc priest summoned a wall of fire, splitting the party in two. On one side of the wall, Kelsier stood alone, while his companions were trapped on the other side. The two remaining orc soldiers charged forward, cutting deeply into the lone monk with their great axes. They felled him quickly. Hasdrubal used his magic to protect the party from fire as Jack rushed through the wall. The flames still stung, but his protection paid off. Surprising the two soldiers he dropped one, then cleaved into the other. Only the priest remained.

    Ezarus rushed through the wall as well, using his divine magic to heal Kelsier’s wounds. Together the two melee combatants flanked the orc priest. Casting blink upon himself, the priest smiled as the attacks of the fighters failed, striking just as he passed between the physical world and the ethereal. The priest’s smile quickly turned to laughter. Hideous laughter. While the priest was consumed with laughter, Jack struck again. The odds were in his favour as his blows struck true, and quick work was made of the heathen priest.

    Thoroughly exhausted from their repeated battles, the heroes looked for a place to rest. Finding a suitable location, they made camp. Just as they were preparing to pack up, they were ambushed by a chuul.

    End Session 4.
    Last edited by Tzadkiel; 04-19-2012 at 10:51 AM.

  8. #8

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    Session 5, in which the heroes flee from a dragon, befriend a goblin, and descend into the depths of Kal-Sharok.

    Ambushed by a ravenous chuul, the party quickly broke camp and attacked. Ezarus enlarged Kelsier, making the monk a tasty treat for the chuul. Paralyzed by the secretions of the chuul’s tentacle maw, the hapless monk was taken out of the fight. Jack stepped up, drawing the chuul’s attention, while Hasdrubal kept the creature stunned with bursts of colour spray. Jack’s Duskblade cut deep, making quick work of the stunned creature.

    Inspecting the area, the heroes came across the ruins of a tower. While the wooden floor had long since rotted away, the stone steps remained. A once more mobile Kelsier climbed the tower, checking out the area. Seeing the ruins of several buildings ahead, Kelsier directed his comrades forward. Crossing a large plaza, the group encountered a large well. Suddenly a large winged reptile burst from the well, hovering above the heroes. It looked to be a dragon, but that was impossible. Dragons had been hunted to extinction a thousand years earlier. Yet, this seemed to be a dragon. The creature cast darkness upon the area, but Ezarus quickly countered it. Calling out shirak, his Staff of the Morrigan illuminated the area with a daylight spell. The creature them loosed its acid breath on Jack. Just as quickly as the creature appeared, it disappeared back into the well.

    During the battle, a frightened Kelsier had run off, into a building on the other side of the plaza. His comrades joined him once the creature was gone, and they found themselves within a temple of Brighid, ancient goddess of healing. Entering the temple, which had miraculously weathered the destruction of Kal-Sharok, the heroes came upon a beautiful statue of the goddess, her hands outstretched as if they once held a thin pole. Beneath the statue, an altar rested, and in front of the altar lay the bones of a priest. Checking out the temple, the heroes found some orc looters, effortlessly dispatching them. They also found the corpse of a half-elven adventurer. The wounds on the elf made it obvious he had run afoul of the orcs.

    Seeing no obvious path out of the temple, the heroes placed the Heart of the Forest in the statue’s hands. The statue closed its hands around the staff, and the grinding of stone against stone could be heard nearby. Investigating, the heroes found stairs descending in the depths of the temple - stairs that were not there previously. Descending, the heroes found themselves in the temple’s crypts - but the area had clearly been looted long ago. The floor of the crypt had collapsed, exposing much of the chamber to the depths of darkness.

    Moving into a side passageway, the heroes came upon a number of goblins being ordered about by two orc taskmasters. Ezarus cast invisibility upon Kelsier, the silent monk investigating. It seemed that the orcs had a system set up using two large pots on chains to form a crude elevator system. The goblin slaves were ballast. Intending on killing the orcs, the heroes moved among the goblins. One of them, a young goblin woman named Bupu, skeptically looked at the heroes. There was no way they would be allowed to ride the elevator into the depths of the ruins. Hasdrubal showed the young goblin kindness, and Bupu responded, offering to show the heroes a secret passageway deeper into Kal-Sharok. Taking the group through side corridors, she led them to a sewer tunnel. Thanking her for her assistance, the group parted ways with Bupu, entering the tunnel.

    Emerging in the ruins of an upside down room, the heroes were attacked by a large spider. One mighty blow of Jack’s sword felled the beast, and they were free to investigate the rest of the area. They found themselves in the upside down ruins of an inn, the spectres of the inn’s patrons still carrying about their business as if they still lived. Hasdrubal and Ezarus figured that if they ignored the spectres, the spectres would ignore them. Leaving the inn, they found a small library. A treasure trove of information, the scholars of the group were saddened to discover that the books were so old that they disintegrated on touch.

    At the back of the library, the spirit of a researcher worked. Seeing the heroes, the spirit explained that he was bound to the ruins until he answered the question of a mortal. The heroes discussed amongst themselves and decided to inquire as to the location of the dawn shard. The spirit gave them detailed directions, but cautioned the heroes that they would have to fight for the shard. Then, the spirit faded. Following the spirit’s directions, they headed towards a nearby waterfall, making a quick stop to investigate the ruins of a treasury. Within the treasury, the spirit of a banker declared that Jack was three hundred years late on paying his taxes, and demanded immediate payment in an ancient, and quite worthless, currency.

    A quick fight against the spirits of the bank guards ensued, by the spirits fell to the might of Jack and Kelsier. Checking out the rest of the bank, Hasdrubal discovered a dimensional door, teleported elsewhere in Kal-Sharok. Realizing the door was permanent on each end, he teleported back to the group. The four heroes followed him through, finding a shortcut that led them to the base of the waterfall, ensuring they would not need to try climbing down it.

    Moving deeper into the ruins, the heroes entered a large plaza. At the far end were a number of goblins, cowering before an orc priest, and the mighty winged lizard. The orc referred to her only as “The Lady”, but it was clear that she was a dragon. He commanded the goblins to find an escaped prisoner. As the goblins ran off, the Lady looked about, as if she sensed the presence of the heroes. Instead, she flew away. The plaza now empty, the heroes followed the path they had been directed to follow - also the path the dragon had flown down.

    End Session 5.

  9. #9

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    Session 6, in which the heroes fight Khisanth, escape Kal-Sharok, and cross the Valendian Steppes.

    Broad steps led from the great plaza to a pillared courtyard. All of the pillars were cracked; some were shattered. The pillars left upright supported a sagging stone roof. A large archway led into a huge dark room to the east. At the back of the courtyard, a set of steel doors, streaked with mildew and rust, stood closed. The heroes checked out the large dark room first. Tremendous, forty-foot high statues of humans, dwarves, and elves wearing opulent clothing and jewelry stood along the north and south walls of this corridor. They were ancient rulers and nobility of the city of Kal-Sharok, from its glory years before the earth cracked and brought all to ruin. Their deeply carved features were masked in shadows, but their gaze seemed to follow the heroes. Hasdrubal and Ezarus determined there was no magic at work here. While the chamber continued into another room, Jack wanted to know what was behind the rusted doors.

    With a mighty push, rusted metal cracked, and the large door opened, revealing a long corridor, ending in another set of doors. The heroes marched down the hall, but thirty-five feet from the end of the hallway, Jack heard a “click” as he stepped on a pressure plate. The click was followed by a loud gong as the alarm trap was sprung. He charged towards the doors at the end of the hall, but mere feet before he reached the doors, they flew open. There stood Khisanth, a mighty black dragon.

    Khisanth roared, Jack shaken with fear. She breathed deep, loosing a line of acid down the chamber. All four heroes were struck by the acid. Only Jack and Hasdrubal remained standing. As Jack stood before the terrible creature, a voice spoke in his head. “Have courage. Present your faith boldly, strike the dragon, and all will be well.”

    Jack knew the voice. Damh. The hero felt inspired by his deity, but was also keenly aware that Ezarus and Kelsier were dying, Jack fell back towards his comrades. He attempted to channel divine energy to heal his comrades when something unexpected happened. An explosion of holy light filled the chamber. Hasdrubal, the only other person standing, was blinded momentarily. When the light faded, Hasdrubal stood alone. Khisanth, fearsome black dragon, was but a pile of ash. So too was Jack. Kelsier and Ezarus stirred, unsure of what had just happened.

    The explosion seemed to destabilize the ruins, as the ceiling threatened to crash in on them. In the distance, the heroes could hear the sound of rushing water. Time was of the essence, and they needed to escape. In the dragon’s lair, the heroes could see an altar to Saibhreas. On the altar rested a skeleton dressed in tattered black robes. A crystalline blade pierced the skeleton’s back, shining with an inner light. The Dawn Shard. The surviving heroes rushed quickly, grabbing the shard, and a quick handfuls of loot (among them, a spell book once used by the ancient and terrible archmage Gareth) before fleeing the chamber, and the ruined city.

    Their path was clear, orcs running about in terror. Word had spread, the dragon was dead, and the invading army feared anything powerful enough to destroy the creature. The sight of these proverbial rats deserting the sinking ship hastened the heroes in their desire to escape the crumbling ruins.

    Returning to the Temple of Brighid above ground, the heroes were surprised to find the stirring form of Jack, perfectly healed of any injuries, yet having no memory of what had transpired. Reunited, they left the temple, returning to fresh air (or at least as fresh as swamp air can be). Behind them, an apparition appeared, bearing the symbols of the goddess Andraste.

    You have found it,” the apparition spoke. “You must hurry, for the sands of time are slipping away swiftly...the shard of dawn is a key, a key that will allow you to find what you seek in the ruins of a city that once felt no fear, but now lies beneath a shadow of death…”. Then the apparition vanished into the ruins.

    The only “fearless city” the heroes could think of was Nabreus. Once, a temple city to Andraste, it was called The City of Courage. It had not been called that in a century, though, not since the gods disappeared and the Nabreans turned from worship of Andraste to following the teachings of the Cabal. The heroes were also surprised by the spectre’s calling Nabreus a “ruined city”. Nabreus was quite well known as a trade city, fostering trade between Valendia and Arkoshia.

    If they wanted answers, they knew they’d have to travel southwest, crossing the Valendian Steppes, reaching the Tsigiri city of Rannoch, and then booking passage for Nabreus Island. Crossing the Steppes, the heroes encountered, and quickly slew, a gorgon. A flight of giant eagles was also made quick work of. The only other encounter of note, was a lost elven family. Refugees from occupied Arlathan, they sought relatives in Rannoch, but had attempted to cross the Steppes without sufficient supplies. Ezarus created water for the refugees, using his curative magic to aid a young child in critical condition. The elves were grateful, and asked to travel the rest of the way to Rannoch with the group, promising compensation once they arrived in the city.

    Rannoch was a coastal city of trade, rebuilt after the occupation by the Zorah tribe of Tsigiri plainsmen. The Voivode of Rannoch, Rael Zorah, was a cunning man. While not officially part of Valendia, the city was protected by Graycloaks. Graycloak guards patrolled the main gate into the city, asking travellers for identification. Seeing the twenty foot wall surrounding the city, Kelsier decided that he might like to leap over the wall. He effortlessly cleared the wall, landing on the other side, but drawing the attention of the guards.

    They took him to their command centre, where Kelsier introduced himself to Lionel uth Dartan, the second-in-command of the Graycloaks in Rannoch. Kelsier name-dropped Klaudia Lorn, changing Lionel’s attitude to be more helpful. The heroes asked basic questions about the city, Ezarus most interested in finding a mage tower. They also got the name of a ship captain: Lothar Claes, formerly of the Narwhal, but now commanding the Swift Arrow.

    Thanking the knight for his help, the heroes accompanied Ezarus to the mage tower of Rannoch-Tor, operated by Cabal-sanctioned wizard Zoë Left-Hand. Ezarus worked out a deal with Zoë to trade her some bracers of armour in exchange for some scrolls.

    Elsewhere in Rannoch, the heroes found a crying child. Kelsier cared nothing for the mewling child, but the others took pity on her. Hasdrubal was able to calm her down enough to learn that she was Neisme Zorah, the youngest daughter of the Voivode. She had snuck away from her guards to play, but was now lost. The heroes returned her home, the guards thankful for her return, and welcoming them.

    Chatomi Zorah, eldest daughter of the Voivode, thanked the heroes, offering them free room and board in any of Rannoch’s taverns for the week, as well as offering a writ of 20% off the boarding fee of sailing with Captain Turin Khima of the Perinchief.

    With a week in town paid for, Ezarus took the time to craft wondrous items for his companions.

    End Session 6.

    Next session: The party will travel to a region inspired by the classic Hickman adventure I6.

  10. #10

    Default

    Session 7, in which the zombie apocalypse occurs.

    While Ezarus spent most of the week in Rannoch crafting magic items, Jack spent most of the week drinking and whoring. While wandering the town at night with Kelsier and Hasdrubal, the trio had a body fall in front of them. From a second story window. The body was that a foreigner, perhaps an aristocrat from the northern kingdoms, his throat cut. Kelsier’s keen gaze saw an assassin dart from the window. Moments later, the party was surrounded by cloaked assassins. “You are unfortunate,” one of the assassins spoke. “None may see our work and live to tell of it. Here in the dark, we dance in Agron’s avenging light.”

    Before any blood was shed, Chatomi Zorah stepped from the shadows. She was aware of what the party was capable of, and had no desire to see anyone die needlessly. The foreigner, she explained, was selling her father’s secrets to the Blackcloaks and needed to be eliminated. She was willing to pretend her assassins, the Silver Shadows, hadn’t seen the party, if they were willing to pretend they hadn’t seen her. That and fifty gold was enough for Jack, who left to continue drinking and whoring.

    Kelsier spent the next few days trying to learn if Chatomi’s story was true. While he couldn’t be certain, it was true that there were Blackcloak spies throughout the town. Perhaps her story of political assassination was accurate after all.

    When Ezarus was finished crafting, the heroes headed for the docks to book passage to Nabreus. Both the Graycloaks and Chatomi had provided them with the names of captains, but Chatomi had also given them a writ promising a discount on their fare. They decided to try to book passage on the Perinchief, but a week of partying had left them short on funds.

    As they considered their options, they were stopped by a robed scholar. He introduced himself as Richter, a Cabal scholar. The Cabal had received a letter from Nabreus’ bürgermeister, Kolyan Indirovich, looking for help. Witches from Lysaga Hill had cursed Ireena Kolyana, and no one in town had the means to help her. Kolyan promised great wealth to any who could help Ireena.

    Richter, not being suited for field work, was hoping the heroes would serve as bodyguards while he investigated matters. He promised them their share of the reward, as well as access to any Cabal research library they might wish to visit. He also promised to pay their fare to Nabreus.

    Jack, still drunk, was surly and uncooperative, but the others were able to convince him that this seemed like a good deal. At first light, the Perinchief set sail for Nabreus. The trip was rough, the seas choppy. As the ship neared Nabreus, all aboard became aware of an eerie silence. Nabreus came into view, and instead of the bustling port, they saw two ships listing in dock, no crews visible.

    The captain dropped anchor, sensing an ill omen. He was willing to let the heroes take a life boat to investigate, but he refused to dock. He would wait one day for news, otherwise he was returning to Rannoch. The party took a boat and rowed towards the dock. Nearing the listing ships, they could see blood stains on the deck. They docked, securing their boat, as they went to check on the ships.

    Nearing the ships, they were assaulted by a stench of decay and the sea. They found the bodies of several dead sailors, and just beyond them a group of barnacle-encrusted corpses, dripping water and gripping great axes. Draugr.

    Immediately, Richter let loose with two alchemical flare bolts from his crossbow. Both bolts landed centre mass. It was evident that the researcher had some combat training. Hasdrubal summoned an extra-dimensional spike pit trap underneath the draugr, dropping them fifty feet and effortlessly killing them.

    The battle over, Richter than re-introduced himself. He was an Inquisitor for the Cabal. He was also well aware that he was traveling with apostate mages and heretic priests. As a representative of the King, he was well within his power to arrest all of them. Instead, Richter presented the group with a new deal: they would help him investigate what was going on in Nabreus, and in exchange he would give them a writ identifying themselves as friends of the Cabal. Just in case they encountered less accommodating inquisitors. Kelsier accepted the deal. He was also the only person in the party that was neither an apostate mage nor a heretic priest (unlike Ezarus who was both).

    The group then investigated the ships in dock, but found nothing of interest. Foodstuffs aboard wasn’t quite rotten, suggesting that whatever happened here, it was recent. Blood stains suggested someone was crawling away, quickly. Otherwise, the ships were bare of any useful evidence. Heading towards the town itself, the heroes could hear faint groaning echoing in the distance.

    Entering the town itself, they came across an overturned cart. More importantly, Kelsier noticed the crouched figures behind the cart, feasting upon a corpse. The dead had risen and were stalking the streets of Nabreus. The walkers were fast, faster than Jack was expecting, and he quickly found himself surrounded.

    Two infected wolves rushed to attack Kelsier, diseased jaws snapping at the monk. With a flurry of blows, Kelsier dropped the wolves, while Jack cleaved through the walkers. With the risen dead now dead once more, Jack checked to make sure he hadn’t been bit. He was fine, but eyed his companions cautiously.

    The party moved forward cautiously, making sure no walkers could circle around them. They checked out the nearby buildings, but most were burned out husks, doors barricaded, anything of interest already looted. Further into the town, they stumbled upon a mixed group of wights and walkers. One of the wights spewed black mist at Jack, blinding him momentarily. These corpses were also quickly dispatched, but this time Jack had been bitten. He said nothing, not knowing if he would become one of these creatures or not.

    Reaching the town square, they saw barricades set up forming a perimeter around the square. The barricade blocking the direction they were coming from had been broken down, and walkers were assaulting an armoured human female. She called upon the Light, scorching the creatures with sacred energy. Ezarus cast fly, taking to the sky as he followed it up with a prayer. Jack continued to destroy walkers with the dawn shard, the relic’s holy powers making quick work of any undead it touched. Hasdrubal was less lucky. A revenant in the square screamed, the wizard cowering in fear. Once Jack got close to the revenant, it too quickly fell to his holy sword.

    The battle over, the woman thanked them for their help. Her name was Ashlyn. She was a member of the Brotherhood of Light, undead hunters, who had come to Nabreus seeking the Sword of Andraste, a legendary blade said to have power over creatures who feared light. It had been lost for some time, but her research suggested it was somewhere on the island. Richter cooly addressed her as “heretic”, while she likewise addressed him as “fanatic”. Despite their differences, both agreed there were more pressing matters to attend to.

    Ashlyn had been traveling with two companions, but they had left to investigate the town’s temple. The townspeople seemed to think that the temple was the source of the necromantic infection. The townspeople also suggested speaking to Oracles outside of town, but the other Brotherhood members (Thendrick and Mathilda) had ignored that advice. It had been three days, and Ashlyn hadn’t seen them since.

    She was willing to accompany the heroes to the Oracles, if they would help end the infection plaguing Nabreus. Together the group fortified the barricades defending the town square. They also entered the Blood on the Vine tavern, wanting to tell the survivors within that they would be on their own for a few hours. The barkeep, Arik, suggested the heroes speak with Ismark the Lesser, the son of Kolyan Indirovich.

    Ismark explained the infection had started after the town Cabal sister, Katja, had lost her husband to brigands. She vanished, and the walkers arose. Without her vigil over the town, evil arose. Dark days were coming, and if the infection wasn’t stopped soon, everyone in town would be dead soon.

    Ismark also revealed that the letter the Cabal had been sent was not in Kolyan’s handwriting. Alas, Kolyan was dead - poisoned by the master of the castle beyond the forest. The Beast, Keldor, had been driven away by the Shield of Andraste, a powerful amulet. For turning away Keldor, Kolyan paid with his life. Now, Ismark’s sister Ireena kept herself confined to the bürgermeister’s home, watching over her father’s body to ensure it would not rise.

    If the heroes wanted more information, they should speak to the Oracles. They were wiser than anyone else in town.

    The party agreed, and left Nabreus for the Tsigiri encampment in the woods. There, the human and halfling Tsigiri directed them to one of the Oracles. Sorrow, a raven-haired fortune teller, explained that her sisters Mourn and Lament were elsewhere. She was also prepared to give the heroes a reading. She drew cards based on the questions. For Keldor she drew the Devil. For Nabreus, Death. For the Sword of Andraste, she drew the Sun. For the Shield of Andraste, she drew the High Priestess.

    As she drew a covering card for Keldor, she explained that the master of the castle was a powerful man whose enemy was light and whose powers were beyond mortality. The heroes would seek him in the castle, and thought he might find them many times, they would find him only once. The card was the Seven of Swords. Sorrow explained they would find him when three servants of Hell were slain, in the place of their gathering. A spawn of Hell had come to the top of one of the castle’s towers, and she was served by an unholy trio. Yet, there was a good influence in this place, and the heroes would strike true and hard.

    Next she drew a crossing card. The Ten of Wands. Out of darkness and chaos, this card found its reason and foundation. It showed the purpose of all things - the key to life and death and else beyond. Darkness desired a light; death desired warmth from the living. Yet, the darkness feared a greater dark, and it would strike out against those who would replace it. Sorrow explained that the lord of the castle sought a lady to reign beside him, but feared rebellion from his subjects.

    She then turned to the Sun card, telling the heroes that they sought a blade of light, a weapon for vengeance. She drew the covering card, the Four of Cups. The sword would be found where paths cross and the damned lie buried. The sword’s light lay sleeping, and as Sorrow drew a crossing card, the Five of Cups, she explained that to wake the blade, they must bring it to join the ancient lore of the castle. The castle’s library would be a place of warmth, wisdom, and despair.

    Addressing the High Priestess card, Sorrow told the heroes that the missing amulet was a powerful force of good and protection against the powers of darkness. She drew the Six of Coins. The amulet could be found in a place of commerce. The card spoke of money changing hands. She then drew the Six of Swords. The holiness of the amulet waited for hands of holiness to touch it once more. But that would not be enough to bring its power back to life. She saw a blazing fire protecting the place where the lord hid his wealth. There, the power of the amulet would be awakened.

    Sorrow then addressed the final card. Nabreus. Death. Death walked the streets of Nabreus. Death would lead to death, all stemming from a first death. The Seven of Cups. By putting an end to the blasphemy of the death that refused to die, the plague would cease. She drew a final card, the Three of Coins. To end the plague, they must end its source - the temple - which had been desecrated.

    End Session 7.

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