A Garden of War

A Race to Serpent's Pass!
Campaign: A Rumor of Hope

ARaceToSerpentsPass.jpg

The heroes race against time across Ferron’s Gauntlet!

The 17th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • After the defeat of the collosal Titan Centipede, the party healed up and continued examining the immediate area. First they took a closer look at the mosaic of the Orc-King’s Conquest that clung to the domed ceiling of his mausoleum.
  • The mosaic depicted the Orc-king leading a massive army over mountains, across plains, and through blizzards. At one point, he even appears to ask dragons to fly his army across the sea, and they did. The last frames of the mosaic show the orc-king slaying a human king who’s head was adorned with an impressive crown that seemed to shed it’s own light. The final image is of the orc-king turned to his army and his enemies subjects, holding the crown above his head in victory.
  • Bronn noticed something very odd about the mosaic. Where at first he thought the image was depicting the moon multiple times, he began to wonder if it was in fact showing two different moons. The closer he looked, the more convinced he became. One of the moons clearly resembled Calune’s Aegis, but the other appeared entirely foreign to him.
  • Learning all they could from the mausoleum, the party next turned their focus on tracking down the strange troglodyte that tried to warn of the centipede’s approach. And so Bronn took the lead, and though tracking on what was largely hard stone proved challenging, the dwarf was able to follow the trog’s movements to a low crack in a ceiling a quarter-mile from the bereft orc-king’s resting place.
  • Crawling on their hands and knees to get through, the party entered into a large room that they soon realized used to be a city square. The walls were half-fallen buildings that seemed to be supporting the mountains above them. The room was filled with a glowing light provided by iridescent mushrooms, that littered the floors and low walls of the space. Narrow paths cut between the fungi, and on one such path stood a frightened looking trog, the same one that had warned them judging from his thready garb.
  • The troglodyte threatened the party, which was both hollow and intimidating. It spoke in extremely broken draconic, such that even Farius and Colya who were trained in the tongue had trouble making out his words. Still, they were able to communicate, albeit clumsily. At first they tried diplomacy, but they either chose the wrong words, or their meaning was lost in translation. The trog threatened them again, to which Farius returned with a threat of his own. It seemed the troglodyte understood that message loud and clear, and he threw down his spear and put up his hands. The group then slowly explained that they meant him know harm, they simply had questions for him. At this the trog seemed to warm up to the group, and he happily, yet dumbly, answered.
  • Between his grunts and nods, his gesturing and his emotions; from directed questions and inane ramblings, the party gleaned the following information.
  • The creatures name was Durbag, it’s lived here forever, or as long as it knows
  • Someone who resembled the party (a human) had been here recently, or as recent as Durbag could recall. He had no bearing on time, for he never saw the sky.
  • Colya shared a mental image of Archmage Eyzenore with Durbag, which he recognized. She was the one who had been here recently.
  • Durbag took the party to the place where he saw her. He returned them to the mausoleum.
  • He explained that a “gold man” was with her. She was bound. They searched the sarcophagus, the gold man got angry that something wasn’t there. Colya’s friend laughed at the gold man. The gold man beat Colya’s friend, then took the orc-king’s remains from the grave.
  • The group was floored by these revelations. If what Durbag recalled was true, the Archmage was brought here, conscious but against her will. She opened her own lock, but the thing the Gold Goblin sought wasn’t here. Perhaps the Archmage had planned for something like this, and moved the secret when she had first come here and created the lock.
  • The party offered for them to take Durbag to the outside, but he seemed to have no interest. This was his home. The party thanked the troglodyte for his help before he skittered off.

The 18th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • The group decided to take a half-day to search the lost city for valuables, which yielded six items (to be rolled later). Edra found a 7th item inside the belly of the centipede they had slain. They search had proved fruitful indeed! After eight hours of sleep the party awoke and headed out into the cold evening.

The 20th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • After the two day trek back to The Crossroads, the party finally reached their destination. It was the ninth hour of the evening when the party reunited with Orden at the headquarters. Though he was relieved to see the group returned safely, he was also screaming that they didn’t have time to chat. The Resistance had picked up that a meeting was taking place at midnight tonight between The Horde and several chieftains of tribes of cannibalistic barbarians from the Silver Strand. The meeting was to take place at the summit of Serpent’s Pass, over twenty miles away. Even hustled, they would be hard pressed to make their deadline if they left immediately. They saw no other choice and rode out at once!
  • They raced through forests, hills, and mountains as fast as their horses would push themselves. When not pressed for time, they would never travel by the highways, but now so pushed for time, they found themselves with no other choice. Though the roads were on constant Horde patrol, Asgirrithad was with them this night for they met no enemies along their hastened ride.
  • Finally they neared the summit, and dismounting, Edra snuck forward. She saw first two massive white wolves at the back of the horde pack. Between the wolves, half-a-dozen survivors stood. Edra noticed a few things about them: they seemed healthy compared to other captured survivors she had seen, and they all had blonde hair, which she shared in common with them. Edra knew that the Silver Strand cannibals treated fair-skinned, blonde haired humans as delicacies… these were here to smooth over negotiations with the barbarians. After the blondes came a pack of orcs, and towering over them, a frost giant! Beyond the giant, another ten or so barbarians stood. Edra had seen enough, and she approached the group shouting out at the giant. They shared heated words until Colya flung a fireball from the cliffside to kick off the combat.
  • The winter-wolves breaths were like blizzards, the frost-giants axefalls like thunder, but despite it all the party prevailed in the end!

XP Breakdown

Creature Name CR XP # XP
Understanding the Orc-King’s Conquest 1,000
Draconic Diplomacy (Roleplay with Durbag) 6,000
Racing to Serpent’s Pass! 3,000
Orc Sergents 2 600 6 3,600
Barbarian Raiders 2 600 4 2,400
Great Axe Fury 10 9,600 1 9,600
Cannibalistic Hunter 9 6,400 1 6,400
Blackscale Sorcerer 9 6,400 1 6,400
Winterwolf Worgs 5 1,600 2 3,200
Envoy to the Gold Goblin (Frost Giant Raider) 11 12,800 1 12,800
Subtotal 42,800 / 6
Total 8,800xp
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The Lost City of Gamor
Campaign: A Rumor of Hope

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“The architecture is from another time all together, it’s ancient beyond knowledge” -Bronn

The 14th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • Following the defeat of the goblin convoy, the party searched their persons and cargoes, and checked on the survivors at the back of the train. They all were in good enough health to make it back, so the survivors piled onto the carts, some took the reins, and with Hess at the head of the wagons, rode their spoils back to the hideout.
  • The group was greeted with the cheers of resistance fighters who awaited their return. Colya and Farius also greeted the group. Colya immediately recognized one of the rescued survivors, although he looked far different than Colya had ever seen him. She walked up to him and asked his name, Master Thadeus. His eyes turned bright and he smiled and embraced Colya. It was indeed Thadeus the Loremaster of Darthon. Colya asked him what happened at the school, and so he explained.
  • The City of Darthon was overrun so quickly that no one had time to prepare, the same story that everyone tells. Of course the school housed some of the most powerful wizards in the colonies. Those wizards did bring their power to bare against the might of the savage horde, but the horde pushed back. Like a tide that would not break, the horde came on through the night until their spells were spent. When they finally penetrated the schools defenses it fell quickly. Thadeus did everything he could to escape with his life. He saw faculty and students being slain, but many too he saw being captured. The horde put the school to flame but they saved the books. Whatever the horde was after, they sought knowledge in their fight.
  • Thadeus lamented the Archmage’s absence, if she were here they may have been able to stop the horde. He also suspected the Archmage’s absence could be tied to the uprising. Archmage Eyzenore disappeared three seasons ago, and the year at school had been dark and ominous since.
  • Thadeus then explained an encounter he had with Eyzenore two winters ago, when he had found what he believed to be the Lost City of Gamor. He was exhilarated with his find until also finding his further passage into the city blocked by an incredibly powerful arcane lock. When Thadeus brought this up to Eyzenore, she firmly ordered him never to return there, stating “Some secrets are left better uncovered, some knowledge ungained”. Thadeus suspected that the Archmage had been taken by the horde long before their attack. If they had broken Eyzenore’s mind, her knowledge could be used against the world in terrible ways. Together he and Colya supposed that they could learn a great deal from traveling to this Lost City to see if the Archmage’s lock remained in tact. Lastly, Colya cast share memory on the loremaster to see where the entrance to the Lost City was hidden.
  • In typical Bronn fashion, he immediately took to questioning the newly rescued survivors about the fate of Anchorfall. He was in luck to find that one of the survivors was indeed from the port city. Borris was a cobbler in Anchorfall, his shop was burned along with his belongings while he fled the city. Borris did have some lead on the prison, for he had seen it burning as he left the city. As he snuck through the streets to flee, he witnessed horde brutes capturing and even converting convicts to their fight. He supposed that if Burgermeister had been in the prison when it fell, if he is alive, there’s a good chance that he is now a mercenary of the savage horde. Bronn finally had a descent lead, albeit based on reasonable speculation.
  • The officers deliberated chose to make the two day ride to the Lost City, which Thadeus could give them directions to. Orden would stay behind to see oversee operations with Beliden while the rest of the officers went to investigate. First they would rest, and head out the next morning.

The 17th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • Upon nearing the location of the Lost City, Colya recalled the area and realized the loremaster’s memory was overlapping her experience in what felt like prolonged deja vu. Thus Colya was able to lead the party to a massive crack in the mountainside, where his vision ended. Here the party shimmied down the base of a steep crevase, traveling hundreds of feet into the mountain.
  • At last they came to a passageway in the cliff-face, a perfectly cut passage, ten feet square and hundreds of feet long, descending into darkness. Bronn and Colya knew it could have only been cut with magic. Above the passage were inert runes carved into the stone. They had found the Archmage’s door, and it had been unlocked!
  • The heroes made their way though the darkness, eventually emptying into a massive cave. Miles of ruined city stretched out before them, buildings toppled over and crushed by the mountains that stood above them. The party struggled to cross a large chasm, but eventually made it to the far side where only Farius’s pride damaged.
  • The party ascended a flight of steps into a large domed structure. At the middle, stood a stone sarcophagus. There was a likeness carved into the face of the sarcophagus, that of an orc king, complete with crown. Above them, a mosaic wrapped around the entirety of the round ceiling. The imagery seemed to be depicting an ancient orcish conquest, marching an army across the world to destroy a great human kingdom and steal their king’s crown. The party had stumbled upon the mausoleum of the First Orc-King Kul.
  • The heroes cast beneficial spells on themselves before finally pushing the cap off of the massive sarcophagus revealing… AN EMPTY CASKET! It appeared the orc-king’s resting place had been raided, and neither treasure nor remains were left behind.
  • From behind the party heard a voice, which Farius and Colya recognized to be speaking in a very broken Draconic. They turned to see a troglodyte hanging from a building-side. “RUN, SHE COMES, YOU EATEN!” was all they could make out. The trog then bolted from the scene, convinced that something was coming to kill them all.
  • From the depths of the mountain came a crescendo of tapping, at first nearly silent but soon thundering, as a collosal Titan Centipede climbed from the chasm, flanked by a pack of smaller, man-sized multi-legged insects. Edra felt a power she had only felt once before, when she faced off against a ringfall touched dire mountain leopard in her youth. Such a creature was terrifying enough without being touched by the gods, this one was truly dreadful.
  • Despite landing massive poisonous blows on the party, the mythical defenses of the titan centipede couldn’t stand up to the party’s full force, and they downed the beast in half-a-minute!

XP Breakdown

Creature Name CR XP # XP
“The door was unlocked…” 2,000
“…but the bridge wasn’t lowered.” 1,000
Whiptail Centipedes 3 600 4 2,400
Mythic Invincible Titan Centipede (MR2) 11 12,800 1 12,800
Subtotal 18,200 / 6
Total 3,033xp
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Heirs and Heretics
Campaign: A Rumor of Hope

HeirsandHeretics.jpg

Among the remains of the Crossroads ruined building, is the old Church of Illyra, Maiden of the Harvest; somehow demanding reverence even in ruin.

The 11th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • Having freed the prisoners from Fort Lobel and fled the scene in a hurry, the group traveled through the day and into the night to get back to the Crossroads. The party was happy to learn that they had saved Flukka’s son Edra, the fighter who was being whipped when they arrived. They immediately showed him to his mother on their arrival to the hideout. The adventurers rested easy that night knowing they had helped reunite a mother and son.

The 12th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • Orden called the officers for a meeting in the war room in the late morning. There Flukka also waited. Edra was ushered in a moment later, seeming to have been called for the same meeting. Orden told everyone to sit down, that Flukka had some things to say. He looked somewhat absent, as if he was pondering something profound.
  • Flukka proceeded to explain the unbelievable. She claimed to be the widow of the late Prince Ferron. When he was on his crusade fifteen years ago, his army had been snowed in and saved by her tribe, despite the fact that they rode for Ferron’s Oath against Savagery. In the weeks that they were snowed in together, Ferron grew to understand the errors of his ways, even going as far as to fall in love and wed a barbarian witch, though it no doubt helped that she was a beautiful, and the daughter of a powerful and respected chieftain. Many of Ferron’s followers disagreed strongly, and understandably, for Ferron was to be King of Gothrilad. Others felt that he was being coerced or even seduced by Flukka. Ferron never doubted his choice however, and neither did Flukka. When the winter broke Ferron rode to the Furthest Shore where he had planned to do ultimate battle with the barbarian paragon, half-giant Jarl Jornbruun. The two met alone, though instead of fighting they spoke, they connected, and they agreed to a truce, and a peace between colonists and natives. Ferron felt he had achieved his greatest feat yet, but again naysayers in his following existed. The following night a Ringfall event took place that killed the heir of Gothrilad. Ferron died that night so that Flukka might live. That his how she had been so terribly scarred. Though she was not the only one touched by Ringfall that night, for she also carried a child in her womb. That child was Edra, the lost heir of Gothrilad.
  • This all starkly contrasted the history of Ferron’s final days as the party knew them to be. Legend says that Ferron rode alone to the Furthest Shore where he slew Jarl Jornbruun. Though he had victory, the prince had been fatally wounded in the battle. In his dying hour he scribed Ferron’s Commandment in which he asked for his men to continue on his mission, his oath against savagery. He died a hero and for a great cause, at least according to colonists. Natives hate Ferron, for his commandment has been used to badger and abuse peaceful barbarians since the prince’s death. The Church of Daetheleor in the colonies took up that charge, lead by Sir Theodus Claymore, Ferron’s ex right-hand-man, future bishop, and head native-marriage naysayer. In fact it was no doubt on Bishop Claymore’s order’s that prompted Flukka’s next secret.
  • Meanwhile Edra stood before the group stunned, learning that her father was the heir to Gothrilad. Her father was also the man her people hated for condemning them to sub-humane treatment. Edra understood it all, but it was far too much to take in.
  • Flukka spoke up again for another reveal. She explained that Ferron left the world a girl to inherit his kingdom, not a boy. Edra was shocked again that her mother shared their great secret, but it seemed today was the day for such truths to surface. She explained that the Church of Daetheleor had caught wind of a rumor that Ferron may have had a bastard child to a barbarian woman, and that this child was a girl. Flukka had Edra change her identity to that of a man to keep her safe, and been maintaining the guise for nearly a decade.
  • After fielding many inquiries Flukka sat and Edra rose to spoke. She swore to join the Resistance and to fight back against the Gold Goblin. Her father had given his life for these people and for this land, so would she if need be.
  • The group decided to keep this information between them at the moment. It had been a very long night before, a hard-fought battle, a long ride back, and now this. The party was exhausted, and so they retired for the night.

The 13th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • The day passed with little to report, the duties of The Resistance moved forward, and everyone stewed on the epic revelations of the last night.
  • That evening, while seated in his favorite lookout – the steeple of a ruined Church of Illyra – Brother Bronn heard a ruckus passing down the streets several blocks away. He and his watch approached and saw the noise to be a caravan of what seemed to be mostly goblins, with several ogres in the pack. They had wagons laden with goods and behind the rearmost cart they pulled a handful of wretched looking survivors. Bronn had seen enough, and hustled down to the hideout and informed the party, which quickly gathered and left after a brief blessing from Chaplain Restna. Colya and Farius had other pressing resistance matters to attend to so they stayed at the hideout.
  • The rest of the party left the hideout and moved to ambush them several miles down the road. They found a burned-out farm house and a grouping of boulders that would work perfectly, and waited for their pray.

The 14th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • In the early hours of the morning the party drew first blood, when a scout from the goblin convoy ventured far ahead of the group and spotted one of the resistance members. The giant-vulture mounted goblin quickly turned to report back to his comrades, but Hess made quick order of the goblin and mount, and shut their mouths permanently.
  • A while later the rest of the convoy arrived, and the party set off their ambush! The goblin riders fought fiercely, and their ogre guards brought caused incredible damage, but the brave party fought on to win the day!

XP Breakdown

Creature Name CR XP # XP
Flukka’s burden becomes Edra’s destiny 6,000
Foiling the Vulture-riding scout 1,000
Goblins 4 1,200 4 4,800
Goblin Riders 5 1,600 4 6,400
Goblin Frog-Talker 5 1,600 1 1,600
Goblin Vulture-Rider 3 800 1 800
Ogre Brutes 6 2,400 3 7,200
Subtotal 27,800 / 6
Total 4,633xp
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Common Enemies, Common Ground
Campaign: A Rumor of Hope

CommonEnemiesCommonGround.jpg

The round table used in the resistance headquarters makeshift war room.

The 10th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • The officers of The Resistance began somberly sitting around their war-room table deep beneath the Crossroads, in a thieves hideout turned underground railroad. They looked over a map of the Northern Colonies, town after town had been crossed off with *X*’s. Rations and morale were running low, as was hope. That was all about to change.
  • Beliden entered the room, with a barbarian woman in tow whom he introduced to the party as Flukka. The poor woman was scarred from head to toe, though it was clearly from an accident long ago. In the present she was stoic, although her concern was evident. She informed the party that her son and perhaps two dozen more prisoners were being held within the walls of Fort Lobel. Once a colonial army base, the fort had been overrun by the Savage Horde after the Battle of the Redwater, and was being used as a staging point for further Horde attacks. Apparently now it also doubled as slave pens.
  • That was all the party needed to hear and they quickly began their preparations. The group rode out at midnight and traveled through the early morning until reaching the fort at dawn.

The 11th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • The party approached as light broke over the fort. Farius consumed a potion of invisibility and Colya cast the same spell on herself and the two surveyed the scene. There were indeed many survivors being kept in terrible conditions inside of pens within the walls. Another such survivor was being whipped and didn’t look like he’d last much longer, they had to act soon. Farius returned the group while Colya remained inside to create a distraction. The party moved to the far side of the fort and signaled with a bird call. Colya threw a fireball into a corner of the fort, throwing the entire scene into complete chaos.
  • The party scaled the far wall and began their assault on the garrison of orcs that now held the fort. The man being whipped broke his chains, picked up a fallen sword, removed the hand of his whipper, and battled alongside the party to win the day and save all of the prisoners, huzzah!

XP Breakdown

Creature Name CR XP # XP
Character Intros 6,000
Freeing Captured Survivors 6,000
Orcs 2 600 6 3,600
Orc Scouts 5 1,600 6 9,600
Orc War Drummer 3 800 1 800
Orc Gorthec Rider 6 2,400 1 2,400
Orc Chieftan 9 6,400 1 6,400
Hobgoblin Battle Priest 8 4,800 1 4,800
Subtotal 39,600 / 6
Total 6,600xp
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Master of Lore
Campaign: A Garden of War

MasterofLore.jpg

The First Sword of Summer’s Descent

  • In the earliest hours of the First Sword, deep beneath the Sea Lord’s Keep, Rohmanar led the party through passages and stairs until finally reaching his library and study. The Royal Loremaster promptly asked his apprentices to leave and locked the door behind him.
  • First the loremaster asked for a closer look at the cube Cahal had shown him at the estate. Rohmanar seemed to know, or at least guess, that it was not wise to touch the device or even get too close. He kept his distance yet examined the cube with great curiosity. He then drilled the party on where they had found the cube and under what circumstances.
  • He then went to his shelves of books, and though there were thousands of volumes he seemed to have them all cataloged in his mind; he knew exactly where the books were that he sought. Out came three texts: Known Histories of the Age of Wyrmrule by Heburon the Ancient The World Before Darkness by the Felora Far-Seer, and Songs of Yore: A compilation of ancient bardic songs and tales. The loremaster opened each ancient text with great care, as the pages were several millennia old. In the three separate books, he found three separate depictions, all seeming to be sketches of the cube the party now had before them. Rohmanar began to explain the examples.

    • First from Known Histories of the Age of Wyrmrule, Heburon wrote of King Ulfar’s Conquest (190 A.W.) According to Rohmanar this is the first time the cube is seen in history. Indeed, for “history” as we know it now started only a century before.
    • Second, from The World Before Darkness, Felora Far-Seer wrote of the fall of Azilion, City of Pearls(140 A.W), and the mysterious circumstances surrounding it. A sketch of the cube eerily similar to the sketches found in Brokenbridges asylum adorned the page.
    • Lastly, from Songs of Yore: A compilation of ancient bardic songs and tales came a ballad of heroism and sacrifice; when Lipherien Raistrike, Hero of Three-Peeks and Heir of the Arborial Throne gave up her crown to sail the cube across the sea to never be heard from again. (5 A.W.)

  • And so Rohmanar impressed on the party just how dangerous an artifact they had stumbled upon. It had been present at the fall of civilizations many times over. The texts match the party’s understanding of the cube and it’s powers, its ability to devour souls, and drive people to fear and madness. The wizard agreed that it needed to be dealt with, and with utmost haste.
  • Next the loremaster asked about the “dark caster” whom the party had attracted as a nemesis, and the individual who brought the cube from the sands of time into the current age. The group told of his name and likeness – Denegroth the Dread – he had introduced himself as. Upon hearing this name Rohmanar sought another tome. Though the book the he retrieved appeared plain and nondescript at first, a wiggle of the loremasters finger revealed hidden information on the cover and within the book’s pages. The plain cover of the book now bore a symbol of crossed keys, it’s page’s ink replaced with glowing arcane text revealing the secrets within. Rohmanar turned the pages with reverence until finally coming upon what he sought. And so he read aloud a brief passage: “Denegroth Foregrove, graduate of Deppenwhorl Academy, Ring-touched mage, was interred into the Order of the Crossed Keys in 950 A.E.” … his voice trailed off as he skimmed to the bottom of the page. “His final mission was in 973 when he was sent into The Scar to investigate the slaughter of several of the nomadic tribes living within. He was never heard from again.”
  • The loremaster realized that for any of this to matter, a great many explanations were in order. First Rohmanar told the party that he was a senior member of a secret society, The Order of the Crossed Keys. While many pursue knowledge and the power it imparts, the Crossed Keys recognizes that some knowledge is too dangerous for man to wield; and so they protect ancient secrets, artifacts, and fonts of power who’s exploit bring ruin to all. They are enemies to the avarice that turns the hearts of men. The Order had existed in secret for nearly a millennia, and Denegroth had been a member over 200 years earlier! Rohmanar supposed that he had stumbled on the cube two centuries ago and was conquered by its evil. The most ancient and powerful artifacts of the world are said to impart a sort of immortality to the wielder. It is possible that Denegroth was essentially kept from aging for all those years, until loosing it in his defeat at Irador during the Goblin War two decades ago. Now that the cube had been found, it calls to him once more, and he will desire its power above all else. It is not safe, nor will be until its power can be removed and the bond can be broken between them.
  • So the group discussed for some while how to go about destorying the cube, or at the very least removing it’s power and rendering it dormant. Taranath, Sarien, and Rohmanar theorized for some time, and after reading more on Lipherien Rainstrike’s battle against the cube, began to form a plan. According to an interpretation of Songs of Yore, Rainstrike had “Sang the damned from their cage” and had “bent the bars by their own request”. At this the Loremaster examined closer the runes along the cube’s surface. Rohmanar was shocked to realize that the phrases along the cube’s surfaces were it’s activation words! Lipherian had spoke the activation words to open the “cage” and release the spirits within. The party was excited with this revelation until Rohmanar explained that he didn’t know all of the activation words, for the Old Tongue was a language yet to be fully translated. Though Rohmanar was the highest authority on the dialect, even he didn’t fully comprehend it. A weight of doubt came over the group once again as their goal seemed to keep moving further away. The loremaster broke the silence, and revealed perhaps the most incredible secret of all to the party of heroes.

    * Rohmanar explained that there was one more in this world who knew the Old Tongue greater than him. He referred to her as his “mentor” in the matter. He said that he met her two decades ago, when the loremaster was but a page of the Crown-Prince Cassio (Armento); when his lord’s party ventured far and wide gaining favor and fortune, and winning the hearts of all who would live in the king-to-be’s lands. The Prince’s band had sought a bloodthirsty and ancient wrym who’d turned the newly forming Creeping Isles into it’s roost, and the lands surrounding into it’s feeding ground. So Rohmanar and his prince dove into the heart of the volcano and faced the Reaver of Riker’s Narrow. There in the depths they did face a beast the likes of which none of them had ever seen. It’s power overwhelmed the party, incapacitating the prince and leaving Rohmanar helpless. In a moment of desperation and an attempt to protect his prince, the loremaster spoke the Old Tongue word for “mercy” and the great wrym froze in its place. At the time the world knew very few of the words of the ancients, and the loremaster knew fewer still, though he plead for his life and the life of his prince the best he could… and the dragon listened! Yet not only did it heed the wizards words, but spoke too then with a voice like an avalanche, the wounded wyrm growled out the word for “peace”. Rohmanar was allowed to retreat from the dragon’s den with his prince who had been knocked out cold in the encounter. Rohmanar tended his wounds and probed the prince’s mind, stealing his memories of the fight with the dragon so when he awoke it was as with amnesia. So Rohmanar told the prince the tale that would become Cassio’s legend, when he slew the great wyrm but was nearly killed when it crushed him in it’s death throes, taking the cavern down atop it. In reality Rohmanar had placated the dragon with words, dragged the prince from the cavern, collapsed its entrance, and fabricated a tale in it’s place. Rohmanar did this of course not out of selfishness, but in wanting to protect this great and ancient secret he had stumbled upon; a living cypher to unlock the mysteries of the past. It was through finding this secret and seeking to protect it that Rohmanar came to join the Order of the Crossed Keys.
  • The wizard has spent the last two decades meticulously deciphering the Old Tongue though still holds much of the knowledge back from his peers for the fear of what might be unearthed from it. Each year during the spring (when dragons wake from hibernation to ravage the lands), Rohmanar had taken secret missions to the isles where he and other Crossed Key members delivered livestock, gold, magical items and jewels – all the things dragons covet and crave – to placate the ancient one who lived beneath the volcano.
  • What the loremaster proposed next was insanity, but so was much of what had transpired that night. He said they would need to travel north to the Creeping Isles, unveil the great arcane illusions the loremaster had woven to hide the entrance, then delve into the heart of the mountain to, in a foreign language, convince an elder wyrm to read the passages on the side of an ancient doomsday device. This would need to be done without Rohmanar’s presence, for he would be needed in the city while the current catastrophe unfolds. Even then, they would only have one piece of the puzzle – the activation word.
  • Next they would need to find a place to open a gate to the spirit realm and siphon the souls from the cube. It would need to be a place of great magical power such as a convergence of lay lines. Cahal explained that his druid-masters were attuned to the lay lines and may be able to aid in this.
  • With all of this information shared, Rohmanar then took the group to the royal coffers, where they loaded bags of previous gems and ancient coins to be taken north to the mountain. The wizard had been raiding the coffers for years, though their wealth was greatly diminished from the days of the Empire, there was still “plenty of treasure to spare” in the loremaster’s words.
  • To the party he gave several books, including Songs of Yore, Lay Lines Theories, and most valuable and previous of all, a copy of every word of the Old Tongue that had been translated to date. This final volume wasn’t bound in a book, but was a collection of scrolls scribed by the loremaster himself. He gave the scrolls warily, warning that they were “perhaps as powerful as great-a-threat as the cube itself”, asking them to burn the scrolls once their task was done (for he still had the master copy).
  • Though Rohmanar was bereaved to not be accompanying the group, he eluded to powerful friends, and fellows of the Crossed Keys whom he may be able to send with the party, should he be able to contact them on such short notice.
  • As dawn finally broke over the Brineshell, Rohmanar led the treasure laden party through secret corridors and hidden halls deep beneath the castle at the top of the city. Depressed capstones and tilted books opened doors and lowered lifts until the group reached the Royal Escape – the route down which the king himself would flee if the castle were raised. After what seemed like miles of utter darkness the group existed onto Topside streets. Rohmanar pointed out the direction to the wall from which they planned to jump, and with reverence looked over the heroes once more, and wished them well on their quest. The group followed the wizards directions and after several more minutes rounded a corner to see the great outer-wall of the Brineshell before them. Between them and the wall however, stood a trio of Judges, the one at it’s center wore the Eyes of Oldar, and was the same judge they had snuck past the previous night on entering the city. Behind the judges a score of city guards stood ready to fight.
  • The central judge stepped forward and with a booming voice, addressed the party. “Halt imposters, Oldar demands it of you! You are wanted for the crimes of Forgery, Deceiving a judge, Impersonating a Noble, and Trespassing! Moreover you are suspected of Sabotaging the city’s water supply, for the pain and mutilation of hundreds within the city, and for the murder of countless Topside residents! Now lay down your arms and hand over the weapon or part with your lives to be judged accordingly!”
Creature Name CR XP # XP
Rohmanar’s Secrets Revealed! 10,000
Subtotal 10,000 / 6
Total 1,666xp
View
Trouble on the Topside
Campaign: A Garden of War

TroubleontheTopside.jpg

The 30th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • An hour before the midnight toast, the party arrives at the Ferini estate, location of the solstice party the Shadow Blade had planed to attend.
  • Though the groups names weren’t on the guest list, Lirah’s was. While she talked to the doorman attempting to convince him to allow her friends in, a servant of the estate walked up in recognition of her, whispered in the doorman’s ear, and the group was allowed to enter. Obviously this servant believed her to be the Shadow Blade, as she had presented her invitation, and wore her garb.
  • After a brief mingling, that same servant walked behind Lirah, whispering to her that “everything is in place, we await your command”. Lirah simply nodded, not entirely knowing what the plan was, but not wanting to alert them to her true identity.
  • Sarien performed magic tricks for party goers, and Asgrim wove tales of heroism. With their outlandish dress and learned mannerisms, they seemed to fit in well. Where they didn’t fit in, they stood out and embraced it, telling of foreign lands and far off lords and barons.
  • As the time approached, the gathering moved through the estate to the rear grounds, where an impressive private pool poured into the lake at the center of the Topside. The border of the lake had hundreds of such garrish estates, many of which holding similar parties. The grounds were decorated with incredibly carved topiary creatures.
  • Passing to the back yard Lirah was struck with a feeling of familiarity. She has been in this estate before. She knew it once it was the house from her childhood. Could it be that the lord of the house was still the same man from those years ago? The one who killed her mother.
  • Just as Rohmanar the Loremaster gave his toast, Cahal recognized the gardener tending to the topiaries; it was the same gardener from Don Carza’s estate. He must have been a syndicate spy! At the same time, Lirah recognized her mothers murderer; Lord Ferini with the telltale tattoo on his back being visible as he swam in the pool.
  • Suddenly screams erupted from the pool, as the water from the fountain turned a caustic green. It appeared that the fountains now pumped acid instead of water. Beyond the walls of the estate, other citizens screamed as the acid burned anyone unfortunate enough to come into contact with it.
  • Around the yard, syndicate thugs dressed as servants sprang into action, attacking the house guards. The topiary beasts animated and began mauling party goers. Lord Ferini, burned from the acid, ran from the pool and into Lirah’s blade. She finally had her revenge, and she whispered her hatred into his ear as he bled out at the poolside. The rest of the party fought to fend off topiary tigers and syndicate spies, eventually ending the fight on top.
  • Cahal moved to Rohmanar and tried to insist that they needed to leave immediately. After the loremaster insisted in an explanation several times, Cahal reached into his bag and carefully showed Rohmanar the Cube. The loremaster’s face went white, then he sprang into action. Rohmanar asked the party to follow him from the estate. They made haste around the city then eventually across the dyke to the castle at the city’s center. The Royal loremaster had no problem getting the party inside of the castle grounds, and he quickly ushered them deep under the keep, where his library awaited.
Creature Name CR XP # XP
Alchemical Gardener 6 2,400 1 2,400
Firebreather 6 2,400 6 2,400
Syndicate soldiers 6 2,400 6 14,400
Topiary Creations 8 4,800 8 38,400
Putting to rest, the ghosts of the past (Lirah’s Revenge) 10,000
Subtotal 67,600 / 6
Total 11,266xp
View
Passing through Heaven's Gate
Campaign: A Garden of War

HeavensGate.jpg

The 27th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • Having been alerted to the presence of Denegroth, the party chose to change lodgings, not wanting another run-in with the wizard. He had the upper hand if he knew they were here and where they were lodging. Lirah suggested they stay with Don Carza, “His mansion is likely the safest place in all the Driftdowns, from unwanted scrying or otherwise”. The group agreed this was the best course of action, paid off their tabs at the Siren’s Call, thanked Snowi and Tevrius, and hustled to the Don’s estate. They wove a back-and-forth path through the piers and split up in hopes of shaking any potential tail. Once back at the Carza estate, the Don was more than happy to afford his new business partners rooms, he was afterall, in their debt so to speak.

The 28th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • The following day the group began their intense and expedited training of Topside laws, mannerisms, and etiquette. With the Don’s resources at their disposal, Lirah hired the most talented tailors and forgers in the city. Together they came up with a cover, the reason for their business on the topside; they were a group of elite traveling entertainers. Asgrim would weave tales, Sarien would perform parlour tricks, and so on. They decided to stay as true to the truth as possible however, and chose to maintain their identities and backgrounds.
  • While the party trained, “The Tickler” extracted answers from the syndicate thugs the group detained, as well as Enric Ensada, Don Carza’s rat, a backstabbing member of The Sevens revealed by the party’s help.

The 30th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • It wasn’t until the hour of the wolf on the Last Mace that Ensada spilled his secrets to The Tickler. The information was immediately relayed to the party and Don Carza. The group had spent the last two days training while they waited for answers, and were now as ready as they were going to be for the trip topside.
  • According to The Tickler’s new friend, The Shadow Blade’s ultimate plot was to maim and kill as many Topsiders as possible with some sort of automated acid bomb device. Although the exact location of the device was unknown to the interrogatee, he knew the plan was to deliver the acid via the waterworks at the core of The Heart. Asgrim recalled an earlier conversation with Tevrius at the Siren’s Call tavern. Tevrius had explained that The Heart was engineered by a Furyforge Dwarf. Whether he lived still, and if he was still in The Driftdowns had yet to be learned. Knowing this, Lirah put to work Don Carza’s network, and after a few hours the dwarf had been found. He could be found drinking his sorrows away at The Sea-King’s Castle.
  • With that info in hand, and the summer solstice at midnight tonight, the group moved into action. The made their way to The Sea-King’s Castle, a massive tavern apparently shaped from sea coral. The whitebeard Marblewright was exactly where he was said to be found, leaning heavily on the bar, with several empty tankards in front of him. Asgrim spearhearded the discussion and talked to the old dwarf for some time, bonding on their shared heritage as Furyforge dwarves. Asgrim learned that it Marblewright had been sent on a diplomatic mission to The Brineshell to aid in the construction of The Heart. In it’s early construction, The Heart was toted as a savior to the city; a bridge to connect the gap between two worlds. Not only would it function as a lift and foundery, employing many of the poor below, but it would also contain a magical water purifier, blessed by Cardinal Dionis, Vicar of Litoralies. Madden’s sister Marge had forged the purifier in the Furyforge, Madden travelled with it and see to it’s installation, along with the other waterworks involved in The Heart’s operation.
  • For fear of being overheard, Asgrim wished to seek a more private place for conversation, Madden mentioned that he lived nearby, and warmly (although drunkenly) invited his “brother-in-beards” to his quarters. Marblewright seemed to be oblivious to the rest of the party, which hung back, allowing the dwarves to bond without their presence. Once the dwarves left the tavern, the party followed not far behind. The old dwarf led them to the Driftdowns neighborhood known as Sailor’s Sleep, called such for the waters nearby have become the dumpsight for the bodies of the murdered and forgotten of the Driftdowns. Nearby, priests of Yevora readied several bodies for disposal by bathing them and tying large stones around their ankles to sink them.
  • Rounding several corners the dwarves made down a back alley to Madden’s apartment. It was small and in disarray, the walls lined with makeshift shelves holding scroll upon scroll. Asgrim inquired of them and Madden explained that it was the body of his life’s work as a hydro-engineer. Asgrim was astounded by the size of the collection. Despite it’s apparent haphazardness, Madden knew precisely where each scroll was, unrolling several and explaining them briefly to the dwarf. It was entirely boring and time was of the essence, so Asgrim interrupted, bluntly informing Madden of the acid-bomb threat, and asking where such a device would have to be placed in order to function as intended.
  • Half-way up the heart, was where the purifier was installed. This was also where the massive waterclock and calendar was that the party saw earlier, turning endlessly along the spire of The Heart. The bomb would have to be installed above the purifier, lest the acid be neutralized by the blessed artifact. Either that, or it had been bypassed or somehow disabled. It seemed the party’s information on the matter would be informed speculation at best.
  • Marblewright was crushed by the news. He carried a tremendous burden in knowing he helped to construct the monstrosity that The Heart had become. His family’s final legacy was the purifier, and now its use would come into question. Asgrim saw the old dwarfs hope fading, so he assured him to fear not! “We will disable this bomb if we can, I have powerful friends who will help. We may or may not succeed at this as the hour is late, but I will assure you of one thing, from here our path wanders, but I have vowed to return to, and reclaim The Furyforge for our people. We will need people like you there brother, help us take our homeland back!” Asgrim’s power of oration was obvious, and he moved the old dwarf to tears of joy. Marblewright stood, embraced Asgrim, then turned to rummage through his scrolls. Far in the back, and buried beneath piles of papyrus, Madden withdrew an impressive leather scroll case. “Then you’ll need this” he said, handing it to Asgrim. “The citadel was flooded. The bastards used our greatest achievement against us. You’ll need to know the waterworks if you hope to reclaim the city.”
  • Asgrim unfolded the scroll to reveal the blueprints of The Furyforge. Their detail and accuracy were incredible! It dawned on him that this was the first time he had ever “seen” The Furyforge, his lost homeland. As far as Marblewright new, it was the only map of it’s kind in existence. All of the citadel’s blueprints were stored in the royal vault deep within the mountain, and had been lost in the Goblin War. Madden had secretly drafted one to keep for himself, as his collection was his greatest pride. Asgrim accepted the scroll with all the reverence due to the situation. He re-swore his oath to reclaim the Furyforge, gave a strong dwarven handshake to the old engineer, and stepped from the apartment and back to the party. The group returned to the Carza estate before discussing the new information, and their next move.
  • Asgrim explained everything he had learned from the old dwarf to the group. They deliberated heatedly over the best course of action, and ultimately decided that the threat of the cube they carried, the return of Denegroth, and the path to Heaven’s Gate on the horizon, they couldn’t afford to entangle themselves in the plot between the Shadow Syndicate and The Seven’s. That said, the group still intended to visit the summer solstice party.
  • Armed with Lirah’s training, the party made their way to The Heart, to use the lift that would deliver them to the topside. The guards at the bottom of the lift, although naturally suspicious, allowed the party to pass after being showed documentation, and in witnessing their mannerisms and dress, let the group onto the lift.
  • While on the lift Taranath overheard several studious looking fellows discussing their interest in the very solstice party our adventurers had planned to crash. It seemed that luck was finally with the group, as they further discussed their excitement over getting to mingle with Rohmanar the Knowing; apparently he was slated to usher in the new season by giving a speech on history and the passing of time. If they hadn’t already planned to attend the solstice party, they certainly couldn’t afford to miss it now.
  • The lift passed to the Topside, where the brightness of daylight and the cleanliness of the air stuck the group immediately. They had spent half of a ten-day in the cave-like Driftdowns, where muttled greys and browns were all the color to be seen, and where the majority of light was provided by torch and lantern. Even here before the Heaven’s Gate the group was stuck by the immediate juxtaposition. The party awaited eagerly as the line moved slowly.
  • At the top of Heaven’s Gate stood an silent yet intimidating figure, a judge of Oldar. Their information proved true, as the judge appeared to be wearing “Eyes of Oldar”, a magic detecting helm that had no eye slots for normal vision, but rather a solid face. Finally the adventurers made it to the front of the line where Asgrim first passed through the gate, though not after a line of questioning. It appeared that the topside guards worked with much more scrutiny than their Driftdown companions. Still Asgrim’s trained tongue waved and he was allowed to pass without too much incident. Sarien and Cyric had more trouble, and Asgrim had to aid them from beyond the gate, lying for them where they needed help. They too were allowed to pass. Taranath however, had little such luck. He raised enough suspicion of the guards that the judge was summoned from the ramparts. The judge was stern, harsh, and stoic as he drilled Taranath. The judge ordered Asgrim to hold his tongue when the dwarf tried to chime in, threatening to kick them off the topside if he did not comply. The judge ultimately allowed Taranath to pass, but not after asking him where their group planned to stay, (with Lady Aldepine) and informing them that he would be checking up on them personally. Meanwhile, Cahal flew on a lone mission to bring the cube to the Topside. Knowing the judge would be able to detect the artifact, the druid chose an unassuming bird-form and flew the cube to the top, and met the party a street down from the gate.
  • With a sigh of relief, the party had made it through the gate at last, and now strolled down the pearly streets of the Brineshell’s Topside. The opulence of the place was always present, as valuable wares were hocked on street corners by the classiest merchants in the Southern Kingdoms. The aristocracy toted flamboyant hats, wild colors, glittering jewelry, and a total ignorance of those toiling beneath them.
  • The party headed to the estate of Lady Aldepine Gantry, whom the party had saved days earlier. She had welcomed them to her house out of formality, though her invitation was clearly not intended to be seen through. A knock on her door brought a butler, who summoned Lady Aldepine. She was absolutely shocked to see her savior’s standing before her. Not only because she had likely figured them unworthy of Topside travel, but because they now wore foppish clothing to blend in with the Topside elite. After a moment of being taken aback, she welcomed them warmly, and ordered her servants to tend to their every need.
  • After several hours of relative rest, and a change of wardrobe (one must look their absolute finest for a solstice party), the group was ready for the event. Lirah wore the dress and mask of the Shadow Blade, and carried her invitation, while the rest of the group carried forged invitations copied from her own.
Creature Name CR XP # XP
A crash course in Topside mannerisms (Training) 6,000
Learning the results of “The Tickler’s” handiwork 2,000
Roleplay with the Master of the Waterworks: Madden Marblewright 6,000
We must remember our mission! (skip the bomb) 2,000
Calling in some long-standing favors (Tailor, Forger) 2,000
Passing through Heaven’s Gate 15,000
Infiltrating the Topside Party 2,000
Subtotal 35,000 / 6
Total 5,833xp
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Uncovering the Shadow Blade's Brood
Campaign: A Garden of War

lettercandlecompass.jpg

The 27th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • With the fight over, the group captured several Syndicate thugs who had surrendered. Lirah arrived not a moment too soon, and began to take charge of the scene. She would deliver these two thugs to Don Carza but first she needed to search the room.
  • Searching, she found many things that interested her, but none more than a letter written in a hidden arcane ink, that seemed to reveal the Shadow Blade’s identity, as well as her intentions in The Brineshell. The letter went as follows:

Dearest Belinda,

Summer’s Descent… what bittersweet promise. The solstice of summer has been a cursed day to our kin for ages. yet three day’s hence, when Vehana takes her slowest ride across the sky, we shall change the was we think of it. For even the Day of Longest Light must end with the coming of the night… and what a glorious night it shall be! The pieces are in place, the trap has been set, but the mice have yet to gather and spring it!

I managed an invitation to the big event, it will be a masquerade, sister! I know you wouldn’t approve of my going but I simply cannot miss the opportunity to play dress0up, and I would be so delighted to see The Brineshell royalty suffer. The “Downer’s” surely live up to their name, but the elites above have proven utterly revolting. While they revel in their opulence, I rejoice in knowing their misery will soon be at hand.

Truthfully… though I greatly anticipate the solstice, it pales to my longing for our reunion. I miss you and Geneva so very much. Alas, that day too will come soon, and I hope to hand you the throne to a kingdom as a homecoming gift.

Your loving sister, Isabel

  • Lirah recognized the name Belinda none other than the leader of The Shadow Syndicate! This seemed to suggest that the Shadow Blade was Belinda’s sister, Isabel, and that the Shadow Syndicate was being led by a brood of vampires. Further, that would mean the party had just slain the sister of one of the most powerful figures in the Southern Kingdoms.
  • Along with the letter, Lirah found an invitation for the solstice party mentioned therein, and found a costume and elaborate mask in a wardrobe. This must have been the costume Isabel intended to wear to the masquerade.
  • Three hostages hung by ropes tied to stalagmites at the back of the room. One, a man in robes (who was identified as an acolyte of Litoraleis) had been bitten during the combat, and appeared dead. Not to be swayed, Cyric took off his head in an instant, knowing that this acolyte would be likely to rise as a vampire spawn in some time. One of the other hostages awoke just before the beheading, and promptly fainted from the sight. She was dressed in elaborate and flamboyant clothing, clearly a Topsider. The sleeping woman was brought aside and made comfortable and was gently awakened. She was frightened and couldn’t remember how she had got there. She named herself Lady Aldepine Gantry and she was indeed an aristocrat from the Topside. The third hostage was a middle-aged man, badly beaten so that even if the party knew him they wouldn’t be likely to recognize. Through busted lips the man thanked the party, and introduced himself as Shanks Guffy, the captain of Starsail.
  • The two living hostages were escorted back to The Driftdowns by Asgrimm and Lirah; Shanks was helped to Starsail, which was docked on the southern Central Piers, and Lady Aldepine was led to The Heart and to the help of the Lift Guard. Both promised help to the party should they cross paths again, Shanks offering his ship and crew for transport, and the lady offering her hospitality at her estate on the Topside, though it was clear she didn’t believe she’d meet the group again.
  • Meanwhile at the hideout, the remaining party members searched the room to find several magical items, a chest of coins, and an assortment of living amenities. Most importantly, they opened the caskets of the vampire triad and promptly removed their heads.
  • The party gathered at the cave, and escorting the two remaining Syndicate thugs, they made their way back to the Carza Estate. The Don received them in his gallery and was pleased to have someone to send to his interrogator, The Tickler. Yet as pleased as he was in that, he was ecstatic to learn that the Shadow Blade had been caught and slain. The Don offered any and all help he could give in helping the party reach the topside in their quest. The group decided they would like to stay at the Carza Estate for their next three nights, for if they were to reach the Topside and foil the Syndicate plot, they would require constant training from Lirah, famed courtesan of the Don’s court.
  • The party had last stayed at the Siren’s Call, so they returned to the dwarf-operated tavern to retrieve their belongings and to check out of the room. As soon as the party entered the feast-hall, Snowi the lady-dwarf bartender approached Asgrim and asked to speak with them in private, seeming clearly unnerved. In a back room of the bar, Snowi explained that a mysterious man had come calling for the party. He had a kind face, and simple garb, though walked with an impressive looking staff, and wore a huge rat across his shoulders. The man seemed to be feigning friendliness with the dwarf in his questionings, and didn’t care much for her refusing him information. Finally the man had stormed off, not but an hour before now, the party’s arrival.
  • The party knew immediately who this man must be. It seemed Denegroth the Dread, original possessor of the cube and inciter the Great Goblin War hadn’t forgotten about the group, or the artifact he had sworn to retrieve from them “on his terms”.

XP Breakdown

Creature Name CR XP # XP
Discovering the hidden letter 4,000
Solstice party plot revealed, invitation confiscated 3,000
Careful handling of the hostages 3,000
Delivery to the Don and The Tickler 5,000
Denegroth Returns! 4,000
Subtotal 19,000 / 6
Total 3,166xp
View
A Deeper Darkness
Campaign: A Garden of War

ADeeperDarkness.jpg

The 27th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • At the fall of the vampire gang leader, those few remaining thugs dashed from the scene to blend into the shadows. Lyrah yelled that she would hunt them down as she ran after them, and told the group to follow the mist that had appeared in place of the vampire’s body. The mist down a narrow alley, through the cracks in a door, up a flight of stairs, across a cloths line, over a treacherous rooftop, down a storm pipe, past an angered drunk, down a cliffside, and over some slippery rocks before finally disappearing into a concealed cave on the sea-side of the Brineshell. Many in the party had a hard time keeping up with the evasive smoke, but Cahal maintained his eagle form, and Sarien teleported to keep up. Asgrimm found the chase to be particularly taxing, and he all but gave up at the second obstacle.
  • Once the whole party finally make it to the mouth of the chasm, they began their dive into the briney cave. The group was forced to tread water for a hundred feet, once again humiliating the dwarves who refused to remove their armor. Alas, the group finally made it across, and at the feet of an incline, heard voices in the distance. As they approached, it became clear that whatever brigands occupied this thieves den, they were aware that someone was coming. They too had seen the vampiric mist enter their cave, one of their leaders had been slain!
  • Not wanting to hesitate or allow the rogues to prepare, the group strode into a large cavern, across which a tidal river ran. Several score of men stood ready, blades and bows drawn. Atop a natural stone dias stood the one they all knew to be the Shadow Blade, behind which several hostages were tied to stalagmites. The Shadow Blade turned on her captive pray and sank her fangs into one of the victims, lauching the room into action. Another vampire, similar to the gang leader from earlier, strode into the melee as the group clashed blades and spells in a violent frenzy. Syndicate thugs were cut down in groups as Cyric stood toe-to-toe with the second vampire. Sarien focused on the enemy spell-caster, interrupting and counterspelling his attempts. Finally the Shadow Blade sprung into action, taking the form of a massive bat, and flew across the divide into the throng. As she landed she drew a magical blade from its scabbard, a menacing falchion with a frost-laden blade. The Shadow Blade fought atop a rock formation against a brave Asgrim. The vampire warrior dropped Sarien, nearly slaying him were it not for a friendly displacement spell, then incapacitated Asgrim. The dwarf struggled from the ground to keep the vampire’s fangs from his neck, and cast a spell in desperation to break the bloodsucker’s grasp. Taranath took Cyric for a teleporting jaunt, delivering him beside the Shadow Blade in time to take her head from her shoulders. She too poofed into smoke and flew into a casket at the back of the room to join her vampire brethren.

XP Breakdown

Creature Name CR XP # XP
Chase through the Driftwood Kingdom 5,000
“The Shadow Blade” 13 25,600 1 25,600
Vampiric Fighter 10 9,600 1 9,600
Dark Sorcerer 9 6,400 1 6,400
Syndicate Archers 4 1,200 4 4,800
Syndicate Rogues 7 3,200 4 12,800
Syndicate Thugs 2 600 12 7,200
Subtotal 71,400 / 6
Total 11,900xp
View
A Deal with a Don
Campaign: A Garden of War

TinpanAlley.jpg

The 26th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • Following the lurker attack in the underdocks, Ornela Girovenzi apologized profusely for the attack, and offered the party a “golden ticket” of sorts, free rides for a tenday on any Girovenzi gondola. Accepting the offer, the group moved on toward the Siren’s Call. Along the way, Ornela pointed out the arena along the Shoreward Slopes where gladiators battle viscous sharks with spears over narrow pylons and choppy water.
  • Soon, the party stepped off the gondola along the slopes and made their way to their destination. While passing down a bustling street, several in the group recognized a Judge of Oldar walking past, the people on the avenue giving him plenty of space as he continued on. The group also noticed the massive calendar disk and water-clock that turned along the outer walls of The Heart. Noon was fast approaching, so the group made haste to the pub.
  • Approaching the Siren’s Call, the foamcaller at it’s door urged the party inward. Constance Six-silver was her name, and she brought customers in hand over fist with a combination of flirtatious and back-handed comments. At the center of the feast-hall stood a beautifully hewn statue holding a harp. The party had been promised it would “sing a bawdy ditty at midday and midnight”. A large crowd had gathered around the statue and soon enough, the marble maiden animated and sing and play it did! Every patron in the feast-hall had her song on their lips, and clanked mugs and chugged in unison, and in time with the song.
  • Asgrim approached the bar and introduced himself to Snowi and her brother Tevrius, the owners and operators of the Siren’s Call, and began to feel out the situation with dwarves within the Brineshell. He learned of the makers of The Heart, and that an old Furyforge dwarf had designed the water elements of the massive tower, but had turned away from the promise of it’s profits when people began to die from poor work conditions within the foundry. Apparently, whether he still lived, and where were of great debate, and Asgrim couldn’t learn more in that moment.
  • Cahal took wing around the interior of The Brineshell, taking a closer examination of it’s many neighborhoods. Sarien sought information as well through arcane means, casting and arcane eye and willing it upward above the Driftdowns to the Topside of the massive shell. He saw what he had been promised: opulence, revelry, and flamboyancy. At the shell’s center, a castle reached upward for the sky. An observatory stood at the top of one of it’s many towers, and as his mind’s eye flew toward it, he felt a strong compulsion to continue no further; the castle had been strongly warded against scrying, he surmised.
  • After some time of drinking and eating, and enjoying a song or two from a fellow named Busted Skull and his dancing pet otter Fin, the group retired to a nice room, and enjoyed a full night of sleep on land after a ten-day at sea.

The 27th Mace of Summer’s Rising

  • The following day the group rose and made for the gondola dock once again, enjoying a free ride from the Girovenzi’s, they made it to the Wicked Widow in short time and without encounters. Along the street, Cahal recognized an acolyte of Vehana “lighting” the many bio-luminescent lanterns that lit the city by shaking it with a long pole.
  • Another half-block brought the group to their destination. Outside, the Wicked Widow’s foamcaller seemed to be doing very little foamcalling, instead leaning menacingly against it’s outer wall. Walking past, the group noticed a long stilleto on the hip of Monique. The party continued inside and retrieved a sealed letter from the barkeep from Captain Two-beards. Within it, a letter stated that Shervin’s employer had graciously invited them to his hall. Also in the envelope was a heavy platinum coin with the number seven embossed on it’s back. They were instructed to give this coin to Monique if they wished to continue. Seeing that they would need all the help they could get in their mission, the group decided to go along with it. Thus, they brought the coin to Monique, Sarien using an arcane flourish in the hand-off. The foamcaller was briefly entertained, but soon returned to her normal stoicism, and told the group to go to the back of Tin Pan Alley, “The Don” would be expecting them.
  • The group made their way back across the Central Piers, to the Seaward Slopes and to the alley where The Don’s estate stood. A large stone villa surrounded by an impressive and imposing stone wall now loomed before the group. Cahal noted that behind the walls stood large trees, the first of almost any flora he had seen in the cave-like city. The guards at the gate did their guardly duty, questioning and then admitting the “Saviors of the Sunfish” as Sarien put it.
  • Through the gate, the group moved into a wide courtyard teeming with plants, trees, and buzzing bees. Cahal took a closer look and surmised that these were all being grown with alchemical botany. Soon more guards appeared and showed the party through the villa, to a large hall. On the walls hung a hundred priceless paintings, tastefully lit with bio-luminescent lamps… by all means the room felt like an art gallery. The Don turned and greeted the group warmly.
  • Introducing him self as Don Vireli Carza, the Don thanked the group for their heroics in protecting one of his many investments, and praised them for defeating Garius and the Needlework Pirates, who’d haunted these waters for many years. With a shrill whistle, The Don beckoned a chest to be brought to the center of the room which when opened, looked to be completely full of gold coins. This was what the party had saved The Don on that day… he wished not only to give what was nearly lost, but to forge a further relationship with the group, as men of their talents would be useful to have around.
  • The party thanked The Don for his payment to them, but asked instead for help to the topside. The Don knew just the person to help them, but insisted that the party take his coin for the deed they had done, and bartered his help to them on another deed he had yet completed. The Don told the group of his recent troubles with the Shadow Syndicate. Apparently they were attempting to expand their grasp far beyond Delta City, and had found a foothold here in the Downs, and had recently become a nuisance to The Don’s operations, costing him and The Sevens a fortune in the process. The Syndicate had even infiltrated The Sevens themselves, or as The Don put it: “We’ve got a rat in our midst, and I loath rats.” The Don had set into motion a plan to find the rat within his organization, and he needed the party’s aid in this. With another shrill whistle, ten or so men and women strode into the room, each one looking as well-trained and battle-wise as the next. The Don addressed the whole group now, telling them he sought the head of “The Shadow Blade”, the apparent leader of the Syndicate invaders. It was said she couldn’t be killed, that she was like shadow herself, but The Don knew otherwise, “for if it bleeds, we can kill it”. He would give each group a phoney package of drugs and would see what group got attacked to find his rat (for he had told his three suspects, three different delivery places). The hit-teams were to kill the Shadow Blade if she showed, and if not, were to capture whatever Syndicate thugs they could for questioning.
  • Having heard The Don’s plan, the group asked for a private chamber where they might discuss their direction. A guard ushered them to a side room, and the group took to questioning the job being asked of them. None of the party felt comfortable with being hired killers for a crime lord, and hoped that they might simply capture the Shadow Blade and return her to the Don’s estate. Seeing little other opportunity to reach the Topside, the group agreed that this was their best course of action.
  • The party returned to the hall of paintings and told The Don that they would do this job for him if he could get them through Heaven’s Gate. The Don agreed and introduced them to Lirah Cendra. She was one of The Don’s most trusted and valued employees, a deadly courtesan with all the knowledge of the mannerisms and customs of the Topside aristocracy; a talented actress and master of disguise who’d made scores of trips through Heaven’s Gate and back. She had been hired by The Don to train his men on such deception, for though passage to the Topside was very risky, it was a necessity to his operations. The Don proposed to send Lirah with the group on their current mission, as she was great with a blade. In addition, if they succeeded in their mission, Lirah would be the one helping the group go Topside, so better they get to know each-other tonight first. With that, everyone had come to an agreement. The job would go down at sunfall, they would be ready.
  • The group set-out just before sundown, Lirah leading the way. The courtesan lead them through the southern opening in The Brineshell, and around the Seaward Slopes to the Driftwood Kingdom. None in the party had ever seen a place so fraught with despair. It was as if the denizens of the Kingdom had simply given up on life. The party reached their destination and closely surveyed their surroundings. Though they scrutinized the people around them, their true forms were soon shown, as they shed their rags to reveal themselves as Shadow Syndicate thugs: it was an ambush!
  • Lead by a particularly strong rogue, the Syndicate attack was fierce, but still wasn’t enough to overcome the brave party and their new acquaintance, the deadly courtesan. As Asgrim buried his axe into the rogue’s head for what would surely be the killing blow, the body of the man shook as he (for the first time) bared a pair of fangs at the group, hissed, then disintegrated into a billowy dark mist. The mist held some amount of form, and quickly sped off, against the wind, down the grimy docks of the Driftwood Kingdoms.

XP Breakdown

Creature Name CR XP # XP
A Trip to Tin Pan Alley (Roleplay with Don Carza 6,000
Shadow Syndicate Thugs 2 600 8 4,600
Rooftop Archers 4 1,200 4 4,800
Shadow Rogues 7 3,200 4 12,800
Vampire Gang-leader 10 9,600 1 9,600
Subtotal 37,800 / 6
Total 6,300xp
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