Adventure Log

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Your initial assignment:

The Sereld family is one of the great noble families of Nerath. In the wake of Rhumorril's re-conquest, they -- like the other great noble families -- have lost many of their fighting men. With the tensions within Nerath rising, they -- like the other great noble families -- have taken to hiring mercenaries to aid in protecting their lands from the pockets of goblins, kobolds, and other creatures that posed a threat to their peace and security. (It is something akin to a "seller's market" when it comes to mercenary services.)


 


The Sereld family has a reputation of fairly treating those in its service, with advancement being affected far more by merit than simply family name. They also have a reputation for being judicious in their use of force, which -- to some -- is a negative in that there is less chance for glory in battle. (Of course, that also means there's less chance for death in battle...)


 


You have been in their service for a few months (or longer if you choose) and have met and become acquainted with the other PCs in the course of your duties. Recently, you were given a new assignment: bodyguard detail for the family's representative in the capital. What was historically an assignment for the soon-to-retire in their service has been deemed important enough to assign to a more youthful crew.


 


You travelled to the capital in each others' company (a journey of roughly 600 miles) via stagecoach, horses, etc. which took a little over 2 weeks time. You have been in the capital for just over a week and have been getting settled into your role as bodyguard for Naso Sereld. Naso is in his 30s, and is a third cousin of the head of the family, Duke Iaskelo. He's been their representative and envoy in the capital for a few years (since the middle of Risach's reign).


 

“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier

Well, that was fast...


Recent events in the capital led Naso to decide to leave the city. The apparent vengeful paranoia of Emperor-King Athero was increasing tension among the nobles. Disappearances of members of other noble families had been happening, with only rumors of their fates. Naso informed you that he (along with you, still assigned as his guards) was leaving the capital, given the current state of affairs. You were to depart in the morning.


When morning came, a group of guards carrying an arrest warrant for Naso arrived at the gate to his estate and ordered the gates open. After a brief fight with that group (in which you took their boots and redistributed them to the poor) you made your way through the city to the western gate using less well-travelled streets and alleys. At the gate, you spotted a fearsome sight - lit by the morning sun, a dragon was wreaking destruction on the palace and the main plaza (anchored by great cathedrals to Erathis, Bahamut, and Pelor). You used the cover of a panicking crowd to exit the city, past the dumbfounded and overwhelmed guards manning the gate. Once outside the gate, you turned north. A group of riders rode up from behind and attacked. You defeated them, took their horses (and boots) and returned to the home city of the Sereld family, Tessphon.



Resulting Rumors:

- The capital has been largely reduced to ash and rubble; refugees have fled in all directions.


- The Emperor is dead, eaten by the dragon.


- The Emperor is alive, but wounded and recuperating in hiding.


- {Family} was behind the destruction of the capital, because...


    - their favored candidate did not become Emperor.


    - they did not like the Emperor's tax policies.


    - they wanted to be an independent kingdom.


    - they are secretly in league with demons/devils/{Evil Deity}.


    - {Wild Speculation}.


- It was a plot by Tieflings; everyone knows they're in league with devils!


- It was a plot by the Dwarves for revenge against the attacks against them under Emperor Risach.


- It was a plot by the Eladrin, as part of some events in the Feywild.


- It was a plot put in motion by Thyrakir; eliminating the Empire would allow him to expand his new kingdom into the power void left behind.


- It wasn't a plot by Thyrakir, but he had a vision/read a prophecy/been told by a seer about the coming destruction of the capital. That was why he carved off his own kingdom and did not remain Emperor.


- It was an act of Bahamut, enacting vengeance for an insult by...


    - the Emperor, for not filling the role of Emperor's Champion with a paladin of Bahamut as traditionally done. (He hadn't yet named anyone to the ceremonial position.)


    - the priests of Bahamut, for failing to enact a rite in its proper form.


- It was an act of {Evil Deity}, wanting to destroy the great empire.


- {Family} is going to declare themselves Emperor, and (if necessary) force the others to acknowledge their claim.




“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier

Down the river and through the woods...



A little more than a week after you returned, you were called to see the Duke and two of his advisors, Mirie and Thorn. You were tasked with investigating an incident at a river outpost at the eastern bounds of the duchy. You travelled downriver (eastward) and quietly infiltrated the fort to find it having been taken over by goblins. A small force led by a few hobgoblins had succeeded in taking it from the duchy's troops stationed there.


After retaking it and giving control over to a small group of roadwardens you followed the tracks of the invaders (and their prisoners) northward into the forest. You dispatched some goblin reinforcements heading south, and continued on. You eventually caught the group with the prisoners and rescued them.


You elected to have the prisoners accompany you onward towards the site of the goblin encampment located within an old eladrin ruins. When you got there, you encountered two of Thorn's scouts, Leaf and Zhorge. Hiding with them was an eladrin named Toradal who had been with a small group seeking the ruins in hopes of finding a particular ancient tome, but he was the only survivor of a goblin ambush.


After stirring the lingering antagonism between two goblin tribes within the ruins into outright fighting, you used that distraction to slip into the ruins and attack and capture the hobgoblin leader, Ruthdran. You recovered some ciphered letters and a code wheel along with one letter Ruthdran was writing to someone he addressed as "Lord General."

You dragged Ruthdran back to Tessphon for further interrogation.



“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier
Decoded Messages to Ruthdran:

Ruthdran, Unexpected events elsewhere in the Empire have forced me to advance the schedule and start now. I have ordered more weapons to be shipped to you to support your forces for the orders that will come in the future. Your first order is to capture and hold the river fort to the south. River traffic must not flow westward until we have solidified our hold over Granport.




Ruthdran, Your weapons will arrive at the arranged meeting place to the northeast; take what slaves you have captured there, and you will be rewarded for them by our ally. You must find the teleportation circle there at Inoluen. Having access to it will make delivery of those arms and armor more direct and you will not have to dispatch forces to meet a caravan sent by our supplier. If you do not locate it we will not be able to supply your forces with what you will need on your mission and you will be replaced.



Ruthdran's Letter:

Lord General, As I informed you in my previous report, the tower here at the ruins has collapsed. We have searched all of the other buildings here, so I believe that the teleportation circle was on one of the upper floors and is now buried within the pile of stone that is the remains of the tower. If you wish to have a teleportation circle here, you will have to send someone to create one. Also, the information you provided about two of the goblin tribes has proven to be completely wrong. They have a 20 year history of animosity which has made it nearly impossible to get them to work together. I cannot send a group from one of them out on a task without the other complaining about me not respecting their ability, and while camped here I have been forced to have my hobgoblins act as guards to keep them separated. This has limited my ability to send out my hobgoblins on attacks. I had to resort to sending only the third tribe to take the fort. I suggest you review your information and be certain that it is correct before issuing more orders.
 
“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier

Orcs at a Dwarf Monastery?


Ruthdran's weapons and armor (along with that of his lieutenants) was crafted in an unusual style - that of the shadar-kai. It also was made from a distinctive iron, that one old dwarf smith believed to be from a lost dwarven outpost. He suggested visiting the Monastery of the Sundered Chain, one of the last known links to the lost mine.


Several days' travel to the north of Tessphon, tucked into rugged hills, is the monastery. You travelled there and found it to have been attacked by orcs. After fighting your way through the monastery's multiple levels and into the caverns beneath it, you rescued an old dwarf named Dugald. He was the head of the monastery and was being interrogated by the attackers who were seeking a way back through the mountains - Dugald had collapsed the tunnel they had used to get in, and there was no easy way back for them other than a long trip through the hills.


Dugald did confirm that the metal used in Ruthdran's armor was indeed from the Karak Lode mine, which has been lost for around 200 years. Also, on the shadar-kai was a map depicting a route through the mountains north and west of the monastery. The route mixes overland segments with underground passages. It’s a convoluted path, requiring many changes in direction. The dark one carried a thick brass disc that had a series of notches cut out on its edge, and also a note reading, "Iranda, When you’ve collected payment for delivering the map and arms to Myrissa, meet me in Darynia. -Modra"



“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier
[That night and the following day at the Monastery.]
After the fight at the shrine by the doors, Dugald picks over the dead. In testing some of the weapons used by the orcs, he identifies the ones exhibiting better craftsmanship - the glaives and a couple of the greataxes - were also made from ore from the Karak Lode mine. He identifies the woman as a shadar-kai and the small humanoid as a dark one, both races native to the Shadowfell.

Dugald makes his way back up to the upper levels of the monastery to see the damage that the orcs have wrought. He is deeply, deeply saddened by the deaths of his brethren, and asks you to help separate his slain brethren from the orc bodies. He plans to begin preparing their burial in the morning. As for the orc bodies, his instructions are simple: “Burn them.”

At the main altar in the top level of the monastery, he is shaken by the fact that the altar has been desecrated by the orcs. Some ritual involving the blood of the slain dwarfs appears to have been performed on the altar.


Before he goes to sleep, Dugald performs a Sending ritual to contact the smith in the village to let the outside world know what’s happened. He then sits in prayer for a while before retiring for the night.

After midnight, a trio of angels arrives at the monastery. One explains that it has been sent by Moradin, and that Dugald is its ward. The two other angels have taken up positions within the grounds of the monastery for its defense.

In the morning, Dugald chooses two of his deceased brethren that he will try to raise from the dead to help him restore the monastery. At eight hours per ritual, that takes up his day, so he asks you to stay to help continue the clean up. That morning, dark clouds roll in from the southwest and a storm moves through the area, making travel through the mountains difficult.


Late that afternoon, three familiar faces arrive. Leaf, Zhorge, and Penna were at the village waiting for your return when the smith received Dugald’s Sending late the night before. They left immediately and pressed on through the night and into the day to get there as soon as they could.


Leaf has a bundle of information to pass along from Mirie:

• The news from the east is not good. There has been a military coup in Granport, with the city and its lands under a military ruler. The Vihosan Duke has disappeared - no announcements have been made about him. Some of the Vihosa family seem to have fled Granport; at least one has taken refuge with the Barony that lies to the east along the river between the Vihosa duchy and the Sereld duchy.

• The news from the capital city is not good, either. The Emperor is still missing, and at this point no one presumes he's still alive. What information Mirie has been able to confirm is that the Azis family has laid claim to the ruins of the palace and surrounding buildings of the city's center, but there are numerous groups fighting under various banners (some political, some religious, some purely mercenary) attempting to lay claim to the city.

• All that they have learned from Ruthdran so far is that the "Lord General" is involved in the coup in Granport. Indirectly, they have pieced together that he and his hobgoblins moved into the forest and took over the goblin/bugbear tribes they were using in their attacks.

• Mirie has sent along some information about the use of ciphers by the military of Nerath that the Archivist found in his library. From an old report on military usage that dates to around the time the cipher was dropped from usage:

• The military cipher involved a substitution where the alphabet was reversed, and the alignment was shifted periodically during the message.

• There are comments about proposed improvements to the cipher that could be made to make it more secure (involving different alphabet orderings for the substitution and using different orderings for different people), but the methods were deemed to have too much work required in order to send messages.

• The cipher was abandoned nearly 300 years ago due to having too much effort required, and once broken it became ineffective.

• Unsurprisingly, there is little information about ciphers used by private individuals.

• One of Mirie's agents reported some unusual activity several weeks ago in Darynia, to the northeast. There had been an increased flow of overland traffic headed to Granport, which is unusual since it's easier to transport things there by water (downriver then down the coast) past midsummer since there's little fresh water along the overland route.

“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier

On the road again...


You headed northeast towards Darynia. Leaf had asked that you keep an eye out for any oddities along the way -- there had been at least one report of the local lords behaving oddly while the Duke had forces in the area overseeing the migration of a northern tribe moving through to the southwest.


You had not encountered anything unusual until you reached the town of Imynia. The town and surroundings were raided by a small band of orcs; the town was still smoldering, having been largely put to the torch in the assault. (It didn't burn all that well, as they'd had a heavy rain only a couple days prior.) You slew them, but discovered tracks showing a group of orcs pursuing a group of townsfolk out of town through the nearby woods.


You ended up at a ruined keep, where the orcs had surrounded the townsfolk in the ruined keep. After eliminating those orcs and rescuing the beleaguered citizens, you met the lord as he came up from the cellar, saying, "There's nothing down there that will help us now." He greeted you with a measure of relief at the news the orcs had been killed. When discussing what to do next, he was heavily in favor of returning to the town for the night in order to see what could still be saved.


With a measure of suspicion, you lagged behind the townsfolk and eventually returned to the ruined keep to explore the cellar. In it, you faced a young green dragon that had made the caves under the ruins into its lair. Partway through that fight, one of the town guards appeared and began aiding the dragon. The guard shapeshifted into a large draconic humanoid with the physical appearance of a silver dragon. You killed them both; when the draconic humanoid was killed by Vanda it then shifted to match her appearance upon death (Vanda suffered some psychic damage).


You returned to the town to talk things over with the lord, who was greatly relieved to be out from under the green dragon's claw. He had not been aware of the disguised guard, but had known that the dragon had someone close to him and his family to (potentially) carry out the threats the dragon had made.


After ordering him to make a full report on the matter to the Duke, you continued towards Darynia.

“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier

Just can't wait to get back on the road again...


You arrived in Darynia and began searching for Modra, who signed the note found on the dark one at the Monastery. You learned that Modra was just the front man for the dealing of weapons in Darynia; he had gone behind his boss's back in doing a deal, and was now on-the-outs with his boss.


You eventually tracked him to an almshouse called the Happy Beggar, run by two well-meaning retired paladins of Pelor. A hidden tunnel led to a cave with two portals - one connecting to the Shadowfell and another to a warehouse in Darynia. After a fight with some dark ones and a shadar-kai, a lone dark one took something from the shadar-kai and fled through the Shadowfell gate. Shortly thereafter, a surge from the Shadowfell gate pulled your group through as well.


In the Shadowfell, you made your way down to a tent town surrounding a tower. The camps around were filled with mercenary companies, and you learned that a shadar-kai named Sarshan ran things there. You learned that Modra had slipped into the camps and was planning something for Sarshan involving the foundry, the site of some of Sarshan's experimentations which drew energy from the lava rift that split the makeshift town. You left the town and headed for the gate back to your world but were caught in the cave by Sarshan. Taken through the portal there to the tower, you were ambushed and became part of a three-sided fight among Modra, Sarshan's guards, and your group.


After finding a map in Sarshan's quarters, you fled the tower as energy was surging through the foundry and through the tunnel connecting it to the tower's lower floor. You fled to the cave where the gate stood and were able to leave the Shadowfell shortly before the tower finished collapsing in on itself and the foundry building. The Shadowfell gate seemed to burn itself out behind you after you returned to the room hidden under the Happy Beggar.


You collected as many of the boxes of weapons as you could and made arrangements to leave town with them by acquiring some wagons and draft animals to return to Tessphon.

“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier

Through the desert... though you left your horses behind...


You reached Imynia, which lies just within the bounds of your Duke's lands. You met up with Leaf and her team, which had been trying to track the orc raiders back through to see where they had come from (but to no avail). You passed the wagons of weapons over to them to return to Tessphon while you were going to follow the map found in Umbraforge to an old mine in the desert beyond the hills to the west.


Before leaving, you learned of a group of 15-20 that had been somewhat annoyed at the inability of the town to re-supply their group on its trip into the hills.


When you reached the red valley mentioned on the map, you detected the passage of a large group of people with horses having passed the same way a few days earlier. You eventually caught up with them, and one group attempted to ambush you. You defeated them and took three prisoner. The first two you let go after brief questioning, but you kept the third as a prisoner. You kept Leonius ("Boots") as your prisoner as you went up to search the camp of his fellows.


Their camp was set up among some palm trees in an oasis. After searching it, you began tracking the other members down a small canyon. A couple hours later, you encountered a man moving in the opposite direction and detained him. He was heading back to the camp to let them know that Renatus (Leonius's brother) had found a cave that could be what they were looking for, so some of them should come to help.


You camped for the night and continued to the cave in the morning. You slipped into the cave, but were spotted and a fight ensued. Renatus had two types of draconic humanoids with him - one that had the features of an adamantine dragon (that exploded with a force of thunder when killed), and two that had the features of a copper dragon (that erupted into pools of acid when killed).


Proceeding further in the cave tunnels after the rest of them, you eventually came on 5 other copper draconic humanoids who were in a standoff with a young copper dragon. After killing them, the young dragon Aracuin thanked you for eliminating the invaders. In the course of speaking with him, you learned that his mother Anacuril was killed last winter. He also mentioned that the orcs had been more active. When asked about the draconic humanoids, he said they "smelled wrong."


You left the cave and found that Leonius had escaped from his ropes, and used a rock to bash in the head of the other prisoner before heading back to the camp, grabbing some supplies and horses, and fleeing back down the valley to the east (towards Imynia).


You camped at the oasis that evening, and the next day you headed west into the desert. You travelled at night, though one day during your rest you spotted a storm cloud move in from... nowhere. From a clear sky this thunderstorm rolled in and began moving eastward. Towards you. You packed up and - after using two rituals to aid you - began seeking shelter out of its path. You were able to get out of its path, and by following the Dowsing Rod ritual ended up at a natural cave that had been enhanced into functioning as a cistern. Looking towards the storm, you saw a fair number of orcs running with it and reveling in the storm's energy.


You camped the rest of that day and continued on. Approaching morning, you spotted a small settlement ahead, situated where the rocky desert gave way to dunes. When you got closer, you saw gnoll beating - likely to death - a human, while several other humans looked on in fear. Several orcs surrounded them, and near the gnoll was a juvenile behir.

“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier
Mine!

You fought and killed the gnoll, orcs, and behir at the village, and learned that the gnoll was the "Warden" of the "Queen of the Drylands" and had been there demanding tribute from the villagers. The villagers had mixed feelings about being rescued, since it was only a temporary reprieve from the Queen's enforcers. They did warm up to you when you said you would take care of the Queen as well.

You rested at the village for the day, and continued traveling west at nightfall. After two nights' travel, you found a small structure housing an old well that showed signs of recent use. Two more nights' travel and you arrived at a basalt bluff where a fortress had been carved out of the stone. You chose to ascend to the top of the bluff, and fought a group of harpies that used the top as a nesting area. Depleted from that fight, you decided to take an extended rest rather than go inside.

During the day, while resting, you observed some activity in the fortress through a spot where the rock had collapsed down into a courtyard area. A group arrived, and a group left, and there was some activity as people within the fortress moved around on the ground floor. After finishing your day-long rest, you decided to enter the fortress through the hole in the top of the bluff. Once you reached the bottom, you were attacked by orcs in the gatehouse, and a melee ensued. Buxley daringly kicked in a door and involved another 6 men in the fight.

You then went into the main hall and found a hag who was masquerading as an old dwarf attended by her followers. After dealing with them, you ended up fighting a pair of longtooth shifters guarding the way into the lower level. In the lower level's guard post, you elected to try to rest, but part-way through your rest a group led by a troglodyte appeared and attacked. After dispatching them (and rescuing Ruz from his cell), you were able to finish your rest.

While Ydrian spent time responding to Sendings from Mirie exchanging information, the rest of you went down into the hidden shaft to the mines. You encountered several troglodytes guarding a portcullis at the bottom of the shaft, and were able to get past those and find your way through some azers actively mining in one of the caverns to a genasi who was using a room as a workshop. Her guardian, a large lightning-charged golem, rose to defend her, but you were victorious.

Among her papers, you found:
- Rough maps of the area with notes on the locations of sites consecrated to Moradin, including the Monastery of the Sundered Chain. One map shows the city of Tessphon circled.
- She also has begun a postscript to a report on the mine's recent output: "Aiding Foss in an attempt to free the master of the giants may be a double-edged sword. It would certainly weaken Moradin, but it could also cause increased " [she seems to have been interrupted before finishing]
- Many notes on experiments performed in attempts to "improve" existing constructs, generally by infusing them with elemental energy or binding elementals into them, "perhaps in a manner similar to archons."

You spent a week at the fortress, in further exploration of the mine's tunnels, watching over the surrounding area, and deciding what to do about the mine. One of the "Queen's" patrols returned with prisoners from the village you had passed through on your way to the fortress; you freed those prisoners and took prisoners of your own and headed back east. The village had been destroyed and most of the villagers killed when that patrol arrived and could not get a satisfactory answer about the fate of the "Warden".

You continued on, and after dodging some roving bands of Stormfury orcs, catching up with Aracuin the young copper dragon, and detouring off to pay another visit to the Monastery of the Sundered Chain you arrived back in Tessphon. 
“If the computer or the game designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake.” -Sid Meier