Friday, March 1, 2013, 3:32 PM
#172 - The cover of Vor Rukoth: who is that, rowing a boat through the ruins of one of Bael Turath's greatest cities? Why, it's a Dragonborn! The war may have ended in a tie, but looting opportunities clearly didn't.
#173 - Dragonborn were the poster-kids for fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons. The inclusion of one of their number on the cover of the Player's Handbook announced loudly that the game wasn't afraid to try new things in its latest direction, shaking up assumptions about 'core' races and classes rather than dwelly overmuch on rehashing the same old, same old.
#174 - Dragonborn breastfeeding. You're welcome.
Friday, March 1, 2013, 11:09 AM
At Vermillion, Shibboleth was surprised by a sending
that claimed to come from Arthur Ashdale, recently deceased. After taking the time to corroborate his identity, the cleric took Ralveron and Lenwe back to Whiteplume Mountain to find the swordmage sitting - in some state of undress - beside the lava pool.
Once back at Vermillion again, Arthur explained how he had survived. For a while now he had known that he was carrying the spirit of the primordial Timaeus, resulting in the dragonmark that he had gone to great efforts to conceal, and which had been responsible for his sudden increase in magical capabilities. Only once he had died in the lava had he become aware of his ability to recorporate his mortal form around his immortal soul.
Naturally, knowing that their trusted comrade was a primordial all along (albeit one claiming that his time amongst humanity had persuaded him that maybe the world didn't need to be unmade) shocked The Red Order somewhat. Shibboleth and Lenwe insisted that Arthur take a mark of justice
to keep him in check, on the off chance that the being from the dawn of time decided to change its mind again and rejoin its kindred.
Still, on the plus side, now there was someone who knew their way around the library present again, and once he got some new pants and a shirt Arthur could get on with researching the time travel ritual that Obanana had used - Kawaii could yet be saved!
All the researchin' was interrupted by a warforged entering. Calling itself Sonata, it - among other things - claimed to know the route to Kordell Thayko's secret warforged forgery forge! As a warden of some spirit-speaking skill, it could also handle itself well enough in a fight to be invited to accompany the other four on their journey there.
A portal to Hammerfast (specifically, the temple to Moradin) and The Red Order stopped briefly to catch up on local news. Since they had saved the city (back in heroic tier) from renegade artificer Vogel Bellows and his warforged army, things had returned to normal. Former Order member Heleana was alive and well, and Bellows was safely locked up.
It wasn't much trouble for a group of epic heroes to scale Forgepeak, where they found a small encampment of warforged patrolling a few small buildings,one large forge-lookin' place and a red tower that seemed recently stolen from Fallcrest. Confirmation, if any were needed, that Kordell Thayko was in residence.
He had laid defences, of course. Besides the warforged there were some floating metal orbs intent on shooting jets of fire (what else?) and the ground erupted to surround The Red Order with living statues.
Ralvereon unleashed a whirlwind of fey death, teleporting between each of the constructs to crush them beneath his spear. Sonata kept the warforged busy as Lenwe shot them down, and Arthur and Shibboleth hunted the death-orbs across the rooftops.
That done with, the team proceeded to the forge, only to find a giant warforged amongst the industry, one that spoke with a familiar voice: that of Vogel Bellows!
Thursday, February 28, 2013, 10:00 AM
While there will always be a core party of the most experienced adventurers leading The Red Order, following their inheritance of the paragon compact the group has expanded its membership somewhat.Behold!
Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 10:42 AM
Way back in heroic tier, after vanquishing the Keep on the Shadowfell, The Red Order became embroiled in an effort to unseat slave lords that were terrorising the Nentir Vale. To reach their hidden lair, they needed to travel through underground caverns, where party paladin (perhaps the fifth or so, by this time?) Merrick was ensnared and devoured by a roper, buying enough time with his sacrifice to allow his comrades to continue (and going on to inspire the construction of the Merrick Home for Orphaned Halflings in Winterhaven).
As they closed on the stronghold of the slave lords, The Red Order encountered a mysterious stranger in a large hat and wearing many buckles, speaking a bizarre tongue ("thee","thou", "verily", "hast", and so forth - given this Elizabethan turn of phrase, and that D&D is ostensibly medieval, it became apparant that he was from the future). This Justicar Deerhart was also interested in toppling the slave lords, to free a fair damsel.
As time wore on, Deerhart's personal mission quickly became forgotten (!), and the cleric became a regular member of The Order. He accompanied them on their raid of the steading of a hill giant chieftain who had attacked local druidic and shifter tribes (tribes whose aid would be needed to fight off an approaching horde of Bloodspear orcs, but that's another tale entirely).
During the conflict with the giants however, Deerhart became separated, and when the party returned to look for him, they found only his hat and a pair of flaming wagon tracks leading to nowhere.
In the chieftain's cells the party rescued avenger Kawaii Shiva, and Deerhart's disappearance had been little remarked upon until his brief return last week...
Thursday, February 21, 2013, 10:24 AM
This was White Plume Mountain, famous for its magnificent views, heaps of dead gnomes and fiery pit of unmaking artefacts. The warforged Lord of Blades tossed the control orb into said pit and gave a speech about finally having revenge on the humanity that had enslaved his 'people'. Even though they were almost totally exhausted, The Red Order charged into battle once again.
Arthur held off the Lord of Blades and his entourage at the pit's edge while his comrades cast arrows, blessings and tactics from the doorway. Kawaii charged in alongside the swordmage, but then there was a thunderous explosion, and the shifter disappeared in a blast of lightning.
In her place, a man in bizarre attire, covered with buckles and belts and sporting a sabre and oddly-wielded wand. Verily, 'twas the future sailor himself, Justicar Deerhart!
[The story of The Order's previous heroic adventures with this fellow are too long to relate here; they involved slavelords, ogres and an abandoned damsel in distress]
Bolstered by the invoker's divine powers (even if only Shibboleth had ever met him before), The Order dismantled the renegade warforged, but not before the Lord of Blades pitched Arthur over into the pit.
Shibboleth flew down to retrieve him, passing through a layer of unsight without sound, which only cleared above a pool of bubbling magma in a small chamber. Being unable to breathe said magma, he returned to his comrades so that they could plan their next move. In the meantime, Deerhart had acquainted himself with Ralvereon and Lenwe, explaining that he had come back in time to prevent the rise of the warforged, getting there a little late. Kawaii was safe, he assured them, merely mass-displaced into the bleak future-time from whence the future sailor didst saileth.
Deerhart revealed that he could also fly (showing off glowing, angelic wings with attendant halo), and was most resistant to heat. As he flew down the shaft though, he realised that his wings were not designed for more than short hops, and plummeted into the pool.
To his credit, he survived the embrace of the magma long enough to drag himself free and explore the chamber. Finding a pair of hand-prints on the wall, accompanied by some doggerel, he placed his gloves onto them, and was rewarded with a force bubble springing up around him. It rolled into the magma, protecting him from that outside (although the stuff still coating his robes ate into him the whole time). When he fancied he spied the body of Arthur amongst the roil he reached out a hand to grab it.
The bubble burst.
Once Shibboleth had confirmed that there was no sign of the pair of fallen adventurers, and the party had determined that there was no way any trace of their bodies could have survived anyhow, the three remaining used the Lord of Blades' dimensional sword to cut a path back to Tymbarque.
The warforged guard were gathering in the central square, taking innocent citizens as hostages. Ralvereon strode out to meet them, explaining how there didn't have to be war between the constructs and the humans, that there was another way!
United in cause against the dragon kings, the warforged could find a place for themselves in noble battle, and afterwards return to what they had been before Hammerfast's degenerate cultists had transformed them into metal monsters.
The warlord remained with the warforged to train them, Orianna (turns out she was just a little cut up by the LoB) implored the nobles to allow one onto the city council, and a tenuous peace was established.
Where next? In their adventure against the giants, The Red Order had travelled back in time through a ritual performed by Obanana in Vermillion, and if they could locate the manuscript (without Arthur's sterling research skills) they may be able to find a way to blast themselves into the future and rescue Kawaii.
Also, the newer Kordell-made warforged shared the secret of their creation: Thayko had restarted the forges of Hammerfast to build them and the Lord of Blades: there was a good chance the lich may still be there, or at least some clue to his whereabouts. It was time to wander back to the dwarven city.
In memory of Arthur Ashdale and Justicar Deerhart.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 10:12 AM
Wow. I have now seen Dungeons & Dragons 3: The Book of Vile Darkness. It's... something. The back of the DVD blurb does not describe the movie that is within. The images on the casing are not representative of the content, and the attempts at clever humour ("Heroic tier or paragon?") are awful. Another reason for Dragonborn being awesome may be that they don't appear in this movie. The shadar-kai certainly don't come out of it feeling too good; if they hadn't mentioned it at all, I'd have had no reason to suspect that that character was anything other than a pierced human. Oh, man.
And the goliath! The goliath... The goliath is named Vimak. Heh.
I think that the D&D group needs to get together to watch this at some point...
Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 10:02 AM
After a short time recuperating in Vermillion, The Red Order decided to pay a visit to Mount Celestia to report the status of their divine mission. Arthur declined to accompany the others, instead heading off to Tymbarque to deal with a cabal of lawyers who would attempt to win him back his birthright.
In heaven, Kuyutha was disappointed to hear of the failure to acquire the Banner of Arkhosia, but delighted to learn of the death of the arch-traitor Zebukiel. His spy network had let him down in not telling the whole truth of the condition of Io'Vanthor, although he did not apologise too loudly for allowing The Order to wander blindly into unknown danger.
The exarch arranged to have a flight of dragons sent to support the Vermillion kobolds and Red Order auxiliaries (lowly paragon-level chumps) that were to be working to rebuild and fortify Io'Vanthor; it was almost a certainty that the dark god Tiamat would be sending her own wyrms once she learned of the region's newfound availability. Akra was contacted via sending to attend as well; having a fire sorcerer on hand would be a great boon to the lowly mooks who would otherwise be cowering in the ruins.
Stopping only long enough that Ralvereon could sample some divine nectar, The Red Order returned to the world.
Arthur had been less than utterly successful in securing legal services, but had been slipped a note by a hooded figure in the streets. It proclaimed that an event would happen at the castle, three days hence. Mystified, he informed his companions that he would be attending a soiree at that time, and Kawaii decided to go with him.
Shibboleth had no time for frivolity. He had many new rituals to master, and a nice new lectern to read books on; it had been a gift from Arthur, procured in the City of Brass during his time away. What the swordmage hadn't mentioned is that the merchant that had given it to him had asked no fee, and claimed to be a loyal servant awaiting command. The fact that Arthur's dragonmark played up near the item was also kept secret from his comrades.
Ralvereon went to visit his eladrin kin, and managed to secure their aid in the war against the dragon kings.
Lenwe returned to Fallcrest, and was surprised to find that the crimson tower that had served as The Order's old (heroic tier) base of operations had completely vanished. Only one person could be responsible - Kordell Thayko!
While The Red Order readied itself to track down their traitorous ex-member and former ruler of Tymbarque, Arthur and Kawaii went to the city, currently ruled by Red Order member Orianna, holder of the magical orb of Hammerfast that controls the warforged army. These diligent golemic soldiers were attending their duties very well, refusing to allow Arthur entrance to the castle. When he questioned why, and asked about the newer model, bulkier warforged that he'd seen wandering about, he was told that he'd seen nothing if he wanted to stay free.
Two epic-level adventurers had no trouble getting past this guard to see what was happening inside. Seeing slain human guards everywhere, they headed for the throne-room, sending back for back-up as they went.
In the throne-room, Orianna was slumped over the shoulder of a particularly large and blade-endowed warforged, who was holding the orb while the noble council of Tymbarque was menaced by other angry robots. Before Arthur and Kawaii could spring into action, they were whispered to from behind by the same hooded figure that had lured them there, telling them that the fun was just beginning.
As the two ran into the chamber, the lead warforged cut a hole in reality with his blade and stepped through to escape.Arthur dived in after him, but Kawaii was brutally beaten before she could make it though, bleeding heavily as she finally escaped.
The two landed on a mountain of dead gnomes.
Five minutes later, getting to Tymbarque via the old teleport circle concealed in the bedchamber of dead Prince Malachai (wow, that seems so long ago...) The Red Order - Ralvereon, Lenwe and Shibboleth - charge in to find a very Kordell-like hooded figure reclining on the throne and attended by warforged while a portal swirls away behind him. The mad wizard ranted about how they were too late, and how the warforged would finally be free to follow his commands as he rained flaming ncerotic bolts on his former comrades and metal men tried to stab them.
The fight was brutal, and involved Ralveron discovering an illusionary trap that had been placed before the throne, but by its the warforged were inert and Kordell's skeletal form had been revealed to be nothing more than a simulacrum. With questions needing answering, the trio jumped through the portal.
After sliding down the gnome-mound, they found giant-size Arthur smashing through a secured doorway, to reveal the ruler of the warforged tossing the command orb away down a deep,lava-filled pit...
Monday, February 4, 2013, 11:49 AM
So, The Red Order faced off against Zebukiel, immortal, cursed dragon responsible for Io'vanthor's fall in the Arkhosian-Turathi war. For the following photograph, you have to imagine that the dragon is peering down from a ledge forty feet above the party, as a waterallcascades in the background and motes of light sparkle between somewhat crumbly pillars holding up the roof:
While Lenwe held back to snipe the foe, Kawaii and Arthur respectively flew and teleported atop the cliff to stab at it with swords. Shibboleth, unable to close that quickly, waited at the foot of the cliff to move in later. Ralvereon settled for climbing the rock slowly.
When the warlord reached the top, he saw that Zebukiel had just finished smacking the avanger and the swordmage to the ground, which was giving off distinctly necrotic odours. The dragon flew over him, but Lenwe stopped its flight with a couple of prepared arrow shots, leaving Ralvereon almost crushed beneath its bulk.
Robbed of its ranger-shaped target, the dragon instead swept out with its claws at the warlord and the cleric (forty feet hardly being out of reach for such a gargantuan creature). As well as wounding, its touch immobilised. Stuck at the bottom of the cliff, Shibboleth could little but fume, while Arthur bled out into the necrotic waste above...
Ralvereon got Arthur to his feet, but Zebukiel struck again, putting the swordmage back in his place and leaving Kawaii unable to close the distance between them. The dragon once more took to the air to swoop down on Lenwe, again being pinned to the ground with arrowfire. So it decided to use its breath weapon instead.
A few seconds later, the entire Red Order being petrified, Zebukiel casually strolled over to the elf and began eating him. No taste, some creatures.
The stoned condition proved to be mercifully temporary (save for poor Shibboleth, whose rocky prison was bringing back too painful flashbacks of his time fighting a medusa, not to mention the fact that his Oil of Flesh Returned
that he'd purchased directly after that encounter was also stone in his pack), and Ralvereon led a charge back down the cliff, flanking the dragon with Arthur.
The swordmage stunned the dragon with a powerful blow,and when Kawaii complained that she couldn't stab it herself, he switched places with her before teleporting straight back into the fray.
Lenwe backed off to get a better shot with his bow, stunning Zebukiel again after his claws had glanced off Ralvereon's plate a couple of times. Swords, spears and arrows rained upon the fell creature, and by the time Shibboleth snapped out of his petrification the dragon was dead, and crumbling to dust.
Pausing briefly to heal up with the up-until-now unused divine powers of their cleric, The Red Order ascended upon the treasure hoard. As they filled their pockets, they were surprised and dismayed when the pillars began to give way, allowing bits of the ceiling to attack them! They high-tailed it back down the corridor as a wave of dust rippled out from the collapsing cave.
It was a race through the complex, unable to see very far and relying upon Arthur's Map of Unseen Lands
to guide the way, stumbling over pathetic demons at every turn.
Daylight was attained just in time, but as they gazed about the landscape, they could see that the death of the dread lord had undone whatever had been keeping Io'vanthor together. Buildings that had earlier been gateways into the past were now centuries-old ruins, and there was no way to get to the Banner of Arkhosia now.
Still, now it was possible to teleport back out, to return to Vermillion and plan their next move. Having the citizens respond to their arrival with surprise - as if the party had left months ago, instead of just under a week - was mildly unsettling...
Zebukiel was level 29 (jazzed up a bit with post Monster Manual 3 techniques by the GM) and The Red Order were level 22 before they ripped the sweet XP from his unliving carcass. The Dragon Kings had better prepare themselves better when we come for them...Fig v: Tom celebrates our victory
Monday, January 28, 2013, 11:34 AM
The black pudding was huge, and stank ferociously. The Red Order wasn't going to stand for that.
Of course, the stench was almost overpowering as The Order closed on the beast, and a pair of four-armed demons came running in from the other side of the cavern. Kawaii and Arthur flanked the pudding but soon ended up ensnared in its goo, along with the unfortunate demons.
That's when the lights went out.
Lenwe backed off the way that the party had come, while Shibboleth flew around the side of the cavern. Ralvereon was caught at the centre of the seemingly sentient patch of shadow, which managed to somehow stab him with a blade.
Arthur, in between teleporting to the pudding to attack it, kept up a conversation with a hooded figure in the corner of the cavern. In Abyssal, the demon explained how it would allow The Order to pass through the caverns safely if they agreed to help his demonic brethren escape from the cursed city with them. Sounded very familiar...
With the demons variously devoured by the pudding or slain by The Order, all were free to concentrate on the smelly goo, shooting and stabbing it while trying to keep out of the shadow-generating demon that was duelling with Ralvereon. The warlord took time out from this action to command Kawaii to strike true. Finally the pudding exploded!
Inside was an even worse smelling demon, which Kawaii took a particular offence to. Once it was dead, the shadow fiend proved less elusive, and the simple expedient of repeatedly shooting into the darkness killed it eventually.
As for the demon making a deal? Well, if The Red Order was not prepared to strike a bargain with the Iron Duke of Hell, they were unlikely to stoop to parlaying with some elemental nutcase. Arthur refused the offer by having Lenwe shoot the demon.
Proceeding through the tunnels, it seemed as if the denizens were giving our heroes a wide berth. The only demons to appear as more than an echoing cackle were a trio of vulturic Vrocks, and only one of them was slow-witted enough to still be present by the time the party closed.
In pathetic tones it offered to guide The Red Order to the lair of the dread lord of the domain himself, and only wanted not to be immediately killed out of hand. That sounded like the sort of relationship The Red Order could get behind! En route, the demon explained that its dread master was Zebukiel, an ancient dragon that had betrayed Arkhosia to Bael Turath and was thereafter cursed to eternal life. The demons had been enslaved by him, and wanted him dead as much as anyone else, but were too weak to manage the feat.
A cliff-face led up to a cave, within which was darkness. A voice from within greeted our heroes, and Zebukiel bemoaned his immortality while also attempting to coerce the party into retrieving more items for his hoard. The Red Order talked while scattering sun rods about the chamber, but since Zebukiel's offer amounted to not killing the party if they got him some loot from the same tomb where the Banner of Arkhosia was located, they told him to stuff it. It was time for the betrayer to pay for his crimes and the city to be freed!
Epic level dragon fight time.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 10:26 AM
Arthur took Lenwe's arrow to the chest with good grace, but it was the devils swarming around him that put him down. Shibboleth put down the assassin bothering Kawaii with a burst of holy light, but before the avenger could get into the combat Dispater imposed the iron gates of Hell between them.
Of course, that couldn't stop her.
Lenwe, once back in his right mind, began hunting down the cambions skirting the dges of the conflict, hurling spells into the fray. Kawaii managed to find herself toe to toe and hoof with Dispater, her back to the burning gates of Hell. She was overcome, and collapsed alongside Arthur.
Flying back from the fray for a moment, Shibboleth used the very last of his divine healing energies to get everyone back into fighting shape.
The gate fell, and Dispater teleported away, leaving his war devil to deal with Kawaii, hoisting her away on its pitchfork. This time she was saved by her own divine abilities, but left unconscious until Ralvereon could reach her, dodging the war devil as well as the blasts of the cambions. Arthur is down here not because he is unconscious but because he couldn't be bothered to stand up, fighting on from a prone position.
Once the war devil was felled by warlord Ralvereon, the cambions lost heart,seemingly unable to aim their spells anymore. Dispater proved more accurate, blasting Lenwe unconscious as he teleported back to his throne, ranting and raving.
He had not noticed that the prone shifter at the foot of the throne was very much alive.
Kawaii jumpedto her feet and pulled the devil-lord to her, slicing into him with her sword.
Ralvereon ran up to support her, but was batted aside by the gloating Dispater. Shortly before the devil fell into two pieces in a delayed realisation of his own demise.
The final cambion began wheedling, but that was when Arthur finally brought his giant form to its feet to charge it and lop its head clean off.
The Red Order was in dire need of a rest, and relaxed while they variously looted and restored the defiled temple of Io. In the morning they would head toward the upper reaches of Io'vanthor, to seek out the dread lord that Dispater hadn't wanted to tell them about. What was a dread lord, now that they'd killed a duke of Hell?
Their path upward eventually descended into a tunnel, passing the ancient bonesof dead dragons. Further on in the darkness, a quivering mass of pulsating black jelly dropped from the ceiling, seemingly gargantuan in size...