On the Ruins of Empires

Doppelganged
In the House of Murder

The aftermath of bloody battle

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Seeking Answers

Elystan paid 3000gp+ staff to repair/reforge his Staff of Defense = 7 wks
Karoton paid 1500 gp to begin fitting for plate mail.

Saceron reported a possible interest: A few days north, there is a large marshy swamp, infested with Bullywugs and Lizardfolk. A party of adventurers went there with a large number of potions and antitoxins.. The adventurers never returned; their leader was a cleric of Voral with an item to protect against poison.

Tia’s sister has a new handmaiden,Delia, who seems to be a trained martial artist, whose father is an associateof Vicost.

The lady Tia is approached by the Red Masks, with an offer of business. Her agreement is met with the delivery of information: The attack is likely the work of a group of doppelgangers who’ve formed a guild in the southern port of Brannis.

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Murder Mystery House
How to Ruin a Marriage

The list of dead servants:

Juliette
Tammy

Adelon
Master Donnis
Fiero
Mark

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The Birth of the Black Cross Company

Ellistan and Karoton officially form an adventuring party, registering it with the Adventurer’s Guild: The Black Cross Company.

The Ruins of North Blackstone have been abandoned for some 480 years, after the secession of northern Firei into the Agathean Empire. After the cursed event, giants moved in ~300 years ago, raiding etc. until the armies of the Empire drove them out. In the last ~100 years, some amount of undead have arisen in that area. There is an outstanding reward for clearing the undead curse from the area; this is a combination of reward from the current lord’s grandfather plus from the Temple of D’Stas. Meanwhile, the Guild of Adventurers will pay the standard fee for information on the area.

We paid 15gp for a map of the surrounding area (city + environs).

We travel to the ruins, with a cold, clear, silver half moon rising in the east.

We head into the ruined city, aiming for the temple of D’stas. The temple is built kind of like a crypt, with columns running along outside, alcoves that once held statues but no longer. From the north side of the temple comes the faint screeching sound of some creature. We see a shadowy creature, with a silver spike embedded in the center of it, stuck to the archway 12’ above the ground. We put it out of its misery and the screeching ends. The large silver spike is blunted on one end, for hammering.

We enter the temple. There is the sound of wood on stone, echoing through the hallway, consistent but not loud, from something deeper past the left archway… A tall figure in ragged robes walking slowly towards us, with a carved wooden staff of black material in one hand, and a large sack in the other. The figure wears a veil across its face, its hands entirely wrapped and covering its skin. It ignores us and makes its way to the entry, where it dips its hand into the sack, drawing forth powdered silver to drop in a line across the entry. It continues through the right archway, continuing its circuit through the temple.

In the main area of the church, there is a bowl on the altar, with a faint radiant light coming from the water inside it. Some of the etchings here are more recent, done in the last decade or so, but have no significance to us. They remind Alexander of Inpalnir, but it’s not readable. The water is blessed, but there is no power behind the blessing. Like a magic wand that has no charges left [editor’s note: it’s the LaCroix of holy water!]. The altar itself blesses any water left in the basin overnight. Between Karoton’s religion, Alexander’s arcana, and a week of work plus 500 gp, we can restore this altar to its original purpose. Karoton removed the non-magic water, and filled it with 3 vials worth of actual holy water (just in case the guardian of D’stas can use it, maybe).

By the front altar, there are two routes, but blocked by two heavy, massive stone slabs, roughly 800~900 lbs each. But as Ellistan makes a move to it, the robed figure doesn’t want it moved. The guardian moves back to the front where it grabs a shadowy undead that was caught by the silver line. It floats up to the archway, it draws forth more powdered silver which gathers into a silver spike which it uses to hammer through the undead. As near as we can figure, it’s like an alarm, and the screeching warns the other undead away.

We attempt to stay the night. Tia has a dream, where the veiled creature appears and whispers, “You can hear me. It’s not safe here.” She wakes up (taking psychic damage) to find the guardian standing over her, but the message finally got through.

So we head off to the Temple of M’neara. This temple is partially collapsed. Even in its original state, it had an open construction; if this temple had any private rooms, they’re somewhere underground.

There is a pile of bodies at one end, where the columns have collapsed the “entryway”. 15’ beyond that is a staircase going down. There are corpses, not skeletons, but not in good condition. About half the bodies are goblin sized. But none of the bodies are complete. Some have chunks missing: a limb here, torso there. But there are no heads at all. At a guess, these have been dead for weeks.

A faint rattling sound comes from the west. After some 20’, a staircase descends leading down, where the ceiling is rather low after the collapse of the ceiling. There are marks like clawed and/or bloodied footprints up and down the staircase. The tunnel goes to a low hallway. There is a hideous stench everywhere. The hallway runs ~30’ long, with three rooms on each side. There is rubble everywhere, but most of it has been pushed to the end of the hallway, effectively blocking it. There are no doors, but rather ragged hanging drapes: stained, ichorous and disgusting. We are fairly certain this place is no longer blessed by M’neara.

First door on right: in one corner sits a pile of skulls, all stripped of flesh. In another corner, a pile of rags and flesh, like some kind of crude nest.

First door on left: the floor is covered in crushed and crunched bones (mostly skulls).

Second door on right: there are niches carved into the wall, set with skulls in them, organized by size and race, perfectly cleaned. On the ground, there are carved circles that appear ritualistic in nature. There are dead candle stubs all around, emulating a ritual circle. Theoretically, a warlock could be able to summon their patron with this.

Second door on left: in one corner sits a pile of skulls.

Third door on right: there is faint, shallow breathing from this room. The hideous, rotting stench is incredibly thick. On the back wall, a person, stripped bare chested, is chained and trapped. His head is rolled back, with eyes lidded and unconscious. He has been starved to the point where we can see his ribs easily. He is marked with a series of crude tattoos, the same style that we’ve seen on various limbs and parts of bodies in this ruin. The manacles are old, but very high quality. Ellistan removes the stones directly from the wall to free him.

Third door on left: multiple piles of skulls, but not fully cleaned as in the other rooms.

We set up back in the first door on left, with prestidigitation handling moving the skulls around to clear enough space to camp. The freed prisoner is paralyzed, but alive. We set up watches: Isaac & Alexander, Karoton & Roland (as played by Sam), and Ellistan & Tia.

On third watch, eight ghoul type enemies return to the temple. We are able to destroy all of them. Among them were two ghasts, one of whom had the symbol of Ananix carved into its chest. The ghouls had brought back three bodies with them, likely bandits judging from their tattoos. However, all of them were corpses, not just paralyzed.

After prestidigitating some of this new stench away, we completed the night at the temple of love.

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In the town of Blackstone

We have limited time, in order for Tia to make it back to Lyei in time for the dress fitting for her sister’s wedding.

We stop by a small village, and stay at the No Fighting Inn Here, where Iwama plays for the crowd. We realize that there are bandits here at this inn. It seems to be a mutual defense type arrangement, out here in the boonies.

On the road to Blackstone, we are attacked by a group of bugbears plus goblin sorcerer hiding under rocks. After the fight, we discover that they are members of the cult of Banskarn. Karoton takes the holy symbol (which has a secondary function of casting an enchantment on those it brands, enslaving them to the cult).

We arrive at the town of Blackstone. We search for information about Lara coming to this town, and Ellistan requests an audience with the local lord.

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Into Firei

We reunite with Alexander (and Roland)

We are traveling into Firei to help him find Lara
We have reason to believe she was headed to North Blackstone
It was the last part of Firei to become part of the Empire
Lots of people died in that final siege, starved out, and not given the chance to surrender. Stories say there’s a curse on that ruin even now. Undead have since risen.

On the way, there’s a bugbear toll bridge. It looks super sturdy. I’d even say dwarven quality. There are two guard towers on either side of the bridge, and goblins have apparently taken residence in the tower. The bugbear with the polearm gestures towards the toll box. Each of us throw coins in the box and cross in peace.

At the other end is a bugbear with a polearm, who gestures towards a toll box on this side of the bridge XD Each of us throw coins in the box and the bugbear lets us by in peace.

In the night, we are attacked by goblins. We fight them off and the last of them surrenders. I think Isaac kills him anyway.

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The Sad End of Dismal Bracken

Negotiating with Fidget
We will trade the use of his bell for the promise of catnip, delivered to him later

We trap the shadow
We smite the shadow
We take the amulet, a green gem reminiscent of a cat’s eye

Isaac (or was it Ellistan, I don’t remember) puts the eye in a sack and crushes it. A great cry goes up from the forest.

We track down Dismal Bracken and engage her and her tree and her puppets in combat. Ellistan brings the fire. Isaac brings the smiting. Karoton brings the ancient dwarven spirits.

Bracken’s tree explodes, spilling its guts out all over the clearing.

We receive:

  • The head of a hag, petrified into a stone similar to obsidian
  • Sacks of knucklebones
  • Sacks of ogre’s teeth
  • Sacks of gnoll fingers
  • Sacks of pixie wings
  • Magic silver mirror – grants +2 bonus to Charisma for the day (given to water nymph)
  • Magic smoldering staff – Staff of Striking except bonus dmg is fire (given to Isaac)
  • Magic robes – Robes of Disguise except form is always old and harmless (given to Tia)
  • Magic black stone – Gem of FIendish Earth Elemental Summoning except the elemental is fiendish and evil (given to Isaac)
  • Non-magical book of leather somehow resistant to fire (given to Ellistan)
  • Crate of large number of silver daggers, still stained in blood
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Back to the fey tower

But we lose Alexander (and Roland) due to a sudden message from the tower.

The rest of us go back to the tower and take the frontal assault method of negotiation against the the quicklings. Well, Daroi is going to be chief now…

We loot the tower, and gain:

  • Silver Bowl of Commanding Water Elementals – summons Julia (a water weird). The bowl is slightly cursed.
    Leafy Cloak of Elvenkind – also makes it hard to scry on the wearer
    Dagger of Wounding – it was a short sword for the quicklings; deals d4 necrotic damage every round (Con save ends), HP lost to this weapon cannot be healed via magic, only short/long rest. While the d4’s will stack up over successive attacks, a single Con save ends the entire effect.
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The Tower of the Serpent
and Quicklings

Four days of travel, we walk to a misshapen stone lump on top of a hill.

pile of stones about 60’ across. once foundation?
would be about a story high, so stones probably removed
area overgrown w/ plants
circular, collapsed inward, surrounded by waist high bramble thicket

stones that fell on outside were taken away
construction is pretty high quality (for non-dwarf work)
entrance to tower was on east

thorns surrounding it: no real easier path
fact that brambles are here means it probably existed w/ the tower, and it grew out of control after collapse
60ish years? brambles are very healthy
eastern side

magic is around
90 minutes cutting through thorns: karoton & akemi
tia & alexander look for shrooms: too sunny. need dark & damp
vipers!
pick up a couple hundred painted snakeheads so i can harvest their poisons later :P

snakes!
investigate: move stones to reveal trapdoor
something in brambles ran away; yellow, blue etc
magic aura in area: animal friendship, keyed to feywild. allows control of snakes?
lift up with ancient rusty creak
basement space underneath
Tia and Karoton are exhausted 1

well downstairs
Julia attacks! water weird vs Karoton & Akemi
quicklings attack! group vs Tia & Alexander

we back off from well; can’t get to us if we hug the wall
stuff starts getting thrown down at us (first of which was a cloaked quickling body)
i grab the cloak
we climb up
Tia and Alexander are down, but their wounds are bound
after Tia talks more in sylvan, mentions cloak what cloak this cloak
Karoton puts it on
i’m the boss now
well i will be after the feast

we withdraw down to the base of the hill
after a while, the quicklings show up with a big (for them) table and food and beer
snake bite beer
i have finished making 6 of the promised 7 small swords
i distribute the swords to the 4 quicklings present, and also two more for the rest in the lair
negotiations on behalf of my people!

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Witch Meet

we met the witch!
the ladies took meal of hospitality; the boys didn’t
pleasant conversation, all told

Alexander accused her of being a kidnapper
she’s like meh
gives us quest if can find verdant vicala, kill her or take away her power, she’d give us an item
okay i’m taking off now
tree walks off

went to church of Ahmor

asked about things around town: about lord, Tia’s lookin for some alliance-marriage

waited for Nasha, met at inn, talked with her
delightful talk with her
did not get to talk about deal w/ Dismal Bracken re: Verdant Vicala
her mother is buried at crossroads; she did it herself

offered us way to shield us from Bracken’s sight
there is a magic cloak in a tower to the northeast. if we give the cloak to Nasha, she can try to spread its power around the party
mushrooms can be picked for sidequest; but don’t touch ’em with bare skin

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