Kingmaker

The Taming of the Weasel-Badger-Shrews
They're as horrifying as they sound

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 4, Month 3

Bandit's Rest

Following our adventures in Mendev, we regrouped to plan the remaining exploration of the lands around Fort Drelev. Around this time,  we found the dragonfly wings from half a year ago moldering in the bottom of a bag of holding. A quick cast of mending and they were good as new. We took them to that Berzaki fellow, who crafted us a cloak in exchange.

With that out of the way, it seems the main threat to Fort Drelev is a man-eating tiger (real? myth?) that has made the farmland north of the city unsafe for several years. So we are setting out to solve that problem, and get a better feel for the eastern lands as well.

Northeast of Fort Drelev

Our exploration had been relatively uneventful until today. The boggards gave us no trouble. We found a cave infested with chimeras (a creature I had never seen in real life), but they were little trouble. Narzeth turned one into dust and Raven turned another into a rabbit. I made rabbit stew.

The aurumvorax, on the other hand, were different. We encountered them today while investigating a barren area full of little holes, as if oversized prairie dogs were living there. However, what we found instead of prairie dogs were nearly a dozen magical beasts that seemed part badger and part weasel. And all teeth. Gelros tells me they are called aurumvorax.

These buggers were tough. I was unlucky enough to be point when the first one jumped out. I shook it off once, but then it bit my shoulder and came along for the ride as Bessie ran away. Shella dispatched that one, but we could hear movement. We had only a few moments to prepare before ravening weasel-beasts burst from the ground all around us, working as a pack to take us down one by one. It was a hell of a fight. Every time we thought we'd dropped one, the damn thing would bounce back up and keep attacking. For instance, I tried to shoot one off of Jaric's face, but with three arrows in it was still thrashing. Gelros has to finish it with a missile from his trusty wand. We did eventually take them all out. Apparently aurumvorax are either too stupid or too stubborn to retreat.

As reward for surviving, we got to recover all the gear and coinage from the previous poor saps who had wandered through here. It was a decent haul. What's more, Gelros found 5 aurumvorax kits. They're not quite as horrifying when they are small like that, but I still don't like them. Sounds like they're worth a lot of money, though, so Narzeth teleported them off somewhere for safekeeping. Onward.

North of Fort Drelev

Two days ago I found the big cat's tracks, and yesterday we tracked it to its lair. Loathe as I am to put down a predator simply for being a predator, it does seem that this one had developed quite a taste for humans and livestock—at least judging by the refuse near the cave. He wasn't in just then, so we set up a blind for me and used Shella and Kris for bait. Some of us, ahem, were more patient about the waiting than others, but he did show up. What a brute too: 14' long and 8' at the shoulder, with teeth the size of my forearms. He nearly killed Kris before we could put him down.

I've arranged to have him mounted and sent to the Museum of Natural History. It would be a shame to waste such a specimen.

XP

  • Explore plains hex (3,-1) (150 XP)
  • Kill Chimeras (14,400)
  • Explore hills hex (3,-5) (150 XP)
  • Kill Aurumvorax (24,400)
  • Explore hills hex (3,-6) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (3,-7) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (2,-6) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (2,-7) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (1,-7) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (0,-7) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (4,-5) (150 XP) 

Loot

  • Rudimentary robes (smelled bad)
  • Bracers of armor +5
  • Wand of Lightning Bolt (28 charges)
  • 2,530 GP
  • Fancy ivory scepter studded with opals worth 1,800 GP
  • Gold necklace worth 600 GP
  • Tattered vest with 6 MW silver daggers
  • Ring of climbing
  • +2 defending kukri
  • +1 ghost touch short sword
  • 5 aurumvorax kits
  • +1 bashing heavy steel shield
  • +1 Taldan dueling blade
  • +1 animal bane composite longbow
  • Efficient quiver
  • 2 animal slaying arrows
View
There and Back Again
In which "there" is Mendev, land of demon-fighting paladins

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 4, Month 1

Bandit's Rest

It has been some months since our last adventure. Gelros has spent the time expanding the borders of Arboria, but Jaric and Narzeth have been researching how to redeem that eye of Narzeth's. I gather that from the libraries in Candlekeep, they were able to link it to Abaddon, an alternate plane of existence consisting mostly of demons. (Look, I don't know how this stuff works, ok? I just write it down.) However, they weren't able to learn much more about its origins or how we might redeem it.

The upshot of all this is that we've decided to go to Mendev, land of demon-fighting paladins, to see if we can find out more. Gelros found us a visiting paladin whose uncle Arnath is a captain in Nerosyan, so we have a contact to try. We plan to travel fast and light; no cadre of followers this time.

Speaking of which, turns out Raven isn't coming with Narzeth either. Apparently she's expecting, and they both would rather she stay where it's safe.

Nerosyan, Mendev

We arrived this morning in Nerosyan, capital of Mendev. We chose a relatively straight path, through the eastern wilds of Numeria and then along the southern edge of the Estrovian forest. There were only a few events of note. The first is that on our third path through the swamps north of Fort Drelev, we finally found the fabled Wyvernstone bridge over the Hooktongue river. That will simplify road building for sure.

On day 2, we came across yet another cadre of brigand hill giants. (I swear, it's an epidemic of them around here.) We heard them before they heard us, and could have bypassed them. However, Gelros would rather not have the giants on our borders, and authorized us to take them out. I was about to organize an ambush, when Kris decides he'd rather face them in a fair fight. (I don't think you can call it "fair" just because we didn't shoot first, but ok, sure, whatever.)

It went about like the last fight we had with hill giants: battle chants, arrows, those extraplanar angels that Jaric always summons to aid him, you know the drill. Something that was a little different this time is that Gelros magically dominated one of them, and he thereafter served as our bodyguard all the way to Nerosyan.

On day 4, we had a nice dinner and chat with an old man we came across in the Estrovian Forest. Who turned out to be a gold dragon, who chose to reveal himself after the meal as he flew away. Now that's something that doesn't happen every day.

Nerosyan, Mendev (following day)

Mendev is an ocean of military activity. I've never seen so many people in heavy armor, and I served for years as a forward scout for Brevoy's army. Since he is literally sporting an evil eye, Narzeth has chosen to stay out of sight of all these paladins. We've been conducting our inquiries without him, which I'm sure he finds really annoying.

To Mendev's credit, Gelros was received with significant respect as a visiting foreign noble, although the queen politely declined an audience. We found this Arnath fellow, who directed us in turn to Scribe Keller. Scribe Keller, it turns out, is a knowledgeable middle-aged woman, but her knowledge of artifacts of Abaddon is still limited. She, in turn, directed us to Avungungungelvel, resident guardian angel of Narosyan. Resident. Guardian. Angel. (What is this place?)

Somewhat surprisingly, Avungungungelvel (what a name, by the way) agreed to meet with us. Maybe it was Keller's good word, or the fact that Jaric is a respected cleric of Iomede. Whatever. I have to say, this Avungungungelvel fellow is enormously impressive: golden skin, shining hair, wings… But his prowess wasn't just physical. He and Jaric spoke of Iomede and her followers for well over two hours when we first met him. I could see Shella was bored to tears, but she knew better than to fall asleep. I considered slipping out, but every time I gave it serious thought, the angel would glance pointedly in my direction. I gave it up.

Avungungungelvel finally got around to the eye. Destroying it would be "not hard" (for him or his associates at least); it just involves smashing it with a holy hammer. Redeeming it, on the other hand, is just a tad more difficult: you would have to travel to Abaddon, retrieve the focus associated with the eye, and bring it back to a place of opposing power for conversion. Sure! No problem.

Sigh. At least we know what we're up against now.

Avungungungelvel  was willing to give us this information, but not help us further. (In fact, he observed offhandedly to Gelros that simply meeting us at all was placing Gelros in a position of considerable debt to him, as far as he was concerned. There was something about "I might have to start charging you.")

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 4, Month 1

Bandit's Rest

After meeting with the angel, we spent a few more days in Nerosyan before Narzeth transported all of us, and our horses, back home. Gelros chatted up some local nobles and managed to secure some trade contracts. I gather also that Gelros and Shella found a potential buyer for Shella's prized greatsword, which she now plans to replace with that thing we found in Armag's tomb. Some fellow named Baron Tericius.

Speaking of which: Shella has been working with Narzeth and Baern Gorondur on a torq that will protect her from Ovinrbaane's wiles. I believe Baern has almost finished it.

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 4, Month 2

Bandit's Rest

Baern did it: he crafted something that will shield it's owner from magical mental influence. It does seem to work: Shella took us all back to Armag's tomb and relclaimed Ovinrbaane from the pillar. The shaman fellow (the tomb's resident guardian, if you'll recall), greeted Shella and brought us all straight to the chamber. Gelros deconstructed the pillar, and Shella claimed Ovinrbaane as her own. Condescendingly. So very condescendingly. It was amusing to watch the two of them battle wills, and even more amusing to watch Ovinrbaane come to the realization that it can't win the mental matchup now. Still, even if it's fighting on our side, that sword is trouble. I'll be keeping a close eye on Shella until I'm sure her defenses are sound.

XP

  • Explore plains hex (1,-1) (150 XP)
  • Explore plains hex (1,-2) (150 XP)
  • Explore plains hex (1,-3) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (1,-4) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (1,-5) (150 XP)
  • Defeated 5 giants (16,000 XP)

Loot

  • 8,200 GP of miscellaneous durable goods
View
Arborian Royal Safari Company
Catering to the elite since... they're level 2 nobles

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 7

The Western Wastelands

When we returned to the tomb entrance, the barbarians had gone. (Ha ha! Problem solved.) There was some discussion as to whether we should pursue them further or simply return directly to Bandit's Rest. Shella apparently had some pressing religious matters to attend to, so Narzeth teleported her back. The rest of us took the slow road with our followers and wagons of loot.

We chose a route that mapped the northern edge of the River Kingdoms area, following the trail of the barbarians. It was mostly uneventful. At one point, we found some hill giants in a cave arguing over spoils they had looted from passing merchants. They didn't feel like to talking to us. They did feel like throwing things at Kris, including pickles. It wasn't much of a fight. Spike knocked one flat and I tripped up another. Together with a few spells, it was over quickly. We recovered what was left of the durable goods and moved on.

We pursued the barbarian trail into the foothills of an impressive mountain range to the north, on Brevoy's southwestern border. I recall visiting these mountains long ago while scouting for Brevoy. They are rough and full of, well, barbarians. After a days travel through the foothills, we found a barbarian garrison. The sentinels challenged Gelros, but he had no trouble convincing them to parlay. It took a few hours, but a warlord appeared to negotiate. The short version is that the barbarians are willing to abide by a truce. However, what they really want is that sword that Shella and Gelros buried back in the tomb. With it, they apparently think they can more readily invade Brevoy.

So, give away an invaluable magical artifact to a nation who explicitly intends to use it against our ally and pseudo-national sponsor? I'm no politician, but that seems dumb. Gelros said he'd think about it.

We returned to Arborian lands traveling east, without further events.

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 8

Bandit's Rest

We found the rescued noblewomen convalescing in Candlekeep in the company of the Lady Quintessa Maray. (For some reason, I always feel compelled to use her full title, if only for the irony of it.) They assure us that they've been taking in the glories of Bandit's Rest and thoroughly enjoying themselves. We've scheduled a return expedition to Drelev in a few weeks. No teleportation this time.

Also, an embassy of Cheliax has moved in next to the Temple of Iomede, of all places. For some reason I can't remember, Gelros (or maybe it was Kris?) wanted me to attend their grand opening event. It's very nice inside. Shrug.

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 9

Fort Drelev

Gelros splurged for some kind of magical pop-up tent. It packs down to the size of a handbag, sets up to the size of a command tent, and is bigger on the inside. Much bigger: 30' square or so, with individual bedrooms! He's housing the noblewomen in there every night like this is some kind of safari. (Even though he claims to have no romantic interest.) I would have made them rough it.

The trip back to Fort Drelev was relatively uneventful, but not completely. We were ambushed by boggards while crossing the swamp near the river north of Lake Hooktongue. We made quick work of their leaders, and the rest beat a hasty retreat. Raven did catch one, but he was mostly useless. Apparently the poor saps aren't even part of some organized boggard kingdom; they're just local bandits. He couldn't tell us much of anything. Eventually we let him go. If we claim this area, we'll probably have to send a military unit to sweep it clean, but it won't be hard.

A bit later we found an hilly area rich in cloudberries, which are in fact pretty tasty. It's also a hotbed for predators, both natural and not so much. The only one we encountered was a snake lady (Naga I believe?), who looked scary right up until Spike caved her skull in with his tail. We traced her trail back to her lair, where we recovered some stolen gold. Useful for offsetting the cost of this little safari.

That was three days ago. We arrived in Drelev yesterday just before dark. There was much rejoicing. Lord Numesti is making the best of putting the town back together, but it's still in rough shape. He's anxious for us to complete a connection by road so Drelev can formally join Arboria. All in due time, I guess.

XP

  • Explore (2,-5) (150 XP)
  • Kill Giants (14,400 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (1,-6) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (0,-6) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (0,-5) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (0,-4) (150 XP)
  • Explore hills hex (0,-3) (150 XP)
  • Explore plains hex (0,-2) (150 XP)
  • Explore plains hex (0,-1) (150 XP)
  • Explore plains hex (2,-1) (150 XP)
  • Dealt with boggards (12,000 XP)
  • Explore swamp hex (2,-2) (150 XP)
  • Explore plains hex (2,-3) (150 XP)
  • Kill dark naga (4,800 XP)
  • Explore plains hex (4,-4) (150 XP)
  • Saving the noblewomen (19,200 XP)

Loot

  • Tools and building materials worth 500 GP or 3 BP
  • 5,250 SP + 1,610 GP
  • MW Breastplate
  • Spyglass
  • Golembane Scarab
  • Potion of Aid
  • Potion of Fly
  • Brooch of Shielding
  • Hand of the Mage
  • 3,350 GP
View
Armag-eddon It!
Cause Ovinrbaane never wants it to stop

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 7

Armag's Tomb

It's not every day that one finds a sentient evil sword and buries it in a pillar of stone. I'm not even sure it really happened. I pretty sure I just finally snapped, and what you are reading are the ramblings of a madwoman. Then again, here's a sackful of gold, jewels, and weapons that tells me I'm at least not completely imagining the events of the last 24 hours.

So yes, let me ramble. Where did I leave off? Test of Tactics; right! I forgot to tell you that Gelros used some sort of special soap to wash both Kris and Shella so they could shake off the demons' mind paralyzing effect. After that, there was some discussion that I tuned out while I wrote my previous journal entry. The conclusion was to finish the exploration of the passageways around us before moving deeper into the cave.

The Test of Balance: After our usual roping up trick, we found our way back to the entry and went down the left-hand passage. This passage came out at a huge, smooth disc on the floor, which turned out to be a balance beam of sorts: you had to balance just right to walk across to the far side. I was busy brainstorming a way to rig a rope across when Narzeth floated the idea of using his flight spell. On the dinosaur. Yes, please, let that sink in: Narzeth cast flight on Spike, Kris's stegosaur. And so began the tale of how I got to live out one of my specific fantasies: riding on a flying dinosaur.

But, like all dreams, elements of it were just weird. First, Spike has no wings. Also, I hadn't anticipated riding alongside five of my closest friends or teaching Kris on the fly how to properly steer a bareback mount. But whatever; we flew right over that disc.

The Test of Agility: Through the misty passageway beyond the Test of Balance came a room I shall call the Test of Agility. This was a cylindrical chamber full of spindly half-pillars of varying heights. It was pretty clear that the intent is for a supplicant to jump from pillar to pillar across the room. But screw that. We were on a FLYING DINOSAUR. We flew Spike straight across to the other side and bypassed the pillars altogether, even when a hurricane-force gust of wind nearly blew us all off his back.

From the Test of Agility we arrived back in the chamber of the Test of Prowess. We decided at this point to rest, and did so. Surprisingly, nothing tried to eat us while we slept.

Armag's Army: Rested and ready, we passed beyond the test of prowess into a natural cavern. Turns out this cavern was filled with a skeletal army. We did what one does with hostile skeletons: we disarticulated them.

The Guardian: Beyond the Cavern of Surprisingly Disciplined Skeletal Soldiers, we found a huge man (I guess?) who appeared to be the guardian of the tomb. He stood sentinel in an ornate chamber that appeared very clearly a temple to Gorum, even to my untrained eye. This man was too ancient in attire and mannerisms to be a true priest; he was more of a shaman. In any case, he was not threatening, but instead simply watched as Shella entered the chamber.

"You can die or you can get out of the way. I am so sick of this place." That's our Shella! To my surprise, the shaman looked Shella up and down in careful assessment, and then stood aside for us to pass: "Armag awaits you in the following chamber." Shella told me later that this fellow is a "divine guardian of Gorum" (her words, not mine) appointed to guard this temple for eternity. Sure; fine; whatever.

Armag: Past the guardian was a door carved with one of the insignia of Gorum: a massive fist. Shella strode through like she owned the place. (Who knows; maybe she does now. I'm not up on Gorum's property succession guidelines.) In the next chamber we found a man pacing among braziers of fire with a giant greatsword, swinging it rhythmically. The corpses of many of the barbarian warriors littered the floor. When he saw us, he shouted maniacally, "My enemies are here! I knew they would come!"

Shella stepped up. "Armag" charged. The doorway became a choke point, surrounded by skeletons holding shields to assist their master. Both Gelros and Narzeth flung spells at the greatsword-wielding madman, but the spells had no effect. Even I had a hard time getting arrows in; I ended up focusing on the skeletons instead just to knock some of the damn shields out of the way.

Shella, on the other hand, was born for this. She and Armag went toe-to-toe, trading blows that would have bifurcated any normal person. And here is where it got seriously weird: the sword was screaming, and the ground began oozing literal blood and guts. Kris slipped on an intestine and nearly went down. Gelros teleported himself and Spike back behind Armag, and I lost track of him… although I could hear fireballs flying. Jaric shouted something, while Narzeth snapped a skeleton in two with a word. Then Shella cut Armag in half at the waste, and it was over.

"Armag" turned out to be the sideshow. The main attraction was the sword. The next few moments were… uncomfortable. First, the sword complained audibly, "Well, isn't anyone going to pick me up?" Second, Shella picked up the sword. Next thing I know, she's standing tall and demanding fealty from all in sight. She was so terrifying that all of us knelt… even Gelros. It was involuntary. It was also not normal.

A look at Shella's face told me she wasn't all there. And I swear I could see her hobgoblin features soften ever so slightly and the ghost of a beard appear even as I watched. Shella-not-Shella turned to march toward the far end of the room, and Jaric, Gelros, and I immediately huddled up. "You think it's the sword?" "Yes, it has to be." "Jaric, I'll distract him. You make him snap out of it."

Gelros began quietly chanting, and Shella turned around. She stopped, watching Gelros. Jaric came up next to her, muttered something, and touched her arm. Almost immediately, the crazy look vanished as Shella jammed the sword point-first between two stones in the floor. What followed is one of the most bizarre conversations I've ever witnessed. It went something like this…

Sword: "No! Take me up; together we will slay the enemies of Gorum!"

Shella: "Let me be perfectly clear: I forge my own destiny. You can follow ME on MY adventures and perpetually feel the glory of blood on your blade, or you can lie here in the cold unfeeling ground for eternity."

Sword: "I… I will have to think about it."

We later asked the guardian about the sword. It is called Ovinrbaane, and "only a true champion of Gorum can wield it." The guardian asked us, "Will you not take the sword?" To which Shella replied, "Maybe. I do not relinquish my claim, but I will leave it here. For now." The guardian assented to this, but could not guarantee that another champion would not take the sword in Shella's absence. So, Gelros ensconced the cursed thing in a pillar of stone using that lyre of his. Like you do.

The Tomb: There is little more to the story. The tomb of the real Armag (not the insanity-induced Armag impersonation) lay just beyond the chamber of the dead barbarians. It was filled with treasure as I have never seen, not even in Vordekai's lair. With Shella's permission, we took all of it. I guess the sanctity of tombs isn't a thing with Gorum per se.

On the way out, Shella attempted to convince the guardian to come fight for Gorum in the arena, but he swears his place is with the tomb. He did take us directly to the entrance, somehow, which is in part what makes this whole thing feel like a hallucination. But regardless, the Tomb of Armag has been explored and plundered, and now we face the other pressing issue: the leaderless barbarian horde on its doorstep.

XP

  • Defeat Armag (57,600 XP)
  • Convincing the Shaman Zorek to stand aside (28,800 XP)
  • Cavern of the Slain (19,200 XP)
  • Surpassing the Test of Agility (14,400 XP)
  • Passing the tilting floor trap (7,200 XP)

Loot

  • Masterwork breastplate (x4)
  • +2 keen dagger (x4)
  • Unholy symbol of Gyronna (x4)
  • Spell component pouch (x4)
  • Bric-a-brac and traveler's castoffs worth a total of 2,100 GP
  • +1 Breastplate bearing heraldry of Gorum (x10)
  • +1 Greatsword bearing heraldry of Gorum (x10)
  • <s>200 arrows</s> (claimed by Nith)
  • Statues of Gorum worth 1,700 GP
  • Crates full of old helms worth 1,100 GP
  • Potions of cure serious wounds (x3)
  • +3 full plate with masterwork armor spikes
  • +2 keen battleaxe
  • Ovinrbaane (left entombed)
  • Amulet of natural armor +2
  • Belt of physical might +2 (Strength and Constitution)
  • Ring of protection +2
  • Cloak of resistance +4
  • Headband of inspired wisdom +2
  • +3 hide armor of light fortification with +2 dragonbone armor spikes
  • +3 heavy steel shield of arrow catching
  • 98 PP, 17,847 GP, 35,425 SP, 73,253 CP
  • 2 diamonds (1,000 GP each)
  • 1 large diamon (5,000 GP)
  • 1 fire opal (1,000 GP)
  • 6 violet garnets (500 GP each)
  • Electrum crown with a blue star sapphire worth 4,500 GP
  • Pair of silver armbands worth 1,850 GP
  • Malachite-adorned gold necklace worth 1,350 gp
  • Belt of incredible dexterity +2
  • Headband of vast intelligence +2
  • Bracers of armor +2
  • Salves of the Second Chance (x2; worth 2000gp each)
  • Bag of holding type II
  • Belt of giant strength +2
  • Horseshoes of speed
  • Necklace of fireballs (type II)
  • Pearl of power (2nd level)
  • 1 dose of restorative ointment
  • Ring of counterspells (contains enervation)
  • Wand of heroism (50 charges)
View
Cave of The Mountebank
What? It's full of mist and teleporting demons. What do you want?

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 7

Armag's Tomb

We're four chambers deep into this cave complex and have just wrapped up another mildly horrifying combat. This whole place is reminiscent of the arena at the hand of Gorum: it's as if we're being put through a series of trials for someone else's amusement. I've even got names for the tests. They came to me naturally, as if I were acting out a script written by another. A curious feeling.

But I've little time to write, so let me sum up our progress.

The Entryway: The cave walls are rich in iron ore, which gives them an eerie semblance of being coated in dried blood. Thirty or so yards into the darkness, the unimproved tunnel widened out into a hewn stone chamber. Here, we found a line of red demons backed by a line of female figures in black leathers, all spoiling for a fight. We got the better of them once we had all managed to squeeze past the demons and into the room. It was interesting to watch the leather maidens' faces go from smug, to determined, to concerned. I'm not sure what they expected, but probably not a 7' angry hobgoblin lady who can blast beams of white and purple light from her greatsword. But it's hard to feel pity for a foe who is doing her best to have her pet demon eat your face off. We killed them and moved on.

The Test of Strength: Next came a passageway that involved hoisting a set of four boulders of increasing size up a series of steps and placing them in large impressions on the ground. There can be no purpose for such a contraption except to deter entry from weaker supplicants. Shella, with some assistance from Kris, got all the boulders in place in time on the second try. This opened another door.

The Test of Endurance: The chamber beyond was cold. As in, northern mountain glaciers in winter cold; we would have all frozen to death in there in an hour or so without protection. Again, the test wasn't subtle: Shella just had to turn a huge frozen iron wheel in the center of the room. Narzeth granted Shella magical resistance to the cold, and a minute or so later she had cranked the wheel enough to open another door to the left.

The Test of Tactics, Part 1: The passage beyond was filled with a mist that not only obscured vision but also appeared to mess with one's head. Several of us took wrong turns even when following immediately behind one another. I had us all rope ourselves together to avoid losing anyone, and we progressed through some webs to an illusory wall that led into the next chamber.

The Test of Prowess: We filed into a large, circular chamber with an iron statue of what I assume must be Gorum standing on a central pedestal. Naturally, it immediately came alive and attacked us. (Don't all statues come alive and attack strangers on sight?) Our attacks were only marginally effective. Fortunately, Raven and Narzeth leveled some defensive spells at the golem statue: grease (Raven) and ball lightning (Narzeth), which, we discovered, didn't hurt it but did slow it down. With Gelros' inspiration and some assistance from another of Jaric's close personal extraplanar friends, the rest of the fight went smoothly. Basically, Shella exchanged blows with the poor prone golem until it stopped moving.

Immediately after we had all relaxed, the statue was drawn back to the pedestal as if on a string, and we all heard a deep chuckling of amusement reverberate through the walls. (I would have thought it was just me going crazy, but I distinctly saw Kris and Gelros looking around too.) Nope. Not creepy at all.

The Test of Tactics, Part 2: Having felled the iron likeness of Gorum, we chose to exit a hidden door just to the left of where we had entered. It was filled with… more mist. Also more webs, and insanity. We found out what was making the webs: some kind of multi-limbed demon spider. It's hard to describe; it was somewhat non-Euclidean. There were two of them, and they made a horrific chittering sound that literally made you lose your mind. I blacked out for 10 seconds or so before I recovered, but Shella and Kris spent the entire combat running about madly with no regards to proper battle discipline. Gelros and Raven ran screaming back down the original passage, but only for a moment.

Speaking of the battle, it was chaos. The demon spiders summoned swarms of wasps, flies, centipedes, and other vermin. Jaric summoned swarms of angels. (Ok, he only summoned three, but still.) The demons could teleport, and one did so to try to get around behind us. Its mistake; Narzeth and I finally had a clear target. Gelros started weaving information on their known weaknesses into his battle chant, which helped. While Kris and Shella distracted one demon and Jaric kept us all alive, I killed the other. This made the first angry (aw, demons have feelings too!) and it came after me. Which, of course, made it a target too. We had it down a moment later and the bugs vanished as quickly as they had appeared.

Moral of the story: always kill the summoners first.

We're pretty beat now, but Shella wants to press on. Jaric could use a rest. I could too; I feel drained. But this room may not be safe and we don't really want to redo any tests. The others are talking it over now. Oh, they're calling me; we must have come to some resolution.

XP

  • Defeat the leather maidens and their demon pets (19,200 XP)
  • Test of Strength (14,400 XP)
  • Test of Endurance (14,400 XP)
  • Test of Tactics (28,800 XP)
  • Test of Prowess (38,400 XP)

Loot

  • 1700 GP worth of discarded knick-knacks
  • 1700 GP worth of ancient relics and paraphernalia
View
You Won't Like Her When She's Angry
Sometimes she gets bigger when she's angry

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 7

Armag's Tomb

After leaving the swamp, we moved steadily northward, following maps and the info Shella had sought out. After some searching, we located the barbarian encampment earlier today. This camp is smaller than I expected: a dozen or so guards, and a handful of tents. I had been expecting an entire tribe, but perhaps the others are nearby. There was, however, a large tent that appeared filled with captives.

While we scouted the camp, their lookout spotted us. Or, rather, he spotted Kris's dinosaur. Hard to make a dinosaur blend in, particularly when it is wearing armor. In any case, he sounded the alarm. Several of us braced for a combat.

As this expedition is Shella's deal, we all waited for her to make the first move. I expected it to involve beheading the poor lookout, but to my surprise, Shella didn't play it that way. Instead, she marched across the creek right up to the lookout and demanded to speak with his leader. Now. She looked very convincing. I'm not sure he understood the words, but he got the idea. He backed off and was soon arguing with his comrades, gesticulating wildly. We latched on quickly: Narzeth enlarged Shella (as if she isn't tall enough already), and Jaric began to use his menace tricks. It seemed effective; none of the barbarians in the near vicinity came after us.

However, the ruckus summoned some others from across the camp, who didn't look quite as convinced about not picking a fight. Several ran up and tossed axes at us. Amateurs. I filled one full of arrows as a warning. The others didn't get it, so Kris and Shella carved up the second. The third was still too dumb or proud to back off after Narzeth burned him a little, so Shella put him out of his misery too.

I do feel a little bad for the poor buggers. Even without the rest of us as backup, Shella is way out of their league. They had no idea.

At this point, I noticed that two tent guards had entered the tent and drawn weapons. This seemed bad; part of our goal was to find and rescue the lady Numesti's sister. So I pulled out something new I've been working on: plant growth. It's tricky, but if you do it right you can turn almost anything into a jungle. Narzeth immolated the one outside the tent, and the plants and the resulting confusion still gave me enough time to run up and get into a standoff with the two inside.

The standoff negotiations were going poorly. The guards had two women by the hair, heads pulled back and throats exposed. Jaric's hound archon friend came over and waved his sword, but said something in a language I don't understand and failed to look at all threatening. Meanwhile, bow raised, I told them to back down, but all I got was wild-eyed sword brandishing. Fortunately, Shella wandered over. Noticing that I hadn't yet shot them, she said "Well then, I defer to Nithlara's hostage negotiation." Sometimes I'm not sure if Shella is joking, but in any case, the appropriate response was "No please. Your skills are better than mine." Which is true. Shella ripped the top off that tent in a single pull and only had to glare at the two remaining guards before they soiled themselves and surrendered.

The captives were indeed five of the missing noblewomen from Drelev, including Tamary Numesti. (The others, for the record, were Anjana, Galine, Marinda, and Sophelia.) Rescuing them put us in a bind: how to protect five former captives when the barbarian leadership was still at large? Narzeth offered to teleport them away. There was a lot of back-and-forth, but in the end we let him, despite my misgivings at letting Narzeth take any young ladies anywhere using magic. It took Narzeth two trips, but he's back now and resting.

It's  midafternoon. We've taken over a command tent. The conquered barbarians don't seem to know what to do with us, but they've mostly just avoided us. And we them. After Narzeth rests, we're going to enter the cave. Did I mention the cave? It seems likely this is the location both the barbarians and Shella are after. Soon we get to find out what the fuss is about.

XP

  • Explore hex (3,-3) (150 XP)
  • Explore hex (3,-4) (150 XP)
  • Explore hex (2,-4) (150 XP)
  • Rescue Tamary Numesti (19,200 XP)

Loot

Nothing of significance

View
Shining the Light of Iomedae on a Dark World

So many adventures I have been on since joining with this team. Who would ever thought that a boy from a rural village would end up not only a cleric of Iomedae but also a Marshal of a quickly growing kingdom?!? It was only in our last trip back to Bandit's Rest that I realized I have been so focused on doing good out in the world and vanquishing evil that I forgot about the needs of our people right here! No wonder that all of the citizens attend those grotesque coliseums that the Temple of Gorum holds every holiday, they don't realize that there is a time and a place for using might for the greater good and not nonsensically. I have been thinking about the challenge that Iomedae's avatar placed on me and I have realized that the way to win followers to my goddess is not to try and beat that crazy inquisitor or her cleric, but rather that I need to serve the people. Thus, I have placed my acolytes in charge of providing kitchens for the hungry as well as a few of my temple guard to pay attention to any acts of ill repute that cause harm to others. Further, I have instructed everyone that anyone who visits our temple is not to pay anything for services that we provide. I have obtained plenty from my adventures to cover the needs of my flock. Finally, I want to ensure that our people can care for themselves as well, and the temple is open to any who want to learn the craft of healing, regardless of who they pay homage to. Iomedae is more about ensuring that good is being done in this city, she is not like other deities who has to hear her name be praised to feel accepted by her people. This is how I will spread the word of Iomedae to the people, praise be to the Light and the goodness She shines on us!

 

View
The All-Seeing Eye Sees All
Or "How Gelros learned to stop worrying and love the evil eye"

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 6

Bandit's Rest

Narzeth is stranger (if that's even possible) and angrier now that he's back. Not that he flies into a rage or anything; more that he harbors a smoldering resentment at the world in general that no one can quite pin down. Which brings me to the Eye.

Remember the Eye? The one we recovered from the insane cyclops atrocity? Gelros had it locked away (I'm not even sure quite where, to be honest), but Narzeth found it, and stole it. This happened while I was away on patrol, but Gelros got wind of it shortly after I returned. He summoned the rest of the core ruling cadre and we confronted Narzeth in his tower.

Here's where it gets just weird. Narzeth was there, examining the eye. He didn't pretend that he hadn't stolen it, or try to hide it, or anything. He simply said, "I need it." Gelros: "Why?" Narzeth: "I don't know. I just need it." So, yeah, this sparked a debate.

Gelros was dead set against it, but as we talked through it some things became slightly more clear. First, Shella believes Narzeth is telling the truth. Shella can smell a lie at a hundred paces with the wind at her back, but she says Narzeth his telling the truth: he is sure that he needs it, and he doesn't know why. He's under some strange compulsion to take and use the Eye, and he's being very straightforward about it. Narzeth actually threatened to kill anyone who kept him from using it, or to die trying. He sounded almost apologetic.

Second, there may be hope for the vile thing. I'm not so much into this good/evil morality struggle (although some things are just wrong), but the Eye is clearly powerful and could be a valuable asset. The fear is that it will corrupt Narzeth. (It seems to have driven its last owner insane.) But Shella thinks he, and we, can control it. She and Jaric discussed at length a magic spell that variously seems to go by the names "geas" or "quest"; this spell can compel an individual's behavior in powerful ways. Something about the gods blah blah. Shella suggested that Narzeth voluntarily submit to a geas, in which he promises to never use the powers of the eye to harm the kingdom or it's citizens in any way or he'll be forced to remove his own eye. Narzeth agreed to this.

Jaric still needed convincing. At this point, I suggested (naively maybe?) that maybe we should just redeem the Eye. After all, Jaric is big into displaying the power of his deity right now and she's apparently big into redemption. There was a moment of silence in which everyone stared at me in a slightly different way. Shella: impassive. Narzeth: pleading, longing. Jaric: incredulity, fading into genuine enthusiasm. Gelros: pity for my ignorance. Kris just looked bored. Then there was a lot of heated, overlapping discussion, most of which involved religion and magic. Finally, Jaric agreed. Huh.

There was a ceremony, of sorts. Narzeth voluntarily stripped himself of all magical defenses, as Gelros watched. Jaric cast the spell, obligating Narzeth to use the Eye only in the service of Arboria and its citizens. I filed my nails. Then Narzeth lifted the Eye and placed it in his empty socket. It fit like it was intended to be there. Who knows; maybe it was.

Also Bandit's Rest

Oh, and as an aside, the Lady Quintessa Maray is now friends with the world.

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 7

Hooktongue Slough

This Eye thing is done, and Narzeth seems about the same. (You know: creepy and slightly deranged, with a twist of lovable.) While I was making wine at the farm, Shella was doing some research on the materials she brought back from Drelev. Now she is dead set on following the barbarian horde off to the ruins they found and recovering something there. She won't say what. (I'm not sure she knows.)

So, off we go to scout the lands to the east. We crossed the Hooktongue Slough uneventfully yesterday and disembarked. Whereever the corpse of its namesake went, it isn't bothering us just now. There was some other strangeness, though. Traveling along yesterday evening, we heard the sounds of struggle from an islet just offshore. Kris investigated, finding nothing at first. Then, we all heard sounds of a woman screaming and falling in the water.

Kris followed, to rescue her… and was promptly attacked. I didn't get a great look, but let's call it a badger-shrew. It had claws, a strange snout, and a tail with a grasping hand, which it used to drag Kris underwater, apparently in an attempt to eat him? There were some moments of confusion while we all scrambled to figure out where Kris was and what was happening, but eventually Shella and a shark (shark!) that Jaric summoned gave chase and drove it off. We let it go. Note to self: don't believe your ears out here in the swamp.

Poor shark. I'm pretty sure sharks aren't meant to swim in fresh water, or swamps. That was probably unpleasant for it.

XP

  • Explore hex (4,-1) (150 XP)
  • Explore hex (4,-2) (150 XP)
  • Drive off the aquatic badger-shrew (3,200 XP)
  • Explore hex (4,-3) (150 XP)

Loot

None, unless you count the evil Eye.

View
In The Depressed Border Town of Drelev, They Were Forced to Depose Baron Hannis
And there was much rejoicing.

Kingdom of Arboria, Year 3, Month 6

The Castle Previously Owned by Baron Hannis

We entered in the early morning via the keep's secret entrance: a cave on a beach. It was unguarded. No surprise there; this Hannis fellow is nothing if not incompetent. We fought through some oozes (guess this entrance isn't used all that much?) and ascended a ladder into the keep itself.

At this point, as the others moved ahead I was waylaid by a group of guards. They realized their mistake quickly, poor souls. If I hadn't been worried about a general alarm, I wouldn't have wasted the arrows. Turns out I shouldn't have been so concerned for stealth. When I caught up with the others, there was a serious firefight in progress across two levels of the keep. On the ground floor, Kris and Jaric stood facing the keep door, which was barred. Bodies littered the floor. I could hear Shella and perhaps Gelros upstairs, but didn't see Narzeth.

As I was assessing the situation, Raven appeared in a burst of feathers. (Neat trick, that. Wonder where she learned it?) It was at this point that I saw Narzeth's rod and rings sitting atop a small mound of black dust. Uh oh. Raven swooped up the rod, fire in her eyes, and rushed toward the window. Jaric shouted something about "get the bloody wizard." Double uh oh.

Something was battering down the door. I left Raven flinging fireballs at it and ran upstairs, looking for my own arrow slit. On the second floor, I found Shella and some other fellow knocking heads about and Gelros forcing the surrender of a gaudy, pathetic man. Hannis, I presume. I inquired about said wizard, and was directed to a window. Gelros also said something about "he's blind now." The wizard? The Baron? This other guy in rags with a sword?

I found our later that, in fact, it was the wizard Imeckus Stroon (some relative of Hannis's) who had killed Narzeth. Gelros in turn blinded him and he attempted to flee through the air, only to be chased down by Raven. I managed to loose one poorly aimed arrow before Raven's fireball brought him out of the sky like a meteor.

What was more relevant at that point was the fight at the front door. There were guards, sure, but they were of no consequence. In fact, Gelros had forced Hannis to call them off; by the time I arrived upstairs they were retreating in disarray. The six hill giants, on the other hand, were either too stupid or ornery to leave. They destroyed the door in short order, after which Kris and Spike held them at bay while Everiel, Jaric, and Gelros (who had once again gone downstairs) provided support. Once they were down to two, they broke as well.

Shortly after, it was over. Gelros had to talk down a murderous Raven, who would have burned the place to the ground had he not assured her that we would get Narzeth back. He also won over the one remaining hill giant, who he then released back to Pitiax.

We made a brief survey of the castle grounds before returning to the keep to look for Shella (who was still searching the tower). It is a typical castle, although in poor shape. Maintenance is badly needed. The keep itself, though, is still lavishly appointed. We found Shella on the fourth floor, where she had encountered and subdued the Baroness. They other fellow I had seen turned out to be Lord Terrion Numesti, released from the stockade and now guarding the captured Hannis on the second level.

In another chamber hidden by a secret passage, we found "The Lady Quintessa Maray," who proved to be the mistress we had heard about. Her armor is on par with Stainder Moorne's (which is to say, impractical); not that she was wearing it (or, mysteriously, anything else either) when we walked in. She claimed to be in the process of donning it, although this seems unlikely. The fight had started nearly 10 minutes ago. Nobody can be so incompetent as to fail to put on leather armor for 10 full minutes. Especially when there is as little of it as she had. But whatever. Her story is that she is a musician by trade and the Baron kidnapped her and held her as a mistress, against her will. Apart from the armor, it seems to check out.

We went out to find most of the town assembled at the castle walls. Honestly, I tuned out at this point and let Gelros do his thing. Something about leaving Numesti in charge; something about the captured mercenaries extradited to Arboria; something Baron Hannis something something gross negligence… you know. Politics and public discourse. I wasn't paying attention; I was thinking about Narzeth. Gelros says we'll get him back, but becoming a pile of dust looks pretty permanent to me.

Lake Hooktongue, Western Shore

Strange things afoot. We arrived back at our boat to find Bob dead and Hooktongue's body missing. But Bob is no kind of ordinary dead: he looks awake and is in fact extraordinarily well-preserved. It took Jaric a few minutes of puzzling, but he concluded that Bob's blood had been turned to wood in his veins. Yes, you read that right. There's no trace of an assailant, either. This turn of events is disconcerting. Gelros feels we should question Bob further and has asked Jaric to speak with his spirit. Which Jaric can apparently do… tomorrow.

Lake Hooktongue, In a Boat

We woke early to find Jaric preparing the ritual to speak with Bob's departed soul. It was a morbid but fascinating ceremony; I've never seen anyone speak with the dead before. It started off solemn, but rapidly turned into somewhat of a farce: poor Bob couldn't move his jawbones to answer the questions posed, so Shella "liberated" his jaw from his face somewhat for him. The remaining answers went like this:

  • Q: "How did you die?" A: "Growing wood agony"
  • Q: "Who killed you?" A: "Purest corrupted beauty"
  • Q: "What happened to the orm?" A: "Don't know"
  • Q: "Tell me your final wish." A: "Bury me good"

So we did.

We're sailing back across the lake, and we've seen nothing of interest. Oddly, though, the boat is spotless and smells of fresh flowers.

Bandit's Rest

We arrived back in Bandit's Rest a week ago. Gelros made a brief appearance and speech, and the newly conscripted Arborian 1st Legion marched past in parade. Impressive; the instructors up at the Hand of Gorum have trained them well.

But this was mainly formalities. Having determined that scrolls of resurrection were nowhere to be had in Bandit's Rest, Gelros and most of the rest of us traveled to Restov and back. It took hours, but in the end we found a single scroll of resurrection available in a dusty shop from an old shopkeep, who looked first suspicious and then ecstatic that he was able to sell it at last. We brought it immediately back to Arboria under heavy guard.

The resurrection ceremony for Narzeth was this morning. Jaric laid out the dust and cast from the scroll. I don't know how this is usually supposed to go, but it looked like a struggle. Jaric was fervent and sweating. Narzeth's body reformed before us and came alive in a pulse of light, but he was screaming as if in agony. Jaric immediately poured positive energy over him, and he stopped. That's when we noticed: Narzeth's left eye is entirely missing.
    
XP

  • Contacting Stainder Moorne and recruiting her (2,400)
  • Defeat 20 guards (24,000 XP)
  • Defeat barbarian hill giants (28,800 XP)
  • Capture the Baron (25,600 XP)
  • Kill the wizard Imeckus Stroon (19,200 XP)
  • Free and ally with Lord Numesti (4,800 XP)
  • Completed Kissandra's Plea Parts 1, 2:

    • Rescue her father (19,200 XP)
    • Depose the baron (19,200 XP) 
  • Explore plains hex (5,-5) (150 XP)

Loot

  • Two masterwork longswords
  • Three masterwork breastplates
  • 120 arrows are stored here. (Nith takes all of these.)
  • Closet full of dresses worth 5,000 GP
  • Wine cellar worth 6,000 GP
  • Detailed notes on various factions, including dealings between Drelev and Pitiax
  • Various magical items, not yet identified
     
View
Ashes to Ashes, Dust To Dust
Getting disintegrated makes for a bad day

One moment I was staring out of an arrow slit at the Baron’s army and the flying wizard, and the next thing I saw was a bolt of purple energy flying out of the wizard’s hands and coming directly at my face. I tried to duck out of the way, but was unable to move in time so the bolt slammed into the side of my head. I stood there for a second, hoping that my magical defenses would be sufficient to ward off whatever spell had just hit me, but I knew that I would have no such luck when I saw my hands begin to dissolve away from my arms. There was a short moment of excruciating pain as the rest of my body followed in the same path as my hands and then there was nothing as numbness consumed my thoughts and senses and I passed into the realm of the gods.

*

I awoke after an indeterminate amount of time in a place that was cold, dark, and lifeless. I tried to move, but found that my translucent hands, feet, and body were bound to what appeared to be a large stone altar. I thought I was completely alone until I heard a voice coming from somewhere off to my right.

“You’re awake,” someone said in Abyssal in a voice that oozed with evil. “My master has been watching you and has recruited you into his service.”

“Who are you?” I asked. “What do you want?”

An extremely large daemon lit a brazier and then stepped into view. “I serve Charon, horseman of the Dead as do you.”

The creature was just as hideous as it was evil and seeing it made me redouble my efforts to escape. “Let me go!” I screamed as I struggled against my bonds.

The creature only laughed. “Where are you going to go, fool? You are in Abbadon now and there is no escape from he who rules over death.”

“I will never serve Charon,” I said resolutely.

The demon laughed as he began to torture my soul. “We shall see,” he cackled, knowing full well that I would break eventually if my friends back on the mortal plane waited too long to bring me back…

 

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.