Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Session 44: The Sorcerer's Catacombs

Image result for persian lion monster


As we stared into the eyes of the Erinyes we realized we had lost our advantage. Luck was on our side, however, and we were able to defeat the Erinyes without suffering too much from her attacks.  We may have had tougher fights but this could have gone better if we had been smarter. While we were still under the effects of battle magic we decided to enter the final room of the tower. As we entered through a door in the ceiling we expected an ambush and were surprised to find an empty room. Flint realized that there must be an exit from the tower in the room so he and Tywill swept the room. Tywill did find a door but, fearing a trap, the group left Tywill to work by himself. Tywill was not able to crack the lock and couldn't understand if it were a mechanism or magic. He called the group for assistance and Goblin was able to dispel the magic on the lock with a prayer, revealing a blinding light leading to a portal. We knew that the main entrance to the tower would kill us if we breathed in the poison so we passed through the portal.

It transported us to a room Flint identified as a subterranean vault. We found two doors there that had stone lion statues stationed in front of them. Flint decided it was his turn to examine the door and locks. Surprisingly the door opened without any difficulty but sadly this was a trap. Inside the room was a flying magical sword but our biggest fears were realized when the statues came to life and attacked. We defeated both sword and statues but the battle took its toll. We agreed that we could remain in the room with the once flying magical sword for a short rest. We licked our wounds and recouped our strength. Our respite was short lived as the next encounter against chain devils nearly killed poor Volodemir. Flint and Goblin bore the brunt of the attacks after Volodemer went down while the group retaliated from range. Where do devils go once defeated on the mortal plane? We would hopefully never know. [Ed. - Back to hell, of course!] We did know that we could not survive another battle without a proper rest. Heading back to the tower of the Erinyes we were lucky enough to not run into any one and were able to pass through the magical barrier to safety once more.
What comes next as we head back through the portal?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Of Hades


What happens in Arden Est when you die? For a few particularly noble souls, the weight of their sins in less than the weight of their souls, and Maat or her servants escort them to heaven. But most were not as virtuous. Most souls go south when they die, to the river Styx, which winds its way down into the earth like a worm. Especially wicked souls might miss the landing, and continue into the abyss. But most find themselves beached on a gray shore deep below the surface, facing the gate that leads into the realms of Hades. This gate is guarded by Cerebus, hound of hell and progenitor of the kobold race.

Hades was one of the three great primordials charged by God to help him order the world. He organized a realm for the winnowing of souls. When each soul arrives at the gates of hell, the devil Abaddon judges them. The most wicked are condemned to hell until the end of the age, to serve the devils, but most are assigned a region in hell. Here through penance the soul can atone for its misdeeds, and proceed on to heaven.

The devils are a varied race. They have two main roles -- to give penance to the souls in hell, and to test the souls on Arden Est, allegedly to allow them the opportunity to prove their goodness. But most devils love their task more than they should, and seek to entice mortals into wicked deeds to increase the ranks of their slaves. Still, they remember the deal they made with God at the beginning of the world, and do not break the letter of the contract.

There is one more task Hades has undertaken: it is he who guards the prison of Hadeth. He is almost omnipotent in his own realm, as much as this frustrates Asmodeus, and so is capable of keeping one of the Valharim in check. Yet it is said that one day she shall escape...

Friday, August 25, 2017

Session 43: Sorcerer's Citadel


During the downtime, the Abolitionists heard rumors around town. The dwarves of Thunder Mountain found a wizard's tower while they were clearing the island of monsters. Some bandits were operating out of the Dimwash Mire, just west of Roskilde, disrupting trade between the forest and the city. And, of particular relevance to Volodemir, a bag of monsters similar to the one he was looking for had been possessed by a ranger living in the forest, but hasn't been heard of for a while. Some say he was killed by bandits. There was no word on Markessa's whereabouts. The party decided to visit the dwarves, and so they made their way to Thunder Mountain.

The trip to Thunder Mountain was uneventful, and the dwarves were happy to have the party take on the tower. They didn't know what was there, but it appeared to be heavily trap-ridden, "An' we all know how cunning wizard's be, aye?" Making their way along the coast as to make better time than in the hills [yay retcon], the party came across a shipwreck, and they decided to explore with Flint and Lynnya entered the hold where it had been staved in, and the rest of the party exploring the deck. There wasn't much of interest on the deck. The ship appeared to be of southern design, Lyonian or perhaps Solarian, and outfitted with mounted crossbows and ballistae.


Tywyll, who did a heroic amount of lockpicking, unlocked the door to the captain's room, and was nearly surprised when a wight, dressed in captain's clothes, jumped out at him. But with his quick wits, he was able to stab the undead fiend and withdraw behind Goblin, who made quick work of the monster. Below decks, Flint fared worse. He heard Volodemir yell when the wight attacked, and moved into the water so that he could climb a ladder to help. But when he hit the water, 8 lacedons emerged and moved to attack. Fortunately, most went to attack him, but 2 moved towards Lynnya. It was tough going at first, but Goblin and the others were able to make it down to help end the threat. In the water, they found a chest of gems, including a periapt of proof against poison.

Having looted the ship, the Abolitionists made their way to the sorcerer's citadel, seated on top of a tall hill. They ascertained that the exterior was made of a strange, unearthly material and there was only one way in -- a long smooth hallway with animal bones covering the first 40 feet. Flint walked in, and immediately felt a strange tingling in his feet, as if the hall was poisoning him. He kept going, trusting his dwarven constitution to keep him from harm. As he moved down the passage, he took a bit of damage, but nothing he couldn't handle. After 180 feet, he ran into an invisible wall, with bird skeletons scattered around the bottom of it. He felt around the wall, and found a door. He opened it, and instantly the tunnel was filled with noxious fumes. Flint ran back to the rest of the party, but was noticeably weakened by the experience. The party discussed how best to proceed, and decided that Volodemir would cast fly on himself, and levitate on Goblin, Tywyll, and Lynnya, pulling them along, while Flint would run quickly. They did so, and were successful at entering the tower.

The first level of the tower was a storage room, while the second was a finely appointed sitting chamber. On the third level they found some sort of alchemy lab. A secret compartment in one of the cabinets contained a safe, which Tywyll was able to disarm and unlock. Inside was some gold, a few potions, and a black talisman on an adamant chain. The next level was a bedroom, with blue lotus flowers in vases around the room. A woman was lying on the bed, and greeted the party with a sarcastic "Aren't you a little short to be adventurers?" to which the 7' tall Goblin shrugged. Before she could say anything else, Volodemir cast Tasha's Hideous Laughter, and before they could blink, Melissa was on the floor laughing for a straight minute. The party blinked at each other, not knowing what to do. One minute passed, and as the spell wore off, the pollen of the flowers took effect. Goblin became convinced Volodemir was a devil, and Tywyll collapsed in despair. After the first round, however, they managed to shake off the effects.

The Abolitionists have been in worse fights, but this is definitely a tough one, as the Erinyes focuses her attacks on the bard who attacked her first...

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Session 42: The Rod of Seven Parts

The party moved deeper into the faerie lair, eventually making their way to a throne room, where a particularly malicious looking goblin in a wet, red cap mocked them. "Your blood will wet my cap!" he cried, as he went on the attack. But he was no match for the Abolitionists, and was swiftly killed. As they left the rooted cave, the entrance shimmered, and then vanished. Returning to Thornlet, she placed her hands on Volodemir's head, and prayed to Ryanna. Volodemir felt for a moment like there was a strange swelling in his head, and then he knew, somehow, that he could speak with blink dogs. "They will come when you call," Thornlet said, "But only call them when you are in dire need." She suggested that the party should head back to Darkshelf.

On the way back to Darkshelf, there was a deep ravine, crossed only by a rickety bridge. Suspicious, the party glanced around, and Lynnya saw spyder demons hiding in the bushes! Flint yelled at them, and they teleported away in fear. Moving closer, they saw that there was an old woman on the bridge, ranting and raving. When they went to help her, they saw she was offering them some sort of stick. When they took it, it turned out to be the smallest piece of the rod, marked with an "I". They escorted her back to Darkshelf, to leave her in the care of Kwon.

Kwon welcomed them back warmly, and told them he did not know much about the rod, except that this piece had healing properties. "Arquestan will know more," he said, "But he is gone, and I don't know when he'll be back." The party nodded, and inquired about the slaves they had rescued about a year ago. About half of them are still in the city, doing well, and about half they managed to send south to find their way back home. The party decided to rest for a few weeks, so that Flint had time to build another mechnotron.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Session 41: Return to Valdemar Woods

The party returned to the cave Thornlet told them about, where Boreas was trying to establish a forward base to strengthen his hold on the region. They may have lost last time, but they were stronger now after their defeat of Markessa's kobolds. The first cave had been refortified in their absence, but only with myconids, which posed no threat to the seasoned adventurers, though Goblin was befuddled by the spores for a moment. Further in, they came to a large, moss covered cavern, with a single Domovoi in the middle. As they moved to attack, the moss came alive to defend the faerie. Once this fight was won, they continued on deeper into the complex. Three tunnels led to different parts of the base, north, west, and east. The Abolitionists went north.

The next room appeared to have once been a garden, with a reflecting pool, now drained, in the middle. North, the party found goblin breeding pits, but none of those foul folk were to be seen. They turned east, and entered a bedchamber, guarded by a Domovoi and an Aridni, an evil pixie. This fight proved to be the most difficult so far, but the party overcame the threat. They then had to consider which exit to take -- the door to the northeast, or the passage south-east.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Session 40: Markessa Lives!

After a short rest, the party regrouped in a room with 3 exits. Moving straight ahead, they found themselves in a wide cavern with a bridge crossing it. Up and to the right, sharp eyed Tywill spotted a group of 10 kobolds waiting in ambush. Reacting quickly, Flint smote one with a guiding bolt, illuminating the rest. Lynnya unleashed the fury of nature on one with a hail of thorns that tears him to shreds along with 4 of his small comrades. Tywill climbs to the ceiling with his spider boots and bolts across the deep crevasse surprising one of the lieutenants with a backstab, only to be ganged up on by the remaining leaders. One of the kobolds knew enough magic to send scorching rays at Flint, which singed his whiskers. Goblin killed the caster with a radiant attack, and Volodemir and Lynnya finished the last few before they can act again.

Tywill explores the exit behind the ambush, while the rest of the party crosses the bridge, only to meet up again on the far side at an intersection in the tunnels. To the west, there is a large dark cave full of bubbling mud and a path of stepping stones across. Sensing danger, Tywill once again takes to the ceiling, and notices a sleeping kobold floating near the center of the cave. A few shots in the dark dispatch the would be ambusher. Not wanting to risk the safety of the rest of the party, Flint attempted to cross the stepping stones, bravely triggering the perilous trap. After falling in the thick mud, he was helped out of the mud, sputtering but unfazed, by Goblin with the help of his entangling rope.

Moving ahead, the party came to a room with a mural of Cerberus and about 20 prone bodies of kobolds seemingly sacrificed ritually. As they were feeling there way through the dark abattoir, four kobolds jumped out to ambush the party. Two were killed by Flint's spirit guardians and spiritual weapon before they could act. The leader fell victim to hideous laughter followed by an Eldritch Blast and sacred flames. Adreham's servant was further protected by the spirit guardians as they dispatched several remaining kobolds who were only pretending to be sacrifice victims but were in fact lying in wait.

Within this room there was a collapsed exit which sadly held the body of a dwarf of a local noble clan, cut down by kobolds but had apparently triggered a collapse to hold them off.  Some investigation showed him to be of a local noble family. Flint noted the identity and laid her body to rest at the site of her noble sacrifice.

Passing by the rubble, the party noted an ankle high rope connected to nothing, and stepped past it to avoid any traps. Half way up the slope in the following passage, the sound of a tumbling boulder gave way to the snickering of a group of 6 kobolds who thought they had set a cunning trap. The boulder bounced off of Flint, and the party did not flee, but after dispatching the kobolds, discerned the true purpose of the tripline they had passed.

After this, they came upon a large room with 5 colored pillars surrounding an altar, and 5 colored tapestries on the far wall. On the altar, a young blonde man stricken with agony tried to warn the party to leave, just as his heart was replaced with a stone and he transformed into a demon. Accompanied by an invisible tormentor, the demon did battle with the party, at times breathing fire upon them. Tywill found his way past the circle of pillars, which appeared to deal elemental damage according to color, and disengaged the acid trap from the black pillar. After some more hideous laughter and a long fight involving many missed attacks, the demon was dispatched, and after some more blind lunging about, it was determined that Markessa had escaped for now.

Some thorough searching after disabling the pillars found some treasure. Perhaps this was an altar to Tiamat, the many headed dragon goddess? The party took a moment to regroup and decide what to do next...

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Arden Est's Planar Cosmology

Arden Est lies at the center of the universe, and all other realities revolve around it. It is known. Arden Est is a flat disk, at the center of which lies a great lake of lava with a whirlpool in the middle. The dimensions of the Land are unknown -- some sages have speculated that there lie lands beyond the Last Sea, but these have not been seen. Underneath Arden Est lies the Underdark, a land hundreds of times more vast than the surface world. Here are countless tunnels and caverns and the civilization of the drow. Here too winds the river Styx, leading to the realms of Hades, and the river Lethe, leading to the Hells the devils conquered from the Lord of Death. Further down, mad titans delve more tunnels and angels and devils both beat back attacks of demons seeking to free their mistress from Hades's prison. Even further below lies the elemental chaos.

The elemental chaos is divided into six semi-distinct areas. The planes of fire, water, air, and earth blend together at their edges and at their borders with the positive energy plane above and the negative energy plane below. At the center, all of the elements combine in a maelstrom of primal energy, and at the very midpoint, a whirlpool stands, leading the way down into the Abyss. The abyss, it is said, has no bottom. But it is also said that Fayon made his infamous bargain with Tiamat at the bottom of the abyss, so who can know the truth of these things.

Above Arden Est are the heavens. On the moon sits Fiat Lux, home of the Valharim. The moon rotates, shining most when Fiat Lux lies directly overhead, and not at all when the fairest city looks the other way. The sun makes a circuit around Arden Est's disk, renewing her energy from the positive elemental plane each night. Beyond the sun are other worlds, such as the platinum sphere of Bahamut and the copper sphere of Ares.

Two planes exist coterminous with Arden Est. Faerie is the cumulation of the hopes and dreams of the people of Arden Est. Here the Courts of Winter and Summer war with each other, causing the seasons to change as Koschei is first ascendant followed by Titania before Koschei takes the crown again. The fears and dark urges of the free folk, on the other hand, create the realm of nightmare, also called the ethereal. The edges are largely safe, but horrors lurk in the depths.