Amn/Tethyr Adjusted Realms

The Beginning...

The characters have all – for various reasons of their own – come to a small keep.

[DM Note: The characters were instructed to design a level 1 character, then level them up to 3rd level, explaining what they did to gain those levels. At the end of the story each had to write themselves to a small keep in the plains area (Shining Plains/Giant’s Plains area of FR). The keep was in the foothills of one of the small mountain ranges and the surrounding area had some hills and woods. I allowed some familiarization with the area before I started in…]

The keep had been peaceful and restful. Several adventurers types were present and a few even introduced themselves to each other. The acting mayor of the keep (Dargon) was an outgoing, friendly man who had done much of the building of the structures in the area. Though he kept tabs on all that went on and seemed happy, he let it be known to a few that he was always warry of wandering beasts as one powerful creature such as a troll could wipe out the settlement if there were no adventurers present at the time.

The Priest (Chandor, of Selune) was a quiet but well respected community member. He was not highly experienced but helped out wherever he could.

The keep consists of a wooden palisade about 11 – 12’ tall with a 2-story stone building in the corner opposite the main gates. Trees have been cleared for about 100’ in front and 75’ to either side of the keep. Behind the keep the land slowly sinks into an area where several cottages are and crops cover much of the area. Sheep and cows graze in the open areas. There was a small militia force of about 10 men plus a couple lieutenants that had seen some combat previously, but otherwise it was craftsmen and normal farmers.

It was early spring and the early thaws had come to clear the small amount of snow and ice that the area saw. Also the cool spring rains had come and for the last week or so it had been chilly with a constant mist/drizzle. The ground was damp, but not soaked or mushy.

After a communal evening meal, just as they were going to wrap things up and close up for the night, a rider approached the gate in a hurry. He and his mount were wounded and tired. The guards at the gate helped him and as the PCs rushed to the scene they heard: “Goblins and Hobgoblins…musta been a hundred of them – gasp – they are on their way here – gasp – will be here in a couple hours!” Then, of course, the messenger died (as all messengers of this type are wont to do…).

After the man gives his message he dies in the arms of the guards. After a moment of stunned silence Dargon stands up and start shouting orders about what to do to get everything ready for the attack. You see guards and people moving all over trying to warn everyone and get the defenses ready.

All night the sounds of drums can be heard and few people get any sleep, knowing the attack could come at any time.

It is still dark as the sun tries in vain to break through the fog and overcast skies early in the morning. Fog and mist hangs in the fields and forest as if waiting for something to break through. It is cool and damp – just cold enough to make it slightly uncomfortable to your exposed hands and your armor cold against your skin.

Slowly the sound of chanting adds to the drums as they together rise in dim crescendo. Men and women peer into the mist and shadows trying to discern the source. The chanting and drums rumble louder and louder until they reach a fevered pitch. Soldiers – farmers, carpenters, and other laborers – load crossbows, heft shields, strap on helmets, and get into position. Their grip tightens on their weapons as the shift nervously and whisper quiet prayers.

Suddenly all is quiet.

Our heroes manage to fend off the overwhelming attack despite the goblins and hobgoblin’s use of grapples, crude ladders, and alchemists fire. A few of the enemy escaped (including the leader) but only a few of the enemy actually broke into the keep propper.

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Keep Siege Aftermath

The characters cleaned up from the battle, burning most of the goblin bodies (though Glark the barbarian did eat a few fresh goblin hearts). A few hours after the battle two men arrived at the keep: DuCaine Fesque, a foppish and charming swashbuckler (with feathered hat, see NPCs). Thorne Mistwood, a grim elf ranger and expert with a bow (see NPCs).

They talk to the PCs (some know them, some have encountered them) and eventually determine that there may have been some external force behind the raid. Caine asks the party to check out a Fortress a few days away. This fortress had long been friendly to travelers and especially adventurers. A market had opened where many items were bought, sold, and traded. Recently the owner for the fort – a former bandit by the name of Cragen – started raiding the area, taking caravans, and generally being very agressive. He had been a friend to the area before but there was a sudden change in behavior…

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The next step

The characters were asked to make a forray to a nearby Fortress that may be behind some of the difficulties in the area. Unfortunately some of the team had to lag behind – perhaps they wanted to make sure Watcher didn’t get too far behind… [DM Note: Due to poor weather, last minute family issues, and holiday chaos we had 3 of the 6 players show up (Xana the ranger, Glark the Barbarian, and Marie the Wizard) so with a little Dues Ex we managed…]

The party traveled accross the Giant’s Plans, from the south end of the Giant’s Run Mountains to the foothils about 2/3 the way up the Troll Mountains. The trip through the plains was uneventful.

Once they reached the path that lead along the side of the Troll Mountains (a path that was becoming a more important trade route…) they came upon a pair of broken down wagons and a small band of scruffy looking men. The men claimed to have broken down and were trying to make repairs. Glark (the Barbarian) wandered over to help put a wheel back on one of the carts. When he got to the rear of the cart he noticed a chest that was broken open and shiny metal (gold, silver). There did not seem to be much else in any of the carts. Much to Glark’s suprise the chest turned out to be a Mimic and he was quickly stuck fast to the beast and being crushed. The other men rushed the two females but arrows cut them down as they advanced. However, this took a while and Glark was begining to feel a little unhealthy. With a little help he broke free. The Mimic, once disengaged from Glark was quickly dispatched.

The party continued on their way, eventually spending the night in a well sheltered grove of trees. The next day was nice – comfortably warm and fairly clear. Another troubled wagon was encountered – this time a beat up wagon with wounded and tired men and horses. The party was significantlly more cautious and the men in the wagon were very suspicious. After initial careful conversation the party found that these men had run into a “toll booth” a few hours farther on. They had been robbed and barely escaped.

The party used the information gathered from the men and attacked the toll booth from the side. It consisted of a felled tree with eight gnolls and a pair of clerics (Cyric) used the tree as cover. Attacking from the flank was effective and a carefully placed entagle spell made the battle a one-sided affair. A single cleric was captured and questioned. He gave up some basic information about the tolls they collected and how often people came to relieve them. Additionally he gave up the names of two important figures in the fotress; Ranmodren the head of the operation, and Ashford the Vile, second in command.

In the final stage of the journey the party finally made it to the fortress and the town of Crag below. Being that it was fairly late at night and the party was short on spells the choice was obvious – march right into the cemetary!!! Yup, no cleric, night…all they needed was a few co-eds and they had a slasher movie! Not surprisingly a number of undead crawled out of the ground (a couple zombies and a bunch of skeletons) all around them and attacked. With some bad luck by the party they were quickly in serious trouble and beat a hasty retreat. As they sat outside the graveyard and watched (the undead seemed to stay in the area of the graveyard) a tall robed humanoid came out of a building on the edge of the area and forced the undead away.

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Town of Crag

The party awoke after resting the night outside of town. This included Xana (Ranger), Glaark (Barbarian), Marie (Wizard), Mort (Druid/Bard), and Watcher (Fighter/Warblade). It was a cool, overcast morning that was barely lighter than the night. A slow rain of large drops started to fall as the party moved toward town.

Description of the Fortress and Town of Crag: As you approach on the dirt path along the stream, it rounds a large hill and you see the fortress. It sits on a low plateau on the west side of a mountain. Below the fortress is a modest sized town. The town is a mish-mash of buildings seemingly dropped in random order in front of the fortress. The streets are narrow and most buildings are wood with a few stone first floor, wood second floor. There is no order to anything and there is quite a bit of dirt and garbage. The fortress overlooks the entire valley. There is a set of outer and inner walls, each about 25’ tall with round towers evenly spaced. Smoke slowly drifts out of a chimney about 75’ up the side of the cliff. About 60’ up on the cliff face behind the fortress there appear to be large wooden doors.

There are several distict features in the town:

1. A large stone building that is clearly a massive Inn.

2. On a small hill at the edge of town there is a graveyard with a stone building near it. The fence around the graveyard is short and in poor repair.

3. A maze of small booths making up a bustling, chaotic market.

4. Near the edge of the market, a clean, distinct stone building.

There is no wall of any kind around the town itself.

As the party approaches the town, where the dirt trail turns to cobblestone, there is a single guard tower. Two rough looking men with some sort of official “uniform” (actually more of a cloth neck piece). They looked the party over and demanded 5 gp each to enter. An innocent question by Watcher, which came out as somewhat obnoxious, resulted in: “Ten gp for the metal freak.” Mort stepped up and negotiated the price down to 2 gp each and then paid it. The guards seemed happy with this and wandered back into the shelter of the tower happily splitting their spoils.

The party wandered the market listening for information and trying to make some contacts. Glaark realized that he had a fair amount of gear taken from previous battles and with help managed to get it sold for a decent price. The group also found out some various rumors:

The mayor had a big arguement with the Duke and soon after disappeared.

The Duke’s second in command, and former best friend, was put to death.

The Executioner was overheard saying: “Another 8 today! If the Duke doesn’t slow down there won’t be nobody left pretty soon!”

“After dark don’t go near that darn cemetary. Folks disappear up there and don’t never come back!”

The Duke has replaced most of the high-ranking advisors, captains, and officials with nasty “creatures” recently. Except the captain of the guard.

Don’t go near the graveyard at night – the dead get up and walk around despite Kruum’s best efforts.

The Duke’s wife used to come down to town on a regular basis to shop. She has not been seen for weeks.

The captain of the guard has always been self-serving and devious.

The group eventually enters the large Inn (Stone Tower Inn) and has some food and drink. As they sat in the slightly dirty main room a large mean-looking hobgoblin came down the stairs and yelled at the staff then proceeded out the door. A few questions to the abused staff revealed that the inn is owned by a trio of hobgoblin brothers who recently acquired it when the previous owners left town.

Refreshed and ready to go the group decided to head to the mortuary near the graveyard to see if they could meet the mysterious figure. The day had gone from cold and drizzly to cold and rainy. On their way they noticed a group of four clearly drunk town guard. Rather than trying to avoid them, the party confronted the guards and a brief arguement ensued. As often happens, a fight ensued. Watcher (the Warforged) struck the nearest guard, breaking his nose and leaving him realing. Marie followed with a sleep spell and dropped the other three. Not wanting to be left out Glaark (barbarian) decided to join in…with his AXE! The guard with the broken nose was cut from shoulder belly and fell, very dead. The rest of the party was a bit shocked as the hope had been to subdue the guards, not kill them.

The group looked around and were lucky that the street was deserted. They dodged off the street, hoping that they weren’t seen, and quickly moved to the mortuary.

Knocking on the door they were greated by a tall robed figure who indicated he was Kruum, the caretaker of the graveyard. Inside were stone slabs with dead bodies in various states of preparation for burial.

Discussion with Kruum revealed that he had been here, doing this job, for a long, long time and that the graveyard (and perhaps he himself) was cursed.

He agreed to lead them into the graveyard and allow them into the small burial chambers that allowed entry into the dungeon.

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Into the Tombs

With Kruum keeping the undead that spawned from the graveyard at bay the party ventured down into the tombs below. There were several different tombs some of which were occupied by undead or other creatures but the party had little trouble dispatching them.

eventually they found a tomb that seemed to connect to a more extensive dungeon. They discovered a traveled path that lead to a concealed door behind a statue but decided that was too obvious and went through a secret door elsewhere.

The secret door took them too some long-abandoned clerical quarters where they fought a cloaker, a pair of wights, and some animated armor. The areas were dedicated to an ancient demi-god named Angall – a four armed, scaled humanoid wielding a pair of swords and a pair of morningstars.

The group knew the general direction of the fortress and were hoping that this dungeon would lead them to the area beneath. With that in mind they worked toward that general direction.

Eventually they came upon a large cavern with a sinkhole in the middle. A crude aparatus was built above the hole that appeared to allow one to be lowered into the river below. A large group of goblins inhabited the area and rushed to slay our heroes. Though the powerful Glaark had trouble hitting the small foes, they and their leaders were quickly dispatched. Tired and low on spells the party took this opportunity to rest.

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Continued exploration

Rested and refreshed the party forged onward, eventually coming upon a hallway with several doors and a crude wooden barrier in the middle. Suspecting that there might be some sort of ambush the party checked the door nearest them while others watched down the hall. A pair of hobgoblins stepped out of the doorway down the hall and fired crossbows to little effect, while the party encountered a rag-tag group of humans inside the near door. Though both sides were suspicious a little bit of negotiation resulted in a truce to go fight the hobgoblins at the far end.

The fight was short and sweet with few resources spent by the party. The group of humans were lead by the former mayor of the town who had escaped from the jail into the dungeons and was trying to get out. Near the barrier was a door to a storage room that had been the focal point of the battle. The mayor described some of the dungeon and the group found that the area defended by the hobgoblins lead to the basement of the Stone Tower Inn.

As the group came up into the kitchen it was clear they were not expected. Fortunately it was mid-morning and there was little activity. The mayor and his men were taken out the back door and made good their escape (or did they…?).

The party returned to the dungeon and debated what to do next. A large door was too tempting to pass up and they decided that it might be the way they wanted to go. It opened into a long, dark room with many pillars, full of a purple mist. There were ancient paintings on the walls showing the being known as Angall and his followers doing all sorts of horrid things. The mist seemed thickest up to about knee height and definitely made vision – even with light – difficult.

Watcher, being a construct and unaffected by gasses, marched forward into the room. He was only a little ways in when he was attacked by an unseen foe – apparently a purple misty creature that could hit pretty hard. Though tough to see the party managed to hit enough to bring it down. Those that entered the room (besides Watcher) found that the mist could sap their endurance, making strenuous activity such as fighting in the room very tiring.

As Watcher continued moving down the room more invisible mist creatures appeared as if triggered by his movement. Those back at the door could not help much until they ran forward enough to actually see the disturbed mist so that they could add some damage to the foe.

Eventually the group made it past the room to a small hallway with some storage rooms for whatever purpose the mist-filled room had served. Xana’s sharp eyes noticed a secret door and the party continued on.

Behind the door was long hallway. Though the group had no dwarves to provide insight, Xana’s survival and dungeoneering skills combined to figure out that they were now moving to an area directly beneath the main fortress.

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Infiltration

After a long walk and a few doors, the party had a decision. A hallway to the left that ended in a door or a door directly ahead. Taking time to listen ahead Xana heard loud talking and arguing a ways ahead. Seeing as a crowd was worth investigating the party started through the doorway, surprising a small guard outpost of 4 warriors and 4 clerics. Seeing eight total enemies the party gave them their full force and dropped most of these low grade guards quickly. The two that tried to escape were subdued and captured.

Looking around it was clear that the group was now in a more well established portion of the dungeon. Questioning the guards didn’t result in much information except that there were several enemies in rooms nearby.

Glaark the barbarian wanted to stack the dead like cord-wood at the bottom of some stairs up (one side of the guard’s area) but the party decided that placing them in a storage room would be a better idea. Still the copious amount of blood was likely to give them away if anyone came by.

Besides the staircase and storage room, the surrounding area had a dead end passage, a doorway, and a hallway that lead to several other doors – including one large, locked metal door.

Opposite the locked door were a pair of doors that the party chose as likely candidates to contain a key. Bursting through the door they found a pair of hobgoblins helping a cleric get ready for some sort of ritual. This cleric was fairly powerful, but the party swarmed him and he had difficulty making full use of his clerical powers. He did wear a fine chain shirt that radiated magic. All agreed that Glaark should wear this fine armor.

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Aimless wandering...with a purpose

[Sorry for the lack of updates, we had a gaming lull due to real life issues (NERF real life!). Going to try to get one more session in before summer is in full swing but then will be off until late Aug/Sep]

The party noted an area with a door on each end and decided that it was likely a single room so rushed in through both doors simultaneously. It was indeed a single room and more clerics were within, preparing for some ritual. The party’s flanking maneuver worked well and soon the two guards and one of the lower level enemies had fallen. But the ranking cleric in the room was a hulking half orc with a nasty look in his eye and a morningstar as big as your head! While one cleric used a command spell to cause Glaark to fall the half orc mixed it up with Watcher. Even Watcher’s tough hide was dented by the mighty blows of the big half orc. But the support of Mort, Xana, and Marie with arrows, spells, and a rousing song (Mort is part Bard) rallied the troops and the clerics were dispatched. A large bone and gold key was found that seemed to fit the large door the party had found earlier.

But wait…what was this? In the corner was a cage containing a dirty, ragged, and malnourished woman. Had she been healthy and clean she would have clearly been fine looking but at this point she could barely stand. But stand she did…as proud and strong as she could muster. This was clearly no commoner or slave girl. She asked questions of the group; who they were and why they were here. Eventually it was discovered that she was, in fact, Kalinda, the Duke’s wife! She had been captured and dragged down here to be sacrificed. After some discussion much information was learned: The Duke is clearly being controlled by his new “friends” and is not himself. Kalinda knows there is some big ritual scheduled to start soon and go on for quite a while. Much of the town and guard is unhappy with the new leadership. Kalinda does not know much of the lower levels that they are in now, but knows the upper levels well. Xana’s aunt, Lumilla, was captured and given to a troll representative as a present (with some type of spell on her). The evil leaders were trying to gain favor from local tribes of monsters to help them out.

The party continued on and found the slave cells that were guarded by a dozen orcs. Being that these orcs were nothing special the party cut through them without significant effort. The group found several slaves including a pair of dwarves and a very beaten elf ranger – he wouldn’t break so the orcs beat him up a lot.

After a short rest to heal and feed both the slaves and Kalinda the party moved on with their “posse” in tow. After a few minor encounters they found a mist-filled temple area that was clearly used for minor sacrifices. A pair of hobgoblins, some strange undead warriors, and a huge minotaur were in the room and quickly moved to attack. Unfortunately Xana had moved up to get a clear shot with here bow and the minotaur’s charging head butt hurt her severely. But once again the party prevailed – a bit roughed up but still strong. Eventually they learned that the back wall (which was shimmering) could be passed through by spilling blood on the altar – the minotaur provided just the key for that.

The party moved down a hall, finding some goblins and hobgoblins digging out some new areas and then a cleric with some guards. Both groups were dispatched and the party eventually found that they were once again under the graveyard. With some help from Kruum the party got the slaves out of the dungeon. Kalinda decided that she would stay with the party. The party saw her as the rightful legal authority in the fortress and town and thought that she could be aid them.

It was a long walk but and the group determined that the key would open the door. When they found that it opened to a long stairway down the decision was made to go up to try to find Xana’s aunt first. The group made their way back to some stairs they had found earlier and moved up. They were now in the mountain, and at the same level as the fotress.

Careful listening revealed a room with some rowdy bugbears. Though tough the bugbears fell to the party. But the noise of the battle had warned some clerics across the hall who had defensive spells cast as the party came in. Though this made them tougher to take down it simply delayed their inevitable defeat.

Kalinda knows this level and can guide the party, but it is also fairly well occupied, traveled, and guarded. And discovery here could bring the entire fortress guard in to chase them.

[I hope that is enough to keep people interested – the session was a lot of wandering and the party, growing ever stronger, rolling over mostly “flavor” encounters. As noted, will take a break for the summer months. At least my son decided he wants a D&D birthday party so a friend and I are coming up with a simple adventure for that.]

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Done :(
Bummer

Well, in case anyone was wondering, this campaign died due to the release of 4th Ed. D&D. Bummer as I had hope for it as a long-term campaign.

However…I am now playing some D&D and eventually will do some Star Wars with a new group! So I plan on posting my journals from the D&D campaign (we are 5 sessions in) and the SW campaign when it starts.

Thanks!

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