Brother Vincent's Almost Adventure Pt II
"We occasionally meditate adjacent to each other, but that is the sum total of our intimacy!" - Van

“Eons ago, before the conflict between those born of dragons and those who willingly gave themselves to the devils shattered the land asunder, a powerful dwarven mage settled in the mountains nearby to gain the use of an arcane wellspring to power his spells. He was a kindly sort, and used his power to help set up a settlement, binding an enchantment into the stones that provided those within with a constant source of protection from disease and foul magics.
Located by a stable crossing to the land of the Fey, it soon began to prosper through the trade of Eladrin food, beverages and fey-touched tradegoods and was known as a bright beacon of light where those with things of value could barter for miraculous items.
However, jealous of the source of power this dwarf held, a rival wizard came to the prosperous town and did battle with sorcerous powers, closing the crossing and laying waste to the town, destroying the enchantments that kept it safe.
It is said that the townsfolk found their corpses amongst the rubble that used to be their home. Following instructions left to them by their protector the townsfolk locked away the wizard’s instruments of power in the depths of a dungeon that the dwarf had constructed for just such an eventuality.
As is its nature, time passed and the once great settlement drifted into obscurity until even the name itself was forgotten.”
-Creepy Old Lady

We join our heroes in a dark and sinister complex, hidden behind a complex door, beneath the goblin-repurposed stronghold where their adventure began in chains. Wiping gelatinous cube goo off of everything, they take a short rest to contemplate both the central room they stood in and their next move.

The worked bronze plinth in the center of the chamber was a complex device covered in buttons, slots and a set of scales. It was not until Torva fired an arrow at the button on the side from a safe distance that they gained access to the recessed area and the specially shaped gems within that matched those taken from the room containing a Gelatinous Cube. Resolving to come back to this puzzle the party decided to investigate the remaining two rooms.

Van, having developed his techniques since the embarrassing moment in the Tower of Amadeus made the northern door spring open by barely caressing it with his hands, no doubt a trick imparted to him by his mistress. The door opened onto a floor-level ledge, with the rest of the room being filled by a deep pool of murky water containing another orb and schools of vicious fish made of almost nothing but giant, snappy teeth and hunger.
After attempts at gaining the orb without getting their feet wet through the use of Lower Water rituals, Torva finally snaps and shatters the orb with a well placed arrow. Afterwards, Kendall makes magical friends with a fish and persuades it to fetch the contents of the orb for them.

The easternmost room, the one suffused with necrotic energy was not as simple an ordeal. It contained piles and piles of bones, semi-animated small animal corpses with a spitting hatred for lighting and a large, angry skeletal snake jealously guarding this room’s orb. The party decided to test the room’s properties using the standby “flaming bread” technique. This led to a brief and savage fight amongst the waist deep bones, but it was not long before Van tapped into his newfound divine powers and teleported all of them out of the room, slamming the door behind them and ending the combat with the orb securely in hand.

They now had 28 gems and 9 keys in total, which gave them a vague idea as to the operation of the central plinth. The phrase “Nine are given, eight are false, truth lies heavy” indicated that the correct key was slightly heavier than the others. After spending many gems to winnow through the keys, they found the correct one to place in the keyhole (Curses, foiled again!). The correct key made the statues surrounding the room salute as a circular staircase descended from the floor and down into a chamber below, where Van had sensed the powerful necrotic energies.

The final chamber was circular, made out of the same stone as the rest of the complex, with a central dias raised off the floor by several wide steps and surmounted with a column bearing a weighty tome. This tome seemed to be the source of a cloud of hungry, reaching shadows that caused vomit-inducing nausea on Van when he exposed his arcane senses to it. The shadows leapt at his sick, creating tiny aggressive vomit golems out of his breakfast. They are the pure distilled essence of the Shadowfell, after all.
After some frantic testing to see what would be animated (live snake: no, cooked chicken: yes) Torva boldly strode forward onto the first step.
And was promptly dumped down a chute into an underground river.
Van used his Fey Step ability to teleport onto the plinth and grabbed the book just in time to leap down into the river with Kendall in search of their wayward colleague.

The current dragged them downstream, through several rusty grates and eventually spit them out into the ocean near the Seahaven pier where they were literally caught by Bertok, who was enjoying a light spot of fishing.

Inspecting the book they had risked life and limb for, they discovered that it was the Legendry of Phantoms and Ghosts by a wizard called Evard, a treatise on powerful shadow magics. Both Van and Torva tried to read parts of the book, Van failed to make much headway against the magical cryptography. Torva however, approached it from a position of understanding of the primal forces and was rewarded by a realisation that hit her so hard she passed out. Kendall checked Torva until she was assured that she was just sleeping, then her and Van promptly gave in to the rigors of the past day and fell asleep in Van’s tent.

Varsa Baalim is a Hell of a Place Pt III
"Really? You used the word 'haunting' and you want to go towards it?"

Spelunking through caves went much easier than expected, the party had discovered a back way into the caverns that saved them much time and effort by exploring the Fane of King Dred first. It was not until they reached a large, obviously artificial room that they faced any significant danger.

The room contained a moderately powerful waterfall draining down into the room over a ladder that led upwards from the tiny central platform, which was surrounded by the rapidly swirling waters of a whirlpool. While this would ordinarily be a slight challenge to our heroes, the stakes were rapidly raised by the charging entry of the shark that had survived their struggle from the day before. Before the rest of the party could react, Rion was captured securely in its jaws and savaged by rows of teeth. It was not until Alain banished the creature to the Feywild that they had a chance to escape the room, clambering up the drenched ladder and leaving it behind.

Entering the first level of the labyrinth proper, they were greeted with a bizarre combination of waterlogged, debris filled and musty corridors that echoed with far away splashes and noises. Crunching along the bone-strewn passages, they shooed away dozens from tiny crabs before Maiara decided to make use of these tiny animals by calling up a Nature Guide to point them in the right direction.

The ghostly crab that Maiara called forth led them towards the center of the complex, but it had not gone too far before Al could hear ghostly, mournful music coming from a nearby room. Investigating the source of this bizarre music that only he could hear, they came to two zombies lazily clawing at a rough barricade that had them blocked out of a room. After making short work of the pair, they investigated the tragic scene beyond.

At some time in the past an adventuring party had fallen afoul of the treacherous nature of the complex, leaving a sole survivor barricaded in this room, one foot badly crippled. With sustenance provided by a Create Food ritual and the long lifespan of an elf, he took solace in the creation of a lute like no other. Crafted over the course of years from the wood from a series of roots growing down from above and fretted by the bones of his injured foot, he had a tool of sufficient complexity to devote the remainder of his life to mastery of strange, alien music. The Floot fell to pieces, but Al gathered up the “ivory” components, figuring that they might be useful later.

Meanwhile…on Stormbrace’s ship

Israna came to, facedown in a cell, in shackles and a Suppression Collar. Conri is in the cell next to her, unconscious. After “stealthily making noise against the bars” she managed to wake up Conri, who groaned an immediately panicked once she discovered her similar predicament. Israna had a moment to reassure Conri before a nearby door slammed open and a Gnoll came in, dragging Rend in a none to nice fashion and hurled him into the cell on the other side of Israna, leaving him with a fat gobbet of spit on his face as a farewell gift.

Rejoicing at their reunion, the three of them launch into a tirade of abuse at each other before being spattered by dirty swab water by a nearby crewmate, who then left them to their own devices. An unnoticed, emaciated and half decomposed figure chose that moment to make her presence known.

Zimara had been locked in that cell from months and had given up hope of ever being able to find her brother. Depressed, and with her powers suppressed by another collar, the corruption that had been slowly eating away at her was given free reign and rapidly made the most of it. She had been saving her energy for one final act, and the sudden appearance of these other prisoners had given her an opportunity.
She imparted some useful information to them, Stormbrace had one of the 9 Swords of Tyr long before capturing Israna and hers (Israna suddenly realised that her short sword was an ancient item of incredible power, woo), he was originally going to sacrifice Zimara during a ritual to raise the Heartless before discovering that she was less “alive” than he thought.

Zimara tells them that she has just enough strength left to “free herself”, before wrenching a silver mask that had been sitting below the remaining flesh on her face, hurling it towards them, breaking her collar and collapsing onto the floor of her cell, very dead. Israna, realising something of the nature of the item, makes Conri swear to take her down if she cant control it and places the mask on her face…

“It’s a crab spirit, I don’t think it can smell.” – Rion

“Rune was here, Rion rules, Al sucks, Maiara is scary” – Rune’s graffiti

Varsa Baalim is a Hell of a Place Pt II
"Hey Rune, break the bowl." "Dammit Rune."

After following the “scenic route” to Varsa Baalim, the crew of the Stormcatcher awoke in the morning to amazement at the fact that they had beaten Stormbrace there. Their eyes were immediately drawn to the gore-splattered hut of the old guy from yesterday and they decided the adventuring party should investigate that first.

Alain, Baron Kade “Rune” Gehenna, Rion and Maiara took one of the longboats and anchored it in a slightly hidden spot underneath the hut. Their worry at the ramshackle appearance of the structure did little to dissuade them from tearing off the two everburning torches that flanked the doorway.

Upon opening the double doors they were greeted by an interior just as ramshackle as the outside, with the main room being dominated by a large shark jaw surmounting a wide metal pipe which Al immediately went to investigate as the rest of the party spread out into the adjoining rooms.

Maiara head into an adjoining storage space where she had an opportunity to discover several large casks full of brandy, which she forced through the bag of holding and onto the ship, as well as a magical pair of spectacles which she perched on her elongated lupine nose. Rune discovered a nearby bedroom which contained a unique looking fishbowl, containing two tiny eels and miniature treasure chest filled with miniature treasure. He delved into his infernal heritage and used hellfire to boil the eels alive before smashing the fishbowl at Al’s insistence. He was a bit surprised to suddenly discover the room filled with several tons of boiled-eel flavored salt water, a full sized chest filled with silver and two very dead giant eels. The fishbowl actually miniaturised anything put inside it and Rune shattered that enchantment with a swing of his staff.

The torrent of water smashed Rune around, almost swept Rion out to sea and pushed Al into the metal pipe, not before he made a grab at the rapidly closing shark jaw which cost him the end of his little finger. Plummeting down the pipe Al landed in waist deep water in a small room, with two passages leading off of it. He is making his way across a mostly submerged room with a small broken stone bridge sitting under the water when he realises some sort of aquatic creature is following him and attempts to head back the way he came, only to bang his head on the submerged end of the stone bridge and become a confused potential easy meal for the shark. Thankfully the rest of the party comes to his rescue by diving down the chute (not leaving a rope to get back up, lol).

Investigating the rest of the corridors lead the party to discover that it is actually a Fane for a local deity called King Dredd. While this was happening, Maiara lent her impressive strength to the task of opening an old, rusted airlock which opened a watery passageway and flooded the rest of the corridors, forcing the party to swim through this newly-discovered escape route. Finding a safe, air filled refuge (after clearing it of crabs and getting dinner in one easy stroke) the party beds down for the evening.

The rest of the spelunking through the caves was comparatively uneventful, the only event of note was them looting a corpse trapped in a giant anemone, at least until they came to a large, obviously artificial room and heard some ominous music.

Varsa Baalim is a hell of a place Pt I
"You can trust them as much as you trust Desini."

Following the capture of Israna, Content Not Found: monk-rogue and Rend by the Dread Pirate Eliah Stormbrace, Dirkle and Maiara managed to escape Shackleton. They commandeered a worn out, patchy, leaking rowboat that took them just far enough to bring word to the rest of the Stormcatcher‘s crew. Naturally, they were treated with a measure of suspicion and incredulity, but were eventually convinced of the truth behind Dirkle’s tale of kidnap and ransom. They were still wary of the strange, wolfish newcomer was standing in the corner, measuring them all with her lupine eyes.

Alain, concerned about his first mate, decided that immediate action was required and had Rune and Rion plot a “safe” course to the ancient ruins of Varsa Baalim. Unfortunately, Rune was thrown off a little by the realisation that their destination was but a short distance from Calrossie, the original site of Rune’s encounter with Stormbrace and the undead.

The journey, which should have taken approximately 10 days was extended by poor plotting to 5 days. Rune only realised that they were instead a week off course as they were sailing directly into the teeth of a storm, which Rion had not seen coming. Acting quickly, they managed to get the ship turned around in an attempt to outrun the storm, but lost two crewmen ( Redshirts) while doing so. Maiara’s unusual control of the winds and Rion’s prior experience with motivating a crew managed to win out, and they soon left the storm behind them. After following a new course, avoiding a strange ship with a black flag, the Stormcatcher finally pulled into Baalim Bay one month after setting out. The crew lost some morale, but the addition of a skilled ship’s cook had maintained everyone’s spirits.

During the intervening time, everyone on the ship had plenty of opportunities to interact. Owing to their common friend (Aramond) Rune and Nymira became fast friends, much to the chagrin of Desini. Also during this time, there were two more deaths on the ship: one had overdosed on herbs prescribed by Nymira to an entirely different crew member, and one from apparent suicide, explained by a note he left in his bunk. The death tally is now 4.

All of these deaths could actually be laid at the feet of the Gehennas onboard the ship, who have a powerful need to cause death, motivated by the small print on their blood oath with Mephistopheles. Desini, cutting through the social intrigue on the ship like a polite shark through a swimming pool, had manipulated three of these crewmen into providing the deaths she so needed, and expertly covered her tracks. Rune, on the other hand had accidentally caused the death of only one by not securing a safety line and has recently started exsanguination (unpleasant bleeding from orifices), despite his belief that he was still protected from the negative aspects of his blood curse.

Captain Al, always the people person, attempted to assuage the fears of the crew with a rousing speech. Misjudging their temperament spectacularly, he instead caused widespread discontent and did irreparable damage to their morale.

Sullenly bringing the ship into the bay, the crew were greeted with a vast volcanic island, wrapped in thick tropical growth, studded with the exterior ruins of a once grand complex and surrounded by colonies of Skinwings and Chuul who had made the upper caldera and shoals their home respectively. The crew was part way through regaling each other with tales of Kelleron, the Goliath Ranger who flew his tamed skinwing in an aerial battle with a dragon when they noticed a strange hut standing on stilts in the bay, constructed out of a wrecked ship and the site of a desperate plight of an elderly man who was beset on all sides by Demons.

Throwing their arms into the air at the old man’s plight, the crew went below decks to discuss their next move, while the demons also threw the old man’s arms into the air (followed by several other body parts). Dirkle, who had surreptitiously managed to plant a homing device on Israna, declared that they had 2-3 days before Stormbrace arrived with an expectation that they would trade the Sword of Tyr with him in exchange for their compatriots.

After much arguing, the party settled on an away team of Alain, Rune, Rion and Maiara; leaving Nymira in charge. Impressed by her friendly and helpful personality, Al put Desini in co-charge of the ship while they were away. Rune is happy with this arrangement because he remembered that it was his birthday, so he is now expecting a surprise party.

After deciding to try the front door first or otherwise seek ingress through the underwater caves, the crew of the Stormcatcher settle down for the night, in preparation for the exploratory expedition tomorrow.

Brother Vincent's Almost Adventure Part 1
"Don't open the door without me."

After the climactic culmination of a ritual that put Erevan in contact with the Raven Queen and the Spear of the Skylord in his hands, Those Darn Elves took some much earned time off.

Meanwhile, Kendall assisted Bertok and Dallan with the construction of Dallan’s new Inn. She formed a fast friendship with them, being both more knowledgeable and likeable than the other healer in the Town, Mika. As a vital contributor to everything that made it possible, she was given the honour of hanging the sign as the final finishing touch before the Dwarven Stout was broken out.

Erevan spent his time in meditation, sometimes accompanied by Mika (who proved to be much less annoying while silently meditating). Over time, a sense of respect developed between them. They recognised that each had the same depth of devotion, but to different gods. Van became more sure of his faith, and his ability to turn the mighty primordial weapon into an instrument of his goddess’ divine will.

Torva, well Torva went hunting.

While she was several days away from Seahaven she came across a strangely diseased, half-rotting corpse of a buck she had been tracking recently. It had fallen into a stream and despite her efforts, the corruption had started to spread through the nearby area. After investigating the immediate area to the best of her ability, she decided that getting some samples (which may have cost her some exposure to the corruption) back to her friends for immediate study was the most pressing matter to attend to.

She returned to Seahaven, but unfortunately the samples she showed to both Kendall and Erevan were beyond their experience. This, plus the rapidly approaching deadline for Officemaster Pendleton’s demand for “new settlement paperwork”, eventually made it clear to Kendall that she could not put off heading to Riva City any longer.
However, while they were in Seahaven, they decided they should really check out what was behind the door that poor Corky traded his life to discover.

Brother Vincent, being the ever curious sort, was incredibly excited to be one the first in eons to see deeper into the Stronghold. He accompanied the party to the location but then had to run back to town to get some note taking supplies. His appeal of “Don’t open the door without me!” barely faded before the door was opened and the party descended down a trap-filled stairwell. That same stairwell that nearly cost Kendall her foot, and more.

The stairwell eventually deposited them (some faster than others) in a small square room, with large battleaxe-wielding statues guarding locked doors on each side of a central plinth. The side of the plinth was adorned with several small openings and a button, and surmounted by an ornate set of scales. This entire mechanism was surrounded by Arcadian runes, which translated to “Nine are given, Eight are false, Truth lies heavy.”
By correctly arming the two southern statues with battleaxes, found lying nearby, they located a secret door to the south and proceeded to investigate.

The secret room was dominated by a large orrery, a desk covered in mould-eaten tomes and a single mirror, that was lit by a single burning candle. As Torva investigated, a secret compartment was discovered, containing multiple gems. The slow burning candle turned out to be a powerful holy symbol that illuminated more than just what light usually reveals. Using the ghostly reflection of the room, from far in the past, to guide them through the process, they aligned the planets to a celestial event that is due to happen shortly. This revealed a large necrotic force staring down at the planet with many hungry eyes.

The alignment triggered the strange figure in the mirror to attempt to communicate with them. After much mistranslation, they discovered that the upcoming celestial event was being targeted by Khirad (the necrotic entity), that it had happened before, and that there was some source of power buried beneath the complex.

Leaving the mirror wizard and his depressing warnings behind, the party decided to investigate the western room. Upon entering the room, they discovered what seemed to be an elaborate container for several keys and some more gems, but was in fact a trap containing a Gelatinous Cube.

“Well that was arduous and sticky” – Kendall
“I probably should have burnt that deer corpse” – Torva

Shackleton Shenanigans Part 4
Purple is the Worst Color

Last Time: Maiara put the party in contact with a goblin called Knish who managed to get them involved in a biannual gladiator match between Lord Cyniscus and Darius in the hope they might be able to negotiate the release of Kel’tahn. They were shocked when their opponents turned out to include the dread pirate Eliah Stormbrace and his paramour Tyranny.

This Time: After successfully trouncing Cyniscus’ fighters in a battle that involved young Conri making her second and third kills (Tyranny and a cruel gnoll that had made Conri’s life a living hell), the party found that they had won themselves enough fame and prestige that Darius wanted to thank them personally.

Urkan was literally gobsmacked by Darius’ female orc bodyguard Snak and has stayed with her to ‘court’ her.
Darius provided them with gifts from his personal armory and an unclaimed boon that anyone can claim by telling him that Israna of Moonleth sent them. He informed them that he had been approached by Tyranny who tried to wheedle some muscle out of him, promising him the “Favor of the Lord of the Ninth”.
Lord Cyniscus took Kel’tahn off his hands for some reason and wanted to give the party their winnings in person.

Hurrying along to Lord Cyniscus’ palace, they were ushered into his throne room by K’leah just in time for him to demonstrate the full power of Asmodeus’ Grasp, which he operated by donning a helm very similar to the Helm of Seven Deaths that Israna had acquired.

After his casual use of the lives of two slaves in order to blast a nearby quarry bare of life he offered the party a deal, he wanted someone to venture into Varsa Baalim to fetch what is obviously the Second Sword of Tyr. After some negotiation the deal was struck in exchange for Vyazia‘s freedom, use of his shipwrights and Maiara’s memories. Israna ran her mouth a bit and therefore they didn’t get an opportunity to talk to Helbrek Hiddenbrew, who had been pulled off of the slave auction block several days ago.

The prize purse for the gladiator match was 10,000sp, he provided them with a Bag of Holding to carry it in (finally) and a scabbard for Israna to transport the sword in.

Upon arriving back at Maiara’s house they discovered that it was on fire, surrounded by Imps that had obviously set the blaze and already partially collapsed. While rushing heroically into the blaze they were set upon by a powerful band of Chain Devils, at the beck and Call of Stormbrace and Tyranny leading to their capture.

The Twist: Rend was left conscious, still collared and chained, but suitable for Stormbrace to talk to. Additionally, Tyranny is very dead, so the party has assumed that it was in fact Askavan in disguise.

Some Background:

The Best Part: The interaction with Darius, in which the party got presents and Snak was flirting with Urkan.

Sea Trek
Shackleton Shenanigans Part 2

Last Time: The party had managed to infiltrate Shackleton disguised as the slaver they had captured, unfortunately this disguise didn’t last long as Conri ran his mouth too much. They were ambushed just after Toh tragically died in the ruins of The Master’s Whip before Israna could ask him about the sword she was carrying.

This Time: During the fight with the Chosen and misc slavers (hobgoblins and gnolls) outside the destroyed inn, Cyniscus discovered Israna was holding the First Sword of Tyr and that she was in the company of an escaped pair of “twins” (Conri and disguised Rend). They managed to fight them off and flee throughout the town, with Rend blowing up several barrels of lamp oil in the middle of the marketplace being followed closely by Maiara, Conri’s bounty hunter.

The Twist: Maiara is unhappy where she is and is doing her job only because Cyniscus has her memories of her family, she has agreed to assist the party in return for a way off the island as part of their crew.

Some Background: Shackleton is a slaver port under oppressive rule by Cyniscus and his Chosen where reluctant gladiators are given an opportunity to fight their way to “freedom”, only to become virtual slaves to Cyniscus in the hope they will get their pre-slave memories back.

The Best Part: Rend copping a hooked net to the face and nearly falling into a pack of slavering hyenas (Gnolls). Conri thinking the trapped secret compartment hid a massage table.

Adventure log hey
This could prove useful

I guess we’ll see.


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