Friday, March 24, 2017

Zhents 6 & 7: New Face of Insantiy

After the battle in Lake Village Havaok, Dylan, and Lucas take the beast of Malar heartsblood, the body of Ravenshadow, and Trebek’s head and return to Hawkehelm; but not before the Hunter Kascar hails the party and after some brief bartering 1,500 gold for Trebek’s head. The character’s later learn, through insight from Tiberius, that the ones looking for Trebek are necrophagists and are antithetical to the shadow entity Niss, who seems to be the origin of your character’s supernatural powers.

Later at Hawkehelm Havaok, Dylan, and Lucas encounter and debrief Rutledge and Sememmon along with two other property control individuals. Havaok handles his brother’s remains (cremation) and consoles Dorsha who at this time is slipping into madness. Meanwhile Lucas meets a monsignor and learns more about the Ministry’s pantheon worship and the high value they place on human life and the correlation on the value of the human soul. There are seven deities in the Ministry’s pantheon. The characters later visit Bridgeton several times to deliver the Heartsblood to Cambolton or to visit Glinda at the Copper Calf.

The characters also met with Ampherd who was plotting something sinister against his father and wanted to insure the character’s did not interfere but actually delay those who would interfere with whatever Ampherd had planned for his father’s nameday celebration. This prompted Havaok to meet with Rutledge again and inform him of the character’s past exploits- namely retrieving three peryton eggs. 

The next morning dorsha dies but not before she draws a single harrow card for everyone.
The new characters El Guapo and Tiberius were ordered by Rutledge to gather up Ravenshadow and Trebek’s belongings and bring them to property control. An accidental slip caused the Box of Niss to spill its supernatural contents.

A magical maelstrom encircled El Guapo and Tiberius granting them their heroic class, magical items, and insight into what Niss was, as well as the character’s who came before El Guapo and Tiberius, as well as knowledge of the necrophagists. Rutledge as well as a mysterious tengu watched all this in silence. Rutledge had a basic understanding of what he just witnessed saw this as an opportunity to reinforce Havaok’s group of Zhents. And to insure this he sent El Guapo and Tiberius to Blair Castle to get advanced information on the proving grounds for Havaok, Dylan, and Lucas who were surely participating.

At Castle Blair the characters El Guapo and Tiberius examine each obstacle and water pool, even watching as Arton, Braidwood, and Audry add an undead to each water pool including the addition of a Bane symbol to one of the obstacles (reroll of a skill check).

The rest of the afternoon was filled with preparing for the evening competition, the awards ceremony, and the Zhent general /Elazarin’s nameday dinner atop Hawkehelm Castle.

Later that night scores of zhent soldiers and agents lined the cobbled road into Blair Castle where torches and braziers lit the proving grounds under the night’s constellations. As Havaok was entering Audry slipped him a hide from undead potion.

Once inside the characters were brought to a staging area when eventually Dylan went into the proving ground first not lasting much past the fourth obstacle, next Lucas who skillfully finished the course. Then finally Havaok who also did not finish the obstacle course but would publicly challenge Braidwood in single combat and eventually win becoming the undisputed antipaladin. What followed next was two hours of celebration and camaraderie as the characters waited to see witch Zhentarim general would select them to join the cause for the Ministry.

It was not long when the character’s would learn that Guthbert Golthammer has selected them and that would mean a summer campaign in Daggerdale to defeat the usurpers and restore Daggerdale to Zhentarim control.

Later, atop Hawkehelm, it was the General’s dinner where the eight treasures were laid out each were guarded by armored undead. As the dinner progressed, Elazarin and the Magisters came out and eventually gifts were displayed before the Magister of Potions. There were several rounds of uncomfortable toasts to Elazarin preceded the opening of the last gift, Ampherd’s gift of preyton eggs.

But when the dribble glass spilled the potion of ageing on the eggs, they immediately hatched into young adult preytons surprising everyone. What happened next tested the sanity of everyone who was at that table as the surprise startled the thing that had taken on the guise of Elazarin for so long. Elazarin’s left eye became impossibly large and filled the center of its head, it’s right eye raised up on a tiny stalk of pink flesh to join three other grotesque eyes on fleshy stalks that hid under Elazarin’s white wig. The body of Elazarin fell to the table and then to the floor as fleshy tendrils under the now floating head released the headless corpse. As this occurred a tremendous boom and fireball erupted in the night sky as the meteorite seen in the sky collided with Faerun’s atmosphere and descended changing the mountainous landscape forever.

Combat erupted, the eye-orb thing escaped, and the preytons were killed by the characters. The rooftop is evacuated and this is where we will begin next game session. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Magisters and the Tenloss Trade Agreement

Aurora Tenloss
The Great Hall of Castle Greyskull normally catered to the five Magisters, their apprentices and their nightly palavers; the five banners that featured either an elixir, ink well, pauldrons, a sword over shield, or crossed wands across five grand daises were gone. For this event, the Great Hall gave way to unified Zhentarim colors giving the merchant visitor the sense that the Magisters were of similar sentiments when in fact, Ampherd the transhumanist alchemist quietly lamented to himself, they argued more than they came to agreement thanks to his father. Collectively they served the Zhentarim but that is where census ended.

After about an hour of appetizers, entertainment by acrobats, and light courses of food and beverage it was Aurora Tenloss who expertly guided the nightcap with the Magisters to talk of business. Ampherd believed she was everything the people said about her; indeed business proved to be in the woman’s blood because she brought with her lucrative proposals that could keep all of the Magister’s alchemists and craft’s men busy until Full Earth. It turned out, much to Ampherd’s surprise, that aside from the Tenloss Consortium, she personally runs several black markets in several cities. Ampherd reflected momentarily; she may be the only woman he had ever admired, and that brought on feelings of desire. 

But when Aurora brought her final proposal to Elazarin Nanther, the Magister of Potions, Ampherd could not believe his senses at first. Ampherd listened as the details of the agreement were negotiated, helpless to speak on behalf of his father’s office. Ampherd could not help but notice across the room the scarlet haired merchant heiress smiled demurely at him as the contract was formally closed.

The business negotiations and contract closing look less than an hour after the formal diner and entertainment and was completed before midnight. Finally, without their merchant visitor the keepers of Greyskull were free to speak openly.
“Are you sure you can fulfill that high volume Elazarin and keep your obligations to the Zhentairm? The distribution that you are suggesting challenges the imagination.” It was Istaleus who was no supporter of Elazarin who asked; he too was trying to process the scope of Aurora’s proposal- now an agreement.

“Indeed,” the Magister of Potions answered with a watery voice; everyone had noticed the man wore the same clothes for several weeks in a row. “Dameron’s new and expanded territory will fill our needs as well as hold us to this bargain.” He had a weird gleeful look as he sopped up another drink with a cankerous tongue.

Ampherd Nanther
Two hour later, as was customary after formal meetings of the Magisters, friends Ampherd, Istaleus, and the Magister of Arms Brisbane Bruil, lingered in the Great Hall to enjoy an evening smoke and to unburden the mind.
“I think my father has overstepped his capabilities.” Ampherd said exhaling a waft of white pipe smoke as he spoke. “First he is not the craftsman he once was, and second no one likes working for him not even myself.”
“You realize this most recent deal with Aurora, the Magister of Potions has the potential to become the most powerful of the Magisters.” Istaleus pointed out.

“And who would you have that be?” Ampherd said to his friends. “Me or my father?”

“You of course, your father has become unappetizingly difficult to work with.” Brisbane said being honest and as forthcoming as he can. “And I do not like that smarmy druid he insists on working with.”

“Indeed,” agreed Istaleus. “You would need a majority support among the Magisters if he is proved unfit for his office or dies without a suitable replacement. The office of Magister does not pass to on to living heirs as you know.”

Ampherd regarded his friends, “With your support I believe I can persuade Zelda to see things our way, she holds no loyalty to my father.”

“Nor to your family,” Brisbane pointed out.

Zelda Leiyraghon, Magister of Wands
“True, but her family the Leiyraghons are loyal to your family Brisbane.” Ampherd pointed out, his plan unfolding before them all.

“How will it be done?” Istaleus asked shifting to the edge of his seat.

“Not to worry my friends, I’ve already set plans in motion.” Ampherd said as he went on to explain the most recent events and the acquisition of three rare preyton eggs

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Episode 5: Blood and The Beast of Malar

After securing an agreement with Heathyard, the Roommates travel to the Valley of Orogs, a short journey that brings them to the first tower guarding the valley.  Here the party meets with a couple of guards who indicate that some of the other guard towers have Malar worshiping guards. After Trebek gives the guardsman Harrigan a hard time they develop a camaraderie over shared smokes and the repair of a broken spyglass.  The guards agree to let the Roommates use the now repaired spyglass while in the valley and return it on departure.  Prior to heading into the valley, the Roommates go over what they have learned about the Orogs and are given some additional advice regarding a location in the valley the Orogs would not go.

Orog Valley Info:
1.       The Orc women are worse than the Orogs
2.       The Beast of Malar is in a section the Orogs would not go
3.       The towers on the far side of the valley are populated with Malar worshippers.
4.       The guards go around the valley, only entering the valley from the nearest tower to avoid travelling through the Orogs habitat

The Roommates decide to enter the valley directly and walk through.  They are soon being followed by several orc women and an Orog who is keeping an eye on them.  As the Roommates approach the area the Orogs would not go, Trebek makes the first of two fatal errors.  The young wizard/priest cast the spell Mage Armor and the Orog /Orcs 60 feet behind the Roommates notice and become agitated and angry.  Dylan, the only Roommate that speaks orc, informs the party of their threats.  Trebek then makes  his 2nd and final mistake.  He casts the sleep spell, and all the women around the Orog fall asleep.  The Orog is enraged, and can’t tell that the fallen women surrounding him are asleep and not dead.  He raises his weapon to the sky and calls for all the orcs and Orogs of the Valley to attack. 

The Roommates rush to the “cave” where the beast is laired and the Orogs will not go.  The cave is poorly named as it is actually a narrow tunnel and only one of the Roommates can make their way inside the tunnel.  The rest of the Roommates are forced outside to face the Orc/Orog onslaught which was an unknown number of female orc archers firing flaming arrows (two of which pepper Ravenshadow) while five Orogs rush and attack each Roommate. The Roommates were horrified to discover that the Orogs would indeed go to this location and that the orc women were not worse than the ferocious  Orogs.  While the battle with the Orogs raged outside, a battle with the Beast of Malar continued inside the “cave”, with Dylan and Havaok switching off against the strange shape changing creature which in one form looked like a bat.
The Beast escapes but not before spilling enough blood from Havaok to collect and return to the Brothers of the Forge.  Alas the battle with the orcs fares badly for the party with both Ravenshadow and Trebek falling to the Orogs massive blades.  Before Dylan, Lucas, and Havaok can react, the orcs drag off the two fallen Roommates and Malar worshipping tower guards arrive to harass the surviving Roommates.  The enemy guardsmen are finally defeated and the non-Malar worshipping tower guardsmen express their gratitude by leading the survivors to the Orog encampment where their fallen members were taken.   Both sustained massive damage, only Trebek surviving his wounds thank to magical healing.   Trebek’s luck was not to last however as Havaok’s anger overtook him when he blamed the caster for the failure in the Valley, beheading Trebek with his mighty falchion before returning home. 

Items recovered:
Barbarian: Lg Magical Bastard Sword, Hide Armor Vicious animals, cloak magical, 1 potions of cure moderate, MW Longbow, 2 Javelins, Throwing Axe

Cleric: MW Scimitar, Heavy Wooden Shield, Light Crossbow, Magical Chain mail, Magical Cloak Zhent Resistance +1, Lesser Restoration Potion, Wand of Cure Light Wounds 50 Charges

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Into The Valley of the Shadow of Death, He Feared No Evil

Dorsha awoke from her afternoon meditations with a cry of deepest heartache; her heart trembled under a thin stretch of skin threatened to stop in her chest forever. Sitting there stunned, still trying to process what she had envisioned, the horrower struggled to stand when a fit of sickly coughs nearly overcame her in its suffocating grip as the horrific vision toyed with her sanity as it replayed itself across her rheumy eyes.

In her vision Ravenshadow stood facing the dark path along the Shadow Road. His hair flew in an unseen wind and his eyes were stoic and unemotional; the exact contrast as to how she felt as she watched, unable to intervene in the vision. His brutal, deadly wounds and broken body told her all she needed to know that one of her worst fears has come to pass. Ravenshadow, one of her sons was dead.

Then in her vision the darkness took on a female shape, a translucent wisp of shadow; embraced her son with billowing arms while whispering terrible screams seductively into the his ears. Dorsha watched with renewed horror as Ravenshadow did not so much as resist the enveloping shadow and allowed the embrace of death to deliver him from the mortal realms. 

Dorsha went to her harrow deck frantic, her mind shattered, "False reading." She muttered over and over again turning cards over one at a time. "False reading, false reading, false reading..."