Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Zhents Session 19: Back From the Dead

This week’s session begins in a Kellet warehouse with the dragon monks of the Black Orchid chanting, working implements and drawing geometric designs on Tiberius Rancor to bring his spirit back to his mortal body as the other characters kept busy watching the mounts, keeping watch on the ruined town of Kellet or speaking with the other dragon occultists.

In the hours that followed the characters learn these thirteen individuals were monks from the Monastery of the Yellow Rose; they left following a new order set forth by their ‘Oracle’ who led them to Kellet and the location of a dragon attack in hopes another dragon would come out of curiosity. As they waited for a dragon patron they believed would someday come, these men of the Black Orchid would amass dragon iconography and memorize any books left behind after the dragon attack in hopes the next dragon would take one of them on as a servant. They do not raise weapons against a dragon unless that dragon should strike first. They freely trade dragon stories or personal experiences.

Vampire Queen
In coming here during the Time of Troubles the Monks of the Black Orchid have learned some details about the Crypt of Heroes and in doing so discovered the secret history of Daggerdale. Some locations were not in fact originally part of Daggerdale: settlements such as Highstone, Castle Enneth, Kellet were a part of a demiplane ironically called Merrydale. The Crypt of Heroes here in Kellet contained the worldly remains, including a dragon, of those who freed Merrydale from its vampire queen. 

The legends states that Jacklynn Fesric and Lady Dawn, the First Templar of Light, led the goodly folk against the vampires of Highstone. Foildan, the ‘Prince of Thieves’ stole Merrydale from the queen; and Bardolf Brightblade, once slave to the vampire queen before being freed by Lady Dawn. The dwarf would later craft the Sword of the Dales among other weapons… Finally, the celestial dragon who carried the demilplane to Toril and who’s heart beats at the center of the Crypt of Heroes. Finally, the White Necromancer, as far as the monks know, is an unknown benevolent being of Toril.  
In the time that followed, Lucas discovered an old acid cauldron where the monks destroy the tomes once they are memorized. While Dylan received a message carried by a crow (Dylan's harrow card) from Tedric Vexx: “Much of the Ministry is a Lie. Be wary. Loyalty remains with the Zhentarim.” Elsewhere El Guapo finds that the neutral group of riders that defend the Teythemar Trail comes to Kellet and the Monks of the Black Orchid periodically during their patrol routes. Everyone takes pains not to be discovered as the characters rest up and organize a plan.

Tiberius Rancor awakens changed and untrustful of the light with a new perspective on Merrydale and Daggerdale and how that relates to the characters and why they are in Daggerdale just as Dylan and Lucas leave for Dagger Falls the next morning.

Arriving in the early hours the Dylan and Lucas see that the community around the River Tesh serve the trade routes, horses are bread as the flow of caravans seems to be ramping up in the face of warmer weather. Here Lucas realizes “the Keep” harrow card is in fact Dagger Falls. 

As they cross the river they hear a voice, “I just spent the last six months leading orcs against Followers of Helm and now you’re telling me that goblins are under new management in the mountains?!” The question captured the curiosity of Dylan and Lucas and eventually led them to meeting Fulgath (of Fulgath’s Caravan Supplies) and the speaker (who seems to be a clone of) Manshoon, the father of the Zhentarim, happy in his work and off the grid of the Ministry. Everyone thinks he was dead after the events in Hillsfar. 

This all took place at Fulgath’s where Manshoon indicated had leverage against Constable Tren Noemfor and the Gilded Gentleman and that he also said he allowed a small cult of Lathanderites in Dagger Falls to ease the souls of the commonfolk. The goblins in the mountains he was speaking of are without their two giant bosses and seem to be under new ‘druidic’ leadership.

Dylan and Lucas would eventually leave and return with the rest of the characters later that night at the Red Rock where Manshoon waited with every man, orc and child who owed the scoundrel a favor. Here the remaining characters would meet the unknown man in the painting who was largely unconcerned with the Ministry's war and more concerned with profitable trade.

First and foremost, Manshoon said, the Zhentarim was a mercenary company profiting off of trade from the Moonsea to the Sword Coast and not the Ministry’s attack dog or beast of burden. He lamented that the High Precept absconded the Black Network from him for a war against Cormyr. Manshoon in turn asked others what the Minsitry stole from them. This lead Havaok to think of his own harrow reading and The Twin card. Later talk centered on Zhentil Keep and a certain painting- it was then Dylan realized Manshoon could be and was likely his father.
Manshoon- The unknown man in the painting.

After several hours and ales later, Manshoon shared what he knew about the location Order of the Lammasu and Randall Morn. While he has no reason to meddle south of the river, Manshoon's resources tell him that Anthar’s Dell is one of Randall’s meeting locations and that nearby Castle Dunbarton to the south west is a likely location for either one or both.

The characters find Danus Treagh and Hieb Jenton here as well. When confronted they indicated they were lied to by Sumel and believed they were following Havaok's orders through proxy. Havaok warned them that their life was forfeit if he should see them again.

The characters are provided a stable to rest in, away from prying eyes. The next day, (day 8) the characters are reunited with Red Morgan, Ulric Estone and Timrurko who have completed their task of purchasing building materials for the new temple of Bane in Green Orb. However with certain plans having changed they are going to build here among the outlying Dagger Falls community- something that caters to the ‘roguish travelers’. This lead the characters to seek out an armorer tradesman named Wellins who should really just open a shop already.

After some lucrative commerce the characters leave the Dagger Falls vicinity and head south along the Tethyamar Trail. They made great time along the trail and in the darkness of night the characters arrive at Green Orb where Tiberius sees an eerie glow emanating from within an otherwise empty town. A golden illumination that no one else could see…

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Zhents Session 18: The Crypt of Heroes and the Monks of the Black Orchid

After the battle with the Servants of Cyric the characters divide the spoils and rest the remainder of the day and into evening while Lucas kept vigil. During the night Lucas spotted a dark figure watching from a far; Lucas would be wary.

Also during his watch Lucas noticed how the buildings of Kellet seem out of place for Daggerdale and the town’s design seemed advanced when compared to other nearby rural towns. Havaok meanwhile experienced a fitful sleep with visions and flashes of the Green ‘giant’ visiting physiological terrors on the Guetha-Niz, the black unicorn while the others slept well satisfied in their rightful defeat of a rival faith.

After a period of rest it is midnight and the beginning of the seventh day Havaok summoned his mount and calmed the upset beast. El Guapo and Tiberius examined the texts from Sumel: 

Bookmarks throughout the tomes was something called the domains of dread; demiplanes of evil and corruption. Similarly, any mentions of the Shadow Road, (the) Ways, or Ley Lines are called out as well.

Included in the codex is a rough hand-drawn map of Daggerdale; the map indicates Kellet with an elemental symbol of air, umbral markings where Green Orb and Bloodstone (Highstone) are located, and finally oaken-leaf symbols near three existing locations of Dagger Springs, Cold Springs, and Anathar's Dell each circled with question marks LEY LINES?

Written on the last page: 'What does the Fey want with Daggerdale?' and 'Does Havaok want to return Merrydale to domains of dread?'

Eventually characters pick up and venture deeper into Kellet to search leading toward the tallest structure in town: a forty foot tall four-sided stone plinth. Along their path the characters encounter for the first time an area of wild magic. Drifts of multicolored smoke-like clouds hung lazily over beautiful black orchids, a grove Dylan had discovered earlier that seemed well tended. Magical tests proved inconclusive as the characters tried to illicit a surge of magic from the wild area. 

An hour later the characters arrive at the tallest structure in Kellet, the Crypt of Heroes guarded by the White Necromancer- a guardian of considerable power who snuffed the life from Rancor almost immediately. The guardian necromancer was no match for Havaok’s sword and Guetha-Niz's hooves and was temporarily defeated allowing the antipaladin access into Bardolf Brightblade’s crypt where he was gifted a divination with the trapped soul of Malyk. The inside of the crypt was a gravestone on a dark grassy knoll beyond which was a dusky thunderstorm. 

After introductions Malyk told Havaok how he sought a way to rid Daggerdale of the Sword of the Dales. His investigations led him down many dead end paths, but eventually he discovered the burial crypt of Bardolf, the crafter of the blade, as well as an air elemental font inside the Crypt of Heroes. Malyk thought that by casting the Sword of the Dales into the air elemental font it would destroy the sword, but in uncovering the air elemental font the White Necromancer trapped Malyk's soul within the Crypt. Ilthond never got as far as the characters in his search for Malyk, instead falling at the Tomb of Shraevyn. Malyk’s last words to Havok in controlling Daggerdale was as cryptic as one might expect: When you control all ‘avenues’ into and out of the dale, then you will have complete control of the dale.

Meanwhile, as Havaok was battling the White Necromancer the rest of the party was searching for Dylan who had ran in terror of the guardian who seemed to the rogue to be the crypt-tower itself. In expert rogue fashion Dylan was able to escape to the frustration of El Guapo and Lucas who both went in search of their comrade.

Dylan however encountered an individual dressed as a monk would, who Dylan believed removed his fear. The man was dressed in grey robes, displayed no weapons and no armor could be seen under the robe that had a black orchid stitched over a dragon in profile. Seeing Dylan was lost, the robed man offered to lead the rogue back to the Oracle and to bring the fallen one to their sacred rock garden.

Back at the Crypt of Heroes Havaok was expelled from the tower as the White Necromancer reasserted control just as Dylan, Lucas and El Guapo return to find Tiberius’ fallen body. Without a moment to spare the characters take Tiberius’ body to the sacred rock garden, an area of perfect symmetry where colored rocks and stone from the ruined town had been laid out to form a scene in perspective- a dragon reading a great tome in a library of great tomes.

Here waited three similarly dressed men each with a black orchid/dragon stitching over their hearts and began tending to the body of Tiberius with extracts and oils. These men reminded the characters of the Librarian occultists of the Tesseract in their practices. There were very few words spoken between the grey robed individuals and the characters, instead working their rituals on the body of Tiberius as the characters discuss their next course of action.

Meanwhile, Tiberius' soul waited alone in a surreal afterlife of shadow and darkness under a sky of inter-dimensional pathways for the world of the light to call him back. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Zhents Session 17: The Hidden Temple of Cyric

Temple of Cyric
Tiefling Barbarians (5): large infernal stylized bastard swords and nasty looking medium throwing axes, black hide armor, x2 bone javelins, alchemist fire, tanglefoot bag, longbow (20 arrows), potion CMW, spiked bone gauntlets.

Foucher: +1 cunning ranseur, cloak of human guise, potion of CSW, belt of giant strength +2, and the following armor
Price 17,600 gp; Aura moderate transmutation; CL 11th; Weight 12 lbs.
Alignment LE; Senses 60ft., darkvision
Intelligence 11; Wisdom 12; Charisma 12; Ego +7
Language telepathy (Common, and Infernal)
   This old armor of black chain links has obviously seen heavy use: Five long lengths of chain, to which nasty-looking barbs and small blades are affixed, have unraveled and now dangle free from the bottom of the chest piece.
   This suit of armor functions as a +1 mithral shirt, in addition once per round as a swift action, one of the five dangling chains makes one melee attack (using your base attack bonus) against an adjacent creature of your choice as the armor's dedicated power. The chain deals 1d6 points of bludgeoning damage (+1 point of damage per enhancement bonus, no Str bonus on damage), and is treated as a magic weapon with an enhancement bonus equal to the armor's enhancement bonus to AC.
   Resonating (Mythic): Three times per day, when the wearer expends at least one use of mythic power on his turn, this armor surges with sympathetic power. Its enhancement bonus increases by 2, and any damage reduction the wearer has increases by 5. This lasts for a number of rounds equal to the wearer's tier, and doesn't stack with itself.
   The item's power grants the wearer sustenance and the wearer no longer has need to eat or sleep; furthermore, it's purpose is to roam the planes in a lust to cause and receive suffering, seeking pain through violent abductions and sadistic debauches.
Construction Requirements: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, create food and water, animate object. 
Cost 8,250 (plus 1,100 for mithril shirt) GP

Maskul Mirrormane: +1 ominous ironwood quarterstaff, headband of vast intelligence +2 (spellcraft), x2 potions CSW, ring of protection +2, x3 smokestick, x5 sunrods, tanglefoot bag, wand of magic missiles (24 charges, CL7), scrolls of chill touch, color spray, fireball, fly, mage armor, ray of enfeeblement, and shield CL7; as well as every 1st and 2nd level Magus spells in Deep Magic

Sumel Ilzimmer: +1 heavy mace, +1 heavy wooden shield, +2 shadow chainmail, eyes of keen sight, cloak of resistance +1, headband of inspired wisdom +2, master work light crossbow, potion of restoration, lesser, ring of protection +1, x2 potion of CSW, wand of inflict moderate wounds (20 charges). Finally, a Cult of the Dragon scroll of Animate Dead (Dragon Skeleton).

Mara Trollsblood: +1 chainmail, +1 lt. mace, cloak of resistance +1, masterwork heavy steel shield, wand of CMW (20 charges), oil of darkness, dust of darkness.

Eragyn the Dark: +1 elven chainmail, +1 scimitar (fey brand), cloak of elven kind, +1 heavy steel shield, wand of restoration, lesser (10 charges), eclipsed metamagic rod, lesser.

Tephna the Erinyes
Codex of Demiplanes: a compendium of different well used volumes from different collections each focused on the subject of demiplanes both in spellform and as alternate material planes.

The Manifesto: personal letters outlines how Sumel planned to deliver Daggerdale back to its demiplane state for his god Cyric by taking control of key planar points in the dale. *Notes indicated the black unicorn Tephna created is the link between Shadow Roads, Ley lines and the Ways, and crucial for his momentous plan's success.

3,000 g in various coinage, 3,000 xp each, +1 mythic trial, and removal of insanity damage. Good job everyone, you have pleased the shadows. Our session continues on the afternoon of day 6 in Kellet. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Zhents Session 16: The Sleeping Maiden and the Green Time-Thief

This week's session finds the characters an hour between Black Switch and the Ruins of Kellet where three lines converged on your map, they find a idyllic grove of beautiful trees. Inside the grove was a mystical light that wavered golden with a green nimbus to a green radiance with gold flecks that tinkled like fireflies. It was a place of serenity where shadows were not cast.

Entering the grove the characters discover a gargantuan statue of a maiden at rest covered in moss and ferns upon which sat a giant fey with a green bowler hat on its vile head, it wore belts of various types strapped and crisscrossed across his waist and up his torso.

The creature claimed to go by many names: the Oakfather, Green Giant, Carlo$ D4nger, Space Cowboy, Ace of Spades, and the Time-thief the list went on. The creature seemed to take great pleasure in perplexing the characters. The Oakfather/Space Cowboy expected some form of tribute, as was custom for those who entered the grove of the sleeping maiden, some seeking blessings for their crops, fortunes in the stars, as well as other reasons but some dark souls (such as the characters) never leave...

The green menace used sleep inducing magic and a confusion spell in an attempt disable some if not all its enemies while the grave risen, the Time-thief's past victims, clawed their way out of the black grove soil. The giant attacked with belts that he unstrapped and lashed whip-like at the characters, but when the attack resolved itself the character was affected by what was essentially a tanglefoot bag. The giant was an illusion and something unseen was lobbing the tangleboot bags.

It was a suspenseful combat, lasting nine rounds, as more grave risen was animated while more characters were slowed in movement and or adhered to the ground. In the end alchemist fires and hellhounds were used and summoned in an attempt to burn the grove.

This caused the fey to reveal itself as if effected by the attacks on the grove and in a flash the Sleeping Maiden, the fey, and the grove were gone. The characters were back in Daggerdale nine hours later.

A period of rest was taken with the only event of note were the sounds of eerie screams in the night heard by Havaok.

It was now day six and noon hour when the characters arrive to the Ruins of Kellet. The walled town was bigger than Green Orb with large broken stone and cracked marble buildings. Ruble and debris were everywhere as a yellow haze filled empty spaces.

Crossing the main entrance the characters pass between the severed heads of two familiar dwarves that turn as the characters enter Kellet. After 150' the characters notice Eragyn and Mara, eyeless and tongueless, chained to a pole outside a prominent building and on this building stood Maskul Mirrormane. At various points Foucher and other Servants of the Dark Sun ready themselves. Then as a pair of undead giants block the exit from Kellet when Maskul looks down at Guetha-Niz the black unicorn and indicates to Havaok he should not take what is not his...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Dragon and the Truenamer

Khazzusdirth the Red
The dragon was startled to hear it’s truename for the first time in physical existance, the utterance had a familiarity to it. Unfettered sound across miles, forests and hills the syllables of naming were true and well spoken. Normally the Dragon loathed leaving the comforts Myth Drannor provided but Khazzusdirth the Red was unable to resist, unable to do anything but heel to the naming.

In short time Khazzusdirth passed countless green landscapes, bodies of blue water, and through two furious thunderstorms before finally appearing before the Truenamer on a hill in Daggerdale. The dragon could not have known this hill would be where it would perish this night. 

The Truenamer had a curt look to him, utilitarian but with a strong will capable of channeling a god. His speech was articulate, carefully enunciating each word and infinite syllable. Impeccable style for an individual of his race Khazzusdirth mused, one that wordlessly commanded respect. Khazzusdirth hated the man with such intensity the dragon would swear on a pile of golden treasure his draconic eyes burned with orange hellfire.

The Truenamer examined Khazzusdirth with a critical eye; the act of perusal was an insult on the highest order to the dragon. As far as Khazzusdirth new, red dragons were the pinnacle of form, ferocity; a perfect instrument of death.

A brisk southern wind raced up the green hill upon which the dragon and Truenamer stood tossing back the rusty hood of the Truenamer revealing a human of unknown age with a thin mustache and several burn scars. This pleased the dragon to see.

“To the north of here is a walled town of hucksters, hedonists, and heretics. And like so many cities before it too drunk on itself to survive- Kellet must fall.” The Truenamer paused for dramatic effect. “There you will find the Crypt of Heroes where you and I will focus our might.” The Truenamer said without further theatrics speaking fastidiously.
Malyk the Truenamer
“To what end?” Khazzusdirth asked with real curiosity hoping there was something in it for him in addition to his freedom from this lowly servitude.

“I believe the Crypt of Heroes in Kellet contains the bodily remains of Daggerdale’s iconic heroes. The Mage of Black Switch, Foildan the Prince of Thieves, Lathander’s First Templar… and Bardolf Brightblade, the dwarf crafter of legend. The crypt is protected however by the White Necromancer, a mantle and position passed down from generation to generation in Kellet.”

“And for me?” the greedy Khazzusdirth asked.

“You get to live.” Said the Truenamer also known as Malyk said with such coldness, the great red dragon shivered with a chill. “and should that fail, your bones will rise again to serve me. Either way,” Malyk smiled. “the life you once knew is over.” 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Zhents Session 15: Making Friends

This week’s session finds the Zhent characters completing an all-night top to bottom search of Castle Enneth finding various weapons, armor, cold weather and explorer’s gear, and a couple of scared dwarves as Eragyn, Red Morgan and the rest of the Zhents keep watch. Havaok also set a sentry skull to keep watch through the rainy night. The castle seemed to serve as a temporary abode for this resistance group.

Magical items were evaluated and distributed among the characters and Dylan inventories the equipment. Sometime during the early morning Ulric Estone alerts the characters the body of the dead giant is gone. The characters report to investigate but with the night rainy conditions it was not possible to tell if the giant body was carried, dragged, or if it just walked away.

Morning of the fourth day and while Eragyn, Red Morgan and the rest of the Zhents rested the characters set about caring for the livestock, Tiberius crafting swift runner shirt, and El Guapo studying two spell books and combining notes to make a third spell book. Red Morgan continues training Elric, Mornan, and Timrurko in the roguish ways while Mara devotes herself to Eragyn’s new church of Bane in Green Orb.

Later that night, as everyone planned to leave the next morning, the characters received visitors. Outside Castle Enneth was Foucher and five we armed tieflings who demanded the gates be opened for the Strifelord Sumel Ilzimmer. A quick inspection indicated a large group accompanying the Strifelord including a personal entourage as well as a small tribe of orcs, numerous skeletons, and two undead giants. The Strifelord himself, hidden in a covered litter, as the Servants of the Dark Sun were allowed in.

About an hour later the characters meet with Strifelord Sumel Ilzimmer and fully understand their intentions. They travel south to take the dark fight directly to Shadowdale and their temples. It would seem Sumel, Tephna, and Mirrormane are accustomed to assimilating others to their cause and therefore callously assume the characters will join them as well. Havaok countered and invited them to join THEIR team and help rebuild Daggerdale and wait for main Zhentarim force. Lucas interjected and invoked the Ministry’s name and that for the most part, everyone was on the same side. Neither side could come to an agreement so it was agreed among the characters they would leave at first light.

However not long after that Havoak found where the Black Pegasus accompanying the Strifelord was being stabled. Its name was Guetha-Niz an evil creation, made from unicorns infused with the blood of the underworld; he was coal-dark with a coarse black mane and burning red eyes, his horn long and spiraled and chased with silver. He was being held in place by five zombies with heavy silver chains.

After some careful experimentation, Tiberius even attempting to control the zombies, Havaok was able to free Guetha-Niz only to be suddenly and magically transported to the ruined temple to Bane in Green Orb. The remaining characters thought this would be a great time to leave Castle Enneth and the Servants of the Dark Sun and return to Green Orb.

A few hours later the characters reunite in Green Orb to rest at the Schnapps Queen where they would later decide their next course of action. Send Red Morgan and the caravan to Dagger Falls to resupply with the funds Eragyn has gathered. Make contact with any Dagger Falls Zhents and inform them to make contact with Green Orb, after that report to the Flaming Tower before returning to Dagger Falls the following day with hopefully more supplies before finally returning to Green Orb three or four days later. The characters would travel with the caravan as far as they can before breaking off to investigate Kellet. 

Black Switch

Around noon of the fifth day the characters find themselves on the trail to Black Switch, a mostly empty farming village, with a blacksmith, a millstream, mill and a small, newly remodeled former inn and brewery now an Aurora’s Emporium. Here the characters meet with Delbert Hiel who manages the emporium. While eager to do business and make contacts, he is either reluctant to share what he knows of the village or (being new to Daggerdale) does not know much to tell. Delbert does however know that while Black Switch does not have a formal constable, Tristarm and his band of road marshals come through Black Switch at least once every couple of days.

Next it was decided to visit the ruins of Kellet two hours away from Black Switch; that is where we begin next session, an hour away from Kellet.

Ruins of Kellet

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Servants of the Dark Sun

Strifelord Sumel Ilzimmer

Necromonger Maksul Mirrormane

Tephna- The Dark Sirine

Foucher and the Gauntlet


THE Black Unicorn

Zombie Giants

Monday, May 22, 2017

Zhents Session 14: The Taking of Castle Enneth

Riders On The Storm
We begin this week’s session with the characters starting an early morning return to Green Orb on day three; 27 days until Guthbert is due to arrive at the Flaming Tower. The first hour saw the beginning drops of what was going to be showers and thunderstorms off and on all day. Eventually the characters draw nearer to Castle Enneth where they see two mounted sentries atop the tallest hill about an hour ride west from the Castle. The characters enter the area which causes one of the watchmen to ride east for Castle Ennith.

The characters split up leaving Rancor and Havaok behind. The others approach the Castle and are eventually confronted by six riders each wearing banded mail, shields, swords and spears, while two of them had lances. The characters speak with an individual named Mccray who puts the characters back on track after the characters give the riders a fabricated cover story.

Dylan, Lucas and El Guapo back track to rendezvous with the other characters after learning security around Castle Enneth has stepped up. Skirting south around Castle Enneth the characters arrive to Green Orb around 3 pm and to the Town Hall to find Heldarn Dernesch and Eragyn speaking with Ulric Estone one of the Zhentirim lead by Red Morgan and the cleric of Bane Mara Trollsblood. Dylan recognizes the man from the caravan.
Ulric Estone
Ulric’s story was that the caravan wandered too close to the castle and were approached by riders lead by Gamel from Castle Enneth. When Mara was recognized as a cleric of Bane swords were drawn and we were ordered to surrender as enemies of the dale. When a fight broke out Red Morgan ordered Ulric to make haste for Green Orb and tell everyone of what occurred. 

Meanwhile, outside in the rainy streets of Green Orb, as this story was being told someone notices a leather clad halfling dropping eves outside the town hall building. A chase ensues around the back alley as well as the front streets where the characters trap Balbo Flambard in an alley and capture the resistance’s scout and spy.

Havaok uses the iron rope to restrain the halfling while the characters take poor Balbo back to Town Hall. For the next few hours the characters question Balbo and learn a few things about Castle Enneth and how he came to be in Green Orb. Balbo was deployed from Castle Enneth where Lint Delmiskyr commands a score of freedom riders and followed Ulric to Green Orb. The halfling proved to be a devout resistance member during the questioning until Rancor showed him a fate worse than death; that and the loss of a few digits and the characters believed they had enough information to try to take Castle Enneth. (Balbo: unidentified magic short sword, cloak, armor and bracers.)
RIP Balbo

Waiting for sundown the characters walk to Castle Enneth and wait for darkness before finding a door high up along the outer wall of the Castle. In the meantime Havaok speaks into the shadows and makes contact with Hess. The antipaladin spoke with the kenku about fighting a dragon. Later, as a caravan is being processed in the castle courtyard, the characters make their way into the high entrance leaving Eragyn the Dark and Ulric Estone hidden outside the castle.

After killing a hapless dwarf servant the characters find an unused secret passage with three access points that eventually ends at the inner courtyard where a single wagon is currently being offloaded. Backtracking the characters find the dungeons were Red Morgan, Mara Trollsblood as well as Zhents Mornan and Timrurko were being held, killing two dwarf guards in the process.

After freeing them the characters backtrack the way they came and ascend to the uppermost floor and the rooftop garden and aviary where they get the drop on Aldrich Gundwynd; they take his shit and throw his body off the plateau. Back down the stairs the characters discover the castle resistance occupants are finding the dwarf bodies left behind by their antics; then the giant attacked Castle Enneth shaking the very plateau. (Aldrich: unidentified cloak, bracers, headband, pearl. Wand of Magic Missiles, 2 CMW potions, masterwork swordcane, and a message *see below.)

In the end the characters defeated three dwarfs, ten freedom riders (two were leaders), they finish off a strange hill giant, and drive off who the characters confirm to be Lint Delmiskyr a huge silver dragon.

We pick up a few minutes after combat in Castle Enneth’s courtyard in the company of Eragyn the Dark and Red Morgan, Mara Trollsblood as well as Zhents Ulric Estone, Mornan, and Timrurko.

Castle Enneth

Create 154 Goods, 27 Influence, 142 Labor, 2 Magic (6,930 gp)
Rooms 1 Armory, 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bunks, 1 Cell, 1 Courtyard, 1 Crypt, 4 Defensive Walls, 1 Escape Route (Courtyard), 1 Garden, 1 Gatehouse, 1 Gauntlet, 1 Kitchen, 1 Lavatory, 1 Office, 1 Sitting Room, 2 Stalls, 2 Storages
Animals 10 Horses, 2 Draft Horses, 1 Donkey, 6 Chickens, 1 Cow, 1 Goat, 2 Ravens, 2 Dogs, 4 Oxen

"A. G.- Dark agents in the Dale again my friend. Zhentarim and or followers of Cyric, undead among them include a possible devil. -S.M."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gamel and The Dragon

Gamel Emerson
Two Years Ago..

All of Kellet was on fire. Flickering red and crimson shadows reflected off pale stone walls like dancing fairies with wings of flame. Gamel Emerson, a humble rancher who had come to Kellet to sell his brand, surprised himself with his heroics tonight and, quite frankly did not know he had it in him. Emerson did not run like most folk did when the fires began; but in his opinion the Zhentarim or anyone who collaborates with the Black Network are spineless lowfolk at any rate, power-hungry cowards.

When Emerson first saw the terrible red dragon it was perched on the southern stretch of wall that surrounded the small walled city while he was finishing up the days market business. The dragon beat its wings and flayed its tail ferociously. The dragon went for easy prey and plucked a bison from a nearby pen, obviously hungry. With its hunger immediately stated Emerson caught a mischievous look in the dragon’s eye and saw the dragon’s penchant for mayhem reflected in them. 

As men ran to and fro Emerson lost sight of the dragon behind Buxton’s Mercantile when an unexpected instinct came over him. Instead of running Emerson, clear of head and heart, saved four women and three children while the dragon rampaged unchecked on the south east side. Emerson gathered up who he could as he drove his wagon with all haste down Kellet’s main street. When Emerson exited through the south gate he saw something that lifted his spirits to soaring heights.

A silver rider on what seemed like a giant palomino war horse charged out of the night focused on the red dragon; both rider and steed were drenched in fiery colors as they entered the radiance of Kellet as it burned. As Emerson rode for safety, his past life literally going up in flames, he passed the silver hero Emerson would come to know as Lint Delmiskyr.


Gamel Emerson made his way through the stone walls of the castle where Captain Delmiskyr’s large parlor was to be found, the smooth stone halls reminded the former rancher of Kellet which brought thoughts of the dragon.

A short rise of stairs brought Gamel to the parlor door, a great behemoth of a door made from Shadowtop wood and banded with decorative ironworks. Opposite the great door was a painting that rivaled the door in proportions, a depiction of Sir Delhorn Enneth leading scores of followers under a banner of Torm against the vampires of Merrydale. The image was both horrifying and inspirational when Emerson considers the heroics one man is capable of.
Lint Delmiskyr

Before Gamel could knock a voice rose from the parlor, “Gamel Emerson, enter and speak.” The words were well spoken, clear but with a twinge of accent.

The door clicked open revealing a large great hall Lint used as his parlor. The room was draped in alternating purple and silver velvet curtains trimmed in black satin lattice work. Double stitched geometric patterns spiraled out adding a subtle extra dimension to the featured Cormyrean Noble family crest.
“Captain Delmiskyr.” Gamel said saluting as he greeted his commander. “Activity at the Dragon’s Skeleton was reported from the south watch post. Haunting sounds, black Green Orb horses, and as strange as it sounds, the tree looks have been felled at that site.” Gamel waited for a reply, but what happened next surprised him.

Lint closed his eyes and appeared to focus then suddenly opened them revealing silver eyes that, as far as Gamel knew, reflected the entire world like two perfect mirrors. Gamel could hardly behold him because at that moment Lint seemed larger than he was and brimmed with power. Gamel was overcome with joy.

“Thank you Gamel. Your words speak true.” Lint’s voice now had a resonance that was not an effect of the large parlor, his eyes had returned to their normal grey color of rain. “You are to take Rodolfo, Atticus, Jess Green, Burch, Cameron , and Mccray and search the area- return with anything you think is interesting or will be useful."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Zhents Session 13: Raiders of the Lost Tomb

Green Orb
We catch up with the Zhent Deputies this week as they re-enter the humble town of Green Orb. Eragyn asked to be taken to the Schnapps Queen to pray and recover her abilities. (It didn’t come out but she has a permanent room here.) She was taken in by Nella, to whom Eragyn has a sister-like relationship.

As Eragyn busied herself, the characters passed the time eating in the Schnapps Queen common room where towns folk came and went helping themselves to stew and apple beer. Some overheard talk of riders seen along neighboring hills heading north.

About an hour later Eragyn returns from her meditations obviously refreshed, determined. She spoke of a strongbox that was at the ruined church that will help rebuild, Tiberius adds a modest amount of funds to this endeavor as a tithe.

Without further delay the characters leave Green Orb for Shraevyn’s Tomb. Their westerly path of travel is devoid of a road or even a trail. A few hours and countless hills later, around midday the characters find a huge skeleton of a dragon laying across a low hill, a dark tree standing sentential waiting for curious victims. A dark cousin to the treant but feeds off the blood of its victims; an example of flora grown awry under the red ring in the sky. The dragon skeleton, a remnant from the godsfall, had a torn piece of horse barding that had the family crest emblazoned on it. 
Red Morgan and Mara Trollsblood

It was then the dark tree attacked instigating a tough fight but after it was over the characters investigated the surrounding area. It was possible the nostril opening in the dragon skull was a message drop where the horse barding was found. Not only did it have a Cormyrean family crest emblazoned upon it, on the back written in blood was the word dragon.

Turning once again west (and slightly north) the characters come within sight of Castle Enneth and a flag flying overhead that looks like the same as the barding found- a Cormyrean family crest. The characters decide not to investigate at this time. 

With Castle Enneth at their backs the characters eventually enter mountainous foothills and encounter a Zhentish caravan who had wandered off the path avoiding monsters. After Dylan made the initial contact, the rest of the characters introduced themselves to the roguish caravan master Red Morgan, a priest of Bane named Mara Trollsblood as well as seven drovers/guards and several oxen. They were road weary from a trip across the desert and ready to be relieved of their cargo: raw building supplies from the west.

The characters identified the need for these goods for rebuilding the church of Bane in Green Orb and Havaok redirected the caravan not to Dagger Falls as was their destination, but to Green Orb instead.
To Shraevyn's Tomb
As the sun disappeared behind the Desertmouth Mountains the characters find narrow stairs that lead up to a tomb built into the side of a mountain. The tomb had twenty foot tall statues, one a graceful woman who’s statue had been damaged in an avalanche and the other, a warrior male standing regal and vigilant. The opening to the tomb lie broken revealing a dark interior, there was obvious signs of recent passage.

Inside the characters find a mosaic of a piece of Daggerdale history, but without reference. Deeper in the tomb the characters encounter two cursts, unfortunate undead humanoids trapped under a curse that will not let them die. The encounter was not as challenging as the dark tree, but yielded some magic, the body of Ilthond and some information in a personal journal Ilthond kept.

While some of the information is in Ilthond’s code, the characters were able to discover the mage was hoping to find the soul of Shraevyn hoping that with the soul of the individual who enchanted the Sword of the Dales Ilthond could overcome the sword’s powerful defenses. Unfortunately Ilthond met his end with the undying cursts and Shraevyn’s body, as well as (according to Ilthond's notes) the known deceased Morn family linage has been moved to unknown locations.

The characters decide to rest, taking turns on watch and begin next week’s session on the third day with an overland return trip to Green Orb. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Zhents Session 12: Castle Daggerdale

The Hills of Daggerdale
Our session in Daggerdale begins in front of Green Orb’s town hall where Heldarn Dernesch, Hieb Jenton and Danus Treagh had gathered seventeen of the town’s residents and farmers. Some came on horses while most walked answering the call of the town bell. In front of the gathered folk Heldarn swore the characters as deputies of Green Orb and announced that they will henceforth bring justice to those who burned down their church, and harried ‘the cause’ implicating heavily that the freedom riders and the Cavaliers of the Order of the Lammasu (referred to collectively as the resistance) to be the enemies.

The deputy characters set up a line where folk could testify to the crimes committed, but all seemed hesitant except a man who introduced himself as Gwayne, the big rancher. Meanwhile, Havaok searched for good souls in the crowd and came away with two: Cris and Regine Rolst, brother and sister who lived on a farm house on Gwayne’s property and who worked repairing farms and stables. 

As Tiberus, Havaok and El Guapo talked with the big rancher, Lucas and Dylan followed Cris and Regine to their farmhouse and staked them out until the other characters caught up with them a while later retrieving horses from Gwayne. While they were being watched Regine busied herself on the porch while after a few minutes Cris grabbed a horse and rode north. Back at the town hall Gwayne was doing all he could to speak for the town because as far as Gwayne knew Heldarn was the man everyone reported to as constable.

After the purchasing of black horses, stark mounts that would surely spook if taken into combat, from Gwayne and the gift of excess potions from the characters- the deputies rode east for Castle Daggerdale in hopes of finding Iceheart the half white dragon of Daggerhills. Along the way the characters take in the rolling landscape of Daggerdale, appreciating both the cover the hills provide as well as the danger that may lurk behind every hill.
Iceheart- Half Drow White Dragon

After a few hours of travel the characters come to the Ashaba River and a mated pair of owlbears enjoying a refreshing drink from the running waters. The characters attack and defeat the owlbears and encounter tall half-elf wildings. The wildings were odd in appearance; tall in stature they dusted their hair and skin with bone dust giving them a ghostly appearance while also disguising their half drow heritage. They asked the characters what they were going to discard the owlbear carcasses, if they were going to just leave them behind. That turned out to be the case as the characters continued for Castle Daggerdale leaving the dead owlbears for the wildings.

An hour later, on a well-traveled path up to the castle, the deputies encountered more drow wildings who said their queen-mother was under a dream-curse. The characters decided to aid the wildings and see to Iceheart and over the next twenty-one hours learned what transpired here, the price that was exacted, and discovered they held Eragyn as their prisoner.

Three days ago, the night the meteor fell, Ilthond came to Castle Daggerdale looking for information on the Morn family. He held audience with the queen-mother who demanded a carnal price from the Zhent wizard. While this was going on Eragyn mistakenly thought Ilthond sought Iceheart for explicit reasons and jealously fought the two after finding them together. In the end Eragyn was captured and Ilthond put Iceheart in a sleep-curse to be woken only by a kiss from a man after he found what he was looking for: The burial mound for Delgar Morn, Randall’s great-great-great-great grandfather and the identity of the mage who enchanted the Sword of the Dales, Shraevyn. The characters notice a ‘Shraevyn's Tomb’ on the map Guthbert gave them. 

In other information: Eragyn, while weakened and dispirited was not forsaken and was still a cleric capable of seeing to rebuilding the church in Green Orb. The Ice ‘queen’ has been in Castle Daggerdale since the time of troubles, the half-drow wildings came as her servants after. That night the characters feasted on owlbear meat and rested.

Midmorning the next day the deputies traveled back to Greeb Orb with Eragyn the Dark and discuss heading to Shraevyn's Tomb after Green Orb by way of Castle Ennith. 

Castle Enneth

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Meeting Resistance

Some dwarves were known for their stone or metal working, some are known for their divine magical abilities, no Kharva Stonefist was famous, albiet locally so, for her biscuits. Kharva worked at The Hall for decades, and breakfast was her specialty. The Hall is a feasthouse that served the local community in many capacities ranging from stage plays to weddings and of course meals at anytime of the day. The dwarf woman had watched generations of local boys and girls grow up to become farmers, craftsmen, and housewives; then there were the other children who took up the sword and shield whose lives were cut short by the encroachment of evil. Cut short by the Zhentlar.

Kharva worked this early morning to make all her guests as comfortable as possible; resistance members summoned in secret to hear the motivating words of Randall Morn and to exchange information and this morning The Hall was today’s venue.

As Kharva swept the planked wooden boardwalk the first of the dalesman came just before dawn, a devotee of the Benevolence, Melfar of Lathander. Dressed in the new gold dragon motif, the field chaplain worshiped the sun openly singing in draconic to the sun as it crested the Dagger Hills.

Balbo Flambard
Also eager to worship that morning was Realgar Runeguard of the Brightblade dwarves who arrived soon after; however his devotions, Kharva lamented, involved copious amounts of the local brew. 

Kharva started breakfast and soon The Hall was filled with the smells of eggs, biscuits and sausage. She soon heard the sound of approaching horses and before Kharva knew it Balbo Flambard was there, the halfling scout was true to his name and arrived undetected using the sound of Lint Delmiskyr and Vacek Kordova’s arrival; the two handsome riders greeted everyone cheerily. 

Finally, as was usual, Aldrich Gundwynd arrived an hour in advance of Randall. The wizened man entered The Hall and immediately began casting protective and divination spells after which Aldrich sent his falcon to signal the leader of the Freedom Riders and the rightful ruler of Daggerdale that all was well.
Lint Delmiskyr

As morning began in earnest Kharva could detect a faint gallop along the pasture, the approach of the seventh guest was nigh. The men prepared themselves finishing their breakfast and washing it down with the last of the coffee while Kharva started brewing a fresh kettle.

Kharva heard the dales hero dismount and step up the boardwalk, Randall entered The Hall and pleasantly greeted each individual. As he did this each attendee touched the blade of the Sword of the Dales in fealty. This excited even Kharva as she cleaned up, it was no wonder the folk of the dale looked to Randall as their protector and leader.

He looked to the assemblage, “Thank you all for coming.” Randal Morn began, his voice clear and sure. “I will hear any news you have brought me.” As he said this he handed his sword’s scabbard to Melfar as a speaking token conveying to everyone that the cleric of Lathander had the floor.

At this act Melfar spoke up, “The safehouses in Sunstone are secure I'm glad to report, those who wish shelter from the oppression will find food and shelter there.” Melfar handed the scabbard to the dwarf.

Realgar had less than good news to report to the resistance, “Dwarf scouts report orcs have began to settle in Galders and goblins have returned to Stonehome."

Aldrich Gyndwynd
“Dwarf scouts..” Balbo harrumphed deftly swiping the scabbard from Realgar. “.. my rump. Anyway, some interesting news out of Black Switch; a newcomer, from another dale, is looking to buy the old Mage’s Ruse building. If he’s a true dalesman then I’m sure he can be an ally.” 

It was Lint’s turn with the scabbard, “A mage has decided to settle the old Shadowtop Estate at Serpents Bridge and like Balbo’s new friend, not much is known about this one at this time.”

As the morning sunlight illuminated the east wall of the feasthall the scabbard changed hands again, this time to Vacek the Rider of Mistledale.

“As you know both Kellet and Teshmere were destroyed by at least one dragon during the godsfall, while initially assessed as total losses one merchant was overheard at Fulgath’s there were efforts to stage Zhentlar there since there is no reason to go there as both towns are in ruins.”

Finally it was Aldrich who took the scabbard and briefed everyone on what he and Randall discussed before the meeting. Gentlemen, every farm and settlement is important; however, Nettle is more so because it produces much of our food. Any threats against it or its people should be reported at the next meeting.”
Randall Morn

Randall took the scabbard and sheathed the Sword of the Dales and regarded the attendees- his friends, “We have come a long way since the Zhentarim overran Daggerdale and held us under its aegis; we must stay vigilant else our victory will be short lived. I estimate we have four weeks before we see an increase in hostilities.”

“Against more stinking Zhents?” Kharva asked in a rare moment of incredulity.

“Aye, good lady spring fast approaches which is when the Zhentairm reinforcements arrive and I believe if we can thwart them, and if we can keep them from taking Daggerdale this summer- we will have dealt them such a loss they cannot hope to recover from.”

Randall looked to his friends, “Lint, I want you to find out who this new individual is at Shadowtop Manor by tonight’s meeting, we need assets in the dale. Balbo you too, find out who the new merchant is in Black Switch.  The rest of you, my friends keep your ears to the wind and I’ll see you at tonight’s meeting at the arranged location.” 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Zhents Session 11: The Shadow Road and Green Orb

Our session catches up with the characters about an hour after the battle at the abandoned drow outpost. There was one last landmark to overcome however, and that was the compound of the Dark Talon Lizardfolk Tribe led by their fierce female shaman. While the Vrag'ral and one of the drow were knocked unconscious, what remain of the Dark Talon Tribe was now extinct. Dividing up the spoils the characters gathered small valuable quartz gemstones and the drow took the drow weaponry the lizardfolk were wielding, the next stop along the six hour downward travel was the gravely shore of the Shadowlake.

The Shadowlake
Confronted with the Shadowlake the characters discovered a narrow shoreline at the bottom of a deep chasm where two stone pillars marking the ‘entrance’ to the shadowlake stood. After casting the requisite magical ring into the dark waters, the Keeper was summoned. Surrounded by archaic symbology of Bane, the mythic banelar revealed her true price for crossing the shadow road and that was a soul. The drow having left before the Keeper was summoned, left only Vrag’ral the Orog to be the cost.

After the Keeper beckoned Vrag’ral in to the shadowy waters; the node she was the ‘keeper’ of was revealed and an opening to the shadow road was opened. What lay beyond was a monochromatic landscape that seemed populated by various kinds of darkfolk as well as the spirit of Trebek.
The Shadow Road
After a time the characters emerge from the shadow road, a mythic journey that granted the characters their first tier. Touching a shadow node on the other side they enter the world of light and an altar to Bane in a burned out church in a village called Green Orb. When the characters arrive, just before first dawn, the altar breaks in the presence of Heldarn Dernesch a Zhent agent.

Dernesch, after composing himself in a moment of weakness before the characters arrived, lead your characters to a small civic building that also served as town hall with and office and a single jail cell. Here the characters learned of some of the people of note in Daggerdale, where the characters are, what the day is, and the overall status of the dale. 

Simply put, Daggerdale is controlled by no one. Today freedom riders rally behind Randall Morn who wields the icon of leadership- the Sword of the Dales. Folk have risen up from their farmhouses to support the ‘rightful’ ruler of Daggerdale. Cavaliers of the Order of the Lammasu are separate from but aid support to Randall the freedom riders, their leaders have personal connections to the Morn family. There are also several neutral factions that maintain small collectives around the dale.

Meanwhile Dylan catches sight of a smoky red ring, miles in diameter, hanging lazily over western Daggerdale. After pointing this out the characters learn the mysterious anomaly appeared during the Time of Troubles; it casts a strange light on the countryside during the day and seems to cause the vegetation in the region to grow wild.  

Eventually two other Zhents were gathered in the hall; Hieb Jenton and Danus Treagh, both ‘fallen’ agents from Tilverton eager to earn Zhent prestige in the eyes of an anti-paladin. Hieb brings his ledgers of Zhent assets and names and their last known assignments before the godsfall. Danus says there has not been any communication since the coming of Randal Morn and the freedom riders. Among these Zhents is the familiar name Ilthond and Eragyn the dark and cleric of Bane, the on again/ off again lovers.

Word is Eragyn, the cleric of the now burned out Bane church in Green Orb, went in search for Ilthond. Eragyn discovered Ilthond went into Dagger Hills and believed he went looking for Iceheart, a half white dragon. This brought questions of Dagger Hills from the characters and some of its features and locations:

Bloodstone, orignially called Highstone- not a lot is known about the ancient ruins of this village high in the Dagger Hills, Hieb admits. It is said that Highstone was one of the first settlements of Merrydale (the original name of Daggerdale) to be completely taken over by vampires in the Year of the Gray Mists. It supposedly was destroyed two years later by high elven mages and powerful elven warriors from Cormanthor. Also in Dagger Hills is the looming Castle Daggerdale, the traditional seat of the ruling family Morn. Decades ago the Zhent usurper Malyk gutted the castle in the Year of the Wandering Wyrm, after driving the Morn family from rule and taking over Daggerdale himself during the first Zhent occupation years ago. 

Talk waned on what to do next and restoring the church of Bane in Green Orb seemed to be one of the first goals and that talk led to finding Eragyn and heading to Castle Daggerdale was the next agreed upon place to go. This is where we begin next session.  

Castle Daggerdale