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...