2006-11-26


Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Session: 2006-11-19, 2006-11-26
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Antinua
Status: Wizard 3

Dear Kanathas:

You will be pleased to know that I did not need to chastise anyone regarding Indigo’s safety. He had been playing with a young gnome, and the boy had decided that he wanted to take Indigo home. With some assistance from his mother, I convinced him that Indigo would be happier with me.

I believe I left off in my previous letter with the events at Rose Quarry. I will resume there.

The location of Whitehearth was well within the borders of the Mournland. We had some difficultly in persuading Failin to take us there; he was rightfully afraid of the Mournland, and demanded a very high price to enter it. Mike paid him immediately. Alain took the handy haversack with the supplies in it from Mike after this. It is likely that Failin would have accepted a lower price if we had bargained with him. Mike seems to see little use for money.

What I had read about the Mournland did not fully prepare me for the reality. It is surrounded by gray mist; inside, day is a perpetual twilight. The ground is littered with molten glass and rubble in areas that were once inhabited. The bodies lie as they fell, untouched by scavengers or the decay that normally follows death. I was grateful for the land cart that hastened our journey; the Mournland is not a pleasant place to linger.

We would have reached White Hearth without incident, save for Xame. Our “commoner” cleric was curious when we passed an old battlefield; he apparently detected magic in some item, and leapt from the cart in order to satisfy his own greed. The rest of us were obligated to stop and defend him from a trio of skeleton trolls. Xame turned one, Anson entangled another, but the last injured Mike rather severely. I repaid that skeleton with the light of Lunia, although it had far less effect than I had hoped. We managed to delay the undead long enough to return to the land cart and outrun them.

When Xame attempted to cast cure on himself, the spell failed. Apparently, just as the dead do not decay, healing magic does not work in the Mournland.

I must mention two other things about my companions, if I have not done so previously. First, Xame is apparently a cleric of Olladra. This gives me some small comfort, as the good goddess may restrain some of Xame’s less admirable qualities.

We reached the entrance to Whitehearth just as the day came to a close. We were reluctant to camp inside the entrance, since we did not know what to expect inside. Unfortunately, this was a poor choice. We set watches, with Tui and I on the second watch. I had finished my trance, and was preparing my mind for matters of magic, when an undead, predatory bird decided that I was a suitable target. My response to the bird was sufficiently loud to wake the others. We eventually subdued it, but not before it had removed significant pieces of my shoulders.

The rest of the night passed without interruption. That morning, we made another unpleasant discovery; despite our rest, none of us felt much improved over the previous day. No one’s injuries had even started to heal. The Mournland appears to be a place of stagnation. Little grows, the dead do not fade, and wounds remain as they were.

With this upon our minds, we entered Whitehearth. The entrance, and just beyond it, were simple caves. We entered, and went down the first tunnel to our left. There, we found a metal panel, a door of some sort, which contained a socket. An otherwise inexplicable item from Elaydren’s supplies, a short rod with a sapphire on it, fit perfectly. Alain placed it in the socket; for his trouble, he was shocked by lightning. The door opened, revealing only the rock floor. Clearly, this was one means to prevent unauthorized intrusions. Anson had a hand of the mage with him, and used it to withdraw the rod without injuring himself. We were forced to explore the remaining passages, and found that each of the other three had similar doors.

It is fortunate that Anson had his hand of the mage, since the Law of Murphy was in full effect. Only the last of the four doors did not exert lightning. This last door opened without protest, into darkness. Mike dropped a small rock down, to see how deep it was. There was no sound.

We eventually realized that this was only a spell; a room existed not far below. It was spherical, with a table in the center. There were various sockets in this table, each with a color; the blue ones clearly matched the sapphire-topped rod from Elaydren’s pack. In each case, inserting the rod caused the opening in the spherical room to turn to the side, permitting the user of the rod to enter another chamber.

I will spare you the details of our exploration; suffice it to say that it required considerable time and effort. We found two other such spherical rooms, and were forced to search for the other rods. We encountered an awakened dire wolf that was leading a pack of more ordinary wolves. She gave us another rod, which opened another area. As she requested, in exchange we destroyed a menacing stone wolf. This was at a cost; most spells were ineffective against it, and it had its own magical defenses. Alain was injured almost to the point of death by the creature.

We also encountered a total of three living spells. They were fantastic! Admittedly, they were quite unintelligent. We were forced to destroy both a living flaming sphere and a living color spray, due to their dangerous nature. However, I wish there had been opportunity to examine the living rope trick spell. I suspect that it, like the others, would act to do what the spell would do ordinarily; that is, the former two attacked, and the rope trick itself was most likely to attempt to “consume” unwary travelers, and keep them within its extra-dimensional pocket. It would be a fascinating experiment to attempt to duplicate such a living spell; clearly, the duration is much greater than that of an ordinary spell. Controlling the spell would be an issue. If it were possible to endow the living spell with an increased intelligence, one might even be able to train the spell to follow basic instructions.

I seem to have digressed; Uthen would find this interesting, but I know that you do not.

By now, all of us were more or less severely injured. Having little alternative, save exiting the Mournland in this unfortunate state, we continued on.

One of the other spherical rooms required a second, red rod in order to it to open to anything other than a deep well. Unforunately, when we first tried it, we did not have this rod; most of us kept our balance, and Alain had been left in the main entrance, owing to his severe injuries. Tui’s plate armor, however, caused him to overbalance and fall. The impact with the water must have knocked him unconscious; by the time Mike was able to descend with a rope, Tui was lost in the depths.

We did manage to find a scroll for an ordinary rope trick. Reasoning that if we were in an extra-dimensional space, we would not be in the Mournland, and therefore healing spells would function, I cast it. Thankfully, this hypothesis was correct, and Xame’s divine magic sufficed to restore all of us.

Then there was the chamber of heat and flame, where the schemas were kept and guarded by a pair of fire elementals. I did not enter, for I had already exhausted most of my magic on earlier obstacles. Xame and Mike entered quickly, to obtain the schemas and other contents of the chest; Alain and Anson worked to contain the fire elementals as best as they could.

While Mike and Xame worked with the chest, the greater fire elemental gathered itself up, and barreled into Alain. Whether it was the heat or the strength of the blow that did him in, I do not know; whatever the ultimate cause, it was more than Alain could stand.

However, the smaller elemental had been vanquished, so I could enter and examine an alcove that Mike indicated. I had not dared enter before, since I realized that these elementals would be too strong for me to face. I am certain that the blow that felled Alain would have killed me twice over. But now I could enter safely. There was, in fact, a control mechanism in the alcove. At first, I could not understand its purpose; after a moment, I remembered a book I read a decade or two ago, General Mechanisms in Architecture. This panel strongly resembled one of the basic diagrams, and suggested that adjusting certain controls in the appropriate manner would open the ceiling. I did not see what purpose this could serve; I hoped it would let in water or some other cooling method, and I was concerned that it would unleash more fire elementals upon us.

I need not have worried; the moment the ceiling opened, the greater fire elemental cried, “I’m free!” and departed through the opening. That was most unexpected. However, I am left to wonder what would have happened had I entered earlier, or been brave enough to pass the fire elementals before Alain perished. I fear that I am partially responsible.

I am nearly out of parchment; I fear I will be forced to ask Tui for—

But he is lost. I will have to wait until we arrive in Sharn.

I hope that the schemas and the adamantine disk are worth the price paid for them.

Player’s Notes

I wonder if it’s possible to cast living spells by some means other than creating another Mournland… that could become very interesting…

Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Session: 2006-11-26
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Xame
Status: Rogue 1 / Cleric 2

Part III: A Plan of Stealth and Speed

Eventually, we found all of the key stones, and located the fiery room containing the schema. Expecting some form of ambush or other, we convened to discuss strategy, but could not agree on a single plan. General chaos ensued when Mike pushed open the adamantine doors leading to the room: Alain (fully cured, thanks to a scroll of rope trick we found earlier) and Anson’s wolf charged at the guardians of the room (a pair of fire elementals, one large and one medium). Mike and I, meanwhile, dashed for the chest containing the schema.

As I was busy trying to break open the lock on the chest, a scream of anguish sounded from the entrance; Alain had been utterly decimated by a mighty blow from the large fire elemental. I continued working at the lock, but the stress of the situation and the heat of the room were distracting, and I was taking much longer than normal. Antinua, the elf, in the mean time, found some arcane controls in a corner of the room and fiddled with them. That caused the roof to open up, and seeing this, the elementals immediately flew out, leaving us rather baffled on why the fight was necessary at all. Ah, I suppose elementals don’t think in the same way we do.

I rushed to Alain to see if I could manage to resuscitate him somehow, but he was long gone. And to top off our misfortune, so was the haversack, in which we placed quite a number of items of importance. But our troubles weren’t over yet… Anson and Antinua reported that we were quite surrounded by Emerald Claw soldiers. While we remaining adventurers were still in decent shape, both of our musclehead meat shields had passed away, leaving us in an even worse combat situation. While we had support of the awakened dire wolf and her followers, by Anson’s accounts we were still quite clearly outmatched.

Anson suggested that we hand over one copy of the schema (for some reason or other, there were two copies in the chest. They register the same by detect magic, but I strongly suspect at least one is a fake). His hope was that perhaps our opponents would show mercy. A foolish plan. No villain in his right mind ever lets his foes live when they’re at his mercy.

Stealth and speed were clearly the only solutions. After some debating in the sanctuary of inner Whitehearth, the others finally agreed to my plan: Antinua would make herself, Mike, and Anson invisible. I would run at top speed away from the entrance with one of the schemas held high, hoping to attract the attention of all the guards, while under the protection of a sanctuary spell. The three of them would then sneak away, and we would all meet 2 miles south, 1 mile east, about an hour later. This plan put myself at considerable risk, since I would be the bait, but I didn’t see any better way. If I could manage enough of a head start over my pursuers, then the Mournland should have enough cover for me to hide for about an hour.

As we enacted the plan, events deviated very quickly, or so I was told. I ran for a full two minutes, covering about a mile, before I paused, looked around, and realized no pursuers were on my tail. An hour later, when I showed up at the pre-agreed location, Anson, Mike, and Antinua were joined by two others, a human paladin named Valith and a man with dragon-like features calling himself Malik. They told me that, thanks to the help of the two new arrivals, the leader of that squad of Emerald Claw soldiers, a changeling who took the guise of Raidith earlier, will trouble us nevermore.

We turned in the two identical schemas, as well as the creation pattern, to Elaydren, and she paid us a bonus of 1000 gp. Additionally, she hired us to escort her back to Sharn. We readily agreed, but it wasn’t until after I got on the train that I remembered to ask if they frisked the corpses of all the downed opponents.

Those idiots forgot!! Argh!! Some day soon, we’re going to have to come back.

Player’s Notes:

Ah, finally, 2nd level cleric spells! There’s one that I’m particularly interested in: divine insight. It gives a (5 + caster level) bonus to any one skill check, which de facto means I can moonlight as a full-fledged rogue for certain skills that aren’t often used (Open Lock against a particularly difficult lock, Diplomacy for selling loot, etc.).

And in other news… using the 2000 gp from this past adventure, plus selling the boots of elvenkind for 1250, plus selling 8 second level potions Xame had “collected,” the cash pool grew to over 4k, enough to get my first round of nice items. After considering a crown of wisdom +2 and cloak of resistance +2, I decided to go with the combination of a +1 mithral chain shirt and a +1 mithral heavy steel shield, netting a +3 to my AC value (had a masterwork buckler before as the shield). Given divine protection and cat’s grace, I hit 25 AC. Yeah, go defensive nightmare!

Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Sessions: 2006-11-11, 2006-11-19, 2006-11-26, 2006-12-02
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Status: Monk 3

Elaydren had told us that she would send messages to the gnome at a post office near our lodgings if she had need of us again. Every day we would go there, and there would be no work. Then came the predictable interference. That morning, the post office was ransacked and the gnome knocked out. We awakened her, and she told us that a half-dozen people had come, one large and several small. Tui was very interested in interrogating her, but it seemed more important to contact Elaydren. As we left the office, an owl dropped a letter at our feet. It was from Elaydren, and told us to met her at the Broken Anvil immediately.

At the tavern, Elaydren seemed harried. She introduced us to a man with a wolf, saying that he would accompany us to Rhukaan Draal and that we should leave immediately, as another party was trying to stop her. This party presented itself in the form of a warforged and eight kobolds. The kobolds were disposed of by Tui and Alain, while the warforged fell to a combination of the man with the wolf casting a freezing magic, Antinua cursing it with disabling laughter, and me kicking in the chestplate. I did not know warforged could laugh. It is a strange sound.

Elaydren gave us a haversack containing supplies and instructions, and ordered us to go, saying she would make her own way to Rhukaan Draal after us. As we went towards the lightning-rail, the man with the wolf introduced himself as Anson, a druid of House Orien. In the haversack was a writ of passage to Sterngate, where we would join a caravan across Marguul. We made it to Rhukaan Draal without major inconvenience.

There we were to meet a man named Failin, exiled from House Orien, to take us to the village of Rose Quarry and to then locate a House Cannith research station called Whitehearth, where Elaydren believed there was another schema. We found Failin in a place called the Bloody Market, which is bloody whenever someone feels they have been robbed. Failin possesses an elemental-powered landcart and an unhealthy obsession with coin, but he agreed to take us to Rose Quarry. There we found the village laid waste, covered in molten glass. There was also an encampment of soldiers of the Order of the Emerald Claw, who were apparently engaged in ransacking the ruins for treasure and bodies for their undead. I do not like undead, nor am I wild about getting stabbed by swords. Fortunately, Alain and Tui formed a wall of steel in the doorway of the ruined quarry headquarters and killed all zombies that came. Xame runs remarkably well at times: I doubt you or the stormtalons could catch him in a sprint, although they would win any distance race. Anson is rather militant for a druid: I saw him very persistently clubbing a prone Emerald Claw soldier to death. His wolf was also very violent, but that might be the result of having a mouth full of crushed glass.

We found the location of Whitehearth, but encountered a very ugly, vampire-like person as we left. We managed to run around him and made it back to the landcart, where we persuaded Failin to take us to our destination. It is inside the Mournland, to the east and south of where Mykispar once was.

You haven’t been to the Mournland? If you do go, either take a wizard who can make you extradimensional space, or bring gallons of goodberry wine. Paladins can heal there, and my masters could cause injured tissue to knit by sheer will, but normal healing does not work and the dead from the Last War litter the battlefield as if they had just fallen. Undead roam, and we were attacked twice before we reached Whitehearth, which was built into an old mine.

Elaydren had given us a key to the outer door. We left Failin behind in the cart, and entered. We soon found that the doors were all electrified, but Anson can pick up and move small objects without touching them. The mine is a warren, with individual chambers linked by a network of rotating key-coded spheres. It is filled by experimental magic, mangled by the Day of Mourning. Some is good and some bad. We found a wolf-pack whose leader had been awakened, and a stone wolf holding them hostage. Antinua found a prepared spell she calls rope trick, which let us heal Alain, who had been knocked out when the stone wolf fell. We had to fight our way through living spells to find the keys to the rest of the mine.

We eventually found where the schema was being stored, in a room at one end of the mine that was boiling hot, with fire elementals guarding it, but at a high price. There was a trap in one of the spheres, so that it opened into a well. Tui fell. I jumped after him, but by the time I reached the water at the bottom, he had drowned and sunk too far down to even recover the body.

In the hot room, Alain tried to hold off the elementals, but was smashed to the ground and set afire. By the time Antinua figured out how to open the roof and make the remaining elemental leave, he was all but reduced to ash, along with the haversack from Elaydren. Enough of his body was intact to reveal that he carried a dragonmark of House Deneith. We did recover the schema, as well as an apparent copy and a disk, which we now know is a creation pattern.

We four survivors managed to get the wolves out of lower levels of the mine, only to find that the soldiers of the Emerald Claw had encamped outside. We conceived of a plan, whereby Antinua would make herself, Anson, and me invisible and we would sneak out, while Xame ran, carrying one copy of the schema. We would meet at a fixed point away from the mine, so that I could guide them out of the Mournland if Failin was dead (none of them can remember which way is north). The wolves would attack the soldiers.

This plan broke to pieces when I found Failin slumped by his landcart. I was then swept off my invisible feet by a whip, to find the vampire-like commander, who could apparently see me and demanded the schema, before rippling into the form of Raidith and saying that he recognized me. I started attacking him, but eventually had to throw the schema away to avoid my own death.

We probably would not have survived, although most of the Emerald Claw soldiers were dead, except that two others arrived. One was a paladin by his armor, the other sprayed fire on the surviving Emerald Claw before getting on a liberated horse and chasing the changeling, who he apparently knew as Garrow. Anson, whose wolf had gone with the pack, had also grabbed a horse. The paladin awakened our driver, and we followed.

Garrow, who may or may not have been Raidith, died in fire. We took the schema, and our new acquaintances, the paladin Valith and the dragon-born Malik, accompanied us back to Rhukaan Draal. There we met Elaydren, who had us accompany her back to Sharn.

Now you know who I am and what I have done. I hope our fellows in Xen’drik find some amusement from the tale. And should I reach the flocks of Xen’drik, when I have fulfilled The Walk, I will stay and speak more with our people. But I feel that enlightenment is to be found in other races, so I shall stay with my companions for the while. Farewell.

* * *

From the top of one of the five spires around the central dome of Dalannan Tower in Upper Menthis, two winged forms jumped. One flew with towards the air galleon port with powerful wingbeats, although a keen eye could see the flickering of the air as the skypledged twisted the wind to her bidding. The other glided silently, slight wing movements turning his course towards the House Cannith enclave.

Player’s Notes:

I’m not sure if two out of six PCs dying in a 3rd level adventure is the right number, but we certainly don’t have the option of resurrection at this level. Fortunately, Dan Thai and Scott Wilbur had some good characters as back-ups. I’m still not sure what this fire-breather Scott developed is.