As the moons drew ever-closer in the sky, now almost as black as night, the adventurers were feeling increasingly worn-down. Their telepath, Teferi, had expended his last psionic energies targeting his friends, who he had been enchanted into thinking were Vol; his thrall Ankya had fallen to the same fate, only realizing her error after a flying charge sent her colliding with Siivrell, leaving the latter much worse for the encounter. Nebu still stood around helplessly, encased in his own personal antimagic field. Tyrian had expended his most powerful spells, many of them uselessly being countered by Vol’s immunities and resistances. And although Sovelom’s dragonmark-derived weather powers had devastated the battlefield, he too was running low on his reserves. Only the monk, Mike, and the jade phoenix mage Siivrell were still at almost full strength, grim determination showing in both of their faces.

Vol, conversely, had only grown more intimidating as the battle progressed. Her draconic features were now more prominent, with skeletal dragonbone poking through her cheeks and shoulder blades. Her lone emerald claw had grown into a monstrously large talon, and her eyes were filled entirely with a violent green glow. Gone was the innocent girl clutching her stuffed dragon and pleading with the adventurers to help save her; in her place stood a malevolent necromancer, her undead visage twisted into a mask of hatred and spite.


In the background, the activity above the emerald cauldron grew ever-more frenzied, with sparks of arcane energy and twisted, ghostly shapes spiraling out and into the sky through the blackened cloud funneling down. The immense Mark of Death, flush with necromantic power, writhed and twisted in the air above it, as if it were eagerly awaiting the death of the combatants below.

Suddenly, with a great cry, Siivrell leaped directly at Vol—still partially concealed by Sovelom’s sleet storm—bringing down her intelligent blade in one mighty, reckless swing. The lich tried to twist aside and bring up her magical defenses, but to no avail—Eiryavel had struck true. Ancient bones snapped and rotting flesh fell away as the sword continued its merciless path through Vol’s body, and with her last words she screamed out a curse in a foul language whose very words were filled with malice, spite, and treachery. As the strike came and the words of Vol’s curse echoed in the heads of all assembled, the blackened cloud funneling down into the cauldron from the Mournland sky split into three tendrilous parts. In rapid succession they wrapped themselves around the pieces of Vol’s body, snaking around her and drawing her into the air—and into the cauldron.

As the adventurers stared on in amazement, the three moons came into alignment, with the foremost blotting out the sky with its inky blackness. With a final surge of energy, the pulsing Mark of Death exploded brilliantly, funneling its power into the cauldron alongside Vol’s body. The cauldron gave a mighty shudder and with the sound of thousands of screaming voices, expelled its final creation into the sky: an enormous dragon, skeletal and black, with a green sheen on its wings. The beast gave out a mighty roar toward the sky, then spiraled off to the southwest, just as the cauldron crumbled into a mound ash.

A few moments of stunned silence passed as the group took in the magnitude of the events they had witnessed—and indeed, had set in motion. Their thoughts were interrupted by a ray of sunlight that fell into the middle of the chamber. Startled, they looked up into a sky that, surprisingly, was blue and full of hope.


Far to the north, in a cold fortress on a frozen island in the Lhazaar Principalities, a skeletal figure slowly faded into existence. As soon as she was able, the lich queen angrily lashed out at her nearest available attendant, paralyzing him in place and then tearing his head off with one mighty blow of her emerald claw. As her gaunt skin stretched over her jawbones into something resembling a smile, she thought to herself: Heh. The stuffed dragon trick… gets them every time. Pulling herself upright, she paused for a moment. A pity about good old dad, though. That will be a costly mistake to correct.

Descending from her throne, Vol contemplated her next move in the centuries-long game she played, even as she began the rituals for a spell to bring her father’s remains back to her.

Adventure: Before the Storm, Into the Maw
Session: 2007-05-19, 2007-05-27
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Anethilzair Mykispar (Mike)
Status: Monk 11

The wind whispers through the branches of an oak tree in the forest to the west of the lightning-rail line on the Thrane–Mournland border.

I’m sorry I couldn’t talk earlier. The Blood of Vol is pretty busy over here.

I’m above the Glowing Chasm. Blaze (you saw him leaving in a hurry, remember?) asked that we check out reports of Vol raising undead to fuel the Blade Army. Vol has built a castle across the Chasm, and is using it to churn out undead. We’re working our way through it: Vol’s father was guarding the inside the door, and was killed by Tyrian (the firebrand—yes, I know you don’t like his style), Sovalem (Blaze got her raised from the dead—yes, she. Accident with an elemental), the gnome, and the warweaver.

I don’t know if Vol herself is here or not: I came outside so that the wind could whisper. Give my respects to House Sivis for setting up this call. We’ve got time: please, what’s happening at home?

Alia took over the ziggurat? I guess she liked all the skeletons. She should be a better neighbor than Lucan: no running out at night and sucking innocent blood and no battles with adventurers. But if she becomes a nuisance to you, let me know.

The psion turned on his mindlink, and I just became invisible. Combat seems likely. I have to head back now.

I’ll be careful, and I’ll come back in the same body. I promise.

***

For those of you that have been confused by the recent posts: I had Mike take Nymph’s Kiss as one of his exalted feats. This has the role-playing requirement that he “maintain an intimate relationship with a good-aligned fey.” Hence he knows a Dryad, who calls him via House Sivis in the middle of battle. Yes, I had to leave for a dinner meeting, but this works well and ties up the fate of the necromancer, since Catherine couldn’t make the game.

Adventure: Before the Storm, Into the Maw
Session: 2007-05-19
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Silverwind Siivrell
Status: Warblade 1/Wizard 5/Jade Phoenix Mage 4

“To the ziggurat! Care to come along?” Somehow, Siivrell convinced the timid halfling named Cade to join her on her phantom steed, chasing after another rider who probably had the same destination in mind.

It’s a good thing you’ve got this fellow along. I think he’s a healer.

Oh?

From what I recall of what Watcher said to you, the last bunch of adventurers to go after these vampires got burned–

Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you.

I always have to worry about it. Every time you get killed, I get stuck in somebody’s attic or a deep dungeon for a couple of decades, collecting dust and cobwebs.

Psh. Oh, here’s that rider.

Introductions were exchanged. The other rider was Tyrian, and he, too, was after the vampires. Soon thereafter, though limited by the pace of Tyrian’s merely magebred mount, we arrived at the ziggurat and its bonefield.

Those bones definitely weren’t here last time.

You don’t think…

I doubt a couple of vampires have one of those for a pet. Besides, it would have eaten the adventurers before they got to the vampires. Speaking of whom–

A simply-dressed human was leaning against an oak tree outside the bone field. Near him were a gnome and a slightly menacing orc.

I don’t like the looks of that orc.

Oh, shush, Eiryavel. They’ve been instrumental in defending Eberron.

And this one may be mental.

If you say so.

More introductions took place. Mike, Teferi and Ankya. Another person was there, a Karrnathi war weaver named Nebu. He had the blue eyes of an azurin.

The Karrnathi are idiots. You should never send a war weaver alone to deal with an issue. They’re best for supporting others.

True.

Although it is good that he’s here. Maybe you wouldn’t die so frequently if we worked with war weavers more often.

Hey! I can handle myself just fine!

Only so long as you aren’t cornered by five warforged an hour before reinforcements are due.

That wasn’t my fault.

Mm-hm…

The group entered the ziggurat, and quickly reached the vampiric Antinua. Siivrell stepped into the room after Tyrian released his spells upon the undead elf.

Siivrell, going first isn’t such a good idea… remember when–

Gah!

A spell caused a bunch of tentacles to sprout from the ground and grabbed Siivrell. A spell by Nebu caused her to swap places with the monk.

Was that really necessary? I could have dimension doored out myself.

They just wanted you out, and someone who could grapple in.

But it’s implying that I couldn’t have gotten myself out. Ugh.

A few seconds later, Tyrian had reduced Antinua to vapor and trapped her in a stone hemisphere.

That Tyrian is efficient. And you’re the only one who got hurt at all.

I’ll admit, I’m impressed. Well, that’s done.

Wait. Wasn’t there another vampire?

The voice of Lucan Stellos spoke, offering a compromise. The amulet that Blaze had gave the bearer the ability to control the powerful vampires of the world. Lucan wanted the amulet — and thereby, his freedom. A debate raged between the adventurers; Tyrian explained that Blaze was trying to destroy the item, and would not give it up, especially to Lucan. Someone asked what Lucan would consume to survive; he was unwilling to give up the blood of people for that of animals.

“You could always just use my followers,” offered Teferi.

The monk objected. Smack. A fight seemed iminent.

I agree with the monk, but I think it’s time for you to intervene, Eiryavel.

Finally.

Siivrell drew me in an instant, and held me between them. “If you continue with this,” I said, “you will only be proving my belief that all creatures with legs are idiots.”

Nice. But what about me, hm?

Oh, I already know you’re an idiot.

Hmph. It took you seven millenia to come to that conclusion?

No, about seven seconds.

And you’re still around?

It’s what I was made for. You do realize we’ve had this conversation before, right?

Should I remember every argument we’ve had in the past seven millenia?

Well, I certainly–what’s that?

Lucan had come down from the ceiling, and had tried to attack Tyrian. Tyrian was quick, and trapped Lucan in a web spell. The position for negotiating improved considerably.

“Just kill me now and get it over with.”

That’s a little pessimistic.

He was made a vampire against his will, and we can’t change that, except by killing him. You expect rays of sunshine from him?

Not particularly.

Besides, he’s a vampire. Undead are not proper living creatures.

You’re an undead-bane weapon. Of course you think that. But what is the just action here? What is fair to him, and still protects the innocent? I don’t remember any precedent for this.

There was one time when– oh.

With the agreement of the others, Teferi used his mental powers to open up a hole to the outside — letting the sun fall on Lucan, utterly destroying him. After two hours had elapsed, Antinua’s vapors also faded into nothing.

***

The group then returned to Flamekeep. Cade had seen enough fighting, and sensibly returned to the quiet wilderness he had been wandering before. Most of the group teleported; some of Teferi’s followers slowly and unskillfully flew an airskiff that had belonged to the adventuring party’s remnants, which we had now supplemented. Siivrell rode her phantom steed.

That monk seemed very fond of that oak tree near the ziggurat. Didn’t you notice?

No. Maybe he just likes trees.

Maybe. Wait, weren’t we supposed to turn right here?

No, left.

No, the next turn’s a left.

Hm. Maybe you’re right. Oh, well, we’ll just take a left at the next crossroads.

No, right! I said right!

I’m right, you say?

Why do you insist on misinterpreting what I say?

Because it’s fun. So quit trying to hold the reins.

I can’t hold anything.

Then I guess I’ll just have to do it.

***

Blaze listened to the information of the completed mission, and gave another: to track down Vol and her supporters in the Mournland, determine the nature of her arcane experiments… and stop them, before they were used to crush Thrane.

After gathering supplies, the party gathered on the newly-returned airskiff, now captained by Sovalem, a half-elf turned kobold and compatriot of Blaze who had been raised from the dead.

***

On the way to the Mournland, aboard the airskiff…

We’ve met Vol before, haven’t we?

Yes… about seven hundred years ago.

Pretty recently then. Let me think. It was us and a few others, and we confronted her when… oh, that one didn’t go so well, did it?

Not really. It’s a good thing Verall escaped, or I’d be in the hands of the Blood of Vol.

Not a pleasant thought.

Especially if you’re an undead-bane weapon who was a breath away from being owned by a bunch of powerful undead types.

Well, we’ll just have to make sure we finish what we’re doing, then.

At least Vol probably won’t recognize you. Just be careful.

Yes, getting killed again now would be inconvenient.

***

After traveling in the Mournlands to the glowing chasm, we found a great black fortress that spanned the chasm, blocking the glowing lava from view.

“That fortress was definitely not here before the day of Mourning.”

The airskiff swept in. After confronting and defeating a flying undead creature, an upper entrance was selected. Four of the five guards were silenced, and quickly killed; the fifth was dominated by Teferi, questioned for details of the fortress, including where he was not permitted to go and the password to enter, then knocked unconcious by the monk. To fascilitate our passage, Nebu made us invisible and silent, and Teferi bound us all with a mindlink. He neglected to include me, but I expected as much.

In the next room, we encountered a green dragon.

“Unholy father of Vol!” said Sovalem through the mindlink. Of course, dragons can see right through invisibility…

We withdrew, and the war weaver worked his magic. When we were ready, we entered. The dragon had prepared defensive spells as well, but Nebu quickly wiped them away. Vol’s father breathed acid at the other half of the party; Tyrian trapped him with web. Then Sovalem and Ankya struck him with lightning and greataxe, and he perished. A warrior entered the room, and would have left to sound the alarm, but Tyrian quickly turned him to ashes.

Entering that passage, we found a cluster of undead. Tyrian scorched one, and the others dealt with another; as for the other two…

That was a great deal of fun.

Fun? And you’re always trying to tell me not to get so excited about combat?

They’re undead.

And smacking undead is what you’re made for.

Exactly.

Player’s Notes

This should be an amusing way of writing up events… hm. As from sword’s perspective, plus tidbits of telepathic conversation.

That, and this party is currently pretty wicked in terms of damage output. Thanks in large part to the war weaver, Matt’s new character. I get this funny feeling that Domenic is going to pull out some interesting villains…

Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Silverwind Siivrell
Status: Warblade 1/Wizard 5/Jade Phoenix Mage 4

Somewhere in Aundair, some months ago…

A tall, silver-skinned illumian searches through an attic.

“I can’t believe I broke another sword,” she mutters. Eventually, she finds what she is looking for: a chest of weapons donated to the cabal for services rendered many years ago. Because of her own service, she’s being allowed to choose a blade from here. And also because she needs a sturdier weapon.

Beneath the other assorted blades, she finds a greatsword, with a large piece of jade in the hilt and the name Eiryavel etched into the adamantine. She takes it out, and tests its balance.

Perfect, she thinks, Almost as if it were made for me.

***

Siivrell leans back to think, staring at the blade on the table in front of her. “There’s something strange about you, Eiryavel, and something strangely familiar…” she mutters to herself.

“May I enter?”

“Certainly.” Siivrell turns to see Watcher, a warforged with whom she had fought before. “Can I help you with something?” She grins. “Hopefully with defeating something evil?”

“Perhaps a little later,” he says quietly. “I wish to speak with you on a matter of importance. Have you ever noticed that everything seems vaguely familiar? Perhaps remembering history you never learned?”

“I do seem to have déjà vu more often than most people. And history… you’re right. What’s all this about?”

“I believe you and I are a part of the same organization, the Order of the Jade Phoenix.”

“What?”

“We thirteen were the only survivors of the order after fighting to drive the daelkyr into Khyber, protecting Eberron from their destructive power. We swore an oath, to forever defend Eberron from the creatures of Khyber. That oath extends even beyond death. Your sword — the one you bear now — has become bound to that oath as well, through you.”

“The daelkyr? That was, what, nine thousand years ago?”

“Yes.”

“Almost unbelievable…”

“But true. The memories only need to be reawakened, as Eiryavel will reawaken.”

Siivrell shook her head. “Reawakened how?”

“I wish to perform the rite of waking. We only need talk a few minutes, and you will begin to remember…”

***

“Fantastic. All that history we had a hand in… Now, what was that about smacking something evil?”

Some people never change, Watcher thought, even after over a hundred lifetimes.

***
A few months later…

Siivrell walks down a road. “We’re not lost. I know exactly where we are.”

“Right, then, where are we?” asks a neutral voice coming from her sword.

“We’re, ah, in Thrane near the Mournland, and–”

“And? And?”

“Um…”

“I thought so.”

“But I’ve been here before!”

“Right, about six hundred years ago.”

A halfling leans out from the brush, and timidly says, “Um, hello? Who are you talking to?”

“Oh!” Where did he pop out from? Siivrell thinks. “Just Eiryavel, my sword. It’s always more fun to argue out loud.”

A little later…

“Were you really here six hundred years ago?”

“Well, closer to five hundred ninety.”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-seven.”

Player’s Notes

I anticipate a great deal of amusement. Slightly cocky but easily lost fighter/mage with a talking sword. Note that Eiryavel has twice the wisdom of Siivrell. In any case, Siivrell is the official spell-casting meatshield. Yay!

Prior to levels and items and such:

  • Str: 15+2 = 17 (+3)
  • Dex: 10 (+0)
  • Con: 13+2 = 15 (+2)
  • Int: 16 (+3)
  • Wis: 8 (-1)
  • Cha: 8+2 = 10 (+0)

And Eiryavel:

  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 16
  • Cha: 12

…the adamantine, diamond-mind, undead-bane and slightly cynical weapon of mass amusement value.

The timid halfling at the end is Cade, a healer extraordinaire type character briefly played by Scott.

Adventure: Before the Storm
Sessions: 2007-05-05, 2007-05-12
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Tyrian
Status: Human Paragon 1/Wizard 1/Human Paragon +2/Master Specialist 4/Fatespinner 2

On Slaying Vampires: Three Case Studies

From the teachings of Tyrian, Master of the Elements

Ah, the vampire. They’re tricky foes; while they lack the sheer toughness of dragons and the impressive abilities of bodaks and other undead, they are notoriously difficult to permanently destroy, unless one is properly prepared for it. Consider the following case study, from my younger days some thirty years ago.

I was a young lad of twenty-one years, and was in Flamekeep at the time, due to my friendship with Flamelord Blaze, then a High Priest. As some of you more learned in history may remember, this was near the climax of the Warforged Revolts. Blaze had asked me to take care of a couple of vampires hiding in the forests of southern Thrane. He personally attempted to do so not half a week previously, but failed. Let’s review his circumstances and results as a first lesson:

Case 1: Antinua

In his case, he had three companions. One was a student of the natural powers (Anson), one was a dabbler of forces both arcane and divine (Sovelom), and the remaining two were of little consequence. They struck through the first layers of defenses (including a giant purple worm) without real injury, but were massacred (save Blaze) by the first vampire, a wizard by the name of Antinua. The events were as thus:

The group failed to notice Antinua due to her invisibility and clever positioning (corner of the roof); she used the element of surprise to isolate the most dangerous of the group, Blaze, by encasing him in spherical wall of stone. Next, Sovelom invoked a control winds effect around the remainder of the group, attempting to fortify a defensive position within the eye of the arcane tornado, but that simply made their concentrated positions a ripe target for a cloudkill spell. While the poisonous gas did not manage to outright end the lives of any, it did sap their vitality enough such that the ensuing maximized greater fireburst did.

By the time Blaze burst from his stone prison, his companions had all fallen. Seeing the threat level of this vampire, Blaze had decided to retreat and regroup, but was concerned for the bodies of his allies. Only Sovelom was noticeably morally upright, however, so Blaze retrieved (and later raised from dead) only him. Still, the delay was enough for Antinua to conjure Evard’s black tentacles. Here, Blaze was lucky, for the Silver Flame blessed him with the ability to travel unimpeded despite any and all obstacles, and thus he was able to retreat back to Flamekeep with little personal damage.

There are three points to be learned from here:

  • Be vigilante, even against invisible foes. Had they noticed Antinua before she could effectively separate the group, they would have had access to Blaze’s healing magic, and at least one other adventurer would have survived the greater fireburst. From there, the two of them may have defeated Antinua.
  • Avoid defensive tactics. Defensive tactics usually are performed at the expense of sacrificing offense, and when this is done, the enemies will respond by further resolving their attacks.
  • Possess a reliable escape route. Had Blaze been anyone else, he too would have been in mortal danger due to Evard’s black tentacles, but he did not have an infallible escape route prepared. For this purpose silent teleport and silent dimension door are optimal, though against less observant foes invisibility will suffice.

Case 2: Antinua, revisited

My companions numbered six: a jade phoenix mage by the name of Siivrell, a war weaver named Nebu, a monk named Mike, a priest named Cade, a telepath named Teferi, and a berserker named Ankya.

Building upon the knowledge of Blaze’s experience, I casted see invisibility on myself, and Antinua’s initial ambush was not successful. In fact, I reacted before she did and casted two spells before she could invoke anything, thanks to a dagger Blaze gifted me. My first spell, an empowered fireball, was wholly unsuccessful due to her active fire shield. My second, an ice ball, however, was able to penetrate her innate resistance and managed to damage her significantly.

Ankya charged into the room, but was unable to locate Antinua (again, due to Antinua’s invisibility). Thus, she instead waved her banner with a mighty cry, which spirited myself into casting a third spell: another iceball. This was sufficient to destroy Antinua, and she reverted into a thin cloud of gas. But don’t let this fool you! Vampires, in this state, can return to unlife should they rest in their coffins for a night. In order to truly atomize them, the gas needs to be gathered and prevented from entering any coffins. Here, I used the spell stone shape to morph a sphere of stone around her essence. Rather poetic, since she had previously used this trick against Blaze. Trapped there, she was helpless, and utterly put to final rest in two hours.

  • Vampires morph into invulnerable gas when “destroyed.” Attacking the gas with either weapons or spells will not work.
  • The gas needs to be trapped for two hours to send a vampire to its final death. Wood and cloth is insufficient to trap gas, but stone and iron (and raw magical force) are. In this state, the vampire is also helpless though, unable to physically attack or tap magic.

Case 3: Lucan

Lucan, unlike Antinua, did not possess arcane talents, though he could use wands and scrolls of various sorts. His preferred method of approach, however, is with an evil artifact sword that he came to possess. He attempted to strike me with it, but again, I noticed him first and acted first. This time, however, I casted Otiluke’s resilient sphere, trapping him inside the force prison. Those of you who have been taking notes will remember that Otiluke’s resilient sphere only lasts for a few minutes, and that Lucan had not yet been reduced to gaseous phase.

But vampires have an additional weakness, one that is more debilitating than coffin dependency. They cannot stand the light of the sun, and is destroyed within seconds upon direct exposure. Teferi, the telepath, invoked a beam of sound, shattering a hole through the walls of the castle, and shining the sun upon Lucan. With this, he was painfully returned to the state of nothingness to which he belonged.

In summary:

  • Always react faster. Life-and-death combat situations depend vitally upon it. When outclassed, it at least gives you the opportunity to retreat and regroup, and against a manageable foe, it ensures that he dies before killing you.
  • Fight vampires during the day. Through brute force or trickery, if you can shine the natural light of the sun upon the vampire, then he is instantly destroyed.

Player’s Notes:

Bah. This was too long.

Adventure: Before the Storm
Sessions: 2007-05-05, 2007-05-12
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Blaze
Status: Paladin 2/Cleric 7/Fist of Raziel 1

PC: Tyrian
Status: Human Paragon 1/Wizard 1/Human Paragon +2/Master Specialist 4/Fatespinner 2

A Mission for Tyrian

Blaze, High Priest of the Silver Flame and incognito personal confidante of the Keeper of the Flame, paced the floors of his office restlessly. He succeeded in his quest to destroy the bridge and the warforged lieutenant, thus providing critical delays to the advance of the enemy armies, but had uncovered something more troubling in the course of doing so.

The Lord of Blades, through means of an evil artifact, was controlling a local vampire. Rather, several local vampires. Blaze and his erstwhile companions had traveled to the lair of Lucan, the vampire, but met with great difficulties. Perhaps they should have rested after that battle with the guardian purple worm, but Blaze himself had insisted on traveling further, that no time would be lost before the advent of the living construct army. And that had cost the lives of three of his compatriots.

And the most disturbing part was that the vampire who felled so many heroes wasn’t even the master. She was Antinua, a citizen of Aundair who had previously trying to slay that powerful undead. The next time adventurers face Lucan, they would not only have to contend with Lucan and Antinua, but also Taris and Anson. Blaze felt some little comfort in knowing that he saved the most morally upright of the group though, a House Lyander human-turned-kobold by the name of Sovelom.

***

A knock sounded on his door.

“Come in.”

Orilam, the elf waif he rescued some three years ago on the plains of Talenta, entered. Orilam was not who he expected to see. “It’s you? Where’s Nugeph and Rood?”

“Her Grace, seeing the imminent threats of the warforged of Breland, has reassigned most of the Inner Guard to reconnoiter the enemy. Only a skeleton crew is left here,” replied the girl pensively. “I apologize in advance for any mistakes I may commit.”

“Oh, sorry Orilam. I’m just in a bad mood because of recent events. What do you have to report?”

“Craftsmen around the city are working around the clock on forging new weapons, aided by priests who remove their weariness from lack of sleep. The Crown Knights are training all willing city inhabitants in the ways of the crossbow and spear. Our militia currently numbers 10,000 strong, and within the week that number should increase to 30,000. Should the Flame bless us with six weeks to prepare before the upcoming battle, every man and woman over 15 will possess a crossbow and basic training in its use.”

Blaze nodded. “Well, onto the bad news now. How much time do we actually expect until the attack?”

Orilam bowed her head. “Reports on that are spotty. The enemy being warforged and not needing to sleep, they could force march and be upon us within four days. Possibly even faster for the vanguard. Rood reported yesterday that there are rumors within the lower ranks of the warforged army of awaiting reinforcements of some sort.”

‘Ah, yes, reinforcements,’ thought Blaze. There was some small chance that his cause would also be augmented by the dragons of Argonessen, but dragons are a long-lived people and slow to react. He dared not place too much faith on their support, despite the promises of that young gold he rescued.

“Oh!” spoke Orilam, as if suddenly remembering something. “Tyrian checked in this morning, reporting success.”

“You got that right, Sugar!” pronounced the haughty human of some twenty years, appearing instantaneously beside the elf hand, and playfully giving her a slap on the rump. “Perfect success, Blaze! Our stores of weapons-grade adamantine has increased by 253 pounds, and mithral by 177 pounds. And some exorbitant tonnage of steel. Those warforged are walking mines!”

“Um…” stammered Orilam, sporting a deep crimson blush. “Sir Tyrian, could you please remove your hand?”

“But why, Sugar? You know you like it, and Blaze here isn’t dumb enough not to know our relationship.”

Blaze rolled his eyes. True, he knew about Tyrian and Orilam, and didn’t disapprove. But he did repeatedly tell Tyrian to restrain himself in public.. and especially in the presence of the other members of the Inner Guard. It could cause… morale problems.

‘Ah, well,’ thought Blaze, ‘it’s just me here tonight anyway, and it sounds like Tyrian really did pull off a stunning success.’ “Mission report, Sir Tyrian.”

Tyrian grinned widely at his girl, and gave his report without changing hand positions. “Worked just like I planned. Waved a caravan of mithral-gilt iron in front of a company of warforged, and they took bait. Lured them into a nice valley, with nowhere to hide from my Fireballs.. and, well, the rest was just salvage their metal.”

“Casualties on our side?”

“Two scouts got pincushioned. I’ve recovered their bodies, cremated them, and informed the families.”

Blaze nodded. This was good news. “Tyrian, you’ve earned yourself and Orilam a half-day vacation. Report to me at 6 am sharp tomorrow morning.”

Tyrian grinned. “You’ve got it, Boss!”

***

“Tyrian, I have another mission for you. Extremely dangerous. Involves slaying multiple vampires. Are you interested?”

Tyrian raised his eyebrows expectantly. “Well, now, I’m so glad you asked. Us bros haven’t done a job together since that Aerenal expedition eight months ago. This’ll be great!”

Blaze hesitated. “I won’t be able to join you this time, Tyrian. With warforged army poised to attack at any moment, it’s already a huge risk sending you out. And in fact, I’m giving you a time limit. Teleport back here exactly three days from now, no matter what the status is with the vampires. Your top priority in this mission is to return alive exactly three days from now. Is that understood?”

Tyrian nodded.

“Good. Now, I have some gear for you.” Blaze took out a small knife. “I found this little thing in Xen’drik not long ago. Here, catch!”

Tyrian reached out with his right hand to try to grab it by the handle, but fumbled and dropped it. He sheepishly picked it up. “But…”

“Yeah, I know you don’t like to use weapons. But this one’s special.”

Tyrian detected a sudden movement in Blaze, and instantly reached out his left hand, readying a spell.

“See?” smiled Blaze, as he replaced his weapon in its sheath.

“Improves my reaction, eh? Impressive little piece. Thank you.”

“I have some more stuff for you to pick up with our quartermaster. Here’s is a map to the vampire’s lair, as well as a partial map of the inside. It’s probably safest to teleport to near this point on the Lightning Rail, and travel the remainder distance on horse. Also beware guardian monsters outside the ziggurat–last time I had to face a giant purple worm. Oh, you may also run into some of my former companions. There’s a human monk named Mike, an undead halfling named Alia, and a gnome named Teferi. Beware that they may be less… reliable… than you’d hope.”

Tyrian raised an eyebrow. “How unreliable are we talking here? Is it worthwhile for me to… reduce the risk, so to speak?”

Blaze shook his head, “Oh, no, no. I just meant that they may be prone to craven tendencies and may ‘be busy’ just previous any climactic battles, but I doubt they’d actively work against you. Again, remember that your life is more important than any objective here.”

“Will do. I’ll be there before noon.”

Player’s Notes:

Oops, made a mistake originally… Human Paragon makes me lose a caster level, so the earliest I can take Fatespinner is 9, not 8.

Oh dear. Vampire planar shepherd? O_o Really, *really* need to win initiative against him (which fortunately shouldn’t be hard).

So, Tyrian makes a really good team with Blaze, since they have mutually complementary roles and abilities: Tyrian is slow, low-AC, and poor saves, while Blaze is fast (in Cervidal mode), high AC, and uber saves. Tyrian covers the reacting first in every encounter, and can use Warning Shout from a scroll to make Blaze not flat-footed (and hence capable of casting Delay Death). In terms of the four classic roles, Blaze covers Fighter and Cleric, while Tyrian covers Wizard and Rogue/Monk.

The campaign is more or less zarked if Tyrian gets Vampirified. We’d all have to play monks or rogues the next time around.

Tyrian’s base stats:

  • Str: 9 (-1)
  • Dex: 8 (-1)
  • Con: 14 (+2)
  • Int: 16 + 2 (leveling) + 2 (paragon boost) = 20 (+5)
  • Wis: 14 (+2)
  • Cha: 10 (0)

Adventure: Before the Storm
Session: 2007-05-05
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Taris Talandro
Status: Ninja 1/Swashbuckler 3/Ninja +4/Duelist 1/Ninja +1

We reached the ziggurat today. The lake the others mentioned has been replaced by a bone field. Ugh. Allia seemed delighted, and promptly set up for more tea. The name-changing gnome decided to stick around with her. I think he’s waiting for more of those fanatical followers of his to arrive.

The rest of us decided to go on in, and see what we could find. As we approached the entrance, we were attacked by this gigantic purple worm. No eyes; it could sense things well enough that my disappearing trick wouldn’t have done any good.

Ah, what would be do without Mike, though? He was the first to attack, the first to be bitten, and the first to be swallowed. I will admit that Blaze followed soon afterwards. He said that he was just trying to rescue Mike. Hm. He didn’t seem to have planned to get swallowed… but he did cast a spell to get him and the monk out of the creature’s innards. Neither of them looked very good afterwards… well, I skewered it a bit (as much as you can skewer a worm bigger than you are), Anson’s eagle and air elemental whacked at it and Sovalem zapped it into submission. Since he’d heard that they occasionally swallow valuable things in their tunneling, we sliced open its stomach. In addition to some gold, we found an immovable rod. Push a button, and it stays where it is. Even in mid-air. I’m sure that will come in handy.

After that, we entered the ziggurat. Sovalem and I worked to disable a couple of traps, and we even found a sapphire amulet and some black dust. Sovalem’s out of whatever he needs to identify what they do, since they’re both magical. Blaze is trying out the amulet… I hope he doesn’t hurt himself accidentally that way. Paladins. He’s almost as likely to get himself hurt as Mike.

After that, we met this elemental, except its element was evil or something. Big, black, nasty thing. We surprised it, so I used my bracers and, with some difficulty, found a weak spot… and Sovalem zapped it. It liked the zapping less than the skewering, and went for Sovalem — hard. His head just snapped back and — well, that would have been it, except that Anson cast that instant reincarnate spell of his. Blaze finished off the elemental, and then I turned back to see… a female kobold?! I think Mike got lucky in his reincarnations; at least he stayed the same gender! Ugh! I think I’ll just avoid the question of “what will you reincarnate as next?” by not dying. There’s a plan. But this is going to be almost as confusing for all of us as for Sovalem, since he — she? — is a different gender but pretty much the same person otherwise… and the kobold thing. May the Flame have mercy…

Otherwise, we took the downward fork in the stairs, since Lucan was known to be upstairs before, and we didn’t want to go after him until we knew we wouldn’t be attacked from behind.

We met a group of mummies, and destroyed them. We met a bunch of vampire spawn, whom we quickly destroyed. One of them was apparently familiar to the rest — he used to be dragonborn or something.

We’re just preparing to go on — I certainly hope that this works out, since we still haven’t met Lucan himself yet. I think we’re going to try to get him on our side, by giving him the amulet from the keep, and then just go get him if that doesn’t work.

And I wonder. There was another person, a wizard named Antinua, who was also killed by Lucan. From what the others say, she’s probably a vampire now. Ugh, what a horrible fate. She’s certain to be under Lucan’s control. But, if you don’t want to be a vampire, if you become one against your will, do you actually become evil? I mean, Allia’s undead, and she’s not evil, just childish. She’s more interested in tea with her skeletons than anything else.

Maybe part of the reason I’m speculating about this is that I don’t really want to need to face an undead wizard…

Player’s Notes

I’m looking forward to the next session. New character vs. old character? Could be interesting. And, given that this is Eberron, and alignments are difficult to predict, I wonder if Antinua could still have her good alignment, despite being a vampire under Lucan’s control… hm… that would make things interesting indeed…

In any case, I suspect that Taris is going to be rather ineffective if this comes to a fight (which it probably will) except for the “I vanish” and “I use deathstrike bracers,” which she can only do about three times anyway. I seem to recall that Antinua didn’t have see invisibility at the time she died… although she probably had a scroll for it… oh, dear. I anticipate eagle+elementals, wind+zapping and alter-self+power-attack+light of the flame (ie, “light of venya” etc. in Eberron) to be the strategies of choice.

More Player Notes

Everything above this was written prior to last Saturday’s session… oh, dear. I suppose I will summarize here:

Taris, Blaze, Anson, and Sovalem go up the stairs. They meet Antinua-turned-vampire. Antinua casts Blaze into a stone dome. Taris, who’s not good with undead, watches Antinua turn invisible. She relays this information; Sovalem casts his… her windy spell-thing. This has no effect, since before we can do much else, Antinua casts cloudkill (we all take Con damage) and then a Sudden Maximized flame spell — I think it was flame burst or something. Take 90 points of damage, reflex save for half. Sovalem and Taris take half, and die anyway. Anson takes full and dies, although he would have survived had he made his save. Blaze escapes by casting fly on himself, breaking through the stone with an adamantine shard, taking reflex save for half on a lightning bolt, grabbing Sovalem the kobold and carrying her body out while flying as fast as he can manage.

Vampires 2, party 0.

The rest of the session turned into character-building… with no XP loss, thanks to DM mercy.