Sep 10, 2017

4th Day of Richfest (Midsummer's Day), 580 CY - Freedom!

After putting down the brief slave rebellion, Captain Garana seized control of his ship, putting the crew to work repairing the hole and punishing the remaining, living rebels. Mysteriously, two ogres appeared on the ship to replace the overseers. The ogres carried large mauls and definitely meant business. The captain also seemed to replace a few of his officers, and himself acquired an eyepatch and appeared to have suffered some severe burns on at least his left arm (that anyone could see). To ensure the remaining slaves did not rebel again, Pontus had each of his fingers broken and his hands tied to the oars with leather straps, while Sarril had his tongue cut out. With order restored, the captain began rowing the ship, albeit very slowly, across the middle of the Nyr Dyv.

It was now the week of Richfest, in midsummer, something the old blind druid, Cadwin, was very aware of. The entire week of Richfest is sacred amongst those who still practice the Old Faith of the ancient Flan. Somewhere in the Flanaess, druid circles were performing powerful rituals designed to maintain the balance - but Cadwin had more important things on his mind. Searching for a cure for the Red Death brought him to Elredd, where he was captured by the slave lords. Keeping a low profile, he would not let on that he was a druid, or that he could shapeshift into a bat and fly away at any time. These slavers were onto something, and the alchemist who was recently brought on-board from Safeton may have had important information. Unfortunately, Cadwin was unable to learn much from the man before one of the newcomers, Pontus that barbarian, killed the alchemist in a botched attempt at escaping. For now, Cadwin just needed to bide his time until the ship docks again, whenever that would be.

The 4th Day of Richfest is on Godsday, the middle of the week, and is also known as Midsummer's Day - the exact middle of the year. The evening of Midsummer is also the only time of the year that Oerth's two moons, Celene and Luna, are both full at the same time, which is important to cleric's of most faiths, druids and mages alike. The evening of Midsummer is the time when many great
historical events have taken place, miracles and catastrophes alike. And so it was, on the day of Midsummer, the boat waited in the water - rowing only occasionally to counter drift. And that evening, as both moons became full in the sky, the waters rumbled and the ship shook violently. Up from the sea rose a mass of land, pushing the ship up and out of the water, and turning it on its side. Many of the slaves were tossed about and injured - some even killed in the process, but the captain was not concerned. He gathered a few of his crew and left the ship and was not seen again until morning, when he had the overseers load something into the hold of the ship. And as the sun rose, the land mass sunk back under the sea as quickly as it came.

The captain, presumably having obtained what he was looking for, sent the ship immediately back south, down the Selintan River, into the Wooly Bay and back toward Highport. The journey would take another three weeks in total, during which time Cadwin tried to learn everything he could. To call him truly blind would not be entirely accurate, as Cadwin had an uncanny sense of hearing and smell, which, when combined with his high wisdom, made him able to see many things that others could not. Cadwin was able to learn much about the newcomers - the party of Hartsbane, and realized that, despite their impulsive actions, were trying to do good in fighting against the slavers. He decided to share with Sarril that Luapan was still alive, and assisting the captain in finding whatever it was that he was looking for - possibly under some sort of charm, and that the captain had kept his word to resurrect any dead party members, having resurrected Jarrus, who was recovering in a cell on the upper deck. The captain could only resurrect one party member, and so Sir Gerard was gone for good, his body tossed to the fishes. He also informed Sarril that they would have the best opportunity to escape when the ship docked at Highport, as the captain and most of the guards are usually busy unloading cargo during that time.

Sure enough, when the ship docked, the captain, most of the crew and the overseers began unloading cargo and took up positions along the dock. They secured all of the slaves in their shackles first, to prevent escape, but that did not stop Cadwin, who was able to transform into a bat and get out. At the same time, Jarrus, who had been pretending to still be in an extremely weakened state after his resurrection, received a note slipped in with meal that said "Go Now!" And so he escaped. He and Cadwin met up and and managed to get Sarril and Pontus and Luapan free, then jumped over the side of the ship opposite the dock - but not before grabbing the chest from the captain's quarters. Jarrus put on the Helm of Underwater Action that the captain had is in quarters and walked with the chest underwater until he reached an empty dock further down the pier where the party agreed to meet. There wasn't much equipment in the chest, but there was some money, enough for the party to get themselves outfitted at a basic level.

Highport, like all cities on the Wild Coast, was once a thriving city built on trade, but since the Pomarj hoards and Slavelord have swept through, is now mostly abandoned buildings. That makes five escaped slaves trying to hide much easier. The party took refuge in the first abandoned building they could find, and started making plans. The first thing they did was sent Cadwin out to find a locksmith, which didn't take too long. After agreeing a fee to both remove the shackles and to keep quiet about it, the party was now free. But despite paying for his silence, and even charming him for good measure, the party did not feel safe now that they have been seen, and so the next morning, they moved on to another warehouse. They bought clothes and basic equipment and went looking for an herbalist, which is not a profession that would be practicing openly in a city like this. After bribing a bartender at a bar, they learned of an herbalist in the city who operated in secret, but would likely be able to help Sarril, Luapan and Cadwin replenish most of their spell components. As they left the bar, they were followed by another party who chased them into an alley where a fight broke out. Victory meant even more equipment for the party, some of it magical. Things were starting to look up, but at the same time, the party understood now that they could never truly be safe here.

Temple Ruins Entrance
The party then explored some temple ruins just outside of town that they learned slaves were taken to. During they day they didn't learn much, but at night they saw slaves being moved into the building, confirming earlier rumors. The party decided their next move would be to try to get inside, but first they needed to finish equipping, so they headed back to their new hideout. That evening they were stalked by four thieves on the roof. Cadwin's superior senses alerted the party to their presence, and they were able to dispatch them and avoid being slaughtered in their sleep. The party decided having the blind druid around probably wasn't so bad.

And so it is the evening of the 19th Day of Reaping, 580 CY, the second day of the 3-day festival of Boccob, which is quite appropriate given that Sarril's familiar, Krek, has found his way back to him, restoring Sarril's tongue and making him fully functional again.

Aug 27, 2017

6th day of Planting, 580 CY (Captured!)

I think I and all of my players agree that each of these sessions gets better and better, but also more challenging for me as the DM. This last session was a doozy. Trying to piece it all back together to document here is going to be a challenge, but I'll do my best. I am sure some details will be missed.

When we left off last session, the player characters just finished their largest and most difficult fight ever. The state of each character was as follows:

Luapan (Cleric of Celestian): Saved from death by an Elixer of Life administered by Sarril, but incapacitated and sitting up in a tree.

Sarril (Magic User/Cleric of Boccob): Was flying in the air and just took two arrows from red-robed monks down below and dropped from the sky with -9 hit points. Dying.

Sir Gerard (Paladin of Heironeous): -4 hit points. Levitating 10 feet in the air binding his wounds. Incapable of fighting.

Jarrus (Fighter): Barely alive with one hit point remaining

Pontus (Barbarian): Severely wounded, but still has 24 hit points and under the influence of a Stone Giant Strength potion. Feeling powerful and angry.

Hazzard the Mage
Sir Gerard, Jarrus and Pontus are grouped together, having just killed the last of the monks that were fighting them. Other than two monks over near Sarril, and one magic-user who teleported away, the rest of their enemies were dead. That includes 40 fighters, 6 clerics, one magic magic user and 4 monks. At this point, the magic-user (Hazzard) who had escaped returns with two more people. A large fighter (Belneiros) carrying a magical net, and a wicked cleric, whom Sarril would later recognize, by description, as Guilliana Mortidus of the Horned Society, and the same woman who killed Athan's mistress a few years ago. She has a bit of a reputation, and not a good one. She was also clearly in charge here, giving the orders and demanding that Pontus and Jarrus drop their weapons.

Of course Pontus refused, demanding instead that Guilliana and her companions drop their weapons instead. In the midst of their banter, Pontus tossed a healing potion to Gerard, who drank it and was ready for action. In response, Belneiros tossed his Net of Entrapment onto Jarrus and Pontus. Jarrus was instantly trapped and although Pontus was able to jump out of the way, he immediately got caught in Guilliana's Hold Person spell. Gerard, recognizing that the fight was over, dropped his weapon and stood down (please note that Gerard made it absolutely clear that this was not a "surrender," but more of a temporary cease fire). As for Pontus, he was ready to continue fighting. Although he couldn't move his feet (we treat Hold Person as a "root in place" spell), he was ready to take the head off of anyone who came within sword range of him. To counter this, Guilliana held a dagger to Jarrus' throat, threatening to kill him if Pontus did not surrender immediately, which he then did by angrily thrusting his large two-handed sword into the ground while yelling in barbarian rage.

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The party was tied up, stripped of their possessions, and marched to the coast over the next couple of days until they reached a small coastal town where a medium-sized galley with purple sails was docked. Guilliana and Hazzard spoke briefly to the captain of the ship, then left the prisoners with the
Captain Girana
captain and went on their way. The captain of the ship was Captain Girana, a Sylvan Elf turned pirate, who nearly as handsome as he was cruel. His ship, called the Ghoul, was a galley with 60 oars in total (two levels of 15 oars each per side). Two slaves per oar means up to 120 slaves rowing the ship when it is at full capacity. On the ship was the captain (an elf) and four officers (human), four overseers/enforcers (half-orcs), 10 sailors (humans), one pace-setter (big human on a drum) and just over 100 slaves on oars. Although the ship has sails, the captain prefers to row so as to be as hard on his slaves as possible. The party, except for Luapan, was immediately put to work rowing. Luapan was locked in a room on the deck of the ship near the captain's quarters.

The captain had the ship row out to sea for a few days, somewhere into the Wooly Bay, moving along the coast and making a couple of stops. After a few days, he had the party brought to deck and forced to kneel before him. At this point, everyone could see that much of their equipment that wasn't claimed by Guilliana or Hazzard had now been distributed between the captain and his officers. Captain Girana now wore "Greaser," the +3 intelligent long sword Jarrus had been using until recently. He was also wearing Jarrus' Boots of Speed, with one of his officers wearing the Boots of Striding and Springing that had belonged to Gerard. A few rings and some bracers were also clearly being worn. The captain then had a chest brought up to the deck and opened it, showing the party's remaining equipment inside. Making a show of it, the captain explained that any equipment that was not useful to him would be disposed of, starting with Gerard's +3 Frostbrand, which was tossed overboard into the middle of the bay. Next came Luapan's Mantle of Celestian, followed by a few other items, including all of the treasures that Pontus had collected from his enemies over the years. Finally came Jarrus' armor, which the captain recognized as the family armor of House Sunleaf. Captain Girana made some comments about Correal Sunleaf and his foolish son before declaring that he would etch the family coat of arms off the armor and put it to good use.

Later, in the captain's quarters, Captain Girana had Luapan brought in for a private conversation. He showed Luapan an ancient map with unknown runes and a location described using a star chart. He demanded that Luapan interpret the star chart to navigate the vessel to the location specified. Luapan agreed, but made some demands of his own in return. The captain, not too pleased with the response, showed Luapan a demonstration of his power by having four slaves executed on deck and thrown overboard. He informed Luapan that he has many more slaves available, including Luapan's friends, and that all were expendable. Luapan then agreed to direct the captain to the place he sought. Over the next two weeks the ship went north, up the Selintan River and into the Nyr Dyv, right toward the center where ships dare not go.

Over the course of those two weeks, the rest of the party rowed, while taking every opportunity possible to try and loosen their shackles. Eventually, Jarrus succeeded in breaking his chains, and managed to get the attention of the overseers. Seeing an opportunity, Jarrus attacked, and with his immense strength, was able to kill one of them before being subdued. While the penalty for killing a member of the crew is usually immediate execution, the captain revealed that his masters want the party alive for some reason. So instead of killing Jarrus, the captain executed four innocent slaves, then chained Jarrus to the wall behind the pace setter, for all of the other slaves to watch as he suffered in agony.

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As the ship approached its destination, the rest of the party members were preparing for their escape. Sarril had worked loose the muzzle holding his mouth shut, and managed to keep it hidden, but was quietly praying for any spells he might be able to cast in his limited capacity. Luapan had scrawled a holy symbol underneath a barrel in his hold, and was praying for any spells that he could cast. Gerard had been working on breaking his bonds for weeks, and finally managed to break free, springing immediately into action.

The fight that broke out moved quickly. Jarrus and Pontus both broke free of their chains, and this prompted a good number of slaves (at least those who were capable) to try and break theirs as well, with some succeeding. Gerard was able to kill an overseer and now, armed with a short sword, engaged the other two. It looked for a brief moment like the party had the upper hand, until Captain Girana teleported next to Jarrus and immediately killed him in a most gruesome display of horror. The captain then cast Mirror Image on himself, and started moving up to engage Gerard. Sarril, using some clever spell components he managed to get, cast a Hold Person on Captain Girana, which succeeded, and then, realizing the captain was a spellcaster, followed up by casting Silence on the bench next to the held captain. This took the captain out of the fight (for now) and turned things back in the party's favor.

Just as Gerard finished off the remaining two overseers, two of the officers came down into the hold to engage, one of whom had Gerard's +3 shield. These two seasoned fighters easily outmatched the poorly equipped Gerard, but help was on the way as Pontus weaved his way slowly up the ship on the deck above (so as to avoid the captain). Luapan also managed to break down the door holding him up on deck, and started to make his way down to the group (DM's Note: I've never seen so many players roll successfully - 5% or less - on a bend bars roll. They shouldn't have been able to do this, but they all managed to do it, so we just had to play it out). Luapan was able to cast a prayer, giving the party slightly better chances. The big change, however, was when Sarril cast Boccob's Rolling Thunder against the entire group of officers, killing them all, as well as taking out four innocent slaves, their benches and oars, and blowing a 10 ft. hole into the side of the ship.

Unfortunately, all of that happened on the last round of the Hold Person spell, and the next round, Captain Girana was back in action and immediately moved up and killed Gerard. The next round, the Captain dropped Luapan down to zero hit points (unconscious, but not dead). Stuck between the captain and a large body of open water, an unarmed Sarril and Pontus were forced to surrender.

It is now the 25th Day of Flocktime, 580 CY, and the party of Hartsbane, the Bad-ass Motherfuckers, has been decimated.

Aug 13, 2017

3rd day of Planting, 580 CY (heading to Highport)

So this session went on for too long, nearly getting me in trouble with the family, but the battle was long and intense, so what can you do?

The session started with the characters in the inn, having just defeated agents of the Slave Lords and realizing they needed to get of town quickly. They had about 30 minutes before the ice wall that blocked all of the entrances would disappear and reinforcements would pour in. They quickly split up and explored the rooms that the dwarf (Ragnar) and mage (Hazzard) were staying in, finding some documents that indicated some of the slave movements, including a noblewoman, an alchemist and an artist (possibly Dame Gold and guests at her dinner party?). The proprietor of the inn, Carn, offered an escape out of a secret tunnel in the cellar and, after the party decided to behead the dwarf in a display of justice and retribution for his crimes, Carn knew he wasn't getting out of this, and decided to escape with the party.

Using a Wall of Fire to melt through a section of the Wall of Ice so they could get to the cellar, the party also ended up setting the entire inn on fire. Some of the party members succumbed to the smoke and had to be carried out, but they all made it, and the fire, which quickly spread to nearby buildings, kept the citizens of Elredd very busy for the next several hours, effectively covering the party's escape.

After giving him some money to help him on his journey, the group parted ways with Carn, and headed out on foot toward the City of Highport. Late that afternoon, they came across a merchant caravan and convinced the merchant to allow them to travel together for safety. These lands were known as some of the most dangerous across all of the Flanaess, ever since humanoid hordes began sweeping across the Pomarj. The caravan had 20 armed guards to add to the party's own strength, which would soon be put to the test. For the next couple of days the caravan moved south, with only minor encounters along the way. But each night when they made camp, dozens of torchlights were seen along the tree line west of the road, and the sounds of hooting and hollering were heard all night long, interrupting sleep. This continued for three nights, and on the morning of the fourth day, the caravan encountered an orc raiding party holding white flags, asking to parlay. The parlay, was, of course, a poorly executed ruse, and the caravan was soon under attack by 40 orcs. Most of the armed guards were brought down quickly, but the party was able to make short work of the orcs through a combination of spell power and physical might. Luapan and Sarril were even able to use their healing spells to revive the caravan guards. The merchant, thoroughly impressed, asked the party what they call themselves.

"Bad-ass Motherfuckers" replied Jarrus.

"Hartsbane" replied Sir Gerard.

And thus was formed the party of Hartsbane, the bad-ass motherfuckers.

Unfortunately, the party would soon learn that the orc tribe was sent to wear them down ahead of the real ambush waiting ahead. As the caravan followed the road through a wooded area, Sarril felt something was wrong (the "something" turned out to be that he lost contact with his familiar that was flying ahead of them). When he turned to warn the rest of the party that something was wrong, he realized that he has been silenced. No one was making a sound. Multiple overlapping Silence spells had been cast on the road. They had sprung a trap.

As the party readied for action (everyone but Jarrus, who was in front and oblivious to what was happening, and kept walking), the trees around them transformed into armed soldiers. Each round, more soldiers appeared until there were 40 in all. As the battle continued, 6 clerics and 2 magic users appeared (one of whom was the mage Hazzard from Elredd). This trap had been planned well in advance and the attackers were very much aware of the party's capabilities. The foot soldiers did their best to stick with bows and avoid engaging in melee combat with Jarrus, Pontus or Sir Gerard - but that plan didn't work so well given the boots Jarrus and Gerard had, and Pontus' natural speed. The clerics and spellcasters tried to quickly take out Sarril and Luapan before they could escape the radius of the silence spells, but lucky saving throws prevented that plan from working. Although volleys of arrows were flying, the superior armor class of the fighters were preventing them from taking too many hits, and the few hits they did take were negated with some healing potions.

One of the fighters did manage to get a net around Sir Gerard, and even though he was unable to fight, he was able to get to a potion of flying and get away long enough to start cutting himself out. Soon, Jarrus had taken out all of the clerics and was going after Hazzard, who had already loosed a few lightning bolts and magic missiles and needed to go down. Sarril managed to go invisible and drink his own flying potion and take to the air where he used his Wand of Ice Storms to start devastating the fighters below. Unfortunately, the last lightning bolt Hazzard fired took Luapan down. Jarrus closed in on the mage, but he teleported away.

Even though Luapan was down, it did seem the party was starting to gain the upper hand. Sarril was able to get to Luapan and deliver an Elixir of Life, effectively reviving him, just as Sir Gerard managed to get free of the net and join the fight. Sarril unleashed Boccob's Rolling Thunder on the remaining clerics and mage, taking most of them out. The mage responded with some magic missiles of his own, taking Sarril down close to death (but not quite). Sarril was able to cast Minor Globe of Invulnerability and take back to the air. Soon, Pontus came in to mop up, killing the mage, before being attacked by two red-robed monks who seemed to appear out of nowhere. There were 8 monks in all, hiding around in the woods and grass, watching the battle, only to join in if it looks like they had no choice. They had no choice. The party was about to win this fight. Two of the monks managed to shoot down Sarril with arrows. It looks like he may be dead. The rest of the monks engaged with Pontus, Jarrus and Gerard. Gerard was taken down to negative hit points and he used to sword to levitate to safety while binding his wounds, but otherwise out of the fight. Pontus and Jarrus fought the remaining monks, eventually killing them, though with only a few hit points left between them.

It would seem the party just completed a hard-earned victory - possibly the most difficult fight they've ever had. At that moment, as they were catching their breath, three people teleported next to them. One was a large fighter carrying a magical net. The other was Hazzard, the mage who escaped earlier. And the third was a female cleric, skinny with stringy black hair, dressed all in black. Jarrus and Gerard, both recognizing that they cannot take on these newcomers, dropped their swords and declared their surrender. As Pontus' player was not present, we decided to end the session on this cliffhanger. Will Pontus surrender? Or will he go into a barbarian rage and go down fighting? Stay tuned. . .

It is the afternoon of the 6th day of Planting, 580 CY.

Jul 30, 2017

Where did the time go?

DM's note: I warned the players in advance that they probably would not be happy with me during this next session. They all showed up to play anyway, curious about what was in store. . .

The session started with the characters lost in the woods somewhere, with no memories of how they got there. They decided to wait until nightfall and have Luapan, cleric of Celestian, look at the stars and try to divinate where they are located based on those patterns. He is normally pretty good at such a thing, but something was wrong this time. Based on the pattern of stars and time of year, they should be in the Burneal Forest in the far north, and yet, as Sarril was able to figure out, this was not an evergreen forest, and that made no sense.

The next morning, Sarril took to flight and was able to get a better view of the landscape for a few miles around. Consulting the maps he had, he was able to figure out that they must be in the Gnarley Forest. The party headed for an east/west road Sarril was able to see a few miles to the south. That afternoon, when they reached the road, they ran across some travelers headed east. A paladin of Rao, a sage, a squire, and a couple of servants pulling a wagon.

The travelers greeted and party and explained they were on their way to Safeton to celebrate the Feast of Eidoira at the invitation of Dame Gold. Jarrus remembered Dame Gold as a noble who was resisting the efforts of the Slave Lords along the Wild Coast, and taking in refugees from their raids. The party realized they could travel with their new friends to Safeton and catch a boat to Greyhawk from there, but something was amiss. The week long Feast of Eidoira starts on the 4th day of Growfest. The party's last memories were the 7th Day of Wealsun. Sarril inquired about the date, and learned that today was the 3rd day of Growfest, of the Common Year (CY) 580! Nearly a year later than the last day they remembered.

The paladin explained that they were running late and would miss the start of the 7 day feast, but should make it before it finishes. Sarril and Luapan cleverly used their magic to help speed up the group, but levitating the wagon with the party on it so it could move at the full rate of a riding horse. They were able to arrive a full day earlier than previously expected. Just in time to see the aftermath of a raid perpetuated by the slavers.

Safeton had been attacked and Dame Gold's manor burned to the ground. All of the defenders within the town were killed, with only one dead enemy sailor found. The party missed the raid by only a few hours, but they had no chance of catching the attacking ships, which had burned all of the boats in the harbor. The party took some time to investigate the carnage and speak to townsfolk about what happened. They deduced that the raiders must have had some inside help to be able to carry off an attack with such precision at just the right time and place. They also learned that Dame Gold and most of the guests of the feast, or at least those who didn't fight, were taken prisoner. A partially burned journal on the dead sailor suggested they might be headed to Elredd.

The party discussed their next options. They could continue to Greyhawk and chase any of a half dozen or more adventure hooks left open there, or play Scourge of the Slave Lords! (because everyone knows this classic module, even if only vaguely). It wasn't a difficult decision. Sarril was born a slave, and has a deep hatred for the Slave Lords. Pontus was sold to the slavers by a tribal traitor before being freed and joining this party, so he wanted revenge. Jarrus despises the very concept of slavery as it is the opposite of liberty, and Luapan and Gerard are too good to ignore what just went down. So, after asking their new paladin friend to take care of the townspeople and get them to safety, the party caught the next merchant ship that came to port and worked out a deal for a ride down south to Elredd.

On the way, they discovered that a new deckhand that was hired on at a previous port is actually a spy for the Slave Lords. He revealed some valuable information concerning his contacts in Elredd and the party used that information to take on the Slave Lord agents head-on.

DM's Note: We were at the end of our scheduled session time, but no one had gotten to roll dice yet and everyone was itching for a fight, so we pushed forward some more.

The party went to the tavern where the Slave Lord agents were hanging out and started to order drinks (but didn't actually sip them - a good thing since the drinks were poisoned). It turns out, the Slave Lord's agents, after learning of the party's arrival (a paladin of heironeous stands out in a pirate town full of evil humans and humanoid scum), were planning an ambush. But the party struck first, before the agents could fully prepare. This gave them the upper-hand in the difficult tavern brawl that ensued. Sarril even sealed off the building with a wall of ice during the fight to ensure that no one escaped to call for reinforcements. Unfortunately, one of the agents was a wizard who was able to use Dimension Door to get out. Otherwise, the party took out everyone in the tavern, keeping alive the proprietor and a dwarf for questioning.

It is now the 3rd day of Planting, 580 CY.

Jul 16, 2017

8th Day of Wealsun, CY 579 (searching for the Well of All Heals)

The party found themselves waking up on a rocky outcropping, overlooking a small valley. They were deep in the middle of a forest somewhere. Their equipment was lying nearby, untouched except for the portable hole, which seemed to be missing.

No one in the party (nor their familiars) knew how they got here, nor even what day it is. Though everyone who was missing limbs found they had them again. Even Jarrus' missing hand was restored. Those who previously died and were resurrected gained their constitution back. Pontus even had his intelligence restored. But the memories of the last 24 hours, or possibly more, are little more than vague dreams.

Jun 18, 2017

7th Day of Wealsun, CY 579 (Hunting Xenous Zenpor)

After both Jarrus and Sir Gerard selected squires, and the ceremony to celebrate Asanther's life was complete, the party returned to the City of Greyhawk to prepare what they could before completing the quest that Asanther set out for them - to find and destroy the evil mage Xenous Zenpor. So while Jarrus and Gerard fitted their new squires with armor and weapons, Sarril was back at the Guild of Wizardry library, doing some research, as well as picking up some new 4th level spells.

Sarril was able to find a few facts about the wizard. Primarily that she was incredibly vain about her looks, and obsessed with spells and artifacts related to longevity. She was also an evil wizard who was briefly a member of the guild, but was kicked out when she displayed a desire to seek artifacts of power for her own selfish reasons, and did not give back to the guild. She was last heard from when she went seeking the Codex of the Infinite Planes - an ancient and powerful artifact rumored to last be in possession of Zagyg Yragerne. Xenous went into the ruins of Castle Greyhawk, and was never heard from again.

Based on what they learned from the guild, and what Asanther told them about Xenous current location, the party deduced that Xenous was likely trapped in a demi-plane, and looking for a way out, which the party might provide if they are not careful. Jarrus suggested leaving her there, though Sir Gerard insisted that destroying her is the best course of action. The party agreed, but wanted to spend one more day staking out Zorbo's House of Fun, learning everything they could before going in. And so, that evening, Jarrus and Pontus sat across from the building, having drinks, deep inside the Thieve's Quarter, watching the activity within the fun house.
Zorbo's House of Fun

Though the building was closed at night, they did observe a few men in bright yellow robes with purple trim beneath their cloaks enter the building. Instead of the regular silver coin, they used a gold coin in the slot outside the door. Figuring this to be the information they needed, Jarrus and Pontus returned to the Silver Dragon Inn to report what they found to the rest of the party. The next day, the 7th Day of Wealsun, the party headed to Zorbo's House of Fun to see what they could find.

The party placed five gold coins in the slot outside the door, one for each of them, and then stepped inside. Although they came in not long after another group of people, they found themselves alone in a large, round room with a single door on the opposite side from where they entered. The floor contained a spiral pattern of alternating purple and yellow, and was very obviously not level. The furniture had one set of legs longer than the other to
even it out. The ceiling was divided by a pattern resembling a double lightning bolt (or as one player remarked, a "Charlie Brown" symbol). A man was in the room wearing bright yellow robes with purple trim, and wearing an unrecognized holy symbol resembling the ceiling pattern. He introduced himself as Abbot Kormath Burrsten, and welcomed the party to the "House of Zagyg the Great." This took Sarril by surprise, "did you say Zagyg?"

"Oh yes," replied the abbot. "It was the great Zagyg himself who built this wonderful place, and the maze beyond. But didn't you put a gold coin in the slot? That is why you are here." The party took the opportunity to question the abbot about his faith in Zagyg and this place, trying to get any clues they could about Xenous. Unfortunately, the abbot didn't seem entire sane, and the conversation was difficult, but they did learn that beyond the other door was something called the "Maze of Zagyg" which is a demi-plane where the followers of Zagyg believe he hid many items of great power. The party learned that many have entered the maze, but none have ever returned, at which point the part asked the abbot how one might return. He sold them a crystal for 10,000 gold pieces that he said would return them to the prime material plane when broken. He said that while they are welcome to take anything they find if they should have need of it, he would like anything they do not need to be returned to the House of Zagyg, that it may be put on display. The party agreed, then entered the doorway.

They found themselves in a long hallway with doors on either side. Sarril recognized the place from a dream he once had, and he knew better than to open any of the doors. As the party walked forward, the hallways stretched longer and longer, making the end further and further away. They then decided to walk backward instead, which seemed to compress the hallway. They continued this until the end of the hallway, which was covered in a swirling mist, came to meet them. One by one, they jumped through the mist, until they were all floating weightlessly with mist blocking their view in every direction. They could not move normally in this place, but they found they could "will" themselves in any direction with a thought. Sir Gerard then asked Asanther to use her powers to locate Xenous, and he then moved in that direction while the rest of the party followed. Eventually, the maze came into view, and it seemed to be the size of a mountain range. The entrance was marked with the face of a harlequin, and they move right to it.

Finding their way through the maze proved challenging, and nearly impossible to map properly, given that it was made up entirely of curved walls. The party spent many hours wandering and retracing their steps before Sarril pulled out some parchment and ink and started to draw a map. Occasionally, the party would come upon a round room in the maze and be presented with a challenge. The first challenge was being attacked by 24 Crimson Claws, which were hiding behind a floating dead body.
While the claws were low hit die creatures, they had magic resistance, and the sheer numbers of them meant they were wearing down Sir Gerard slowly. Finally, remembering that Sir Gerard had a ring of fire resistance on (or maybe he didn't remember, and did it anyway), Jarrus poured flaming oil all over Sir Gerard and lit him on fire. This caused the claws to scatter, and eventually die of their wounds after a few rounds.

The next encounter was with another dead body, this one of a priestess in similar yellow robes of Zagyg with the same holy symbol. In this room was also a phantom, which replayed the scene of her death over and over again on a loop. The woman came face to face with am apparition, which caused her to be strangled to death. The phantom forced several party members, including Sir Gerard, to flee in terror. This was the first time Gerard realized that his normal divine aura that cancels the effects of fear was not working here in this place. After looting the body of some scrolls and a silver mirror, the party moved on, with the scared members closing their eyes and being led through the room by those who had made their saves.

The third encounter was with the apparition that killed the priestess. Lucky for the party members that it attacked, they were able to make their saves to avoid instant death. It turns out the mirror, pointed at the apparition, would have forced it to flee, but no one thought of that, and so they killed it the old fashioned way.

The final encounter before they reached their destination at the center of the maze was with five terithrans. Terithrans are ugly beasts from the astral plane that have some pretty significant abilities, including being able to use a Power Word Stun at will. But Sarril heard them speaking up ahead in a strange language and decided to use the Tongues scroll he found earlier to listen to their conversation. After learning that they had already lost ten of their group to a "thing" in the center of the maze, and that they wanted whatever was inside a box in that room, Sarril was able to speak to them make a deal. If the terithrans would let the party pass, they would take care of the problem in the room and give the terithrans the box. Or at least, he would have negotiated something like that, except that mid-discussion, Sir Gerard pulled a "Leeroy Jenkins" and rushed into the room, sword in hand, to attack the box.

Gerard's Boots of Striding and Springing were not effective in this mist through which they were floating. As such, he didn't close the distance before the box opened, and four 16 hit dice elementals (one of each type) were summoned into the room. Sir Gerard found that he needed to take care of these elementals before he could get to the box. During this time, Asanther began to converse with the voice of Xenous Zenpor. Asanther telling Xenous that she has become more powerful and will finish in death, what she could not do in life. Xenous responded that she, too, has become more powerful in death, and that Asanther could not possibly comprehend the power she now wields. The next round, Pontus and Jarrus showed up to assist, and started make progress on wearing down the elementals. Pontus drank a full Potion of Fire Breath and unleashed it on the elementals, and Sir Gerard (who lost a few items as a result). It took a few rounds to kill the elementals, and during this time, the box opened and more spellpower was sent forth, including a Cone of Cold and a few more spells. Recognizing that he could not sustain any more damage, Sarril ran out of the room to get away from whatever the box was going to unleash next.

As soon as the elementals were out of the way, Sir Gerard rushed forward and struck the box with his sword. As he looked down into the box just before contact, he saw the disembodied face of a beautiful woman. As the sword came in contact with the box, there was a tremendous explosion which blew all of the party members in the room back against the mist walls. Everyone in the room took severe damage and lost a limb. But perhaps worst of all for Sir Gerard, the sword was destroyed, along with the Face of Xenous, leaving behind only an empty box in the room, which the terithrans were more than happy to take possession of. Only Sarril came out unscathed, as he has ran out of the room before the explosion took place.

After stabilizing the party as best he could, Sarril broke the crystal he had purchased from the abbot and the party found themselves, still sans limbs, inside the House of Zagyg. The abbot seemed surprised that they had returned, since no one ever has, though, they didn't return in one piece. The abbot suggested they find a priest to get an ointment or something for those wounds, or find the fabled Well of All Heals that is supposed to restore anything. Either way.

Jun 4, 2017

24th Day of Flocktime, CY 579 (wherein Sir Gerard gets a sword)

After some morning preparations, the party met back up with Luapan, who was off visiting his fellow clerics of Celestian at a nearby observatory in the Abbor Alz. The party shared with him what had happened in the city over the last couple of days, including the circumstances of Pontus' death, and Luapan, in turn, shared what he learned of Wastri, the Hopping Prophet, who seems to have established a large cult following far to the north in the Cold Marshes. Just another thing for the party to investigate at some later time, if they so choose.

After confirming directions to the Hamlet of Jakkarton, Sir Gerard led the party out of the City of Greyhawk, carrying the dead body of Pontus across his horse. About 20 miles east of the city, near the head of the Ery river, the party came across the a set of stone buildings that they knew to be the monastery of Heironeous, just outside of the Hamlet of Jakkarton. The party rode their horses down a small, seldom used path which led down to the buildings and a young woman came out to greet them. She introduced herself as Tythis, cleric of Heironeous. Sir Gerard introduced himself and the party, and explained the reason they had come. Tythis stabled their horses and invited them inside the temple to wait as she summoned Asanther.

A few minutes later, the door opens. An elderly woman enters, a woman whose right arm is missing at the shoulder. Her face is framed by a luxurious cascade of black and silver hair that falls to the small of her back. She wears a deep blue robe trimmed in silver. She is missing her right arm. She smiles gravely, a brilliant smile that radiates an aura of trust and understanding. Her movements, however, are weary. She nods, and moves slowly toward a covered chair.

Sir Gerard greeted Asanther and introduced himself and the party. He explained that Heironeous guided him to this temple in order that he may resurrect their fallen comrade. He then began to regale Asanther with tales of Pontus bravery and heroics - of how he rescued Prince Thrommel and helped destroy the Temple of Elemental Evil. He believes that Heironeous is not finished with Pontus in this world, and he needs to be brought back to continue his destiny.

Asanther explained that while only Heironeous' will can bring back Pontus, she was not strong enough to cast the necessary spell either way. She did, however, have one Raise Dead scroll in her possession that was provided to her by the high priests in Chendl. It is her only scroll, and the local Burgomaster is expecting that she will use it on him if the time should come that he has need of it. It is one of the few ways that she has to keep him in check, as he is otherwise a cruel tyrant to his peasants who rely on her for their protection. Because he is the lord of the land here, she is forbidden from taking any direct action against him, and so she helps the peasants as best she can. But she now knows that Heironeous himself sent the party to her aid on a quest, and she cannot deny his will. She stated if Sir Gerard and his companions would assist her in a mission, that she will use the scroll on Pontus.

“Mine is a tale of hardship and of joy; now of little importance." she said "As I have grown older I have also grown wiser. Many are my regrets, and few the deeds of which I am still proud. There is something I must do before I die. Years ago, I entrusted a very powerful magical item to a dear friend of mine. I must retrieve the item before I die . . . if I do not . . . the land may suffer and evil may fall upon the people I hold dear. Will you please help me?”

 Without any discussion with the party, Sir Gerard bowed to one knee and swore his sword to her service. Asanther then continued “There is a magical lake three days’ journey from here. The man who resides there is whom I seek. I will gladly pay you for your time with what little gold I own. Also perhaps, I shall entrust you with an item of great importance, if you are worthy.”

Sir Gerard insisted that no payment will be necessary, as it is his duty to assist her on her mission.
Asanther then prepared Pontus' body for the Raise Dead ritual, and read the scroll. After a few moments, Pontus opened his eyes heaved a breath of life. Asanther then performed some ritual healing magics on the now living Pontus to assist in restoring his body. As it was getting late, Asanther made rooms for the party to stay overnight, and prepared a simple meal for them.

Over dinner, she said “We should leave first thing in the morning. My only concerns are my lack of youth, and the possibility that I might meet resistance attempting to leave this area. Junus Jakkar, the local burgomaster, has ordered me to remain at this shrine. He fears that my departure, even for a day or two, could affect his field laborers. He is a greedy and insensitive man who fears too much. The land and its people are the most important things in my life. Even if I were to leave for a short time I would return. Janus thinks only of his fat belly. Forgive me if I speak ill of him, but he often bullies the people who work so hard to put food on his plate.”

The next morning (25th day of Flocktime), the part headed out on horseback with Asanther. The way out led through the hamlet. Asanther warned that the burgomaster's may try to stop them, and she would prefer to avoid violence. Sure enough, 10 armed and armored guards were blocking the road ahead. "Halt in the name of the burgomaster, Junus Jakkar!" one of them shouted. "Leave the good priestess with us and go quietly and no one will get hurt. Otherwise we will take her from you by force." Sir Gerard attempted to negotiate his way through the impasse, but their orders were clear. They moved in for the attack, but Sarril and Luapan were ready with Hold Person spells. The first round held about half of them, while the Sir Gerard, Jarrus and Pontus defended and did not attack. The second round, all but 1 were held, and the last guard ran away.

As they exited town, something invisible grabbed Asanther and started dragging her away. Recognizing that this was a summoned creature of some sort, Luapan cast a Dispel Magic, which succeeded, breaking the summoning charm and sending the creature away. The party then rode away on their mission, stopping after about 8 hours to let Asanther rest. Popping up the Daern's Instant Fortress, the party and their horses were able to rest inside, completely impervious to danger. They listened to some howling wolves for a while, but they eventually dispersed. And so the three-day journey continued uneventful like this.

On the evening of the second night, as the party made camp, Asanther revealed some more of her story. “The time has come,” Ansanther speaks in a voice little above a whisper, “to tell you of the wonders of the Lake of Mist. The lake is small but protected but powerful magics and surrounded by a thick mist. It can not be found on any map, But can be found with this. . .” So saying, Ansanther revealed a small, clear glass ball that was half filled with water. She continues, “Ilkif the mage once gave me this device. It will lead us to the lake through the magical mist.” As she held the item in her hand the water defied gravity and slide up the inside of the sphere. Smiling, Ansanther said, “Ilkif was always so clever. The water shows us the direction in which the lake lies. Beware though, for the mist is thick, and we must pass through it quickly, as fell things are known to live within. Lastly, beyond the mist at the edge of the lake stands the guardian. Fear not, it has never stopped me in the past.”

The next morning (28th day of Flocktime), the party continued on the road, which led into a forest. Thick mist began to surround them, and grew thicker to the point that they could only see 10 feet in any direction. They realized they could go no further with their horses, so setup the Instant Fortress and placed the horses inside, before shrinking it back down to a cube. As the party continued through the mist, shadows could be seen in the mist 20 feet out. Low to the ground and long, there were no less than 12 shadows circling them as they walked. An occasional howling could be heard. The party ignored the shadows and continued to follow the water in the glass sphere, eventually leaving the trail and arriving on the shore of a lake. The mist cleared, and they could see, suspended in the air above the center of the lake, an enormous, opaque sphere. Standing at the water's edge was a stone statue next to a brass gong. The statue struck the gong with its fist, causing a reverberation across the water. The statue then turned toward the party, raised its fists, and moved in for the attack.

"Please, tell the golem why we are here. Ilkif will hear you," pleaded Asanther in a whisper. Sir Gerard spoke to the golem, telling it that the party was escorting Asanther and that she seeks the mage, Ilkif, but the golem did not respond. It attacked first with a "slow" spell on the party, which everyone successfully saved against. Hiding behind the golem was the pixie, Snotme, who fired sleep
arrows but could not hit (the party did not notice the pixie). The party was soon in full melee, with Jarrus and Pontus attacking the golem while Sir Gerard, whose weapon was ineffective, attempted to position himself between the golem and the others.

The pixie then cast one of the few spells it had that could be effective, "Otto's Irresistable Dance," on Pontus. This took Pontus out of the fight for the next couple of rounds while the rest of the party whacked at the golem like a piƱata. With the incredible damage Jarrus is dealing out with two attacks per round, the golem didn't last long, and crumbled into pieces. Snotme, the pixie, flew to a safe location and, as the party started to approach the lake, yelled out "I wouldn't go in there if I were you! There is a big, bad, terrible monster in that lake. It will eat you up, yep, swallow you whole it will."

Ignoring the pixie, the party went to the water's edge where Asanther placed the glass sphere into the water. The sphere grew large and a door opened on the side. The party stepped inside the sphere, and
began walking as the sphere rolled across the lake surface. They reached the underside of the larger sphere, and rose up, merging into a foyer, at which point the glass bubble they were in expanded again until it merged with the larger sphere around them, placing them inside Ilkif's very strange home. The furniture was made of an opalescent substance that resembled soap bubbles, and was clearly not of this world. The upper levels of the sphere were transparent from the inside, giving a beautiful view of the lake.

As Asanther began calling for Ilkif, she feared something was wrong when she received no response. The party led her up to the third level, where they heard a faint moaning coming from behind a door. Everyone rushed in to find a man lying in bed, fevered and delirious, and possibly dying. Asanther rushed to his side  “Ilkif, my poor Ilkif. . .”, she cries. She then turned to the party and said “Please leave us alone for a time. I will do all
in my power to help or comfort him as I can. Please, our time together may be short. I also suggest that you rest, since we all know that we are safe here.”

The party decided to hang out in the main living area, as well as raid the kitchen for food. A few hours later, they heard a loud explosion come from behind the door which shook the sphere severely. Using his newly acquired Boots of Striding and Springing, Sir Gerard rushed through the door and bounded up the stairs through an open trapdoor. The room above looks like it was once a magical workshop, but was now engulfed in multi-colored flames. In the center of the room, resting on top of a burning tome, was a beautiful, glowing sword. To the right and left of the sword were the bodies of
Ansanther and Ilkif. Ilkifs left hand resting on the burning book, his right wrapped around Ansanther. Asanther lied still. Her right hand on the pommel of the shining sword.

Sir Gerard picked up the sword, and immediately knew what it was. A +5 Holy Avenger. But more than that, the sword contained the soul of Asanther, who spoke to Sir Gerard, explaining to him that it was her final wish that she be placed within the sword before she died so that she may continue to do the will of Heironeous and fight evil. She also explained that her most pressing mission is to finish a quest that she had previously failed - to kill an evil mage by the name of Xenous Zenpour. When she
was a paladin, she and her party attempted this feat and failed, with all of the members of her party being killed and she losing her arm. She had been waiting for one worthy enough to succeed where she could not, and she knows that Sir Gerard is the one.

As the party was surveying the damage, the sphere around them started to collapse and break apart. The quickly ran down the stairs and the floor beneath them fell away. Everyone grabbed onto to alien-looking furniture as they were dumped into the water. The furniture floated, allowing them to paddle to shore. As they had just been earlier discussing the need to furnish the inside of the Instant Fortress, the party decided this was the perfect opportunity and set up the fortress and placed the furniture inside before continuing. Using Pontus' outdoor tracking skills, they were able to find their way back out of the mist, recover the horses and be on their way. Since they did not have Asanther slowing them down, they were able to make it back to the Hamlet of Jakkarton in just two days, arriving the afternoon of 2nd day of Wealsun.

Back in the Hamlet there was pandemonium, as the villagers, believing their beloved priestess had been kidnapped or murdered by the party, were quickly turning into an angry mob. The burgomaster came out of his manor house along with his mage, Mercres and many guards. The burgomaster demanded justice for the kidnapping and murder of his citizen. Sir Gerard then pulled out the holy avenger sword, which spoke to the crowd in Asanther's voice, assuring them that this was her plan and the party had done a noble deed in assisting her in her dying wish. The crowd then split in two, with half of the people praising the party and getting angry at the burgomaster for his misdeeds, and the other half suspicious. The guards were afraid to act, knowing from experience the superior strength of the party, and it seemed things were at an impasse. Tythis came running up the road to see what was going on and grew concerned about the whereabouts of Asanther (as the party would soon learn that Asanther was her mother - a secret they kept to avoid the shame associated with a paladin failing her vows). Sir Gerard was able to sway the rest of the crowd to the party's side in a persuasive speech, which then turned the crowd, as well as most of the guards, against the burgomaster. Soon they were chanting for the death of Junus Jakkar, for all of the horrible treatments he had inflicted on them. Possibly not wanting to be strung-up by association, Mercres cast a spell and turned Junus Jakkar into a slug, after which he was quickly squashed to death by the citizens.

Recognizing a power vacuum, Sir Gerard insisted that law and order must prevail in the absence of the local lord and asked the villagers to elect a new leader. They gathered together and asked Tythis to be their new leader, which she cautiously agreed to. Sir Gerard then realized he will need to stay for a few days to make sure the transition of power takes place smoothly. He would help Tythis prepare for a ceremony to honor the life of her mother. During their conversation with Tythis, she expressed that she never knew her father, whom the party was able to guess must have been Ilkif. They told her all that they knew of him and Luapan gave her the burned spellbook - the only thing they had of his to give her and honor his memory (well, except for all of the furniture they crammed into the fortress, but that didn't occur to anyone at the moment). Sir Gerard and Pontus then remained in the hamlet while the rest of the party went to Greyhawk to get supplies.

While in Greyhawk, Jarrus was able to pick-up his completed full-plate armor, which he realized he
Janziduur, Priestess of Tritherion
now needs assistance with, so he advertised for a contest in the hamlet of Jakkarton to take place the following day in order to select his squire. He also visited the Temple of Tritherion, and realized he aligned very well with the teachings of this deity, and shared a lot in common with the priestess, with whom he bonded. She helped him spread the word of the contest for his squire.

After collecting some more goods in the city and taking care of other personal business, the next morning (3rd day of Wealsun), Jarrus, Sarril and Luapan rode back to Jakkarton to help setup for the ceremony. Several young men, and a few young women from Greyhawk and from the hamlet arrived to test themselves for the honor of being Jarrus' squire. It seems Jarrus (and the party) has started to develop a reputation, and many people would find it an honor to be associated with him. The contest was held and Jarrus selected a girl by the name Tonya for the prestigious job of being his squire. After seeing this, Sir Gerard decided that he will also test the candidates, to see if any might qualify to become his squire - though he has his own criteria used to judge.

And so we left it, on the 3rd Day of Wealsun, 579CY, one day before the ceremony to honor Asanther. Will Sir Gerard find his squire amongst the many hopefuls?

May 30, 2017

Pontus is Dead

Barbarians in the big city. What can you do about it?

Gerard and Pontus made their way back to the inn the evening of 22nd day of Flocktime. Sir Gerard explained the encounter with the mind flayer and that Pontus' brain had been partially eaten. Sarril placed some healing on the wounds, but it didn't seem to improve his mental condition. Sarril decided he would need to do some research in the morning, but was suspicious that the mind flayer might return, so decided to sit invisibly in Pontus and Jarrus' room, ready for something to happen. Sir Gerard went back to his own room to sleep.

Right about the stroke of midnight, four babau demons appeared in the room and impaled Jarrus to within an inch of his life. This wasn't the encounter Sarril was expecting, but he was ready. He screamed for Pontus to wake up and sent his companion, Krek, to wake up Sir Gerard. When Pontus woke up, a few rounds later, he was no longer babbling and drooling. He was fully functional, though 8 intelligence points lower than before. The fight went several rounds, with Sarril alternating between healing Jarrus and casting various enhancements on both fighters. Many scrolls were burned and potions were consumed, and Jarrus narrowly avoided death several times. Eventually, Sir Gerard showed up, and Sarril was able to get a Minor Globe of Invulnerability up, which negated the babau's gaze attack. Finally, Sarril was able to burn a scroll of Force Cage, taking two of the demons temporarily out of the fight. The tide of the battle was now turned, and the party was able to push through to victory.

Sir Gerard, who previously suspected that the Daern's Instant Fortress was cursed, now believed it was something in Jarrus' possession that was attracting these demons. Jarrus turned out his pockets and empty his bags. Something clicked. He had 24 gems taken from Zuggtmoy's throne, where previously he had 33. Nine were missing, which is exactly the number of babau they had faced so far. The party agreed the gems must be cursed. They talked about going and exchanging them at the Moneychanger's Guild, but Sir Gerard stood his ground, stating that these cursed items must be destroyed. And so Pontus placed the gems on a magic shield and smashed each one with a magic mace, just like a blacksmith using an anvil. After crushing each gem to dust, the party went back to sleep.

The next day, Sarril went to the Guild of Wizardry library to research mind flayers, while Pontus talked to Olaf, the proprietor, about how to make some money. It seems that Pontus had developed some severe amnesia, and while he knew the names of his party members, he couldn't remember anything that happened over the last couple of days, and he had only vague, sporadic memories of anything prior to that. Olaf explained to Pontus, once again, how he could make money fighting in the The Pit. Pontus thanked Olaf and made immediate plans to join the fights that evening. In the meantime, Sarril's research didn't return promising news. Few people were ever known to survive an Illithid attack, and those few who had were never the same again. Still, he thought to take Pontus to the Temple of St. Cuthbert to see if they could help. After making an excessively large donation, he was able to meet directly with the High Priestess Eritai Kaan-Ipzirel, who expressed that this was definitely uncharted territory. She did have an Elixir of Health, which cures Feeblemindedness, and it was possible that his affliction is similar and this could help, though there was no guarantee. She also expressed it was their last potion, and they did not have the ability to make more at this time. She asked why Pontus was more worthy of this potion than her own paladins. Pontus replied that he was not worthy, and that St. Cuthbert has already helped him more than he deserves. Both Sarril and Pontus agreed that when the time comes that St. Cuthbert calls for their help, they will provide it. This pleased the High Priestess, who sold the potion to them. Pontus drank it right away. It did not have an immediate effect, and the high priestess explained that if it is going to work at all, it may take some time.

(DM's Note: I decided that brain injuries are going to heal slowly for anything short of a Wish or direct divine intervention. I established a rule that each morning, Pontus will have a percentage chance equal to his constitution score to heal one point of intelligence that day. With each point of intelligence recovered, he will get some portion of his memories back. Even though his brain has been physically healed, this represents the slow process of reorganizing his thoughts and memories)


Aestrella Ashfarel
That afternoon, Jarrus went out to check on his armor, which was coming along nicely, and Pontus went out to buy some horses. Pontus got distracted along the way by a beautiful woman who turned out to be Aestrella Ashfarel, Grand Diva of the Opera House (who was "slumming" in a little-known sweet shop run by some women in the Artisan's District, where she could get away from her fans that recognize her). Aestrella was incredibly charming, and Pontus was once again in love. He insisted that she come to the pits to watch him fight to prove his love to her. Aestrella, who had given the name "Astrid" to Pontus in order to keep her identity secret, was amused by this, but explained that she had other commitments. Nonetheless, she hopes to see him again. Despite this distraction, Pontus was able to eventually make his way to the stables outside of the gates and buy four horses.

That evening, Pontus was really excited about fighting in the Pits - despite having never been to any of the fights and having no idea what to expect. While still in his room at the inn, he strapped umberhulk mandibles to his forearms, fashioned a mask out of various monster teeth he had collected and then smeared blood across his chest in the shape of crow wings. Jarrus decided he would go with Pontus, as his manager to be in his corner. It should prove amusing at least. Sarril decided to catch-up later, and Sir Gerard wanted no part of such nonsense, instead spending his time in the common room of the inn, listening to the conversations around him and trying to learn all he can about what is going on in Greyhawk.

Jarrus lent Pontus a cloak to cover up his accoutrements, and followed him to the secret place where he was able to give the correct password to get into the Pit underground. Inside was a seedy, crowded place. The Pit was a small, round arena below the floor where people could gather around and lean over a small wall to watch the fights. Some assigned seating was above, where it was clear that wealthy merchants and other important people could sit. And above that were special boxes where nobility of various sorts could watch. One of the boxes, which extended slightly over the pit on the opposite side, contained a shadowy figure who seemed to be in charge of the place. Off to one side of the pit was a cage, where Pietain Morvannis, Manager of the Pit, sat. Jarrus was able to speak to Pietain and get Pontus (whom he introduced as "The Umberhulk") added to the list for the Non-lethal Gladiator category. There were three type of fights that evening. Wrestling, Non-Lethal Gladiator (which uses blunt weapons, no armor, allows tap-out/surrender, and the rules prevent a killing blow to a knocked out opponent), and Full Gladiator (essentially no rules). Sarril arrived a bit later, and when he heard the announcement that The Umberhulk would be fighting Strom the Mad with 10:1 odds, Sarril immediately began placing large wagers on the Umberhulk.

After some silly wrestling matches that seemed to be popular with the older crowds, the Non-Lethal Gladiator combat began, and the place really filled up. Jarrus and Pontus were taken down into a waiting room to get ready. The first fight was between Eglantine, an extremely nimble fighter, and Grunk the Destroyer, a large half-orc who had previously tried to start trouble with Sir Gerard at the inn that morning. Shields, clubs and maces were spread around the arena. Eglantine elegantly grabbed his weapons and started striking Grunk from all sides. Grunk was slow and having a lot of trouble hitting him. Eglantine started getting cheered on by the crowd, and at one point turned to smile and raise his hands up (popular fighters get paid more by the house to fight, so this is a common tactic). Unfortunately for Eglantine, Grunk took advantage of this posturing to land a solid blow to his head, exploding Eglantine's brains across the side of the pit. So much for non-lethal combat, but accidents do happen, and its part of the game.

Next up was The Umberhulk (Pontus) vs. Strom the Mad. This was Pontus' moment. This was what he had been waiting for. He rushed out in full regalia, screaming his barbarian roar, getting the crowd stirred up. The fight lasted a while, but this gave The Umberhulk that much more time to work the crowd into a frenzy. By the end of the match, they were shouting his name. The Umberhulk took a lot of blows, but his injuries only fueled his rage. Victory was soon his. As the crowd shouted his name, he reached down to his unconscious opponent, ripped off his ears and tossed them into the crowd. The crowd gasped in horror. Some became sick to their stomachs. But some were even more excited. But Pontus broke the rules. He attacked his opponent after the fight. Guards immediately rushed into the Pit and escorted Pontus away and back into the preparation room. On his way out, he looked up and saw the shadowy figure in the box above smiling at him. But in the back room, Jarrus gave him an earful (no pun intended) about what was wrong with what he just did. After some time, a messenger came in to say the next fight would be between The Umberhulk and Grunk the Destroyer. It seems the crowd has tasted blood, and now they want more. Pontus was more than happy to fight again.

Jarrus went out to find Sarril, who was collecting his substantial winnings from the first fight, and already placing bets on the Umberhulk vs. Grunk match. He brought Sarril back to heal Pontus before
Grunk the Destroyer
the next match. Sarril gave him the last of his healing potions, which were able to bring him back to full health. Then the announcement was made, and Pontus went out into the arena to face his opponent.

Pontus again screamed his barbarian yell, but this time it was met in return by a deafening, inhuman sounding roar from his opponent. The match began, and both man and half-orc went for their weapons and shield, both selecting clubs. Though the odds were 2:1 in Grunk's favor, the actual match was much closer. Both combatants were of the same level. Grunk had a clear strength advantage (19 STR) and was specialized with a club, giving him +1 to hit and +2 damage. But his constitution was not substantial, so his it points were only slightly above average for a fighter, and he had an average dexterity, making his AC 9 with a shield. Pontus, on the other hand, had only a +1 strength bonus, but had ridiculous dexterity and constitution bonuses with his barbarian class doubling them. He had triple the hit point average of a fighter of the same level and his natural AC was 4, 3 with a shield. This was the fight Pontus was itching for. This was the fight that would prove his combat superiority.

But +9 damage on each hit was starting to add up fast. Pontus did land a critical hit at one point, but couldn't make the follow-up damage roll count. Grunk also got a critical hit in, doing over 30 points of damage in one round. Things were not looking good for Pontus. Pretty soon, Pontus was down to 3 hit points, and it was Grunk's attack. With +9 damage, there was no question that another hit would take Pontus into negative HP territory, and a roll of 5 or 6 on the damage die would completely kill him. But Grunk only got one attack this next round, so he could miss entirely. At this point Pontus was given the opportunity to surrender the match, or keep going. There was not a second of hesitation in Pontus' mind, of course he continues the fight. And so I rolled the attack roll for Grunk. . . 20 - critical hit! I rolled a 5 for damage, bringing the total to 28 ([5+9]*2). Pontus was very, very dead.

DM's Note: At this point I realized that I had been giving Grunk +11 for damage instead of +9, because I was double-counting the specialization by mistake. I went back and recalculated the damage, and it turned out Pontus did not have 3 hit points left, he had 12 or so, which would have kept him alive if it wasn't for the critical hit. But he was still dead either way.

The shadowy figure in the box above smiled widely, then walked away. The crowd cheered Grunk's name as Jarrus and Sarril collected the pay and carried the dead body of Pontus back to the inn, where they explained to Sir Gerard what had taken place. Sir Gerard insisted that they head out to the Village of Jakkarton the next day to visit the priestess of Heironeous named Asanthar, whom he was certain would be able to resurrect him. And with that, the party rested for the night.

The next morning, Gerard (not knowing that Pontus had already bought horses) purchased four horses while Sarril went to the Guild of Wizardry to buy some fantastic, and expensive, magical items for the party. It is now noon on the 24th Day of Flocktime, 579CY.

May 24, 2017

A Sword for Pontus

On the morning of the 22nd Day of Flocktime, each of the party members decided they had their own business to do within the City of Greyhawk, and went their separate ways (this was in between sessions, so some players wanted to chat about what they were doing online). Sarril went to join the Guild of Wizardry and do some research in their fantastic library. Pontus went in search of a magical two-handed sword.

Now, normally, a Fruztii barbarian loose in the big city trying to figure out where to buy a magic sword would be a challenge, but Pontus was pointed in the right direction by the other party
members. He knew that the High Market was where the finest merchant sold their wares to the wealthy elite, and if anyone was going to have magic weapons for sale, it would likely be there. So off Pontus went in search of a sword.

DM's Note: Magic swords are somewhat rare, though finding a basic enchanted sword (+1) is reasonable if you are visiting the right merchant, but they are very expensive, and not usually the kind of thing simply on display in an open-market. But I figured it would be reasonable that some of the higher-end merchants may have one or two enchanted swords carefully displayed as a showpiece to attract customers. I decided that if Pontus spent a few hours visiting all of the weapon vendors, I would roll a d10 and that would be how many magical two-handed swords would be found across all vendors in the entire market. I rolled a 10. Today was a good day for Pontus to shop for a sword. I then rolled on the Unearthed Arcana treasure tables to see what kind of magical swords these would be. Most were +1, or +1 with a minor specialty (like bonus vs. reptiles, etc.), but a couple of very rare +2 swords appeared as well. The way the UA tables work is that you first roll percentile dice to determine which table to use. 95% and below uses Table I, which has some average to very good magical weapons on it. 96% and above uses Table II, which has a chance to get some of the most amazing non-artifact swords, like Sun Blades and the like. On the 10th roll, I rolled a 96% to go to Table II. I then rolled a percentage again to see what sword from Table II it would be, and landed something nearly impossible. While I don't like the idea of making a sword like this so easily available, I have a general rule that if this is a legitimate roll of the dice, I find a way to make it happen. There is no way any merchant would simply be selling a weapon like this at a market, or even within a well guarded shop. Weapons of this magnitude would handled very carefully through a private transaction. And so I decided this one would need to be played out.

Pontus spent a lot of time speaking to various merchants and looking at some of the finest enchanted greatswords ever to make their way into the city. But despite their fantastic quality, none could ever equal the sword wielded by his father - the family heirloom that had been handed down for generations pre-dating the migration of his people from the Suel Empire. That sword was his birthright, and now it was gone. None of these other swords could possibly be its equal. When a disappointing Pontus was speaking to the last merchant, he said "If money were no object, what kind of sword could you sell me?" This resulted in some back and forth conversation, wherein the merchant was trying to gauge the seriousness of the inquiry, and finally, after swearing Pontus to secrecy, looked around to see if anyone was watching, then reached under the table and pulled out the "Sword of Arcane Destruction" (a sword with a bonus vs. magic users - perfect for a barbarian). Pontus thanked the merchant, told him what a fine sword it was, but said he was looking for something even better, and that money really was no object. Finally, the merchant told him that he had something better and that Pontus should come by his shop in the Foreign Quarter at 8:00 pm that evening to get a private showing. Pontus agreed to the appointment and went back to the Silver Dragon Inn.

While at the inn, Pontus asked Olaf what a barbarian like himself could do to earn money. Olaf informed in, secretly, that he wouldn't normally recommend it, but he may be able to earn some money by fighting in the Pit. If Pontus was interested, Olaf could provide him with that evening's password to get-in, but he would need to be sworn to secrecy as the Pit is technically illegal in Greyhawk (despite that just about everyone in the Foreign Quarter knows about it). This excited Pontus greatly and he wanted to know what time the fights start. They start at 8:00 pm. Pontus immediately ran back to the High Market to find the merchant he was just speaking with to change the appointment time. This made the merchant nervous and Pontus had to talk him off the ledge a bit. The merchant finally agreed to an earlier meeting only if Pontus would come back at 5 pm and help him pack-up. He also had to pay for dinner. Pontus agreed to the terms and ran back to the inn, wherein he saw Sir Gerard, having just come back from a meeting with a cleric at the Sanctum of Heironeous. Pontus told Sir Gerard about the arrangement for the sword and Sir Gerard insisted that something sounded fishy, and he should come along to the meeting. Pontus reluctantly agreed.

Soon, it was time to go, and both Pontus and Sir Gerard went to see the merchant. Sir Gerard introduced himself, and the merchant stated his name as Waldo Parstiche, and his assistant, Elbrak. Gerard and Pontus helped break-down the merchant tent and load up the crates into a wagon as promised, and escorted Waldo and Elbrak back to his warehouse in the Foreign Quarter, where they secured the goods before heading to dinner at the Red Serpent Restaurant, where Waldo had made a reservation. Waldo, Gerard and Pontus had a very fine multi-course meal in a private room where they were able to discuss business without being disturbed. After the main meal, the door opened and two men walked in. The first man, dressed in a leather tunic, was introduced by Waldo as a business associate by the name of Dorian Gallamar. Dorian has brought the sword for viewing. The second man, dressed in a long black cloak with a hood covering his face, was Zynthar, whom Dorian said was there for his protection. Zynthar didn't speak, but just moved to the corner. Sir Gerard immediately focused his Detect Evil ability on both of the new men. Dorian emoted clear evil, but when he tried to focus on Zynthar, he received a shock in his head that disrupted his senses.

Sir Gerard immediately stood up and declared that Pontus should not go through with the deal as these men were clearly evil and not to be trusted. With his hand on the hilt of his sword, he moved to face Zynthar.

Dorian says "you think ill of me, Sir Gerard, and yet I have done nothing to slight you. This does not seem to be noble behavior. I am only here to conduct business. If your god allows you to see if I speak the truth, call upon him now. See that I mean what I say."

Pontus then went into a rage, saying "Waldo, this is a nice place." He slams his meat filled hand down on the table , hard. "It won't stay that way unless I see this ducking sword right now!!"

Dorian says, "Waldo, I am sorry. I do not know where you found these two, but I don't think we can don business." He then gets up to leave.

Sir Gerard calmed down and said "Pontus? There is no need for that." He nodded a salutary gesture with his hand on the hilt of his sword. Eyeing Zynthar.

Pontus calmed down and said "How about we just stop this back and forth and get down to business. I don't know who your friends are Waldo, but Dorian, if you are the guy let me know. What do you say Dorian? We all sit down, and act like the civil southerners we are?"

Sir Gerard responded "I will remain to stand in judgement Only! I do not condone any of this!"

Waldo then attempted his own diplomacy, saying "Dorian, please, stay. I think we can do this. Is everyone cool?"

With everyone somewhat calm, but now hyper-aware and trigger happy, Dorian removed a bag of holding from his cloak and set it on the table. He then pulled out a 6 ft long flat wooden box from the bag on to the table. After looking around the room and ensuring they were still alone and everyone was calm, he opened the box to reveal the sword.

The sword was truly magnificent, made of a strange metal that did not seem of this world. Unknown runes were etched along the blade. It may have been the most extraordinary sword Pontus or Gerard had ever seen. Waldo began to explain the sword and its backstory when Sir Gerard was filled with an overwhelming urge to pick it up.

Shaking off the urge, he turned to Zynthar, drew his blade and yelled "Show yourself fiend. NOW!" as he attacked Zynthar and missed. A confused Pontus lept over the table and drew his sword while
Dorian closed the box with the sword and started stuffing into the bag while yelling "THIEF! I'm being robbed!" Shortly thereafter, everyone into the room was stunned in place and couldn't move. Zynthar removed his hood to reveal a purplish alien looking face with squid-like tentacles over his mouth. An Illithid, also known as a Mind Flayer.

Pontus and Gerard could do nothing but watch the horror unfold as the creature moved behind Waldo, placed his tentacled mouth over his head, and began to feast on his brains. Waldo's eyes rolled back into his head, and then he slumped forward on to the table. Next, Zynthar moved to Pontus and started to do the same. After a few seconds of this, the doors burst open and in came four guards from the Nightwatchmen's Guild. Zynthar turned to the guards and made another mind-blast attack, stunning three out of four of them. By now, Dorian had the sword packed up and yelled to Zynthar "let's go!" and the two ran out of the restaurant.

Soon the owner, Cevin Estri came into the room to investigate while his wife was attempting to calm customers who were rubbing their heads, confused about what just went down. Cevin closed the door and he and the guards questioned Pontus and Sir Gerard about what happened. Sir Gerard felt confident in stating the an evil creature attacked him, and that Cevin is responsible for allowing an evil creature into his restaurant to begin with, even going so far as to demand reparations. The interrogation did not go well from that point, especially given that Waldo was a well-renowned merchant, and the guards did not much like Sir Gerard's righteous attitude. While they did not fully trust that Sir Gerard was innocent from provoking the incident, it was clear the mind-flayer was the one who killed Waldo and they had nothing to hold Pontus or Gerard on. They demanded they leave the restaurant and not come back. Sir Gerard offered his assistance in tracking down the mind-flayer, which the guards outright rejected, saying they would find the perpetrator and bring him to justice on their own. "Not if I find him first" replied Gerard, as he led a babbling, drooling Pontus out of the restaurant and back to the inn.

May 21, 2017

21st Day of Flocktime, CY 579 (The party takes out a cult of Wastri)

Once Pontus was turned back to living flesh, he and Sarril sat down and ordered some lunch. They had much catching up to do over the next couple of hours. Sarril relayed the story about how the party escaped the demi-planes and destroyed Zuggtmoy. He also explained how the party is now trapped in stasis inside the Daern's Instant Fortress, along with some very bad demons. They decided to hatch a plan.

Sarril and Pontus travelled several miles north of the city, into the Cairn Hills and found a secluded location where they could activate the fortress without being seen. Sarril cast Strength on Pontus and gave him a Rod of Smiting to use in place of his sword to counteract the bladed damage reduction of the babau. Sarril cast Minor Globe of Invulnerability and Mirror Image on himself, then activated the fortress and charged in. The group inside never missed a beat, continuing the fight exactly where they left off. Shan-Ju again proved himself a formidable warrior as he took out another babau demon (due to another series of ridiculous die rolls on behalf of his player, who was also playing Pontus). Sarril globe was able to prevent the effects of the Ray of Enfeeblement from the babau's gaze, giving the party the opportunity to fight while looking at the beasts. Between Pontus, Shan-Ju, Sir Gerard and Jarrus, all enhanced by Luapan and Sarril, the remaining demons were dispatched very quickly.

After a brief introduction, Sir Gerard proclaimed that Pontus was sent by Heironeous himself to aid the party in their need, and thanked him appropriately. Sarril explained that they were outside the city the City of Greyhawk and that he had procured rooms for them inside the city. The party agreed to continue their plan of gearing up in Greyhawk before heading to Furyondy. Shan-Ju thanked the party for freeing him from the demi-planes, and explained that there is a monastery near the City of Greyhawk that may have some answers that he has been searching for, and he took his leave of the party (for now).

It was late afternoon when the party returned to the city, and after a quick visit to the High Market to see about commissioning some custom armor for Sir Gerard, the group went to the Silver Dragon Inn where Sarril relayed the story about the cult that was terrorizing the Foreign Quarter. He had found out earlier that it was a cult of Wastri, aka the Hopping Prophet, causing the trouble and the cult leader was starting to make some demands of the city. Merchants who were recent victims of arson attacks were desperate and hired another adventuring party at the Silver Dragon Inn to put a stop to the cult. Sarril was able to pick up the clues they were given, which speak to a particular beggar on the street who had some information. Once Sir Gerard heard about this, he insisted the party head out immediately to put an end to the evil. Having nothing better to do at the moment, the party headed out.

After finding the beggar and paying him to tell them the location of the hideout, the party went to the building - an abandoned bath house. Using Invisibility 10' Radius, they followed some of the cultists through the front door and launched a surprise attack. The cultists turned out to be Grung, intelligent amphibious creatures from the Vast Swamp. The grung were using poisoned arrows, but they were no match for the party. As a matter of fact, the party pushed through the bath house, easily defeating everything inside, which included another dozen or more grung, four giant toads and a cleric of Wastri by the name of Heironymous Spune. After freeing two merchants who were tied up, they learned that Heironymous Spune wanted revenge on the City of Greyhawk for some grievance that the once Lord Mayor, Zagig Yragerne, had inflicted on his master.

Sir Gerard was proud to have defeated evil twice in one day. Jarrus declared that the party now owns a bath house, which, after some renovations, will be a fine establishment. Sarril was happy to have fulfilled his promise to Tobin Potriades and now be able to join the Guild of Wizardry. Pontus was happy to no longer be a statue, while Luapan pointed out "hey guys, there are some bodies in the water there" noticing that some of the members of the previously hired adventuring party didn't make it very far and were tossed in the bath water to be frog food.

The party then headed back to the inn to rest, as each of them had separate plans to pursue in the morning.