Friday, 19 September 2014

PotS 1x05b - Whilst in Stormreach

These posts are from our DnD group's latest game. The current adventure is a return to the world of Eberron, and specifically Xen'drik.  With their scouting completed, the (mostly) dwarven pirate crew set sail for Stormreach, for well deserved down-time, and their greatly desired financial compensation!!  This post is a recap of things that happened via email in-between games.

The Tale heard by the Dread Pirate Kami
The month-long journey back to Stormreach went by without incident - at least, by the time they arrived, no one remembered anything of interest. That, and their grog supplies were very low.

Whilst searching through the taverns on the dock for a good, cheap supply to restock her vessel, Kami came across an old friend - Captain Spack Jarrow, her first ever captain. After much discussion about her recent adventures, and much drinking, Captain Spack shared a tale with her.

"Did I be ever tellin' ye about why I stopped captaining? The story already be told that it be me loosing one too many crew; that th' spark for adventure were quenched by th' sorrow over too many deaths. That be true - in part - but th' whole story, it be something much, much more." Even though there were only the two of the at the table, Captain Spack leaned in closely. "Me first mate at th' time, a rutheless fellow by the name o' "Hawes the Coldhearted" (though, mind ye, th' last bit weren't so much his family name as it be how we be calling him). He be a nasty piece o' work, even on a ship full o' nasty pieces o' work. But he got th' job dome, and he obeyed me commands pretty quick, so I be putting up with his...less than warm attitudes." 

"Well, one time, we take over this one ship, nary a crew member left alive by the time we boarded, and way too much fire and soot to tell why. But the treasure, oh, Kami, t'was a sight to behold! We each had our share that time! Each had gold and trinkets aplenty. And gems - crystals, mind ye, big, blood red stones th' likings of which I'd never come across." Pausing to finish is current tankard - and then another one, just to be sure - Captain Spack eventually continued.

 "Now - I know, ye'd probably been seeing these things yerself now, moreso these days, now'at the war done gone make them special. But in those days, we aint seen dragonshards before, we aint knowing their power. An' the few o' us that did, well, we figured it was more'n just talk, just something ta let the Houses collect them more easily like. So when old Hawes took th' big one, hey, more gold for me, right?"

"...see, stuff that be buried, should sometimes stay buried. We know the tales, of how Khyber killed Siberys, of how Eberron saved what was left o' the world, and trapped Khyber good an' proper like below. Well, sometimes, some part of that ancient dragon works its way back to the surface - as it did with Hawes. An' Hawes ain't a friendly type beforehand. W' th' darkness o' Khyber inside o' 'im, there weren't nothing 'e weren't do. Slowly, but as sure as th' tide, he turned from a coldhearted first mate ta something spawned o' th' darkness itself! Th' crew - some were corrupted, taking their own chunks o' dragonshards, or being implanted wi' them by 'im, but the lucky ones, they simply died. A scarce few o' us survived, made it t' shore near Zantashk, an' slowly worked our way back up 'ere. I know th' ship went down... but I be sure that Hawkes lives on. I feel it in here. An', he needs to be put down."

By now, there were more than a few other interested folk watching the pair, but the Captain was focused on Kami. His collection of mugs empty, his tale told, and his burden now shared, he pleaded his case before his former crew member. "Kami, ye be needing t' find th' man. Ye be needing t' do 'im in." 

Hassan Elfbane, and The Man with One Hand
Meanwhile, whilst Ogg went to get his ruined armour repaired, and his Eberron shard transferred to his new weapon, Hassan set about finding his House Kundarak contacts, and opening that darned chest. There were few locks they could not open, so it was a surprise when, instead of returning with an opened chest, Uncle Ali instead returned with a knight.

 And, as it turned out, a knight with which Hassan was already familiar with - Sir Edric the Gauche.

"Hassan Elfbane, we meet again!" he spoke, simply giving the dwarf a curt nod, instead of offering a hand in greeting. "I believe you took something from me when last we parted...I hope you still have it on you?" The item he referred to was his hand - a mechanical device, created by a particularly insightful House Cannith artificer to make up for the one lost in the Last War. In a particularly vicious bar fight, Sir Edric had saved Hassan from a similar fate, but his own hand had become detached in the process. "I searched that bar quite thoroughly after I finished off those who dared stand before me, but two things continued to be most elusive - one, my hand, and two, the dwarf I had fought beside, had defended, even though, as I recall it, he was one of the instigators. So - do you still have it?"

Waving a hand - his one, remaining hand - towards the chest, he added "I know what lies inside it. I have been researching these items for some time, ever since I learned of the destruction that came down upon our sister order. It is one of three sacred vessels with which I intend to purify the temple, and banish the evil presence that seeks to sully the good name of my brethren! You will take me back there, and I will complete this most noble quest!" 

Urquilla the Scaled is Given a Vision
Whilst most of the crew remained within the city, some needed to escape out to the wilds for a moment of relaxation. Being trapped on board the ship was rough for Tvennr, but Regdar sorely needed to return to his trees and animals for a few days. Urquilla took the opportunity to visit his father and tribe, and let them know what he had been up to.

The news there was both good and disturbing. Good, for his father's injuries had shown great strides in recovery; though, instead of scar tissue, he had grown scales back over the wounds that had almost claimed his life. It was not unheard of, but even within their tribe, it was a sign of strange things happening. And indeed, there were great movements in the glimpses of draconic prophecy they managed to snatch.

 Jillepse the Blind, the tribe's oldest shaman, shared a recurring vision he had been experiencing. There was a mountain, with the red waters washing up it, trying to drown all who sought refuge upon it. Dragons flew overhead, swarming as thick as crows, blotting out the sun. Stars formed within them, to rain down death and destruction, until one man stood against the onslaught. Reaching up, he grabbed at the sky, though the sky. His hand moved, grasping at the moons, feeling them, but letting go, until finally, it reached the thirteenth moon, the unseen satellite, and pulled it down to the earth. It struck with a resounding explosion, scattering the dragon-swarm for a moment, and then he held it aloft - the invisible moon was now a sword, a sword that would cut down any dragon that stood against it. No longer would the dragons destroy every threat that rose against them; finally, the time of dragons was ended, the time of the Takamak tribe was only just beginning!

Clearly, the other tribal elders explained, much of the vision was strange shapes and images, and probably wasn't directly related to the real world situation. But there were more and more reports of many dragons scouting around the south-eastern coast of Xen'drik, and their presence felt like the precursor to another annihilation event. Something has upset them - something big, and that means something dangerous. Jillepse believed that Urquilla was the one to find this "weapon of the moon", and wield it in defence of their people - of all the people of Xen'drik. And with nothing else to go on, the tribal elders all stood backing this choice.

Friday, 5 September 2014

PotS 1x05 - Scouting the Ruins

These posts are from our DnD group's latest game. The current adventure is a return to the world of Eberron, and specifically Xen'drik.  Along with a strange chest, they now held information that should see them cured from their Xoriat-induced monstrous deformities, and their mission proper could continue.

The Loss of Curses and Limbs
...yes, I know it has only one head. And wings. I don't have any hydras - feel free to send me one, if you want!
The Hydra Battle
The trip back to shore seemed to take far longer than their journey out to the island garrison - perhaps it was Kami playing it safe with her ship, and the lack of Hassan's guidance, or maybe the cause was more supernatural than they wanted to accept.  Maybe even the tide itself was fighting against them, keeping them from completing their mission, and exploring the ruins.

Whatever it was, the crew eventually planted their feet on solid ground once more.  From there, they quickly returned to the eladrin grove, giving Analastra and Berrian the information taken from Gordian's library.  Together, they worked to rid the grasp of Xoriat from their father, and saw that the party was cured of their touch, as well.  Handing the mysterious chest over to Hassan for further investigation, they moved to the mountain path, and started the slow climb to its guardian - the green-scaled hydra.

The battle was fierce, but with Kami's well-placed haunting serpents spectres, the beast's spirit to fight was lessened.  Despite its caustic venom, enough heads were severed to bring the guardian low, and allow the team passage to the ruins proper.

The Tale of Two Galinndans
Good old "Lord of the Rings" & "The Hobbit" LEGO setting the scene!
Approaching the Gate
The climb to the mountain's top took the better part of the rest of the afternoon, leaving them with little over an hour to scout the actual ruins.  And that didn't include the time it took to fight back the current occupants!

The gate that had once stood proudly before the mountain settlement now held dust, cobwebs, and soot from when the dragons had razed it.  One of the gigantic doors remained upright, its hinges long-since failed.  The other was little more than part of the path, pressed into the dirt and rubble surrounding it.  Regdar sensed they eyes watching him before he noticed the tell-tale movements of the gargoyles.  With a warning call, he kept the others back, and made the enemy come to them.

Unfortunately, it was not just gargoyles that attacked them.  Mid-battle, one of the enemy abruptly took on the form of Galinndan, and the eladrin warlord himself turned to attack his own captain.  Fortunate he was that Hassan had remained behind, else the azure guard might have experienced just how Hassan Elfbane had earned his surname!

Who knew LEGO "Mixel" figures could so easily come in to DnD games?
A Wild Decay Beast Appears!
Amongst the ruins lurked another creature, driven mad by hunger, empowered by the arcane disaster many years ago.  This decay beast had long ago stopped preying on simple metal items, and had instead taken a liking to anything that could decay. Weapons and armour started tearing, rusting, and splintering before him, as his hunger brought his teeth about Ogg's person, dissolving and consuming his armour.

The outfit clearly had meant a lot to Ogg, for he didn't take that slight lying down.  His carefully-aimed blasts of raw power were able to distinguish friend from foe, and within moments, only crumpled, shattered remains were left behind.

Atop the Plateau
The majority of the settlement was now in ruins.  The arcane cataclysm had destroyed much of the structures, and now only three remained upright.  Dragonfire had reduced most of that to rubble and ash, but the temple standing in the middle of the plateau still had half of a roof. 

The stone walls of a former barracks stood to one side, but when investigated further, only the dead bodies of a bulette and two carrion-crawlers were found.  The creatures were killed recently, and violently, prompting Urquilla to investigate more thoroughly.  The tracks and remnants of the battle suggested that the mysterious group who had taken out the spiders in the forest had cleared up here, too.

Along the opposite side of the settlement, there stood a structure that was perhaps once dedicated to those who looked after the temple.  Its walls bore faded frescoes, covered with thick webs.  It was no surprise to anyone that some giant spiders had settled here - and, as no one felt strongly about taking it back, they left the overgrown arachnids to their thing, and focused on the temple.

The Temple of Battle
Three statues were the central focal point of the temple, though various alcoves here and there had their own, smaller, dedications to the various members of the Soverign Host.  But the main three - Dol Dorn, the god of courage; Dol Arrah, the goddess of combat; and a third figure who was unrecognisable in its currently degraded state - were clearly seen as the most important by those who built and had operated the temple.
I had a lacking of appropriate "fiery warforged" LEGO and DnD miniatures, so I went with the fire motif, and something that looked imposing.
Final stages of the Temple battle

Galinndan stepped forward, trying to work out who the mysterious figure was, but a voice high in the rafters "All the faithful of the Knights of Battle, come and pay them worship!" it cried, as the figure of a twisted harpy settled before them.  Long dead, and driven crazy by some unseen force, this ghostly remnant of one of the temple's former servants screeched and cursed at them, activating two warforgeds to come to her aid.  Their fires burned strong, and even after the ghost was dismissed with certain finality, they locked together and fought on, almost bringing an end to the valiant heroes who stood before them.
stopped his study. 

But in the end, they did triumph, and with the settlement now cleared of enemies (aside from those nasty spiders, who were just left to do their own thing), they were able to finally scout and map the ruins. 

The Ruins, Scouted
Knowing that a sizeable paycheck awaited them upon their return to Stormreach, Kami set the crew's sight towards the month-long journey it would take to get there - but she knew, as did the others, that there were still mysteries here to search further.

Hassan was eager to get some help in unlocking the chest, but at the same time didn't wish to leave the tower unguarded.  Two of the Kaapiot quadruplets volunteered to remain behind, though no one was sure which two, so Kami just declared that all four would remain, and the matter was settled.

Galinndan, on the other hand, didn't cherish the thought of spending another month trapped aboard the dwarven ship.  Instead, he elected to remain with Analastra and her family, helping to set up the arcane waypoint once the crew returned to Cousin Walid.  Although she wasn't overly happy to let the eladrin out of her sight, Kami eventually agreed to this, and the crew set sail once more.