Goodman Games

Story Hour: AoW (Spoilers for AoW, SC and some DCC's).
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Author:  Eryx [ Sat Jan 20, 2007 11:04 am ]
Post subject:  Story Hour: AoW (Spoilers for AoW, SC and some DCC's).

Last weekend my group finished the Shackled City campaign (which I ported over to Aereth about half way through, especially after I noticed that the Northlands looked fairly similar to my handdrawn homebrew map!), and tomorrow night we start Age of Worms.

With that in mind, heres the differences and what has gone on before:

The Age of Worms has been known for sometime by a few individuals. One of them is Drendari, demigoddess of shadow (a deity who delights in mischief especially among the other gods), and she is none too happy about the potential arrival of another demigod - she already has to tolerate St. Cuthbert and Vecna. So she has been orchestrating events to bring select heroes together to speed up and then thwart the rise of a new god.

This worked in her favour during the recent troubles in the city of Cauldron, and now that the eve of this new Age is dawning, she has turned to some new heroes, in the town of Diamond Lake in the heartlands of Crieste.


Current Characters:

Jalista Willows, human female, NG, fighter 1.
Local girl trained in the martial ways by her father, now ready to follow hin his footsteps as an adventurer. The current situation with an ogre that has set up residence outside of town will be her first quest.

Morkane the Mystic, half-elf male, TN, Wizard 1.
Apprentice to a local mage, Morkane, has at last been freed from his apprenticeship. He is not a member of the Ordo Arcana and at this time has no desire to join them. With his former master out of town, it falls to the town council to ask Morane for assitance.

T'Lak, thri-kreen male, CG, rogue 1.
T'Lak arrived in Diamond Lake several months ago and despite his appearance has been accepted by the locals. He is a bit of a shady trader, always looking to make that next big score. When the ogre attacked, he voulnteered to help defeat it.

Atmos, half-(Howling)dragon/elf male, CN, Cleric of Erythnnul 1.
A villainous character captured in the local area, he was going to be executed until the ogre's attack saved him. In return for his life, he must accompany the others into the barrow hills north of town and defeat the giant!

Retired Characters:

Urkane Fellthane, aasimar male, LG, paladin 1.
A knight who protects the realm, Urkane has responded to a call for help from Diamond Lake. He has been placed in charge of the expedition by the town council. Urkane hopes to one day prove his worth to the Order of the Sable March, and join their order.

Ugard, dwarf male, CG, wilder 1.
An outcast from his homeland for displaying psionic ability. Ugard has fled persecution into the human lands of Crieste. With little to fall back on, he has taken to the role of adventurer.
Died, fighting skeletons.


As a small reference, in my campaign Paladins are more Arthurian Knights than holy champions.


Author:  Eryx [ Tue Jan 23, 2007 11:36 am ]
Post subject: 

Age of Worms.
Chapter #1: Heroes are Made, not Born.

With their quest given to them by the mayour of Diamond Lake, the potential heroes hook up a wagon to an ox and depart the town, heading north into the barrow hills. They pass the mines that support the town and soon pass through a region of ancient burial mounds and tombs from a bygone and forgotten age. Although the party has no tracker, it's easy to follow the passage of the ogre even after a couple days.

The trampled grass and wagon tracks leads them deep into the hills to the site of a vast mound, which fate and the environment seem to have eroded into the form of an immense skull. Where the mouth of the "skull" would be is a worn passage leading into the dark interior. T'Lak scouts ahead and checks the entrance. With his enhanced senses the thri'kreen can detect an opening a short ways in and a musty animal smell mixed with something unpleasent. The others meanwhile hear the bleating of sheep down the side of the mound. When T'Lak returns with news of the interior, the party decides to split up and see what lies behind the mound. Urkhan and Atmos go down the right, while the others head down the left side. Towards the end of the mound which is immense, they encounter a handful of sheep grazing on the side of the hill and the open ground behind it. T'Lak is the most observant and see's what could be a hunched or seated figure wearing a helm sat atop the mound. Sneaking closer, the chinking of their armour gives them away and the figure leaps to its feet and starts running back towards the entrance via the top of the mound. Urkhan and T'Lak clamber up the mound to give chase, while the others run back at ground level towards the entrance. The figure, a hobgoblin, reaches the entrance first, jumping down from the mound and vanishing into the darkness. The others stop for a moment to light a torch, while Merkane holds, before giving chase.

They ignore two side passages as they give chase through the dark after the hobgoblin. They catch up with it just as it frees a mangy-looking wolf from it's chains. Urkhan blocks the hobgoblin's escape down another passage while the others deal with the wolf. The wolf fails to bite through their armours, before falling to sword and spell. The hobgoblin, Gurt, surrenders before they turn on him. During questioning Gurt points them down the passage to where his master the ogre, Blogg, lives. Gurt, however, knows nothing of any captured townsfolk. While the others question the hobgoblin, Atmos and Merkane return back to check out the two passages they missed. The one nearest the entrance is a pen for the sheep and the other is Gurt's room. At first they find nothing of interest in here until Atmos digs around in the dirt and muck of Gurt's mushroom farm, and finds a small pouch of coins and a mushroom shaped chunk of amber.

Back with the interrogation, the party are convinced that Gurt hasn't lied to them, and debate what to do with him. T'Lak offers gurt a job back in Diamond Lake, which he cautiously agrees. The thri-kreen then pays him a gold coin to round up the sheep near the wagon out front. Gurt pockets the coin and departs. There is some talk about whether they can trust him, but the current quest is more important so they continue down the passage.

The tunnel they find themselves in forks ahead, and they see some light from round the right. Jalista slowly moves ahead to see if she can peer round the corner, but hits over a tripwire connected to a hidden trap! A section of wall falls free and releases several spiked logs which tumble down crushing the party. Most duck and cover, but T'Lak is badly hurt, and Merkane is driven unconcious. As the dust and noise clears they pause, but the noise does not seem to have alerted the ogre or anything else. Atmos reluctantly calls upon his dark master to heal the sorcerer, restoring Merkane to conciousness. There is sharp words exchanged and T'Lak starts to check for traps ahead of the others.

To the right the insectoid rogue finds a large room lit by torches, and spies the ogre face down in a bowl of stew, obviously drunk and sedated. He waves the others up and they spread out around the room in case the ogre should awake. Atmos is the one to strike the killing blow. He moves up behind the ogre and with a solid swing, severs the ogres head from its body. He collects the gravy soaked head as proof for the townsfolk of the giant's demise. They then search the room, find a hidden area with the various crates of food and ale that the ogre had swiped. T'lak also finds a secret door in the wall of the chamber, which he thinks sees a fair amount of use but which is too small for the ogre to have used. They open it up and find a tight passage leading away and down. Urkhan suggests that they check the other room first before investigating, if they even need to.
The other room is another store room for food and ale.A search reveals yet another secret door but this one shows no sign of use in years, so they ignore it for now.

The party heads outside to check on Gurt. The hobgoblin has rounded up the sheep and waits patiently for them. T'Lak and Merkane, decide to return to town to collect some healing scrolls from the temple of Heironeous there, while the other three wait behind and rest.

They return shortly before sunset bearing a half dozen cure light wounds scrolls for use later in the dungeon. One of these is used immediately to restore Merkane to full health. T'Lak tells Gurt to wait outside by the wagon but the hobgoblin refuses, saying that things leave the tombs in these hills and walk abroad by night, so they agree that he can stay in his old room.

The party returns to the secret door in the ogres room and enter the passage beyond. It does not run far and ends at a hole in the ground with a rickerty ladder leading down into it. They descend into a laboratory of sorts, which merkane identifies as being an alchemical lab. A search of the papers and journals finds a diary, which tells of wizards attempts to locate a fabled tome known as the Codex Ilyum, and to summon a demon named Frogroth to assist him. One of the most recent entries indicates that the mage is preparing to lay out a summoning circle to bring the demon to the mortal world from the Abyss!

Taking one of the passages out of the laboratory the party locate the two missing townsfolk locked inside a pair of cages. Urkhan, suspecting a trap, detects them for evil but finds none. T'Lak picks the locks and releases them. Since they now want to deal with this wizard before he summons a demon, they light up a fresh torch and give it to the townsfolk, directing them to head up and wait with the hobgoblin. With the townsfolk out of the way, they return to the laboratory to check out another exit.

The second passage leads them to a bedchamber, where they search for any treasure he may have. In order to claim the gems and diary, they have to fight past several animated books which leap into flight and attack the party, giving several nasty paper cuts before being destroyed. Atmos makes several bad puns about the situation but is met with unimpressed stares. The diary they locate speaks of another mage from twenty years ago who also attempted to summon the demon Frogroth in search of the fabled Codex Ilyum. The entries just end however, giving no clue as to the fate of the mage nor the book.

The last passage from the lab leads them down a lengthy corridor towards a set of mighty stone doors, from which they can hear a single male voice chanting. As they sneak down they fail to notice an alcove which contains a Shrieker fungus. The giant mushroom lets out an ear-splitting shriek before they cut it down. The chanting has stopped so they have been detected. Rainsing weapon and spell, they party push the two doors open and stride into the inner sanctum. A mage stands prepared to face them standing over a partially completed silver pentagram. The battle is short with the mage being torn apart by T'lak. A search finds a deep hole in the ground and a backpack containg spellbooks. They take some potions from the mage's, and an unusual ring which bears a symbol that they find disturbing.


With the mage dead, his plans for demon summoning thwarted, the party returns to the upper level of the dungeon with the intent of checking where the other secret passage goes. It opens into another lengthy passage that leads into the interior of the "skull" mound. After a fair walk they reach a wide cavern chamber where they fight off an attack by giant fire beetles. Merkane collects their eyes which glow in the dark, and could be used if they should lose the torches.

Two passages lead from here, and the first takes them to a room filled with small purple fungi. They not bones of bats and other vermin amongst the field of fungi. Across the room is a ledge, and possibly another passage. T'Lak leaps over the fungus patch and lands on the ledge. The passage is small and tight but he can just fit. At the end he finds a small chamber which contains the body of a dead, almost mummified half-elf. Using his grappling hook to snag the body, he pulls it out to him. Searching the body releases a pair of monstrous centipedes which climb out of the corpse's mouth. The thri-kreen leaps back with the body, dislodging the vermin in to the fungus patch. In the corpse's hands they find a silver holy symbol of Drendari, goddess of shadow. Also on it's remains they find a potion labeled Bull's Strength.

The last passage out of the main cave has a hint of fresh air, leading them to believe that there is another exit from this place. Along the way they find a stone door of obvious dwarven design, but the runes have been disfaced and replaced with others. They are archaic Northland and identify the door as leading to the tomb of "Lord Tulwar." None of the party members know of the name. T'Lak opens the door and they find a stone tomb and a pair of weapons flanking it. Urkhan detects evil and senses something weak inside the tomb. They others are not sure what to do. If it's evil, perhaps they should leave it alone. Eventually however, Urkhan convinces them that it needs to be destroyed.

Together, T'Lak and Urkhan start to push on the stone lid of the tomb.

To be continued...

Author:  Eryx [ Sun Jan 28, 2007 5:04 am ]
Post subject: 

Unfortunately the player of Urkhan has had to drop out due to family commitments (new baby), so one of our reserve players has stepped up to the bat, playing Ugard.

Look for a new update tomorrow.

Author:  Eryx [ Tue Jan 30, 2007 5:33 pm ]
Post subject: 

As the lid slid away, a gray sickly claw reached out and snatched Urkhan's hand. He cried in alarm and fell to the floor paralysed. A savage ghoul arose from the tomb, sword in hand. Merkane launched a spell at the beast but the energies truck the tomb with no effect. Jalista and T'Lak stepped up to the plate to slay the undead but neither were able to strike the ghoul. In fell to Atmos who exposed his holy symbol and called upon his dark god to cow the monster. The ghoul dropped it's sword and shrank into the tomb to escape, where the others were able to dispatch it more easily.
Afterwards, they looted the tomb of its treasures and departed, sealing the door shut behind them. They decide not to disturb whatever the monster is in the cave with the nest and return to the upper level of the caves. They wait out the night with Gurt and the villagers, before returning to town.

The mayor thanks them for their help and bemoans the loss of Urkhan. At this point they realise that they left him paralysed on the floor and rush back to free him from the tomb. He is none too pleased and after getting his thanks from the mayor departs for Archbridge.

Chapter 2: The Whispering Cairn.

After a week of resting up and getting on with their lives (Gurt gets hired by the local tavern, the Filthy Dog, to be their cook). It's then that the mayor asks them to come back for another job. He wants to hire them, and a new adventurer in town - a dwarf, to head out to a nearby tomb and investigate the dissapearance of a local orphan. It seems that a week ago, he was dared by local kids to spend the night in the entrance to a local barrow mound and never returned the next day. The mayor only found out today, hence the delay. Merkane is convinced that the child is dead and therefore it's not worth the time or effort, but the others agree that it should be done to return his remains.

The gather their gear and march through the mine workings until they find the old mound a mile or two outside of town. The wind sounds like whispering voices as it blows past the entrance. They enter the tomb in single file, torch held high, with weapons and shields at the ready. As they enter the darkness proper they spot an odd ghostly green light ahead of them in the dark. To investigate this they ignore two side passages and enter a wide chamber with three exits. To the left it leads to a dead-end decorated with images of seven different coloured lanterns. To the right it appears as a cave-in, and a head beyond a wall of webs lays stairs down and the light. T'Lak ignites the webs with a lit torch.

Jalista and Ungard decide to investigate the cave-in and are surprised by a trio of mangy wolves who appear out from behind it. Both are pulled to the ground by the wolves almost instantly. Their cries alert the others who charge their aid. Atmos is overzealous in rescuing Ungard, and strikes the poor dwarf in the leg with his axe! Ungard gives him an evil look before shock and sudden blood loss sends him into unconciousness. The fight does not last long and the wolves are put down. Though he is loath to do so, Atmos uses two healing scrolls upon the dwarf to restore him.

Merkane disptaches his rat familar to investigate the wolf's lair. It reports piles of bones and a bulky backpack, but no more wolves. Merkane enters and has a look around. He rescues the backpack and a gold bracelet from the lair. Inside the pack is an indigo lantern, like one shown on the wall down the opposite passage. The next step is to investigate the green light.

They descend the stairs into a massive hall, with a marble sarcophagus in the centre, with an ornate carving of a humanoid figure carved into the top of it. From the room radiate seven passageways, some containing lanterns on chains. The green lantern is lit by an everburning torch. At first no one dears enter. Merkane casts his detect magic and senses a magic effect on the sarcophagus. Atmos investigates with Jalista guarding his back. Ungard has a brief look around before declairing the place clear.

Atmos studies the carvings on the lid but fails to identify any of them. Jalista reaches out and touches the lid. A rush of flames bursts out from the edges of the sarcophagus engulfing the hapless fighteress!

To be continued tomorrow when I am far more awake! Stay tuned...

Author:  Eryx [ Wed Jan 31, 2007 10:31 am ]
Post subject: 

Jalista manages to cover up behind her shield as the flames roar out. When they subside, she is barely harmed, but frazzled in places. The others give her a stern warning about being careful in future. With the enchantment on the tomb gone, Merkane and Atmos study it together and share theories. It's while looking over the carving that Jalista realises that the base represents an arrow and ponders what happens if they turn it to face one of the other lanterns. They push it to the right and the mechanism clicks round. As they step back they sense a dull rumble that grows with intensity.

As the first chunks of masonry fall from the ceiling, they turn tail and run. Behind them they hear the skittering of thousands of bugs - a swarm that arises from a widening hole in the floor. The swarm overtakes all of them but T'lak who races ahead of the others. Merkane launches a colour spray spell into the writhing mass but it fails to affect the mass of bugs. Something within the horde releases a spell that almosr succeeds in dropping Jalista unconcious and asleep before the swarm. In the end, it's is Atmos' draconic heritage that saves the day. He lets lose a blast of sonic energy from his lungs with rips through the swarm like a hot knife through butter. Amongst the dead bugs they find a strange creature - a pair of eyeballs connected to one another by strands of fibrous muscle. A placed swipe and the creature is destroyed.

The companions head out into the sunlight to rest and cast healing magics. It's pretty much decided that if the boy is still down here, then he's dead. Merkane argues that from what they have seen he doesn't believe that the boy is in there. Theres no way he could have got past the wolves and the traps they have found. Perhaps theres a secret way they have missed?

Rested and restored to full health, they ready sword and shield, and return to the tomb. This time they decide to check the two side passags they missed within the entrance. One is a cave-in, and Ugard informs the others that it would take weeks and a number of workmen to clear it. The other way reveals a dead end byt one with a strange structure. It appears to be the shattered remains of an ornate mirror rising from a stone block. A rune at the base of the block is revealed to be similar to the rune on the tomb. While the others look that over, Ugard heads into the wolves lair to double check that they haven't missed anything there. Amongst the bones, he finds a marble finger, which fits the top of the tomb in the lantern chamber.

They then return to check on the tomb chamber. The passage directed to by them turning the tomb has collapsed leaving a gaping hole in the stone floor. It descends down into darkness beyond the range of their light or darkvision. Merkane then suggests that they return to Diamond Lake to purchase new healing supplies and see if his former master Allustan can help identify the rules they have found in here.

Allustan is of some help and is able to identify the runes as being Vaati, an ancient dialect of Auran used by the "Wind Dukes." These beings of elemental air were the creators of the fabled Rod of Seven Parts. Perhaps the Whispering Cairn is a tomb for one the ancient "Wind Dukes?"

They rest up over night and return to the tomb next morning. They turn the tomb again and while most directions do nothing, one direction raises a stone column from the floor with a door in the side. Another direction reveals one with a crushed corpse inside. A possible trap? The other however seems ok. Jalista volunteers to try it out.

The interior is cramped but the ride is short. It opens out into a small room dominated by similar statues as the tomb, lining the walls with hands outstretched and cupped. The way out is blocked by a huge stone block. Jalista collects the others and they explore the room. T'Lak finds that the stone block rests on a pressure platform and pushing the block out of the way will set it off. He disarms it and the party push the block out of the way. Beyond is a passageway lined with alcoves containing more statues. As they press on down the passage, another of the strange small eye creatures floats out of an alcove this time successfully sending Jalista into a deep sleep. Ugard dispatches the monster with ease.

The party turn their attention to the dark passage way before them.

To be continued next week...

Author:  Eryx [ Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:04 am ]
Post subject: 

The party march forwards prepared for almost anything. After 60 feet the passage opens up into a room before them, dominated by a vast stone piller at it's centre. Ugart moves up to the entrance to examine the pillar. He sees that there are two other ways out, and that the right side of the piller & floor are stained with something dark. He lights and throws a torch over to see what it is, and the party is shocked as the Brown Mold consumes the heat and expands into the room. It leeches the heat from Ugart and Merkane, who collapse. The others drag them back to the lift room and discuss what to do. They agree that wasting healing spells just to revive them would be a waste, so they use one of the cure scrolls they picked up in town to revive Merkane. They then use the lift to return to the lantern room.

As they wait to recover, T'Lak investigates the end of each lantern passageway and spies something missed earlier. At the end of the green lantern passage the ceiling rises up out of sight. Another way further into the tomb? He also checks the collapsed liftshaft and they discuss climbing down but that idea is shelved for now. Instead, Jalista and T'Lak climb up the lantern chain to see where the ceiling goes. At the top they find a cramped passage leading into the stonework. Jalista goes first followed closely by T'Lak. The thri-kreen notices odd scratches in the floor of the passage and the image of someone clawing their way back comes to mind.
As the two of them progress further, Jalista suddenly goes tight and silent. A gale force wind rushes down the passage and the two adventurers are forced back down the passage and out into the air! T'Lak grabs a hold of the chain and saves himself. Jalista falls and impacts the ground hard, her neck broken!

T'Lak asks if he can eat her body and everyone except Atmos says NO! They place her body inside the sarcophagus until they leave. The party then rests up awaiting Ugart's recovery.

Once the party is healed and ready, they blind-fold T'Lak and have him climb up and into the crawlspace. With his eyes covered, he is unaffected by whatever magical effect caused Jalista's death. When the gale winds reappear, he uses his four arms to hold himself tightly in place until the wind subsides. At the end of the passage he finds it a dead end apart from a carving of a stone face with it's lips pursed as though blowing. He manages to open the mouth and pin it open, calling for the others to come up. Beyond the mouth is another tight crawlspace that leads out into a room with a floor that drops down eitherside, leaving a thing balance beam to cross across and into the darkness.
When the others climb up and reach him, T'Lak crawls forward onto the beam and starts to make his way over, followed by Ugart. Them rising from below them a huge tentacled worm attacks! T'Lak fails to harm the waorm and then rushes forward to escape but finds his way blocked by a door with no obvious lock or means of opening.
Behind him, Ugart is busy attacking the worm and being attacked in return. Only his psionic fire ray seems to harm the beast, as his axe just bounces off it's hard skin. A desperate dodge finds the unfortunate dwarf tumbling from the beam and falling down into a floor of metal spheres, which the worm is rising out from. Still his attacks do nothing and he becomes the target of a devestating attack with knocks him out.
Merkane crawls through the mouth releasing spells that batter and harm the beast, but he too is struck and tumbles down to the floor. Atmos crawls through, striking the beast with his axe, drawing blood. In return, Atmos suffers a critical strike which severs two of his fingers!
While this is going on, T'Lak hears a child's voice offering a commentary to the fight and then spies the ethereal form of the missing boy.
The adventurers then find their luck changing and they deal severe damage to the creature ultimately felling it.

A few cure spells later and they speak with the ghost of Alastor. He joined a couple adventurers who wanted to explore the tomb but the three of them fell to the worm. Their remains lay at the bottom of the spheres. Alastor makes the party a deal. If they will collect his remains and bury him with his family at their old farmstead, he should be able to remain in the mortal world long enough to pas through the door and open it from the inside. The party recover the bones and return to Diamond Lake.

They lay Atmos up to rest at Merkane's home and head out to the farmstead. Atmos has a dream in which he see's a dark haired beauty and a monstrous figure in spiked armour. He instinctively recognises the man as his god Erthynul. The two figures warn Atmos that he has been set on a path to aid great favour of his god. A vile and blasphemous sect calling itself the Ebon Triad is attempting to usurp some of his power. He is told to aid his new companions to foiling the cult's plans. When he awake, he is healed and even his lost fingers are restored.

The others find the old farmhouse with ease but are dismayed to see the family graves have been dug open and their contents stolen. A look around finds recent wheel/cart tracks heading back to Diamond Lake. When the party returns to the village they find Atmos up and about. He refuses to explain why.
Merkane asks around the seedier sides of the village about grave robbings. He is told stories that a group of mercenaries led by a albino half-orc may be involved, and that they can be found at the Feral Dog tavern. They pay a visit to the tavern and see the group of four mercenaries sitting at a table near the door. T'Lak entertains the notion of having Gurt cook them up some dodgey mushrooms. Merkane and Ugart head out to bring the sheriff and militia into the this, foolishly leaving T'Lak behind.
The Thri-Kreen waits for his companions to go before walking over and requesting information on the whereabouts of the bodies they stole. Theres almost a barfight but the barkeep orders T'Lak out for causing trouble. When the sheriff arrives he arrests the mercenaries on suspicion of graverobbing and warns them that if they don't cooperate, he'll let the party do the full interrogation! Eventually the leader of the band says that they were paid money by someone called Smenk to steal the bodies and deliver them to a necromancer who has moved into the old observatory outside of town. They did that, collected their pay and were about to leave town.

Just before nightfall the party reach the crumbly old observatory. There are lights in the upper windows so someone is home. Before they even get inside the building proper, Merkane loses his familiar to Tomb Mote left as a guard in the coal bin. The sorcerer takes great delight in killing it.
Inside the observatory, the party fight their way past skeletons and zombies before pressing up into the top most floor where they encounter the foul necromancer himself. His animated servants hold the party back until Atmos succeeds in channelling his master's energy through them, and they retreat away from the party. Despite a valiant attempt at holding them off, they beat the caster into an heap.

Under interrogation, the necromancer informs them that he was brought here by Smenk, to investigate a cult beneath one of the local mines. They had found some odd green worms and "unkillable" zombies. He has one of these worms in a jar and reveals that it came from a type of rare undead known as a Spawn of Kyuss, and that is what he thinks the "unkillable" zombies are.

The party now has to decide what to do... do they retrun to the tomb and ensure that they haven't missed anything, or do they find a way down into the mine and investigate these mysterious undead?

Author:  Eryx [ Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:55 am ]
Post subject: 

This chapter is written by one of the players (Morkane).


The party of intrepid adventurers returned to the burial mound and made their way to the room where they once again encountered the ghost of the boy, Alaster. He knew they had fulfilled their task of interring his remains with his family and he opened the door as promised. He then said farewell and disappeared forever, at rest at last. The party entered the room beyond to view a great column of spiralling air over a pit in the centre of the room. Two stone bridges spanned the gap to the vortex and two more had fallen into the chasm. As they approached two suits of armour exited the whirlwing-like column to attack them! The holy warrior, Ungart, Atmos and T'Lak engaged the enemies while Morkane remained by the door. The foes were hard to hit and harder to kill and Ungart and Atmos fell while crushing one of the suits, causing it to fall into the pit. Atmos was mortally wounded by the twin swords of one of the suits of armour. Morkane cast missiles of raw arcane power at the armour, causing some damage. The holy warrior was next to fall, quickly followed by T'Lak. Only Morkane remained standing and the foe turned to face him. Out of offensive spells, in desperation he threw an acid flask at the battered suit of armour, scoring a direct hit. The flask smashed, covering the armour in smoking acid. The armour disintegrated and Morkane quickly rushed to the aid of his friends. Atmos was beyond help but he managed to staunch the wounds of the others. He gave T'Lak a potion which brought him round. They decided all they could do was return to Diamond Lake for some healing goods. They quickly made the journey, visited the temple priests and returned to their comrades. All except Atmos were soon recovering on the floor of the strange room.

T'Lak let a rope go up into the spinning air and then followed it. The others went up one by one until Morkane was left holding the rope. he secured his end and entered the vortex, ascending after the others. They appeared in a room which was not unlike a shrine to the wind lords of Aaqa. One named Zuzial was shown in a mural fighting his enemy the chaotic Zhun. A sarcophagus was in the centre of the room, radiating magic detected by Morkane. The sarcophagus spoke, asking 'What is my name?' and Morkane answered 'Zuzial'. It was clear this was some kind of powerful healing arifact and T'lak retrieved the body of Atmos from below and laid him in the coffin. The name Zuzial was spoken again and a spirit contacted Atmos' shade as he made his way to the lap of the gods. He was asked if he wished to return to the mortal realm and acquiesced. Life was breathed into the body of Atmos as his soul returned, Atmos was back! The party then did the same for Jallista and it was a happy reunion. They then decided to go to Diamond Lake for rest and resupply. Whilst there they visited Morkane's mentor, who traded some scrolls for them. They asked him about the brown mold in the room below the rainbow lanterns and he sold them some scrolls of ray of frost to deal with it. Ready for the challenge again, the party headed back to the mound.

Morkane read a scroll and a bolt of frost hit the brown mold shrinking it instantly to insignificance. They progressed further and encountered another beetle swarm. Atmos used his sonic weapon and the eyes on a rope creature inside was quickly dealt with by more conventional means. A room was entered which had lots of orange clay type substance in places as well as a beetle nest. Thankfully the beetles were harmless as they were not being controlled by one of the eye abominations. Three lumps under the orange stuff were retrieved by grappling hook and turned out to be three Zhun cultists long dead. Some treasure was gained and then the party left for the next room. This turned out to be the last area to be explored and the party returned to Diamond Lake where they sold some booty mainly for scrolls. After the adventure Morkane was the proud owner of a couple of magic wands.

Author:  Eryx [ Sat Mar 10, 2007 8:36 am ]
Post subject: 

Chapter 3.

After a couple of days resting up and preparing for what comes next, the adventurers pick up their gear and head out into the hills, destined for the Dourstone Mines. They find the mine workings without a problem and decide to visit the mine owner, Smenk. Smenk’s home and office are guarded by several armed guards all of whom wear the symbol of Hextor on their armour or on symbols around their neck. The guards refuse to allow them to speak with Smenk but do offer to let him know that they are here, if they wish to wait. While waiting for Smenk to find time to talk to them, they catch up on recent events with one or two off duty mine workers.
From these two men the party learn that Smenk’s business partner has recently been murdered. Smenk woke up to find his head at the foot of his bed and that’s why he has hired these new mercenaries to guard him. Smenk also seems to be a bit of a draconian taskmaster, not afraid to whip or beat his workers if quotas aren’t met or there are mistakes. Smenk pays above the odds, which is the only reason the workers stay. When asked about any unusual events or dangerous areas within the mine, one miner says that a few years ago there was a tunnel that collapsed killing several men. Smenk tried to get them out but the rescue attempt failed, and no one is allowed down that area of the mine.
It is at this time that one of the guards comes over and escorts them back to their meeting with Smenk. The mine owner is a sly character and one who is obviously paranoid. He makes no pretence and under questioning admits to having been involved with the Ebon Triad. The cave in never happened. Instead, the miners uncovered the entrance to a dungeon or ancient underground temple, and were promptly slain by the undead guardians, a pair of powerful zombies crawling with worms. The undead were destroyed by he lost a few good men doing it. Since then he has told the others that the area is off limits and that the passage collapsed. Shortly after this, he was approached by the Ebon Triad who wanted to claim “their” temple back. He agreed when offered some gold in compensation. However he greed has got the better of him recently, and he sold them food supplies – some of which were past their prime. That’s why his business partner was killed. So with that in mind, Smenk would be overjoyed if the characters were to eradicate the Ebon Triad down there. Smenk draws up a contract since he doesn’t trust them as much they don’t trust him. After a few word changes, they shake hands and agree.
The party enters the mines to check the site of the entrance. After a lengthy walk down abandoned mine tunnels they reach a chamber with a circular wooden lift with pull system. Urkhan volunteers to remain here to keep watch while the others return to town for the night and to tool up for another dungeon crawl.

Next morning when they return all is as they left it. Urkhan is feeling tired but is ready for the fight ahead. Everyone steps onto the elevator and begin their long descent into the bowels of the earth. Nearing the bottom they hear voices but no sense that an alarm has been raised. The warriors prepare weapons and ready for a quick combat. When the elevator descends through the ceiling of a vast subterranean cathedral, everyone launches attacks at a pair of tiefling guards. The fight is brief and both guards are slain without alerting the rest of the complex. The cathedral is vast and bears images of death, as well as recent additions – symbols of Vecna, Hextor and Erythnul. At one end of the cathedral is a pool of black water which feels Urkhan with a sense of dread evil for more than the rest of the cathedral does. Three doors lead from the cathedral - one bearing a symbol of Vecna, another with the symbol of Hextor, while the third door is blank.
The party decides to investigate the Hextor door first, and head through. Beyond the doors they find a room lined with the skeletal remains of the cult’s victims. Each still wearing armour and bearing bells attached to their bony frames. There are exists but the room seems clear otherwise and no sounds can be heard. Ungardt enters the room expecting his companions to follow and is caught short when several of the skeletons animate. As they move, the bells ring, and a cry of alarm goes up for a couple neighbouring rooms! Before the others can come to the dwarf’s defence, he is cut down by the horde of fleshless undead. Cultists emerge from adjacent rooms and the fight is on! The skeletons are rebuked by Atmos, leaving just three cultists to deal with. Thankfully, the party suffers no further loses and defeats the enemy easily.
After looting the dead, including their own, they follow the remaining skeletons who fled the room. Their movement further into the temple has drawn the attention of other guards who are dispatched quickly along with the skeletons. Their explorations then lead them through now empty guard rooms until they find a pair of Hextor’s priests, preparing to investigate the commotion. Morkane casts a disguise self spell to appear as one of the cultists, then runs in shouting that the Vecna scum have turned on us! His ploy works and he leads the two priests into an ambush. One is cut down almost instantly, while the other falls to her own weapon in her rage.
Beyond the chamber of the priests they find the temple of Hextor, with a captive bound up for a sacrifice. Before they can rescue him, they have fight past a pair of lizardman zombies, which pose no threat to trained adventurers. The guy is one of the mineworkers who was grabbed a few days ago ready for some big sacrifice. In thanks for his rescue, he agrees to join the party until they leave the temple (*ding* new PC!). A search of the temple finds a secret door in one wall. They prepare for combat, while Morkane does his disguise self trick again. The sorcerer opens the secret door and finds a private bedchamber and the high priest of Hextor. Again he says that the Vecna cult is attacking, which draws the high priest out. He puts up a hard fight but falls to their assault.
A search of his chamber finds a pair of scrolls that point to the plans of the Ebon Triad. It seems that the cult has found something they seek in the Great Swamp to the north. These notes also suggest that an aspect of their Overgod is growing inside the pool at the heart of the cathedral, and should a disturbance occur within the complex that it may awake prematurely. Urkhan fears that their attempts to destroy the cult here could be that disturbance.
Only a few rooms remain in this corner of the dungeon, and other than a tethered and rabid dire boar (which they put down), the Hextor complex is empty. Time to move on to the next.

The temple of Vecna is a maze of corridors and secret passages linking them together. Whilst traversing the maze, the party is ambushed by two bands of Kenku rogues who try to keep the party at bay with alchemists fire and crossbow shots. After some return shots and a cone of cold, the Kenku are defeated and the party continues their exploration. Eventually they reach the central temple of Vecna and engage the acolytes and their Allip servant. A simple and easy fight for such well honed mercenaries. When the time comes to fight the High Priest of Vecna, a sinister masked figure called the Faceless One, they find the fight much harder. The Faceless One webs the door to his chamber shut forcing the party to break the door open, fight their way past the enchanted webs, while he buffs himself and casts spells into their midst. When the fight reaches melee, he proves to be no slouch but falls to superior numbers. From his chamber they recover several magic items which are handed out immediately.
The party decide that it be best if they returned topside to recover before they try to defeat the cult of Erthynul.

The next day when they descend back into the cathedral, the water in the pool is bubbling like a hot mud spring, an ominous sign. Otherwise the cathedral does not appear to have been disturbed. Passing through the unmarked door they find themselves descending down into the natural caves far below the mine. Morkane uses his disguise self spell to assume the appearance of one of the Hextor priests, but for whatever reasons when they encounter a small band of Grimlock guards the party is attacked. They slay all but one (Jalista has the bad luck to shoot Atmos in the back, mid-fight) who flees into the darkness shouting a warning to others. Giving pursuit they find the passage ends on a cliff face overlooking a deep drop. Here they fight off two more Grimlocks and a pair of trained Krenshar hounds. After the fight, Morkane takes an everburning torch and goes to take a look over the side. An arrow flies out from the darkness below and sends the torch flying from his hand! He has just enough time to notice climbing spikes set in the rock face below and a passage 15’ below where two Grimlock archers await. A well thrown alchemists fire keeps those two archers busy while the others begin to climb down. Jalista is caught to the wall by a tanglefoot bag thrown through the flames by one the Grimlocks. She is then impaled by javelins before the two Grimlocks run off out of sight.
By the time the party gathers at the bottom of the cliff face, they are in need of healing and down a few potions. From the passage they must take, the sound of something big breathing can be heard. Cautiously they approach and find another chamber whose ceiling is far above. A rope bridge above links the archers passage to another passage where more Grimlocks await. At the bottom of the chamber is a refuse pit and it is from here that the breathing is coming. As the Grimlocks rain javelins down upon the party, Urkhan throws an alchemists fire flask in to the refuse which ignites violently! Enraged by the attack, a mighty Otyugh rises from the burning trash and attacks the party. After a few rounds, a Grimlock barbarian joins the fight, giving our heroes two targets to deal with. Both opponents drop and the archers run out of sight further into the complex.
After a quick rummage through the refuse and finding a few items that might be worth something (including a Drow’s severed head!), the party climbs up to the ledge and enters the last section of the Grimlock lair. The few remaining guards are dealt with by Atmos’ sonic breath attack, leaving just the Grimlock high priest of Erythnul. The fight is short but brutal, and the high priest is slain. Amongst his gear the party finds some coded parchments which they take to decode later. Urkhan reminds everyone to be careful because in theory the Aspect of the Overgod could be awake.

As the party moves to leave the Grimlock complex the gods are not with them, for the Aspect has indeed awoken and hunted them down. This is a truly a savage encounter, with our heroes fighting for their very lives! The Aspect fells Jalista (but not before she strikes Atmos again!) and the mine worker. Morkane’s spells seem to be healing the monster rather than dealing damage! The Aspect drops Urkhan like a rag doll before Morkane unleashes a lightning bolt which tears through the Aspect’s material form destroying it for good! Morkane stands alone with the unconscious or dead bodies of his comrades around him. He uses a potion to revive Urkhan who lays his hands upon the others to restore them. They all agree that the time has come to leave the Cathedral of the Overgod once and for all.

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