Thaerin's Raiders

Adventure, Excitement, Betrayal!

So our intrepid heroes were traveling south along the road to Pearle deMagie, hoping to cash in on a job well done. Along the way they were waylaid by spectral panthers and more dark ones, allies of the shadowy assassin dispatched back in the temple of Pelor. Traveling along the deserted road, we came upon a bush rustling beside the path. Upon investigation, the rustling turned out to be a scraggly man, introducing himself as Finious Weathershed. The newcomer joined our band of glorious heroes, as there is always added safety in numbers in dangerous forests. Just before nightfall, the party came across an abandoned two-storey house off the road, and after a quick investigation decided to make their rest for the evening indoors. Fezwick, in an effort to stymie any potential attackers, turned himself into a goat to keep watch outside. As the party drifted off to sleep, the howls of wolves were heard nearby. Fezwick took it upon himself to investigate, for as he was a druid, he had the best chance of making the wolves go away. Alas, these were not ordinary forest wolves fit to befriend a druid, but evil werewolves, bent on the party’s destruction. A fight ensued once Fezwick fled back to the hold to warn the others. During the combat, Fynn decided to surprise the party. “Surprise,” she said, as suddenly her angelic deva’s form was replaced with the slightly smaller, more gray-skinned body of a doppelganger: her true form all along. The werewolves were dispatched and skinned for Thaerin was chilly and wanted a cloak. But the success of the party was soon diminished as Adara had finally had enough. This true deva was horrified at her previous companion’s deception, and the generally evil motives of certain party members, and felt she would be best served living out this current life as a benevolent tea saleswoman. The following morning found the party once again heading south, bereft of Adara’s companionship. Upon reaching Pearl deMagie, Finious said that he could not enter, and some parley ensued. Turns out he was Bill, friend of Skittles, and just the man the party had been looking for. Bill decided to trust our fair adventurers, after hearing of their daring exploits with Skittles and other acts of piracy upon the high seas. He would await the party’s completion of business outside the city, near the western gate. Going into town, the party met with the mayor Devry LeChar and then decided to trick Bill and capture him. With Fynn’s newfound morphing abilities, the deception was child’s play, and Bill was soon in the custody of the authorities. After celebrating their successful job, Ellie went to the inn to get rooms and play some music, while Ilessa was quietly stalking the streets of the town, followed by dog-form Fezwick and Thaerin to ensure no trouble ensued from their crazy antics. An important discovery is made! Thaerin and Fezwick visit the mayor again to learn more about a potential job, and Devry is distressed. Upon listening to his story, they both realize that he is in fact Ellie’s long-lost brother, and perhaps holds the key to her mysterious past! Thaerin hastily finds Ellie and brings her to the jail, where she confronts her old nemesis, asking for her mother’s name, and the whereabouts of her precious hat. While not forthcoming with the information she wants, Ellie will not rest until she has what she wants, and is also gladdened by the knowledge that she has a younger brother! The party ended their adventure on the high note of much excitement, and rounds of drinks bought with hard-earned money.

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Midnight in the Camp of Good And Evil
Fezwick, On Watch and...

Victory! The taste of sweet victory lingered on the lips of our heroes. With Skamos, an assassin and the vampire Rosa Floren all dead and the Dragonstar Crystal safely in the possession of Ellie, everyone’s favorite bard, it’s Miller time! Did I forget to mention that there’s now a ten story statue of Pelor smiling out over the countryside? Yeah, our guys did that! Uh hu! Sounds like someone is building a little street cred. As a little icing on the sweet cake of success, a squad from Pearle deMagie showed up lead by none other than Captain Perrin, the very same Captain Perrin saved from pirate thugs at the Serpents Eye lighthouse by, you guessed it, our heroes. That’s right babeeee. More street cred. Pretty soon kids will be wearing frocks with the likeness of the Yuan-ti Ilessa. They’ll be getting tattoos to look like the coolest cinder-soul around. One can already imagine little girls getting their I Love Adara buffs and the little bad girls with their Fynn Rocks leather collars. Ellie hats will be all the rage. Soon everyone will be wearing them. And of course, arcane geeks everywhere will all want their Fezdisk from Ronco.

But I digress.

Elistina, after long life and a phenomenal adventuring career, passed into the great beyond. Before passing though she provided a journal covering most of the story of Varxious and quite a bit on the Six, plus there was booty that included new toys for our heroes. Ilessa managed to get her weapons enchanted and after a rest the grateful captain provided our party with a wagon and horses.

The plan is simple. Head to Pearle deMagie. Collect the promised reward from the mayor, who Captain Perrin says is now in jail. Then head to Hammerdale. Find Jamice the sorcerer, who was also one of the six and see what he can suggest about disposing of the crystal. Yup, that’s pretty simple.

So on night one, with Fezwick the Alert on guard, the group is attacked. Now I could just cut Fezwick some slack here but that just wouldn’t be my style now. There was growling. Then there was more growling. “Hmmm, I’ll turn into something.” he says. “And I’ll just nudge Thaerin until he gets up.”

Now as DM I’m not usually one to place blame on others, but Ilessa rolled a damn good initiative. But being asleep because the guy on watch didn’t wake you up doesn’t do much to counter the surprise factor. It sucks but hey, maybe there should be a “Taking Watch for Dummies” book or maybe “Guard Duty: What You Should Know About Sounding the Alert.”

At any rate, the attack by the shadow brigade was intense. Aside from inherent abilities like invisibility and becoming incorporeal, they laid out “dark fog”, creating a zone of -dark-fog. Anyway, the battle looked like it was going to be a rout. The party was doomed. And these guys were clearly after the crystal. Could their victory, the taste still lingering on their lips, be snatched away just like that? No dammit! Once again our heroes rose to the challenge and laughed in the face of their foes. Ha! Or something like that.

Finally snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, the group astutely notices that the dead Shadar-kai warriors had a tattoo identical to the tattoo on the dead assassin in the colossus. A small serpent coiled on a helmet. Hmmmm.

What does it all mean? Could it be a coincidence? I can’t wait to find out.

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Skamos
Backstory, not required reading.

As a young Tiefling, Skamos was remarkable. Not for his skills as a sorcerer, which were indeed obvious from an early age. No, Skamos was most remarkable for his utter disdain for anything and everything important to anyone other than himself. His narcissism was particularly disturbing to Koyus and Tryyn. As a master weapons crafter, Koyus worked hard to build his reputation. A Koyus blade was one of the finest anyone could possess. Though mildly disappointed that his son wasn’t interested in learning the skills to be a master craftsman, he nevertheless encouraged Skamos and his interest in sorcery. After all, his mother was a skilled wizard, though she only pursued wizardry as a hobby.

Tryyn was concerned though. Skamos was defiant. He had a stubborn streak that was formidable, even by Tiefling standards. She wanted to encourage her son in his sorcery, but being Tiefling in this modern age carries certain burdens. After all, the ancient’s poor judgment left its mark on the entire race. Distrust was rampant. It was bad for relations and it was bad for business. So the vast majority of Tiefling parents worked hard to ensure that children understood the scrutiny they were all under from the other races. Try as she may, Skamos fought her at every turn. Koyus couldn’t even control the boy. The decision was made that Skamos would be sent to the guild house to learn from those who could control him. Surely they would be able to shape him into a respectable sorcerer and an upstanding Tiefling. They were wrong.

Self-absorbed and obsessed, Skamos worked for years to increase his powers. While reasonably skilled in the arcane, from an early age he always viewed teachers and mentors as a means to an end. Far from content to learn the lessons taught by his superiors, Skamos developed a habit early on sneaking into the forbidden libraries and dabbling in spells and rituals that were off limits to sorcerers of his level. In fact, some of his earliest successes were with spells to circumvent the locks and barricades barring access to those libraries.

The night air was cold and the sky sent icy rains from the heavens. Skamos was in the guild library at Genwah when he suddenly found himself confronted by one of the young librarians working late and alone. Knowing her duty, the librarian turned to alert her master. Skamos impulsively attacked her and beat her brutally, knocking her to the ground. Kneeling on her back, the young woman was helpless as he viciously slammed her head repeatedly into the floor. Skamos regained his composure as he observed the pool of blood flowing from under the young woman. Skamos fled the library, leaving the young woman for dead. Unfortunately, it was just one more failure in a long line of failures. Soon after his hasty departure, the injured librarian was discovered, and she was able to identify Skamos as her assailant. Word quickly spread of the assault on the librarian and of Skamos’s treachery. Faced with imprisonment or even death for his crimes, Skamos knew he had no choice but to flee.

Unable to return to his room and uncertain as to how best to escape, Skamos hid in the barn of a herdsman. From this barn he could keep watch over his rooming house. Skamos reflected on his life as he sat in darkness. All he ever wanted was to be a skilled sorcerer. Respect and rank within the guild were more valuable than any gold. Lesser sorcerers received opportunity and reward. Why not him? In a word, trust. But even as the answer eluded the young sorcerer, sleep did not. Like an assassin, weariness crept up silently and overtook Skamos.

Darkness. A warm damp muskiness filled the air. A wave of nausea roiled through Skamos’s body as the stench quickly took him off guard. But the nausea just as quickly gave way to panic. “I must have fallen asleep.” He thought. “Now I’m in a prison cell. Great.” He cursed his stupidity for apparently failing to ensure the librarian’s silence and began crafting the lies that would be the cornerstone of his defense.

After nearly two days though, alone with his furtive imagination, images of the oubliette filled his thoughts. Fear spread through him like the rot. He could smell his own body beginning to decay. Visions of the rats eating away at his flesh tormented him. Was he simply discarded, dumped in a cell to die, forgotten? Summoning what remained of his fortitude, Skamos decided he had enough. “I demand to speak to the guild counsel!” He bellowed. “What charges are being levied against me?” But there was no reply; he heard not a sound.

In those ever elusive moments when his mind was free of panic, Skamos was preoccupied with formulating his deposition, But the image continued to haunt him. If he indeed was in an oubliette, he knew he had at most two to three days to live. Few creatures can live for long without water and unfortunately, Tieflings are not among them.

Though he couldn’t tell how long he’d been sitting in darkness, it was the fourth day when he first heard sounds, first light footsteps outside of his cell, then the sliding of a bolt. As the door opened though, hope quickly fled as a new fear gripped the sorcerer. He was obviously not a prisoner of the guild or local law enforcement. Four small humanoids, hooded and armed stood outside the cell door. Dark ones, he recalled. Was he in Shadowfell? How could this have happened?

“Come,” one said in common. “Be quick about it!” Another continued “Master doesn’t like to be kept waiting.” He struck Skamos in the lower back with the butt of his dagger to emphasize the point.

Skamos noticed that it was barely light enough to see where he was going. It was still better than the complete darkness that threatened to consume him for the last four days. “Where am I?” he asked, “and who is Master?” From behind, he received another sharp blow to his back that nearly knocked him to his knees. And that voice, smooth but menacing “Get up, and keep your mouth shut! Master has special plans for you.”

As they passed many cells, he could hear no sounds from them. None of the moans and pitiful cries one would expect from a place such as this. “Where am I?” he wondered. “Are there any other prisoners here?”

Stopping before a large door, one of guards pounded on the door. Slowly the door opened. Two more Dark Ones parted and made way as they enter the room. The smell of roasted pheasant reminded him of his hunger after four days in that pit. Could that pitcher on the table be ale? As he began to speak “What…?” he was immediately gripped by an invisible hand. Clutching in desperation at his throat, he could feel the hand that wasn’t there squeezing. He struggled to breathe, to gasp but found no breath. His hands found no fingers to peel open and no hand to pry off. Gray yielded to black as the darkness once again embraced Skamos.

Falling through the sky, spinning faster and faster, Skamos screamed in terror as he plummeted to his death. He awoke with a start. It was a dream, just a horrible dream! As he tried to stand he stumbled. The floor was moving. Then he heard the sound of the ship cutting through the waves. He found his footing and headed out the door and for the nearest stairs. Climbing onto the deck he found himself blinded momentarily by the brightness of the midday sun. As his eyes adjusted to the intensity he quickly noticed that the deck hands were not uniformed. In fact, he noticed no recognizable flag flying from her mast. “Be out of our way landie!” One snapped at him. From behind him, a powerful deep voice “We been paid, but keepin’ your arse in the way of runnin’ my ship is the surest way to find yourself swimmin’ the rest of the way.” Skamos turned to the voice and stepped out of traffic. “Captain I presume?” He said. “How did I come to be here?” The captain replied “Unable to hold your spirits I presume. Although I’d be pleased as punch to never meet your little friends again.” He continued “We were paid to get you to Perle de Magie. No questions asked and none answered.”

Thoughts filled his mind like so many dragonflies flitting to and fro. The specifics eluded him though. Like a dream barely remembered he couldn’t recall the conversation or with whom he spoke, but he remembered the cell and the darkness. He remembered his jailors escorting him to a door. What happened next? He couldn’t remember! He felt his neck. No pain or bruises. What was real and what was a dream? Dream, surely it was more of a nightmare. Those foul creatures. He certainly remembered them. It frustrated the sorcerer but what he could remember was the instructions. Obtain the Dragonstar Crystal. Send word back through the pirates. Locate Rosa Floren in the cemetery in the south of Seabend. Ascertain the location of the colossus of Pelor and wait for my arrival. My arrival? Who’s arrival? If only he could remember.

Returning to his cabin, Skamos rummaged through his bag. He didn’t have a bag like this before. Opening the bag, he wondered why it was so heavy. He was shocked to find a bag full of gold. If there was one there were several hundred. He knew his instructions. He also knew a little about Gorainne, but not much. He decided the captain was a good place to start when he heard a knock on the door.

“Enjoying the accommodations, I hope.” The man said with a grin. Unsure whether the man was being sarcastic, Skamos replied “Its fine.” He continued “I have much work to do when I arrive in Gorainne, but as a stranger, I find myself in need of…assistance.” He paused for a moment. Judging that the pirates might be just the sort he needed for his mission, he continued “I’m tasked with acquiring a certain artifact for my master.” As the word escaped his lips, he was astonished. He couldn’t remember this “master”. “I’m going to need men able to do what needs doing without asking a lot of questions. Arrange for me to talk to the captain at his earliest convenience.”

“You won’t be talking to the captain about business, friend. I handle all the business dealings on this ship. Aboard the Carnage, Quartermaster Edward Skittle makes the deals. The captain, well he just runs the ship.”

“I need to take control of the Serpent’s Eye lighthouse.” Skamos was somewhat unnerved that he knew what to do though he’d never done more than hear the name of the lighthouse. We need to secure the road to the lighthouse. I’ll need time, possibly a week or more to work uninterrupted.

The plan was made. The goblins would be an easy bribe. Skittle dealt with their ilk before. He could even skim a bit off the top. They’d watch the road from Perle de Magie. No problem there. They would be able to bring the others. And just as well. Edward Skittle was not squeamish or fearful but no man of right mind wasn’t afraid of the foul hags. He’d hear tale of the horrors they wrought on the poor souls who fell into their traps. And the only good Cyclops to his way of thinking was a dead Cyclops. Yes, he’d take care of the goblins and let them handle the rest. His crew could deal with the occupants. Nobody there but the keeper, and his family, and they’d surely be no problem at all.

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The Colossus of Pelor
Gimme the damn crystal!

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Riders on the Disk
It was inevitable.

In any world and in any time, there are many truths. Some of these truths can be flexible. Cosmic, divine or arcane forces often toy with the true nature of things to provide life with chaos. Sometimes it’s enough chaos to make life interesting. Sometimes though it’s suffocating deluge, sufficient to drive a proud man to his knees, a stoic man to tears and a pious man to throw up his hands and scream at the gods themselves. Beneath the surface of these trials, however, is where we find the wellspring of inner strengths. Will, fortitude, perseverance, honor flow from this place inside each of us. These strengths drive us to fight on when hope wanes. Death becomes secondary to our effort in the struggle that thrusts it upon us. Remembered or forgotten, when we fight with honor defeat is robbed of its bitter sting.

Some truths are constants. Through the chaos, the trials and challenges we face, love, friendship and teamwork provide strength beyond even that indomitable spirit within ourselves. When we question our motives, our beliefs or our own hearts, we find the answers in those around us. Encouraging and challenging us, we are all beings in need of each other. We need to be loved. We need to be liked. We’re willing to give our very lives for those we love. A friend’s call never goes unanswered. As part of a team focusing our strengths we will conquer the unconquerable, pass the impassable and achieve what a single heart could only dream of achieving.

But friends, lovers and teams face their share of challenges too. To often time and destiny come between people. Sometimes a druid needs someone to ride his disk in order to attain that sense of completeness. Fezwick had been yearning, nay, begging for someone to ride his floating disk since…forever. “You can ride my disk!” he’d say hopeful that someone, anyone would take him up on his offer to bring them to new heights (about three feet or so above the ground). Ilessa would give an incredulous look followed by a sneering “I’m not riding that thing!” Others simply ignored the offer. Discouraged maybe but Fezwick was not deterred. With a persistence any stalker would envy, he sought every opportunity to flaunt his disk, to whip it out in front of anyone. “It’s this big!” he’d announce proudly. “It follows me everywhere I go, and look! I can make it move with my mind!” This dogged perseverance finally paid off. Faced with a scatter trap loaded with teleportation glyphs on the floor, Fezwick finally found a use for his disk. Mounting upon it the body of the dead sorcerer Tesla (and his detached head), Fezwick skillfully maneuvered his disk to a door, gently thrusting against it repeatedly, attempting to arouse those on the other side. Perhaps they weren’t concerned, perhaps they just weren’t in the mood but they were just not stimulated to action. But when Fynn said she would mount the disk, the entire group was astonished. The Deva would ride Fezwick’s disk? And ride it she did! Sitting high and proud astride Fezwick’s magical disk, Fynn rode that disk to the farthest reaches (of the room). Doors were opened and a squeal could be heard (from the hinge). Fynn saw visions (of the shadow assassin)! And Fezwick kept it up the entire time. Even when he asked her if she wanted to go farther, her words said “No” but Fezwick pushed and took her where she’d never been. The anger at being pushed against her will quickly gave way to acceptance as she realized that she was really safe on the disk of Fezwick. He gently pulled back to safety and she eased herself onto her feet. She could already imagine her next time riding that magnificent disk.

Sometimes team members just don’t see eye to eye on something. This can happen when opinions clash. One is driven to prevent the end of the world and another isn’t. Ilessa just wanted a nap. “But it’s the end of the world!” you say? “It’s not likely, since my god is going to devour the world.” Ilessa said mater-of-factly. “I really need a nap.” Well, no nap was had. Ilessa pouted, clearly unhappy and an unhappy Yuan-Ti can be somewhat uncomfortable to be around. Especially if you’re a cinder-soul Genasi and the Yuan-Ti has a yearning for something hot and spicy…

Entering the lower crypt, and after battling swarms of poisonous spiders, the party enters the dark, dank room lined with burial slots in the walls. A black cloaked shadow assassin is spotted in the back of the room, threatening a black-robed man. As soon as the black-robed man betrays his master, the assassin brutally slashes his throat. Before the man hits the floor, the assassin slips through a secret door at the rear of the room. Seconds later, a thunderous roar heralds the destruction of the secret staircase. As the party invades the room, they notice that several undead have been dispatched. Miraculously, though, the black robed man isn’t dead! Shaml Barumon is quickly healed, and the party begins questioning him. He said “I told the assassin Skamos was going to the chapel at Seabend and he tried to kill me anyway!” “Where is Skamos going?” demanded Thaerin. “Why did you lie to the assassin?” Shaml replied “I didn’t want to betray Skamos, but this is getting dangerous. You healed me when I thought I was dead. Skamos obviously crossed the wrong person to have everyone after him.”

In the mean time, Fynn searched the room. “What’s this?” she asked, fondling a black onyx skull. “It’s an Onyx Skull.” said Fezwick expertly “It used to be part of a staff.” Continuing to flex his arcanic acumen, “It is used for necromantic purposes, like raising undead and stuff.” “I want to keep it!” said Fynn. “We should destroy it” said Fezwick. Fynn pouted in a very un-Deva-ish sort of way. It can be funny how sometimes democracy and mob rule are so very similar. Ellie asserted herself and ordered the destruction of the skull and Fezwick obeyed. Thaerin also burned Shaml’s ritual book, which represented his life’s work. Shaml was clearly upset at the loss. The necromancer snapped to attention quickly though when the conversation turned to dispatching him. “Whoa, whoa, I can help you!” he exclaimed. “I know where the colossus is! I’ll take you there.” After ascertaining that the assassin would be at least a day out of his way by heading to the chapel, everyone agreed that keeping Shaml alive as a guide just made good sense. Fynn, always the humanitarian, wanted to put him on a leash. “Like a pet?” asked Ilessa. “Yeah,” answered Fynn “Like a pet!” Heads shook. “What!?” she said, wondering why everyone is against her having a little fun.

The group finally agreed on one thing. They definitely needed an extended rest. Fezwick decided to spend the night in a tree. In the outdoors. In the creepy graveyard. The one with the roaming undead. Where no one was there to assist him if trouble reared its maggot-ridden head. Only by god’s good graces (and that won’t happen again for the idiotic) did this ill-advised decision not result in a tragedy.

As the group neared the colossus, they came upon a beautiful glade with a cottage grown within the trunk of a majestic ancient willow tree. Fezwick rushed up to the door and knocked. “Is anyone home?” he asked cheerfully. Receiving no reply, he opened the door and wandered in. He did discover a journal while searching written mostly in incomprehensible script. Of what he could read, he discovered a description of a magical spring to the north. “Fezwick! Let’s go! Remember, saving the world and all that?” Thaerin yelled, obviously annoyed at the lack of any sense of urgency demonstrated by the druid. As Fezwick headed back to the group, however, he noticed blood on the path, and it was fresh, and it was leading north. Shaml had told the group that to reach the colossus they would have to continue west. In yet another ill-advised decision, Fezwick ran off northward, following the blood trail. The remaining party, exasperated by Fezwick’s apparent lack of concern for both his own safety continued west.

After about one hundred yards, Fezwick found the source of the blood trail. Lady Elistina Thornsword sat with her back against a tree. Well over one hundred years old, beaten and bleeding badly, Elistina told Fezwick of the spring fountain and he helped her to it. “Who did this to you?” he asked. “Skamos is his name. Skamos and his guards” She said. With great sadness she added “and my mother.” Fezwick was stunned. “Your mother?” Elistina related the story of her parents. “I’ve been guarding her tomb, praying for a way to reverse the curse bestowed upon her by my father. Even as she attacked me, obviously under the influence of that villain, I could see in her eyes that she still clung to the last vestiges of her humanity. I should have destroyed her years ago. I see that now. Promise me” she pleaded “that you will release her from this world so that she may finally find the peace that has eluded her.” She continued on, telling an abbreviated summary of Varxious and his imprisonment within the Dragonstar Crystal. She warned Fezwick to safeguard the crystal. “If the crystal is destroyed, Varxious will be reborn into this world!”

Fezwick left her at the fountain and raced back to catch up with the group. As Fezwick related the information from Elistina to the group, they pretty much confirmed that they already knew most of it. (Though the way they learned it was from the handout from the dm…it was meant to represent the information obtained by Fezwick. Sorry dude.) As they crossed a stream, a beautiful woman appeared in their path. With a fetching smile and bright, happy eyes, she attempted to tempt Fezwick with her charms. Ellie rolled her eyes and said let’s go. Ilessa couldn’t resist the opportunity to drop a little snipe into the mix, and for a minute it looked like there might be a scene. But the spring nymph was just a little less than interested that day and allowed the party to continue on their way. “They’ll be back,” she thought mischievously “and then I’ll have some real fun. The short girl with the hat was kinda cute too.”

Finally, our party found themselves standing before a large stone archway leading into a dark tunnel into the hillside. The archway stones were carved with runic prayers to Pelor. Thaerin climbed the earthen mound and whipped out his spyglass. “Amazing!” he thought astutely “If you don’t look at the trees, the knolls and hills appear to form the outline of a giant lying down.”

Deciding that this was indeed their destination, talk quickly turned to Shaml. Suggestions to dispatch him were replaced with the idea to instead remove his tongue in order to prevent him from continuing his necromantic pursuits in the future. Neither of these options appealed to Shaml though. Having appealed to Ilessa’s softer side, she surreptitiously loosened his bonds and whispered “Run!”. And run he did. He nearly escaped without incident but Fezwick, Gorainne’s favorite ADD druid launched himself in pursuit. Of note is that no one else in the party was overly interested in pursuing Shaml. Being the loyal friend that he is, Thaerin took up position to assist if Fezwick needed it. Shaml took a solid hit though and turned and let loose with a Deathwave, not only hitting, but pushing both Thaerin and Fezwick back fifteen feet and knocked on their behinds. Having had a pretty bad day already, Shaml fled the scene like a Yuan-Ti from a boat trip.

To be continued…
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Tesla
First there was a spark...

Adventurin’ in our world means gittin’ to meet new and intrestin’ people on a regular basis. It’s one of the reasons folks take up adventurin’. That and maybe they got no marketable skills and marryin’ inta money ain’t lookin’ like an option.

Ahem.

Ok, now that I’ve gotten the Malcolm Reynolds voice out of my system, we can continue.

The trail of the infamous Skamos leads our intrepid party to the South Cemetery. As the group cleared out the northern crypt, they discovered a woman, her child and an unconscious sorcerer. Thaerin freed the woman and the child but the group decided the sorcerer should remain restrained until they determined whether he was a threat to them. On agreement, Ellie takes the woman and the child to Edward Skittle, who is keeping watch at the cemetery entrance with Wisp and Kira. “Take the woman and the children and try to catch up with Otis and his group enroute to Pearle de Magie.” Ellie says. “What can I do to help once they’re safely delivered?” Skittle asks, clearly feeling remorse over his dealings with Skamos that have likely cost the lives of many of his friends. Remembering the rescue of the Perle de Magie guard captain at the Serpent’s Eye lighthouse, Ellie instructed “When you get to Perle de Magie, let Captain Sasha Perrin know of our progress.” She continued “If he can send reinforcements to help vanquish the remaining undead in Seabend, that would be a great help.”

While Ellie is outside, the rest of the group decide to awaken the sorcerer and discover several things. “My name is Tesla” he says. “What are you doing here?” asks Ilessa. Clearly intent on being cooperative and prepared to ingratiate himself to his rescuers, Tesla proceeds to fire off an acid spell to escape his bonds and several words from his acid tongue meant to impress his new friends. This was followed by Ilessa helping Tesla back to sleepy land with a right hook to the jaw.

By now we know that Ilessa isn’t the most patient lady. Balderdash you say? No really, I mean it! She can be a little short at times. But hey, it was probably one of those “just gettin’ to know ya” moments. You know, boy meets snake girl. Boy insults snake girl. Snake girl kicks his ass. I mean, it happens all the time.

Ellie returns and displays one of those “I have no idea what is going on here but screw it, I have the most awesomest hat in the room!” looks. Fezwick wants to put the unconscious Tesla on the disk, and is clearly disappointed that his first time is going to be with a human male sorcerer, because he had his heart set on a nine foot Yuan-ti half blood. Well, like the man says, “You dance with the date that brung ya.”.

Well at least the bar has been set. Time to wake him up again. I mean hey, who wouldn’t have learned from getting the shit slapped out of him, right? And Tesla did learn his lesson alright! Drawing from his superior intellect, Telsa decides to hit on Ilessa. ‘Cause somewhere in that bruised, concussion-ridden brain, that seemed like a good idea? Maybe I wasn’t looking closely enough, but I missed the part where she was impressed. Poor delivery? Words not quite catching the essence of the moment? Maybe flowers would have helped. Regardless, anyone near enough took five fire damage as Tesla crashed and burned. Big time. He probably would have had an easier time nailing Fezwick on the craftmatic floating disk.

By now, after like fifteen minutes of conversation, including suggestions of having sorcerer for lunch, everyone decides to head off the the remaining central crypt. Even the devas, good, wholesome girls from the bible belt are thinking “Hmmmm, my immortal soul or let the sorcerer live. Clearly a tough choice.”

Everyone’s favorite naturally sneaky snake girl slithers in to check out the central crypt. It’s dark, and maybe no one will notice the bright torch. Wait, she spots a man. He’s facing away. Hide behind the pillar. With the bright light. Wait, another man. Twenty feet away and facing me. Uh oh. Growling from all around. “Shit, I’m outta here!” she says to herself, “I should have sent the sorcerer!” And that’s when everything attacked.

Two incorporeal pale reaver lords reveal themselves as they float into position. Six slathering boneshard mongrels with a hunger for living flesh ferociously launch themselves at Ilessa with undead fury. Flanked on all sides, Ilessa signals to her friends “Get the hell in here!” With a word, the first reaver attacks and dominates Ilessa. Now his puppet to control, Ilessa can do nothing but watch helplessly as her friends come to her aid. Like the well-oiled machine they have become, Each team member takes position and attacks. A pitched battle is now underway, one that could very well decide the fate of a nation.

Thank goodness Tesla has learned the error of his ways and has grown to appreciate having the support of a party. Oops, premature congratulations. That never happened before baby, honest! I suppose real growth might take more than the ten minutes it took to walk from one crypt to the next. Tesla seems to have a teensy, tiny problem with regard to…I’m looking for the right phrase…yeah, not freakin’ killing his own party! Luckily, he didn’t have the “Splitting the Atom” power or the whole place would be one bloody big crater. But that didn’t stop him from laying our every AOE spell he could find in his bag o’tricks. Again, you might say the group over-reacted but Fezwick was about to have an aneurysm. Actually, he may have had a transient ischemic attack, because there was a noticeable facial twitch and his eyes kept darting to his left.

How bad could it be? Ok, so he’s a little…oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? GOT IT! Insane! Yup, just a little insane. It’s a toss-up as to who is causing more damage to the party after a while. Now, remember when we were talking earlier about how Ilessa could be perceived, possibly, by those who don’t know her that well, as maybe just a little short tempered? She constricts Tesla. She kills Tesla. And just to show there’s no hard feelings, she leaves him with a coups de grace. On the upside, Ilessa showed tremendous self control by not eating him. And she’s got mega booty in the form of his stuff and gold! Not a total loss by any stretch.

Finally, all the nuisances are dead. Deader. No longer animated. You know what I mean. Six survivors. Six is a good number. Remember, The Six vanquished the black dragon Varxious. And beer comes in six packs.

As a humble observer, I’d make just one suggestion. It may be time to take a close look at the “threat to the party” checklist and maybe make some changes. Maybe a background check and an interview process. Some sample questions like “If your mom is about to get eaten by a cyclops, do you help her right away or take the opportunity to negotiate a raise in your allowance? After all, rituals cost money damn it!” I’m just saying…

That’s all for now. Tune in next week when the psychotic sorcerer bakes everyone a cake. Suddenly, I’m very afraid.

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"Land, Ho!" or "Oh, Look At All The Pretty Ghouls!"
Some ghouls don't like to be called ho's

Our story continues with the brazen and bold heroes making sail for Seabend (city of the Black Rose) aboard the Carnage. Astraddle their sturdy vessel thrusting forward through the warm, wet ocean with the wind filling their sails the party continued their pursuit of the dastardly Skamos, Evil Sorcerer Extraordinaire.

Having discovered that Skamos contracted the pirates through an agent by the name of Bill in Seabend, the party decides to <new_jersey_accent>, you know, see if Bill could, I don’t know, be _persuaded _ to provide a little more information</new_jersey_accent>. Quartermaster Edward Skittles, in exchange for continued access to, and use of, air, graciously agreed to introduce the party to Bill once they arrive.

But alas, the best laid plans of mice and, well, you get the idea. All were dismayed to discover that the repairs to the Carnage, while a fine effort, were found wanting. Lacking sufficient materials to affect additional repairs, the only option was to beach the Carnage on the soft sands about 50 miles south of Seabend. The race to catch Skamos must continue!

So with grace, skill and seafaring aplomb, the makeshift crew of the Carnage managed to gently ease the sturdy vessel onto the beach. Dropping anchor, our party stepped off the Carnage and onto dry land. Was it the sea spray of the crashing surf or just a subtle misty tear from those who fought, bled and emerged victorious in the battle for the mighty Carnage? Perhaps someday they will meet her again!

Heading north with a spring in their step, the party, with Edward Skittle, Wist and Kari resume the chase. As they neared the southern edge of Seabend, an exhausted and bedraggled group of refugees heading south approaches the group. Otis Tremblay explains that he and the others were awakened in the night by the screams of friends and neighbors. Some catalyst was raising all manor of foul undead. “We grabbed what we could and fled for our lives.” Otis cried “What horror my eyes beheld.” He continued “It’s the grace of Pelor that spared us the fate suffered by so many this night!” As Ellie questions the group, it’s discovered that Otis’s youngest daughter was playing and spotted someone that could be none other than the villainous Skamos himself. “He went into the cemetery” said the girl. and into the middle building.” Having provided all the information they could, Otis and the others continue south to Perle deMagie.

Ah, perhaps now they will exact justice on this treacherous demon! The party follows the directions to the South Seabend Cemetery.

Upon approach, it’s immediately evident something is amiss. Trees are dying in front of their eyes. The air is still and though it’s in the middle of the day, there is a gloom over the land. Colors are muted and it seems as though even the grass is almost gray.

Ilessa decides to perform some surprisingly skillful stealthy snaky sneaking shimmying among the sturdy Cypress seeking something skulking set to stalk, surprise or spring upon our heroes.

With a surprising level of skill one would expect from any other member of the party, Ilessa’s flawless performance enables the party to approach a group of ghouls loitering around the southern crypt. All that the party needs to do is traverse an itty, bitty stone wall. (Spoiler alert: if you have this episode recorded but haven’t watched it, STOP READING)

Now, before continuing, it’s only fair to point out that Thaerin is definitely one of the top ten members of this adventuring party. Personally, a finer Genasi I’ve never met. But twinkle toes was a little off his game for the deceptively simple mountaineering task at hand. “Oops” said Thaerin as the cap rock tumbled onto the ground.

There was a Genasi named Thaerin,
With smoke hair and red lines a wearin’,
When the rock made a tumble,
The ghouls came to rumble,
And Fezwick commenced with his swearin’!

Well, true to his character, Thaerin made quick use of his “Target On My Ass” power by marking everything in sight except the dire chipmunks hiding behind the wall, provoking a near-fatal assault by four hideous monstrosities. Quick to rush the aide of their comrade, this well-oiled machine, this blunt instrument of retribution, justice and might unloaded nothing less than the family-sized can of whoop ass. As Thaerin took the battering, blow after blow hitting home, Ilessa and Ellie leaped into the fray with sword and fan slashing at the vile creatures. Only Adara’s powerful mind kept Thaerin on his feet and out of the arms of the Raven Queen’s eternal embrace. The force of nature we all know as Fezwick, faced his share of challenges as the fates conspired against him. Successfully zotting between six and seven scary looking blades of grass, Fezwick’s confidence was clearly battered and his ego bruised. “Fuck” he exclaimed in what could only be interpreted as a fierce determination to not roll that shitty next time. At long last though, the party did emerge victorious wearing with a mixture of honor and disgust the pride of a job well done and some assorted ghoul pieces parts and various internal chunkies gouged, sliced and hacked off during the battle. So indefeasible did our heroes look at that moment that the chipmunks wisely chose not to attack but to protect their nuts instead.

At that moment, a scream was heard from the northern crypt! In rushed the party, and there they discovered more vile critters in the form of skeletons and zombies and a blood thirst pale reaver. Quickly the party struck, leaving no survivors. Locating the source of the scream, a woman and her child lay chained to the wall in a trench.

What happens next? Will Ilessa eat the child? Is it really a child at all? Could Skamos be in the central crypt, yet to be searched by our heroes? Tune in next time when we will find out. Same bat-time, same bat-channel!

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New Blood or What's Better Than Pirates? Zombie Pirates
Unfortunately, when the DM has a bad night, everyone has a bad night

So what do you get when your DM spends two weeks thinking about the next game night and decides 10 minutes before game time what to do? @$$&*(^, that’s what.

Our intrepid party rested up below decks during the storm and awoke refreshed and ready for a new day. They found some cool pirate booty too! The search of the captain’s quarters turned up a magic chest, several riddles and his log with entries to his lady Verdanna Smithfield, complete with arguably some of the worst poetry since …ugh, damn, just the worst crap ever. Luckily for the lady Verdanna, the captain was killed, sparing her from actually having to read this crap and pretend to like it.

The party didn’t even have to share the booty, since Eldak and Styx turned up missing, presumed washed overboard. Well, nary a tear was shed for the young ranger and his dire wolf pup. Anyway, a voice from off the port side of the ship beckoned to the party. Turns out it was the quartermaster. Having observed the party he determined that maybe he could help his position by offering his seamanship skills to our party. Well, his attitude sucked so the party told him to piss off. So he did. But not before pointing out to the party a ship on the horizon off the starboard side and closing fast.

So the party worked together, figured out some basics and off they went with their sails unfurled.

As the new ship closed in, it was apparent that there would be a confrontation. Bristling with cannons, the new ship drew in close before it’s shabby crew of ZOMBIE pirates (yes, that’s right! ZOMBIE pirates) launched several ropes across the deck of the Carnage, including one particularly large and menacing combo that proceeded to hook onto the main mast. Tied off on the other end to the main mast of the ZOMBIE pirate ship, this would have been just another boarding until the ZOMBIE pirate ship slammed into a reef, causing a sudden stop. The Carnage, however, continued forward when the slack in the mast hook ran out. The Carnage suddenly lurched to starboard as it cut wildly around the bow of the ZOMBIE pirate vessel. As it came around to starboard, a zombie with an itchy trigger finger fired a cannon shot, blasting an eight foot hole in the bow of the Carnage. In the mean while, as the Carnage circled around, the rope proceeded to destroy just about every structure and disgusting ZOMBIE on the top deck. Slowing to a halt, the Carnage is now pointing south, with the ZOMBIE pirate ship to starboard, a mere fifteen feet away. The remaining zombies magically teleport to the deck of the Carnage and commence their attack.

Four weeks earlier, on the other side of the sea, a sleek sailboat makes its was along the coast. On board are two very special passengers. They say you can go your entire life without meeting a deva. So what are the odds of two of them finding each other? That’s what happened though when Fynn and Adara discovered each other in Shamarok, just north of Abha. They decided to travel together, both anxious for the opportunity to interact with another of their own kind. And so on a day like any other they booked passage to Abha. The short three hour run down the coast was usually faster and easier than the overland journey because the desert was a particularly dangerous place and water travel always appealed to Fynn. The first sign of a problem was when Adara noticed Fynn fall asleep suddenly. Confusion turned to alarm as Adara’s vision blurred and everything went gray.

When they awoke, they quickly learned that they were onboard a different ship. Stripped of their armor and weapons, Fynn tested the bars and found them solid. Adara checked the window and confirmed the same. Banging on the bars caught the attention of one of their captors. At that moment something else became clear: the crew were ZOMBIES! For over a day Fynn and Adara worked on finding a way out of their predicament. Just when they were ready to give up, they heard the sounds of footsteps running overhead. Shouts and taunts from the crew lead them to believe something was up. And then came the terrible lurch. When the ship slammed into the reef, the lone guard was pitched forward with such force that his head was removed by a low hanging chain. Luckily, the cell key was tossed off the peg to within reach of Fynn, who quickly snatched the key and opened the door. Adara searched the closet and found their gear. Suited up and particularly pissed off, the devas headed for the stairs.

Reaching the top, they were amazed at the sight before them. A thick cloud covered nearly all of the deck of the ZOMBIE pirate ship. It looked like something had destroyed just about everything that was recognizable on the deck. Several zombie body parts lay strewn about intermittent thick streaks of dark blood. entrails and various internal organs.

The battle was on! The party was dealing with the magically transported zombies. Adara quickly engaged one in front of her. Fynn decided to climb over to the Carnage. Unfortunately, she slipped and fell into the drink. Well, she deftly recovered and climbed back up to try again. And she fell again. Ok, so for party actions go it was a less than stellar start. In Feziwick’s fog, several pirate ZOMBIES fell overboard. As the pirate ship listed, one unfortunate ZOMBIE was caught between the ships as they brushed against each other and found himself crushed like a grape, complete with the squishy sound and all the juicy goodness one would expect from something so ripe! Adara managed to get to the Carnage without teleporting and the party cut the massive mast hook rope, freeing her from the ZOMBIE pirate ship.

Well, the battle was soon over and the party with two new members quickly resumed their journey.

Some additional searching turned up a couple of children. A cute little girl and her foul-mouth whelp of a brother.

Determined to catch up with the dastardly Skamos, our party makes a deal with the unmanageable brat in exchange for his help. Ilessa just wanted to eat them. Well, the little hellspawn manages to sabotage the anchors, and as the party is busily dropping sails, the anchor chains unwind and the ends fly off their spindles into the drink. When an angry Thaerin chases the boy into the galley, he finds they’ve abandoned ship and are swimming furiously toward the island. He dives from the window himself as Feziwick zots them to within an inch of their lives. Thaerin catches up with them and offers them one chance to live, which they wisely accept. But the quartermaster is rowing quickly toward Thaerin and when he’s close enough, swings the oar at Thaerin’s head. He misses and quick as a bunny Thaerin climbs into the boat. With a menacing stare, he asks the quartermaster if he really wants to get into it and the quartermaster, already not having the best of weeks, surrenders. Everybody gets back on board the Carnage and the two badly injured children are tossed below decks. The quartermaster tries once again to assert himself and Ilessa bitch-slaps him into next week. So he sucks it up and makes the best deal he can. He’ll get the party to La Rose Noir in two days, which should be a full day ahead of Skamos!

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Carnage
It's what's for dinner.

As the party figures out how to row the boat (yeah, there was a learning curve here), they again find themselves in hot pursuit of Skamos. They have the island in sight and are really, really sure that’s where he has gone. They are sharp. They are focused. Gods help anyone…hey look! A pirate ship! Let’s attack it! And they do. Survival clearly in jeopardy, members down for the count, some near unconsciousness, Ellie unleashes a can of whoop ass of gargantuan proportions. Insults, songs enough attitude to inspire the dead, the halfling sliced and diced her way through the ranks. When the warden went down and was nearly lost to the unforgiving sea, it was the minuscule bard to the rescue. But the best was yet to come. It is said that inspiration flows from wildly divergent sources and on this day, and in this place it flowed in the form of a hat. Yup. When the captain joined the fight, his cockades on display for all to see, Ellie knew right then those cockades belonged in her hands. And no one would keep her from her prize. And no one did. In a mighty and unexpected fury, Ellie dispatched the captain with extreme prejudice and no remorse. The fight over, Ellie would sleep well tonight with the captain’s cockades in her bed.

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Get Skamos! or What Damn Crystal Are We After Anyway?
Because ambiguity is the dm's friend.

Having avoided a slow and boring death in the flood trap, the wizard Einer, of Goblin Ambush fame, uses magic to release the portcullis leading into the cavern beneath the lighthouse. Illuminated by a series of mirrors placed strategically throughout the huge cavern, our heroes are immediately beset upon by a hungry Otyugh, thick tentacles reaching out to find its next meal. With poise and precision, they free themselves from the vise-like grip of the sewer denizen just in time to deal with the orcs and hags. As the battle rages, the party sees Skamos head up the staircase into the main section of the lighthouse. Quickly dispatching the last of the grotesque hags, Ilessa darts for the stairs, only to come upon a shimmering wall. Luckily, Einer knows that this is a trap, an exploding wall. A quick decision is made to toss a dead orc into the wall. The body detonates the trap, makes a nasty mess and our party is off and running. By the time they reach the top, Skamos is gone. The window is broken and as they peer out, they see him rowing north in a longboat. The smell of smoke turns out to be the rope, set on fire by Skamos to prevent the party from following. Quite satisfied with themselves, our heroes return to the basement to find another way out of the lighthouse. In a room in the basement they discover the father of the lighthouse keeper. They found the son too, but he had no head and the hags had been working on him for a while so that was kinda gross and pops didn’t take it well. But the party told him the crystal was safe. Well, it turns out that the bright and shiny crystal everyone sees shining bright from the top of the lighthouse isn’t the Dragonstar crystal. And Skamos got that one. They are told how to get to the lighthouse boat and off they go again.

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