Campaign of the Month: November 2007

Varis: The Broken Land

The Beginning of the End
Aka Undead, Swamps, and Home Again

This is a compilation of the last few games… not much time to go into detail.

The group meets with the Theurgian Society and discovers the meaning of the runes on that the map they uncovered in the battle with the hobgoblins.

The three runes are ancient infernal and each represent an idea: Death, Insanity, and Dragon. A lizardfolk sage living in the sewer of Caedwyr Town informs them that the Dezrak, undead shaman of the shattered lizardfolk tribes, guards the source the enchantment in the wood along with a vampiric ally: the lizardman Malsvir.

The group goes to the Order of Illumination with the information and is subsequently equipped with anti-vampire gear.

The visit with Eileen and find her unconscious with a nasty head wound, she has no idea who attacked her but the Divining Rod she was making has disappeared.

They kill off the ghouls plaguing Harborage (risen since their last encounter with the hobgoblins) and then head off into the swamp where they narrowly avoid being eaten by a giant snake before finding the large moss-covered mound where the Dezrak is supposed to lair.

Inside they find tunnel after tunnel half-filled with water and deep pools of water leading into other, deeper, areas beneath the swamp until they find the Dezrak’s laboratory.

Cherin blows it up and the burning Dezrak, a mummified corpse with bloated, dead eyes and a fleshless face, flees. They pursue him and get attacked by zombies in a pool of water, face off against animated statues in a room tiled with draconic runes and finally advance up the stairs to a vine-wrapped stone pavilion surrounded by cypress trees and deep, murky water.

It is there they find the Dezrak (Fun-fact: the Dezrak’s true name is Azkani and lizardfolk refer to him/it as Azkani-Dezrak or Azkani Blackheart.) who calls upon unholy forces to lash out at the party and as they approach him the vines grab hold of Alois and Nuras, dragging them and slowly squeezing the life out of them while the Dezrak combats Cherin and Alleron.

Alois manages to slip from the reach of the pale gray vines and calls upon Pelor to banish the evil undead creature but he only succeeds in causing it to draw back slightly.


Return to Caedwyr

Elembiuos 3-5

The group stays around Harborage just long enough to attend Sir Paddington’s funeral before moving on to Caedwyr to investigate the Theurgian Society in hopes that they can be of assistance.

The funeral is a solemn affair with Sir Paddington’s body being burned at sunset on a pyre in the pavilion in front of Sunguard Chapel. When the fire has burned low and no remains can be seen the young acolyte Solara Donoghue spoke of his deeds as a family man and a knight of the Order. The knight’s two children and widow remained stoic throughout the service.

Elembiuos 6-7

The next day they took off for Caedwyr, riding through the gloomy day until they reached the small town of Loughbridge where they stopped to rest at the Red Roan.

Alois got laid (though he doesn’t remember it) and they were charged extra money for all the ale they drank but they had no other troubles and they rode on and the second day of travel was just as gloomy as the first but as mid-day drew closer they reached the farmlands surrounding the city and saw a large tent city on the outskirts of the city and found the people of Steepleton and many refugees from Harborage were living in the tents. Nuras gathers his pupils from Steepleton and tells them he will begin training them again each morning.

Here the group split up and it was mostly solo for the rest of the game:


Cherin Nailo went to visit his friend Cecilie Edmead and check on Justar Kelling and his daughter, Amyra, who are staying with Cecilie so that Amyra can receive at least some training on controlling her inborn magic. He finds Cecilie and her neighbors preparing very yummy smelling food for the refugees outside town and talks to Justar who mentions that Cecilie is teaching his daughter to meditate but feels that Cecilie is not as pleased at having them in her house as she pretends.

Cecilie, speaking privately to Cherin, affirms Justar’s thoughts. She likes both Justar and Amyra but she worries that her baby will be in danger from the barely controlled magic Amyra has. She doesn’t know how to teach Amyra to use her magic and can only try and teach her self-control. She is going to ask Justar and his daughter to leave, maybe find them a place to stay elsewhere in the city, when her baby is born.

Cherin Nailo helps Cecilie and her neighbors deliver food to the refugee camp and enjoys seeing friendly faces from Steepleton.


Nuras Bloodclaw left for Stouthearth Hill and visited with his friend Breza Stouthearth and asked her about the cold iron kama he received from the doppelganger posing as a merchant that they killed in Steepleton. Breza seems surprised and says she was going to gift it to him but it was stolen. She invites Nuras to show her what he’s learned and they head to the top of the hill and to the Stoutshield Brigade’s training circle. There Nuras devastates Breza with a new maneuver that literally ignites the air around her and she flies backwards out of the ring utterly defeated (and burned).

The dwarves invite Nuras to come train with them in the evenings and Nuras readily accepts and also gets the dwarves to begin making him a mithral chain shirt and a second cold iron kama at cost.


Alois Taber returns to his family’s home and visits with his father, Bastion Taber who has been locked in his study. Alois coaxes his father to let him in and finds out his sister, Adelaide Taber has been seen around town with three different men this week alone. His father is furious and depressed and unable to eat.

Alois manages to cheer his father up by getting him out of the house and going for a walk with him. They visit his mother’s grave and Bastion invites him to bring the party to stay at Taber Manor.


Alleron Diruvad spends his day studying and preparing to copy a spell into his spellbook… which he fails to do unfortunately.

The group meets back at dusk and decides to stay with Alois Taber’s family where they have a rather awkward dinner with Alois’s father who is really trying TOO hard to seem happy.

Elembiuos 8

Cherin leaves early in the morning, after breakfast, to visit with Prince Rhys Williamson and the party is invited to come to a dinner that evening at 6.

Alois went horseback riding with his sister as her official “date” for the day with several suitors trying to win her attention.

Nuras trained his pupils at the refugee camp and practiced desert wind style with Zara.

Alleron again studied and prepared spells, copying new ones into his spell book.

When the evening arrived and they were all dressed up. Alois and Cherin went to go ask Adelaide Taber what they should wear but she was nowhere to be found.

The carriage ride to the castle was quick and the interior of the castle was opulent and overwhelming. Even more overwhelming was that it wasn’t a quiet dinner with the prince but a banquet in which they were guests of honor sitting at the High Table with King Jerrod Williamson, Prince Rhys Williamson and the King’s new fiance, Adelaide Taber.

After the dinner (which was both fun but uncomfortable as the group was NOT expecting such a huge dinner) there was a ball and the group split up. Alleron sulked along the wall while Nuras and Alois found dance partners but their poor dancing quickly drove their “friends” away. Cherin and Prince Rhys danced through the ballroom and Cherin surprised both the Prince and himself by finding rhythm and easily matching the prince’s steps.

After the ball the party returned to Taber Manor and retired for the evening. Then they were woken in the early hours of the morning by Adelaide’s screams and as they rushed to the balcony to look down on the entryway they see Adelaide struggling as three hideously twisted creatures scratch and pull at her billowing dress.

Cherin recognizes them as ghouls.

Acting quickly the party runs down the stairs, or in Nuras and Aloi’s case: jump from the balcony to the floor of the entrance hall. Within seconds the party has driven away Adelaide’s attackers and the last is slain on the front lawn. The group barely recognizes the ghouls as having once been hobgoblins.

The Order is called in and holy water poured over the bodies and the ichor is cleaned from the marble floor.

The group retires for the evening, Adelaide insists she is alright. But questions still need to be answered: why were the ghouls attacking Adelaide was it directed at her or them? What was the significance of the attack? Would the Theurgian Society be able to help them?

Dwarf, Elf history

After a long pause I’ve gotten around to updating the World History a bit with a bit more info on dwarves and elves.

Much of it is vague to be clarified as more information on the subjects is discovered. (Adventuring and/or History Checks!)

Saving Nuras's Privates

With Nuras captured along with the Sage of Steepleton (Adair Hollingberry) the group needed to save him and to that end they assembled a strike force of their recent allies.

Zara – the woman Nuras taught to fight joined the battle. Her husband had died back in Steepleton and the only thing she had left was her training and a sense of loyalty to the person who taught her how to fight.

Sir Patrick Paddington – A knight of the Order of Illumination sent to help them fight the bandits of Steepleton it was Sir Paddington’s duty and honor to help them recover their missing ally and (more importantly) save the Sage.

Holly Moorwalker – Holly is a young woman acquainted with Eileen of the Earthmother. She is a skilled tracker and has a keen knowledge of woodlore but her abilities in combat are (in her words) “not her forte.” Despite her inadequacy in battle it was her knowledge of the geography of Caedwyr that would lead them to the encampment of the Warsoul.

The battle was joined mid-day deep in Ann’s Wood. Sir Paddington is ambushed by a group of hobgoblins right outside the encampment and Alois goes to his aid as Zara and Holly scramble towards them. As the dust falls Cherin and Alleron appear as another large force of Hobgoblins makes itself known. 9 of them, 3 barking orders at the rest, make their way towards the group in orderly formation. The battle was furious but quick (thanks in large part to Alleron casting a spell that doubled Alois’s height and gave him the strength of a giant) and the heroes emerged relatively unscathed as they hear more fighting coming from the camp.

The sounds of fighting come from deeper into the forest and they can hear Nuras shout a warcry and the litany of death echoes throughout the forest.

Through the trees they saw tents and a large bonfire circled by lanterns filled with flickering blue flame and within that circle of lanterns, illuminated by rays of sunlight and the bonfire, was Nuras as he battles five hobgoblins at once.

They ran towards him as he ducked and weaved his natural agility and his stolen dagger a grave menace to the hobgoblins. Zara ran in, leaping the bonfire and cutting down a hobgoblin with her shortsword only to be laid low by another who took the opportunity to smash his axe into her face.

Screaming, “Zara!” Nuras whirled at her attacker and nearly severed the hobgoblin’s head with his dagger. Then a blast of heat warmed his body as Cherin Nailo arrived into the fray a gout of fire bursting from his lips and enveloping two hobgoblins who scream as the flames engulf their bodies.

Giant Alois stomps into the fray and swings at one of the last hobgoblins still standing but his swing gets fouled by one of the canvas tents and brings the whole tent down. Cherin rushes after it and burns it with dragonfire as Nuras cuts down the last of the hobgoblins and the group takes a few seconds to breathe as Nuras runs for his stuff, pulling his cloak of resistance, his kamas, and the rest of his equipment out of a crate near the Warsoul’s tent right as Cherin Nailo’s keen ears pick up booted feet coming towards them from the northwest.

After only a few seconds three more hobgoblins appeared. Two disfigured, female hobgoblins draped in red robes a male hobgoblin covered in burns wearing a chain shirt and swinging a glowing spiked chain. In a battle involving magically conjured webbing and rolling balls of fire (and a dash of magic missiles) the party was beaten up pretty badly before two of the hobgoblins had fallen while the third, one of the female casters, ran off into the forest.

Nuras and Alois dug through the tents for information (and treasure) whiel Cherin burned the ones they’d finished with. Inside the Warsoul’s tent they found a map of the island marked with three strange runes, a hidden compartment with three potions, and the Warsoul’s spell book.

As they dug around the encampment Cherin’s ultra-hearing once again picks up what others miss: the sound of many booted feet once again coming towards them from the north-west.

A figure in blood-red robes moves through the trees towards them, surrounded by 8 well-armored hobgoblins. The figure is a monstrous, twisted mockery of its fellows. Slighter but vastly more terrifying than the other hobgoblins, all of its exposed skin has been scarred repeatedly and sigils of scar tissue criss cross every inch that they can see. A staff of twisted black wood rests in its withered hands and its eyes dance wickedly like coals from beneath its hood.

The figure, the Warsoul, started the battle with a bang as an explosion of fire erupts in the middle of the encampment. In the battle that follows Cherin and the Warsoul exchange fire and lightning blasts and the Warsoul wounds Cherin grievously with a lightning bolt. Nuras and Sir Paddington trade blows with the Warsoul as its followers are picked off one by one. The Warsoul calls forth rays of fire and they crash into Nuras and Sir Paddington and the flames are too much for the already wounded paladin as he collapses with a cry to the ground, dead.

The Warsoul betrays its cowardice (or tactical sense) as it takes to the air, flying through the canopy and away as the last of its allies dies.


After the battle the beleaguered team mends what wounds they can, especially Cherin who is barely able to stand after the Warsoul’s devastating attack, and gather Sir Paddington’s cooling body. Adair Hollingberry, the Sage, warns them that the Hobgoblins were using a nearby barrow and they go to investigate… in case any more hobgoblins lurk in the shadows.

The barrow is a large circular, grass-covered hill with a stone-reinforced entrance on the southern side and a narrow, spiraling stairway that leads down into the cool earth. The walls of the barrow are stone and etched with strange script and runes which Alleron and Adair identify as an ancient human language from a wintry land called Egas.

They discover the barrow is empty of hobgoblins but filled with hobgoblin supplies: weapons and armor, food and water (especially pickles), strange smelling casks of chemicals, a barrel filled with rolls of ancient parchment, and three crates filled with ancient coins: two filled with silver and the other filled with gold.

Alleron identifies the coins as coming from the Cumbrian Empire and are several hundred years old.

Of course silver is silver and gold is gold and between them all the party manages to carry Sir Paddington’s body and the coins through the forest and back towards Harborage.

Night falls before they can reach the port town, however, and they camp several miles north to avoid the magic of Ceatharn Woods as it now encompasses much of the land around the town.

4th of Elembiuos

In the early morning they make it to Harborage and Cherin and Alleron (along with Holly) immediately go to visit with Eileen Cassidy to avoid the Order of Seropaenes while Nuras, Alois, and Zara bring Sir Paddington’s body to Sunguard Chapel where they meet with Templar Evander who explains to them that they will more than likely be called on to seek the source of the magic in the forest and end it. All others who have been sent in have failed to uncover the source or disappeared altogether.

Chapter 5.2: Steepleton
A source revealed

Several of these separate stories are solo games as people couldn’t make it to the game.

Updated to include the first half of Nuras’s solo game, Alois’s solo game, and Cherin and Alois’s reunion. Just updated for an abridged version of the rest of the game. Will fill in as I get time. The next game is today

The group is standing over the doppleganger’s body at the edge of the bell tower as we start the game. They are looking out over the town. Below is the writhing mass of humanity that lives in Steepleton. The few people not poisoned work feverishly to help the afflicted and even from more than sixty feet above the mess the smell of vomit and other more putrid odors is still strong.

It is Nuras who sees the danger first: a group of shadowy figures approaching the village. “I’ll handle them, Cherin you need to collect that plant Nadia told us about.” Cherin Nailo nods solemnly as they race back down the steps of the bell tower and out the chapel doors. Cherin runs and climbs over the top of the northern palisade and races out through the torched farmland as he follows an old rutted dirt road overgrown with weeds northward.


Nuras exits the palisade’s gates, ordering them locked behind him. He cautiously limps out into the shadows of the abandoned cottages, his keen eyes looking for movement as he smells a strange musky scent. From the hiding places among the abandoned cottages nine bandits move to surround him in a loose circle, circling like wolves. Nuras feels a chill roll down his spine as he realizes that they are behaving in different manner from the previous mind-controlled ‘bandits’ he had fought. He gets the feeling that they are evaluating him.

Nuras tumbles back towards the gate and braces himself against it as the bandits come after him, surprisingly cautious and well organized. Each wears a mind-control collar and wields a wickedly sharp longsword. As they move to surround him again one says in a strangely accented and guttural human tongue. “Surrender warrior, you cannot defeat us. Surrender and we will not kill you.”

Nuras sneers at them, “Why should I? From what I’ve seen you kill just for the pleasure of killing.”

The spokesman of the bandits chuckles and the musky odor becomes overpowering. “Only the weak need to die warrior, you have proven yourself strong.” He says as the bandits tighten their perimeter around him. One is too eager to get close and leaves himself open and Nuras takes the advantage, slashing across the man’s arm with his kama. Nuras laughs, “I will not be taken so easily I’m afraid!”

Then to his shock the form of the man he just slashed wavers and fades into a transparent image superimosed upon a muscular yellow-skinned creature in studded leather armor. The creature’s ugly face has a large blue nose and a mouth full of sharp yellow teeth and Nuras recognizes it as a Hobgoblin. The injured hobgoblin backs away, clutching his injury and his companions close ranks around Nuras, preventing him from pressing his attack.

The spokesman of the “bandits” speaks again, “Well placed warrior, you will bring much honor to us when you are captured.” He motions and as one the goblins ready to strike.

The battle is furious, Nuras uses his evasive fighting style to avoid strike after strike while retaliating viciously. His dance of death, his weaving and spinning, greatly impresses the hobgoblins who he strikes blow after blow against.

“Surrender warrior! You honor yourself in battle but there is no reason to continue. You cannot win.” The spokesman calls out and Nuras, growling, responds: “You will take me only when I can no longer fight!” The spokesman seems to accept his words and nods at respectfully as he takes a defensive stance.

Nuras focuses his attacks on the spokesman of the hobgoblins and sends the creature sprawling to the earth, bleeding from half a dozen cuts. Again the hobgoblins close ranks around him and slowly they wear him down.

Small cuts add up and finally Nuras falls to the earth, having taken three foes out of the fight, and his world grows dark.


We rejoin Content Not Found: aloisttaber in Harborage, earlier in the day (Let’s do the Time Warp again!) It is early afternoon when he meets with Templar Evander in front of the courthouse of Harborage.

Alois finds the Templar speaking with some lower-ranking soldiers of the Order. After dismissing the soldiers, the Templar greets Alois. He looks weary but resolute. “Alois! I’m glad you made it safely, what is the situation in Steepleton? We know the bandits are guarding the road to and from the village but not much more than that though our divinations have told us you are still in command of the village.”

Alois explains the situation as it was when he left: the hunger of the people and the constant battle with the mind-controlled bandits.

Templar Evander listens quietly and when Alois is finished he gives Alois a frank assessment.

“It sounds as if you have been doing well considering your limited resources. I did not want to take you away from your duty but things in Harborage have become much worse. The enchantment you uncovered has spread rapidly and now brushes against the edge of town. We have been working with the clerics in this town to bless the town and keep it out of the enchantment but our wards are weakening.”

He pauses to gauge Alois’s reaction before continuing, “We can no longer split our resources between Steepleton and Harborage. I believe it is time for the people of Steepleton to be evacuated, they will be given refuge in Caedwyr.”

Their conversation is interrupted by a man shouting, “Lord Evander! I must speak with you immediately!” Within moments a pudgy man in a pale blue suit imposes himself beween the two and Alois gets an uncomfortably close look of his clothing’s lace ruffles.

Templar Evander shoots Alois an exasperated look and says, “What can I do for you Lord Tolton?”

Lord Tolton draws himself up and his three chins wobble as he speaks, “Lord Evander, you have not done enough to save this city. I have sent word to the High Templar. If you do not resolve this quickly we will all be bankrupt and living on the street.”

Templar Evander sighs, “Lord Tolton, I have told you already that the situation is far more complex than a simple curse. A malevolence guides this power against us and even the blessings of our clerics cannot hold out forever. But I will tell you that you have gotten your wish. The Seropaeneans are going to be assisting us within a few days at most.” He pauses and says wryly, “An upstanding citizen such as yourself will not have anything to fear from their arrival I’m sure but you are aware of their methods.”

Lord Tolton seems taken aback, “I have nothing to hide Evander. I welcome the Witch hunters, they’re surely more useful than you.” Then he turns on his heel and walks away without even a “good day”. Evander turns his atention back to Alois. “Alois, what do you need to help you evacuate Steepleton? I am afraid we are going to need your help here very soon.”

Alois asks for soldiers to help guard the villagers as they make their way to the safety of Caedwyr along with food supplies to last them the journey and Evander readily agrees.

Templar Evander then asks Alois to follow him to the dungeons of the courthouse. At the end of a particularly dark cell-lined corridor he stops. “The man in this cell has been found guilty of kidnapping and slavery.” He inserts a rusty key into the lock of the solid metal door and holds up his holy symbol and pronounces as he opens the door, “Pelor called upon his light to protect his children!” The symbol ignites with white fire and bathes the area in pure light and sends the man in the cell, who was about to leap upon the Templar, howling in agony and falling into a huddle at the far wall of his cell.

The Templar acknowledges the man by saying, “Alois, I would like you to meet Skaven Gretsmuth or as he likes to be called: ‘The Ghost’.”

The man inside the cell is albino with pallid white skin, hair, and horrible red eyes. He cries out in pain, “Stop! Please! Please!” But Templar Evander only sneers at him, “This is just a taste of the pain you will feel in the afterlife, scum.”

“For the past month we have had dozens of people go missing from the streets and even the dungeons of Harborage and Caedwyr.” He gestures at the man in the cell, “Skaven here has been caught selling prisoners and criminals to a man calling himself ‘The Gray Lord’. I believe that he is the source of your bandit problem.”

Templar Evander slams the door to the cell and locks it behind him and as he walks Alois back to the street they talk. “The Seropaeneans are not going to be happy to find you working with mages. They are… extreme in their views. But I will try and protect your allies as well as I can but the sooner this menace is defeated the safer we, and they, will be. After you help evacuate the village I want you to find the one controlling those thralls attacking the village and kill him, break his power over them. I wish I could help you more but with the worsening conditions here…” The Templar trails off and Alois promises to do his best.

“Pelor protect you my young friend.” Evander says, and he kisses his holy symbol in farewell. Within an hour Alois has the supplies, and the manpower, he needs to evacuate Steepleton and he heads off back to the beleaguered village.


The forest north of the village is old and thick and the old path is soon surrounded by fir trees. They grow up tall and claustrophobic and their boughs, laden with sharp needles, edge up against the path so closely that Cherin must slow his hurried pace to push his way through the branches. The smell of vomit and sickness is long behind him but the knowledge of the fate of the sickened should he fail drives him ever onward.

The trees grow thicker and thicker until suddenly Cherin pushes his way through and he stands at the edge of a clearing lit by the nearly full moon. Nearby he can see the gloomy silhouette of a decaying cottage. As he moves towards the cottage he can hear a woman’s voice whispering through the pines behind him and his step quickens.

The wooden cottage looks to have been abandoned for a long time: the sod roof has long since collapsed through the supporting beams and the quarried stone walls have collapsed outward in some places. The house’s remaining support beams stand with nothing to support. Debris and rotting furniture: the remains of a bed, a weather-worn armoire, and a few shelves with moldering, rotted books remain mostly intact amongst the rubble.

Cherin looks around the cottage and finds an overgrown garden surrounded by the remains of a wooden fence that is filled with blue flowers and other plants, both strange and mundane, behind the cottage. Though one of the cottage walls has partially collapsed upon the garden the plants have grown over it vibrant and strong. In the corner of the garden, near the collapsed wall, is a dark hole in the earth several feet wide.

Cherin recognizes the blue plant as both the “Ratweed” Nadia told him to get and by another name: Jordan’s Wort, the semi-mystical healing herb the villagers back in Hardell love so much.

As Cherin gathers as much Jordan’s Wort as he can hold he hears soft footsteps behind him and as he turns a small man in dark furs leaps at him. A blade flashes in the bright moonlight and, with an unholy-sounding scream, Cherin feels cold steel push into his chest.

Cherin drops his load and stumbles back and the wild man kicks his feet out from under him while screaming in common about an invasion. Cherin denies he is invading as he tries to scramble away but the man interrupts him with a scream of “LIAR!” He slashes at Cherin again, cutting his arm, and Cherin (who sees no alternative) summons forth the mystical energies within him and unleashes a gout of fire that splashes against the man, burning his flesh and causing him to scream in pain and rage. Despite the burns the man keeps coming, tripping Cherin again as he tries to get away and stabbing him repeatedly. Cherin, who is rapidly losing his strength, breathes fire at the man who is again engulfed in flame. But Cherin’s attacker is tenacious and soon he stands over Cherin with the dagger in both hands. His eyes glin angrily and Cherin knows his life is at an end. Cherin raises his arm to defend himself as the man brings the dagger down - and collapses on top of Cherin, totally unconscious. Alois is there, holding out his hand to Cherin with a wry smile. He calls upon Pelor to heal Cherin’s wounds and with a touch the wounds heal over until they are just bright red scars in his flesh.

The two hear noises coming from the hole in the ground and Cherin says, “Let’s get out of here!” They gather the Jordan’s Wort and sprint for the tree line. Cherin looks back to see two small winged creatures flying in the moonlit sky behind them and watches them land next to the fallen wild man, chittering. Then they are back in the trees, rushing back towards Steepleton.

Back in Steepleton they help Nadia brew the massive batch of Jordan’s Wort to relieve the suffering of the sick. Though at least a few people had already died from the poison the concoction prevents the vast majority from nearly certain death.

In the following days the sick slowly recover. Alois announces that they will be abandoning the city and the Order will give them refuge in Caedwyr. While the village packs what it can Justar asks Cherin to look at his daughter, Amyra, who is still sick and burning with fever. He tells Cherin that there is magic inside of her and asks Cherin to take it out. Cherin explains to him that in born magic is part of who a person is and not a foreign entity to be stripped from them. He tells Justar to take his daughter to a friend in Caedwyr and fellow follower of Jin: Cecilie Edmead.

After three days the beleaguered troop marches out of the village unmolested. Their spirits low and their bodies still wasted by the poison they trudged on towards Harborage and from there towards Caedwyr.

To be Continued

Chapter 5.1: Steepleton

Thanks to the village’s dominating performance in their first major battle with the bandits the group finds time to reinforce the village’s defenses.

They tear down the inefficient walls along the northern and western sides of the village and reassemble a palisade around the chapel which they have taken to be their base of operations. Disguised pit traps and a series of ditches add to the chapel’s defenses.

For nearly a week the villagers worked with the group though the looming spectre of starvation weighed on everyone’s minds. The village’s fields were destroyed and to make matters worse the seemingly endless “bandits” had enforced a tight perimeter around the village making it difficult to hunt or scavenge for food.

On the fifth day of the siege the people of Steepleton are exhausted when out of nowhere a robed figure walks, surprisingly unmolested by the forces arrayed against Steepleton.

It is Alleron Diruvad who has come from Harborage after recovering from a vicious illness and has seemingly stumbled once more into danger. He was unaware of the situation in Steepleton and quickly was caught back up in the group dynamic. He explained to the group that he had come seeking the Sage of Steepleton and was summarily disappointed by the news of the sage’s kidnapping.

A series of wagons throughout the day kept the group on their toes: a knight named Sir Patrick Paddington came on official business from the Order and told Alois he was needed in Harborage on urgent business. Alois rode out shortly after, promising to bring supplies on his return.

After a tense stand off where Sir Patrick insults Nuras’s capability in a battle the four were interrupted from getting to know one another by the arrival of yet another wagon, this one is set upon by the “bandits” and with a beleaguered look Cherin, Nuras, and Alleron rode off to meet the bandit threat and save the wagon from destruction.

The battle was remarkably one sided as none of the bandits seemed able to stand against them. While Nuras, now more than twelve feet tall thanks to a spell cast by Alleron, waded into battle Cherin spat fiery blasts at the bandits and Alleron kept cautiously to the side lines.

The owner of the wagon, a Trader man, was fending off the bandits until one of them tossed a bottle of alchemist’s fire into the cart. Instead of merely catching fire the cart exploded as something inside ignited. In an instant the Trader man was dead but the bandits each reacted quickly enough to evade the worst of the blast.

Sir Patrick stood at the sidelines, watching and reacting with surprise as Cherin and Alleron Diruvad’s magical abilities become apparent. In midst of the final seconds of battle the burning wreckage of the wagon erupts once more in a blazing fireball that washes over Cherin and Nuras, burning both. The remaining bandits are killed by the explosion and the party is forced to wait for an entire hour before the wreckage is cool enough to search.

They find a half-burned mahogany box with a metal latch and after discussing what to do cautiously amongst themselves for some time Sir Patrick takes the box and opens it with a hand protected by a handkerchief. Inside they find a single scroll outlining a maneuver of an unknown origin.

Nuras gleefully takes the scroll to learn from it.

When they return they learn the village has officially run out of food and go hunting. Using a rather ingenious stalking method they manage to bag three large deer, each several hundred pounds, which they drag back to town and butcher.

Later that evening a third wagon approaches the village at high speeds, narrowly avoiding the bandits which try and capture it.

The wagon slows as it approaches the village and a man shouts, “My names Tamlin Burke and I’ve got some supplies! Had a little bit of action up the road a bit and I’d really like some safety!”

Sir Patrick immediately declares his distrust for the man but Tamlin Burke says cheerfully, “Breza Stouthearth sent me! She also sent this” He holds up a beautiful kama crafted from dark gray metal. “She knew you wanted it and said that there’s something you can do to pay her back… she didn’t mention what though.”

The party opens the makeshift gates and Tamlin Burke gives them the kama and the wagon filled with crates of grain and food. Enough to feed the entire town for an entire week, maybe more!

Tamlin yawns, “Been a long day… do you folks have any place I could rest for the night?” They set him up in the back of the chapel where a number of cots are set up.

Outside the village readies themselves for a well-deserved meal of venison stew and long rows of tables are laid out in the chapel yard. The entire village is within the palisade surrounding the church and for the first time in several days the mood seems hopeful.

The people of Steepleton sit at the long rows of tables as children serve the rather delicious-smelling stew the head cook, a woman named Nadia, has made. One by one bowls are filled from the huge pots filled with stew and after a solemn prayer to Pelor led Sir Patrick the people begin to eat.

Justar and Zara ask Nuras and Cherin a bit about their pasts and Justar introduces his daughter Amyra, a small dark-haired girl with a slightly disturbing love of fire. Sir Paddington eats quietly and watches the conversation before throwing his stew to the ground and shouting, “There is something wrong with this food!” Nadia stares at him with angry shock written upon her face.

When posed with questions the knight tries to reply but the only thing that comes out of his mouth is vomit and a horrible retching as he doubles over clutching his stomach. At all the tables the same thing is taking place and the group begins to feel nauseas as well but manage to hold it together as something in the food leaves most of the village incapacitated and dying.

Only a few people remain unaffected, one of them Nadia, and the trio can only watch in silent rage as Justar and Zara vomit and Justar’s daughter begins hacking up blood.

Nadia organizes those unaffected to begin helping the sick and begs the group to go to an old cottage north of the village and gather a blue flower she calls Ratweed. The group agrees but first they enter the chapel and make their way into the back room where the cots were laid out to question Tamlin.

They find the room deserted and as they look around Nuras is stabbed in the back by a strange humanoid creature with dull gray skin and a half-formed face with eyes of darkest ebony. In their minds they hear a voice, “I will make your deaths quicker than theirs.”

Their questions answered they attack, but Nuras is badly wounded and when the doppelganger retreats up the stairs to the bell tower Cherin pulls out a scroll of healing magic and attempts to use it. He fails to recite the incantation correctly and the magic falters. They charge up the stairway after the creature and as they reach the top Cherin tries to use the scroll again and completely fumbles the incantation, draining part of his life force to heal Nuras. They spot the doppelganger perched silently atop the chapel bell and attack and the creature sprouts wings and tries to fly away. But as one Cherin and Nuras react, Nuras slashing its throat with his axe as Cherin bashes its misshapen head and the wings melt away as it collapses to the wooden floor of the bell tower.

From their perch they can look down over the writhing mass of dying people below them and then look north towards Ann’s Wood where Nadia said a cure could be found.

To be Continued…

Chapter 5: Steepleton
The Problems pile on

A few hours outside Caedwyr Town the group stops for lunch along the side of the road. It is there, seated amongst wild flowers, that Alois tells them their true mission in Steepleton: To teach the citizens to defend themselves before attempting to deal with the bandits personally.

He tells them also that a high ranking member of the Order has gone missing in Steepleton and is presumed dead. His name is Zurach Demonsbane and he is one of the greatest heroes the Order of Illumination has ever known.

Sobered by the news but still determined to do their best the group continues on their way, camping outside Harborage and watching the distant Ceatharn Wood cautiously. By evening the next day the group reaches the outskirts of Steepleton.

Steepleton was a simple grouping of sod-roofed stone cottages flanking a beautiful white granite chapel and surrounded on all sides by verdant farmland and rolling hills. What the group finds when they crest the rise and look over Steepleton’s valley to find a village under siege. The farmlands were burned and scorched, a half-built wooden wall surrounded the northern and western sides of the village and groups of armed villagers stood watch.

Once the villagers found out the group had been sent by the Order of Illumination the people begged Alois to lead them in prayer and Nuras began investigating their combat readiness. Cherin, having been stung once before by the fear he instilled in the citizens of Harborage, stays on the sidelines.

Nuras finds 40 villagers willing to volunteer for training and out of those ten had been trained briefly by Templar Zurach. Despite this Nuras found their training incomplete and began working to continue their martial education.

After a prayer service in the chapel the group organized the night’s watch. They would each take several of the men and women trained by Zurach and patrol the makeshift palisade.

Shortly after night fall Nuras hears a large number of footsteps approaching the village from some distance away and lights a signal fire. The chapel bells begin ringing and wake the village’s meager defenders as more than a dozen armed bandits approach.

The fierce battle that followed left a dozen villagers dead, including 6 of the stronger combatants. But more than 20 bandits lay dead. In the battle Cherin noticed strange magical auras surrounding the bandits and he also noticed they all wore iron collars around their necks and their behavior seemed odd; their reaction to pain was muted and they showed no emotions.

After the battle Cherin took a moment from helping those injured to investigate the strange collars and found they were empowered by dominating enchantments. The ‘leader’ of the bandits also wore a stone which radiated divination magic which Cherin discovered to be a scrying sensor.

Wearily the village’s defenders buried the dead and nursed the survivors back to health. Two of the survivors of the battle, a man named Justar and a woman named Zara showed great promise and Nuras began training them in the Sublime Way.

Zara lost her husband in the battle and both Justar and Zara nearly followed him for their bravery.

More information learned from the villagers was that the town’s cleric of Pelor, Bernadette Hollingberry, and her family had been kidnapped the night after Templar Zurach disappeared, and that before Zurach’s disappearance he and Adair Hollingberry (The Sage of Steepleton) had a loud argument. After the argument Templar Zurach left the village wearing his armor and weaponry and headed towards the bandit-infested forest and hasn’t been seen since.

The group raided the town library and the Sage’s home and found numerous divine and arcane scrolls and several magical items: a cloak enchanted with protective magics, a magical short sword, and several vials of antitoxin. Unfortunately they found no clues as to his argument with Templar Zurach or what happened to him or his family.

Steepleton’s Defenders:

Out of 40 initial members the volunteer militia has 28 remaining and only four with previous martial training. Nuras spent several days after the first night’s battle personally training Justar and Zara and continuing the militia’s drills.

Justar – 1 Commoner/1 Warrior/1 Swordsage

Zara – 1 Commoner/1 Warrior/1 Swordsage

Felshin Shrew and Lawrence Umbra – 1 Commoner/2 Warrior

24 Militia – 1 Commoner/1 Warrior

Chapter 4: Caedwyr Town

The party spent several days at Alois’s family’s home, a large manor house on the north-eastern side of town. They met Alois’s father, a man named Bastion, who seemed rather quiet and morose and Alois’s older sister Adelaide, a blonde beauty with whom Alois seems to have a strained relationship. During their time in Caedwyr Town the group split up, each doing their own thing and learning more about Caedwyr.

Alois: Alois reported to his superior, Templar Evander, after coming home to the capital. Templar Evander brought him before the Council of Light, led by the High Templar himself, to make a full report on his discoveries in Harborage. He told them everything that happened, including the magical abilities of Cherin and Alleron. After some deliberation the Council asked him to see to other problems in the kingdom. Specifically they wanted him to stop the bandits plaguing the village of Steepleton and teach the community to protect itself.

Alois met with Templar Evander alone several days later and the Templar told him grave news; a hero of the Order had disappeared while fighting the bandits. Templar Evander warned Alois to be careful because the bandits were holed up in Ann’s Wood: a forest haunted by the vengeful spirit of a witch. Evander believed the bandits had some how managed to keep the ghost at bay and, to inspire Alois, told him of Zurach’s exploits and told him to trust in himself and to never give in to fear or sorrow.

Nuras: During the Highsummer Festival Nuras met a young man named Balder Hasch and together with his newfound human friend he found a mentor in the sturdy Breza Stouthearth who showed him some of the basics of dwarven fighting and he spent the time in Caedwyr sparring with her and Balder and practicing his skills.

Cherin: Cherin and Nuras explored the Highsummer Festival, finding a Trader camp in the heart of the city and being accousted by a perverted trader man named Amen whose dishonorable actions forced his own people to subdue him. For their silence Cherin and Nuras were gifted very special garments: robes made of specially treated and prepared spun glass the Traders referred to as “Sandsilk”.

Later that day the two split up and Cherin ran into a fellow student of Jin, a woman named Cecilie, and the two spent several hours talking and getting to know one another. Afterwards Cherin sought out the elven envoy to Caedwyr Elesa Luiren and found her in a peaceful park nearby the Highsummer Festivities. A young man with auburn hair was with her, he turned out to be the Crown Prince of Caedwyr: Rhys Williamson. Cherin spent some time speaking with Elesa and Rhys about his concerns regarding the Order’s intentions towards Ceatharn Forest. Elesa agreed to meet with the Order’s leaders and Rhys asked Cherin to visit him once he returned from Steepleton.

As the trio was leaving the capital they were stopped (rather brutishly) by the Trader woman who had given Nuras and Cherin their sandsilk. She accused them of betraying her and breaking their word by telling “someone” where the dishonored trader Amen was. Amen was taken by a group of armed men, the Traders could only watch. After rebuking the woman, Saere, and causing her to see her error they continued on along the road towards Steepleton.

Chapter 3: Retreat from Ceatharn
Or: Fey, Folk, and the Capital

(Note: This is a continuation of the previous game which was played over like two days… I was exhausted and had to give up the next morning.)

Cherin, Naras, and Alois barely manage to escape the collapsing catacombs (from which they valiantly ran away after the dead started rising) though falling debris struck more than one person. The group lands in a heap back outside, only an hour had passed since they had entered the decaying catacombs.

The group spoke a moment, each unsure what the ruins link to the strange aura of enchantment that shrouded the forest at night, but each of them was sure that it was in fact linked.

Then the creaking and rustling alerted them to another possible problem and out of the thick vegetation walked a massive treant. It gestured silently for them to follow and they, not really feeling threatened by the great creature, followed silently until they reached a small clearing with a clear blue pond in the center. The treant left and the pond’s surface rippled as a melodic voice spoke, “Keep your metal beyond this grove.”

Cherin, having experience with the fey, was the first to remove any metal he wore and the others quickly followed suit. From out of the pond a pale beauty rose. Her almond-shaped eyes were like liquid amber and her auburn hair shone in the light filtering through the trees.

She spoke briefly to the group, asking them to explain their presence in her woods. Then darting lights caught their attention as a swarm of tiny glowing faeries spiraled around them and one by one Cherin and Naras were lulled to sleep by the light show. Naras, left awake, turned to the nymph called Fala and she looked into his eyes and he felt wooziness flow through his veins but managed to stay awake. She approached him, touching his bare skin, and he collapsed in a heap – fast asleep.

They awoke in the clearing, their wounds healed, to find the stars twinkling overhead. Alarmed, they started up but Cherin’s magically-attuned eyes detected very few traces of the enchantment plaguing the region but a very strong radiance of abjuration. As they looked around Fala rose from the depths of her pond once more and spoke to them once more.

She told them of the three evils plaguing the land; a dragon called Omenathrax the Corruptor, a once honorable lizardfolk shaman who has become a undead monstrosity and rules the varied lizardfolk tribes in Ceatharn and the Shadow Marshes, and a creature that Fala knows only as ‘Atashetel, the Demon Made Flesh’.

A lizardfolk male named Ssurpus is brought in by the fey and he speaks of his people’s fear of their leader and of the dragon Omenathrax the Corruptor. The Dezrak was once a brave shaman named Azkani who sought a way to protect his people from the dangers of the world. He meditated alone in the forest for many years and each time returned to his people less alive. Very few lizardfolk still live free from his rule.

Of Omenathrax he can only say that she is an old evil of the wood recently returned.

After they speak Ssurpus Fala calls forth a dryad who returns the bewildered, but strangely well-rested, party to the edge of the forest and from there they return (quickly) to town where they rest until morning.

In the morning they decide to report their findings to the Order and hopefully get some guidance as to what they should do. None of them can help but feel a bit overwhelmed by the daunting task ahead of them.

The journey to Caedwyr Town took only a few days from Harborage and was completely uneventful and on the afternoon of the second day of walking they finally saw the large city of Caedwyr Town, capital of all Caedwyr sprawled out before them.

Chapter 2: There and Back Again

9th of Equos

As morning dawns the group gathers at the Wavecrest Inn to have breakfast and discuss their goal: investigating further into the strange and dangerous Ceatharn Woods. They wait for Alleron who doesn’t show up and instead a young tawny-furred catfolk woman named Saris appears telling them that Alleron has taken ill and cannot join the expedition.

Alois goes off on his own to talk to go to the Court House and the dungeons beneath it to retrieve a dog he had kept there after knocking it out during the previous night’s harrowing encounter. He finds the dog, in the morning, to be completely normal.

Naras and Cherin wander around town in search of a expert in animal behavior named Eileen Cassidy when a group of drunken sailors throw a rock at Naras and insult him. Alois appears from hiding and knocks one of the men unconscious and orders them to stand down in the name of the Order of the Light. The sailors are too drunk or stupid to listen and they begin gearing up for a brawl when Cherin unleashes a gout of flame into the air, sending the sailors sprinting in all directions. The townsfolk also react to the sudden burst and begin crying of witchery and demonic magic.

A middle aged, olive-skinned woman comes up to them and tells them they may want to lay low and she offers her home as a refuge and as they walk she introduces herself as the very woman they’ve been looking for: Eileen Cassidy. She tells them that the people of Harborage have lost much to magic and the fear of what they do not know is strong. They reach her humble home and they talk to her about the horrific behavior of the animals and she has very little more to tell them of that. She does mention an old ruin in the heart of the forest that could have some answers. The ruin is underground and has long been blocked by a magical shield.

The group leaves her house, taking along her gift of a healing potion, and heads into the forest which is peaceful and calm during the day. By mid-day they find the ruins, barely more than a few stone pillars and arches covered in ivy. A stairway leads downwards and the group finds no magic shield protecting it. They venture down and find themselves in a small room with a fountain covered in greasy, brownish red stains. They find two hidden doors and within moments find themselves attacked by a carrion crawler on the edge of a deep pit. After barely fending it off they find a moldering library and several magical scrolls of necromancy.

They leave and go to the second hidden door and find a long corridor that opens up on a huge, shadowy chamber; pillars support the roof and the floor is covered in bones. Niches along the walls house rotted corpses. On the far side of the room is a massive altar of obsidian. Behind the Altar is a massive rotted skull, draconic in origin. They move through the chamber, bones crunching beneath their feet, and gray energy wreathes around the altar and a ghostly figure in ragged robes appears. “You trespass on holy ground, your souls now belong to the Reaper,” it says and gray energy erupts from the altar and flashes across the room to the niches in the walls and skeletons and zombies begin moving all around them.

Alois calls upon his god and Pelor’s radiance is so great that many of the undead creatures flee or cower and the group flees the hidden chamber, slamming the door closed behind them and finishing up the skeletons that had escaped. They run up the stairs to the safety of the forest and the walls begin to crumble around them.


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