The North Journey - A Greyhawk Campaign

Book Three, Chapter Three - The Palace, Part 2
Breaking and Entering

Clearing the Palace

Most Deadly Trap – a poison needle trapped lock that sent Paddy into seizures

Most Useful Magic – Darmok’s Boots of Striding and Springing or Paddy’s Ring of Feather Falling

Noisefest – bashing open chests, devaluing some of the contents

Now that the three huge bats lay dead, our adventurers moved ahead into the south hallway and came upon some locked doors after it turned west. In the process of picking the lock they were peppered with arrows from the west and saw three figures disappear behind a far corner, and pursued. This brought them into a wide hallway featuring a balcony and stairway down, upon which where three chainmaille-clad archers loosing another round. The party engaged, and a still-invisible Paddy jumped the railing and Feather-Falled to the bottom of the stairs as more fighters attacked from the hallway and behind the party using arrows and javelins, targeting the spellcasters. Darmok’s Boots of Striding and Springing allowed him to jump up from the stairs to confront what appeared to be the leader, who later jumped over the railing in an attempt to escape; he was killed recovering his feet, but another fighter jumped out the collapsed rear of a back room and escaped. One fighter remained, bound with rope, the victim of Chees’ Hold Person spell, and he revealed little information as Paddy and Exex interrogated him in the collapsed room – Paddy slew him, tsk tsk.

With all resistance seemingly eliminated, everyone resumed their exploration of the second story, finding several barracks rooms, including a singularly better-appointed room with a single bed and well-bound chest. Both Exex and Paddy failed to find traps on the locked chest, and when Paddy picked the lock a needle sprung and stuck him with poison. Garath used his barbarian familiarity with natural poisons to try to help the convulsing halfling, and amazingly rolled success, saving Paddy’s life. At the very end of the hallway a great pair of ornate roanwood doors stood locked with a bronze lockplate, a silver symbol inscribed on it. Dispel Magic, from Darmok’s sword and Chees’ spells, failed to remove the glyph (already identified as a Glyph of Warding through my error), but Paddy realized they could go up on the roof and enter from a window. Doing so, they found the room was a huge, lavish bedroom, an armoire full of elegant woman’s clothes and an open scroll on a desk – the scroll written in heiroglyphics, someone had scribbled notes in Common in the margins indicating “two keys needed to access inner tomb” and some such. A chest hidden under furs resisted attempts to Find Traps and Pick, so the greedy dwarf Allynfred bashed it open with his +1 Battleaxe, damaging a set of electrum goblets within.

The party climbed back out with ropes and decided to try the cellar later, opting to return to the wagon to rest – the wandering monster rolls were negative, luckily.

To The Cellar!

Toughest Foe – a ballista

Not-so-tough Foe – the orc soldiers

Not-so-used Magic ItemRing of the Ram

Returning to the Palace after several hours spent relearning Cure spells, the party entered the second floor from the roof and made their way to the cellar steps, entering a large storeroom where they were ambushed by orcs. With the melee in full progress the spellcasters found themselves targets of throwing axes, followed by spetum-weilding gnolls that jumped into the fray. When all these humanoids were dead, the next room, an ancient winery, was ransacked for little loot.

Only one way was left, a 20’ wide passage north terminating in a pair of wide bronze doors decorated in arabesque and geometric patterns – this was found to resist opening after the lock was picked, so one by one the brawny heroes began battering it, hearing the sound of cracking wood behind as five or six characters began to bash it – Ring of the Ram be damned! After three very noisy attempts the bar splintered and the doors flew open. As the party recovered and set to move, a loud twaang was heard and a great javelin hit Paddy’s well-illuminated frame (glowing magic swords for light sources). Fearing a second round, the party charged down the hallway into a large ancient armory, where a team of orcs manned a ballista, supported by more orcs behind mantlets. The orcs had cocked and loaded the ballista by the time the characters reached the mantlets, so one more javelin was loosed on Garath, grazing him as the ancient ballista snapped to pieces with a loud crash. Exex ran to a corner and hid in the shadows, sneaking along the wall in an attempt to backstab one of the nasties, but she rolled a dreaded “1”. Three orc captains emerged to assist and were killed along with the rest.

The captain’s room contained three cells, one of which held a Dervish prisoner, abused and frightened but not physically hurt. Upon release, the frightened fellow tried to make a run for the door but was overborne by Garath, and the party attempted to calm him and give him water. Unfortunately, the dervish, like so many of his brethren, are rather isolated in the desert and have no need to learn the Common Tongue (only a few know it), and they had no language spells memorized, so could not communicate with him. What was left but to search the bodies, gathering some booty, and then see what else was about?

Oddly, they saw no other doors, and in searching one, two, three walls, each party member, not a single d6 out of 24 rolls resulted in a “1” (or “2” for the demi-humans). Hmmmm…

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Book Three, Chapter Three - The Palace
More fun than a barrel of monkeys!

Toughest Battle – fight in the courtyard featuring Gnolls, Flinds and baboons

Most Helpful SpellHold Person cast on a Flind

Most Intriguing Find – strangely-shaped iron bar, possibly a key

Taking a breather after vanquishing a squad of gnolls in their barracks, our meddlesome adventurers debated what to do next; they feared another drawn-out battle, and were worried that they were running out of healing spells. Thus, Paddy talked Exex into using an Invisibility spell on him, while Chees and Rebamac each cast a Cure Light Wounds on the two most injured. They found a little water and cheap wine in the marble closet of the bath and Paddy explored the open-air bath next door, noting a couple gnolls lurking in the courtyard by a huge fountain. With Paddy staying to the west side and Bobill invisible behind a southeast corner, Garath and Darmok strode into the courtyard to challenge the gnolls.

Well, gnolls are rather stupid but they can be crafty, and this group had Flind leaders. As the paladin and barbarian engaged the three gnolls by the fountain, the guards barked and two Flind leaders sprung the trap; suddenly the brave fighters found themselves surrounded and outnumbered by a dozen gnolls and their two leaders. Rebamac and Allynfred the dwarf rushed into the fray to help, leaving Chees to watch over Exex, while a spellcaster and thief stayed out of the fight, unseen by all. Inexplicably, only Chees elected to cast any spell, and that was Hold Person on the paladin’s Flind, which found itself paralyzed.

Well, no matter – the next round the gnolls’ pets scampered into the courtyard to play with the adventurers. Rebamac, Darmok, Garath, Chees, Exex, and Allynfred each ended up with a monkey on their backs – a vicious, red-faced, huge-fanged mandrill, to be precise, and these monkeys gave no quarter. A seventh baboon jumped around amid the melee, picking targets at random, until he smelled something halflingish nearby and attacked it. Not wanting to risk breaking his Invisibility, Paddy ran among the pillars to escape his primate plaything. In the meantime, things were getting dicey for the rest – Exex, Rebamac and Chees couldn’t cast any spells with the baboons attacking them, and had to physically fend off the filthy monkeys. Eventually, the party prevailed, Exex stole behind the still Held Flind leader and backstabbed him – rolled a 1 for damage, though, so he had to be beaten down – and Rebamac nearly died with just 1 hit point remaining. But hey, Paddy and Bobill were still invisible!

Should We Stay Or Should We Go?

Now what to do? Again there was much deliberation, the last Cure Light Wounds was used on Rebamac, and it seemed obvious that they needed to get back to the wagon and rest; but do they try to sneak out, or make a mad dash for the ballroom entry where they first came in? Mad dash it was, and as they ran across arrows zinged at them from the north above, but the missiles all…missed. With this last lucky break the party made a beeline north for the wagon, and my wandering monster rolls came up negative. Maybe the desert’s not so dangerous, after all.

Due to the severity of their wounds – everyone was at about half-hit points or less – the party camped at the wagon for around 24 hours, until all Cure Light Wounds were cast, re-memorized, cast again, and re-memorized. Again the dice were in the party’s favor and wandering monster rolls came up negative. Darmok and Paddy both agreed that they weren’t done in the Palace, and so the group traveled back to the Palace, stopping short of the front entrance with it’s now-closed bronze doors. As the doors were locked, a still invisible Paddy climbed the front, onto a ledge, and peered through the brass-barred windows, walked past a tapestry-covered archway, peered through another window, and noticed light coming from a room on the second floor.

Eventually, an Invisibility was cast on Garath, he and Paddy climbed up to the roof, then Garath hung on to Paddy as Paddy’s Ring of Feather Falling lowered them gently to the floor of the courtyard – the pair then unbarred the front doors to the ballroom and let the party in. Paddy snuck around the south courtyard, discovered stairs down, and noticed a couple humanoids using his infravision and snuck back up. Everyone decided to go up the ballroom stair instead, and found the two doors out of the upper floor locked. After several failed attempts at picking the locks, the fighters made a couple efforts to force the west doors open; when Darmok succeeded, he discovered they led into a hallway overlooking the courtyard, and the noise and smell of bats urged him to close the doors again immediately. The south doors were then forced open, which led to a ransacked library and another locked door.

This door was picked and opened, revealing an elegant wood-paneled room with flagstone floor, roanwood gaming table and a chest in the southwest corner. Paddy, Darmok and Garath all marched straight to the chest, and as they reached it the floor curled up around and enfolded them. The party had to beat down this monster, which was crushing the fighters within. When it was killed, they found nothing but bones and scraps of metal underneath, but no treasure. Exex examined the table closely and discovered a loose piece on the game table surface – it turned out to be some sort of triangular iron bar or key, slotted at one end, and painted to match the pattern of the table. Searching next for secret doors, none were found, so everyone went back to the upper ballroom and convinced Darmok to chance the batway, as he had the best armor class. Risking his shiny-but-dented-field plate’s finish, Darmok rushed through the hallway to be chased by several great bats among the cloud of normal bats, but made it to the end of the narrow hallway – to be targeted by arrows and javelins.

Darmok shouted for assistance as he took on the javelin-throwers in the first room, bringing an invisible Garath and Paddy to his aid. Garath was hit by an arrow meant for the paladin, and forsook his camouflaged state to throw down with the archers. After dispatching these foes the rest of the party ran the gauntlet and quickly examined the rooms, but found nothing of any real value and no exits. Returning down the hallway, they passed a tarp with guano spots on one side yet clean on the other; they left it and lit torches to scare off the bats, which worked – for the normal bats. As Rebamac held the torches, three huge, whiptailed shrieking bats attacked her, forcing the fighters to help her slay the leathery-winged bugsuckers. Now the party faced a narrow hallway running south, and play ended for the night.

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Book Three, Chapter Three - From the Dome to the Palace
Destroying the Book won't be as easy as we thought...

The Dome is reached

Toughest Foe – another Leucrotta

Best Treasure – Finding the Lamia’s treasure horde in a secret room

Worst Setback – Darmok’s field plate received a couple dents from Leucrotta kicks and a bite

Play resumed in the Shadow cells, where the two clerics and Darmok entered each cell and slew the Shadow within; the last two Shadows regained their composure before the undead-turners reached them and they reattacked the party in the hall, but were soon vanquished.

Exex adopted a new “check everything out” policy that resulted in the discovery of a flask hidden in a false back in a desk drawer. Freshly motivated, the characters elected to back-track, revisiting the apartments (to find a bronze coffer hidden under a bed) and the lamia lair, where a secret door was found with a keyhole. After trying a sword point and dagger point, Exex suggested the key around the lamia’s neck, which worked! A nice haul was gained, including a keg of brandy.

They also fought a second Leucrotta that got a nice kick and bite in on Darmok, and a giant lizard that Garath and Allynfred slew. After Exex examined a fly-infested, dung-ridden fireplace and nearly got bitten by the flies, everyone decided there was nothing more to explore and headed up the stairs for what they hoped would be the conclusion.

The stairway up was elaborately carved with bas-reliefs like the circular room, and led into a wide, windowed hallway similarly carved, the whole floor littered with stone chips and dust. Even in the moonless night the stars shone brightly and, along with their magic swords, illuminated a breathtaking scene. The walls and ceiling were completely covered in sculptures, as were the pillars that held up the dome they could see rising from the wide opening into the next room. This room was not only carved from the sandstone hill, but was also finished in white-and-green alabaster, the whole of it carved with scenes of otherwordly, heavenly and angelic beings rising upward to a sea of serene and joyous faces smiling down, as starlight beamed in through gabled windows in the 60’-high dome. A wide circular alabaster pool carved with aquatic creatures jutted out from an outcropping of sandstone in the back wall of the room, the only feature in the room save for the floor not sculpted. A trickle of water dripped from a crack in the outcropping into a puddle within the pool. Surely, this was the Spring of Athis!

As they took this in, the party heard the tapping of metal on stone, and approached the noise, to discover a grizzled old human stonecarver. He invited them to sit and rest, and asked a few questions. His name was Memphis and he had been working here a long time. He affirmed that this was indeed the Spring of Athis, but,

it’s not really working right now. It’s sick, and the only way to fix it is to get to the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem is in the heart of the hill, through the way of the dead.

Memphis explained that this had been a house of healing in the City of Pazar, until the last ruler called a curse on the place. Until his curse is lifted, the Spring cannot flow again. Darmok asked to taste the water and found it extremely clear, clean, cool and refreshing, but no magical effect. After questioning Memphis further about the nature of his being, and receiving coy responses, the characters left the Dome for the wagon, finding gnoll tracks on the way.

To The Palace

Toughest Foe – Three Hyenadons

After resting, healing and memorizing spells, Allynfred tracked the gnolls almost a mile south, to a large, mostly intact two-story structure with decorated bronze double doors and brass-barred windows. After peering through the gap in the open doors, Darmok and Garath bravely stepped through into a once-elegant ballroom where several gnolls demanded to see their pass. The two fighters rushed the gnolls, followed closely by the halfling and dwarf, and encountered arrow fire from a balcony ahead. The gnolls kicked over a basket, allowing two spitting cobras to slither out and spit at Darmok and Garath; Rebamac joined the fray at this point, leaving Exex, Chees and Bobill at the doors. The two snakes were easily chopped up, Paddy ran the stairs and Rebamac got axed from behind by a gnoll hiding in the corner. As the fight intensified the gnolls barked, whistled and retreated, to soon fall to the adventurer’s blades; Garath pursued a remaining, wounded gnoll to the back of the balcony, tackling it only to have it turn and bite him. An angry Garath snapped it’s neck. The spellcasters had entered the ballroom only to see three huge hyena-like creatures bounding for them, though one turned up the stairway. A lion-headed gnoll-like creature followed them into the room. Chees was badly wounded in this attack, and Rebamac ran to her aid to heal her. Darmok’s Boots of Striding and Springing brought him face-to-face with the leonine humanoid as the rest of the party took on the hyenadons. Bobill cast Invisibility on himself during the melee, and stayed out of the fight.

All foes were eventually dispatched and the characters continued on through the ballroom into a throne room, a dining room and kitchen apparently still in use, and down a hallway. Through a half-open door here they entered a barracks room of gnolls and proceeded to engage them in a martial way. As this group was finished off, two polearms thrust into Allynfred from the open doorway behind him, and three more gnolls were now in the fight. The last of these had his knees sliced open with a roll of 20 by Paddy, and was overborne and questioned.

The party learned that a tomb structure was nearby behind the hill, and that the “bosses” were in the palace upstairs, and they had “scary magic”. The party now debated a course of action, Paddy decided to finish off the gnoll, and play ended for the night.

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Book Three, Chapter Three - The Dome, Part Three
Things are definitely not always what they seem...

The South Cellar and the Upper Level

Toughest Loss – the half-elf Rebamac losing a point of Wisdom

Most Dangerous Foe – the beast-woman (c’mon, it’s a lamia)

Most Cunning Foe – Gargoyles and their attacks of opportunity

Most Helpful Item – flaming oil

On their next outing the troupe went to the rear, west section of the main floor, finding a great room with eight long, shallow pools, empty but crusted with greenish-white minerals. Two side rooms had valves and huge, spider-like insects that were easily killed and caused minimal damage to the barbarian. Turning the bronze valves didn’t seem to do anything, so the party chose to go back downstairs to the north cellar. They followed the south passage to a west-running hallway, which turned south; a fissure had broken into the wall here and the party crept through into a high-ceilinged cavern. Reflections from the rear indicated a pool of water, and they proceeded cautiously, carefully monitoring the ceiling’s stalactites for nasty cave beasties. Sure enough, a stalactite was seen creeping over the party’s heads; they shot a couple arrows at it and it loosed itself over Rebamac’s head. It missed and hit the cavern floor, tipping over to expose a soft, hermit-crab-like underside which was easily killed; it had a hard, stony shell nearly identical to a stalactite.

Nearly a dozen of these monsters dropped on the party, a couple scoring hits on party members, including Garath. The pool turned out to be water, fed by a slow trickle from the west wall, and flowing in a shallow narrow stream south, disappearing through a crack. The water was unexceptional and had a mineral taste, but probably potable still. Another fissure led to an opening in a medium-sized, oddly-shaped room which had two more of the large ovens, with great iron grills – but they had grills on the other side, and so might lead to another room. Testing one, Paddy found it rusted shut, and the barbarian and paladin then attempted to Bend Bars and remove one.

As the party was distracted by this, Bobill screamed and the characters turned to see a man-sized, batlike, horned horror had it’s claws in him and was flapping madly to lift the mage off the floor. It was tackled and hacked, and the cleric’s attended to Bobill’s wounds. Allynfred was put in the rear to guard against further surprises, and the grill were removed, allowing Paddy to determine that the ovens passed between this kitchen and the hexagonal room. From there it was on to another large room that was overgrown with mold and fungi, at least two dozen reddish to purplish mushrooms waist-high or larger. Not getting too close, Paddy and Garath threw flaming oil at the closest sprouts until a sizeable passage was made, and then they could investigate one last passageway on the west side of this chamber. It was a long tunnel running west then south, terminating in a 20’ square room with a square pool in the southwest corner. Exex had a rope tied to her and swam to the bottom, about 12’ deep, checking for cracks, loose stones, and a 2” diameter hole in the bottom. Like the cavern, nothing unusual about the water, potable but not tasty, and no secret doors.

They finished their explorations of a couple other rooms, apparently pantries or storage rooms which were infested with human-sized iridescent scarab beetles. These bothers were dispatched and the rooms found to hold nothing valuable, but during the fights three more gargoyles attacked the party while distracted. At this point, looking at their mapping, they determined there was nothing left to explore down here and elected to chance the stairs across from the building’s main entrance, heading up to the second floor.

Bas-relief chamber

The stairs brought them into a 70-foot diameter chamber, a 20’ diameter pool in its center, the ceiling slightly domed. The entire wall surface of this chamber, and the two passages out, were carved in bas-relief sculptures. Every square inch had been chiseled in realistic, elaborate detail with scenes of angelic and otherworldly creatures in combat with demonic beings, as well as scenes of worship and conquest. Fragments and flakes of chiseled stone littered the rooms’s edges, and the pool was shallow and covered with dust. Finding nothing else of value, the group exited through the north passage and entered a chamber where they were attacked by a strange beast resembling a cross between a coyote and a zebra. As they fought it, a dervish woman ran from an archway behind the party and begged them to follow her to safety. Immediately suspicious, the party refused and Rebamac stepped forward to cast Know Alignment on the woman, who backed away and muttered a spell of her own. Suddenly there were four of her, each bounding across the room to attack a different person. As the zebra-beast fell Darmok called upon his sword’s power to Dispel Magic and three of the dervishes disappeared, leaving a large, centaur-like creature with a wickedly curved knife standing in front of Rebamac. The poor half-elf had just taken a strike from the dagger and felt a mental loss; her enemy, with the upper torso, arms and head of a woman and a lower body similar to a lion, now attempted to Charm one of the fighters. Everyone joined in the attack on this creature and dispatched it, and wounds were healed; Rebamac discovered she had lost a point of Wisdom. Along with the knife, the beast-woman had a copper ring and wore a key on a loop about her neck.

The back rooms, which may have been offices and now served as the beast’s lair, were entered, but since they saw nothing but an old, broken bedframe piled with skins and furs, they left without thoroughly searching. Desparation, disappointment, exasperation, call it what you will, the desire to either find treasure or the Spring was burning in our intrepid adventurers, so they crossed a hallway and began entering doorways. One by one, each room was found to be an apartment painted in a different color, appointed with once-elegant furniture, now ravaged by time and worthless. One apartment was missing a bed, but drag marks on the floor led to the woman-beast’s lair. At the end of the hall the archway entered a long dining room whose decayed tables and sandstone floor were covered with guano, and four huge long-tailed bats shrieked their displeasure. Though the bats snapped at the fighters and struck with their tails, they didn’t connect much and were slaughtered.

Returning to the circular entryroom, the characters travelled through the south passage and into an empty vestry, then a curving hall with many small spartan rooms, but nothing of obvious value. As they reached the end of the hall, a slightly larger room, Shadows emptied into the hall to attack. Chees and Rebamac turned undead successfully and the Shadows retreated back into their rooms. Play ended for the night here.

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Book Three, Chapter Three - The Dome, Part Two
A mino-Tour of the place...

The North Cellar and the South Wing

Trickiest Foe – the Minotaurs

Toughest Foe – the Minotaurs

Most Beset-Upon Party Member – Paddy the Tallfellow, Halfling Fighter/Thief

With Paddy in the lead the party descended the steps about twenty feet or so to find themselves in a large room with three passageways leading out in the north end and one in the south end. The once-whitewashed, smooth-walled chamber featured much broken furniture and furniture frames of ancient, dry, cracked wood, toppled braziers and brass sconces in the walls. Huge, humanoid footprints were easily seen in the dust and sand on the floor, heading for the south passage. After some discussion, everyone decided to investigate the north passages first, which led to a supply room and two laboratories, the larger of which was infested with a mold that had grown out of one of the pots and across the room; the area behind the mold seemed covered by a slight haze, but a workbench and alchemical apparatus were visible there. There was some debate about how to deal with the mold, and finally Darmok, having immunity to disease, elected to try pouring oil on it – I ruled this was an acceptable use of oil for a paladin, since it wasn’t a combat scenario. The mold was set afire and a path created, but no one wanted to try passing through the haze, so they tested it with missile weapons and discovered those bounced right off it with a metallic sound. Garath braved the test and found the hazy wall was a solid wall of metal; feeling his way along, he found a door and lever handle, and easily opened it. This invisible wall created a sealed workspace in the back of the lab, and now the adventurers grabbed whatever bowls, flasks, beakers, and mortar and pestle seemed worthwhile.

Eager for action, they now followed the prints down the south passage and turned left at an intersection; this new passage had several archways on each side, and the place stunk. The first room brought them face-to-face with a troll, which was quickly killed and burned; they hurried to next room across and down the hall. Spying a brass lamp on a table visible from the hall, Paddy stepped into the room and was flattened by the open door crashing down on him, followed by a large male troll that jumped on the door to take on the fighters. A hurt Paddy wiggled out as the fight ended only to see a female troll rush in from a back archway, angry and screaming. She, too, soon fell and the troll chambers were searched for treasure. A room across the hall was filled with troll cast-offs, bones and armor and clothing and feces. Fearing nasty surprises or disease, this room was left alone.

Further on the party discovered bronze pipes and valves running along the ceilings, a brickroom full of sandstone block and ceramic bricks, and a hexagonal-shaped room with four great white-brick ovens built into the walls. Still seeking treasure and the Spring of Athis, the characters returned to the steps and explored the back part of the ground floor, finding a maze of small rooms with tables and beds all carved from the sandstone of the hill, but nothing more. They then passed through the main hallway, past the large double entrance and a grand stairway up, and into the south wing. Again first into the rooms, Paddy was trapped by a huge, flat stone colored-and-textured creature that dropped from the ceiling and began smothering him. Spells were cast and blunt weapons used on the monster, which died after a few rounds. Several coins were the only valuable recovered, so the party turned and proceeded to the back of this wing.

Here they encountered many crude traps and three minotaurs, two working as a team to flank the party, hurling javelins before engaging with their great bardiches and goring with their horns. Once these foes were defeated the party scrupulously checked for more traps and treasure, finding some buried in the dust of a flowerpot and finding a set of steps going down. In another maze-like rear section of small rooms with stone beds, tables, and basins, a brass-and-silver coffer held brass and electrum surgeon’s tools wrapped in rotting silk. Bruised and bloodied, everyone trudged back to the wagon to rest.

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Book Three, Chapter Three - The Dome
An extensive, pitched battle...

Entering the Dome Structure

It was nearing dusk when the adventurers again climbed the stairs and entered the structure’s plaza, finding a waterless pool filled with sand and dust and dried feces. The building itself seemed carved right out of the sandstone hillside, pillared stone-block wings extending eastward on either side of the plaza; the group chose to enter in an open door in the north wing, rather than the two great main doors near the pool. Paddy went first, followed by Garath and Darmok, with spellcasters in the middle and Allynfred the dwarf bringing up the rear. As the rest of the party began to enter and Paddy began checking for traps, figures rose up behind large empty flowerpots and fired crossbow bolts, immediately retreating through an open archway behind them at the end of the room.

The characters set a formation and the fighters moved into the next room, providing cover for the spellcasters, and were immediately beset by missile fire from behind mantlets and more flowerpots. Paddy, Garath, Darmok, and Allynfred fanned out into the room to engage the archers and a wave of swarthier fighters in chain and shield stepped out to meet them. The spellcasters began casting Sleep, Hold, and Magic Missiles into the room. The fighting was fierce, but the party eventually began to gain the upper hand, though Bobill and Exex had to retreat to safety back through the doorway. When just a handful of the tougher enemy fighters remained, their captain called out a strange command and they broke formation, charging the doorway where the spellcasters were. Our fighters routed the enemy, slaying all but the captain who then made a run through an open door in the south wall.

The Barbarian pursued the fugitive down a hall, with Paddy and Darmok close behind, only to have a pair of huge hyena-like beasts as big as worgs leap right over the captain and tear into Garath and Darmok. A big old scarred gnoll with a military fork jumped in and helped his “pets” battle our crew.

When all the carnage was over, bodies were searched but there was little coin to be taken and no magic. Exploring the next room revealed the gnoll hyenadon-master’s sleeping area and steps going down. These rooms had once been bright, whitewashed, and colorfully tiled and appointed with brass fixtures. Rather than checking out the west and south sections, the party voted to descend the steps.

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Book Three, Chapter Three - Pazar
Sometimes a sinkhole is just a sinkhole...

The City of Pazar

Most Clever Monster – The Troll with the net

Most Amusing Diversion – Sinkhole diving

Foe That Got Away – Giant crocodile

Within a couple hours the party reached Pazar:

Pazar

You pass north through the gap in the high dunes to see the ruins of an ancient city half-buried in the dust and sand, scattered throughout a very shallow valley formed mostly by a steep hill to the west. Mazes of weathered and broken stone walls run throughout the vista in front of you, some connected by sections of roads constructed by wide granite block. Low dunes of fine sand or dust lap over parts of roads and foundations and against still-standing walls, walls which just as often tilt at odd angles as stand straight, and many blocks of granite and sandstone dot the landscape like islands in a rolling sea of desolation. Most of the very few intact structures are small single-story buildings carved from blocks of sandstone or harder granite, featuring square pilasters, wide-block door bulkheads, and tall, thin windows. What roofs are left are flat block or very low peaked slabs, with little in the way of ornamentation, save for interlocking geometric patterns, which also appear on some of the structures.

Spying the domed building atop the hill they decided to go straight to the hill, but detoured to the lakebed as they thought perhaps a spring might be there. Discovering a sinkhole on the way, Paddy had himself tied with a rope and entered the shifty sand, trying to dig deeper into it, looking for secret entrances, perhaps. They spent two turns at this, Paddy having to be pulled out every so often, before concluding it was a waste of their time. Now Paddy, Exex, Allynfred, and Rebamac descended into the empty lakebed, traipsing along it’s dried and cracked bottom for over half-a-mile before spotting what looked like muddy water in the shaded northern portion. Proceeding cautiously, Paddy checked the puddle and found it was rather briny, dirty water thick with mud – then the puddle surged and splashed as a gigantic crocodile burst forth and tried to take the halfling for a snack. Paddy was hurt but had avoided being swallowed, and his compadres began attacking the enormous reptile, which retreated back into the water. Stunned and angry, the characters hiked back up to the rest of the party and pressed on to the hill.

They heeded the dervishes’ advice and didn’t even attempt to enter any structures, just followed the sections of road, checking for sinkholes, and killed a giant scorpion which was out hunting, until they reached a gully running from the hill to the lake; a stone bridge crossed the empty streambed. Seeing no apparent danger, the party and wagon crossed the bridge, but halfway across were ambushed by two trolls that swung up onto the bridge, one at each end. The troll at the north end immediately tossed a large net, trapping Darmok, Garath, and Paddy, and then began pummeling the helpless adventurers. As they struggled to cut themselves free, it was up to the rest of the party to take out the trolls. Eventually the regenerating beasts were defeated, burned, and their treasure found in hiding places below the bridge. The take was meager, nothing of any real consequence.

Dome of Elish

On the other side of the bridge were steps leading up the hill, past great crumbling terraces, to the domed building. Our gang elected to set up camp here, quartering the horses under an awning strung between the wagon and the bottom terrace. Leaving Trathonax the Ranger to watch the camp, everyone else proceeded up the steps. They were greeted at the top by a huge, lion-headed leathery-winged beast with brass scales; it leapt and landed in front of them, and spoke in Common, demanding tribute to pass. When they refused and insulted it it roared, weakening and deafening some. One of the mages cast a Silence 15’ radius on it’s location, but it then leapt up, over the fighters in front and landed on Bobill, raking him. The fighters all vigorously attacked the monster, breaking the magic-user free, and it roared again. By the end of the battle the creature was dead and much healing ensued, and a treasure stash was found beneath a huge flagstone that took the three fighters to move. Allynfred and Bobill decided that camp should be made right there, and so they slept and kept watch.

Near the end of the third watch screams for help were heard from Trathonax at the wagon, far below at the base of the hill. Everyone ran down to help, but by the time they arrived the Ranger was walking back to the wagon, having killed a couple gnolls that tried to kill him and raid the wagon. The gnolls’ tracks were followed to a low stone building which other gnolls used as a hideout – the party barged in and slew the whole group. They went back to the wagon and finished resting and recovering spells there.

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Book Three, Chapter Two - The Quest To Destroy The Book Of Eibon
The Abbor-Alz and the Bright Desert

Chapter Two – Abbor-Alz and The Bright Desert

Toughest Foe – Two Greater Displacer Beasts that can apparently paralyze with their tentacles

Most Spectacular Kill – a Jackalwere levitated to 70’ and dropped

Biggest Waste of Magic – using two charges from a Wand of Fireballs to dispatch a small camp of gnolls

Camped upon one of the hillocks, the watch noticed movement and woke everyone as three silent men, reeking of age and in decrepit, mouldy clothing entered the firelight. Darmok immediately detected evil and Chees called upon Idun, Rebamac upon Nepthys, to turn undead; their efforts were successful and the wights reversed direction, at which point the characters attacked with missile weapons, swords and axes, felling the creatures outside the camp.

In the morning the rain stopped, camp was taken down, the wagon and horses mounted and the track followed into the Abbor-Alz. All was quiet, though dark and gloomy, until near day’s end, when orcs and worgs ambushed the party. After decimating the raiders, characters discovered elven goods and hands among the orcs’ loot. After another couple hours they made camp and were again attacked by four undead, who were turned by the clerics and dispatched.

The gloomy, brooding storm clouds still darkened the skies the next morning as the group continued on the trail through the hills, and in a narrow pass heard the falling of rocks behind them. Paddy and the barbarian climbed the steep canyon wall to the top and were confronted with a huge, gangly warty humanoid creature with bristly hair. Assuming it to be a troll, Paddy prepared a flask of oil as Garath went one-on-one with the beast and the archers peppered it with arrows and magic missiles. With all attention focused on the troll up top, a second troll leapt over the fallen boulders behind the party and attacked – Darmok and Allynfred pushed through the spellcasters to stand between them and this second troll. As each troll fell, oil was splashed on it and lit, so the bodies burned to regenerate no more.

As the sun was low in the west the party rounded a bend only to come face-to-face with a huge black cat, which promptly leapt at them – that’s when they saw two tentacles and six legs! The beast roared as it attacked, and with all their attacks focused on the slightly-hazy beast they stopped it in short order, just as two more of the monsters appeared and attacked from the side and rear. The smaller beast jumped into the back of the wagon, where Allynfred and one of the spellcasters defended themselves. When these other two tentacle cats were dead, Trathonax and Garath tracked their prints for twenty minutes to a rock overhang. A haze seemed to permeate the lair, for when Paddy would try to take hold of an item of treasure in the nest his reach would be off by a foot or so, but he persisted and eventually collected all the treasure he could see. There were many shiny, glittering gems and jewelry and a couple crystal vials, and a short (6”) bluish-white metal rod, oddly grooved at one end and with three gold prongs at the other; it had several runes inscribed on one side. It went into the loot bags with everything else.

Into The Bright Desert

They trouped on in the morning, as the desert began intruding between the lower and more scattered hills, and then elected to follow the border westward in order to stop at the town of Al-Bakkar, a walled enclave on the eastern shore of Woolly Bay. Knowing this was their final stop before entering the Bright Desert, they stocked up on water and rations and bought garb ideal for the desert – long white robes, bandanas and scarves, and extra footwear. Locals knew nothing of Pazar save for the old stories, but suggested the desert nomads near the Brass Hills, due east, could tell them more – they would have to skirt the north slopes of the hills.

Before too long trekking due east the party chanced upon a camp of eight nomads in white turbans and robes who parlayed to join the party, as the desert can be a dangerous place. Our group declined, yet the nomads persisted, and the characters became suspicious; weapons were drawn, and the nomads gave intense stares, at which point someone dropped off to Sleep. A battle ensued, and the nomads shape-shifted into jackal-men, slicing with scimitars and biting with gnashing jackal teeth. The party came out victorious on the other side, they had collected 12 gp and 8 waterskins.

The party rested until nightfall, and moved under the moonlight for the next three nights; on the second night they saw another group dressed in desert garb far ahead and chose to trail them, not getting too close. The next night they came upon the group again, who appeared to be on foot. When daylight came and camp was made, Paddy and Garath tracked the travellers to their camp, then returned with news that the nomads were tall, canine-looking humanoids with a huge lizard beast of burden. Paddy convinced Exex and Bobill to cast Invisibility on him and his pony and loan him the Wand of Fireballs. Paddy then approached the gnoll camp, snuck up within 100’ or so, and let loose with a Fireball that left three of the creatures burning and attempting to crawl from the site. Paddy would have none of it and shot off a second Fireball, putting an end to the poor creatures. Once Paddy returned to camp, the others snatched the wand from him, chastising him for wasting a valuable charge.

Also encountered: giant starfish-like creatures hiding in the sand, and a sandstorm that blasted the party for forty minutes, leaving two large tentacle cats that attacked them.

The last night our group encountered a camp of dervishes, very nearly getting into a fight with the scimitar-weilding zealots, though cooler heads eventually prevailed and Rebamac approached the dervishes’ cleric for information. She was told that the dead city of their quest was nearby, following a straight route between the twin mesas known as the Two Sisters, and was also informed not to steal anything from any tombs in the dead city, for the dervishes are sworn protectors of such sites. With that, the two groups went their separate ways, though presumably to the same destination.

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Book Three, Chapter One - The Quest Begins
In which the Gang of Nine begins their quest to destroy an evil artifact...

Book Three, Chapter One – The Quest

Most Valuable Item Recovered+1 Bastard Sword, +3 vs. Regenerating Creatures

Toughest Foe – Sir Rathis, Knight Errant

Luckiest Move – Allynfred the Dwarf picking up an ogre spear and throwing it back at a non-profiency penalty of -4 and still rolling a high “To Hit” score, pricking an ogre

Upon returning to Pennyth the characters were counseled about the evil book – The Book of Eibon (“Black Book” in ancient Suloise). This was an evil artifact that must be destroyed “in the Spring of Athis, Dead in the Bright Desert;” which was all the Heironeous would tell him. Attempts to burn the book or chop it were futile, as the evil tome resisted all attacks. It was clear the party would have to find this Spring of Athis, and would have to consult a sage to get more exact information. It was back to Niole-dra…

And here, in the great capitol of Keoland, a learned sage by the name of Jarg Grendall in the Royal Archives told them everything they wanted to know about the object of their quest – the Spring of Athis, Dead in the Bright Desert, was a magical spring that once flowed in the Bright Desert, in a long-abandoned city known as Pazar, somewhere north of the Brass Hills. It’s last ruler was a Pharos known as Athanasus, who had descended into evil and called a curse down upon the land and it’s source of life. And that’s all that’s really known about the last of the Itar dynasty. But the players got a map, for a mere 100 gold pieces, drawn up to the most exacting detail the sage and his geographer could determine.

Well, Darmok took this information and Exex (whose Neutral alignment buffers the Book’s evil from the paladin and clerics) to the Temple of Saturnus for them to utilize. And they handed it right back to Darmok, saying, “and now you’ve got a quest to prove your worth to the Knights of the Law.”

In the meantime, characters paid for training and leveled up. Everyone was packed and on their way the next day, using the sage’s map to head east through the Uleks and into Tringlee, at the base of the Lortmils…

In Tringlee everyone traded in their cart for horses and mountaineering equipment to cross the Lortmil mountains through the Hidden Road. In the mountain pass they were attacked by hobgoblins and by orcs, and reported these events to an elven patrol they met there. At the bottom of the pass, entering the Elven realm of Celene, a contingent of elves interrogated them and provided two escorts to accompany the troupe to Entstad, the capitol. The party found lodging at an inn outside the great white curving marble walls of Entstad, encountering bandits after leaving in the morning. That night they camped just outside the Gnarley forest and were attacked by shadows which Chees turned and the fighters slew. Within the Gnarley the party were ambushed by harpies; after the bird-women were dispatched, Exex and Paddy located their nests and climbed up to them, discovering some trinkets such as buttons and jewelry. That night, camped within the forlorn forest, Shadow Mastiffs disrupted their camp and had to be killed; a couple characters succumbed to the panic caused by the Mastiff’s baying and had to be chased down and brought back.

The next day the party fought a pitched battle on a small wooden bridge manned by ogres and their Verbeeg leader, who wielded a bastard sword of exceptional quality. The creatures hurled spears and were answered by a combination of missiles and Sleep and Stinking Cloud spells. Darmok, true to form, set his lance and charged the Verbeeg commander. When the melee was over bodies were searched, tracks were found and followed to the nearby lair where the ogre’s treasure was stashed, and the sword was examined and found to have two symbols on it: the Regeneration symbol on the blade and the “Light” symbol on the pommel. Identify revealed it to be a +1 bastard sword, +3 vs. regenerating creatures, which will shed Light on command; in addition, it was found to be able to cast Dispel Magic once per day. Another great find!

 1  3 Bastard Sword

Crossing the bridge, the intrepid questers soon found themselves under darkening skies outside the Gnarley and passing by Narwell across the plains of the Wild Coast. During their ride they were surrounded by a force of bandits led by a rogue cavalier, the Knight Errant Sir Rathis, and his retinue of bodyguards and spellcasters. This turned into a fierce battle in which he challenged Darmok to a one-on-one joust, recognizing the cavalier standing of the paladin. A general melee ensued around them as the rest of the party picked off the bandit archers and escape a Stinking Cloud; during the combat, Bobill decided to Levitate Sir Rathis as Paddy fired arrows at the defenseless cavalier. An attack on Bobill broke the Levitate spell and Sir Rathis landed, taking some damage but still able to continue engaging Darmok. Before too much longer all the bandits were dead and the party were healing themselves, ready to press on to Woolly Bay through the rain.

They encountered a hobgoblin raiding party, passed a fortified motte-and-bailey estate known as the Halfway Inn near Safeton, and spied a group of Verbeeg with a prisoner. Challenging the five short giants, the characters freed the captive, an aspiring adventurer named Rollon Ferndis whose group was waylaid on their first expedition to Nulb to explore the ruins of an evil temple. He promised the group reward should they ever stop at his family’s estate in Narwell.

The rain never relented as the party reached a ferry across the wide Selintan river, where the free city of Hardby awaited a couple hours away on the other side. In Hardby much loot was sold, many supplies were stocked up on, and a wagon was bought to haul everything in. Rather than stay the night in Hardby, the adventurers proceeded east to the Abbor-Alz, finally camping for the night among low hillocks with the Abbor-Alz visible in the distance.

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Book Two, Chapter Six
A toadally-awesome adventure!

Chapter Six – The Toad Temple

Best Architecture – The Temple

Toughest Foe – The Minion of Wastri

Best Magic Item – Rod of Smiting

The party elected to follow Jarrod’s map to the edge of the Rushmmors, where they located a track into the swamp and followed it, being attacked by a Shambling Mound en route. The track ended at a strange structure built of saplings and sod in the shape of a gigantic toad; a flagstone path led into its “mouth”. Figuring it was an evil temple, Paddy and a couple others tried to set fire to the structure, only to witness a cloud suddenly form and rain down on the sputtering flames.

Temple of Wastri

Suddenly the party was ambushed by soldiers and bandits, including John Fletcher, and a cleric in banded mail who emerged from the mouth of the temple, glaive in hand. The fight was on!

Darmok spurred his warhorse, set his lance and charged the evil priest, while the rest of the party attempted to hold the attackers at bay via missile fire. The cleric, unable to get off a spell in time or dodge, was skewered for significant damage, but then Summoned several giant toads to attack the paladin, who had wheeled back to dismount. Bobill used this opportunity to grab his Wand of Fireballs and let one loose, centered on the cleric; this obliterated him and the front of the temple. The rest of the party finished off their opponents and set about exploring the interior of the temple.

Inside the temple were wells, one for offerings and one holding giant poisonous toads, a hideous altar and pit obviously used for sacrifices, badges, weapons and musical instruments used by worshippers, cleric’s chamber and slick stone steps spiraling down into darkness. Some characters went down tied together, a couple of the weakened stayed above. The steps descended into an ovoid chamber, the north half of which was a pool of water, while another altar and an idol were in the south half. This idol was a carved ivory human on one side, a carved jade toad-like humanoid on the other, fastened back-to-back. Once someone grabbed the idol, of course, the waters roiled and an ogre-sized, toadlike humanoid leapt forth from the water, soaking the characters and extinguishing their torches, croaked a Confusion spell, and proceeded to wreak havoc. The fighters responded admirably, dispatching the beast in but a few rounds, once a character up above lowered a lit torch into the chamber through the pit above.

The characters smashed the effigy and left the temple with what little loot they found, and left on the track back towards Kingsedge.

Minion of Wastri

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