Posts from the ‘D&D’ Category

The Demon Falls

The rightful council have been reinstated, though of course the imposters didn’t make things easy.  I am not entirely sure of the events that transpired as my mind was preoccupied with the previous day’s events, and I wasn’t particularly concerned with the excitement of looking through documents to find evidence of authority, but when Lasslyn got my attention I found the true council being threatened with strange metal devices, which I would later learn are the rumoured ‘pistols’ that the gnomes in Lantan have been working on.  Before I had a chance to react, the doors to the room were thrown open and guards came piling in; for once Jessie seemed to have everything under control, expecting a betrayal and making preparations should that happen.  As eager as I was to get away from this town, we were told that we would have to wait an extra day for our reward, as the council had a lot of work to catch up on.  As my mind wandered to thoughts on how to relax for the day, Arosea had to remind us ‘what happened to Keifer?’.  I felt all of our hearts sink at that moment.  Keifer is was a private investigator who tried to help us find the council, but he never made it to the rendezvous point.  We would have to find him before we could rest.

Our only lead was where he was last seen; the tavern that was home to the Teeth Shatterer gang.  The same tavern that I was turned away from due to a horrific attack that took place there and wiped out half the gang in one night.  On our return, there were just two gang members and it was clear disguises would not be necessary.  This time we were granted access so we could investigate, and indeed it was clear a lot of blood had been spilled though it was little compared to our experience in the mine.  The others got straight to looking for clues as to Keifer’s whereabouts, but I was more concerned with what caused the attack; indeed, based on the blood splatters it looked like most of the fighting took place near the walls which reinforced my theory on it being the same demonic entity we fought in the mines.  My investigation was briefly interrupted when I heard a loud gasp come from the back room, followed by Lasslyn shouting ‘Look at the size of it!  It’s huge! It’s magnificent!’.  Turned out she’d just found a greatclub.  Soon after Arosea came out from the back with a jacket, clearly Kiefer’s, and her head lowered.  She was asked if there was any sign of what happened to Kiefer or the Teeth Shatterer boss, but when she looked up there was somewhat of a gleam in her eye as she said ‘I need a dog’.

**Author’s note- I know that’s not quite how it went down and that Arosea was actually quite distraught, but hey you’ve been going on about that dog for weeks and I’m sure a small part of Arosea couldn’t help but be excited at the prospect of finally getting that dog**

As the rest of the group hurried off to the market, I stayed behind a while longer to talk to the Teeth Shatterers about what happened.  They confirmed my suspicions when I asked if the assailant had a beak-like feature and appeared to come out of the walls.  Although we had seemingly killed the creature, the boy in the church said there was more than one, not to mention the body in the mine mysteriously disappeared, but that was a thought I didn’t want to entertain.  As I turned to leave the Teeth Shatterers said that if we should find their boss then consider that they had been through enough, and they would avoid crime for a while at least; I reassured them that what petty crimes they were committing were no concern of mine.  After all, someone needs to keep the law enforcement busy otherwise they’ll find other ways of exerting their power… I have first-hand experience of that from my time in Sembia.  Thankfully, the guards here don’t seem as corrupt so the balance of power should remain.

I caught up with the others at the ‘exotic’ animal seller’s stall, though I would hardly call dogs, cats and birds exotic.  Still, it seemed Arosea had already picked out a dog to call her own; when I arrived it was sat on top of her and licking her face.  I couldn’t help but chuckle slightly as the dog appeared to be bigger than she was.  The others were also fawning over it, and informed me its name had already been decided… Magnus… That’s a name I had hoped not to hear any time soon.  I hurriedly started paying attention to the other animals, hoping the group wouldn’t see my expression.  It worked, though they now think I’m even more cold hearted than before. Probably for the best.  Mag The dog was outfitted with riding gear suitable for a halfling, and instantly seemed to obey Arosea’s commands.  To a certain extent.  The moment she said ‘track’ he shot off down the street with Arosea being dragged behind; it seems he only has two speeds, stop and go.  Lasslyn ran off after them, whilst Jessie and I followed at a normal pace, as we were sure they wouldn’t be difficult to find.

We were led to an area of the town we hadn’t visited previously, the lower east side, and very quickly something felt wrong.  It was quiet.  Too quiet.  The dog led us to a building and started pawing at the door; no-one answered to our knocking, so Lasslyn gave it a ‘dwarven’ knock which let us in, despite it being clear the door had been barricaded.  Immediately we were struck by a pungent smell and the sound of flies buzzing.  This place had an aura of death and decay, and looked like it had been abandoned for years.  Arosea went in to investigate first, and we soon heard her gasp, then cough as she got a mouthful of the foul air.  In her coughing she said ‘you’d better come see this’, though I already expected the worst.  Sure enough, in the next room was a corpse, sitting in a chair, his arms bound to it with thorns.  It was Kiefer, of that there was no doubt, but… old.  It was as if he had been here years, decades even, despite us only seeing him a couple of days ago.  Arosea left to get some fresh air as we started investigating, Jessie and Lasslyn looking to see if there was evidence of this being Keifer’s own house, whilst I used Detect Magic to find out more.  Sure enough, the whole area was saturated in Necromancy, with a faint aura of Conjuration; the same that surrounded the creature in the mine.  That would explain how the doors and windows became barricaded.  Before I could get a more defined result I was snapped out of my concentration by a blood curdling shriek coming from outside- as I regained my senses Jessie and Lasslyn were already running to the door.  Fearing the worst, I cast Light of Lunia on myself.

Outside, we were greeted by the sight of Arosea at a door on the other side of the street, writhing on the floor as if struggling with an invisible assailant.  As Lasslyn fumbled for a potion and Jessie put his hand to his temple- the universal casting gesture for Detect Magic- I acted on instinct and fired my rays of Lunia at whatever was on top of Arosea, but to no avail.  Indeed, Arosea’s armour now bears slight scorch marks which she thankfully hasn’t questioned me about yet.  Jessie then shouted at me to stop, saying it was an illusion, and that we must not touch the door by Arosea.  Hurriedly we ran to Arosea’s side as she continued convulsing.  Jessie grabbed her by the shoulders and attempted to talk her out of the spell, reassuring her with the sound of his voice- for a moment a flicker of recognition came to her eyes but it soon passed.  Finally Lasslyn found the potion she was looking for, pushed Jessie aside and force fed the potion to Arosea- whatever it was, it stopped her seizure and she was now in a peaceful sleep.  Lasslyn simply smiled and commented with ‘Remove Fear’.  Of course that’s what I was about to do, but I let her have this moment.

I directed the others to take Arosea back to the Room where she would be safe and could recuperate, whilst I attempt to purify the area.  It was a foolish idea, but I had to do something to stop innocent folk from entering the area… Unfortunately I didn’t have any relevant spells prepared.  I would have to pray for a miracle.  Fortunately, He was in a good mood today; I was permitted use of Consecrate, though at a cost of my own energy.  The spell was cast, and sapped of strength I started the slow climb up the town’s streets to the Room… I hadn’t noticed how steep this hill was until now.  My hand clutched my ring the whole while- I would be in serious trouble if I received a ‘message’ in this state.  Luckily I made it back without incident, and collapsed in the first bed I came to.

I woke to Mag the dog licking my hand, which did little to help my foul mood.  All I wanted was to get away from this town, let these people deal with their own demons… But I suppose ‘heroes’ aren’t allowed to rest.  Thankfully that gods-forsaken building was no longer an issue, as on the way out we received a letter from an anonymous ‘associate’ who Jessie and Arosea apparently had dealings with back in Highmoon; yet another group that has problems with the Naga’s Fang.  The letter simply stated that they had been watching us, and dealt with the problem we encountered yesterday- sure enough it was reported that a freak fire burned down that whole area during the night.  It was agreed that this means we could just get our reward, get what info we can out of the fake governor, then get out.

Getting to the council chambers, we were presented with our reward; a measly two platinum pieces.  I flexed my fingers by my side, suppressing the urge to lash out, when he said he was only joking and presented the rest; a total of 200 platinum.  An adequate sum for a town this size, but I still feel we deserved more after what we had been through.  Regardless, we accepted and moved on to the interrogation.  On the way it was decided we would do a good guardsman/ bad guardsman routine, as that always seems to work… Long story short, Arosea tried asking questions whilst Jessie punched him, I shocked him with some Inflict wounds, and Lasslyn was ‘distracted’ by Magnus.  The questioning was getting nowhere, and I’m ashamed to say I snapped at one point when he claimed to be more ‘righteous’ than me, the cleric.  I was prepared to blast him with my most powerful spell on the spot, but Lasslyn quickly saw the signs of rage and managed to calm me down before I killed him.  As I composed myself, Jessie pulled out a ring that he flashed at the prisoner before punching him some more and threatening him with destroying his reputation, family, and everything he’d spent his life building.  That seemed to do the trick.  He gave us the info we needed, though I stopped listening the moment he mentioned the ethereal girl I saw in the mine; he was terrified of her to the point where he would embrace death rather than betray her.  When the group were satisfied and took their leave, I requested to stay behind a while longer.  I asked him if he would rather die a quick and painless death by my hand, or wait for ‘her’ to come for him… Before he could answer, Jessie overheard me and tried to stop me, reasoning that we were asked to leave him alive.  I argued that if this girl wants him dead then presumably she would stop at nothing to get to him even if it means destroying the entire town- an argument that Jessie couldn’t dispute.  Though the man answered my original question, saying he would like to savour the time he has left.  He only lives because Jessie would have witnessed me violate my ‘code’, and it would cause too much hassle if questions were asked now.  I pray that I didn’t make the wrong decision.  Regardless, I made sure to stop by the clerical order to warn them of a possible evil that may be coming, and if it did then to not try and fight; just run.

Now, we are on the road again, to Scardale; another long, boring journey hence why I’m so eager to write today.  There we will continue the original plan of uniting the Dales, though it is no secret that Scardale already has ties to Sembia.  Harder still will be getting the events of Feather Falls off our minds.


A brief history of the planes

We’re reaching the end of the first chapter of our current game, and our DM wants a break, so I’ll be DMing again.  My game will be episodic rather than full-on campaign, as I’m keen for the current game to continue and don’t want to take over fully, so episodes will make it a lot easier to stop at any point without it affecting the main story.  These stories will take place in my usual campaign setting, but with a difference; it’s a prequel, set before the full-scale shadow invasion, where shadow activity is little more than rumour.

The first section below concerns a description of the cosmology providing some background to the setting, whilst the last section contains the campaign specific information; i.e the initial quests available to the new party.

To explain Sigil, first one must know how the multiverse operates.  The entirety of Faerun, indeed the whole world of Aber-Toril and any other worlds that may exist in the universe, exist on what is known by scholars as the Prime Material Plane.  Once the spell known as Dimension Door was mastered, research was undertaken as to how one could travel such distances instantaneously, and so the Astral Plane was discovered; a plane somehow linked to the material plane, in which miles could be covered by a single step.  This quickly led to the discovery of other planes linked to the Prime Material one, namely the Ethereal Plane and the Plane of Shadow.  These are so closely linked to the Prime Material plane in fact, that creatures lurking on them are often seen in the form of ghosts, and the monsters that children believe hide under their beds.  This led to the theory that when a mage conjures the elements seemingly from nothing, that energy is in fact being drawn from a specific plane containing that energy in abundance, these being referred to as the four elemental planes.  Once a reliable means of traversing these planes was discovered, wizards found mysterious portals on the Astral Plane leading to further realms- ones that uncannily matched the religious descriptions of Heaven and Hell and everything in between.  Intelligent beings were found in these places, and so portal magic was granted to mortals, having proved themselves responsible for this form of magic.  Of course, this gift would come at a price.

Millennia later, planar travel has become commonplace with the unfortunate side effect that it has made the Prime Material Plane a battleground of sorts for the multitude of creatures on other planes, being a newly discovered neutral ground inhabited by primitives.  For you see, if one was to imagine the cosmos as a great wheel, with each plane forming a spoke, each leads to the Astral Plane and therefore to the Prime Material Plane, making this plane of mortals a hub of key strategic importance should any one plane’s denizens gain control over it.  There is, however, another plane that served as a hub long before this one; The Concordant Domain of the Outlands.  All history of this plane has been lost over millions of years, but the fact remains that it is not the warzone that Faerun seems destined to become, and the reason for this is almost certainly due to the Lady of Pain and her city of Sigil.

The Outlands serve as a perfect visual representation of the ‘Great Wheel’ cosmology; a series of cities built around portals leading to their respective planes in a featureless near-infinite desert, save for an immense mountain in the centre known as ‘The Spire’, that drains all magic the closer you get to it including the divine powers of the gods.  Encircling the top of The Spire is a huge torus, inside which is the city of Sigil; a melting pot of races of every alignment from every known plane of existence, where angels and demons can live side by side.  The city itself covers the entire inside of the torus, meaning a visitor could look in any direction- even straight up- and see more city.  Naturally it could take weeks to walk from one side of the city to the other, which is why the denizens have commissioned portals that can be found in practically everything suitable- doorways, wells, even just a circle drawn in chalk, though attempting to navigate these without a guide could prove just as fruitless as walking.  The ruler of this city is the Lady of Pain, a mysterious being that is rumoured to be responsible for the magical dampening of the plane, and is therefore even more powerful than the gods.  Whether or not this is true, it is a fact that no God is allowed entry to her city.  And yet, despite likely having the power to conquer the cosmos, she is instead concerned with only one thing- the protection of her city, and balance of power amongst its citizens.  That is not to say that fights don’t break out, far from it, but these fights are rarely large enough to warrant the Lady’s attention.  And should they ever reach that point, the inciters are guaranteed to never be seen again, being sent to ‘The Lady’s Maze’; a demiplane from which no-one has ever escaped.

Naturally, this is a place where anyone could ask for anything without fear of judgment.  As such, it is the safest place in the multiverse for adventurer’s guilds to be set up, with access to anywhere imaginable, and receiving requests ranging from dealing with pest control, to providing entertainment for an event, to deposing demon lords from their thrones.  It is here that our band of adventurers comes in; all members of a relatively small upstart guild as yet unnamed, the postings here have thus far been for those that don’t mind an inexperienced group.  In time, this guild is sure to build its reputation, gaining a great many allies- and enemies- along the way.

This week’s postings include the following:

Civil Servants required to help reconstruction efforts in Broken Reach.  I can offer very… ‘enticing’ rewards 😉  Red Shroud x

Serial killer in the Lady’s Ward, targets seemingly random.  If anyone has any information or is willing to help in investigations, please contact your local guardhouse.

Do you have what it takes to be Sigil’s next big thing? Come along to Zook Scheppen Longfinger’s Talent Show at the Lady’s Tressel in The Hive! Every first-day at day’s wane.

Guides and escorts required for Primes.  Enquire with your preferred gate-town’s branch of Harmonium.  Must be willing to travel.

*Freelance work* Get our guild on the map!  Find work out in the city!  I don’t care if we become affiliated with angels or demons or even beholders, whatever gets the money in! -Guildmaster Ro
P.S- Still taking suggestions for the guild name!

That Escalated Quickly

It’s been an exhausting day, but I need to attempt to collect my thoughts.

A couple of days ago we discovered the people in charge of this town were imposters; the real council members went missing a couple of months ago.  None of the common townsfolk were aware of this, but the local clerical order had theories that it could be either Sembia, Drow, or local gangs; specifically the Naga’s Fang or the Teeth Shatterers.  From my experiences with Sembia, they could be ruled out, and this seemed too subtle to be a drow trick.  Considering Jessie and Arosea’s previous involvement with the Naga’s Fang, they seemed our most likely lead.

All this is irrelevant, however, as during our investigations I sensed a malevolent presence that I had only read about during my cleric training.  I had hoped it was paranoia brought on by lack of rest, but it was clear Arosea sensed the same thing, tenfold.  When the group reunited she was a nervous wreck, saying an infernal voice was talking to her.  I did not hesitate to contact the local clerics again to see if they knew anything about this.  Sure enough, there had been rumours of a supernatural entity in the lower parts of town.  The reports were consistent; in the words of the clerics, people felt as though ‘they were being watched as if from behind a pane of glass, where that glass is reality’.  Clearly some extraplanar entity was at work here.  The clerics introduced me to an eyewitness, who after some persuading managed to tell me there were multiples of these creatures.  They were wraith-like in appearance, and had smartly dressed people with them- by the sounds of it, probably the council members.

Our investigations led us to the mines, which immediately gave us a sense of unease as we approached.  All except Lasselin, as it seems dwarven minds are as stubborn as their demeanour.  The guards stationed outside were under the payroll of the Naga’s Fang, so were easy enough to get past thanks to Jessie’s deceptions.  Thinking about it now, it’s curious that a petty thieves guild would affiliate themselves with a demon and it is clear there is much we still do not know.  Regardless, I must continue this account so I can read this with rested eyes and see if I can make any sense of this.

Inside the mine, it was clear this was the creature’s lair as there were decaying corpses decorating the entrance and the ominous feeling grew stronger.  My training allowed me to block out its voice, but Arosea was not as strong-willed.  She kept clutching her head, saying ‘it knows we’re here’.  Sure enough, we were met by a couple of thieves that were under its spell, enough so that they resisted Jessie’s attempts to fool them with bardic magic.  They were easily dispatched, though not without a fire breaking out, Jessie sustaining a poisonous wound, and one of the thieves killing themselves before we could get information from him.  This suicide demonstrated the potency of the poison, as he dissolved into the dirt leaving a black tar-like substance.  I attempted to convince Jessie to ignore the poison, that it was nothing special, but already I could see him breaking into a fever.  We may not have had time to return to town and find a cure, so our only choice was to press onward much to the party’s dismay.

The poison acted quickly, as within a few minutes Jessie was growing delirious, talking about voices in his head trying to tell him to turn against his friends.  The voice in Arosea’s head was also growing louder, taunting her and goading her to continue.  Even Lasselin was starting to feel unease, and soon the whole group were pleading for us to turn back, that we were clearly walking into a trap.  I would have loved to agree with them, but I knew it would be a mistake.  If we turned back now, the creature would still know we were hunting it and would give it time to set up defences- or cause to enact its intentions upon the town.  During discussion the poison reminded us we hadn’t much time, as Jessie fell into a trance-like state, and started walking deeper into the mine.  Not willing to take any risk I ordered the others to stop him, and knew we had no choice but to knock him unconscious.  Only he knows what he saw in that trance-like state.  It was clear walking in the same direction would indeed lead to a trap, but the only other path was back the way we came.  We had to take a moment to rest and try and compose ourselves.

Thankfully Arosea managed to find a hidden passage that led further in without taking us past the ominous glowing light at the end of the main tunnel.  We soon found ourselves in what could only be described as a sacrificial chamber.  A bare room, other than a stone table in the center and blood encrusted walls.  We leant Jessie against the wall whilst we investigated, but found nothing of interest other than the next passage that would lead us further down.  As Lasselin and I turned to carry Jessie, we noticed Arosea stood in shocked silence, staring at Jessie, though to us the situation didn’t seem any worse than it was moments before.  We asked if she was ok, as she had crouched down next to Jessie and held his hand; we could barely hear her response as wide-eyed she was muttering to herself ‘he… he’s dead… I couldn’t save him… I couldn’t save Ungus and I couldn’t save Jessie…’  I noticed her hand moving slowly towards her dagger and knew I would have to act quickly.  I’d saved this spell until the absolute last moment as it only has a short duration, but now was clearly the time- I grasped my pendant and held it towards her- ‘Remove Fear!’.  The light shone from the pendant, engulfing both Arosea and Lasselin in a divine light that should let them keep their bearings a while longer.  I did not tell them that I was potentially sacrificing my own sanity to protect theirs.  Sure enough Arosea blinked and held her head to compose herself.  I think she apologised to me, but I couldn’t hear her over the deafening demon’s voice now in my own head. ‘It seems I underestimated you, cleric.  I will stop you’.  In a desperate attempt to turn my fear to rage, I simply said under my breath ‘I’m sure you will’.  I intended for it to sound sarcastic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was tinged with hopelessness.  We continued further.

By now the voice sounded desperate, demanding we turn back.  Thankfully my spell was enough to keep Arosea going, and Lasselin’s dwarven mind seemed oblivious, but my own will was taking a battering.  It wasn’t much longer until we approached a door that felt like it contained all the evil we had sensed, confined in one space.  With a deep breath, I kissed my pendant- ‘May the Light of Lunia give me strength’.  Normally I wouldn’t dream of siphoning the power of the celestial planes, but this was a special circumstance.  Thankfully my god agreed, as my body became enveloped in a warm silvery light.  The door opened.

I must try and focus now, to describe the creature that was in front of me so we may find more information.  It was… humanoid.  The first thing I noticed was its piercing red eyes, just as the boy had described back in the church.  It wore some sort of mask… I think.  It may have been its actual face, but I want to believe it was a mask.  The mask had elongated features, most noticeably a bird’s beak.  It uttered an inhuman screech… I don’t think it was trying to say anything, it seemed more a screech of rage.  I managed to hit it with a ray of light, and whilst effective it didn’t seem to have the effectiveness I had hoped, implying it was not undead nor a demon itself.  It leapt into a shadow, reappearing behind Arosea where it caught her with a poisonous blow, obscuring my sight meaning I couldn’t get a clear aim for my second ray.  Thankfully it fell just as easily to Lasselin’s axe, who seemed to be even more capable than I of converting fear to anger.  Perhaps it was the added frustration of being unable to comprehend what the rest of us were experiencing.  Regardless, the moment it was slain the voice and evil presence had ceased.  On investigation of the body, its eyes had returned to normal and appeared human.  Arosea attempted to remove the mask, but the axe blow seemed to have wedged it in place.  I believe this poor soul had been possessed by whatever this creature was.

The room behind the door was large and empty, save for several stone statues.  I had a sinking feeling, and used Detect Magic to confirm my suspicions; Transmutation magic.  These weren’t mere statues.  We had found the council members.  A moment of dread came across me, as anything capable of turning men to stone was well above my capability- we were lucky to get this far alive.  I distracted myself by reviving Jessie.  As the presence had gone, I felt it would be safe to bring him back to consciousness, and Arosea had nowhere near as severe reaction to the poison as Jessie did.  Sure enough, he seemed to have gained composure but was unaware of anything that had happened since becoming wounded.  On a more thorough search, runes were discovered on the floor that were likely responsible for the petrification.  Being the most capable magic user, it fell to me to recite the words in the hopes of it reversing the spell.

Reluctantly, I stood to the edge of the runes whilst the others watched from outside the room.  I have no idea what language the magic was, but thankfully a Read Magic spell allowed me to recite without issue.  For the briefest of moments I felt my whole body being torn through space… a feeling impossible to describe.  It would be almost entirely unlike being passed through a sieve.  If I seem calm whilst writing this, it’s because the feeling wasn’t entirely unpleasant, just unlike anything I have ever felt before.  I found myself in a place of swirling grey mist, and all I saw was a humanoid girl looking at me with an expression of seething anger; I could feel her hatred upon me.  Barely a moment passed, and I found myself back in the room with the statues back to their human selves.  The next few moments were a blur as the only thought passing through my mind was that we had to get as far away from this place as possible.

On returning back to this room… ‘The’ room… I was met by the entities that Arosea affectionately refers to as ‘Room Service’.  I have expressed my displeasure at them previously, as they would have us think of them as gods, but they are most certainly extraplanar beings and therefore could offer some perspective on my experience.  They removed the last traces of poison from Jessie and Arosea, extracting it like a black thread of miasma; fascinating, yet unsettling.  For the first time ever I saw emotion come across their faces, as they had a sort of disgusted fear at what they held in their hands.  I informed them of my experience.  I am too exhausted to process their response fully, but I shall write what I remember here in an attempt to understand later.

‘That, Sabine, is why you are permitted in this room.  We only allow those who have been touched by destiny to enter.  You thought a petty human war was cause enough for you to be here? Especially as insignificant a role as you consider yourself? The thing you encountered today is a threat to every plane of existence.  You and your companions will prove instrumental in stopping its threat.’

…I may be paraphrasing but one thing is clear to me.  This… thing is bigger than all of us.  However, if I am to fight it I must become stronger.  And if my companions are to join me, they will need a greater understanding of it.  It may be best we continue our roles in this war, but I have a new quest to prepare myself as best I can for what lies ahead.  Intentional or not, this thing has got involved in this war as well… I would like to find out its involvement.  I think a trip to Sembia might be in order sooner than planned though… there’s little I can do whilst I wear this accursed ring.

Disclaimer: To avoid a case of slander, I must point out that all the above are the opinions of Sabine as a character and do not reflect the views of her player and no insult is meant to the other characters involved in the campaign.  I can’t help that Sabine has a superiority complex and thinks she’s holding the whole group together, the rest of the party performed admirably given the situation.  As previously demonstrated, despite what her demeanour may suggest Sabine is in fact a total bitch.  Please don’t hurt me Beth.

Sabine’s Shadow Story

‘My adventurer friends encountered something… unusual in the lower levels of town’, said Sabine, ‘Do you know anything about some sort of evil ‘presence’ in town?’
The cleric’s face turned downcast.
‘Yes, unfortunately I know all too well of what you speak, sister.  A few weeks ago we started receiving reports of haunted houses, and a general sense of unease in the working class areas.  The one thing that’s been consistent about the rumours is that it feels like you’re being watched from behind a pane of glass, where that glass is reality; whatever it is, it is not of this world.’
So what I felt definitely wasn’t my imagination, thought Sabine to herself.  This had to have a connection to the missing governors, but why would this entity be so interested in Arosea? At the very least, Sembia could be ruled out of the list of suspects responsible for the chaos in town.
‘Is there anything else you can tell me about this… thing?’ Sabine asked.
The cleric shook her head.
‘Unfortunately all we know are rumours, and when we’ve investigated the locations there’s been nothing to be found.  We all felt the sense of dread, but there’s nothing we can do aside from a couple of Turn Undead attempts, but they had no effect.’
‘She could try the child’, another cleric chimed in.
‘Child?’ inquired Sabine.
‘Yes… there is a child who has seen this creature first-hand.  We are looking after him, as the experience seems to have left a lasting impression on him… He’s barely said a word since.  If you think you could get him to talk, you are welcome to try.  We may make progress with his recovery as well if he would just tell us what’s going on in his head.’
Sabine nodded.  No harm in trying to gather more information.

The clerics led Sabine to a small bedroom at the back of the church.  It had bare furnishings, clearly only meant for the residents of the church.  The only things that looked out of place were a small stuffed bear, some pieces of parchment with a pencil, and the boy sitting upright in the bed, a faraway look in his eyes.  As Sabine entered, the boy slowly turned his head to look at her, but his expression remained blank.  The clerics excused themselves, leaving Sabine alone with the child.  Sabine smiled awkwardly; she wasn’t used to dealing with children, let alone ones in this condition.
She calmly walked up to the bed, and pulled up the lone chair in the room.  All the while the boy was watching her movements carefully.
‘Um-‘ Sabine began, causing the child to jump slightly.  Sabine hesitated, then her eyes fell upon the bear toy.  She smiled with more confidence as she reached out for it, taking it with one hand and animating it like a puppet; hopefully both of them would feel more comfortable talking through this vessel.  Sabine spoke out of the corner of her mouth, putting on a squeaky voice as if talking through the bear.
‘Hello! How are you today?’
The boy’s brow furrowed as he focused on the bear, seemingly forgetting Sabine was even in the room.
‘… I… I’m tired’.  The boy said.  Sabine smiled.  This might work after all.
‘Ok then!’ Sabine said through the bear, ‘How about I tell you a story then?  This nice lady can help too!’
Sabine set down the bear, facing the boy.  She raised her hands to her shoulder and clapped, causing an orb of light to appear thanks to her watch lamp.  She cracked her knuckles, preparing to put on a show- usually she only practised shadow puppetry to pass time when bored, this was the first time she’d had to show anyone else.  She dropped the bear’s voice, instead speaking in a more natural and calming tone, and focused on the shadow she was casting on the wall.

‘Once upon a time, there was a small boy…’ Sabine folded her fingers to create the shadow of a boy on the wall.  It seemed fairly convincing to her, hopefully the child would feel the same.
‘This boy lived in a small house in a town by the sea.  He was a good boy that played with his friends, said his prayers, and did what he was told.’
Sabine glanced at the boy, who was intently focused on the shadows dancing on the wall. She lowered her voice.
‘But then one day, he decided to go somewhere he shouldn’t have; somewhere the boy had been told not to go because it was dangerous.’
The boy was growing visibly afraid, as Sabine made the shadow child look more mischievous and curious.  Sabine would have to tread carefully.
‘He was nervous, but thought to himself ‘tomorrow I will go! I need to see what’s there!’.  And so he went to bed, filled with thoughts of adventure.  But then that night a chill came into the room as a fog descended on the town…’ Sabine dimmed the light in an attempt to recreate fog-like conditions.  The boy was clearly becoming upset, but Sabine knew that to get any information from him he would have to be pushed to his limit.
‘The boy felt something was wrong, and could see something starting to come through the door… He couldn’t make it out at first, but it slowly became clearer and clearer as it grew closer to him.’
The boy started muttering to himself ‘this is like what happened to me and the others…’.  This was the moment Sabine would get the information she sought, but to do so she would have to try and work out the form of the mystery creature.  She tried to remember her education on demons, devils and undead, trying to think of creatures that might be responsible for this, all the while contorting her fingers into shapes that would cast shadows resembling these creatures.  Suddenly the child gasped and let loose a cry of ‘no!’.  Sabine looked at the shadow she was casting.  It resembled a hooded creature, long fingers outstretched… a wraith perhaps?  Time to wrap up the story before the child had a heart attack.
Sabine became more animated, exclaiming ‘But then, the door swung open, shining a powerful light on the creature that dissolved into nothingness!’  She increased the brightness to a dazzling level, enough for the child to shield his eyes with his forearm.
‘The light was coming from a beautiful woman, here to destroy the monsters in the dark and keep the child safe.  And so he would live happily ever after.’
Sabine lowered the brightness of the light, making it appear to come from behind her head almost like a halo.  She stood up and rested her hand on the boy’s shoulder as he lowered his arm and looked at her with tears in his eyes.
‘Are… Are you going to destroy the monsters?’ He said, whimpering.
‘Yes’, said Sabine, ‘but I can only do that if you tell me what you saw.’

“The gang gets a new member”

Officially introducing Ungus’ replacement, Sabine!  Yes, the same Sabine featured in previous blog posts; she has ascended from NPC to PC, and with that comes a whole lot more character development.  The reason for the delay in blog posts is because I hadn’t fully decided how her character should be played yet, and I couldn’t think of how to record her adventure without it feeling forced, or like a transcription of the game which, whilst fun, would not help my creative writing.  Arosea’s player suggested I keep another journal, but I wasn’t sure Sabine would be the sort to keep a journal and I don’t want to end up too similar to Ungus.  Likewise, she has no reason to send letters to anyone.  But then a thought occurred to me; this is Sabine’s first true adventure as part of a party, and part of her motivation is to experience things, but part of adventure is long periods of boredom travelling and keeping watch etc, so what if Arosea suggested she keep a journal just to keep from being bored?  So yes, I will indeed be keeping a journal but don’t expect it to be like Ungus’.  Where he thought of himself on the lawful good side of neutral and had a strong sense of family and friendship, Sabine is much more on the chaotic side (I wouldn’t go as far as to say evil, but she’s certainly not as pure as you’d expect from a cleric), and she is very careful not to get too attached to anyone for reasons that may become clear later… much later.  It’ll take a lot for her to trust anyone enough to reveal much of her past.

On the road again.  It’s cold and slightly damp.

…This is dumb.  Why do people get enjoyment from writing down their thoughts?  ‘It can be good to write down your secrets’, but then what if someone reads them?  Most secret place is inside my head.  Still, beats getting bored looking for imaginary threats in the middle of an open field.

So what do I write, when only I intend on seeing this?  I guess it might be amusing to say my first impressions of my companions.  See if I still think the same after travelling with them for however long.

First off, they’re the unlikely heroes of Tasselpeak.  Despite their appearance and seeming naivety, they successfully led the defense of the town and drove off the Cormyran army which is no mean feat.  Of course with Cormyr abandoning Tasselpeak I have no reason to remain there, so I’m travelling with them to find where else I can be of help, as they seem to have a knack for finding trouble.  And with the untimely death of Ungus, they could probably use some ‘divine guidance’.

Arosea appears to be the leader, now Ungus is gone.  She’s had run-ins with Sembia before, but has not elaborated further; I would be very much interested to find out more.  She rather blatantly has a crush on Arcanae, the governor of Tasselpeak’s secretary.  It’s cute, and I’m happy to help any way I can.

Lasslyn is the muscle.  She’s the one who beat the leader of the Cormyran army in a duel, but despite that she seems very friendly.  I expected her to be quite the intimidating warrior, but she’s innately likable; though admittedly I’m yet to witness her in battle first-hand.  We’ve already shared some stories of past adventures, and she clearly has an almost familial bond with her companions.

Jessie is… Actually I’m not entirely sure.  The face maybe?  He was instrumental in helping the townsfolk during the siege, and although he’s been drunk most of the time I’ve known him, I assume due to grief, he has come up with some terrible puns that I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t help but laugh at.  It must be his delivery.  During the celebration he demonstrated himself as a bit of a trickster too, which shows me he has some magical aptitude as well.  Hopefully he’ll sober up so I can get to know him better, and perhaps his cooking will taste better (though I doubt it).  I’ll also have to revise my spell list so he doesn’t outdo me.

I hate to admit it, but it seems Arosea was right.  I do actually feel better after writing, though that may well just be me thinking of ways I could prank Jessie.   Maybe I will continue this journal after all.

Yours Faithfully, Ungus.

This blog comes with some unfortunate news; Ungus Kinglygauntlet is dead.  He was ambushed by a soldier whilst putting on his armour in the middle of a night raid, and the rest of the party were distracted by Lasslyn engaged in a duel with the commander.  This chapter of the blog shows the contents of a letter, written on the night of his death, written to be sent to his father instead of the one that was confiscated by Alusair.


Dear Father,

I am sorry it has taken this long to get in touch.  I had written a letter to you previously, but could never muster the courage to send it to you.  I did not join the Purple Dragons like you wanted, and at first I was worried about bringing dishonour upon the name Kinglygauntlet, but my adventures since have shown me that it was never about the respect that comes from the name ‘Purple Dragon’.

From the moment I arrived in Wheloon I knew I would be disappointed, but I never believed it would be to this extent.  In the time I spent there I heard rumours of Cormyr going to war, but naturally I assumed it would be against the goblins, or even the shadows of Anauroch.  Certainly not the innocent people of the Dalelands.  Unfortunately I had already left them before I knew the extent of their plans.

As a rookie our services were often lent as bodyguards to the merchants passing through town, for a small donation to the church.  On one of these escorts we were waylaid by some would-be bandits- of course they were no match for a pair of Purple Dragons, but when I brought them in for arrest they greeted my commanding officer, who gave me a pat on the back and sent me on my way.  Turns out they themselves were hired by the escort agency simply to stage an attack to make us, as their bodyguards, look good!  They reasoned that no-one would use their service if they didn’t think there was actually any threat! That was the moment I realised the dragons don’t have the interest of the common people in mind.  Constantly we were receiving reports of thefts, missing persons, assaults, and nothing was done about it- in fact I suspect they may have even been involved in some of these events!  Of course I brought this up with the most senior captain in Wheloon, who fobbed me off with some excuse about how matters abroad were more important than home security.  As much as I loved Cormyr, this attitude is unforgivable.  So I quietly left, intending to come home.

You didn’t see me, but I actually passed by Thunderstone.  I wanted to see you, but I looked down at myself and saw my mottled beard and mud-stained rusty armour, and thought to myself that you wouldn’t want to see such a disgrace.  I have regretted my decision not to see you every day since.

I continued on the road and found myself in Highmoon.  I heard of some thieves’ guild operating in the area, so decided that if the authorities couldn’t be trusted then I would have to help the people myself.  I worked alone for a couple of months, stopping petty crimes whenever I saw them, barely surviving on the small change that couldn’t be returned to the rightful owners.  I learnt more of the thieves’ guild, that they called themselves the ‘Naga’s Fang’, and so I vowed to stop them from terrorising the people any further.  It was at this time that I met the people who would become my dear companions for the coming months, each helping me understand what it truly means to act in the name of justice.  They had their own reasons for tracking down the Naga’s Fang, and by working together we managed to track them to their headquarters.  In my righteous fury I decided to end it there and then by razing the building to the ground.  I figured by destroying their nest I would eliminate the infestation, so imagine my surprise when my companions accused me of being insane.  I thought nothing of it at the time, but the coming days proved them right as we found ourselves under constant assault by the guild trying to get their revenge.  I felt terrible for putting my new friends in danger, but whenever I considered leaving they would find a way to convince me to stay, and I had to help rectify the mistakes I had made.  Regardless, we were soon left with no choice but to stick together as Cormyr attacked.

Now I find myself in Tasselpeak, a small fort town not found on any map, and we are in the middle of a siege.  Were we not here the cowardly governor of this town would have surrendered, leaving his people and the hundreds of refugees from Highmoon and Tegal’s Mark homeless or dead.  It has been gruesome, but with the help of all my friends I have reached an epiphany over the past 24 hours.  Just a couple of days ago I was on the verge of breakdown, not knowing who I was, what I was doing, doubting my every move, wondering if I truly was as good as I believed; I prayed to the Father of Battle for guidance, and he sent me a cleric by the name of Sabine.  She patiently sat and spoke with me, eager to hear all my tales, and offered me reassurance that I was doing the right thing.  Since then, I have had time to reflect and realise what makes a hero.

There is a female dwarf in my company, named Lasslyn.  I know what you’re thinking, father, but no.  She is an incredibly skilled fighter, able to lose herself in the heat of battle, but always able to differentiate between friend and foe.  When Cormyr were at the gates, trying to intimidate us to surrender, she is the one responsible for raising the guards’ morale by laughing in Cormyr’s face.  In the words of Clangeddin, “Never waver in the face of adversity”.

There is a human with us, as well.  A man by the name of Jessie, who fancies himself some sort of joke-teller.  I’m not entirely sure how, but he is incredibly skilled at rallying the people and somehow just hearing one of his goofy fish-based puns is enough to inspire me in battle.  Although he is not the best suited for combat, he has proven invaluable in saving countless innocent lives, for it is only he who could have successfully moved the townspeople to safety, convincing them that although they may be leaving things behind it is much better to be able to live to fight another day.  In the words of Clangeddin, “Lives should never be thrown away foolishly”.

Finally, there is Arosea.  I had never heard how strong in spirit halflings could be before meeting her.  In the short time I have known her, she has saved a girl who was kidnapped by a psychopath and insisted we escort her to safety, she attempted to save Jessie and myself from a prison guarded by Alusair Oberskyr herself, and just today she has provided constant ranged support to each of us that has needed it and even now as the moon rises she is still at the infirmary, tending to the wounded.  In the words of Clangeddin, “The greatest honour is to sacrifice oneself on the field of battle in service to a righteous cause”.

I see now what Clangeddin means when he speaks of sacrifice.  He does not mean death in combat, as what service is to be provided from Dwarfhome?  Instead you must sacrifice your heart and soul to finding a way to end the conflict.  Don’t set fire to the nest; find out why the nest existed in the first place.

In the words of Clangeddin, “The finest hours of dwarvenkind come in the thrusts and feints of war”.  Nothing exemplifies this more than the journey I have undergone in this war thus far.

I will not rush headfirst into the next battle.  After we have saved this town, I am coming home.

Your son,
Ungus Kinglygauntlet


Author’s note: Before Ungus’ tale is finished completely, I need to share the most tearjerking thing to ever happen to one of my characters in D&D.  In memory of Ungus, Arosea has proposed that the party melt down his armour and create small artifacts that they can wear, so they will always have something to remember him by.



Next time, the war continues as Sabine joins the party officially.  If you wish to see more of the art above, check out Arosea’s player’s tumblr: Doctor Bethany’s Art Blog

Meeting the Dragons

5 years ago…

The dwarf stopped for a moment as he reached the peak of the hill.  This place offered a perfect vantage point for him to see the town he would call home for the forseeable future: Wheloon.
Wheloon was a young yet quickly growing town, that lay on the intersection of the Way of the Manticore and the Wyvernflow River, making it ideally suited for any trade passing in and out of Cormyr.  As such, the town currently housed a small contingent of Purple Dragon knights which was Ungus’ purpose for being there.  He had heard his father’s stories of adventure, and the legend of Alusair Oberskyr, and finally it was time for him to continue in his father’s footsteps and join the Purple Dragons, representing not only his family but all of dwarvenkind.  The setting sun gleamed off the bright green slated roofs of the town, and Ungus’ excitement rose as he could hear the busy sounds of trade and construction below.  He took a deep breath, and set off down the hill.

Ungus headed straight for the barracks; the sooner he could enlist the better.  He was slowed slightly by the distraction of seeing the street vendors packing up their wares as he had seen nothing like it in his home of Thunderstone, but it had been a long journey and he refused to get waylaid when he was this close.  Fortunately it proved easy to find the barracks, as the town mostly lie on one main causeway; unfortunately, before Ungus could step inside a guard at the door blocked him.
‘Sorry sir, the barracks are not open to visitors at this time’.
‘Oh I’m not a visitor,’ said Ungus, ‘I’m here to enlist’.
The guard looked the dwarf up and down, his face impossible to read.
‘Should there be need for a militia, an announcement will be made in the town square.  We do not perceive any imminent threat at this time’.
‘I’m not a militiaman!’ Ungus laughed, ‘I’m here to join the Purple Dragons!’
A flicker of confusion passed over the guard’s face, just for a moment.
‘My apologies, sir, but any formal business will be undertaken during daylight hours.  You are welcome to return in the morning and speak to my superior, until then I suggest you get some rest.  The streets can be dangerous at night.’
Ungus’ brow furrowed.
‘Well, there’s thieves about.  Lots of passing trade means lots of money on these streets.’
‘But isn’t it your job to fight crime? Protect the townsfolk?’
The guard looked at Ungus with a stern look in his eye.
‘It is my job to stand here, taking details of any crimes that are reported so they can be investigated at a later time.  I am not to leave this post until I either receive orders from a commanding officer, or my shift ends.  So unless you are here to report a crime, I insist that you retire to an inn for the night.  I recommend the Wyvern’s Watch.’
Ungus opened his mouth to speak, but was silenced by the icy glare in the guard’s eyes.  Instead, the dwarf heeded the guard’s advice and headed to the Wyvern’s Watch, grateful for a bed to sleep in and some water to bathe in.

As soon as the light came through the window in his room, Ungus set off for the barracks once more, hoping the guard from the previous night wouldn’t still be on duty.  The distinctive armour of the Purple Dragons made it difficult to differentiate between them, but thankfully the guard now on duty allowed him to pass without even looking at him.  Inside was a simple desk with a clerk filing papers, and the sound of shouting coming from a courtyard further in.
‘Excuse me’, said Ungus, trying to get the clerk’s attention.
The clerk stopped and sighed, his back still turned.
‘No, we haven’t had any further leads on your hammer Mr Rallogar.  Perhaps if you didn’t hire out your hayloft to everyone who offered you a silver falcon then you wouldn’t keep ‘losing’ things’.
‘Excuse me?’ repeated Ungus, this time out of bafflement.
‘What’s so hard to understand, Zenda-?’ said the clerk, turning round and stopping mid-sentence as he saw the dwarf in front of him.  ‘Oh I’m sorry sir, I had you confused for someone else.  How can I help?’
Ungus straightened himself up, trying to draw himself to his full height.
‘I wish to enlist in the Purple Dragons.’ he said proudly.
The clerk stared at him with a fixed smile.  The two stood in awkward silence for a moment before the clerk responded.
‘Come on, it’s too early in the morning for this, seriously what is your business here?’
Ungus was taken aback.  ‘That is my business!  I’m here to join the Purple Dragons!’
‘I’m sorry sir, please calm down.  Surely you understand not just anyone can join?  Especially not someone of your… stature.’
‘I’ll have you know I’m a full inch taller than my father, and he joined!’
‘Your… father.  And he’s also a dwarf?  You do realise we are a strictly human-only organisation?’
‘My father said I might have this problem, so he wrote this letter’ said Ungus, drawing an envelope from his belt pouch.  The clerk held up his hand in refusal.
‘I don’t care what some dwarf says, only the finest Humans in Cormyr can join the Purple Dragons!’
‘What’s going on, Albert?’ demanded a deep, booming voice, followed by a man with an overwhelmingly powerful aura.  His uniform marked him as one of the Lionar, an elite division of the Purple Dragons.  The man marched towards Ungus, who was in awe of his presence.
‘Sir, this dwarf thinks he can-‘
The Lionar held up a hand to silence the clerk, and plucked the letter from Ungus’ grasp.  There was silence as he read the contents.  When he had finished, he folded the parchment neatly and tucked it into his robes.
‘So you’re Ungus, son of Unthar.  Follow me, your training will start immediately.’

The next few hours were a blur for Ungus.  He struggled to keep up with the Lionar’s stride as he was taken to a dorm where he was given a simple suit of armour to wear.  He was then given an orientation of the barracks at far too fast a pace for him to take anything in; there was the courtyard which he was told to report to first thing every morning, the foodhall where meals would be served at the sound of the bell, the common room where a few soldiers gave him a derogatory look, the war room where he could hear a heated discussion but passed by too quickly to make anything out, and finally he was left back in the dorm.
‘A dwarf? Hah, they’ll let anyone in these days.’ muttered a soldier at a nearby bed.
Were these really the Purple Dragons? Champions of justice, protectors of the people, defenders of the innocent? It wasn’t yet the end of his first day, but already Ungus felt the pangs of homesickness.  Perhaps when he saw them in action he would see why his father gave them so much respect…

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