West Marches

There was a Fire Fight (1800 xp)

We went to the old werewolf lair. There were demonic werewolf things, a vrock, and the Baron’s formerly-dead sister, who is now a sorceress instead of a warlock. There was a fight. It hurt.

Treasure

  • 2000 sp
  • 2300 gp
  • Wand of Magic Missile
  • Adamantine chain shirt
  • 2 potions of healing
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The Werewolves at One-Eyed Jack's (3000 xp)
Avoiding the Escort Mission

Mr. Payne has posted a notice on the board in the Copper Ram for those interested in a “lucrative opportunity.” He has a spinster aunt who he’s trying to wed to another merchant family’s widowed uncle, so he’s asked us to escort her to Ulster. He is extremely unhappy about the possibility of our talking to said aunt in order to verify that she’s OK with all of this.

Just then, a commotion breaks out at the front of the Ram. Someone yells out that someone else is a cheating son of a bitch, followed by another person yelling that they don’t want to draw attention. We ask Mr. Payne to hold on a bit while we check out the ruckus. Apparently it is a disagreement over cards. Three of the card players turn out to be werewolves.

We find out that the three had been abducted and forcibly turned outside of One Eyed Jack’s, a dive bar between here and Carcosa.

We take Quill’s new wagon down the road towards Carcosa. After some days, a couple of ogres start tossing boulders at us. They are not a challenge. They narrate their own deaths quite prettily. They are all wearing the badges of an orc chieftain.

One Eyed Jack’s is a pretty ramshackle set of buildings, but there are well-armed guards around the place. Lark thinks the feel of the place is wrong; that area no longer feels like the Golden Wood should.

We drop two guards immediately, and then the werewolves smell the blood. The werewolves have a berserker, an archer, and an alpha female with scars and a magic necklace. They also had a pixie and an oak tree that turned this area into an extension of the Dark Wood. We take all of them out with the help of Haffner the Mysterious Bear Druid. Long Jack’s is burned to the foundation during the fight.

The druid is able to save Alard, one of four dead merchants. Haffner says the werewolf pack was part of the Dark Council of the Dark Woods. He doesn’t know why her pack had come down, but she had mentioned being betrayed before her death. Haffner is not sure who could have betrayed her, but he knows where her original lair was.

Haffner is unaware of anything that could give a disease (the berserker) or scar (the alpha) to werewolves, so whatever drove her pack out is a big nasty.

We decide to head towards the old werewolf lair to see who or what has taken it over.

Treasure

  • 930 gp
  • 640 cp
  • 2200 sp
  • 25 gp in home goods
  • Fancy tapestry worth 500 gp if it gets mended
  • Random belt pouches
  • +1 silver klaive, martial weapon, 2d4 base slashing (Kaimi)
  • necklace – flame devouring amulet (the wearer has advantage on all saves vs. fire. In addition, amulet absorbs half of all fire damage dealt to target. Once it has consumed 43 pts of fire damage, the ruby will crack and it will cease to absorb damage, but the saving throw effect will continue, attunable item)(Kirk)
  • 3 gold chain bracelets worth 250 gp each
  • iron lockbox with a trapped lock (we also have the key)

Characters

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Black Mattie's Deal, Part 3

After the fight, we need some sleep. The night passes with some creepy noises outside, but without incident. This harrassment ends at dawn.

The family’s party is scheduled for this evening, but guests will start arriving in the afternoon. The staff is crazy busy all morning. This includes Jasper sending Mot out to get him a fancy outfit. The food stored for the party has gone bad.

Delia has aged around 10 years overnight, due to her breaking the deal with Black Mattie. Jasper’s watching the Lord and Lady as the “freaky elvish bodyguard.” Grayson is keeping an eye on the girl. Kirk and Riverthorn are keeping track of the twins. (Riverthorn teaches them to cheat at cards.) Ehlonna’s checking the guests to make sure we don’t get any changelings. Lagran is playing music.

The party’s kind of odd. The guests look at us oddly. Once the sun goes down, things start looking eerie. Dinner passes without incident, and the dancing starts. A drum starts to accompany Lagran’s playing, and a flute comes in after that. They’re getting closer. Lagran and Mot tell the group. We move the guests into the house.

Four figures, playing music, stagger-step towards us. Ehlonna knocks one down with an eldritch blast. The remaining three humans, two men and one woman, come to us. Their eyes have been replaced with white flowers, and there are vines wrapped around and through their skin. Ehlonna hits a second one, but the first one gets up. It looks like the first human has lost consciousness, but the plants still move. There are bright green eyes winking in and out in the distance.

They are joined by Rotwood the treant, Razor Ivy the dryad, and a pack of zombies. We make the zombies pop. Rotwood eventually fell to Jasper’s magic, after Riverthorn tenderized its woody skin. Razor Ivy had already ran away, using Rotwood as her portal.

The guests want to leave, so the town guard escorts them back to town. The family is all right, although the Camellia still looks ill. The daughter asks Ehlonna to give her the flower. She doesn’t want her family to die over this.

After eating the flower, she coughs up a small blob of green flowery stone.

The next morning, before we set out with Dehlia, we notice she’s looking younger again. Camellia looks well. The guests that are leaving aren’t as put out as they were last night.

We travel for two days. Nothing bothers us, but we see green eyes in the distance. This time, they’re just watching. We head into the swamp down the little trail. About a quarter hour down that trail, we come across an old cottage and well. Dehlia chucks the stone into the well.

More of the green flowers are growing around the well. Lagran sees Razor Ivy beckoning off in the distance. She tells Lagran that the bargain will be kept, and she is welcome to speak to Ivy again any time she wishes to visit the well.

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The Demon Came Down to Bridgetown (1800 xp)
An Interlude from Chip

Now that the orc horde has broken, Bridgetown has finally received reinforcements from Ulster. They’ve almost doubled the town’s population, including building a new temple (although the locals are still going to the old shrine).

The Baron has declared a celebration. The party is having a good time, with the exception of Cullen, who is casing the Baron. The party goes well, until a half-elven gal with an enchanted fiddle sends everyone into various types of madness. Someone manages to snap us out of it with a yell. Unfortunately, most of the celebrants are still being driven violently crazy.

We briefly see a vision of the Abyss superimposed over the fiddler, and the demon lord of madness. After it fades, the fiddler is enraged, but Aela and Cullen take her down. Once she falls, we hear a ghastly demonic roar. Once it fades, the madness lifts, and the other celebrants start to apologize.

A tall elf, Melindra, claims to want the fiddle in order to destroy it. Melindra is the name of a handmaiden of the elven gods. She desires to hire us to destroy the fiddle. Apparently, there is a temple to the demon a few miles away in the underdark where the fiddle’s dark essence will be sent back to the Abyss.

Since Melindra didn’t have a map to the temple, we decide to ask the Spider Druid of Mt. Rusk, who was at the party, if he could give us some directions.

In the morning, the fiddle has corrupted Cullen’s bag of holding. It now has teeth and has spit up all of her gear, save for her voodoo doll and the fiddle itself. It tried to eat Temic.

We end up checking the Baron’s manor. There are no guards, and we hear the faint sound of music. Either the music summoned umber hulks, or the music changed the guards into umber hulks. The baron and his wife are also there. Cullen’s voodoo doll is playing the fiddle. Eventually, we destroy the voodoo doll and umber hulks. Temic revives the Baron.

We end up getting a deep gnome from town to guide us into the Underdark. We get the magic out of the fiddle, but the Abyss waves over us and steals our deep gnome guide.

Character Roster

Treasure

  • Bag of Devouring (worth 2k gp)
  • Everyone gets a +1 weapon or an appropriate uncommon magic item
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Black Mattie's Deal, Part 2 (1440 each)

The party has just accused the Lady of making some sort of deal involving a severed head. Turns out she, 13 years ago, made a deal with Black Mattie to prevent her upcoming marriage from disintegrating like her parents’ did. BM gave her extended youth and kept her family’s business deals from going sour, and in return, she was to feed a flower to her first born child the day before her birthday for thirteen years.

The night before the daughter’s birthday, a zombie treant comes out of the river. A creepy dryad and a couple of wooden creatures that look like displacer beasts come out of the zombie treant.

At the end of the fight, we find out that Black Mattie can command banderhobs, which can track anyone if given a token, and the Lord’s and Lady’s younger twins are both missing locks of hair.

Total XP Total: 19190

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Following the Wind, Part 3 (2800 xp)
Temic's still an orc for the Fight of the Week!

We heal as much as we are able, and head to the question mark room on the map. There’s a maelstrom of pure energy bound by chains of order in the middle of the room. We can see into the Heart Room, which contains a titan that is chained to the floor in a most agonizing fashion.

“Have you come to kill me?” it asks.

Temic asks the Storm Lord, and he says yes. Temic pulls his magic spear and hurls it at the titan’s heart. Some of the smaller chains whip around and block the blow. The major chains, which are large enough to walk on, are attached to four not-quite-stone pillars around the room.

While we’re heading to the titan, the orcs burst into the room. A massive fight ensues, but we slay Goremaul, his cleric & warlock, and a bunch of mooks. Temic uses the spear of Gruumsh (formerly referred to as a sphere) to slay the titan, to its appreciation.

We are all teleported back to the beginning room. Temic is no longer an orc. Everyone is blessed by the gods.

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Following the Wind, Part 2
Temic's still an orc. This annoys him.

So we’re about to open the doors into the rest of the temple. We head down a giant-sized hallway until we find a titan-sized chair to one side of a dais. The dais may have been where supplicants stood to talk to the guy in the chair. We think the orcs had gone through this room ahead of us. There is a large door behind the chair. On the altar, there is a map written in Primordial and translation written in a combination of common and Orcish. There’s an inner sanctum, an orrery, a library, a magic room, a life room, an unknown room, and a heart room.

An orc comes squeezing through one of the doors, sees us, yells Orcish profanity, starts yelling at us, then runs off. His yelling cuts off abruptly. Temic charged after the guy.

Temic finds the orcs. They are well-equipped. There’s Goremaul (a warleader with a fantasy cybernetic arm), two shamans (these three are mounted), a couple of automatons, an ogre, and more orcs. Goremaul appears to be controlling the automatons. He yells at his minions to grab “the god stone.”

Goremaul, the shamans, and most of the orcs got away, although we took out the ogre, some of the orcs, and all of the constructs. We rested for a bit, while Temic tries to figure out the door. Kirk says it does not taste like stone (it actually tastes like the astral plane). We set to using crowbars and other equipment to force the door.

We get another weird lurching feeling from passing through the door, and end up in another circular room. We’re on a clear platform in the middle of a bunch of rotating spheres. This must be the Orrery. It is actually an orrery showing how the various planes relate to the Prime Material. The walls are made of the same astral crystal as the door, but one side of the room is cracked and has a blacker-than-black abomination oozing through. Mending does not fix one of the cracks. The Black is not particularly attracted to Ehlonna.

We go through another door and end up in a room dominated by a massive tree covered in masses of vines and giant pods with creatures growing inside. Some of the blackness from the orrery has infected this room, too; some of the vines are dead and the creatures in some of the pods have been twisted. We see a bear-sized pod that has a dragon-like thing growing inside. That particular pod is still pure, but the rot is heading towards it.

Kaimi climbed the tree and tried to cut into one of the pure pods, but the tree (or the vines/shambling mound inhabiting it) attacked. Aela damages one with an insult, but it responds by hitting her twice and swallowing her. Temic also gets swallowed, but blows himself back out of it with a Thunderwave. Kirk gets eaten twice. Lark shish-kebabs the moving treevines. One of them tries climbing towards Kaimi’s pod, but Temic summons a gale that knocks it out of the tree. We eventually manage to kill all the mobile vine clumps.

Now that the baddies have been defeated, we continue to head towards the Heart, as the whole edifice shakes.

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Following the Wind
Temic's an Orc.

Temic has had visions. He also wants to stop being an orc. He has been granted a vision by his god (or at least Dave) that he thinks will enable him to destroy the Sphere of Gruumsh. He was granted a symbol in a dream. Aela half-recognizes the symbol as belonging to a temple far to the west that even the Netherese considered ancient.

During the middle watch, while Lark and Ehlonna were keeping an eye out, they see two orcs carrying a chest of some sort towards the camp. Ehlonna wakes everyone. One of the orcs pulls out a grubby white scrap and says “Parley.” The taller of the orcs is against Goremaul (who’s gathering the orcs under his banner). He wants to buy the sphere. Temic agrees with him about Goremaul, but refuses to sell the sphere. The orc tells Temic to use the sphere to defeat Goremaul. Temic tells him to get bent. A fight ensues. We win.

Weeks later, we find the ruins of a city carved into a cliff. The door has been battered down with a makeshift ram. Inside is a temple to the primordial gods. Once Ehlonna touched the inner doors, constructs just inside the outer doors spring to life. We dispatch the trio of constructs, then turn our attention back to the door. Experimentation tells us that touching the sphere to the inner doors will open them.

Dramatis Personae

Treasure

  • 2000 gp worth of stuff in a chest
  • +1 great axe
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Shadow's Rest (1000 xp)

When last we left the group, we were underneath the temple of Dellad. We decide that breaking the curse on these people would be a good thing to do, and possibly lead to loot and/or blood for Ehlonna’s blade, so we decided to head to the monastery/monkery for more info.

Carsis agrees to show us to the monks. He takes us to a large circular chamber with a bunch of undead(ish) monks in worshipful contemplation of a statue. Tarsus greets Father Green and introduces us. Father Green appears to worship the Raven Queen. Lagran asks him about the soulforge; Green says that we should not ask of such things and not have any dealings with it. He does acknowledge that the corruption keeping them vertical is connected to the soulforge; using the objects created by the forge(s) cursed these people to their undeaths.

Carsus says that when the people here die (the conflict between the Warlord and the Overlord is violent), the soulforge makes them new bodies. The corruption stems from the forge. The original was destroyed, and the mad Artificer recreated it. The Arbiter seized it after learning of the new forge’s existence. The Warlord and the Overlord have both demanded it, but the Arbiter has not decided what to do with it yet.

The Father asks us to handle some predators that have been picking off villagers around the edges of Shadow’s Rest. He believes their nest is to the west. (So is the mushroom forest.) The “corpse takers” are ravenous humanoid beasts. We think they might be ghouls.

The west is somewhat soggy, but we find a fortress with three towers and a ziggurat surrounded by crypts. The water seems clear and full of minerals, with a slightly off taste. Ehlonna spots a giant crab (so far as she can see, not undead) in the distance.

Ehlonna disarms a trap and Kirk finds a distillery. Grayson lifts Riverthorn (who he’d been giving a piggy-back ride to) to a second floor balcony, where she’s immediately nabbed by a ghoul. A fight against ghouls and ghasts ensues. We think the ghast’s great sword is one of the soul-forged weapons, so we agree not to use it.

The ghouls were speaking a form of modern Common.

Treasure:

  • 1000 gp in jewelry (2 bracelets, bronze crown, silver pendant – 250 gp each)
  • Black 2-handed sword +1 that does extra d8 necrotic damage
  • Potion of serious healing
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The Court of Masks (1000 xp)

The party finishes a rest as Riverthorn shows up in a puff of illogic.

The caverns are mostly natural, but have had torch sconces and the occasional carving added where they’d look nice. Eventually we spot a large fancy building decorated with blue-white mage lights. We go through the gate. Inside the fancy building, we see a couple of armed guys standing guard. We head towards those guys to talk, but a masked male figure in a faded linen toga appears in an archway. When we get close enough, we see that they are not, in fact, alive.

The masked man bows and speaks in a language we do not know. Lagran thinks, however, that he is greeting travellers. He beckons us to follow him and waves us towards a table of porcelain masks, saying that everyone in the Court of Masks must wear one. They’re non-magical, so we agree. Walking around, we see that someone has been painstakingly reassembling and painting the dead plants so that they still look like gardens.

We come across a ball. Courtly dances, that sort of thing. The court seems to be arranged around a woman with a really sparkly platinum necklace. She asks Lagran why we are here. Lagran says she seeks knowledge, and the woman says she seeks weapons.

Eventually, the Contessa offers us hospitality, and we are taken to a nice suite of rooms with a broken mirror. Kirk and Lark decide to sneak out and check out the rest of the palace. Lagran is supposed to meet a marquis at eight bells.

The marquis is not a fan of the Contessa. He’s also not a fan of Lagran once she starts asking him about their being dead. He eventually asks for a quantity of mushrooms from a mushroom forest. Apparently they fuck up undead?

While Lagran is griping about court politics and some sort of contagion, Riverthorn checks out a bunch of stuff that Ehlonna has been picking up here and there, identifying a couple of decent swords, a pretty figurine, and some pendants that appear to just glow with magic.

In the morning, Lagran wants to go to a shadowy place to get information. We’re allowed out of the Contessa’s compound with no problems. We end up in a town square-ish area. There’s a small shrine in an alcove. Lark sees a child hiding in there. There are raven motifs all over the place. We meet a large raven who shifts into a humanoid form with a raven’s head, Anzu. He is the guardian of the shrine.

There’s also another guy, Carsis formerly a priest of Dellab, who can speak Elven. Apparently memories fade over time. Lagran asks him to tell her his story so that she can bring it to the wider world. There was an artificer involved? The undead here cannot pass into true death, but they have to be “reforged” to come back, and they’re weaker afterwards. There’s a judge somewhere, who owns a soulforge.

It might be possible for us to be infected with undeath while we’re here?

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