West Marches

That Ghost was a Filthy Liar! The Riddle of the Sphinx's Ghost, Part III (958 xp)

The party decides that its first priority is finding a place to get a real rest, and its second priority is finding a portal back to the prime material. Jasper wants the group to then try and find magic loot and steal books from the library or something. We are looking for a place to rest in some slightly flooded rooms, when something tentacle-y attacks Quill. It turns out to be a large snake. Jasper convinces the snake to drop Quill (via rapier), and Ziya drags her through the water to the stairs to the next room. At long last, we get a long rest.

The next day, after some exploring, we find a well. The water weird within tries to drown Kirk, but he proves a hard dwarf to drown.

Eventually, we run into some of the priests who live in this complex. Ehlonna tries to convince them that we belong here, seeing as she mooched an officer’s armor earlier, but they fail to fall for the ruse. Fortunately, they do fall to our weapons.

Wandering around, we find ourselves in the library. The guard there figures out we’re not students and sounds the alarm. Fortunately, we manage to take the guards without too much damage to the books.

After looting the library, we find a concealed door that leads to a chimney going up. We make it up the chimney and into the next corridor. We find a pair of spine devils, but the group manages to take them down.

Treasure

  • (6) 50 gp gems
  • (3) carnelians
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Stuck in Avernus! The Riddle of the Sphinx's Ghost, Part II (1333 xp)

Lark and Kirk return to town to find that the rest of the party had been dispatched to the front. They set off to rejoin them. They find what they think is the party’s trail, headed in exactly the wrong direction to reach the palisade they were supposed to be heading to. They follow the trail and find Motte in a cave taking care of the horses and offering them Jaspar’s expensive tea.

While exploring the cave looking for the party, Lark falls into a hole where she and Kirk (who climbed down after her) start to deal with a gelatinous cube when it engulfs Kirk.

In the meantime, the rest of the party has caught their breath and searches for the source of a shriek they heard recently. Eventually, the two groups meet up (Kirk covered in slime).

Jaspar opens a secret door that Ziya managed to spot after the rest. A ruby light washes over the group, and when the spots clear, we are somewhere else entirely: specifically, a stone room we’ve never seen before filled with humanoid guards. Ziya recognizes their heraldry as belonging to Tiamat the Dragon Queen.

After the guards take us to a holding room to “wait for the Master,” Ehlonna gets antsy and starts attacking guards in the hallway. The group manages to take out the guards in the hallway and in a guard barracks, but it was a hard fight. We managed to eke out a rest in a dusty storage closet, then jumped an officer and one of his flunkies. We kept the veteran alive for questioning this time.

Our captive tells us we are in the compound of the Knights of the Five-Thorned Rose, in Avernus, the first level of hell.

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The Riddle of the Sphinx's Ghost, Part I (910 xp)

We’re all chilling in the Ram when the baron’s steward storms in and demands everyone patrol for the growing orc threat. Amazingly, no one decides to wear the man’s entrails for garters given the terrible weather outside. Jasper points out that he’s technically a visiting noble, but then the steward reminds him that the baron has money. At that point, the steward asks the party to head down towards the Wasteland to surveil the coming orc horde.

We are offered our usual rate, plus pre-warmed clothes when we get back. We are also told that starting out in the morning after it stops raining is acceptable. Tranquility is using the hat of disguise to appear human. Ehlonna introduces herself to Jasper over the possibility of a game of whist.

The next morning, it’s still drizzly and miserable. We have a couple of days of soggy travelling. In the early hours of the third morning, Jasper and Ehlonna hear something/one (possibly large) heading towards the camp from three directions. Ehlonna’s excellent darkvision shows her an orc crashing through the underbrush, so she attempts to blast it, then draws her sword and hides. A second orc comes out and throws a javelin at Jasper. Ziya turns into a dire wolf and bites it. Then an ogre comes crashing through the woods from the third direction.

We kill all but one orc, who Jasper ties to a tree before breakfast. This orc is from the Short Tooth tribe, which has been driven towards the “better hunting” in the human lands due to a “dragon.” After we get our information, Ehlonna kills him.

A couple of days later, a sphinx ghost shows up and asks us a riddle.

What is half a dragon, but has not a wyrmling’s strength?
What is half a canine, but has not a mongrel’s length?
What is it that is of two halves, but has half to stand on?

The answer was kobold. The sphinx’s ghost, Ujasett, tells us where his lair is and says we can have all his treasure if we avenge his murder by the kobolds that have taken it over. It is a bit further in the wastelands.

On our way to the specified location, we happen upon a wyvern enjoying a meal. It takes exception to our presence and tries to eat us. The spellslingers drive it off, but Ehlonna decides to kill it instead.

Close to the sphinx’s cave, we decide to camp for the night. Kobolds decide to drop rocks on us. They almost kill Motte, and Jasper loses it. We drive them off, then set up a new camp a bit further away. We manage to get some rest in before heading to the cave, which turns out to be sentient-made.

In the entrance, we find a kobold hiding under some blankets. He had little nubby unformed wings, while the ones who attacked us before had actual wings. Jallask the kobold says that his Black Spear tribe are the fiercest kobolds in the land, and their Opal (a caster, we presume) took down the sphinx. We decide to keep him with us; we don’t want to leave him at our backs, but he’s too pathetic to kill. We start heading into the cave, which Jasper determines to be an old dwarven steading. He sees runes that say, “Fill the furrows of our gods and enter.”

We decided to enter after Ziya webbed up the kobold hole (he was a giant spider at the time). We continued on through the dwarven tunnels past illusory floors and locked door. After bashing the last door in (for an hour or so), we found the rest of the completely unsurprised kobolds and their dire weasel companions. The weasels did not help them.

Treasure

  • 2220 copper
  • 100 gold
  • Bag of holding
  • 2 healing potions
  • 5lbs of cloves
  • 10lbs of flour
  • 3lbs of cinnamon
  • mason’s tools
  • dice set
  • 2 shovels
  • crowbar
  • 3 hunting traps
  • breastplate
  • 2 water buckets
  • 2 pots

Party Roster

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Save the Bruckmans, Part 2 [675 xp]

We open with the party discussing options. Jasper offers to kill a dozen goblins singlehandedly. We briefly consider parleying, perhaps with a possibility of getting the baron to ransom the Bruckmans, but that plan is scuttled because the baron is a jerk and these goblins are weird.

Jasper loudly declares that “We want the people,” and promptly misses all the goblins with a fire bolt. Whitestaff face palms, and Kirk runs in to do battle with a group that has stone for their left arms, hand to elbow. It turns out when he smashes them with his maul, they sound like both flesh and stone breaking as their stone bits shear off and rattle across the floor. At the end of the fray, one goblin is left alive to question.

The goblin says they took the farmers to see if they would turn to stone in their temple. Lagran takes some of the glass teeth out of the goblin corpses “for SCIENCE!” Kirk takes some for aesthetics, but his are still attached to the head.

The next cave is made of the same white stone that infected the goblins, but has been carved to suggest tiles. Kirk recognizes this as what the dwarves term First Age Netherese architecture, but it looks as though it was completed within days, not millenia. The double door to the temple lay beyond. He bashes the wall with his maul. The mark it leaves fades within moments. To Riverthorn’s eyes, the doorway is covered in magic. She sees a pulse of magic burst from the door through the cave, but it’s gone before she can identify it.

The door to the temple swings open easily. There’s a light, a giant yuan-ti (hopefully a) statue, and a lovely chandelier emitting pleasant incense smoke. Jasper tossed off a fire bolt at the statue, which did not move but did repair itself. There’s a circle inlaid on the floor. In the next room, we find a goblin embedded into the floor up to his waist.

Eventually, we open a door to the sounds of goblins splashing and talking in what appears to be a bathing room. Grayson charges in and kills one. Kirk throws an axe into the face of the other. The bath is self-cleaning. The next door we open reveals an uncarved stone wall. It looks like the temple complex is growing.

We finally find the throne room. There’s three stony goblins, an almost-completely-stone hobgoblin merged into a throne. The Bruckmans are tied to pillars. We dispatch the goblins and hobgoblin and free the Bruckmans, who have not started turning to stone. During the fight, another magic pulse radiated out from the snake head. Once the snake head is put into its case, the magic in the walls starts to fade and some of the corridors melt back into the natural stone.

We ask the goblin where the head came from. He said the chair-god (the hobgoblin) brought it. He had been a part of another group and had brought it to the goblin’s cave to study it.

We take the Bruckmans back to their farm, where we all rest and bury the dead. Brody gives us hugs when we get back to town. We have pies for life.

Loot

  • 600 gp in random coin
  • 110 Netherese gold pieces (worth more than regular gp to the right buyer)
  • (6) gems worth 50 gp each
  • (7) Netherese art objects worth 25 gp each
  • Potion of Hill Giant Strength (given to Kirk)
  • Potion of Greater Healing (given to Whitestaff)
  • Gold Netherese glass Goggles of Night (match the glass of the long sword, given to Grayson)
  • Glass long sword +1, Netherese style (given to Grayson)
  • Snake head bust (it was attached to the throne and bears a resemblance to Riverthorn’s staff of the python, Lagran has it)
  • Netherese chest
  • Empty lined chest of unfamiliar metal, made to hold the snake head bust (Lagran has it)
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Save the Bruckmans, Part I [250 XP]

We are in Mundy, going about our daily business. (Jasper was going on about his sister.) Roundabout dinner time, one of the town guard comes in trailing a 10 year old kid of average dirtiness. Brody Bruckman (the kid) came in because something attacked his family’s farm. Since the Bruckmans make the best blueberry pie for leagues around, we agree to take dinner to go. Brody doesn’t know exactly what happened; someone/thing left his front door ajar and his family was simply gone.

Fortunately, Grayson knows where we should go, so we head down the south road to find the farm. It’s easy to find. The first sign of habitation we find is a dead cow. We hear a loud thumping from the barn. Kirk checks out the house while the rest of us check out the barn.

The group in the barn find some dead goblins. Then we find displacer beasts: one inside the barn and one outside. Jasper immediately tries to set the barn on fire. After a brisk fight, one of the displacer beasts is killed and the other runs away. White(staff) decides to chase the wounded one, and catches up to it on the roof of the house. Eventually it breaks from Whitestaff, and Kirk finishes it off with a thrown axe.

Kirk sees that there was some sort of fight in the house, but there are no signs of any bodies. Jasper tells Motte to put out the fire in the barn, but Lagran handles it with prestidigitation. In the loft of the barn, there was an orc corpse with several arrows in it.

Lagran notices that one of the goblin corpses has a stone hand with Netherese symbols on it. The other one has stone for half of its face and a shiny hematite eye. Neither corpse registers as magic.

Riverthorn remembers hearing about the Frog Tribe of goblins in the foothills, but it’s unusual for them to venture out of the foothills.

Kirk finds some tracks that suggest a small warband attacked the farm and dragged a few people off. We decide to track the goblins to a cave in the foothills. White(staff) saw that the goblins had various stone bits, but didn’t see any humans.

The goblins have a Netherese temple in good order. White(staff) finds a goblin embedded in the wall. Also, the kitchen has no indications that these goblins eat humans.

We start our preparations to enter the goblin caves and look for the missing Bruckmans.

Party Roster:

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The Baron's an Ass (350 xp)

The Baron summons us to his court at dinnertime. While walking through the gallery, we notice that one of the pictures is of the cult leader we got rid of earlier. Apparently, she was the Baron’s sister. People from town know she left Bridgetown to go to University in Ulster years ago.

The Baron mentions the orcs that have been accosting travelers of late. Then he says the young Queen, recently crowned, has lifted the house arrest of Lord Simian Astrella. He asked us to go to his estate in the Golden Wood, deliver a writ explaining this to His Apeness, and escort him back to Bridgetown.

The next morning, we head out. Jaspar is somewhat hung over. We start heading out the road into the Golden Wood. Lark finds a burned-out orc village strewn with banners (sable, an axe gules). From the remains of the battle, it looks like the attackers had decent equipment. The male corpses had been defiled, and there weren’t a lot of female corpses.

Our first night out, an owlbear attacked. The fighters take it down in short order, and Whitestaff tracks it back to its lair. Lark harvests owlbear bits for later.

We get to Lord Simian’s tea plantation without further incident. He agrees to go so long as we’ll take his family, too. He then shows us decent maps of the region with the locations of Goremaul Bloodaxe’s camps. Riverthorn makes copies to show Lagran later. Jasper grabs a few new (to him) novels. We are offered a stash of Astrella tea.

Lark spies an orcish raiding party on its way to our location. We send the lord and his entourage ahead and prepare to meet the orcs at the defensible keep. We murdered them and delivered the lord and his entourage to the Baron.

Treasure

  • 200 gp each

Player Roster

GM Credit

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Escorting Roja - Part 2 [600 XP]

The company proceeded several days with little incident to the elvish outpost. It was a small compound of one large extended family of elves inside an earth and wood palisade, they were friendly enough, if a bit stand-offish, as is the nature of elves. We resupplied and exchanged news. They warned of increased Orc activity.

They did not allow us to stay inside the wall, but provided a sturdy guest house nearby. We bedded down for the night and Temic took first watch. Only a few hours after dark cries of alarm could be heard from folks running in the darkness. A band of outlanders were being run down by orcs and wargs.

The company was roused and while the elves did not open their gates, the outlanders fled to the company’s fire. Several were cut down before they reached us, including women and children. A furious melee ensued with the company and the 10 orcs and a similar number of wargs. The enemy were defeated and five of the outlanders saved. Lark took off tracking the one escaping orc and warg.

Lark tracked them until morning when the Orc returned to a large encampment of several thousand orcs of many tribes. As that was happening the bulk of the company, with the help of the elves, were rendering aid to the outlanders and helping them burn their dead.

When Lark returned she informed the elves of the threat and they packed and immediately fled. It was determined that the company should also continue moving. (Despite it being obvious that staying within the palisade would have been the smartest move).

Several tense days later we had a run in with a young blue dragon. It swooped down in the night, blasting one of the dray horses with lightning and eating it. Lagron, who knows the language of dragons, parlayed with it and it took the carcass off with no further incident. Fortunately deRoja brought spare horses.

A band of outlanders met on the move later indicated there was a ancient blue somewhere in the wastes and that she had a large brood of children that terrorized that place.

Roja had been following a magical lodestone since the elf enclave and suddenly one day she announced we were at the spot. A blank expanse of sandy wasteland. She produced a rod and stuck it in the ground. With a rumbling hiss, the sand began to part. Over several minutes the sand shifted away making an enormous hole and finally uncovering the wall of a stone building.

The wall contained a stone door and all of it was magnificently carved in sophisticated bas relief. Unfortunately, the marking were orcish, over a thousand years old by Kirk’s reckoning. deRoja was furious as she was expecting a Netherese ruin. We Kirked the door open to reveal an ancient temple to Grumsh the One-Eye. It seemed empty and foreboding. Still, we had traveled far and investigated. Spreading out through the place Lagron and deRoja became engaged with their artistry and implications of the wall carvings, while other members of the company were searching for loot and trouble.

Trouble they found. When Kirk and Temic entered a room with a mysterious well the temple guardians came to life. Four of the orc bas reliefs in the main chamber housed shadows which emerged and began to attack Lark, Lagron and deRoja. Four suits of armor animated in the armory and clanked down the hall to menace Greyson. Kirk and Temic roused the ire of a shadow dragon. It was a desperate fight, the company scattered. In the end we prevailed with no casualties. However deRoja refused to return to the temple thereafter.

With the defenders dispatched , a further search of the temple revealed aught else, aside from a glowing spear found in the depths of the well. It did not detect as magic, but was later determined to only glow a dull red in the presence of elves. Determined to be a cursed thing, Temic took it in his care to see to its destruction or safekeeping.

We returned to Mund with only minor adventure. The Martel’s were furious at the utter failure of the expedition, but as the company was blameless in this we were paid the balance of our contract; 50 go each.

Treasure

  • Our pay, 50 gp each – divided among the company
  • Spear of Grumsh – in Temic’s keeping

The Party

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Escorting Roja [400 xp]
A ruinous adventure

The Martel brothers needed some dependable help to escort a Netherese expert to site of a Netherese ruin in the wastes of the Outlands. The youngest one (who’s name escapes me) went to the Copper Ram to recruit adventurers for this task, said adventurers having built a reputation for some kind of dependability.

The interested parties appeared the next day at the mercantile house to find them in preparation for a significant expedition. There was one huge armored wagon drawn by two enormous dray horses and a smaller supply wagon. The middle brother, the accountant, was there fretting over the cost of the venture, but was polite enough when he realized ‘the help’ was here.

The company was introduced to Beth Roja, the brother’s Netherese expert. She was enthusiastic and quite pleasant, but seemed entirely unsuited for the rigors of traveling in the wastes. Fortunately, she would be riding in the wagon. In addition two teamsters/diggers accompanied to tend the horses and wagons.

There was some dickering over the contract, but ultimately it was agreed that each member of the company would receive 2 gp plus 1lb of salt meat and 1lb of travel biscuits per day. In addition, each would receive an equal share of one half of any treasure discovered at the site, Netherese artifacts excluded (this last was something of a sticking point for Lagron). The expedition was expected to take six weeks and the contract only allows for eight weeks of payment. Should things go longer, Roja is authorized to renegotiate the contract.

The expedition set out under fair weather and good spirits. Several days of travel skirting between the Golden Wood and the Rusk Mountains followed with little worth mentioning.

On the 5th(??) day of travel Lark, acting as outrider, spotted a broken wagon in the road and informed the company. We investigated when a boy sprang from the wagon, dashing off into the woods and calling for his Pa. A roar erupted from the woods and immediately a huge brown bear and cub came crashing through the woods. The behavior of the bear seemed odd to several members of the company. Thus, while poised to attack or defend, the company refrained from action for a critical few moments. Both Lagron and Riverthorne called out in parley and, given a moment to survey the situation, the bear transformed back into a man.

It seems that the man and boy (names!) are native born shape changers. They were traveling to town for supplies when their wagon broke. Grateful for help they apologized for their reaction. They generally are wary of strangers.

But suddenly, boars came crashing out of the woods! Not just boars, but wereboars intent on killing the friendly werebear family! The party took to arms and in a tense battle put the vile creatures down. Several were wounded and Greyson received an infected wound that transferred the curse of lycanthropy to him!

The werebear took him aside to discuss the situation with him and he decided to accept the offer of a medicine that could stave off the curse. Fortunate since the full moon was that very night. Greyson suffered several long nights as the curse battled the medicine in his body. For now he still seems to be himself. Hopefully we can get the curse removed soon.

Lark and Riverthorne tracked down the wereboars encampment and we looted it. They were richly laid. We think they were going to bribe local malcontents and bandits.

We took:

  • 200 gp in assorted coins – divided equally among the company
  • A Staff of the Python – given to Riverthorne
  • An instrument of the Bard – given to Lagron
  • A +1 Maul – given to Kirk
  • An Amulet of Adaption – given to Lark, but traded to Greyson for his Cloak of Elvenkind

The Party

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Slavers in the Dark Woods, Part 3 (400xp)

Lark, Kirk, Greyson and Lagran returned to the abandoned temple as Whitestaff and Riverthorn escorted Jamas back to Mundi.

On the way to the temple, the party heard a melody piping through the forest, but avoided whoever was playing the tune.
Upon arrival to the temple, 4 cultists were discovered hung in the barn.
The devil is still within the pentagram.
The residential area in the temple showed signs of a fight – blood everywhere, 2 cultists bodies were found sliced open. The basement area is of Netherese make.
We made our way to the basement and fought 4 5 wargs, Lagran went down. 3 wargs were killed, 1 ran away. Riverthorne killed one by herself.
Riverthorn rejoined the party was there the entire time.
Further investigation revealed the base of the crystal tree and a room where a stone door blocks the exit. The door is of the same material as the temple to Delllab and there is magic barrier on the door.
Investigation of the ossuary reveals a lower level more extensive area filled with bones from the Netheril era. 6 skeletons came out of the walls to attack us. We defeated them.
Two sarcaphogi with names in Netherese. One guarded by a shadow like figure and 2 skeletons. Defeated them and left the temple.
(quantum collapse edits)

Treasure
6 silver neck torques (10 gp each)
18 gp
wood box with 1000sp
2 silver arm cuffs (25 gp each)
3 silver tipped javelins
2 shortswords
2 chainmail

Party
Greyson Najin
Lagran Escriber
Kirk
Lark
Trimyra “Riverthorn” Timrik

GM Credit
Jaspar Evensong d’Castilla y’Marischala

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Spiders in the Tower [350 xp]

Jaspar and his halfling valet, Motte, come into the Ram and get their finest (normal) room and best (cheap) wine. Quill had a quiet drink at the bar. Ziya strode in and checked the board. Sebastian came in for a drink.

Daera the Sage posted a slip of paper on the board. Everyone decides to take care of her bounty on the spiders in the tower. After listening to Jaspar grump for the evening, we join Daera at her house to meet the two men-at-arms provided by the baron and head off.

A half-mile or so from the ruined keep, we hear screams. Running toward the source, we find some townsfolk being wrapped up by giant spiders. We take most of them out, but Quill is seriously injured.

After that, Quill and Ziya (as a dire wolf) find a hole going into the old sewer system, which is oddly full of (icky) water. Since spider tracks were on the ceiling, we went down there, but got accosted by a water weird, which drowned Quill. Fortunately, we killed it and Sebastian revived her.

After a short rest, some of the locals showed us to a hole in an old warehouse, which led to a small alcove, which led to a cave, which held a white wyrmling. After killing the dragon (Quill was unharmed), we talked to a drow druid who was saddened at its demise, but informed us of an ettercap in the ruins above. He asked us to keep the Sons of Man out of the tunnels, and turned into a giant spider to walk away.

Treasure

  • 100 GP
  • 1050 SP
  • 7 gems (50 gp each)
  • Dagger of the War-Mage (also arcane focus +1) – given to Quill
  • Hat of Disguise – given to Quill
  • Two spider fangs
  • Five spider poison glands
  • One white dragon wyrmling hide (Ziya wants to make hide armor from it)

The Party

DM Credit

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