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P.S - Just like when you were alive, you always give me strength then and now.
P.S - Just like when you were alive, you always give me strength then and now.
Revision as of 21:20, 15 November 2023
An alternative in-character set of highly condensed recaps are available from Sabbatical from her weekly reports at SWAAR.
And some further abbreviated, third-person summaries can be found at "Within the Wicked Wilds/Player Recaps/TLDR".
Session 1a: Thinwhistle
- Rina (Jen): wood elf druid
- Lambda (Jon): warforged monk
- Nassir (Sam): dragonborn barbarian
- Stout, aka Neru (Rich): gnome paladin
- 22 (Cat): autom druid
***Present in spirit was Finny (Anna): Aarakocra Bard, who remained at base camp due to a last-minute injury (and/or hangover, depending on who you ask)
- Matilda and Bjorn, "guides" (i.e. chaperones) provided by TBEC
- Hunk and Snatu, residents of Thinwhistle
After the entire expeditionary group had travelled inland from Galik by airship, the party walked half a day west where they encountered and befriended the people of Thinwhistle, a village of Kobolds of Unusual Size. The chief and head lore keeper of the village was Snatu (he/him), who explained that the kobolds of this part of Amusa were once a glorious race, more powerful than most of their contemporaries and living in their underground ancestral kingdom, but that they were driven out by a great calamity, the nature of which had long been lost to the the tribe's memory and records. All they had was a tattered mural showing the destruction of a city, with fires raging and corpses littering the scene. Snatu went on to say that the people of Thinwhistle had split off from other tribes long ago, and that the tribes often war amongst each other but that some may know more of the lost history.
The party and a kobold warrior named Hunk (he/him) set out to find two monsters that had been terrorizing the village. They succeeded, in a way, when one of the monsters, a colossal red fire-breather, ambushed the party just as they had encountered three hostile drakes.
A fight ensued that the party won, but not without considerable risk to all their lives. During the struggle, Lambda was badly bitten by the monster and 22 revived him (about which 22 would later report feeling conflicted when they realized that, in their words, "Lambda appears to be a raging racist.") Nassir eventually slew the monster, and while the party was cleaning up the drakes, the other colossal monster appeared, a green lightning-breather that the kobolds apparently call "The Eater of Worlds". Though the party had tried to ensure Hunk's well-being, the new monster breathed lightning on Stout, Hunk and 22, and Hunk was knocked unconscious.
Just as Lambda closed with this second monster, Hunk, now stabilized by Stout, came around for long enough to shout "Run!!" upon seeing the beast. Nassir flanked the creature to try to help Lambda disengage, but the monster rendered both of them unconscious with a tail slap and a bite. Once it had eliminated these threats, it turned its attention to feasting on the first monster's carcass, and the party took this opportunity to GTFO.
Stout carried Hunk out, 22 revived Nassir, and Rina revived Lambda, and they all got a few-minute head start before eventually catching the telltale sound of the creature pursuing them through the forest, knocking over trees as it came. After a brief tactical discussion, 22 cast Pass Without Trace on the party, and they were able to evade the creature in the woods and return to Thinwhistle to lick their wounds.
Hunk soon became a liaison between Thinwhistle and the expedition base camp, and the two groups agreed to establish peaceful relations.
Session 1b: The Temple of Loth
- Reedy and Daq (Mercedes): tiefling ranger and drake
- Sabbatical (Talia): tiefling cleric
- Paris Hilton and PPP : human ranger and chihuahua
- Sir Yewvane : Eladrin bard/Paladin
- Therrin: aasamir warlock
- Paul, "guide" (i.e. chaperones) provided by TBEC
Today was our first expedition. Daq and I were joined by Sir Yewvane, Paris, Therrin, and Sabbatical was also there. We headed into the jungle, following our guide from Tempest Brothers, Paul. He is a capable young man, learned, and keen on artifacts and archaeology. I mostly went along for guard duty, which suits me well. As we were going along, Paris made the VERY WISE decision to open her satchel to show up her vermin, a small mastiff called Princess Platinum Paws. I despite it. Also, her satchel emits an alarming amount of light, causing a very loud roar, like one of the creatures that Kompi can summon, but it sounded deeper, larger even. We continued forward.
It didn’t take too long to find ourselves at a clearing and a large temple. It didn’t look in too much disrepair, but aged. Ornate and beautiful, almost—an odd glisten to it. We entered and in the first room, there were so many large spiders. They were the size of wolves. One of them bit me, but it didn’t take very much effort to pin down and kill the others, especially with Daq’sassistance. I was still inspecting the room when Sabbatical attempted to simply move ahead before we inspected that everyone was alright to do so. She can be very single minded at times. I grabbed her, pulling her back and having Daq block the door while we waited for the others. Once we were ALL ready, we moved ahead.
The next room of the temple contained a large statue of the deity this temple was dedicated to, a stunningly beautiful representation of the goddess, Loth, who is part woman, part spider. Her magical spiders, much larger and mystic, attacked us and their webs were also mystifying. We destroyed them all with a near ease, which was unsettling because it seemed too easy. Despite their size and arcane ability, it was not very difficult to kill them all. Upon inspection of the statue of Loth, she has her palm extended, awaiting an offering. I took one of my sapphire earrings out and rested it in her hand, but nothing happened. Clearly, my offer was not enough.
One of our party remembered that Loth’s temples often are entrances to the Underdark, but we did not see such an entrance, so we continued our trek. While the others were healing and maintaining themselves from the fight, I snuck away into the next hall, very careful. I noticed pools of black ichor with spider legs reaching out from inside, just swaying slightly. When I approached and was within their range, they snapped at me and attempted to hit, but it did not work because I am quick to dodge.
I retrieved the others, warning them of the legs in the black ooze and we slowly made our way, careful to destroy the legs before we moved further into the temple. We reached the final two rooms and as we approached what seemed to be the end of the temple’s layout, we found ourselves face to face with an odd bundling of the spider’s web. Obviously victims of the large creature that had been awaiting us inside our final destination for our mission.
As soon as Yewvane stepped into the final room of the temple, a monstrosity that I could not distinguish between bat, ichor, and spider, descended from the ceiling and attached. Yewvane tried to close the door to it so if could not see and attack us, but instead, it sent the door crashing into him and allowing it to begin to creep inside.
We would attack the creature, it would them force us into a state of mind that didn’t allow us to attack it until we’d attacked something else inside, so we rotated between attacking the legs of ichor that had regrown with the creature’s appearance, andattacked the Haunter of the Dark itself. Sabbatical ran around the room in mad dashes, lighting everything in her path ablaze while Paris brought our her mangy toy dog and it stayed with the large creature, attacking it. Paris, Therrin and I shot bolts, arrows, and blasts at it until it finally dissolved into it’s own ether.
Stepping around the disgust and filth, we made our way into the final room and I opened the web sac. Inside were many corpses, animals, humanoid, creature alike, some coins were found on the bodies, as well as a cloak that Sabbatical identified as being one of Protection, boosting my armor. It shimmers like Daq’s black scales. Also inside was a large deep red garnet, cut ornated into 12 smooth and perfect planes. I was tempted, for just a moment, to put it into my own bag, but realized how foolish it would be after a moment.
We look it back to the statue of Loth and placed it in the goddess’ hand. Behind her, a grating sound of stone on stone occurred and when we looked into the path that opened, it was a dark, deeply angled, descending staircase. We could only assume to where this would lead, the Underdark.
Sabbatical, ever one to see how far she can push people into submission, bullied poor Paul into standing on the other side of the door and seeing if there was a mechanism that would allow him to get back inside the temple from the entrance to the underdark. Yewvane wouldn’t let Paul go alone, so they both stepped through and Sabbatical removed the gemstone from Loth’s hand. The doors closed and for a faint moment, I thought perhaps she might leave them there, but she did not, so when they returned into the temple with us, they told us that once inside the stairwell, they did not see another way to open the door from the inside.
Paul has taken possession of the gemstone for now and will himself and Arcane lead missions out to see what we can learn about the Underdark inside Loth’s temple entrance. - From the Journal of Reedy
Session 1b: Kickoff Megagame - Ruins of Maddening Dreams
Session Tags: The Green Knight, Perseus Company, Philosopher's Stone, Sylvester da Stone
DM: Keller (4/29/2023)
Important Things that Happened:
So this ta be da true account of thins dat did ta happen during our arrival inna da Wicked Wilds. I Deralickt Dadwarf, Low Priest of the Order of Cucullin, of the Reformed Church of Bajayzus, Hisself attest to this.
Our skiff headed out to find da Perseus Company to coordinate settin up da Tempest Brothers Expeditionary Company camp, so as ta not be steppin on toes and such.
We did ta land near ta the supposed camp, findin a road cut inta the jungle heading towards and away from our target. Our party was made up of the notables listed above. A fine bunch o lads n lasses for a easy jaunt through de woods. Our Drood made a friend with a local monkey who will will kno as Chimp. Others were preppin spells and such to assist with walkin thru da trees down da road.
Bajayzus spake ta me and guided myself to a large rock. This was not any rock, but was a rock known as Sylvester. Sylvester da Stone. Upon this rock I will build the Church in The Wicked Wilds. So within minutes of arrival, my ministry has doubled!
Sylvester immediately took off down the road a bit scoutin ahead and waitin till we caught up to again shoot ahead. Clearin the way and keepin us from ambush. He even took off into the woods to sneak up upon the camp. I have Bajayzus as my shield, so I walked right in. This was not the main camp, but a watch tower and small ruined camp.
Now, Ima all about keepin a good watch. Cuttin off yer own head an stickin up on a pole seems a bit overkill. I was gonna point dis out, but the evidence of Gnolls was about, so figure it was them. The watch tower still stood, and was built upon a solid stone foundation. Now Ima good solid sensible dwarf. Bein all dangly on a framework of wood is not the best plan, so I split off and went ta the stone cellar. They did pretty good work on the stones, not dwarven mind ya, but nice and solid. There was a large padlock on the door to the cellar. As I have learnt from my days upon the Barge, locks are usually in and about thins of interestin proportions.
Well, the open doors revealed a man takin a nap in the middle of the floor of a very smelly room, apparently locked in here for a bit. I went in ta wake him, and realized he was takin a dirt nap. Most likely kilt by stuffin a black chicken into his mouth, as it was full of feathers, with feathers sticking out his ears and other places as well. Lucky I was already pourin water inna his mouth ta see if I could revive em, Obsidian was lookin ta identify what type of bird ta feathers were from when they all burst inna fire.
We quickly left, as we dinna want ta get the bill for arson, when we found some bad poetry written on da wall.
The party regrouped, Our company handlers quickly swept in and threw all sorts of accusations about arson anna such. Our people who climbed the tower found a map wif lots of circles anna such on it, with some crossed out. We decided ta make haste ta the main Perseus camp. So the company people, Lucinda Grimfold, Lyowyn Mossbringer, Cookie go a flyin off again, leavin us ta walk ta da main camp.
Darkness fell quick while we were walkin instead o flyin. Strange thins did ta happen durin da watches, First watch, the trees moved in, The second watch da people were seemingly sucked up inta da sky. On my watch some darkness coalesced into a malevolent form. I chucked a rock at it. It chucked it back, automatically hittin me in the head for a pile o damage. Well, hittin a Dwarf in da head with a rock will really only result in smaller rocks. There be somin old and vast that dont want us here. Again, I am immune to leavin areas just cause someone is annoyed by my presence. Passive aggressive do ta be wasted on a dwarf. We did find Chimp dead and impaled upon a tree. The first member of the expedition to die permeant like. He will never be forgotten.
We made it ta da main camp inna early mornin. They appear ta have been a bit better at putin up a fight as there were a few gnolls scattered about the battlefield They appear ta ave set up da main bunkhouse in an old temple, with a few outbuildings. I investigated the temple and found interestin archeological information ta be published as a paper at a latter time. We also found a large duck anna merchant under a tarp, and sent him ta our main camp area. Prior to leaving he sent me my next member of the local parish Huginn N. Muninn, a stuffed raven who comes ta life sometimes.
We came out our last outbuildin and Lo and behold Slyvester da Stone had found a well. Not just any well, but one that was mentioned in some paperwork as a well of madness or some such. Now I know this was divinely revealed to myself as only I could see it, Bejayzus be praised. Slyvester jumped in ta investigate da well, and not really able ta be much madder than I am, I of course walked over and peered down the well. It appeared to go on forever down, even goin threw several dimensions and planes and other such stuff. It tried to suck me in, but being a Dwarf of good solid common sense, I shrugged off the feeble attempt.
Lucky I was perched behind the Well o Futile Madness, cause out of ta Temple came a gnoll and a few hyenas. I say good cause the area around dem erupted in a series of fires and explosions as the rest of da party let loose with everything hey had and obliterated the hapless gnoll and his litter mates.
Well, not ta be left out of the fun, I rushed inna da Temple.
Inside were 4 more already too large for their own good Gnolls, one Really too large Gnoll, a huge and ugly Hyena, In the back was a large green figure we learned was the Green Knight. He executed the leader of the Perseus Company on a balcony and started to stalk towards three others on the floor.
Battle was joined. I dont wanna go inna too much detail on the fight. Everyone in da party acquitted themselves well. We managed ta kill all the gnolls and hyena with some difficulty. We held the line in the entryway, with the Power of Bajayzus guiding us and granting us extra strength to buoy us in battle (channel divinity)
I will discuss the antics of the Green knight. During the battle he ignored us and executed the first captive on the floor while we were busy with his minions. Lysvan the Drood got his attention with a heat metal. I stood at the top of the stairs to hold the line and keep the Gangrene Knight off the spell casters. Standing like an impenetrable wall, sing the Battle hymn of the Great Saint Peter Gabriel “ I wanna be, ye Sledge Hammer”
Instead of attacking me all right and proper, the Sassenach Green Knight jumped up da steps and went around myself. I WILL NOT BE IGNORED. The Drood went all giant badger and tunneled away to maintain his spell. The Green Knight at that point dismissed us and tried to just leave. I WILL NOT BE DISMISSED.
So I locked the doors with Arcane Lock and locked him in with us. The Green knight tried to kill me, with no success. He tried to drag me to da door and force me to open it, with no success. He tried begging me to open da door, with no success. He tried many things while erroneously crying “This Ends Now”, with no success. Finally with having to smack us with a 6th order spell knocking out Two of our players and threatening to kill all my party members as he realized he could not win against me. I relented and allowed him, defeated, to skulk out into the camp. BROKEN and DEFEATED by the stubbornness of a Dwarf backed by the power of Bajayzus Da Green (with envy) Knight fled into the jungle, still under da effect of da heat metal.
As we walked out victorious, a large horde of gnolls entered the camp, some of them 20 foot or more high. I was debating weather to kill em all to ta let em run away, when we were swept up inna da skiff and whisked away to our base camp. I did ta try teaching them various curse words in celestial as we traveled away, but I don thin dey heard myself. Cursin in Celestial gives a nice classy mouth feel ta da base concepts.
Chimp, the first in the expedition to fall in battle will have a place of honor inna the home of heroes aka graveyard. Now ta set up the Holy Basilica of Bajayzus and Research Library. Of course, setting up the final resting place for the fellows who are likely to fall along the way. With the help of Sylvester da Stone and Huginn N. Muninn we begin our adventures in the Wicked Wilds.
Session 3: All That Glitters...
Session Tags: Dinosaurs, Magic, Arc
DM: Julia (5/10/23)
Helli could not believe her luck; she was to leave camp and investigate the wilds for the head of Magic and Mysteries… sure, there were missing people, who they were presumed dead. But it was her time to explore the wilds! She of course was a big scandalized to hear that Arc did not care about the dead bodies and wanted them to recover the research material and notebooks. Her whole life’s training was against abandoning the sick and taking care of the deceased.
Their trip was not so complicated as she had feared. Thankfully, there were some experienced scouts amongst them and not only they did not get lost, but also encountered some of the interesting plants. There had been some talk about laylines and impact of the local flora and fauna around the camp, but this was the first time she actually saw the evidence of that with her own eyes. Bioluminescence in all the plants. They were pretty… but the dead bodies nearby were not so much pretty. They collected their notes and she went through their bodies, trying to find out why they were dead. Signs of beasts. Large beasts… What sort of monster could have done this?
Her question was answered soon. Not one, but two dinosaurs showed up… and not normal beasts either. They had extra flavor in their attacks, bringing all of them to their knees. They were so powerful that they could nothing else but run, beaten and afraid. After all, they had collected the material they had set out to collect.
Further details from the Journal of Sabbatical.
Warning, reading the following content constitutes an agreement to Fiendish code, 1647(a)(IV)(c), which binds an unbound soul in service to the fiendish circle of Phlegethos for all eternity upon death. If the soul is already bound, then Fiendish code 18463(b)(II) applies, sequestering the knowledge from being shared with others without implicit agreement to the aforementioned 1647(a)(IV)(c) or a soul in service to Baator.
Arc summoned the six of us to investigate several disappearances of their research teams. They had sent three teams in sequence, and each had failed to maintain contact or return. The latest group had a single individual making daily check-ins through the sending spell, but had gone silent three days ago. After we discussed the wastefulness and inefficiency of Arc's previous plans, Arc sent us off with some basic directions and little other information. I have been... somewhat unimpressed with Arc's contributions now that we have entered the field, although their efforts in combat situations or camp-wide protections have yet to be fully realized.
As we traveled a few hours out of camp, Hermes focused our initial efforts at tracking, although he gave way to other contributions as the day wore on. Eventually the trail turned more North than West and we encountered a clearing with a large glowing plant at its center. Half the party investigated the plant, while the others searched the surroundings. We found the bodies of some researchers, including a few journals and coins, as well as armor and other equipment, all with signs of significant battle damage and elemental energy. As those of us checking the bodies searched them for more information, the others harvested some fruit, and then cut into the plant in order to collect a sample. Upon doing so, we were immediately attacked by a dinosaur laden with poison spines. This dinosaur struck first for Marion, and forced her into a barrier of ice immediately. While they were momentarily safe, the dinosaur turned to find softer targets and rushed toward our group investigating bodies. It revealed surprising toughness and a propensity to unleash spin attacks with the spines on its tail before attempting its vicious bites.
The roars and commotion of the first beast quickly drew a second into the fray. This second dinosaur was larger, and instead of poison, was imbued with electrical energy. It called forth a storm and unleashed directed bolts of lightning in addition to its bite and claws. This was turning into a dangerous battle, but one in which we could maintain a stable fighting position when a third creature appeared. This one was a flaming pterodon of huge size which swooped in and downed Hermes in a single blow. I was able to heal him back to a mobile state, but with a third massive beast in the fray, withdrawal seemed almost certainly necessary. Hermes was the first to effectuate a withdrawal, with all three great beasts alive and attacking, and many of us severely injured, I cannot fault the decision. Before the rest of us could organize an effective retreat, at least one of the other beasts needed to be dealt with. The poison lizard was the first to fall, finally succumbing to a burst of flame I unleashed on it from being struck by spines. Unfortunately, as I recovered from this blow, the pterodon struck me, tearing past my shield and cutting into my armor, knocking me unconscious in a single blow. Fortunately, with a plethora of healers in the group, I was resuscitated quickly and was able to disengage from immediate danger and take cover under the tree line.
At this point, I had a choice: stay within range of threats and remain close enough to offer some final limited support, or retreat to safety, leaving the others to an almost-certain demise. Flight could easily have been justified, and manipulating the camp's reaction to the loss of four adventurer members on a single mission onto a darker path where the Hells could have been invoked would have been relatively easy. It wouldn't even have been a dishonest or disingenuous effort. Infernal assistance could have provided exactly the outlet the camp would have sought in the aftermath. The whole thing could have been a master stroke, earning potentially several souls to the Hells' cause at the low cost of only four lives. I almost left; Philani should have left then, or better yet remained just near enough to ensure the demise of the others and return back with a corpse or two in tow. But... I didn't. Even now, days later as I reflect on it, the best way I can describe my reasons is that it didn't feel like the right move for Sabbatical. I don't just mean that it isn't in keeping with the pseudonymous character and identity I've adopted, but something more pervasive. It's not something I as Sabbatical wanted to just let happen unless it were actually unavoidable. I could tell that I was almost certainly out of immediate danger at that point, and although I could have pushed for the utmost advantage for the Hells, I didn't need to. I'm not on assignment to collect souls, I'm not under specific pressure to manipulate every circumstance, and I don't exactly want a bunch of these people to die. It doesn't improve my present situation, my living conditions, or advance any of the goals I've set for my time here. I am not currently bound by duty or anything else to maximize any potential gains for the Hells. Even as my soul is already bound and I know I am ready to serve the Hells and rise through the fiendish ranks for all eternity, I am still free to do as I will whenever I wish, so long as I am also willing to bear the consequences. And in that moment, I knew I was risking death, albeit a small chance at that moment, just to help protect the lives of others and move us one step closer to completing our mission's objective.
As I adjusted my tactical position, the lightning beast sent a blast of energy into the flaming beast as well, inciting its wrath and turning conditions more toward our favor. Yet it was also strangely fixated on Marion, and seemed intent on killing her. I could tell from my vantage point beneath the trees that Marion was but one blow from death, and the beast had the initiative. I could heal Marion and ensure her immediate survival at the risk of her simply being wounded and dying again, or I would wait, delaying my moment until just after the beast's attention shifted to give Marion a chance at not only surviving the moment, but escaping danger entirely.
No matter the choice, it was a gamble, so... I gambled, letting the creature act before I would heal Marion and trusting that she could then see to herself. Luck was both against and with Marion in that moment. It seemed all but certain that the beast would turn its focus away from the dying girl, but something prompted it to take one final attack toward her unconscious form. Despite her being prone and helpless on the ground, something about the angle at which the monster bit caused its jaws to close just short of Marion's throat, missing her by inches. I can honestly attribute this to nothing short of luck--the power of Marion's goddess, Beshaba. I seized the chance, immediately, releasing my healing spell and ensuring Marion had a chance to act and escape the situation. Of course, as luck would have it, the means by which she chose to escape: turning herself invisible, proved futile, and the creature swiped at her, knocking her once more unconscious as she tried to escape. Yet, the minor healing I offered proved enough. Neru was finally able to land a killing blow on the lightning beast and another minor heal allowed Marion to find cover beneath the trees before the flaming beast could turns its attention back to us. We were all able to withdraw momentarily, listening to the beast fly once more on its way now that the other two creatures were dead.
After taking that moment to gather ourselves, we returned to the clearing and scoured the bodies of the fallen animals. We recovered a significant quantity of useful scales from the lightning beast--enough for many of us to potentially craft armors from them, as well as parts from the poisonous beast. Furthermore, we recovered sufficient plant samples for Arc to make a more thorough study in the future. Knowing our severely weakened and depleted state, I insisted we take a short time to rest rather than turn immediately back toward the camp. Any passing threat could have easily eliminated us had we not done so, and all we lost from the decision was one more hour of daylight, meaning we would have to return to camp in the dark. This was hardly a serious impediment under the circumstances. As it happens, our delay had consequences back at camp, but those are in the next entry.
Session 6: A Penguin's Problem
DM: Aaron (5/24/2023)
Important NPCs: Pennysworth, camp quartermaster, Demonic entity known as "Mother."
This mission was relatively straightforward: smoke was spotted in the distance, in the direction from which the base camp Quartermaster was flying in, and a distress signal had been received. Bjorn ordered the group of us to head out on foot immediately, help them fix the airskiff and return. The trip out was mostly led by Hunk the kobold, who is remarkably well-spoken and verbose when compared to other members of the race I have encountered. We headed straight to the crash site, which was situated in a portion of the wilds covered in moss and fungi.
Pennysworth, the penguin aarakockra apparently brought several of his children along as support staff, and they had already fought off one wave of apparently Abyssal creatures in roughly humanoid shape. We had just barely gathered around the ship and begun a plan to repair it when we were attacked by dozens of creatures formed from the moss and fungi of the area speaking in abyssal. These demons showed little in the way of intelligence, but kept speaking of a "Mother" which could offer comfort and gifts. But fortunately, I was the only one who could understand the nonsense of these obvious lies, so no one else could be tempted into doing something ridiculously stupid. As we battled the creatures, some of them released toxic spores when struck by an attack while others seemed merely to be using their arms and claws to try to batter and slice.
Despite being ordered to find safety on the air skiff, several of the smaller penguins failed to do so quickly enough and we slain during the battle. As we cleared out some of the last remaining smaller demons one of them spoke with the voice of Jim Stacy, asserting revenge against me and the camp for his fate. I cannot say I feel sympathy for his state, but no one should be left in that state and all demons deserve destruction. On the opposite side of the battlefield an enormous creature with four arms appeared, and, bypassing Lambda who had been knocked down, it ran straight for Kompi. It reached out its arms and picked up the little kobold, and then tore their arm off and very nearly tore them entirely apart. Eventually we were able to destroy the creature, but in doing so it released an immense cloud of spores. These spores fell over all of us in the area, getting in eyes and throat and starting to burn. There was also a shriek from somewhere nearby calling out for its children.
In the relative clear, we all thought it best to retreat quickly rather than stay and attempt to deal with whatever additional threats this "mother" could muster to attack us. It was also clear that these spores that had spread were starting to affect several of us with burning in the eyes and throat and blurry vision. Within a few more moments we had the airship operable once more and took off to return to camp short two of the weaker penguin assistants but heavier with the weight of whatever was going on with Jim Stacy and with the demonic disease starting to fester. Tactical details are recorded in my mission report reproduced above, and details of the aftermath belong on their own entry.
Session 7: Winds of Change
Session Tags: Thistlebrook Conclave
Characters: Helli, 22, Reedy & Daq, Marion, Nix and Jo
DM: Julia (5/26/2023)
Important NPCs: Curian, Billiam, Galaros, Bitris, Dream
Important Things that Happened:
Our second assignment was this evening. Billiam sent us out to find out what’s been happening to the starting herds of domestic livestock (goats, sheep, cows, etc) that we had had in a relatively safe farm area. He stated that it was clearly hunters and not other animals by evidence of the weapons and foot prints. They’d been keeping them to the northern end of camp, so we headed that way first, myself, Marion, Helli, 22, Jo, and Nix. Nix, we had met along our way to the farming grounds, who was coming, looking for their brother, Rachet. I told her the bad news, that he had died in combat with a giant alligator and she took up his fight, stating she would finish what her brother had started.
As we got to the farm grounds, we discovered footprints from humanoids heading east. Three sets were the most recent and we followed them, though not as quietly as I would normally like. Helli and Jo were particularly loud in their armor, and I make the mistake of correctly them, perhaps a little too loudly, and therefore we ended up alerting those we were following, which we discovered when an arrow flew out of the wood and struck a tree just shy of Jo’s head. I immediately became alarmed, butdid not attack immediately in retaliation. Marion and Helli took up negotiations quickly while I watched from behind for movement.
The one who shot as us was an auburn-haired male elf. He calls himself Curian. He told us that we were “on their land and need to leave” but somehow I just didn’t believe that. Even if he is older than me in years, he hardly seemed more mature. Elves T_T
Above him in the trees, we could see a curious creature, large like Marion but more animalistic, a fey creature called a firbolg, we learned, and she is called Bitris. She was watching from above Curian and mostly offering support.
He told us over and over that it was his family’s land and we could only leave, there was no discussion to be had, but that’s when the actually keeper and leader of these people arrived, an older lighter auburn-haired elf, the father of Curian, called Galaros.
He was far less hostile than his son and shared with us the actual reason of our folly as a camp. Their family, a conclave of druids, travels with the seasons, which here on Amusa are seven yearcycles. They spent seven years in the Winter near The Scar where it is warmer and then the other half of the cycle, the currently cycle of Summer, here in this end of Amusa. We came and took their ancestral land, where they usually camp in the clearing, and made it our expeditionary home. In this folly, though, we may have made ourselves an ally quite by accident.
We asked them if they know anything about the ley lines and other magical plants and animals in the area and all he could tell us is that while their ancestors have many legends, folklore, and stories, all they really know is that some places in the wilds have heavy concentrations of magic that mix with the nature around it and cause these phenomena.
Galaros then invited us to a feast back with the rest of his conclave and while I was most eager to return home to the camp where Sabbatical was waiting to celebrate our recent [redacted], we agreed to go with them to the feast and walked a decently worn path, though clearly not as well walked as those we have in the camp. I asked Galaros how they manage to keep their people safe and he explained that they use spells that disguise the camp and that the larger dinosaurs usually don’t bother with this area, hence why they want our spot in the clearing.
They stated their numbers are in the 30s to 40s, some that chose this life willingly and some that were born into it.
I mentioned to Galaros that I believe the two camps can live in harmony and when the son brought up that we were taking what was not ours, I lashed back with the mention of our stolen livestock. Galaros went from a gracious host to a very disappoint and hostile father, but instead of defending his son, that anger was directed at his son. Galaros promised that we would receive a formal letter of apology and herd animals to compensate for what was taken from us. He has made good on this promise. Apparently when the herd animals that Curianstole arrived, he lied to his father and told him that they were abandoned by a ruined camp.
When we arrived at their camp, we were greeted by several members of their tribe, which is formally known as the Thistlebrook Conclave. Dream, a pale grey tabaxi, is their story teller who I believe takes part in smoking of the dank leaves; Jada and Jazor are halfing twins, and Rezzik was a human with quite a large beard who cooks for them.
During the feast, Marion asked if they consider the magical plants to be sacred and Galaros told us they are not and we are able to use them as we please, but warned that after they took notice of those plants arriving the animals began to become more aggressive.
She also asked if they were aware of the demonic presence or fungus that affected those of our currently with Sightrot, but he stated they hadn’t heard of such a thing. That a demonic presence is unusual for this area and that The Scar produces a Hellish energy, that the barrier between the planes is thinner there.
They provided us a meal of stew, fresh bread, stir fry and baked potatoes that Jo made, and sweet scones for dessert. Jo made sure to purify the food while she was helping them cook.
After the meal, we were invited to enjoy games and feats of strength wit them.
Marion competed in a drinking contest first, besting the firbolgand the leader of the camp with three strong drinks.
Then Helli played a game of dice called Shut the Box with Bitrisand won! I was very proud of her!
Daq and Jo competed in a feat of strength where they were to pull several logs up through a system of rope over a branch. Jo lost during the first round with the logs, but Curian and Daqwent to four logs, though Daq was unable to lift than more than halfway, he really gave all his effort!
Nix went through a scavenger hunt against the twins and kept quite a bit of a lead on them, finding things with what seems like intuition almost.
22, who is a curious autom, very unlike Lambda who is a warforged, told a grand story about a druid called Grandmush. It was more like a lecture than a story, but because it was a story about a druid, they all ate it up and declared 22 the winner without a competitor, since Dream forfeit.
I personally went up against the leader’s son, Curian, in a feat of archery. Three arrows, no magic, aimed to a bullseye; child’s play for a skilled hunter like myself. I handily defeated him, and then he asked me to face him in a second volley of arrows, but without Daq present, as he believed that was giving me some sort of advantage. I dismissed Daq and again, beat him very handily. He shot another, just to see if he could get a bullseye, and without looking, I scored higher than him again. He truly was an awful shot. So awful that when I went down to get my arrows from the bullseye, his arrow flew far wide enough to dig into my back. Jo quickly resolved my wound, and Marion and Helli did everything they could to keep me from breaking all ofthe peace that we had brokered so far with the druids. I maintained my composure while Marion distracted the son and I went to speak with the father.
Galaros agreed that we could find peace between our two camps for the time while Tempest Brothers has us here in this part of the wilds. We will not become a joint camp, but we will partner with them to share our resources, make sure hunting parties travel in different paths, and help with the protection they are lacking from the new demonic forces that are arriving.
They told us of a flower called Eyebright that might help our party members with Sightrot and have offered to direct us to where that flower was most recently found so that we may retrieve some to assist those afflicted in our camp.
They have asked that we consider also that they may have their our members of the conclave infrequently travel with our airships back to Galik in order to visit family there. I do not know if the quartermaster or the new crew will be alright with this, but at the very least, we can request it.
They have offered to perform ceremonial funeral rites for those of our camp who is fallen and may fall in the future, and as a last token of peace, they offered vials of an oil with droppers that are to help dampen the nightmares of those in our party with Sightrot who are having trouble sleeping.
We returned to camp with hardly a scratch and with new allies on our continued expedition -From the Journals of Reedy
Billiam of TBEC Reedy, Tiefling Ranger Nix, Dragonborn Artificer Marion Ette, Tiefling Warlock Jo Seraphim-Belphegor, Human Cleric 22, Autom Druid Helli, Tiefling Cleric
Billiam said someone was stealing TBEC cattle that had been let loose to graze while the expedition was ramping up its farming, and this group was tasked with investigating the problem. The party traveled north from camp and Nix's companion, Bolt, flew recon and spotted clearings some clearings. From there, Reedy and Nix found unexpected tracks leading east, and the group followed them, trying to move stealthily, until an elf (Curian, he) appeared and told them to stop where they were. He was accompanied by a green-haired Firbolg (Bitris, she) in a tree.
The elf wanted the group to leave their land (including breaking down the entire base camp). Nix tried to negotiate, but the elf would have none of it. Another elf, their leader and Curian's father (Galoros, he) told him to stand down and apologized for his attitude.
The Thistlebrook Conclave
Galoros explained that they were part of a larger group (of 30-odd people) and that this was their ancestral home where they spend the mild seasons. (They winter closer to the Scar for warmth). Marion asked him about the magic of the land (ley lines and such) and got a vague answer about natural magic. Galoros invited the party to a feast, and although Reedy was reluctant, the group accepted.
Reedy announced that the company's livestock were being stolen, promting Galoros to become angry with Curian who had recently "found" some livestock. She then suggested that Galoros' people might try using magic such as Zone of Truth for situations like these. Someone asked whether any of them were bards, and Galoros responded that one of their number -- Dream (they, a tabaxi) -- whom the party hadn't yet met does performs songs but is not a bard.
When the subject of plant magic arose, the party learned that Bitris was a druid. 22 spoke druidic to her, and she responded excitedly that she had never met outsiders who spoke their language. (If she found it particularly strange that a synthetic outsider spoke druidic, she gave no indication.)
It turned out that these people, the Thistlebrook Conclave, were all druids or and rangers of various races. Rezzik, a bearded human, is the cook. The exuberent Jada and her twin brother Jozor were halflings. When 22 mentioned their mentor Grandmush, Jada asked to know more about the dryad, and 22 described their origins and their broad understanding of nature.
Marion asked about bioluminescent plants known to cause wild magic. These were relatively new to the area, and the druids didn't tend to see them often. They had tried to grow them only once, near the scar, with no success. Talk of the scar brought up the subject of demons, which the party confirmed had been encountered near their present location. This concerned Galoros, who said that he had seen extra-planar creatures closer to the Scar where there is less complete separation between the planes but that he was surprised they had made it this far west.
Helli asked Dream for a story. They told the party about a great Sky Snake who was turned into the constellation of the same name when, in a fit of jealousy, she had tried to bring eternal darkness to the land.
The members of the party all participated in competitions with the hippies and generally faired well. Jo competed in log pulling, Marion in a drinking contest, 22 in storytelling, Reedy in archery, and Helli in a dice game. As the archery contest concluded, Curian's arrow struck Reedy and she almost sorted him out until others stepped in to calm her down.
Before the party left, Galoros formally apologized in writing for his son killing the livestock, and he provided game animals as compensation. The two groups we agreed to try to assist each other in the future. 22 stayed behind to do druid stuff while the rest of the party returned to base camp.
Quelmarcon Double Session
DMs: Julia & Aaron
Helli was elated to join the others in visiting the Thistlebrook Conclave. The first time she met them, the druids were really friendly and open to communicate with them. All they had to do was to pay their respects to their two Gods; the Timeless and Nameless. She was a bit chaffed about it, but then again was it not this why she had left her family? To experience other cultures and other ways of worshipping ones Gods?
Well, their trip got them through two separate places. The Timeless got them at the end of the world and time, fighting powerful monsters so they could prove their strength of will. Nameless got them suspended in space and time to test their wits. They had to answer questions and solve puzzles not only to prove their prowess, but also to help their friends by giving them boons with every correct answer.
At first Helli found herself answering riddles. The riddles were fun and playful, but the danger that their friends were in was always at the back of their minds. Their fears were confirmed when they all had a respite from their challenges; so many of them were on the verge of dying while fighting… She really tried hard to keep doing what she wanted, but she had to go. She had to use her healing to help them stay up.
And it was to no vain. Helli's help was crucial and amongst themselves, they managed to complete the trials.
Galoros told us of two of their deities, and we went to a temple outside the conclave with two sphynx statues representing them. Touching one brought several of us forward to near the end of time, where the sky was a chaotic swirl of colors. Here we met "The Timeless", an androshynx who said its twin, a gynoshynx known only as The Nameless had sent the others of our group backward in time to face mental challenges.
He said our experience would be a trial by combat and that we would each receive an item as a reward if we didn't die. A flying creature with a huge eyeball in its face and eyestalks on its wings appeared.
- - - - -
Lambda(Monk, Jon) shot the creature, and it blasted Lambda and NickRivers(bard,Mike) with an AOE from its face, knocking NickRivers out with a blast. Three of the the stalks shot Neru(paladin, Rich), Reedy(ranger, Mercedes), and Prahp(paladin, Gail).
Timeless said our friends failed their first test, and the creature got more more mature and dragon-like.
Everyone tried attacking it, then three stalks fired again, at Neru, Reedy, and Lambda. By this point, the Timeless had informed us our friends had passed two tests as a result, we had all gained 1 AC and been healed a bit. the healing brought Nick up, and he mocked the creature. The timeless told us the team in the past had failed a challenge, and several draconians appeared.
The Nameless appeared and said our friend Baldwin had long ago challenged her to a game of wits (boulder/shears/parchment) and lost, and the debt had come due. We all took damage, which knocked Nick and Lambda out unconscious.
Neru brought Lambda up and told the beast to come get some. One of the draconians slit its throat and blew up in Prahp's face. Another did the same to Neru, and another to Reedy, who began to become become petrified. Neru brought Lambda up and Prahp got Neru. The monster went after Neru, missing with a physical attack and knocking her out with an eyestalk blast.
The Timeless announced that our friends had passed a challenge, and we were all healed a bit, which brought Neru around. Reedy became petrified, and Nick healed Neru further with some very inspiring pelvic thrusts. Because the creature had come after Neru, she was able to attack it and slew it, rendering 22's two recent failures to earthbind the creature irrelevant.
- - - - -
We returned to the present where the sphynxes agreed we could rest (instantaneously, by magic) before proceeding because the next Future challenge would be more difficult. We returned to the future with Heli(paladin, Margarita) instead of Nick.
- - - - -
A 6-headed hydrosphynx and three draconians appeared. The HS attacked Neru, 22, and Prahp with 2 heads each. The draconians all died by Reedy's hand or their own. It kept spawning more heads, but lost heads occasionally as it took damage. It kept spraying acid blood on half the party whenever it took acid damage. People kept getting knocked down for various reasons and getting healed.
The consequences of challenges from the past continued to propagate to us in the future, altering events for better or worse. Further outcomes we experienced included:
- Fail: hydra gets +1 head
- Pass: hydra becomes cloudy-eyed (losing attack power)
- Pass: +1d4 fire per attack
- Pass: +1 AC
- Pass: heal +2d6
- Fail: hydra gets +1 AC
- Pass: hydra becomes cloudy-eyed (losing attack power)
- Pass: +1 AC
- Fail: hydra heals
- Pass: hydra loses 1 head
- Pass/Fail: +12hp but +1 head (back to 7) (pass was due to amusement)
And we suffered the effects of another past contest with the Nameless, a best-2-of-3 game of boulder/shears/parchment, the echo of which reached us in the distant future. The result was the appearance of 3 draconians.
The draconians fell easily, but the hydra came close to wiping out the party. Only Neru, Lambda and Reedy were conscious when Neru finally killed it.
The gods brought us back to the present and offered our rewards.
Session 19: Road Rage
- Radion The Forged (Amal): warforged barbarian
- Thordon Akieye (Gingie): dwarf barbarian
- 22 (Cat): autom druid
- Dragonett (Rich): elf rogue/ranger
- Lowkey (appearing as Dug; Syameal): changeling sorcerer
- Lorrie Haslo, an adventurer and a company leader
- Lucinda Grimfold
- Ripjaw, a gnoll cyborg
- The Collector
- The Music Man, a noble wearing a masquerade mask and carrying a lute
- Colonel (or Kernel?), a large bipedal fungus creature
An Urgent Mission
Lorrie Haslo appeared in camp, appearing distraught and injured, accompanied by a large half-orc warrior called Frank. She hurried to speak to Lucinda Grimfold, who seemed displeased to hear what she had to say. Lucinda approached a group of adventurers to say she had a mission for them. "Some of you know what happened at the gnoll forge recently," she said, snapping her fingers, and ushered the group toward the skiff launch area. "Lorrie can explain more."
Skippy prepped the Crater-Maker 2 for launch, and Lorrie seemed traumatized over the explanation of a shipment to Galik for the Collector having just been attacked by gnolls, presumably in response to the TBEC's recent destruction of a large underground forge where a group of gnolls known as the Gearheads were building massive weapons.
Lorrie said the party was instructed to recover some important cargo that the gnolls took during the devastating attack -- but was not permitted to know the precise nature of that cargo was "for your own safety and its safety." Upon being pressed on whether the cargo was heavy or otherwise required special handling, she confirmed that "it is alive and can move on its own."
Time was short because if the gnolls were to reach their base with the cargo, it might be nigh impossible to retrieve, and moreover this concern might be irrelevant since the Galik government had caught wind of the attack and were preparing to use their standard method, "leave nothing behind," against the gnolls -- if they reached the gnoll convoy first, their assault would likely destroy the cargo. Lucinda flew off on her griffon without explanation, and the party (including Lorrie but not Frank, who was in no condition to fight any more that day) boarded the skiff.
Skippy took the small air vehicle east toward the Scar until they could see a large trail of sorts: a burnt line twisting and turning through the jungle. Dipping below the tree line, they picked up the sound of grinding gears and crunching wood. As the noise grew louder, they caught sight of a convoy of gnoll war machines. These were colossal contraptions with gnashing blades along their edges, designed for raiding by the Gearhead gnolls, using technology stolen from Galik.
Four great machines were accompanied by three smaller ones, and Lorrie directed the group to the large lead vehicle. The larger vehicles evinced a variety of weaponry, with two large turrets on the first, a sort of wrecking ball weapon on the next, an apparent flame hurler on the third, and another turret on the trailing machine.
Lorrie directed Skippy to the lead vehicle, saying that was where they would find the important cargo, but he insisted he couldn't fly near it unless the turrets were somehow rendered inoperative, so the best he could do was drop the party on the trailing ship so they could battle their way to the front. (If anyone had thought to point out that the skiff could simply fly around the entire convoy and approach from the front, it would likely have made no difference as this approach was way more dramatic). So after one round of incoming fire, and some hasty battle preparations including Dug (Lowkey) rendering themself and dragonette invisible, the party members leapt from the sky onto the deck of the enemy war machine.
Melee at 60mph
Like most of the large machines, this trailing vehicle had a driver, a gunner, and about four other crew. In this case, there were two typical gnolls, an oversized gnoll, and two that appeared to be skeletal and held together by some sort of fungal growth. The first casualty was a fungus gnoll (or "witherling"), which Radion slew in one swing, cleaving through it into a second gnoll; the witherling exploded into a poison cloud as it fell. Thordon took a chunk out of the oversized gnoll (or "packlord"), and the invisible Dragonett eliminated the turret gunner with her first arrow.
22 shifted into the form of a dire wolf, and both they and Lorrie joined Thordon's assault on the packlord, which repeatedly commanded a witherling to attack Thordon each time it was struck. Radion wounded another gnoll and then decapitated it, the head rolling quickly toward the edge of the deck before tumbling out of view. Thordon swung twice more on the packlord before it went down with his axe between its neck and shoulder; then he took out another witherling, spraying some poison fungus onto himself and 22.
Dragonnett moved up to the now-uncrewed turret and, realizing she was familiar with its operation, climbed into the operator's seat to the gun on its owners. Lowkey cast a twinned Crown of Madness spell on two gnolls, including the driver of the nearby flamethrower vehicle, commanding the driver to abandon the controls and causing the machine to crash and burn spectacularly. One down and three to go.
Enter Ripjaw and the Galik Military
A bizarre looking gnoll called Ripjaw -- with many body parts apparently having been replaced by scavenged warforged bits -- moving on wheels instead of feet, somehow jumped from a small neighboring vehicle onto the trailing war machine. It launched three grenades, damaging Lowkey badly. Dragonnett responded by blasting it with the turret gun.
Lowkey's next Crown of Madness targeted the cyborg Ripjaw -- who Lowkey forced to succumb using Silvery Barbs -- and a giant gorilla/hyena hybrid (a "warmonger") on the deck of the next large war machine. At Lowkey's command, the warmonger attacked an allied gnoll, biting its head off its neck.
Lorrie, seething because these foes have just killed her friends, scored successive critical hits against one of them with her pickaxe. Radion blasted Ripjaw with flame, and Thordon leapt to the small vehicle in order to progress toward the next large vehicle, where the warmonger and the wrecking ball awaited.
Ripjaw had produced a harpoon and was prepared to impale one of the party and drag them along the ground while the convoy continued at some 60 miles per hour, but Lowkey commanded him to fire at a gnoll instead. The shot went wide, and he shook off Lowkey's control. By now, Thordon and Radion were both riding on the small vehicle between the two larger ones, but the warmonger leapt past them, then turned and made three successive attacks on Thordon.
As the two sides continued to trade blows, the party could see a team of Galik beetlers approaching from behind. They began firing indiscriminately, the first barrage hitting the rear ship where most of the party stood, damaging everyone and forcing 22 out of wolf form.
Dragonnette abandoned the turret to run to the front of the vehicle and put an arrow in the back of the warmonger's head, spraying blood onto Thordon and Radion and dropping the warmonger off the rear of the small vehicle to be run over by the larger one. Thump-thump.
Wild Magic with a Terrible Price
22 returned to wolf shape, bounding into the space from where the warmonger had fallen and from there onto the next large war machine. Lowkey had blinded the operator of the wrecking ball with a Minor Illusion of tendrils of darkness surrounding their head, but they sensed 22's approach and swung the ball, and despite their disadvantage, it seemed the only way to spare 22 from the devastating attack was another Silvery Barbs.
Lowkey's spellcasting had been causing Wild Magic fluctuations all along, but this time the random effect was a Fireball with Lowkey at ground zero of the powerful explosion. Several others sustained damage, but Lowkey took the lethal brunt -- massive damage that both forced them to revert from their grung shape to their true form and spread the androgynous changeling's charred remains about the deck of the war machine and beyond.
One Casualty is Enough
Only one gnoll remained alive on the wrecking-ball vehicle, fortunately the driver, who was able to continue to steer the war machine on a relatively safe path. But the operator of the smaller vehicle -- where Thordon lay unconscious and Dragonnett stood singed and wide-eyed -- was not so lucky, and the transport began to wobble on its wheels. Dragonett quickly seized Thordon's inanimate form and leapt forward to the safety of the wrecking-ball vehicle, while Lorrie was forced to retreat to the trailing ship and from there back to the skiff (which Skippy was still holding just out of range of the lead war machine's deadly turrets). Thordon had only moments to live when Dragonnett poured a flask of Nettle's Hardy Heart soup into him, bringing him back to consciousness.
The Final Vehicle
22 leapt to the leading war machine and bit deeply into one of the several gnolls there, and the turret gunners both responded by blasting 22, causing enough damage to force them to return to autom form once again. The beetlers then blasted the lead ship, damaging everyone aboard it and killing the two remaining witherlings.
Suddenly, a man dashed out of the hold of the lead vehicle, dressed in Galik fineries, carrying a lute, and wearing a masquerade mask and a cocky grin. He was followed by a strange, large, bipedal fungus creature, and the two of them escaped the scene by leaping onto the remaining one of the three smaller vehicles that had been accompanying the four large war machines.
As the non-combatants sped away, Thordon tried to jump onto the lead machine but fell short and wound up clinging to the edge. Now only Dragonett (and the driver) remained on the wrecking-ball vehicle, and her attempt to join her comrades on the lead vehicle met even less success than Thordon's -- she had begun to fall into the space between the two war machines when Radion's hand shot out and seized her by the arm to drag her aboard.
The turrets fired again, one of them hitting Radion, who then bolted into the cargo hold to kill the remaining guard with two blows and find a prisoner seated with a bag covering their head. Removing the bag, he discovered the Collector in his familiar owl mask. Now unguarded by gnolls, the collector stepped over to a container from which he retrieved something Radion could not get a clear view of and deposited it into a satchel. Radion curtly warned him to GTFO if he wanted to live, and he responded "I know."
They emerged from the hold just as Thordon slew the remaining gnoll warrior and the next barrage from the beetlers destroyed the other remaining war machine in a blaze. Dragonnett and 22 dispatched the turret gunners and Skippy was finally free to bring the skiff alongside the larger vehicle so the party and the Collector could escape the continued assault from Galik's military forces.
The Collector seemed unbothered by the entire ordeal, as if he had borne no doubt of the outcome. He shared with the party that the two people of note who had escaped were known as Colonel and The Music Man. When Radion asked what the Collector had retrieved from the hold before exiting, he responded cheerfully that he couldn't part with his cherished tomes, and there followed an awkward moment of silence as if no one in earshot gave credence to the statement.
The Collector offered the party 750 gold pieces and 7 scrolls to share amongst themselves, which they divided more or less evenly. Lorrie was beginning to slump now that the mission was resolved, Radion offered his share to her to as recompense for his part in provoking the attack on her friends by destroying the gnolls' forge. She refused, insisting that this was not Radion's fault, and concluded, "Please tell Lambda I'm sorry."
Session 22: Slow and Steady
- Wiggler (Geoffrey): warforged druid
- Thordon Akieye (Chris): dwarf barbarian
- 22 (Cat): autom druid
- Sir Yewvane Eedryll (Jake): eladrin bard/paladin
- Helli Moltenshield (Nikki): genasi artificer
- Timothar (Alex): human wizard
- Cookie (otter, TBEC staff)
- Sticky (stickbug)
- Moog (gastrosapien)
- The Hydrail (gargantuan mutated snail, the progenitor of the gastrosapiens)
- Talyth (kenku, Wiggler's creator)
- Ubu (kopybold, an Alkinimic worshipper, RIP)
- Dynia (pumpkin boy, a Xevriss worshiper)
New Magic and New Acquaintances
Cookie sent the PCs to explore a recently discovered exposed ley line in the hope that it could benefit the company. Skippy flew them north, gave them a sending stone, and dropped them off in a jungle clearing a couple of miles from their destination (to keep the skiff safe). This location was calculated based on other magical locations in the area and a casting of detect magic confirmed it high levels of ambient magic.
While the group traveled overland toward the source of the unusual energy, Wiggler cast Speak with Animals and made friends with a mellow stick bug, naming it Sticky. Perhaps due to the strange natural energies of the area, the spell allowed Sticky to speak with any member of the group, and this effect would not wear off after the usual period had expired. Sticky would end up accompanying the party back to camp and continue to entertain people with his mellow stickbugfulness.
After an hour or two, the group came upon a three-foot-tall talking snail (gastrosapien) named Moog, who walked with a crutch. Sir Yewvane declared his role as protector of the weave, and Moog responded casually that they'd already got one. A creature called the Hydrail was the progenitor of the gastrosapiens and their guardian of the weave. Sir Yewvane and Wiggler asked to meet this Hydrail, and Moog escorted the group to the small gastrosapien city of Escargodia. A bright source of light glowed like the sun in the center of the bowl-shaped town, and bioluminescent blue mushrooms also provided ambient light. When asked, Moog indicated that the travelers were welcome to these fungi as they were quite plentiful, and the group harvested 20 mushrooms that shone brightly out to ten feet and dimly for 10 feet beyond, but only in dark areas.
The hydrail turned out to be a gargantuan, five-headed snail eating the sap coming out of a huge root that was apparently the source of the ley line energy. While the group waited for an advisor to appear who could speak for the hydrail, a few other gastrosapiens began to assemble. Timmy walked up to touch the vine/root and identify it, but backed away when the hydrail turned its heads toward him and began glowing a deep purple.
Wiggler was taken aback to see who the advisor was: a kenku called Talyth, who had been the person to awaken Wiggler when he was but a lowly worm. He seemed not to want to discuss their parting and reunion but instead asked the group what brought them to Escargodia. After introductions, Talyth explained that gnolls had been causing problems for the small city, that the Escargodians were in search of someone to serve as guardians of the ley line, that this would be the day when guardians were chosen, and that the party could compete against the two other contenders for the position if they wished.
Meeting the Competition
While Wiggler stayed and talked to Talyth, the others split up to look into who their competitors were. Sir Yewvane, Heli, and 22 approached a giant pumpkin with doors and windows where they encountered a person with a pumpkin for a head. Sir Yewvane promptly cast Zone of Truth and began inquiring about the pumpkin person's motivations. He said his name was Dynia, but he objected to Sir Yewvane's curt manner. The others spoke to him and learned that he was a member of the Gourdheart Disciples, worshippers of the Pumpkin Dragon, Xevriss. (Although Xevriss had left Amusa for Osugbo, during the Holy Wars, he had previously been known as the Orange Scourge of Amusa and the Devourer of Gourds, and he had eventually consumed so many savory Amusan fruits that he grow too fat to fly.) Dynia indicated that he had a pumpkin pet and ate pumpkins as his staple food. He offered pumpkin pie that was delicious enough to inspire Heli to ask if he would want to return to base camp with the group and take a position as cook, but Dynia refused due to his religious duties.
Meanwhile, Thordon and Timmy walked to the location of the other competitors, who were apparently a group of kobolds in a nearby tent encampment, and met their leader, Ubu. Thordon quickly discovered that he was not actually a kobold but a creature that emitted adhesive purple ooze that smelled like a combination of rotting corpse and glue. Timmy magically identified this substance, learned that Ubu was a mimic, and tried to whisper this information to Thordon, but Ubu overheard and immediately ran away. During the interaction, Ubu had revealed that his purpose at Escargodia was to serve his master under the mountain, a reference to Old Alkinimic.
At the same time, Talyth was answering Wiggler's pressing question: how Talyth come to be here. He explained that he had been able to sense the magic of the exposed ley line -- which was a symptom of something moving out in the wilds, pushing on the weave. Arriving at the local source of magical energy, he saw that the root had created the hydrail, which had in turn created the gastrosapiens, and he watched as the hydrail grew from large and two-headed to gargantuan and five-headed. Wiggler hugged Talyth, trying not to break down, and Talyth said that he was sorry and he was proud of wiggler. During the conversation, Wiggler also mentioned the Green Knight, which led Talyth to claim that the Green Knight was a guardian of the wilds and to admit that he couldn't explain why he would be working with the trouble-causing gnolls.
When the party reassembled and briefed each other, Yewvane strongly and repeatedly opined that the group should preemptively kill Ubu and the kobolds on the grounds that Alkinimic, whom Ubu named as his master, was evil. The party decided not to presume that the other kobolds were Alkinimic-worshipping mimics, as well as not to offend their hosts and risk being eliminated from the competition for guardianship of the magical area, and the competition began without violence.
"A Test of Character"
Talyth explained that the competition was a test of character that would take the form of a race along a path to the hydrail, where the winners would be whoever successfully retrieved an amulet from around the hydrail's central neck. He also pointed out that, if the contestants had not noticed already, spells cast this close to the exposed ley line were more effective than normal (as if they were cast using a spell slot one level higher than the level of the actual slot used).
The race began with a trek through a large patch of animated vines. 22 morphed into an allosaurus to carry some of the slower members of the party, and Heli used fire magic to damage some of the writhing vines (to the chagrin of 22 who briefly ranted telekinetically about "unnecessary destruction"). Some of the group soon noticed that while the vines grappled many of their number, Dynia faced no such aggression the vines seeming to part for him as he passed. Recalling that this was to be a test of character, the group decided to try to convince the vines that they were not enemies and that they should be allowed to pass in peace. After several attempts at persuasion, some of which were boosted by friendly magics, everyone won the vines' favor and walked freely through the area.
Further along the path, the group encountered a bridge over a wide ravine with a seemingly non-threatening bridge keeper who posed three questions to each competitor before allowing them to cross. Those who answered incorrectly were magically hurled into the ravine but had an easy time climbing back up to the top as long as they did so on the same side of the ravine from which they had been cast in. Several of the questions had to do with people whom the group had encountered so far on their mission, and eventually everyone was able to pass without suffering the damage that accompanied a fall into the ravine.
Next came a game where a fey spirit, who had been observing the party during their trip, possessed one of the members of the group and tried to impersonate them. Each party member was permitted to ask a single yes-or-no question to another party member in an attempt to fool the spirit into giving away its ignorance about the individual's past. The group was then to guess which person was possessed, and any who guessed wrong would suffer a degree of exhaustion. The group succeeded in guessing that the spirit had possessed Sir Yewvane, and no ill effects resulted.
Finally the time came to face the hydrail, which fought non-lethally to retain the amulet hanging on a chain around its central neck. Already in allosaurus form, 22 made a lucky grab, crunching the chain between their teeth and claiming the prize. However, displeased with this result, Ubu used magic to merge with the hydrail and lash out against the party with its enormous body. The other kobolds proved to be mimic creatures as well, and they attacked simultaneously. Dealing sufficient damage to the hydrail sufficiently quickly repeatedly forced Ubu to separate from it, but he was able to merge with it again and resume his assault. Eventually during one of his brief separations from the creature, Thordon succeeded in killing him outright, and the hydrail was free of his influence. Before dying, Ubu announced ominously that Alkinimic would rise.
Trust, Gold, and Slurm
Through Talyth, the hydrail informed the group that they had won the competition, and that as well as being awarded guardianship of the magical area, they would also be given 900 gold pieces (some of which were minted in Escargodia) as well as three vials of hydromucus (a.k.a. slurm), which could make a non-magical weapon magical for a minute. Before the party headed back to base camp, Talyth reiterated, for the whole group to hear, that something bad was growing in the wilds.
Session 28: Work for the Warden
- Therrin Flare (Dave): aasimar warlock
- Sallen "Hummer" Mason (Colin): half-elf rogue
- Danke Schön (Symeal): dhampir bard
- Finnegan (Finny) Warbler (Anna): aarokocra bard/warlock
- p'Rahp (Gail): grung paladin
- Neru (Rich): gnome paladin
To the Swamp
Adrian Tempest (30ish, almost 6') explained that a group of druids and other nature-focused people with whom the company has been in communication had asked for help investigating slimes/oozes exacerbated by gnolls in exchange for help fortifying camp. Salvage rights for any valuables found would go to company members. Finny advised that, in his experience, oozes and slimes don't like fire. He came prepared with a med kit, and Danke had an herbalism kit.
Adrian explained how to get to the Warden's land. Finny used his map and his cartography skills to determine exactly where the party was going, near a great open swamp where a previous party encountered the Warden. They reached a small, swampy area and approached a huge swamp troll or treant or something that turned out to be more like a scarecrow built at the far edge of the water, where a cut path could also be seen.
P'hrap and hummer determined that the right fork of the path was the better choice. A creature appeared in silouette, their cloak waving. This was the Warden, who responded with a wave when greeted in that fashion. Therrin's psuedodragon companion (Pex) scouted ahead, finding thatbthis whole area of the swamp was well shaded. The Warden was well concealed, greeted the party verbally when they got within speaking range, confirmed that the group was sent by the Tempest Brothers, and then suggested a direction (west) for them to head in to begin their investigation. The Warden indicated an aversion to oozes and slimes, but has a patron who allows them to remain in the wilds so long as they do not upset the balance of nature, as they thrmselves are not necessarily evil or unnatural.
The party understood that gnolls had disturbed the area, and shared a concern of possible fungal infection. Finny confirmed that none of the nearby gnolls had mechanical modifications and indicated that some of the nearby gnolls are known to have fiendish backing. Therrin suggested that stopping the gnolls would be the best way to stop the oozes. Finny showed the Warden his map and asked for additional input, thus learning that the map just barely covers one edge of of the Warden's domain. To the west outside of that domain there is a swamp village where there has been gnoll activity. The Warden's plan was to remain behind and offer support if the adventurers came back this way.
Therrin's psuedodragon companion continued to scout, and Finny scouted by air as well. The party used their survival skills to make their way through the swamp, some better than others. They could see the terrain to the west transitioned swiftly to mostly dry land with plateaus (rising up to 30 or 40 feet in height) under the approximately 100-foot jungle canopy. p'Rahp searched for poisons or other traces of oozes, and found that no creatures appeared to be nearby. Although there were signs of much natural activity in the area, there were no signs of slimes or oozes, or of gnolls for that matter. Finny spotted wisps of campfires about a mile in the distance, and the party decided to head in that direction. Pex, having a 1-mile telepathic connection with Therrin, scouted far ahead, waiting for the slower-flying Finny along the way.
Some 500 yards from the opening in the canopy, Finny and Pex heard gnolls speaking in raised voices, and Therrin relayed this information to the rest of the group, including the occurrence of a great, growling roar. Finny saw a plateau with the vine-covered, ruined stone walls of a very old keep -- a large two-story building with parapets and a double-gate entry area, all surrounded by a plateau-wide wall.
The gnolls were laying seige to the keep, which was defended by oozes including a great multi-colored (mostly green) ooze with a draconic-shaped skeleton at its center (dubbed the "slime dragon"). Finny noticed that the gnolls were being extremely tactical, utilizing spears at range and and avoiding attacking with metal melee weapons. The black oozes lobbed flaming projectiles, and Finny noted that none of the other oozes seemed afraid of the fire. He relayed this to whoever was listening via his sending stone. The gnolls were fungal and included gnoll witherlings (fungal-infected undead) that also followed the tactical commands of the leading gnolls. Some gnolls were trying to scale the back side of the plateau, but oozes came out of the side of the mountain to block their path and defend the keep. Finny and Pex circled back to update everyone, and someone pointed out 1) that the gnolls are likely in league with mother (implying that party members who interacted with them might become ill) and 2) that the organized behavior of the slimes and the existence of the big dragon slime was unusual.
The party decided to telepathically talk with the slime dragon via Pex to see if they could team up against the gnolls. Danke magically buffed Pex's conversation skills for this purpose. Pex was a bit overwhelmed by the number of voices that made up the slime dragon but relayed the message and received a response from a distinctly different voice within the many. This voice, which seemed to be in change, politely declined the offer that Pex made on behalf of the group.
They decided to sneak up and into the keep while the battle raged. Some of them intended to go in and investigate the interior while others held off any gnolls who might try to go in after them. The party reached the edge of the keep without being noticed by the combatants. They set up some magical buffs and surprised the gnomes who were already engaged.
Lending a Hand
Finny carried Neru up and dropped them into melee in a superhero landing, and danke enlarged them to medium, whereupon they smote a gnoll, making it explode into spores, whose effect they shrugged off. Therrin creted an image of more oozes. p'Rahp missed with an attack while Sallen tried to sneak onto the opposite side of the plateau from the rest of the party. Finny headed for the keep and spotted a stairway leading down to the ground floor. p'Rahp took a turn smiting a gnoll to death, and Neru dispatched another one. Danke put three gnolls to sleep. In the meantime, the gnolls took out some slimes but fared poorly against the slime dragon.
Finny cast shatter with a loud crack of thunder, taking out all three of the sleeping gnolls. A nearby slime with the visage of a humanoid (including a visible skeleton) addressed Therrin, asking for the party to withdraw and specifying that he had already informed Pax that their help was neither needed nor desired. Sallen had found an obstructed drain hole leading into the keep. The humanoid slime (a.k.a. "slime boy") seemed to be slightly annoyed to learn that the Warden was behind this minor intrusion into his space and asked what it would cost to get the party to leave. Therrin said they wanted to know what the gnolls are up to, and the slime creature responded that they were (foolishly) working to collect resources that would help Mother to manifest on the mortal plane.
Neru kept fighting for a few seconds until slime boy offered them a pouch produced from within his form. Finny helped Sallen access the drain (successfully opening a way into the keep), and slime boy thanked him for his efforts, gave him a second bag of coin/gems, and told him his friends were leaving and it was time to join them.
The warden was pleased, as the party had indeed aquired information about the gnolls' purpose in the area, and rewarded the party with a magical stick that could be used to fortify the defences of the TBEC base camp.
Session 29: We're Going in Circles!
- Billium Teddly (Nathan)
- 22 (Cat)
- Sir Yewvane Eedryll (Jake)
- Dragonett (Drew)
- Twilsby Pendergras (Nick)
- Abjurer Cookie, the Otter
- Lorrie Haslo (with a tip from the Collector)
- Oliver "Olly" Vincent Bartholomew, with followers James Hill and Maverick Ried
- Skippy, air skiff pilot
Kobolds and the Collector
Recently, while the Tempest Brothers Expeditionary Company was distracted by the kidnapping of some of its members, including Lambda, Ripjaw and other gnolls had razed the village of Thinwhistle and slaughtered its friendly "big kobold" residents (leaving only Hunk, who was staying at the company's base camp as a liaison). The Collector had since given Lorrie Haslo a lead on finding another village of similar kobolds, and she had arrived at TBEC base camp to ask the company to pursue the lead, which involved an adventurer (Bartholomew) who could guide a group to the village. Cookie asked the party to assemble in his tent, where Lorrie waited appeared tired and bedraggled from her ongoing work for the Collector, and it seemed after some discussion that her sponsor had been stringing her along with continued promises of full payment after "one more job".
Bartholomew and his followers were summoned by a strange ritual in which they coalesced out of mysterious mists that appeared on the outskirts of the camp. Some of the assembled party had recalled his name as that of a human adventurer born hundreds of years ago, and in reality he appeared as a flamboyant, middle-aged human adventurer reminiscent of a stereotypical safari explorer. James Hill and Maverick Ried were somewhat younger, seemed weary from following Bartholomew for a very long time, and didn't know what year it was (believing it was decades earlier). Bartholomew, in the name of adventure, wanted to hike through the jungle for two weeks to reach the kobold village he described. This plan seemed absurd to the assembled party, who informed Bartholemew and his team about the existence of airships that could transport the group the same distance in a fraction of the time. He resisted the idea at first, but was impressed with a quick demonstration but Skippy, who helpfully agreed dropped what he was doing that day to pilot a skiff (which would be crowded but manageable) to take the group where they were going.
Skippy spent only an hour getting ready for the spontaneous voyage and the party set out in the skiff. When night fell, they stopped to camp, and it became clear that the mysterious mists from base camp had stayed with them as Dragonett saw a structure coalescing out of them nearby. Yewvane went with her to investigate, and they discovered it was the house of her childhood, where the events were unfolding from her memory, those of the greatest loss of her life, the night her parents were killed. Dragonett and Yewvane saw a young girl fall from a second story window and run away, soon after which a large group of hostile adults exited the house. In the memory, Dragonett, father had forced her out of the window with his dying breath and told her to run. The intruders had then killed both of her parents before appearing outside in front of the adult Dragonett and Yewvane. There, they blended together into a huge lupine form, with which the two engaged in combat. It struck Yewvane and inflicted considerable psychological damage along with the physical blow. When the creature was injured sufficiently, it faded back into the mists, and Dragonett and Yewvane returned to where the rest of the party camped, badly shaken. Similar manifestations hounded the other party members over the continued course of their journey to Drakemire Hollow.
Before reaching their destination, the party was required to land and pass through a large, locked door. Opening it required solving a logic puzzle involving the positions, material make-up and coverings of various levers in front of the door. Bartholemew claimed this was necessary in order to proceed to their destination, and Yewvane confirmed that this might be the case as there are such things as fey portals that prevent progress toward a physical location until the traveler passes through them. At one point during the journey it was clear that the instructions Bartholomew was giving to Skippy were steering the skiff in large circles, for no reason ever discovered. And the party was forced to land again, just before arriving at Drakemire Hollow, when they spotted a half dozen wyverns along between them and their destination. They hid beneath the jungle canopy and bypassed the deadly threat to reach the village, which had apparently been destroyed in the past by the eruption of the nearby volcano, and was now partly buried in pumice and ash.
The airship that would come to retrieve the group would not arrive for a couple of days, which gave them plenty of time to explore the ruins and find an entrance to a seemingly magical underground area that the TBEC would no doubt want to investigate further. During their first hours in Drakemire Hollow, however, Yewvane cast a Zone of Truth to get answers from Bartholomew. It came out that he had been cursed not to die but to be pursued endlessly by the wolf creature, an embodiment of death and entropy. Those who accompanied him might live indefinitely as well, but at the cost of losing some degree of their peace and sanity from the endless hunt, or they might eventually be consumed by the beast.
Session 35: Harvest Hoedown
- Adrian Tempest
- The Warden of the Wilds
- Dynia (and his pumpkin dog Patches)
- The Pumpkin King
- Sam the Door
A Concern in Common
It had been three days since all the stored food at the TBEC base camp had suddenly vanished, replaced by a single, glowing jack-o-lantern. Word had quickly reached the company that similar disappearances had blighted much of western Amusa. The name Dynia had been linked to the phenomenon, which had grown to an incipient famine; Dynia was the pumpkin-headed member of the Gourd Disciples, a radical group devoted to Xevriss, the great orange dragon once known as the Scourge of Amusa and the Devourer of Gourds. But how anyone could have effected such a far-reaching crime was a mystery. So when several soldiers appeared at the TBEC base camp, representing the cities of both Nestle and Galik (the latter group dressed in the uniforms of Galik's Lyre Guard), no one was surprised to learn that their concern was the missing food and the growing panic among their respective populations.
Also present was Chadwick, a member of the Gourd Guard, a nominal private military force based in and around Nestle, who were now something of a cross between a militia and a group of war reenactors, ever since their historical role of working to appease the gluttonous Xevriss had become unnecessary once Xevriss had departed Amusa for Osugbo generations earlier. (The Gourdheart Disciples were a religious splinter group that had grown out of this rudderless semi-military organization.)
Adrian Tempest and the Warden
Several company members accompanied the soldiers to meet with Adrian Tempest in his tent, where at least one soldier spoke openly of how impressed he was by Adrian's mustache. The from room of the tent served as a sort of war room, with a table-sized map holding miniatures representing various people of influence in the area. The positions of figures representing Ripjaw, the Warden and others could be only as accurate as the company's most recent intelligence allowed, and seemingly no attempt was made to hide this information from the visiting soldiers. Adrian listened to the soldiers' concerns and their suggestion that contacting the Warden might be the best next step in learning the whereabouts of Dynia (whose miniature lingered at the ley-line intersection known as Escargodia, although the pumpkin man had not actually been seen there for several weeks.) The Galik soldier who appeared to be the de facto leader of the joint group clarified that they had come to the Tempest Brothers because they understood that Adrian had a means of contacting the Warden, which he agreed to do using a magic necklace that the Warden had crafted for the purpose.
The group emerged from the tent and moved to the edge of the camp, where Adrian summoned the warden with a whispered phrase. A mist rose and then a wind. The trees seemed to part for the Warden, who emerged from them floating inches above the ground, followed by several grung children. When presented with the situation, the Warden agreed to help by ushering the adventurers to the Court of Hallow's Eve in the Feywild, where the Pumpkin King would in turn be able to assist in finding Dynia. The warden cast a blessing to protect the group from certain dangers of the Feywild, which led them each to feel as if a weight had been lifted. The Warden then created an invisible portal and escorted the party through it to the Pumpkin King's court, where they found themselves suddenly enveloped in a starry night, outside the gates of a large compound where they could see what appeared to be several huge pumpkins with doors and windows, illuminated by jack-o-lanterns. The Warden ensured the group that the Pumpkin King would agree to return them to Amusa when the time came, giving the impression that the Pumpkin King was somehow subservient or beholden to them.
Dining with the Pumpkin King
The party approached the gates, which were attended by two autumn eladrin with red hair who spoke in unsettling unison. The group requested an audience with the pumpkin king, and the two eladrin disclosed that he was expecting them and bid them enter. Visible in the area beyond the gates were pink candy goblins, orange pixies with sharp teeth and black eyes, and a few old hags, as well as several wolf-like creatures prowling in the shadows. The group passed through a pumpkin 'colloseum' building leading into the royal court of the pumpkin king, which was largely populated by individuals with pink cotton candy flesh and caramel hair.
The Pumpkin King, who said that he was also known as Jack Skellington but that no one really called him that, had a tall body of vines from which protruded with two clawed hands at the sides and three jack-o-lantern heads at the top. Juno and Tommy offered him gifts of pumpkins, which he accepted gladly with a casual gesture that caused the gourds to float to him on a cinnamon-smelling breeze. Candy goblin servants then brought in plates of food for the group to feast on, including warm sparkling cider and pastries that look like giant acorns. Cealion requested and received hard cider, and everyone but Nassir accepted the food, which gave magical boons to those who ate it. 22 became invisible, Cealion and Tommy gained the ability to detect thoughts, and Juno and Therrin became quickened, able to move and act with unnatural haste. During this first course, to the group's surprise, a purple-clad Dynia appeared from an adjacent room, and they learned that he was the head chef of the Court of Hallow's Eve.
Tommy spoke to the Pumpkin King, admitting that some of the members of the Tempest Brothers Expeditionary Company believed that Dynia might somehow be responsible for the disappearance of food in Western Amusa. Dynia, overhearing, denied the accusation, but the Pumpkin King replied that the party would be allowed to carry out an investigation into the matter between the courses of the feast, and he went on to warn the group that they should stick together due to local dangers, regarding which he declined to go into detail. Dynia said he had cooking to do and set off toward the kitchen. Therrin indicated his intention to follow, and Nassir, being the stealthiest of the group, decided to take the lead.
The party approached a corn maze and followed Dynia through a passage that went past two scarecrows, who introduced themselves as the Scare Pair, Peeka and Boo. One said the party would be required to determine which one of them tells the truth in order to be allowed passage. They would be allowed three questions. After some discussion, 22 asked Boo what Peeka would say if he were asked whether he tells the truth. Boo responded that Peeka would say he tells the truth, and 22 named Boo as the truth-speaker and suffered damage to their mind due to an incorrect guess. Guessing Peeka had similar results because both guardians were liars, including whichever had initially claimed that one of them always spoke the truth. Upon discovering this, the party was allowed passage.
The group soon spotted another guardian, this one a pumpkin minotaur, whom they were able to sneak past. Arriving next at a small open space within the maze, the group encountered a large door that seemed to lead nowhere in particular. The party spoke to the door and learned it's name was Sam, and it used to be a person. It agreed that the party could pass through it, whereupon they entered a large, bustling kitchen.
A Kitchen Full of Dynias
Four strange pillars of vines lined the back of the kitchen, each with Jack-o-lanterns on top. All the cooks looked like Dynia and shared his name, but they each bore a different number on their chest. They referred to the Dynia with whom the group was familiar, who was not present, as Dynia Prime. Therrin spoke to the Dynia with the number 2 on it's chest, explaining that the party was there because the only thing left of the food at the TBEC base camp on the prime material plane was a mysterious jack-o-lantern, and the company thought Xevriss and/or Dynia might be involved. Cealion noticed that the higher the number on a Dynia's chest, the less sentient that Dynia was.
According to Dynia 2, who also claimed that he himself was an illusion, the pillars at the back of the kitchen were totems that allowed the acquisition of food in the feywild, which was "borrowed" in small amounts from the mortal world. Only Dynia Prime could activate the totems, and only he could access the extradimensional storage space in which all the acquired food was all stored. When asked about Sam's origins, Dynia 2 informed the party that he did not know because Sam had been in the Court of Hallow's Eve longer than he had; but he praised Sam as "a very nice door".
After being informed that it was nearly time for the next course of the feast, the group returned though a magic passage from the kitchen that led directly to the dining room. Cealion and Tommy (who both happened to be mentally disturbed by mysterious events in their personal histories and hence to regard themselves as "haunted ones"), both experienced some strange hallucinations as they traversed the passageway.
The next course was roast pheasant with a caramelized gravy, and pumpkin stew. Again, all but Nassir consumed the food, and this time the magic effect was the same for all party members: they swapped bodies.
22 possessed Cealion, who found himself in Therrin's body, while Therrin experienced living in 22's mechanical body. And Tommy and Chadwick, the representative of the Gourd Guard, found themselves in each other's bodies. Everyone exchanged possessions as necessary, and Therrin was able to use Juno's body's changeling nature to appear as himself.
As the group was adjusting to their new situation, which the Pumpkin King assured them was temporary, Dynia Prime and Dynia 2 finished a conversation that no one was able to overhear, and Dynia 2 then departed for town. The party talked to Dynia, who showed everyone his pumpkin dog, Patches. When asked, he refused to take the party to his house but agreed to show them his pumpkin collection, which was elsewhere in the same large structure as the main dining room.
Always Split the Party
Tommy, Cealion and Nassir followed Dynia 2 to Dynia's pumpkin-shaped house and learned that Sam is not a single door but a spirit that simultaneously inhabits most of the doors in the Court of Hallow's Eve and that he opens to the magic words "trick or treat". In the house was a hearth above which had been carved a symbol of two hands holding an anatomically correct heart. There was also a rack with purple scarves, purple wizard hats, and an orange and purple striped sweater.
Sam indicated that Dynia spent a lot of time upstairs, and the party went up to find a green-glowing archway leading into a bedroom. Trying to walk through triggered a magical aging effect that doubled the apparent age of Chadwick's human body (inhabited by Tommy) but aged Therrin's aasimar body (inhabited by Cealion) only slightly. by decades and didn't let them into the bedroom. Placing an object of sentimental value in the flame turned out to be the key to gaining entrance to the bedroom, and the item fortunately was not consumed but appeared in a container inside the bedroom. Nassir and Tommy used this technique to enter, but Cealion remained on the landing, having no item available of suitable sentimental value. (Tommy's item was valuable only to Chadwick -- his mother's pumpkin spice.)
In the bedroom was a note that said "cell 83", a letter indicating that it had been accompanied by something intended to help Dynia with his quest to bring back Xevriss. The letter bore an owl crest familiar to Tommy, who identified it as being associated with a group connected with demons that he had encountered on a previous mission. The group also discovered a clockwork box sprouting infernal mushrooms, which would later be identified as the device Dynia had used to break into the Collector's vault.
During this time, Juno, 22, and Chadwick remained with Dynia who gave them a chance to see his collection of pumpkins, which were truly magnificent. When asked about his involvement with the disappearance of the food from western Amusa, he said he would never steal food from hundreds of thousands of people but was not taken at his word by all present. Regarding who might have wanted to frame him for the crime (with the jack-o-lantern left at the TBEC camp), he said only that he didn't know.
Before the third course, the two groups exchanged news, and Chadwick was distraught at the condition of his body. in an attempt to gain information that might help to free Sam, Tommy spoke to a candy guard who proved to be supremely unhelpful. Therrin talked to an old woman about Dynia and how to avoid giving offense to people in this realm. She confirmed that Dynia had a weird obsession with Xevriss and revealed that Xevriss was previously held captive in the cells of the Pumpkin King.
As the party expected from their experience with the previous magical effects, the body-swap ended when they all returned to the dining room for the third and final course: delicate pumpkin pastries. To Chadwick's relief, the aging effects disappeared as well. During dessert, Tommy asked about Sam's origins, and the King explained that Sam walked off alone with a hag and was turned into a door. Tommy asked for the king to return Sam to his previous form, and he said maybe for one day a year if the party's alarming concerns about Dynia proved to be founded. Tommy explained the connection between the demon known as Mother and infernal mushrooms and pointed out the similarity of those mushrooms to the ones infesting the clockwork box they had found in Dynia's house. Nassir illuminated the connection between the letter and the group of demon worshippers the Tempest Brothers' Expeditionary Company had previously encountered. Tommy added that the other Dynias seemed concerned about Dynia prime "gallivanting about the material plane recently". In light of these claims, Jack Skellington ruled in the party's favor. This was immediately followed by the sound of a loud ringing and the sudden explosion of all three of his pumpkin heads, spraying pumpkin guts on those seated nearby .
Dynia strode in, assured the group that the Pumpkin King was not dead and would be back to his old self within a day. A rift to a massive pile of food intended for Xevriss appeared in the air above the group, and Tommy surprised Dynia with an eldritch blasted to the pumpkin. A bloody fight ensued in which Juno nearly lost his life and 22 was rendered unconscious more than once. The party disabled the totems that were holding the food in the Feywild and Therrin eldritch blasted Dynia to death, as which point the 2 immediately faded from the chest of Dynia 2. The Pumpkin King did indeed return to normal within a day and, true to his word, restored Sam to his human form for a day. Sam expressed gratitude for his one day a year of humanity, which he chose to spend this year with the party and the rest of the company in Amusa.
For their assistance in unmasking Dynia, the Pumpkin King rewarded the group with gold, potions, and three permanent magic items: a Mask of Disguise that went to Juno, Scissors of Shadow that went to Tommy, and a Broom of Flying that Therrin would keep safe and loan out to any group going on a mission for the company in the future.
PCs: Tinkerton, Lupine, Winter
October 22nd 2023 - Tinkerton's First Adventure
Belle, you will never believe where I went today! ME a tinker from Troverth, traveled all the way to Galik across the continent to join the "Tempest Brothers Expedition Company". OH man and I saw Tinkle too!!! Can you believe he.... wait I jumped too far ahead let me start at the beginning of the day. I met a few others before I saw our kiddo.
There was a furball with snow like fur....a tabook, or tabaxi that's it named Winter and along with them I met Lupine a human weirdo with druidic powers....well he was more Quirky than weird I think. The three of us were new to the area and went in to meet with Lucinda a retired Lion Guard *I think* whose symbol is that of a golden griffon.
She had tasked the group of us to find GHOSTS in the Bay area of the docks and make it safe again, and really figure out what was happening with these disappearances.... oh yeah that's right, Belle people were being kidnapped for years by these Specters of the night!!! Nothing made sense here, nothing is like home when it comes to safety
and not getting kidnapped at night by monsters of myth. But this was the mission we got to prove our worth, a chance to show I am not just brittle bones in a suit of armor (Don't laugh Belle, I know you think I am crazy for using our creations to adventure at my age) and am capable of joining them in the wilds.
Well flash forward to our arrival at the docks and I met this pirate fellow, I swear he was half dead already, One-Eyed Jack had an eye patch HUN an EYE PATCH....yet he was blind in both eyes.... Well anyways the crazy old human told us to that a halfling that frequented the two throat tuxedo....no umm what was it, umm sorry Belle I am using ink
and forgot what he said hmm. oh Two Toed Trout, that tavern we went to and Lupine got thrown out, he wasn't too good with his word, and Winter well they spoke to the barkeep. I didn't get distracted you wouldn't believe it, I totally went and found the people that stood out and didn't even peak at their poorly made gear that clearly was made by
someone that hadn't seen good craftsmanship in their life! Okay so I may have snuck a lil peek. BUT I AM AN OLD MAN, and can do as I please woman!... Anyways, We found out that these two I found worked with a gnome who saw the halfling before he was taken, so our lil group made our way to the "Bartholomew Weapons Company" as you are
well aware, we made a plenty of their gear magical back in the days of old. Belle you would have been so proud, which is good cause that ONLY MAKES one of us....Tinkle our son was the lead weapons designer. He was the GNIOME, all the way in Galik the boy made something of himself....not that he is designing armor but weapons is good too. Belle the boy
told us that there were kidpnappers not ghosts that took the halfling boy into the sewers....oh and TInkle said hi, figured I'd toss that in here too.
When we got in the Sewers my gosh darn shoes got wet and gross, and these darn young-uns pushed me the lil old gnome to lead the group, hehe it was probably because my armor looked so strong and grand! It is the one you helped me make dear, the guardian set! Well we found out this was home to lizard folks that disappeared in the moons glow...Troglodytes.
We fought our way through them all at least 10 of them in there and the quirky one Lupine turned into a giant beast.... not practical in a sewer mind you but very cool and effective somehow, It was all going well my first adventure no issues at all! We even found a puzzle, but that Winter cat solved it so quick! I am getting a little slower in my wisdom years, no laughing
ma'am! But it was a door that had a pearl, emerald, opal and nephrite stone in it. We spelled OPEN with the stones and it opened to a stash room full of loot. It was great. We rested, took a good nap in there, like I used to in your lap....though it was against a moist wall with moss....maybe not the same! But still I took a nap.
Turns out one of the monsters down here was a bugbear, one that had wrestled Lupine for a belt of giant strength, I used to use those as back braces in the old days remember hehe. Oh right the stories conclusion let me carry on, we fought that bugbear with magic and trickery and defeated him with ease! Though we may have gotten a little too much confidence
as our next door that we unlocked almost brought me closer to you my Belle. A demonic fire lizard that was being worshipped down here by lizard men almost killed Winter, the cat buddy I spoke of before. The room was rapidly filling with toxic sludge and my two party members had been hit with some kind of paralyzing spell....it was terrible but I endeavored as long as
they needed and fought that beast one on one, gnome on lizard. It was scary hun but you are always what makes me not fear death as it would bring me back to you, however I am not ready I have many stories to write and adventures to live before I can tell you all about them for eternity. Oh right the end, we took it down baiting it to the doors and freed the sewer
of the lizard problem. The missing people were found...most of em at least. In the end we were given gold and passage to the wilds. I of course went back to give our son the guantlets he made that were stolen by these monsters but he gifted them to his old man, I know you think it would be sweet but I COULD MAKE THEM BETTER, but I don't craft anymore not since
you left. Besides it would be a shame not to hold on to something from a lead weapon designer.....can't believe he did it. I mean can't believe he isn't in the armor game! As always, I love you Belle, my adventurers for you have started. I will tell you all about them soon and hope that you can wait for me to finish a few more.
P.S - Just like when you were alive, you always give me strength then and now.
Session 42: Man Made Flesh
Paul Joins the Mission
Paul Fletcher, TBEC's researcher specializing in anthropology and ancient cultures, had been particularly interested in the recent discovery, by aerial surveillance, of ancient ruins in the direction of the Great Scar. He dispatched the original expedition several days earlier, which was led by Lorrie Haslo and included several TBEC personnel, namely Frank (half orc), Sabra (half elf), Sunter (halfling), Maxine (dragonborn), and Bobby (human). Lorrie had believed this was the location of The Philosopher's Stone (described as small, red, egglike gem with powerful transmutation abilities), but she and her survey team had not checked in, and Paul assembled a second team to investigate and report back and/or request a large air ship be sent to retrieve the previous team and their gear if necessary.
Paul had said he wouldn't be joining the team, but as the skiff was about to take off, he came running up carrying a bunch of loose maps and other materials and said he had changed his mind. Pash immediately suspected that this was not Paul but a doppleganger or impersonator, so some of the team returned to Paul's tent to see if he was still there. The tent was vacant although more messy than when they had last seen it minutes earlier. Satisfied for now that Paul was in fact Paul, they returned to the skiff to find Skippy explaining the Big Red Button intended to alert base camp to send one of the larger air ships if the party deemed it necessary.
The skiff traveled East to the location of the a ruined temple overgrown by jungle vegetation, near which were another air skiff belonging to the Tempest Brothers Expeditionary Company and wisps of smoke from a recently doused campfire. Upon landing, the group was met by the half-orc Frank, who said he was glad the TBEC has sent someone, conveyed that Lorrie Haslo was there at the camp, and explain what had happened to cause the survey team to lose communication with the TBEC base camp. During the team's first night at the ruins, the skiff's control console (including the sending-stone-based communication system) had been badly damaged -- supposedly by an animal, but nothing else was damaged, causing the newly arrived party to suspect sabotage. Ali and Heli investigated the disabled air skiff and noticed that the damage had come very close to blowing up the skiff's power core. Heli assessed that the damage was in fact intentional but had been made to look like an animal attack. In the meantime, Pash radioed back to base camp to update them and to ask whether Paul was in camp and tell them to keep an eye on him since she was suspicious that someone might be impersonating him. The person on the other end of the line responded that they would detain Paul.
The rest of the party spoke to Lorrie who explained that the ruins were inhabited by strange rotting zombies that seemed to have been here in the jungle for a long time and that the group's help in dealing with the threat would be welcome. She said The Collector believed that a thief in possession of a precious artifact may have taken refuge here. She admitted that she wasn't sure that this entire mission wasn't just "another wild goose chase" the Collector was sending her on. The team let her know that her skiff had been sabotaged (and she said she would shared this information with Frank), and they shared their concerns about the possibility that Paul (and perhaps not only Paul) was being impersonated.
Melee and Murder
The party proceeded into the ruins to help clear out the zombies and immediately encountered and destroyed one. Two more zombies appeared and attacked, infecting Pash with paralyzing moss. They killed the remaining zombies and Pash broke free of the moss. A fourth zombie was discovered and dispatched. At the far end of the temple, three more zombies appeared, two perishing almost immediately, and the last one paralyzing Wiggler before being destroyed.
By now Paul, who at the group's suggestion was playing it safe by remaining just outside the temple, had failed to respond to calls to follow the group inside. Checking up on him, the party was shocked to discover that he has been stabbed in the head and killed with a TBEC knife. Some of the group ignored this development to explore the ritual chamber at the far end of the temple and found equipment from the Perseus Expeditionary Company (as evidenced by their familiar medusa-head logo).
The Mysterious Body
Within 30 seconds after seeing Paul alive, 22 confirmed that he was indeed dead and then tried to save him with the Revivify spell to no avail. This meant that one of three things must be true: someone had counterspelled the 22's casting, Paul had been dead longer than a minute, or he was not actually dead. A casting of Detect Magic showed that powerful transmutation magic emmenated from the "corpse", indicating that the third possibility was likely the true one.
Lorrie walked up to discover the strange situation and informed the group that a message had come over the radio, indicating that Paul was still at camp, giving further credence to the possibility that this was not Paul's corpse. Pash stabbed the "corpse", and it twitched, further reinforcing this conclusion.
Heli proceeded to dissect the corpse -- which had by now acquired the name Not-Paul -- and discovered that it had extra organs, including boneless internal hands, as well as a glowing heart. When she removed the heart, the body spasmed and the glowing stopped. Even then, the corpse still responded with a twitch to heat being applied to it, and the corpse's blood seemed to shrink from the stimulus. Heli extracted one of the extra hands and burned the body to ash. Pash looked for tracks telltale tracks nearby but found nothing distinctive. She also took an opportunity to call back to base to ask for an air ship to be dispatched to retrieve both groups and was told it would arrive the next morning.
Who Done It
Lorrie's survey team comprised Frank and four other TBEC employees: Sabra (half elf), Sunter (halfling), Maxine (dragonborn), and Bobby (human), and one of them was behind the incident -- likely the same one who had sabotaged the skiff. At Wiggler's suggestion, 22 cast Detect Thoughts while the group interrogated the survey team.
Sunter proved to have guilty thoughts, but he had an alibi for when Not-Paul was killed: several people confirmed that he was clearly in sight by the fire the whole time. His guilt was over taking hallucinogens while he was on watch during the survey team's first night at the site, which had provided the opportunity for someone to sabotage the skiff. He had no useful memory of the two hours he spent tripping, and he had tried to cover up his negligence by claiming it had been an animal that destroyed the equipment.
Lorrie and Skippy were working on the skiff together during the murder, and Maxine had been in her tent, the entrance to which was clearly visible from both the skiff and the fire. And Sabra was walking around in plain view collecting what herbs she could find near camp. That left Frank, who said he had been organizing the storage tent, and Bobby, who claimed to have been taking a walk. A second casting of Detect Thoughts brought to light something strange indeed: Bobby seemed to have no thoughts to detect. No matter what he was instructed to think about, 22 could find nothing in his mind. Upon being questioned further, he tried to run but was stopped by an Entangle from Wiggler, seized by Mirth, and tied up.
Heli cast Detect Magic to try to learn more and discovered strong transmutation magic emmenating from underneath the camp. She then requested blood from everyone to test whether it reacted to fire the way Not-Paul's blood had. Bobby's blood did shrink from the flame, but Bobby still claimed to be just a human who liked to take walks. The group called back to the TBEC base camp and discovered that there was not another copy of Bobby back at camp.
Under the Earth
Although Wiggler's use of spells was subject to the possibility of a wild magic surge, they used the Mold Earth cantrip to dig down toward the source of the detected magic. This did in fact trigger a wild magic surge, but the effect was to give Wiggler the power to reincarnate for one minute (and Wiggler did not take the opportunity to stop being a worm).
Ten feet down was a red gem clutched in a hand attached to an arm that extended into the earth. Wiggler climbed in and tried to seize the gem but was thrown violently from the hole. The hand that Heli had removed from Not-Paul scuttled quickly into the hole. The face of Paul appeared in the hole with lots of long arms reaching out of the hole to erecting his full form on the ground. "Is the ruse up already?" he asked.
Killing Paul Again
Wiggler cast Spike Growth around Paul and themself, and Paul walked out of the dangerous area, taking damage from the spikes as well as from Wiggler's attack of opportunity. Then he began attacking with his extra arms, attempting to transmute his targets, to tear their flesh with necrotic damage and render them exhausted. Pash blasted him with a black eldritch dart of energy, and Mirth grabbed him and threw him back into Wiggler's spikes. Wiggler summoned 4 crocodiles to battle Not-Paul, Lorrie, hit him with her pick, and Not-Paul spawned another copy which attacked 22 and then went after Mirth.
22 blasted the original copy with Frostbite, and his body crumbled to pieces. His secondary copy dissipated immediately, as did Bobby. A hand carried the gem down a tunnel into the earth, and Pash and Heli both drank potions of dimunition and followed the arm, with 22 close behind in the form of a viper. Pash's Eldritch Blast destroyed the hand, which said "See you soon" as it crumbled. Heli's dragon-shaped homunculus, "son of Xevriss", dragged the gem out of the tunnel. It was confirmed to be the Philosopher's Stone, but someone elsewhere was apparently currently attuned to it.
When the air ship arrived the next morning, Paul disembarked and asked why the party had requested that he be bound hand and foot. They explained that Pash had merely indicated that he should be kept under watch, which was taken perhaps too far by whoever had tied him up. Mechanics repaired the damaged air ship to the point where it could fly within hours, and everyone returned to the TBEC base camp with a message from Lorrie to Lambda: that she was okay and that she loved him. She also indicated that she was at the end of her rope with The Collector and was really only going to undertake one more mission for him before giving up on their unreliable bargain.
Cookie, the otter who served as the company's dedicated abjurerer, promptly "bubbled" the gem, sealing it away for safe keeping. A few days later, the TBEC received some money from the Collector with a note saying only, "For your consideration". Of this money, 1000 gold pieces were given to the party that had recovered the Philosopher's Stone .