Sixteenth Session Recap
Into the woods!

Aenor receives a vision from the Blue in a dream, sending her into the deep woods to “finish what you began”. She senses a creature there, in pain, angry and afraid; and the woods becoming magically tainted by that pain and anger and fear, turning dark.

The party leaves Shatter Creek, heading northwest toward the town of Burnham. They’ve heard that an army of the Orc Lord, led by Thurash Many-Rocks, Smasher of Elves, is on its way to attack Burnham and steal an ancient artifact: a dragon skull that gives the owner the ability to control dragons.

As they sail upriver, a sudden storm arises and a tentacled monster attacks from below the water, destroying the boat. The party makes it ashore and finds itself trapped in the Old Druid Hills forest — or, more precisely, trapped BY the forest. It’s clearly aware and hostile, trying to lead the PCs into deadly traps.

Things get even weirder when green-glowing dire animals and humanoids attack the party, disintegrating into bones when slain.

Fifteenth Session Recap
Elanesse Dissolves a Bunch of Guys

Boss Hoger and Yavuz are conducting a ritual at the bridge, sacrificing the local priest of the Gods of Light in order to consecrate the town to the Dark Gods! The PCs, accompanied by a band of Red Shield soldiers who’ve turned against Hoger, must carve their way through a wall of enemies to reach them and stop the ritual.

Llandrin Trawscoed’s player was running late, so his not-elven wizard had the misfortune of serving as a cautionary example for the others: he levitated into the air in order to see the lay of the land, and was struck by a bolt of magical energy that transported him to the realm of the Dark Gods. Oops.

Aenor sent her raven skyward to do the scouting instead, and he reported back that there were a lot of bad guys occupying the main square leading to the bridge; and that the townspeople looked ready to riot against the Crusader’s forces for burning down the mayor’s house and preparing to sacrifice their priest.

The party joined the crowd fof townspeople, and got the riot under way with a well-aimed thrown rock and some shouted encouragement. While the larger battle raged, the party took on the forces that stood between them and the bridge.

It was a long, bloody, difficult fight. (The escalation die reached 5!) Mobs of wretched conscripts, and the even more wretched magic-using Avenging Orbs made life really challenging for a while, and the Red Shields who stayed loyal to Hoger dealt some truly disturbing amount s of damage to the PCs. But when Elanesse made some exceptionally good rolls with her breath of the Green spell, the opposing forces melted away. Like, literally: she unleashed tornados of corrosive gas that dissolved about 10 enemies into puddles of organic waste.

That battle done, the party raced to the bridge where Zara stood between them and Hoger. She was already staggered from the larger battle going on in the background, and the corpses of townspeople lay at her feet. As the PCs watched in horror, Yavuz hanged the Priest of Light from the bridge.

OR DID HE? Hochnor Half-Hand used a 6 with the Crusader to provide a flashback which revealed that Hochnor totally knew this was going to happen, and conspired with rogue elements within Hoger’s platoon to replace the victim with one of their own — and rig the sacrifice so that the replacement dangled harmlessly from the rope. Ritual foiled!

Meanwhile Nureddin Wolf-Father used his own 6 with with Crusader to talk some sense into Zara. Persuaded by his words, she confronted Hoger with her own misgivings about what they were doing, and begged him to stop. “It’s been nice working with you,” Hoger said, and unleashed lightning on her. The battle was joined!

Zara fought well and heroically, but ultimately fell against her former commander. Aenor used a 5 with the Three to recharge her lightning fork spell and unleash some whoop-ass on Hoger. Llandrin used a 5 with the Emperor to flash back to the time he fought in the Red Sorcerer’s Rebellion and actually saw Hoger in battle fighting on the Red Sorcerer’s side. Llandrin used that sudden recognition to recall a weakness in Hoger’s fighting style and used it against him to land some major damage. Finally, Hochnor summoned his hammer of faith and brought it down on the ogre mage, destroying him. Hoger’s physical form dispersed amid the scent of cherry blossoms, the sound of otherwordly music, and the sensation of alien philosophies passing through the PCs’ minds and then vanishing.

The town of Shatter Creek has been liberated, and harsh justice dealt to the wicked.

Time to resume the hunt for Thurash…

Fourteenth Session Recap
Screwjob in Shatter Creek

Our heroes emerge from the portal in the mayor’s house in Shatter Creek — and find themselves in a trap! A group of Crusader soldiers — consisting of elite Red Shield warriors, Witch Hunter archers, Avenging Orb wizards, and a squad of mooks — attacks them.

The PCs have been going for a long time: they’re injured, and many of their most potent abilities have been used up. This, along with the counter-magic effects of the Witch Hunters’ black arrows, makes this a long and difficult battle. But the party eventually prevails, only to discover that the house is surrounded! More soldiers start to pour in, but the party’s lethal defense of their position convinces Hoger’s lackeys to try a different tactic: they’ll burn down the house with the PCs in it.

As the house they’re in catches fire and smoke begins to fill the room, Hochnor Half-Hand‘s 5 result with the Crusader comes into play — a group of Red Shields comes in the back way and tells the party that Hoger has gone too far, and needs to be stopped. He’s going to sacrifice Shatter Creek’s priest of the Gods of Light at the bridge, protecting the town from demons by consecrating it to the Dark Gods.

Bloodied but unbowed, and with a burning desire for vengeance, our heroes venture forth for the final battle to decide the fate of Shatter Creek….

Thirteenth Session Recap
An enemy revealed!

The PCs step through the portal Boss Hoger created and find themselves on a barren plain at night. In the distance they see the bulk of Facility 13 silhouetted against the stars. Searchlights mounted on towers sweep the desert floor, and when one of them catches a fleeing figure, it narrows into a beam of energy that incinerates the poor wretch. The party decides to camp out for the night and enter the prison in the morning.

The rangers use their ranger skills to determine by the position of the stars that they’ve been teleported all the way to the Red Wastes.

Day breaks, and the party approaches the prison. They’re met by clockwork guards who, after they scan Hochnor Half-Hand‘s Inquisitor badge, escort them inside to meet The Warden. This jolly fellow’s cheerfulness is a sharp contrast to the looming menace of Ironhoof, a gearforged minotaur who is the captain of the guard at Facility 13. After a mix of forced pleasantries, veiled threats and bureaucratic negotiating, the Warden allows the party to deliver their letter to Milas Scull

An older, white-bearded man with dragon-scaled skin, Miles Scull lived peacefully in the town of Shatter Creek until he crossed the ogre mage Boss Hoger. He reads the letter sent by the Three, and delivers some bad news: Thurash Many-Rocks, Smasher of Elves plans to invade the town of Burnham and seize a magical dragon’s skull which will allow the Orc Lord to command dragons. Since MIlas is locked up in the Eye, the task of stopping Thurash will be left to the PCs.

Scull also explains that Hoger’s zeal for fighting demons is matched only by his greed. Since taking over Shatter Creek, the ogre mage has imposed high tariffs on merchants passing through and high taxes on local citizens. He also has a cozy arrangement with the warden of Facility 13. The prison turns a nice profit by charging its inmates for their room, board, and “services” such as their own torture. The prison gives Hoger a percentage of the take from prisoners that he sends there, and he’s been convicting people in Shatter Creek on trumped-up charges to fatten both his coffers and the Warden’s.

Next, the party is escorted to the floor where Colonel Alafar Dunwood is held in solitary confinement (though first they discover that the prison’s corridors are kept clean by gelatinous cubes.)

Dunwood pleads with the party to get him out: he has secrets — top Imperial secrets — and if whoever runs the prison figures that out, they’re going to extract those secrets from him. There’s something fishy about his story, and he admits to having some pretty nasty magic items in his possession — though he claims to have a license to use them. The party decides to take Dunwood into custody in the name of the Inquisition.

After retrieving Dunwood’s things from the evidence locker — including the aforementioned nasty magic items and the license to use them — they lead Dunwood out of the prison in shackles. As Dunwood talks cheerfully, Elanesse starts having flashbacks to when she was imprisoned and experimented on by servants of the Archmage. And when Dunwood says, “How do you want to do this?” she recognizes him at last: Dunwood was one of the people who experimented on her.

Just then, the trap is sprung! Thirteen mind-controlled, possibly demon-possessed elves teleport in along with several evil wizards commanding them. Dunwood’s shackles unlock and fall to the ground. Elanesse loses control and her evil self Essenale emerges, more powerful and uncontrollable than ever.

The battle is brutal and bloody. Dunwood pleads with Essenale to return with him, calling her “my Lady” and saying “we have so much to learn from you.” Essenale will have none of it, and reduces him to a heap of ash.

Our heroes are battered and exhausted. But there’s no way they’re going back in the prison, and there’s no rest to be had here in the Wastes. They re-open the portal and return to Shatter Creek, and whatever awaits them there.

Twelfth Session Recap
Somthing ain't right in Shatter Creek.

Continuing their pursuit of Thurash Many-Rocks, Smasher of Elves, the party travels overland to the town of Shatter Creek — first doing battle with a pack of werewolves and a ferocious owlbear!

The owlbear was dispatched fairly easily, much to the GM’s disappointment. He is now considering unleashing a pack of owlbears on the PCs, or possibly a titanic mega-owlbear.

Approaching Shatter Creek the party is intercepted by a patrol of the Crusader’s soldiers. Their commander says there’s been some diabolical activity in the area but they’ve got things under control. This proves to be incredibly true: as the PCs head down the road they see the bodies of hanged townsfolk dangling from the trees on either side, with signs around their necks bearing inscriptions such as, “I Consorted With Demons.”

They’re met at the bridge and escorted into town by Platoon Sergeant Zara who explains that Shatter Creek has been taken over by Boss Hoger, an ogre mage lieutenant in the Crusader’s army. She puts them up in a commandeered house and arranges an appointment with Hoger.

Hoger holds court in the mayor’s former mansion (the mayor is currently staying elsewhere) and receives them with the kindly hospitality and goodwill of a deeply corrupt Southern sheriff. When asked about Thurash, he (a little too quickly) denies ever having heard of him. When asked where Aenor might find Milas Scull and deliver the letter she’s carrying from the Three.

Turns out Milas Scull got on Hoger’s bad side, and was sent to a prison a long, long ways away. Hoger could teleport the party there, of course, but the transportation fee is enormous.

Llandrin Trawscoed bravely cashes in a 5 result with the Emperor to grease the wheels.

Hoger recalls that there’s another prisoner in the facility suspected of diabolism. Hochnor Half-Hand and company agree to interrogate this prisoner, which means the fee can be charged to the Imperial Inquisition. Coincidentally (spoiler: not at all a coincidence) the prisoner is someone they’ve met before — Colonel Alafar Dunwood, who helped the party when the Gnome King took over Foothold. Everyone takes a moment to relive the painful memory of THAT session, and then it’s off to the prison!

Hoger uses a magic ring to open a portal, and the party steps through. “Sayonara,” Hoger says as it closes behind them…

Eleventh Session Recap
Battle of Stonewreath Keep

While our heroes puzzle out the meaning behind the ominous letter they found on Father Ammon’s body last session, they hear an earth-shaking rumble and crash from the direction of Stonewreath Keep — followed by the roaring of a dragon.

When they arrive back at the keep they meet up with Lieutenant Cail Emmons and a handful of surviving soldiers. The kobolds were more than just nuisance in the mine: they’ve caused the ground beneath the bailey to collapse—killing nearly everyone who wasn’t out on patrol—and occupied the keep. Meanwhile, more kobolds poured out of the mine and swept through the village, with air support from a black dragon: Catamoros, the Hunter Beneath referred to in Ammon’s letter.

The party quickly devises a cunning plan to take back the keep and the village. While everyone else fights the kobolds and lizardfolk occupying the village, Llandrin Trawscoed magically disguises himself as a lizardman and tricks the guards into allowing him in the keep.

During the fight, Aenor receives a magical insight from The Three: Catamoros is not in charge here. The black dragon was injured while young, and is brain damaged and childlike. A young kobold named Zorila Twistback befriended him. She is the one actually leading the effort to take back “their” mines from the Empire, and has been dealing with Thurash in Catamoros’ name. Aenor asks whether Catamoros has to be killed – -can they save him instead? The Three tell her that she must do what she thinks is right.

In the keep, Llandrin finds the dragon, Zorila, and kobolds and lizardfolk in command. The dragon idly chews on the severed arm of Captain Glenna Obalda, who hangs unconscious by a chain from the rafters. Llandrin casts sleep, sending nearly all of the kobolds into magical slumber. When the rest of the party breaks in the odds are nearly even — especially since Catamoros instinctively dives in front of attacks on Zorila, absorbing as much of the damage as he can. When Zorila is killed, the dragon gives a roar of pain and grief and flies away, leaving the outcome of the battle in no doubt. After dispatching the remaining kobolds and lizardmen, the party frees Captain Obalda.

The heroes have triumphed, and order is restored. But Aenor grieves for the black dragon—a true innocent in all this—and mentally pleas with the Three to ensure his safety.

Tenth Session Recap
To Stonewreath Keep

It’s a dark and stormy night when, on their way to Stonewreath Keep the party runs into a nasty group comprising a swarm of bats, some goblin grunts, dire bat-riding goblin cavalry, and a dire bat-riding goblin mage. Their gear is marked with the Orc Lord’s symbol. At least, it is until Aenor burns it off with a lightning fork spell that jumps to every single goblin.

It’s a tough fight but the heroes take down the goblins — except for the mage, who flies away. Llandrin Trawscoed (who used color spray to great effect during the battle by projectile vomiting gouts of rainbow light) sends his owl familiar Eli after it. Eli returns and reports that the goblin landed in the woods just outside of the keep.

They arrive at Stonewreath as the sun is rising, and meet Captain Glenna Obalda and her second-in-command, Lieutenant Cail Emmons. They confirm that Thurash Many-Rocks, Smasher of Elves and his fellow travelers spent a short time at the keep a few days ago. They seemed like decent enough sorts at the time. In fact, Thurash spent a lot of time in the chapel.

Hauling ass to the chapel the party meets Father Ammon, who is a really nice guy. He’s alarmed to hear that Thurash is a wanted criminal, and everyone’s pretty alarmed to hear that armed goblins are running around in the woods a few hours away. Father Ammon says Gaudrie the ranger is ideally suited to go after the goblins, and heads out to find him.

Obalda thinks the goblins were an isolated raiding party rather than part of an army – her patrols would have spotted a force big enough to pose a direct threat to the keep. Their main problem lately has been kobolds appearing in the tin mines near the village of Flowing Springs.

Lomo the wolf catches the scent of goblin behind a nearby door. He and Nureddin bust in and find the wounded goblin mage in Father Ammon’s quarters. They kill the hell out of him and search the place, finding a secret hole in the floor with a ladder leading down into a tunnel. Hey, maybe let’s find Father Ammon and ask him some questions? Or just stab him?

Lomo and Aenor’s raven lead the way in tracking the fleeing priest and ranger. The party quickly finds them, and Ammon screams something about how the fire is coming and the Orc Lord will kill everybody unless they get on his good side now. He attacks with a fire spell and gets a face full of ranged death for his trouble. But Gaudrie the ranger is scarily accurate with the arrows he fires from a gruesome demon bow fused to his arm; and when four goblin archers appear in the trees, the fight gets a lot tougher. Hochnor Half-Hand actually goes down at one point, but refuses to stay down. And Elanesse ultimately takes Gaudrie out with a pretty phenomenal critical hit.

The party finds 875 gold pieces on Father Ammon’s body, and some common magic items on Gaudrie’s. They also find this sealed letter in Ammon’s coat:

To the kobold emissary: Tell Catamoros, The Hunter Beneath that the Orc Lord finds his terms acceptable. – Thurash Many Rocks, Smasher of Elves

Session Nine Interlude
Icon rolls!

Aenor rolls an icon result of 5 with the Three

Using her connections with the Three, Aenor learns that Thurash left Foothold within hours of the party’s battle with the gnolls at Underhome’s house. Thurash paid two minions of the Three to help him escape the city and reach his eventual destination: Cobin Isfeld, a Black Dragon clan assassin, and Albenna Queal, a sorcerer.

Eventually he means to cross the Black River into orc territory, but will make several stops throughout Blackmarch along the way to rendezvous with various agents of the Orc Lord. When he hired Isfeld and Queal he seemed confident that he’d be safe out in the badlands, and mentioned that the only people who might come after him have been “taken care of.”

Because going after Thurash interferes with a job being done by minions of the Three, there’s a price attached to this information: Aenor must deliver a letter (unopened) to a man named Milas Scull in the village of Shatter Creek.

Aenor rolls an icon result of 6 with the Priestess
Aenor uses her pull with the Priestess to gather recent gossip at Blackmarch Cathedral. She learns that a wandering priest met three travelers matching the descriptions of Thurash, Isfeld and Queal. They said they were heading for Stonewreath Keep a few days’ ride west.

Nureddin rolls an icon result of 6 with the Crusader
Nureddin’s Crusader buddies heard a rumor that he’s heading into the badlands to take care of unfinished business. They give him the Bow of No Mercy to help him hunt the bastard down.

Elanesse rolls an icon result of 6 with the Elf Queen
When Elanesse wakes from a dream in which the Elf Queen warns her that her enemies are nearby, she finds a tiny glowing spirit hovering in her room. It leads her out of the inn and into the street outside. A small star drifts down from the night sky toward her. As it gets closer she sees it is a magic sword known as Star’s Triumph.

Hochnor rolls an icon result of 6 with the Emperor
As thanks for the Empire’s help in the shameful matter of his brother-in-law, Maksim Goldfinder gifts the Inquisition with a new type of magic item that blends dwarf inventiveness and powerful wizardry. The Emperor’s Peace is the first of its kind, and Brother Lucas gravely presents it to Hochnor to aid him in the hunt for Thurash.

Hochnor rolls an icon result of 5 with the Emperor
But the recent unpleasantness with Ulysses Underhome hasn’t been forgotten; and so the wizard Llandrin Trawscoed will accompany the party on their search.

Reed can’t make it on Saturday
He will remain behind for now, and search for magic treasure long forgotten by the living…

Ninth Session Recap
Battle against the shadow thieves

The party fought a pitched battle against four shadow thieves who attacked them in the portal room of Dead Elf Dungeon. After eventually sending them all fleeing to the south, the party decided they didn’t want to take their chances with the bat swarm or the ghoul they knew lay north, or the shadow thieves who’d fled south. Instead they chose to leave the dungeon through the overgrown main gate, emerging in the woods outside Foothold. They reported all that they’d found to the Captain of the Watch, who said he’d post guards at both known entrances and notify the Count’s wizard about the portal to outer space.

What now? Well, they had some unresolved business with Thurash Many-Rocks, Smasher of Elves, who they were ordered to arrest and bring before the Inquisition. They decided to hunt down Thurash, and called it a night.

Eighth Session Recap
Descent into Dead Elf Dungeon

The Captain of the Watch asked our heroes to investigate a disturbance on the Low East Side: word is that a group of half-orcs and goblins broke into a supposedly haunted house looking for treasure, ran into trouble and didn’t come out. For this mission they’d be accompanied by the necromancer Reed Hilarion and the elf ranger Aenor.

Well, the haunted part was certainly true: an aura of terror, rage and despair hung over the place, and blood began running down the walls. Descending into the basement the party found an abandoned smuggler’s den. One exit was a large gate, locked with a seal bearing the symbol of the Emperor above and the Lich King below, indicating a border between their two domains. The other exit was a secret door that had been forced open.

Entering the formerly secret door, the adventures founnd themselves in a network of caves and tunnels beneath the poor section of the city — and they weren’t alone. The shades of elves reenact battles with spectral human and dwarf forces, and the characters found themselves alternately on one side and then the other. A narrative gradually emerged of an Imperial incursion into elf territory, the elves fleeing underground, the Imperials following…and everyone dying.

They also stumbled across the corpses of the alleged treasure-seekers they were sent to look for. Funny thing: one of them was dressed as Thurash Many-Rocks, Smasher of Elves, and a crumpled letter indicated that they were stationed there to ambush the party and injure or kill everyone but Khash.

The party chased a fleeing ghoul down a tunnel, but took a side trip into a large open space — not a cave, but a construction littered with skeletons and smashed war machines. On one side a strange portal opened onto a vista of space and stars, while the other featured a bas relief of a humanoid insect: one of the phraints, invaders from another world in a previous age. Four pillars stood in the room with gridded patterns of red, green, gold and blue gems. The characters found no magic items or usable armor or weapons, but recovered a journal that told them the following:

  • A tyrannical Emperor of a previous Age sent an army of humans and dwarves, led by General Gage, to slaughter the tribe of wild elves in the forest.
  • The elves fled into the caves below the forest. While the main force assaulted the front gates, a smaller force slipped in through a secret entrance revealed to them by a traitor.
  • Before she died, the elf shaman pronounced a curse that no one would leave the caves alive.
  • This room was where the army holed up when they realized they couldn’t get out, and that the dead were returning to fight again and again.
  • A fungal cavern had food, but strange things lurked in there – and people reported seeing the elf shaman alive, and transformed.
  • Then the shadows came to strangle people, or possess them and force them to attack their comrades, or steal their magic items and return them later with a curse on them. One of them stole the general’s armor; when it was returned and the general put it on again, he couldn’t remove it and he became prone to terrible rages. A wizard’s ring of invisibility was taken, and when he got it back he couldn’t turn visible again – he went mad and wandered off into the darkness.
  • The general became obsessed with the idea that both he and the elves had been tricked by someone or something else. He announced he was going to find the deceiver and ventured into the tunnels, but he never came back.

Just as they finished reading the final words, a shadow detached itself from the wall and began gliding toward them…


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