Game Session 1
[Jan. 4, 2013]
Marpenoth 14, 1355DR
The campaign opens on a small caravan of wagons traveling through the Elven Woods of Cormanthor with the first hints of autumn in the trees. The group is returning from Mistledale with three full wagons under cloudy, mild skies. Led by caravan master Melvos, the group comprises 20 members including PCs Oldin, Tibialis and Xandarian who ride the lead positions. The group is passingly familiar with one another, having escorted caravans together previously, and this time they have signed on with Melvos as he is funding his first independent venture.
The group reaches Maiden’s Tear Falls and Hammer Ford, where the Half-Axe Trail crosses the Elvenflow river. They make camp, expecting to take another day to return to the logging town of Velarsburg, just beyond the edge of the woods. Once everyone else has turned in, Melvos talks to Oldin, Tibialis and Xandarian about his ideas of starting his own transport merchant company focused on shipping swords and weapons from places like Tilverton to Harrowdale and other arms-poor places.
Marpenoth 15, 1355DR
At first light, the caravan is under way, traveling through light fog and a still, cloudy sky. The three PCs take the forward positions, with Tibialis and Xandarian 150’ ahead and Oldin 100’, watching their backs.
The morning quiet is broken by Melvos screaming a warning to the party followed by a massive fireball explosion. The lead wagon is splintered by the blast, throwing debris and smoke 50’ into the air, after which orcs stream out of the woods and onto the trail. Combat between the caravan guards and the orcs break out all around the wagons, with the three riders turning and preparing to make their way back.
Between them and the burning melee steps a massive orc champion, over six and a half feet tall, wielding a huge double-headed axe. As the trio prepare to engage him, a second fireball lifts the middle wagon into the air, scorching orcs, guards, horses and everything in the vicinity.
Oldin dismounts and steps forward to fight the orc while Tibialis and Xandarian pepper him with arrows. Despite Oldin taking a jarring shot from the orc, the group manages to fell the warrior within a minute. After the orc falls, the group surveys the situation and finds three survivors, all on the ambushing party’s side. They dispatch the three with arrows and move into the wreckage to search out Melvos or any other survivors.
Miraculously, Melvos has endured the heat and blast of the pair of fireballs. But when they locate him, he bears a nasty puncture wounds from a poisoned blade as well as a purple dust toxin on his face that is cause his skin to blemish and bubble. Xandarian retrieves a bundle from the lit but unburned third wagon, an as-yet-unseen box which Xandarian reveals is of great importance to Melvos. Xandarian explains that he’d promised Melvos to deliver the box to Helena Treskeden, head of the company, if anything should befall Melvos. Oldin attempts to heal Melvos, and the group sets out at a quick pace for Velarsburg to seek help.
In and out of consciousness the remainder of the morning, Melvos mentions a variety of people and places, some of which the group is unfamiliar with. Delirious comments about someone named Ryssa, about his daughter (that only Oldin seemed to know) and a handful of others. In his fever he thinks Oldin is Xandarian, continues rambling and ultimately calls him over to give him a two-pronged metal key and ask him to “split everything with his daughter.” When the party reaches the edge of the Elven Woods shortly after high sun, they realize Melvos has died.
A few hours later the group spots the bright copper dome at the Temple of the Harvest Moon, a large temple to Chauntea located in Velarsburg. They ride into the rural town of 250 and up to the front of the fortress-like structure, located in the middle of town. Surveying the neighboring inn and tavern, the group becomes concerned about being watched or followed as well as being attacked when they try to return the bundle (“the box”) to Harrowdale as Melvos requested.
They are met inside the temple by the quiet priest Harvestman Eltogar. They are given shelter for the night, cloth to wrap Melvos’ body in, and good food with an offer for healing. The doors are barred and the rest the night in safety.
Marpenoth 16, 1355DR
Upon waking and breaking their fast, the group elects to have Oldin attempt to detect magic on some items: Melvos’ chain mail shirt, black-handled dagger, the bundle containing “the box” and a few other minor items. The dagger was determined to be of some minor enchantment but the contents of the bundle were highly magical. Oldin then cast detect evil to follow up and determined that the bundle contained something quite evil in nature.
After only a little debate the group opted to remain at the temple awaiting the return of Harvestmistress Yvonna Oakenstave, the ranking priest of the temple. After some “prodding” on the part of Oldin, Harvestman Eltogar agreed to travel north to fetch Oakenstave while they remained in the temple, doors barred and protected in the event that the parties behind the ambush (or Helena Treskeden’s agents) would seek them out.
Game Session 2
[Jan. 11, 2013]
Marpenoth 16, 1355DR
Almost as soon as the messenger, Harvestman Eltogar, is departed the group begins to discuss how they wish to proceed with the bundle’s contents. Some careful consideration and bit of impulsiveness lead them to cut through the cloth and reveal the contents.
Inside they uncover an elaborate, expensive box made of platinum and abalone sections. Xandarian has difficulty appraising such a customized, unique item but estimates its value could be in the tens of thousands of gold pieces.
Despite it appearing to have no lock and only a simple clasp, the group decides against actually opening their prize and instead re-wraps it and secures it. Oldin elects to pass the remainder of the day skirmishing with the temple guards and instructing them (in accordance with Tempus’ will).
Marpenoth 17, 1355DR
After a quiet morning spent wandering the now-secured temple grounds, the group receives a message from High Harvestmistress Oakenstave. She writes that she is working in a nearby village and has cast divinations; the Grain Goddess has assured her no harm will come from waiting so Oakenstave says she will return “within the tenday.” Following the high priestess’ bidding, Eltogar casts a spell to slow the decay of Melvos so she might examine his poisoning wounds when she returns.
Following her suggestion for mind-clearing relaxation, Xandarian goes forth into the inner garden of the temple and plants irises.
Over the next several days the group rests, drills weapons with the temple guards and each other, and Tibialis works on fashioning a set of wooden lockpicks for Xandarian. On the evening of the 21st the group is informed that Oakenstave has returned and toast their health with Eltogar over a decent temple brew.
Marpenoth 22, 1355DR
When the group is summoned to the large open courtyard, they find weathered, thin old priestess Oakenstave near the great limestone boulder at one end, standing face up in the rain. She examines the box when it is placed on the stone alter, casting three spells on it before taking up an ancient, two-handed maul and smashing it. There is a release of some small amount of dark smoke and crash of thunder after which she sets the maul aside and returns the thoroughly damaged box, pronouncing it safe. Her estimate is that it was a lich’s phylactery, a container for the soul and essence of an undead wizard.
The high priestess says she has examined Melvos and has no idea what sort of poisoning agents might have cause the blistering and disfiguration. Once the Harvestmistress is gone, they bury Melvos in the corner of the temple’s garden area, beneath the recently-harvested corn rows.
Marpenoth 23, 1355DR
After six days of rains and storms outside while the party stayed held up inside, they saddle their horses under a bright morning sun and set out for Harrowdale. They leave behind a chain shirt and the double-bladed orc axe for the guards and make their way southwest.
A long day’s ride returns them to the town of Harrowdale. As they enter town, they stop at Goldenleaf Stables to return the horses Melvos rented for the expedition. One of the handlers accosts them about the whereabouts of the other horses and asks who will pay for their replacement. They party gives their names but holds firm that they are in no way responsible for the missing animals, even doing their part to heal their mounts that were injured.
A bit after dark, the group parts ways in the middle of town, agreeing that they should meet the following morning for breakfast at Black Willick’s Pub. Xandarian and Tibialis return to their bunks in the Treskeden barracks and Oldin goes to meet with Melvos’ daughter before retiring at the temple of Tymora.
Marpenoth 24, 1355DR
Very early in the morning, Xandarian and Tibialis are awakened by knocking on their doors. They are roused by the thick-haired, well-built and unshaven face of Kolinas, the caravan master counterpart of Melvos. When asked where Melvos has gone, they relate the basic tale of the ambush in the woods. Seeming somewhat amused, Kolinas tosses each of them a gold for breakfast (to account for their lost wages) and leaves smiling.
The three meet near Black Willick’s Pub and bang the door until they bring the proprietor to the door. The three-foot or so dark-haired Halfling owner grumbles but admits them and starts some bacon. The discussion turns to how to proceed next, the whereabouts of Melvos’ residence, how to claim his goods for a daughter no one knows about and what to do with the box.
Producing the sack of gold taken from Melvos, Oldin suggests that they buy as much of Willick’s dark ale as they can that evening in an effort to provide a fine wake and memorial in Black Willick’s, Melvos’ favorite drinking establishment.
When the group finally takes their leave, Xandarian stops in the market to purchase pottery – to pickle the head of the orc chief he brought back – and then delivers the box and bundle to Oldin to take back to the temple for safer keeping.
Game Session 3
[Feb. 1, 2013]
Marpenoth 24, 1355DR
Kolinas returns in the later afternoon along with Tibialis’ uncle, Vahnar, a 6’4” beast of a man who stands quietly while Kolinas questions Tibialis and Xandarian. He inquires about the wake and asks them if they by chance have something from Melvos’ belongings. After a few questions, Xandarian admits to having a box (“damaged in the attack”) that was on one of the wagons. He also confirms for Kolinas that yes, Melvos did have a staff he was carrying with him at the time of the attack but it went missing.
After repeating some details of the attack, Kolinas explains that the staff was to be delivered to Helena Treskeden and that they should keep it to themselves that they’d seen it – or really anything else about the events. Kolinas identified the name of the orc champion as Gruuktuk and agreed that it was likely a hit specifically to get the staff. He cautions them strongly that if the Treskedens find out that they know anything, they will likely be killed. Kolinas agrees to let them keep the box as payment and says they should caution Oldin to keep quiet as well.
Tibialis and Xandarian then go over to the temple of Tymora in search of Oldin. In the main worship area they meet the red-haired priestess Aniya Thanemarch who (after a good teasing) goes to fetch Oldin. A few minutes later though she returns to inform them he isn’t in his room. Lacking other ideas, they cross the road to Black Willick’s for a bit of rabbit stew and day-old rye bread.
Some time later on their way to the market, Tibialis and Xandarian meet Oldin in the street, carrying the bundle containing the damaged box under his arm. With him are a young blond priestess he introduces as Sivaya, daughter of Melvos, and the pale, half-elven Reverend Sister Auric, leading priestess of Tymora. After a hurried discussion in the street, the group returns to Oldin’s quarters in the temple to compare notes about their two meetings.
Oldin explains that they have just been to see Helena Treskeden and her son, Toridan. He asked for Sister Auric, a long-time friend, to secure an audience with them and vouched for both Sivaya’s parentage and Oldin’s story of the events leading up to Melvos’ death. After hearing the details and learning of the staff, Toridan allowed Oldin to keep the box as compensation for unpaid wages and his discretion about the events. They also say they will send over Melvos’ effects for Sivaya .
A discussion ensues comparing the specifics of both meetings and how Treskedens might be behaving so reasonably in contrast to Kolinas’ assurance that they would all be killed. Oldin suggests that perhaps it’s Kolinas who is involved in the ambush, citing that he and Melvos were peers and rivals. Kolinas had known the orc champion’s name as well as he included Tibialis’ uncle in the meeting though they aren’t close. The three make for their various rooms to ready themselves for the wake to come in a few hours.
Xandarian procures a harvest wreath to set up at the wake. The group arrives together before most guests and takes the table near the back, close to the fireplace. An eclectic group of locals (and not so local types) arrive throughout the evening to toast Melvos. A partial list includes:
Aniya Thanemarch, who seems to be a persistent object of attention. At one point during the evening she ventures over to the table and invites the group to undertake an expedition with her to a ruined manorhouse near Essembra, in Battledale. They agree they will, with Oldin making the point it might be best if they were to be out of town for a few days.
Balsano: a fat, sweating priest of Oghma who arrives with a lute to sing songs for the wake.
Iri-ho: a thin, limping, younger priest of Oghma who performs on a dulcimer-like instrument and later quiets the bar with a southern funeral song following Oldin’s toast to Melvos.
Neiroon: an emaciated, stinking fellow with thin, stringy hair. He speaks with the group, even almost coming to words or blows with Tibialis. He seems slightly mad but stories abound about him such as his large contributions to the temple of Tymora.
Two halflings, one a fat drunken fellow with curly blonde hair and the other a dark-haired gent who sits at the corner of the bar all evening drinking with Orin, the local cooper.
Alosius Greenwarrow: the old, stout, cranky owner of Velarstown Silver arrives with his two daughters. Oldin overhears him discussing something about goats in the fields being killed, blight in the fields and the input of druids being sought. Oldin asks him about conducting business and Alosius tells him to come by.
Kolinas and Toridan Treskeden arrive together and sit with a group of Treskeden caravaners. Toridan leaves before Kolinas, though neither stay very long or seem entirely comfortable.
Master Roarleaf: with graying, long red hair worn in a thick braid, this paunch-bellied fellow seems slightly out-of-place. He wears a lavender linen shirt with a dark purple vest over it with baggy silk pants that are more of the flavor of southern men.
Saizo Omlae: the drinking companion of Master Roarleaf, this charming green-eyed man seems to be the player in the room. He spends most of the evening entertaining first Aniya Thanemarch and then Salme.
Salme: an exotic, dark-haired and bronze-skinned girl with matching scimitars. Her soft gold silk shirt allows her cleavage to steal attention from the visibly irritated Thanemarch, though Salme eventually works her way over to offer her sympathies. She then invites Xandarian to dance and even take her home, which he declines…
The night ends with Willick locking the back door and escorting them out around the passed out halflings. It’s decided that it might be best if they were all to stay at the temple where it is more secure.
Marpenoth 25, 1355DR
Shortly after the group takes breakfast at the temple, two laborers from Treskeden arrive with a large chest for Sivaya. Xandarian produces the key Melvos gave them but it is clearly meant for another lock.
After a bit of effort and fiddling, Xandarian manages to work the lock open to reveal the chest’s contents: a mall sack of various coins; and old, pitted dagger; one warm wool shirt (brown); one heavy wool cloak (dark green); two wrapped vials of barely blue liquid (which Oldin identifies as most likely healing potions); a silver and leather buckler; one pair of fine linen pants (off-white); a black silk shirt; extra shaving kit with real mirror; nice shoes; two silver feathers; an nearly-empty vial of purplish liquid (later determined to be perfume of some kind); and a scrap of paper in a woman’s hand that says “you are persistent; meet you at the lighthouse after last light”
Oldin makes a quick visit to Velarstown Silver to discuss selling the platinum box with Alosius. The jeweler says he would be willing to consider trade and gold for the box but that he really can’t afford to give him all the box would be worth just in coins.
Game Session 4 & 4.5
[Mar. 1 & 22, 2013]
Marpenoth 25, 1355DR
Thanemarch suggests they move their belongings to Oldin’s room since it could be a tenday or even two before they return. She asks them to gather for a briefing the next morning and expect to leave on the 27th.
Oldin returns to see Alosius at Velarstown Silver where he sells the ornate clasp part of the destroyed phylactery box.
Xandarian and Tibialis gather their belongings from the bunkhouse at Treskedan and settle into the room beside Oldin’s for the time being.
Marpenoth 26, 1355DR
Aniya gathers Xandarian, Tibialis and Oldin. She informs them that they will be out of town for a tenday or more and that she will be feeding the party with spell-formed fare but that if they want for something more specific they will need to bring it. The temple owns horses so she will be providing mounts as well as two pack horses.
She tells them to expect to camp the first night on the Cold Fields, keeping a fire both for the chill autumn night and to keep any potential predators away. The second night she expects to stay in a small settlement called Gimlir Hill and the third night in an abandoned waystop town in the Dun Hills.
Aniya sets up the backdrop: a group of adventurers who recently passed through town located the ruins of Wolfjaw Towers in southeastern Battledale, three days or so away. When they investigated, a lower section collapsed and took the lives of most of the party. The lone survivor, Otherian Lund, made his way back here to the temple of Tymora. He has agreed to lead the expedition to return with the hopes of returning with the bodies of his comrades.
Otherian turns out later to be a quiet, depressing bard who is mourning the loss of his woman companion and his friends.
Marpenoth 27, 1355DR
It is a breezy, bright and cool fall morning when Aniya gathers them behind the temple. They make their way south along the road towards Scardale, then turn west and ride up out of the valley Harrowdale sits in. That trail joins another around the vale and turns southwest across the mostly flat Cold Fields. The breeze picks up and vegetation lessens and the party has a quiet day on the trail.
Late in the evening just before everyone makes their way to sleep, a man approaches their fire cautiously and calls out from the darkness. He is Tremen, a hunter/trapper from Harrowdale. He is older, carries two axes, has two wolf pelts that are recent. He sets himself on the ground some distance from their fire and lean-to shelter and promptly goes to sleep.
Marpenoth 28, 1355DR
A long day in the saddle should see them to Gimlar Hill. It is another crisp, sunny, breezy fall day. The road turns most westward at lunch, and the wind increases as they ride. Late in the day, the sun setting in the distance silhouettes a small, low hill with a settlement in a wooden palisade.
Aniya tells them Gimlir Hill is the only town out here. It subsists by being a stopover for trail traffic and shepherds, as well as supplying the handful of southern farmers. It’s expensive and untrusting, with the people not really considering themselves the citizens of any dale. They have a hard edge and are quick to fight so keep it cool.
The group arrives around sunset to a wooden palisade gate. They stable their horses and are admitted to the Brass Golem inn and tap, a simple place where they sleep in the common room once the locals have left for the night.
Marpenoth 29, 1355DR
The breeze across the Cold Fields is already stirring as the group rides out the gate. The sun comes up over the gently rolling plains to the east as they ride down the hill that gives Gimlir its name, then turn left towards the northwest, riding on through the narrow section of land between Featherdale, Battledale and Harrowdale.
It is another quiet day of mild autumn sunshine and breezes as the group crosses the western end of the Cold Fields. As the sun is setting, the group reaches the ruins of a town. The wooden palisade is broken in most places with most buildings having fallen into ruin. There are sections of foundations and low walls to shelter in, but it appears that some travelers are keeping up one last building, a former inn with a hitching post outside. They enter the small, two-story building and check it out before making a fire and settling into the common room.
Late in the evening when the nearly full moon is casting strong light outside, there are sounds of unsettled horses. When they check the windows, they see figures moving amongst the horses. There are zombies wandering the street. When they open the door and look out, there appear to be a dozen or more harassing the horses and moving towards the inn.
While Xandarian and Tibialis break out glass panes and fire arrows from the windows, Oldin leaves the main door and attempts to turn back the undead by his god’s power. On the second try, Tempus answers and his faith drives the zombies back and away from the inn. A few moments later Aniya emerges as Oldin moves away from the inn to attack a departing zombie.
Down the street they notice glowing eyes in the darkness, moving towards them. At a distance, Aniya turns the creature and it covers its face and departs. The group leaves off most of the zombies and returns into the building, bringing the horses in with them. As they settle them down, rearrange their sleeping rolls and renew the fire, Xandarian takes a lantern outside to walk the perimeter of the shelter.
Rounding a corner of the place, he is confronted by an undead creature with glowing eyes and a symbol of Tymora around its neck. When the creature speaks to quiet him, Xandarian yells out to the group and the two engage in combat. Xandarian is struck twice, the second time more seriously and suffers the chill enervation of the undead’s powers. A few seconds later the group arrives to assist. Aniya raises her holy symbol and calls out, this time turning the wight to ash where he stands. With the help of Otherian they piece together that this is the wight of Verick Ember, priest of Tymora and traveling companion of Otherian until recently.
Marpenoth 30, 1355DR
The next morning, the group leaves the ruined town by the trail they arrive on, but then a foot trail leads away from the mail train that Otherian turns them down. This sheep herder’s path runs northeast towards the woods of Cormanthor. Otherian explains that he hasn’t been entirely honest about the location of the towers, fearing they would return to take the treasure themselves.
It is a half-day’s walk to the place where Otherian’s group followed an old elven or ranger trail into the deeper woods. The party makes camp there, reluctant to dive into the woods and have to camp there. They build a fire and set up camp. Late in the evening, by the light of the full moon, they see two figures outlined in hazy halos walking towards them from a distance. As they get closer, the priests assess that these are two people limned in spellcraft, likely Faerie Fire, in an effort to be seen.
Once the two figures arrive, they are revealed to be elves: T’Mayan, a female moon elf in a dark-colored cloak; and Sollas, a priest of Sehanine, the elven goddess of the moon. They talk with the group about the rising threat in the woods, asking questions of them about the number of restless dead nearby. After hearing their story, they begin to question Otherian more directly.
When Otherian reveals he cannot answer or explain why, the suggestion is made (somewhat offhandedly by Xandarian) that if Otherian were dead, they could simply ask his corpse for answers. The spark of the idea somehow takes hold and a few minutes later, Sollas makes clear that if Otherian were to sacrifice himself, Sollas could return him from the dead with whatever spells over him broken. Sollas whispers a few words to Otherian and a minute later Otherian bares his neck.
A few minutes later, beneath Sehanine’s full moon, Sollas brings Otherian’s soul back to his body and raises him from the dead. Otherian is then able to explain that his group was ambushed at Wolfjaw Towers by a powerful necromancer and his minions, taken to another location and threatened. With two of his comrades missing, the necromancer put a powerful geas on him to bring back other adventurers in order to free his love, Jerissa Starwood. For that reason, Otherian had gone to Harrowdale to the temple in hopes of finding people to basically exchange for her freedom. With their new insights, the group decides to continue to the temple and face off against the necromancer and his undead minions.
Uktar 1, 1355DR
The increasing company sets off for the woods, tying the horses to lines near a creek before starting deeper into the late autumn woods. When the group breaks for high sun meal, there is a quick call and response between a distant figure and Sollas, indicating another elf traveling and scouting the woods around them. During their trip Sollas has explained they are headed for a broken tower, one that was once an elven structure but was sundered over a thousand years ago by dragons.
In the late afternoon, the trail leads to a nearly dry creek bed that the party follows towards the Elvenflow River a few miles ahead. In the misty, damp distance they see the white, cracked walls of the ruined tower peeking above the undergrowth around it. Otherian leads them up from the creek bed to the dark entryway of the ruin and calls out to Jerissa.
Oldin follows him to the doorway in time to see three skeletons rousing, the first of which sets off a clatter of pots (or similar metal parts) from the back of the entry hallway. With (mostly ineffective) arrows and Oldin’s morning star, the group dispatches the three skeletons fairly quickly and prepare to make their way inside…