Adventure 10: Return to the Dales

October 10, 2009

PCs:        Lyssa, Shoshenq, Tisiphone, Remus, Lutea, Dynein, Cyllo
NPCs:     Aisan, Eriadne, Ty, Aeric Flint, Tizoc, Neelie

The group begins in Ehlonna’s realm. They are greeted by the Goddess, who returns Mandarb to Shoshenq and Sirius to Dynein. The party are restored to full health and vigor, and Ehlonna invites everyone to eat fruit from her orchard that improves one of their statistics or eliminates the effects of earlier deaths. Cyllo, Remus, and Lyssa choose a point of Wisdom, Dynein chooses a point of Dexterity, Lutea chooses a point of Constitution, Tisiphone takes a point of Intelligence, and Shoshenq chooses to erase the Constitution effects of being drained (by an Undead) and of an earlier death, regaining 2 points. Most of the party makes level, with Lutea, Lyssa, Shoshenq, and Remus making 9th level, Cyllo and Dynein making 8th, Tisiphone making 7th, and Neelie and Tizoc making 6th.

Ehlonna tells party that while they have been gone there has been continuing trouble in the Dales. The humans and elves are nearly ready to go to war against each other, and if the party does not stop them quickly there will be bloodshed. She also foretells that the party needs to stop Gant from attacking the elves if the Dales are to survive. After that, the key to saving the Dales will be found within the Iron Tower. Once that is done, the party must travel north to the realms of Dynein’s people in order to learn the secrets of the enemy and gain some of the tools to ultimately thwart them. Before they depart, Ehlonna presents gifts to the party and instructs Lutea and Lyssa on how to cast joint enchantments for the party.

After resting, the party steps through the second portal from Ehlonna’s realm and find themselves back in the Orc fortress from Adventure 5. Upon arriving, the party finds that the portal room is guarded by a group of elven. These guards immediately attempt to arrest Lyssa and Dynein on charges that they have murdered and elven woman and her children (the murder of rare elven children being a particularly heinous crime). There is a standoff between the party and the elves for some time, with the risk of a serious fight breaking out, but Remus and the rest of the party manage to defuse the situation long enough for an elven Cleric to be summoned to cast truth spells and determine that the party is not lying.

As the story of the last few weeks in the Dales is told, it becomes clear that there are duplicates of the party members at large in the land committing various crimes and causing trouble. Dynein recalls an episode when the party visited Gant’s stronghold in Peldan’s Helm and was summoned to the castle by Fazaran. Upon arriving, the party was led to a room where Fazaran showed them a large mirror that glowed with magic. Oddly, though the rest of the party was visible in the mirror, Fazaran had no reflection.
Talking to the elves, the party learns that their duplicate selves (minus Dynein and Lyssa) left the fortress about 48 hours before, on their way to “stop” Gant from attacking southern elves. The party suspects that their duplicate selves are actually planning to start a war between the elves and humans. They decide to attempt travel through shadow in order to get to Gant ahead of them. Knowing that travel deeper into shadow is more dangerous but faster, the party elects to go as far into shadow as their skills allow at this point.

Working with Lyssa, Lutea creates a mystic circle to control the enchantment, following the formulae from the book that Ehlonna gave her. Together they use the gate to open a doorway, and Lyssa walks the party into the shadow realms.
In the shadow realms, the party sees points of light trailing silver strands – these appear to be normal mortals in the act of dreaming, trailing the silver cord that connects them to their sleeping bodies. The land shifts and changes around the group, growing darker as they travel further from the world of reality. After a time, they find themselves walking through a dark forest, with some sort of small mushroom-like creatures pacing them among the trees on either side.

The party comes to a covered bridge across a seemingly bottomless chasm, with an old man guarding it. They halts a few yards away from the bridge and the old man strikes up a conversation, asking where they are going and why. The old man (a Bridge Haunt) is whittling a piece of wood, and as he speaks with each party member he carves their face into the stick. He says that the bridge is in need of repairs, and Cyllo notes that piece of wood he is carving will neatly fit into one of the gaps in the bridge. Cyllo mentally creates a coin, and puts the face of the old man on it, and they argue back and forth for a time until Cyllo uses a Command spell to cause the old man to drop his stick, and Sirius quickly retrieves it. The man fades out and the party continues across the bridge.

The party continues deeper into the shadow realm, and comes to the edge of a swamp with a wooden walkway leading out into it. They travel on the walkway for what seems like several hours, going deeper into the swamp, until they are attacked by a Night Hag and 2 Tendriculos (plant monsters). The Hag stands some distance away on a small island in the swamp and attacks with spells, while the Tendriculos attack from either side of the walkway. Remus is caught in a tentacle and nearly swallowed whole, but the party defeats the plant monsters and the Hag vanishes.

The game halts for the night at this point, still in the swamp and part way through shadow.


November 26, 2009

The evening begins with the party on the wooden walkway in the dream swamp. The party continues along the path as a fog rises around them and the visibility eventually drops to 5’. With no warning, the path begins to break into chunks and the party almost separated, but they rope the sections together. Shoshenq gets everyone to concentrate on pulling the walkway together (envisioning it in their minds). This tactic succeeds and the party continues to walk forward.

The party approaches an island with a dark pall over it, and as they are about half a mile away they see something coming towards them from the sky. The party hustles to reach the island and gets there at about the same time they are intercepted by a “pirate ship”.  Ship has nets that seem to catch the sparks of light that are dreamers. As the party tries to decide whether to proceed onto the island, the ship’s captain looks over side and warns the party that the island is the island of the “Lady of Nightmares”.
Invited onboard, the party meets the captain and discovers that the pirates are flesh and blood, not dreams. The pirates operate by “stealing sleep” – victims wake up a bit haggared, but not injured as long as it is only occasional. The sleep is refined into potions of restoration.

The party tells the pirates about the children suffering from the sleeping disease, and the captain shows them 3 additional children (real people, not dreams) suffering from the same condition. The children are from Yulash, a town beyond the northern forest. The children belong to a noble from Yulash, and the captain has a commission to try to rescue them. He discloses that all known victims are from areas near elven lands. The captain offers to tell party what he knows of the island and lady and give them 5 sips restoration potion if they can cure the 3 children in the same way that they cured the dream children. He will also take all the children to a safe place in the dream realms. The party accepts, and the captain’s advice is to be direct with the lady. She likes druids and “the children of nightmare”. She doesn’t like people who think they’re holy.

The party goes to the island and calls the Lady of Nightmares. She looks different to each person, but image is frightening except for Lyssa, who sees her as a young woman. She tells Lyssa that she is partly made of nightmare. She offers to send the party where they want to go if they can pass three tests. Party accepts, and faces:

  1. The riddle of the ashen man in the thorn cage (Cyllo solves this one – when given a bird nest the man turns to a Phoenix and flies away)
  2. The puzzle of the chess moves (the party must cross the board moving as a knight – the party solves this with a logical approach proposed by Shoshenq)
  3. Puzzle of the Mirror room.

The party succeeds, and passing through the mirror they are sent to a hillside overlooking Gant’s camp, on the southern edge of the Dales, facing the elven army in the forest. It appears that the two sides are preparing for battle.

The party splits up, with Shoshenq, Lutea, Remus, and Tsiphone going to see Gant. They are led to Karna, who is now a captain under Gant. Gant has gone to a parley at the road at the invitation of the mirror version of Lutea. The rest of the party go to see the elves, and meet Aeonin, who is second in command of the elven forces. His commander is Rivadan, who has also gone to the parley.

The party goes to the location of the negotiations, where a ring of thorns surrounds the building where the meeting is taking place. The guards have orders not to allow anyone to enter or exit the area, but after seeing the real Lutea, the guards agree to send in a druid acolyte to check if there is a duplicate Lutea inside. The acolyte (Stella Luna) reports that there is, and after some diplomacy by Shoshenq the guards allow the party to enter with additional guards. The party sends Stella to get the guards watching from outside the building to come closer. As they do, the elven guard sees Remus, panics, and starts running back towards the building and shouting. With the aid of a tripping spell from Tsiphone, Remus catches the guard and terrifies him into silence. The party storms the building and races into the upstairs meeting room, but is given away by the screaming of a serving woman. In the room the party finds the fake Lutea at one end of a long table, with four humans to her right and four elves to her left. Gant and Rivadan are closest to Lutea, and the false Remus is on Rivadan’s left.

The two Remuses face off and fight, and the fake Lutea stabs Gant with a poisoned blade. Gant and Rivadan also attack each other. There are several rounds of combat before attacks from Lutea and Tsiphone bring down the fake Lutea, and the false Remus takes down the real one (but doesn’t succeed in killing him). Gant collapses after being attacked by Rivadan, the false Remus is finally knocked unconscious, and Shoshenq arrives in time to leap onto the table and convince Rivandan to stand down. The fighting stops, but before the party can seize them, one of the elven captains (another mirror creature) throws himself through a window and allows the fake Lutea to turn to an eagle and fly away.

Dynein captures the mirror captain, and the party ties up the fake Remus. The party attempts a 5th level truth spell on the mirror captain, but he saves and refuses to answer. After noting that the mirror creatures do not radiate either evil or magic, the party then decides to use one drop of their truth potion on him. The first question is:

Q1: What are you?
A1: We are the children of the mirror. We are the perfect reflection of what the mirror shows.

We halt for the evening at this point.


March 20, 2010

Resuming where we left off, the party continues with their questioning of the mirror captain of the guard:

Q2: what are the other mirror creatures you know of?
A2: There is a false Shoshenq, Tsiphone,. Ty, a fake mayor of Ashabenford, a fake Aisan, a fake Eriadne, and the master of the guard at Castle Gant

Q3: What is easiest way to tell a mirror creature?
A3: They will not show up in the mirror

The party chooses to use a second drop of truth potion on the fake Remus, and asks these questions:

Q1: What are all the ways to tell a mirror creature?
A1: They will not appear in the mirror; they are physically backwards; they can be seen using a True seeing or similar magic

Q2: List the members of your chain of command.
A2: Like all mirror creatures here, I report to the mirror Fazaran, and I don’t know who he reports to.

Q3: What are the ultimate objective of the children of the mirror with regard to the Dales?
A3: Conquer the Dales, obtain the green armor for our armies & conquer surrounding area, awaken our dark lord, and open the gates to plane of chaos.

The party discusses the situation with the leaders of the two armies, and it is decided that they need to regain control of Peldan’s Helm. Elven scouts have reported a sizable Orc army approaching from the southwest (towards Tilverton), and the generals doubt that the Dales can be defended if Peldan’s Helm is not held. However, ancient law forbids entry of a elven army into the Dales.

The party and Gant’s army heads west along the forest edge at south border of Dales, with the elves paralleling within the forest. Meanwhile, Lutea and Lyssa travel to the sanctuary of the Druids to ask permission to allow the elves into the Dales. After much debate and convincing, the Druids allow a suspension of the rules until the next dark of the moon, 3 nights hence. Lyssa and Lutea return to the party and the elves and humans together head towards Peldan’s Helm. The combined army consists of 1200 humans and 800 elven archers.

Arriving at Peldan’s Helm, the army discovers the town gates closed tight and the city ready for a fight. Fazaran has convinced the leaders of the guard that the elves and the party have bewitched Gant and are here to kill the humans. Leading elements of the Orc army arrive at this point, trapping the humans and elves between the Orc forces and the town walls.

The Orcs immediately attack and there is a major battle, with the humans & elves decimating the Orcs easily. Shoshenq uses his leadership abilities to give the army bonuses, Lutea, Cyllo, and others contribute various bless spells, Lyssa uses her battle howl, and Remus and Dynein provide tactical guidance. The initial orc army is broken, but scouting wolf packs sent by Lyssa indicate that a second, much larger army is on the way. The party and elf/human army are camped outside the gates of Peldan’s Helm, caught between hammer and anvil, as a massive orc army bears down upon them.


June 26, 2010

Trapped outside the gates of Peldan’s Helm, with a massive Orc army approaching, the party faces a conundrum. Even if they could batter their way through the towns defenses and get in, they would need those same defenses intact to resist the Orc army. After much discussion, the party decides to mount a commando-style attack on the main gatehouse in an attempt to seize control of the gates and let the human/elven army in before the main Orc army arrives.

Lutea and Stella fly in as bats at 8:00PM to determine the size and composition of the forces defending the gate. Based on this, the party prepares to quietly clib the outer walls of the gatehouse under cover of darkness. A diversionary group is sent to attack the town at points to north and south (1 division each of elves and humans).

As the climb begins, Tsiphone casts spider climb on Lyssa and herself, followed by invisibility on Lyssa and herself. The next round, Tsiphone casts Obsuring Mist, and Remus and 2 rangers start climbing the wall. Cyllo begins casting Air Walk (the 4th lvl spell) on Shoshenq, Dynein, and Tizoc. He then casts Spider Climb on Lyssa.

As round 2 begins, Remus casts “Easy Climb” on the wall, and Lyssa and Tsiphone climb to the first arrow slit. In round 3, Cyllo casts Airwalk on  Tizoc and 2 fighters on a horse, while Lyssa and Tsiphone reach the arrow slit and start blowing Lyssa’s Horn of the Moors into the gatehouse. Tsiphone casts Obscuring Mist again to cover a larger area.

In round 4 Cyllo casts Imbue Spell Ability, giving Divine Insight to Shoshenq. The rest of the party continues to climb. Shoshenq (on horseback) fires arrows, and motivates the fighters with talk of “tigers on horses”.

After several rounds of climbing, the party arrives at the top of the tower (level 4), and Shoshenq uses diplomacy to convince one human fighter to surrender, while Dynein attacks another, and Tizoc moves to cover the main door into the tower. Cyllo casts Moonstruck on one enemy, Lutea changes back to human form, and Neelie, Remus and the rest of the party all finish the climb. Two human guards surrender, and the party gains entry into the tower.

The party descends the stairs to level 3 and breaks into the upper winch room (room #28). The room is guarded by a combination of humans and Drow, and there is a brief but bloody fight as the party takes the room. The party then breaks into the east guard room (room 23) where they face several more Drow and a Drider who casts fireballs at the party. The party defeats them, then bars the door to area 30 to prevent any additional reinforcements from coming in that way.


November 13, 2010

The party heals up, tapping out Cyllo, then has him drink one sip of the Restoration potion from the dream pirates. The party then breaks into area 24 and faces 4 more Drow archers, one of whom has Fireball arrows (regular longbow damage plus 6d6 in 10’ radius, Reflex save 15 for half).

The party kills 3 and captures one, gaining 6 unused fireball arrows in the process. The rooms beyond room 24 turn out to be housing for the Drow. The door to area 31 is barred. During the battle Shoshenq returns to level 4 (the roof) to summon the rest of the NPCs, and has some of them open the Portculus from room 28. The captured Drow agrees to tell what he knows of the gatehouse in return for his freedom. Shoshenq and Remus agree. The Drow tells the party about the Earth elemental and Air creature in room 18, and about the Cave trolls and Drider in room 14 (armory and storage). He also mentions that his people were promised that Fazaran could help them regain access to the lost city of Myth Drannor, but he has no details. Shoshenq wants to hold him longer, but Remaus maintains that they have an agreement and the Drow is released (after an argument). The party gets 3 sips of Cure Light potion and one of Invisibility.

The party goes down the stairs to level 2 and opens the door to area 14. They are immediately faced with one Cave troll in the doorway, and another with 3 Drow archers further into the room. The creatures are not surprised, having heard the noise and Shoshenq’s armor on the stairs. The Drider is nowhere to be seen, as he is invisible hanging from the ceiling. The party archers (Neelee, Remus, Tsiphone) fire pairs of fireball arrows into the room (using all of them in one round), while Shoshenq faces the Troll. The Drow return fire, with 3 fireball arrows hitting the center of the party. A short and intense battle occurs, and the party kills all the visible monsters. The Drow drops a web spell on the doorway (catching Lyssa, Stella, and Cyllo) and attempts to blow past Remus, who is blocking the door, but he becomes visible and is killed.


January 22, 2011

Having cleared the east end of level 2, the party hears noises coming from level 3, and returns to room 23. Opening the door to room 22, they discover 2 prisoners who were being held there for questioning – Guinness, a 6th level halfling rogue, and Daemonion, a 6th level half-elf sorceress. Both choose to aid the party in getting the gates open.

As the party is being introduced to the new members, they hear a pounding on the door to area 30 (the curtain wall around the city). This turns out to be some of the guards on the wall (a sergeant and 4 spearmen) who have come to investigate unusual noises coming from the tower. They are let into the tower, quickly subdued by the party, and convinced by Shoshenq that the party members are the good guys. They inform the party that one of the leaders of the town guard (“one of the commanders who have been acting strangely”) will be arriving in about 10 minutes (at 3AM) to take over command of the gate tower. The party lets the guards they have been talking with go, asking them to remain silent about what they have learned.

The party sets up an ambush for the guard captain, with Dynein outside the door using his magic belt to remain invisible, and Guinness watching from the arrow slot in room 27. Guinness sites the captain arriving with 6 guards in full plate armor, and notices that the captain’s armor has an odd green tinge. Daemonion casts a darkness on the room, and the rest of the party hides in an attempt to lure the guards in, but only two actually enter the room before the party is noticed. The guards in the room end up fighting Shoshenq and other party members who had been hiding in room 24, while the rest of the party tries to stop the guards outside and the captain from escaping. The captain escapes by leaping over the inner wall and dropping to the courtyard (using a featherfall), but the rest of the guards are captured, stripped of their armor and weapons, and locked into area 22. However, the city is now fully aware that the gate tower has been invaded.

The party descends to level 2 and reached the door to the room where the mechanism for opening the drawbridge is located (room 18). Upon opening the door, they are immediately faced with a huge earth elemental, who strikes Lissa with his smashing blows and nearly sends her flying backwards into the rest of the party. While Lyssa, Shoshenq, and the rest of the party keep the earth elemental busy, Tisiphone casts dimension hop on Remus to send him into the room where he can release the drawbridge and let it down so the human & elf army can enter Peldan’s Helm. The first attempt to teleport Remus fails, apparently because he is carrying the adamantine dagger that he got from his ancestors. Remus hands it to Lutea, and a second attempt succeeds. Remus is hit by the earth elemental, and is attacked by an invisible air elemental in the room, but manages to release the first of two capstans to the drawbridge before falling unconscious. Lutea transforms into a bird and is turned invisible by Daemonion, then flies into the room to release the other capstan. She turns into a bear to increase her strength, then releases the drawbridge. Remus is healed at a distance by Cyllo, and regains his feet as the drawbridge crashes down and the efl & human army rides into Peldan’s Helm just ahead of the approaching Orc army.

The party retreats out of the room to avoid being further attacked by the elementals, and we stop for the night with the group in area 17.