After updating each half the group on the others adventures in the last few days Sor enters the room and tells them they are ready for the assault on the Spider Temple which is the gate to enter Tolgorith Tower which is the seat of power for Matron Maelora of House Gullion and the source of all recent chaos both overland and here in the Underdark.
They made their way quickly to the front entrance of the temple and noticed that the city seemed almost empty compared to three days ago, very strange to see only one Slave Master walking over 20 slave when usually there would be two to three other drow there either as part of their job or just to aid in the harassment of the slaves.
A great flight of stone stairs formed seemingly from the very ground they stand upon and smooth as if no tool had ever touched them, extends up into the great stalagmite that houses Tolgorith Tower. Crouched over the stairs like a nightmare summoned from the darkest abyss stands a petrified gargantuan arachnid, as if waiting for prey.
As the party approached the front doors, the druid and cleric noticed scorch marks on the stairs and warned everyone to avoid the triggers that would have had lightning raining down on them from the tips of the giant spider buildings huge fangs. One inside the same spider motif was everywhere but the place seem deserted. After a quick fight with another one of House Gullion’s children, a drider and an Oni.
The party slow approaches the back of the temple which has the only way to traverse a small lake that surrounds the tower. After a bit of healing in the doorway they proceed out on the rampart and see large dark shadows moving through the deathly still waters 30 feet below.
For this week half the party could not make it so I ran with three people then emailed the other three a summary of what happened to them. The story below is the other half of the story.
As you all cross the bridge over the chasm a gigantic creature rushes out of the mushroom forest right at the entire party. It is screaming and you notice over 20 small crossbow bolts sticking in it, as it crashes to the ground, dead.
Running out of the ‘trees’ right behind it is a dozen drow. Ten of them look to be standard guards but their leader is obviously important as you can tell by his fancy armour and clothing. He greets you as his men spread out all pointing handheld crossbows, keeping your party covered. He tells you he is Sor of house Sephiroth, the second house of Holoth. He mistakenly thinks you are mercenaries on your way to joining the first house, Gullion. He offers you to die or assist his house in overthrowing house Gullion as they are causing too much chaos, weakening the Holoth military forces and expanding too quickly. You all agree. They escort you to a small outpost and separate you into two teams of three, as small groups can move more unnoticed. He offers three of you to go into the guard house and wait.
You three remaining are asked to join Sor in his travelling caravan as he is heading into Holoth and can ‘smuggle’ you in as hired mercenaries. As you arrive at one of the city gates you get a very different feeling than when you were entering Embla. The great cavern is not as brightly lit here as Embla and the feeling is not so much of a bustling community but city during times of war. Most every creature is wearing armour, weapons and moving briskly with there heads down as if not wanting to be noticed. Surprisingly Drow, Dwarves, Surface Elves and many other races can be seen in the quick glance around you get while being whisked to house Sephiroth.
As you exit the coach you get a good look at the house and grounds, while others live in squaller being one of the most powerful houses give them space, light and luxury most will never know. Sor lavishes you with drink and food, sets you up in three of the most expensive rooms you have ever been in, the beds alone worth more than many entire inns you have stayed at during your travels.
The next morning you are called down to discuss the upcoming missions he has for you and explains you will be covert assassins, taking out House Gullion heirs to help cripple their power base so House Sephiroth can lead an uprising to destroy the first house. The ‘ace in the hole’ Sor has managed to procure is none other than Gal, the youngest son of House Gullion who has been studying his elder siblings to learn their habits and can provide limited support by manipulating the House Sephiroth staff schedule to minimize guards.
The first target is the eldest adopted daughter Maroena who was the second eldest of another house but as part of her pact to cripple her own house for Mother Maelora of House Gullion, she gained next in line for House Gullion. This is part of the same deal Gor now has with house Sor. Maroena is a bit of a party animal and this night she is having a soiree in Holoth’s Forest of the Gaoled uses a unique system for restraining high profile and politically valuable prisoners. Rather than just high walls and cells, many of the city’s most troublesome captives are held in the open, encased from the neck down in stalagmites that imprison them in cocoons of moss and fungi-covered stone that magically maintain them without the need for food or water. The columns transfer minerals and vitamins from the flora and rock by slowly and painfully leeching the life force from the victim, the exchange process keeping them physically alive but mentally and spiritually weak. What better place to celebrate her latest new found lover.
The three adventures head out to make sure they arrive fashionably late hoping the crowd will hide any misgivings given by their presence. Once there it was easy to blend into the crowd of Drow and others at the party. Siegfried being the bard and all around charmer approaches the hostess to try to get close. As soon as he speaks Maroena screams for someone to “Remove this retched male that dares to speak directly to her and separate him from his tongue while they are at it!” then laughs drunkenly. Siegfried makes a hasty retreat and is spared as the entertainment at the party distract everyone and he is soon forgotten.
Siegfried returns to his teammates a little disappointed but his tongue intact. It will be up to Althaea to make contact and arraign for Maroena’s accident. Right from the first eye contact, Althaea could tell she had Maroena’s attention, and that the idea of a female surface elf intrigued her. They talked, drank and danced for hours. Seigfried and Zannan got bored floating around the edge of the party and noticed a man in rather oddly clothes dealing drugs to some of the party goers. They decided to investigate and maybe make a few purchases.
In the meantime, the little diversion that is this soiree has started to wrap up. Singles, couples and multiple numbers all start leaving together. Maroena invites Althaea back to her newest after hours and residents in the Tower of Slave Mistress. A title she bears with much vigour, as the two of them along with Maroena’s entire entourage stumble to the tower, Althaea learns much from the babbling group.
Maroena is just biding time to make a move of taking over the house Gullon.
The matriarch Maelora has made a pact with something, she has been feeding souls in order to gain power.
The entity is from another world and does not want anyone knowing it is on this plane
Maroena has allies in a few minor houses that will assist her when the time is right for various costs (Of course).
When they arrive at this house of pain, Althaea is shocked to see the level of depravity that Drow are willing to go to for information from enemies and to punish the unfaithful. The lower four floors are small cells each containing one prisoner. It is explained that first, they use slave Illithids to find the prisoners’ greatest fear then, recreate it either in the cell or in the poor creature’s mind. Living unescapable torture until the sentence is up or they die. They climbed the central stairs to the fifth floor and the level of extravagance was unbelievable. In a large room gold and gem gilded, everyone flops down on pillows and cushions, nibbling on exotic fruits and drinking to their hearts desires.
Soon after arriving Althaea notices a strange female Half-elf approach both her and Maroena inviting them to Maroena’s, just the three of them. As they leave the main chamber and close the soundproof door Siegfried springs his trap, reviling himself as the female half-elf and Althaea cast silence in the area to prevent most spell casting. Maroena’s head in a moment of clarity actives her ring and a portal opens to Matriarch Maelora.
The Matriarch leaps to her feet and even though the portal 60 feet away the adventures can feel the building of heat from the largest fireball they have ever seen in their lives. Althaea turns to see Maroena dead on the floor and Zannan picking up the body while diving for the stairs down out of this place. Siegfried grabs Althaea’s arm and portals them outside the building, just in time to simultaneously watch the top floor of the building detonate in a monstrous explosion and Zannan run/fly out the front door with flames chasing behind him.
WIth the job done they return to their patron Sor of house Sephiroth to rest up for the next mission as there are still a couple more scions of Gullion to take care of before the final confrontation with Matriarch Maelora Gullion.
For this week half the party could not make it so I ran with three people then emailed the other three a summary of what happened to them. The story below is one half of the story the other side will be told soon.
As you all cross the bridge over the chasm a gigantic creature rushes out of the mushroom forest right at the entire party. It is screaming and you notice over 20 small crossbow bolts sticking in it, as it crashes to the ground, dead.
Running out of the ‘trees’ right behind it is a dozen drow. Ten of them look to be standard guards but their leader is obviously important as you can tell by his fancy armour and clothing. He greets you as his men spread out all pointing handheld crossbows, keeping your party covered. He tells you he is Sor of house Sephiroth, the second house of Holoth. He mistakenly thinks you are mercenaries on your way to joining the first house, Gullion. He offers you to die or assist his house in overthrowing house Gullion as they are causing too much chaos, weakening the Holoth military forces and expanding too quickly. You all agree. They escort you to a small outpost and separate you into two teams of three, as small groups can move more unnoticed.
He comes into the room with the three of you and tells you your target will be Gyloof Eldest Son of House Gullion, Slaver Overseer. He then moves aside the door and 6 guards shoot you with darts and things go black.
The three of you wake up on a pile of dung, soil and mushroom parts. A large bugbear cracks a whip over your heads and orders you to get to work. You are dressed in nothing but a coarsely woven shirt that hangs to your knees. You see other, mostly dwarves in the same state. They are all in the process of moving similar piles of waste to a central furnace. The whip cracks again and you jump to get to work as there is no sun they ‘workday’ is as long as they can keep people working. After what seems like the longest ‘day’ of your life you collapse into the longhouse that is now home, the life of a slave is not to your liking at all. When one of the ‘masters’ come through the house waking everyone and kicking those that do not rise fast enough you see Gyloof himself standing at the doorway with a white hanky over his nose. He orders that the new members be given half rations until they produce as much as the regulars.
Two days go by and you toil at the given tasks, fortunately, you are kept together. Later that working shift you see some new slaves added to the pit you work in and one of them makes an attempt to climb the wall and escape. As he reaches the top of the wall lightning suddenly arcs from the metal fence at the top of the wall and he is cooked, well done, immediately. The Task Master on duty then turns to the other two slaves that were working with the attempted escapist and flick his whip in their direction which produces a fireball reducing both to ash instantly. He made sure everyone knows if you try to run others will also pay with their lives.
At the end of this shift, you are exhausted and want nothing more than to sleep as you all drop to the floor of your longhouse a large figure blocks the light from the doorway. He is a very old and scarred Bugbear, he limps over to the three of you and drops a large sack.
Looking very afraid he whispers to you, ‘When the fireworks start you better be over the wall directly behind here in less than 5 minutes or ZAP! The coach you will see is Gyloof’s.” Then he limps out of the house.
The three of you look at each other, muscles sore from the work you can barely move but reach the sack and find all your equipment, weapons and armour. Valuables included, surprisingly. You start to ready your gear. Before you can act two ‘team members’ grab each of one of there comrades legs, pulling him back from the doorway and cover his mouth, then sit on him until he stops struggling. One of them gives you a half thumb up as you notice all his digits have been shortened by half, either by cutting or worn down from digging with nothing but his former fingers, you do not know.
Suddenly, there is a chain of concussive booms and the dim light from outside is as bright as the noonday sun. You jump to your feet, the rush of adrenaline making you forget the long hours of work and malnourishment for the last few days. The back of the longhouse collapses to the ground revealing a portion for the wall that has devolved into a mud puddle. This is your break, you run out of the house and through the opening in the wall finding yourselves on a road with walls on both sides. The wall behind you starts to return to its former shape and looking back you can see a giant red lava creature attacking the slave compound.
As you divert your eyes from the destruction and carnage you notice a small carriage being pulled by two large spiders. Remembering the Bugbear words you assault with everything you got. Frost’s arrows flying take out the driver and one of the spiders within six seconds, while Ponto shapes into Black Bear and with the aid of Rhegnhor’s rage, they both tear the coach apart to find a stunned Gyloof laying on the ground. All three react before Gyloof can move, two arrows sprout from his chest as the bear and Barbarian tear into him causing his spell to misfire and fizzle on his fingertips. He did not have time to scream before he was dead. With the target dead and the slave camps in chaos, the adventures run off into the tunnels they were told would lead them to Holoth and a to rejoin the other half of the Platinum Ring.
You wander through the passages for about an hour following the directions given to Frost when you run into the house Sephiroth escort party that takes you a secret way under the walls and into the city proper. You are lead into a basement and given three rooms with lavish decor, provided food and drink of any kind and amount. Told to rest and recuperate as the rest of your band will be here soon. You finally fall asleep, for how long you do not know. When you wakened and asked to follow the guards upstairs you feel as good as new.
This is the side adventure I emailed the three members that could not attend the last session. This adventure lasted 4 days of game time. Hope you enjoyed reading.
Some of the pages of the found journal are missing luckily the story continues after an obvious short gap. The Platinum Ring are attempting to sneak their way into Holoth the drow city to assassinate the evil Matron Maelora of house Gullion. This, they hope will create a power vacuum and cause the Drow houses to turn inward attacking each other. Thus delaying or preventing altogether this current wave of expansionism stopping the surface raids for slaves as well as keeping the Dwarf city of Embla from falling into the Drows merciless hands.
The party proceed via a ‘back road’, a seldom-used area of hunting tunnels that should get them to the Drow city of Holoth’s environs. The rough map was given to them by an old Dwarf Battle Master named Miah, he helped the party with information and some guidance before he had to go help with the defence of Embla. The way was very quiet and they avoided Drow patrols. One encounter of note was with a vicious Pretrous.
Which, the party made quick work of despite the beasts perfect camouflage and surprise attack. Shortly after this encounter and some rest, the party entered a giant cavern filled with all manner of mushrooms and fungi. A forest greeted them, it is as great as any on the surface. As they made their way under and around the mushrooms which ranged in size from 50′ tall to as small as a pea, they encounter many creatures new to them but completely natural to underground biome such as this one. The heat and humidity would rival that of the deepest jungles in Chult.
As the sweat soaked through their armour and robes they failed to notice creatures stalking them from above swinging from mushroom to mushroom as easily as Gorillas do it the surface jungles. The party was ambushed by Chokers. Four of these predators made their move and only managed to grab one of the party as the rest avoided the deadly embrace that the creatures are named after. The party worked in a well-coordinated battle to remove the threat and walked away with only minor kneck bruising to one person.
At this, the party moved to a clearing and saw a humungous fissure in the ground that divided the entire cavern as far as the eye could see. More than a mile down they could see the orange/red colours of molten magma, the steaming air upsurging out of the rift was hot enough to heat the whole cavern making this entire locality possible. The party rested here before crossing the long ancient rope bridge to the other side of the gap.
We catch up with our group in the Underdark Dwarf city of Embla. The city is slowly being strangled to death by the near by Drow city Holoth. Hundreds of years of peaceful tolerance by both races had changed as the Drow had recently become very aggressive. They have expanded their claim of 10 miles around their city to more than 20 miles. This impinged on the Dwarves lives as some of the newly conflicted tunnels and caverns were rich hunting grounds used by the Dwarves for generations. Within a week of the territory grab, the Drow began attacking and claiming the many trade caravans to and from Embla for their own.
Three weeks earlier The Platinum Ring (TPR) had been involved with recovering some kidnapped townsfolk from a small mining/lumber town Rybalka. When TPR arrived in town they were invited to attend a winter solstice ceremony. The ceremony was never completed as as group of creatures including Drow attacked the church and stole the Moon Shard. Which was to have welcomed the sun with its loss this caused a 72 hours black out. No Moon, Sun or even Stars to light the sky.
The party fought in the church to the basement just in the to see Drow dressed as zombies to hide their identities climb into a hole in the floor, collapsing the tunnel behind them to prevent pursuit.
Arriving outside to absolute darkness the Mayor and head priest asked the party to follow the kidnapped villagers and Drow for rescue and to find out what was going on. The Drow had not been seen on the surface by anyone who currently lived in Rybalka. This was strange indeed.
As Nameless turned around with yellow glowing eyes his form shifts, become a little taller and long flowing white hair. Definitely not the parties companion Warforge Nameless.
“Fools!” The strange being screamed. “Lucan has existed longer than most Elves live and take what I want when I want it. The three of you will now parish or become my servants for all eternity!”
With that, this being focused his attention on Tluth and attempted to adjust Tluth’s loyalties. The being did not realize that years of abuse at the hands of his Drow societies sadistic females along with his own personal story of family lost and betrayal had hardened Tluth’s will into an almost unbreakable drive for Vengeance and nothing could sway his honour to renege on a deal or turn on allies that are aiding in furthering his goals.
At that Bane and Anders spring into action. Bane pivoting out of Lucan’s line of site and launching a vicious attack with his Short Sword and Dagger both coated in think black Drow made poisons. He struck two times, the Short Sword plunging into Lucan’s back the tip appearing with a splash of red on the front of Lucan’s chest. The Dagger slicing so deep into Lucan’s forearm Bane felt the jolt of the blade hitting bone. With this attack, Bane spun out of melee range to prepare for his next attack and give other room to maneuver. Before Lucan had a chance to recover Anders summons power from his mysterious source, blasting his foe with twin beams of mystical force, as he focuses he pushes some additional strength and causes Lucan to slam into the wall behind him. Tluth seeing his opening closes in and making two quick swings with his Long Sword while call forth his deity to smite his foes, opens up two gaping wounds neck to navel completely removing the front of Lucan’s decorative armoured chest plate.
As Lucan bent forward pulling his arms around himself as if to keep the contents of his chest from falling to the floor, his body started to become translucent and he faded into a cloud of vapor slipping through a small crack in the wall behind him into the night. That is when Tluth yelled “Vampire!!” as he recognised all the abilities the creature had used during the long pursuit.
The good news was Lucan had dropped the stolen sword and the party could now return to Nadir with the sword to claim the reward and clear their teammate’s name. The only question remained was where was the real Nameless.
I hope you all had a great holiday season, rested up, partied and/or spent some time with those you care about. With the New Year starting I wanted to thank everyone who reads this and that has helped me towards my goal to build my D&D hobby into something that could one day support me fulltime.
I have started a couple of campaigns with some great players and they are progressing to levels that they are now ready to have their tales told. To that end, I will be introducing three new stories to my site. The new groups are The Platinum Ring, The Slayers and the as yet unnamed third group. Each started around the third level, have proceeded to somewhere around 5th or 6th now. Which is time for their various tales to be told. Over the next couple of weeks, I will provide some backstory for each group and do my best to spin their adventures into tales worthy of reading and sharing.
Thank you again for your patronage and please remember a like is great but a share to your friends/groups helps to spread the word.
If you have an feedback or suggestions please email firstname.lastname@example.org
“You are not entering this world in the usual manner, for you are setting forth to be a Dungeon Master. Certainly, there are stout fighters, mighty magic-users, wily thieves, and courageous clerics who will make their mark in the magical lands of D&D adventure. You, however, are above even the greatest of these, for as DM you are to become the Shaper of the Cosmos. It is you who will give form and content to the all the universe. You will breathe life into the stillness, giving meaning and purpose to all the actions which are to follow.” ― Gary Gygax
As the party realized the train was being held up they prepared for a fight then decided they did not give a damn about the train or anyone on it except for their companion Nameless. Tulth approached the Warforge that appeared to be the leader of the armed bandits with an attempt to parlay.
After a few well placed and precise words with the leader it was decided to let party find their quarry and leave peacefully rather than get into a fight Tulth convinced her that party would win or at least delay the bandits long enough for additional help to arrive.
Completing a quick survey of the passenger cars, the party turned up empty-handed. That is when Bane noticed one of the bandits on the ground and someone riding off on his Mage horse, by the size and shape it had to be Nameless.
The party rushed off in pursuit on foot, heading into a swamp to the south of the train’s track. Eventually, they could see the top of a Ziggurat in the distance and the trail of the horse was leading straight for it. The party picked up their pace and finding the water was only waist deep at the most in some areas, they moved in as they finally had their target cornered.
They entered from the level even with the waterline and were immediately attacked by an Executioner’s hood which fell from the ceiling and on to Ander’s head doing some damage and starting to smother him. Bane jumped to the rescue and with much finesse and gusto sliced into the attacking creature removing it from Ander’s head and killing it quickly before it could move away to hide in the shadows. They started down and into the massive structure.
All was quiet in the ancient ruins, the only sound, the dripping of the surrounding swamp slowly oozing its way between the seams in old stone walls. Looking at the carvings in the walls, ceiling and floors one could tell this place was once beautiful, opulent and full of life.
As the party moved deeper in the Ziggurat the scenes in the tiles, carvings and frescos showed a small village growing crops, sending out hunting parties and thriving, then the arrival of a ‘man’, he is shown with glowing yellow eyes and the people in the images prostrate before him in poses of worship. The sequence then shows the people of the village building this very temple, as it grows the number of people working on it lessen, one can see that the village around is falling into disrepair and the swamp begins to envelop the village, flowing and drowning all other buildings in the sequential carvings until all that is left above the water is the top of the Ziggurat.
As the party makes its way down and enters the final room in the base of the temple, they see Nameless placing the stolen sword into and sliding the heavy lid to close a large stone sarcophagus that dominates the room. As Namless turns to face them his eyes glow yellow.
The party hustles their buns to get to the station and find that they only have a few minutes before the Lightning Rail Train is scheduled to depart. They approach the ticket booth and quickly remember the riff given to them by the Nadir city council, using it to pay the huge sums required to ride. Not even sure where they are going they rush out to the platform to see the train starting to slowly move as it picks up speed heading out of the station.
The train picked up speed as the party starts to look around the rear car. They mark their way forward through the passenger cars to the dining car the other passengers looked rather shocked and mildly annoyed at the interruption of their various meals but the dirty, sweaty and painfully informally dressed group.
Just as a group of four Dragonborn rise from their seat at the same time looking to address our party of interlopers they whole train shudders and throws the entire contents of the room toward the front of the car. Anything not attached to the car itself flies ten feet forward. The party manages to make all their DEX saves and stay on their feet with only minor damage from some broken glass.
Looking out the windows to try and find out what is going on and spot around nine or ten Wareforged riding horses, along with a handful of Halflings flying around on large birds, all shooting various weapons at the train in an effort to slow the train enough to gain a way onboard. Looks like they are smack in the middle of a train robbery.
Next Part 11 – “Missed him by that much” – Maxwell Smart
The two ships were locked together in the air, shaking and spiralling down at an alarming rate of speed.
One of the things you should know about the magically powered flight is when two ships collide it is very similar to two water sailing ships. Many things could cause your death, fire, the enemy, falling ship rigging, however, instead of a chance of drowning should you be knocked overboard, you instead get an opportunity to plummet to your death. Remember it is not the fall but the amount of fall with an abrupt landing that kills you.
The party engaged in battle on the deck found that the ship made for very difficult terrain as it rocked back and fouth while tilting up and down like a carnival ride has gone mad. Circling around the two ship battle were three small Skiffs, they each held four attackers and one person controlling the Skiff from the rear seat via a rudder. As the Skiffs closed range the soldiers aboard would fire flaming arrows at the rigging, onto the deck or into the crew. WIth the level of flame and smoke increasing, Through all the havoc Tluth managed to see a figure the size and shape of Nameless leap on to one of the Skiffs, tossing the soldiers overboard and turned to begin racing away from the battle. Tluth yelled at his party for someone to stop the escaping quarry. Bane realizing how easy it was to commandeer a Skiff took it upon himself to leap to one of them as they passed him, knocking the soldiers off in the process and with a little fancy sword working sent the body of the pilot right behind them. The ground was quickly approaching the two intertwined large vessels and a wreak was inevitable. The rest of the party took this opportunity to join Bane on his newly acquired transport. They were in pursuit of their target once more when a wildly fired harpoon from one of the main ships hit the rudder of the parties Skiff and they began losing altitude and speed. The two large vessels hit the ground with a sound that could wake sleeping gods as they both exploded into balls of flames.
The party clear of the blast zone turned to pursue their target and could see Nameless’s Skiff flying at full speed pulling ahead towards a Lightning Rail Station. The parties Skiff gave up the goat about 10-12 miles from the station and the party start walking.
With the sun rising they could see the parched lifeless plain they were in the middle of the only thing visible for miles was the train station out here in the middle of nowhere. The party could now see the arrival of one of the famous Lightning Rail Trains and they picked up the pace as they were sure Namless would board the train to get away.
Next Part 10 – “Get on board they’re outward bound again” – Jonny cash