Orc Madness

“Not all orcs are born. Some spring from the bones of ravaged mountains and the wreckage of shattered forests like an infection spread by destruction.” – 13th Age

The “Building Battles” section in the 13th Age book states that a fair fight boils down to one normal enemy creature per PC, with each creature being of the party’s level.  The book does a wonderful job of breaking down monster values of mooks, large (double-strength) monsters and huge (triple-strength) monsters.  For the most part the organized play structure in Wrath of the Orc Lord follows the Monster Equivalent table to keep fights fair during game play.  But who wants to be fair when you are facing an army of orcs?

Most Orcs presented in Wrath of the Orc Lord are written as level 2 enemy creatures.  If your party is up for a challenge, keep the number of orcs outlined in a fight the same and try throwing some of these their way instead…

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Orc Berserker (Two Handers)
4th Level Troop [Humanoid]
Initiative: +6

AC 20
PD 18 HP 54
MD 14

Greataxe: +9 vs AC – 16 damage

Dangerous: The crit range of attacks made by orcs expands by 3 unless they are staggered.

Unstoppable:  When an orc berserk drops to 0 hp, it does not immediately die. Ignore any damage in excess of 0 hp, roll 4d6, and give the berserker that many temporary hit points.  No other healing can affect the berserker or give it more temporary hit points: when the temporary hp are gone, the berserker dies.

OrcAxes

Orc Warrior (Sword and Shield)
4th Level Troop [Humanoid]
Initiative: +4

AC 22
PD 18 HP 60
MD 14

Jagged Sword: +9 vs AC – 10 damage, and on a natural even hit make a shield bash attack.
Shield Bash: +10 vs PD – 4 damage and the target is dazed until the end of their next turn.

Dangerous: The crit range of attacks made by orcs expands by 3 unless they are staggered.

[Side Note - We gave the warrior a shield bash ability to make him a little more interesting.]

OrcAxes

Orc Shaman
4th Level Leader [Humanoid]
Initiative: +4

AC 20
PD 18 HP 54
MD 16

Crackling Sword: +9 vs AC – 10 damage, on a natural even hit the target takes 5 ongoing lightning damage.

R: Battle Curse: +9 vs MD  (1d3 nearby enemies) – 8 psychic damage and for the rest of the battle, melee attacks made by orcs deal +2d4 damage against the target (non-cumaltive)

Dangerous: The crit range of attacks made by orcs expands by 3 unless they are staggered.

[Side Note - The 2nd level shaman featured in the 13th Age book calls for a spear melee attack, but we changed it to a crackling sword to make the shamans more elemental in nature.]

OrcAxes

Orc Rager (Dual Wield)
4th Level Troop [Humanoid]
Initiative: +10

AC 20
PD 16 HP 50
MD 14

Dual Sword Strike: +9 vs AC – 12 damage. On an even miss, half damage.

Raging Strike: When an orc rager drops to 0 hp, it can make a final attack as a free action.

Dangerous: The crit range of attacks made by orcs expands by 3 unless they are staggered.

[Side note - These are presented as 7th level mooks in the book.  Here they are adjusted to be 4th level normal creatures.]

OrcAxes

Orc Phalanx (Spearman)
4th Level Troop [Humanoid]
Initiative: +4

AC 20
PD 18 HP 54
MD 14

Bloody Spear: +9 vs AC – 14 damage; On a natural even hit, the target takes a -4 penalty to disengage.

Wall of Spears: So long as the orc phalanx is next to another phalanx, enemies that disengage from them take 7 damage automatically.

Dangerous: The crit range of attacks made by orcs expands by 3 unless they are staggered.

OrcAxes

Orc Vanguard (Dire Wolf Rider)
4th Level Troop [Humanoid]
Initiative: +10

AC 20
PD 18 HP 40
MD 14

Jagged Sword +9 vs AC – 10 damage; On a natural even hit, pop free of the target and move to another target to make a Wolf Bite attack.

Wolf Bite: +9 vs PD – 10 damage

Dangerous: The crit range of attacks made by orcs expands by 3 unless they are staggered.

OrcAxes

Orc Archer (Archer)
4th Level Troop [Humanoid]
Initiative: +10

AC 18
PD 18 HP 40
MD 14

Black Arrow +10 vs AC – 8 damage, on a natural even miss make another Black Arrow attack against another nearby target.

Final Frenzy: When the escalation die is 3+, the orcish archer gains a +3 bonus to melee attacks and melee damage.

Dangerous: The crit range of attacks made by orcs expands by 3 unless they are staggered.

OrcAxes

Orc Battle Screamer
4th Level Leader [Humanoid]
Initiative: +6

AC 22
PD 16 HP 54
MD 16

Drum Bash +8 vs AC – 14 damage

Instrument (Choose One):
R – Skull Drum +9 vs MD: 16 damage and as a free action, one nearby orc can move or make a basic attack.
R – Bone Flute +9 vs MD: 16 damage and one nearby orc ally deals +2d6 damage of a hit during its next turn.
R – War Bagpipes: 1d3 nearby or far away enemies that can hear the bagpipes must immediately roll a normal save; on a failure, the target is hampered until the end of its next turn.
R – Bone Rattle – Raise one dead orc mook back to life, until the end of the battle or until it is killed again.

Dangerous: The crit range of attacks made by orcs expands by 3 unless they are staggered.

OrcAxes

Orc Commander 
4th Level Double Strength Leader [Humanoid]
Initiative: +8

AC 20
PD 18 HP 108
MD 14

Flesh Cleaver +9 vs AC – 28 damage, and on a critical hit, decrease the escalation die by 1.

Intensely Dangerous: The crit range of attacks made by orcs expands by 3 unless they are staggered.
When the Commander is staggered however, its crit range is expanded by 4.

Furious Assault: Once a round when a nearby orc misses with an attack, increase the critical strike range of all nearby orcs by 1. This effect is cumulative until an orc scores a critical strike.  Once a critical strike is landed, the crit range is reset to the normal value.

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Some of these orcs are from the 13th Age book and organized play packet that have been adjusted to be 4th level creatures.  Others such as the spearmen, vanguard and commander are our own creations.  We modified the orcs in this adventure because our players like being challenged with mobs that have interesting and unique mechanics.  We are also fans of the strong, powerful orc instead of the unending horde of orcs.  Blood and thunder!

 

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Custom Pre-Generated Character Sheets 5.0

Ding!  We leveled up!  We have a brand new 4th level pre-generated character sheet set for you just in time for Wrath of the Orc Lord, the first second tier adventure that starts the Orc War Trilogy.

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Image credit to Pelgrane Press.
Edited to include 4th level tier Icon pictures.

For Wrath of the Orc Lord we decided to level up the 2nd level characters sheets that we offered for Quest in the Cathedral.  Quest in the Cathedral ends with the Oracle being kidnapped by orcs so these character have a pretty big compelling reason to pick a fight with some orcs.

These pre-generated characters are as follows: Wood Elf Barbarian, Half Elf Bard, Holy One Cleric, Draconic Fighter, Forgeborn Paladin, Human Ranger, Gnome Rogue, Demontouched Sorcerer and Dark Elf Wizard.  Keep in mind that this set includes optional races in 13th Age  so make sure to check with your GM to make sure that race fits in the GM’s vision of the world.  These characters are a mixed bag of damage output,   durability, bonuses to skill checks, or abilities that draw from one class to the next.

These character sheets are designed with two options: with a blank background or with character art set at 30% opacity.  Please note that the character artwork is not ours.  Click the links to view all the character sheets.  Examples of the character sheets with background art can be seen below (click to zoom in).  Enjoy!

Wood Elf Barbarian

Wood Elf Barbarian

Holy One Cleric

Aasimar Cleric

Demontouched Sorcerer

Demontouched Sorcerer

Dark Elf Wizard

Dark Elf Wizard

Gnome Rogue

Gnome Rogue

Again, the images shown are just a few samples.  Click the links above to retrieve the .pdfs for all the class options.

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 5 Recap – The Big Job

The conclusion of Shadow Port Shuffle…

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Ragnar pushed open the heavy wooden door of the Exlirium, a notable alchemist’s shop located in the west district of Shadow Port.  A gnome sitting on a high bar stool behind the counter adjusted his glasses and brightened as he saw the half-orc rogue enter.  “Ah! Mr. Ragnar, sir, I have your order ready.”  The gnome hopped off the bar stool, disappearing behind the counter.  After some clinking of glass the gnome reappeared and slid a collection of red potion bottles across the counter.  “Per your request, four potions of healing, guaranteed to keep you strong and healthy!”  Ragnar dropped a bag of coins in return and started loading the potions into his newly acquired potion belt. As he moved to secure the potions in place, he noticed one of the pouches in his belt had a small note in it that had not been there the day before.  Curiously, Ragnar opened the note.  Red ink flowed onto the parchment forming words – “Gather your allies at the Drake and Ducatto, mid-day. No delays.” There was no signature, but Ragnar knew a missive from the Prince of Shadows any day.

Ever since their last job was completed, Danziker spent every waking moment at the docks overseeing the repairs to his ship. The old pirate was busy reviewing prospective crew members with a judicial eye. His new first mate, Bergo Ironbelly, had been an easy pick.  It took little convincing to get the gnome to leave his employment at the Slimy Barnacle tavern and sign up to be his first crew member.  The rest of the volunteers needed some thought.  Captain Danziker was busy inspecting Stieg Brinegrog, a stout man handy with a spear, but terrified of water, when Ragnar climbed aboard his ship and shoved a note in his face.  Danziker did not have to read the note to know that the Prince had called on him for another job.  The pirate sighed, sad to leave his ship.  With a heavy heart he tasked Bergo with watching over her until he returned from paying off his debts.

The two rogues bumped into Gil’Adan as he was returning from Lady Goldenhair’s estate. The lady had been looking for a long lost blade that belonged to her family and Gil’Adan had been able to track it down.  His research had shown that the last person to own it was one Baron Voth, a noble who had vanished from public view years ago. Gil’Adan was wearing a circlet that the Lady had given him as thanks, explaining that it had once belonged to an ancestor of hers who was also a Dragonknight. When Ragnar explained they had another task to do, the sorcerer bowed fairwell to the Lady Goldenhair and asked them to lead on.

Krogar walked down Thornleech lane and tried his best to ignore the painful ache in his right shoulder.  It was a gift an orc shaman had given him with a pain hex one week past, right before Krogar brought his katana down on the shaman’s head.  Over the past month Krogar had been on a solo mission out on the frontier for the Prince of Shadows.  A band of rogue orcs led by a shaman had acquired a particular relic, one that the Prince wanted in his own possession.  Krogar had been sent to retrieve it.  He had succeeded at his mission, but not without a few aches and pains.  Just when he was contemplating getting a tankard of ale to wash the ache in his shoulder away he saw Ragnar marching down the street with Captain Danziker and Gil’Adan in tow.  Ragnar beckoned him to follow.  Krogar nodded, stretched his shoulder again, and they all made their way to the Drake and Ducatto.

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Tilgate Heights was an unusual district, even for Shadow Port’s standards. The buildings were a mix of both commercial and military. The Drake and Ducaato was famous in Shadow Port for its overpriced drinks and proximity to the Cloud-Shrouded Tower.  As the Cloud-Shrouded tower came within sight Krogar stopped in his tracks and gazed in awe at the sight before him.  There, alongside the top of the tower, floated a massive wooden vessel.  Gil’Adan put a hand on Krogar’s shoulder.  “Behold the relic of an Age lost past, an airship.”

“Airship?” Krogar asked perplexed as he watched as the vessel extended docking clamps, nestling up securely against its moorings. “Such things do not exist in the lands I come from.”

Danziker scoffed, “It be madness, I say! A ship belongs in the sea with the waves beneath her belly, not gliding through the sky.” The pirate spit toward the tower, “Mark me words, its bad luck to fly a ship through the clouds.”

“Exhilarating would be my words”, remarked Gil’Adan, reminiscing about his days as a dragon rider before that position was stripped from him.  “Come, the Drake and Ducatto is just ahead.  I doubt we were called here just to do some sightseeing.”  Ragnar trailed behind silently.

The sun was just dipping below the horizon when they arrived at the Drake and Ducatto. The tavern was busy this night.  A group of elves were discussion wine selections with the barkeep and a band of rowdy dwarves were monopolizing the dart board.  It looked like most of the honest patrons were from the imperial garrison or the airship itself.  Gil’Adan spotted Lady Goldenhair speaking with a well decorated elven captain from the Court of Stars. Grabbing a table near the front door, the party waited for instruction. Several workers and military men from Cloud-Shrouded Tower came in for a drink, eager for a break from their assignments.

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The Drake and Ducato
A favorite watering hole for guards and soldiers in Shadow Port.

Several rounds of drink and food later, Ragnar felt a clawed hand clasp his shoulder.  “Gentlemen, I hear you’ve been quite busy lately.” Samuel pulled a chair up and sat down. It had been several weeks since they had seen the well-dressed tiefling.  He had become their handler, of sorts.  “I must say, my employer has been quite pleased with your success. Four tasks, four completions, zero problems. We could use more agents like you.” Samuel flashed a smarmy grin at the adventurers.

Gil’Adan frowned, “We’re just working off the debt. Once it’s settled, we are done.  Do not make the mistake that we are your errand boys.” The sorcerer smacked his hand down on the table to emphasize his point.

Samuel’s grin fell, “No need to get offended. Merely a compliment shared among professionals.”  Gil’Adan nodded and leaned back in his seat. “To business then: you have two tasks remaining. Your next task will happen tonight, in an hour or so. The Prince has need of an airship, and you’re going to get it for him.”

Each of the adventurers nervously looked around to make sure nobody was listening. Captain Danziker quietly muttered, “You expect us to steal an entire airship? A statue, a dagger, a diamond, a man, no problem. But a bloody airship?!”

PrinceSymbol1“Yes.” Samuel smiled again and dropped a hefty sack on the table, “A specific airship, in fact.  The Pride of the Opals is changing hands between the Court of Stars to the Emperor’s Imperial Navy. It is just docked at the Cloud-Shrouded Tower now and the crew disembarked for some leave. You’re to scale the tower quietly, board the ship, and fly it to Bitterwood where you will crash-land it in a circle of fires and hand it off to our buyer. Within this bag are all the tools you will need to complete this task. I hope to hear from you soon.” The tiefling stood up and walked out of the tavern discreet as could be. As the party sat wondering how to even begin pulling such a stunt off they saw a group of human and dwarves wearing imperial clothing walk out of the tavern.  Ragnar tapped Krogar on the shoulder and tilted his head to follow them.

Night had fallen and the streets were deserted save for the four adventurers and the group of imperial airship workers making their way up to Cloud-Shrouded Tower.  Having developed a quick plan, Ragnar and Gil’Adan moved ahead of the group and ducked into a nearby alley in wait while Krogar and Danziker came up with a distraction.  Krogar was just about to ask Danziker exactly what that distraction was when the pirate clocked the half-orc fighter in the face with a mean right hook.

“You coward, you say that filth about the Dwarf King again, and I’ll show you real pain! Nobody says that about The Mountain!” Danziker glanced over to the imperial workers, satisfied that his ploy had gotten their attention.  He was about to flaunt his brilliance to Krogar when the half-orc snarled and barreled into to him.  The old pirate was carried back into the alleyway as the air was knocked out of his lungs. “Oof!”

The workers followed, duped by the charade. Several spells and heavy fists later and the workers lay knocked out in a heap in the alleyway. Danziker and Gil’Adan were able to fit into the tunics quite easily, but Krogar and Ragnar were practically bulging in the clothes fit for humans. They stowed their weapons in a few leather packs or hidden about their body then made their way to the tower. The tower door was guarded by two surly looking dwarfs who grudgingly demanded their papers. Danziker patted his vest and found a collection of official looking papers.  The papers and a bit of smooth talk got them past the guards and through the door.

CloudShroudedTower

The Cloud Shrouded Tower

Once the door was closed, Danziker examined the papers again and found a scrap reading ‘The security enchantments have been updated. Please use the following four passwords for the gates.  Find the updated guidelines for disembarking vessels. Destroy this note after reading.’  The pirate whistled and showed it to his companions, each of them being careful to memorize all the commands. Ragnar spoke up, “I will take point with Danziker.  Krogar and Gil’adan keep an eye on our tail and don’t touch anything.”

The way up through the tower was made much easier by the collection of passwords to the various gates the paper had provided. Ragnar made good use of the tools Samuel had given them, among them several ornate mechanisms that broke locks, burrowed through pressure plates, and dissolved magical barriers.  He may not say it openly, but Ragnar was grateful the Prince had shown them this favor. As the rogue passed a brass object over another magical barrier, he watched it give way to a circular room with an opening leading up to the next floor. There was no staircase and no ladder.

Gil’Adan recognized these from his days in the Court of Stars: Levitation lifts. Touching his feet to a faded glyph on the floor, he gracefully drifted upward. As the passed the first floor, he was grateful he had kept his silence. Several beds held sleeping officers of the tower, obviously off shift. As he drifted upward to the next floor and onto a landing, he stifled a gasp of surprise.  The floor had windows leading to open sky and a spiral staircase winding around the outside of the tower to the next floor.  Near each opening lay a sleeping great eagle. As Krogar touched down behind him, the sorcerer quickly turned and motioned for his companion to keep silent.

BeatingWingsThe two rogues, landed silently behind Krogar and looked to Gil’Adan for a solution. The sorcerer thought back to his days as a Dragon Knight. He vaguely recalled meeting an eagle rider of the Court of Stars before and having a conversation with him about keeping the great beasts happy. Seeing a large steel trunk with a heavy lock in the corner, Gil’Adan signaled to Ragnar. The rogue crept over and was surprised to see the trunk cool to the touch. After he picked the lock and creaked it open, he found enchanted ice and a large collection of raw meat.  The rogue tossed it to Gil’Adan who caught it and slid it over to the nearest eagle. The eagle tilted its head at Gil’Adan and then happily snatched up its treat.  Gil’Adan motioned for Ragnar to grab more meat and the party quickly distributed it to the remaining eagles.  With the beasts distracted, they quickly ascended the stairs.

No sooner had they reached the landing that they heard several footsteps coming down the opposite stairwell. Ragnar and Danziker reflexively dove behind some crates and Gil’Adan ducked under a nearby table.  Krogar froze, unsure where he could hide his bulk. The moment of hesitation cost him and an elven voice called out, “Who goes there?  This tower is restricted by order of the Queen!” Three elves all wearing military garb marched towards him.

The Half-Orc very carefully avoided glancing sideways at his companions who usually handled the talking. “Err, yes… We – I mean I – am here to fix the ship.” The center elf looked him up and down then spoke several words in elvish, challenging him.  Krogar sighed, “Never did like you stuffy military types.” In one swift motion the half-orc drew his katana and closed the distance between them. A flash of steel later and the elf sank lifeless to the floor.  The two other elves backed away in alarm.  Before Krogar could stop them they retreated back up the stairs and sounded the alarm.

Danziker grabbed hold of Gil’Adan’s robe and pulled him up out of hiding, “Curse it! None denying it now, we’ve been spotted!”  The four adventurers bolted after the elves and quickly found themselves at the top of the tower. On the northern side was the Pride of the Opals, on the south a bulky looking dwarven vessel. Two dwarven guards stood alert and ready for them flanked by several human tower guards.

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Ragnar tried to twist into the shadows but the guards were ready for him, spoiling his attempts. The human tower guards charged him and started pummeling him with clubs. Krogar yelled a challenge to the angry looking dwarf guard then dove into the fray. Sword and axe collided as the half-orc and dwarf began trading blows with enough force to shatter bones.
Danziker made a move to help Ragnar, but the surly looking dwarf guard stepped into the pirate’s path.  “You’re going nowhere, intruder!”  The constant swings of the dwarf maiden’s hammer made it impossible for Danziker to duck away, so he took a wild swing at her midsection with his cutlass. He must’ve had the Prince’s luck on his side as he cut away the hammer’s hand-loop and her weapon went flying. When the dwarf guard was distracted Gil’Adan let a chaos bolt fly into her face, sending her falling off the side of the tower.

The human guards were novices and fell to the well-placed strikes from Ragnar. As soon as no foes stood in his path the rogue ran towards the ship.  A few quick slices of his dagger cut through the ropes that tethered the vessel to the tower.  “All aboard or you’re staying behind!” Danziker and Gil’Adan ran ahead to take care of the elven crew on the airship.  Krogar quickly dispatched the final dwarf guard and leapt the distance between the tower and vessel.  The adventurers had boarded the Pride of the Opals.

PrideoftheOpals

The Pride of Opals
A rare skybarge, perhaps one of the last few left in existence.

Once aboard, Danziker looked around to find the helm. The pirate found the control panel on one side of the double hulled vessel, but instead of a wheel he was greeted with a series of elegantly carved levers, buttons and rudder pedals. “Blasted airship!  Curse the elves and their magic! Ships belong in the water!” The pirate started flipping levers and stepping on the pedals, desperately trying to make sense of the controls. As the Pride of the Opals drifted awkwardly westward the pirate was able to narrowly miss another of Shadow Port’s higher towers. Looking back at Cloud-Shrouded tower, Ragnar saw guards swarming the tower, but it was far too late to stop them now.

Gil’Adan and Krogar had descended into the hull to root out any crewmembers, but found none. Krogar was marveling at the magnificent airship, but Gil’Adan didn’t hear a word he said.  The sorcerer was distracted by three stones set out in a ritual circle on the ship. As the sorcerer went to investigate further, a beam of purple energy connected the three in a circle and extended upwards through the hull and on to the top of the ship. The sorcerer recognized a portal when he saw one and grabbed the half-orc fighter to alert the others.

Ragnar was toward the front of the ship examining two large metal forks that extended out of the bow.  It was clearly a weapon of some sort, but he could not locate any ammunition nearby.  The rogue was in the midst of wondering sort of weapon it could be when he heard a crackling sound followed by Gil’Adan screaming out a warning. The rogue turned and saw a large purple portal opening on the mid deck of the ship. The skies above the ship began to blacken.  Ragnar’s instincts clicked in and he twisted into shadows.

Three elven looking figures stepped out of the portal with lightning crackling through the air behind them.  Two were Storm Witches, fierce looking females with untamed sky blue hair, pale skin and brilliant blue eyes.  One held a staff with a yellow gem that crackled with lightning and the other a mace that boomed like thunder when she struck it against her shield.  The third figure was a flawlessly beautiful male wielding a spear.  Gossamer wings that shimmered with the color of water unfolded from his back.  As the male figure looked up the skies opened up and rain began to fall.

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Danziker was too busy trying to control the ship against the sudden storm to dodge the Rain Avatar’s first attack.  The sharp tip of a spear sank into the pirate’s left arm, cutting deep.  Cursing, Danziker drew his cutlass and went to strike at the Rain Avatar’s midsection.  As the blade met the elf’s flesh, his form split apart like water and exploded into numerous water sprites flying around the ship.

Gil’Adan had just reached the main deck in time to see the Rain Avatar burst into several small blue glowing water sprites.  Wasting no time, Gil’Adan started firing bolts of lightning at the small water spirits.  The Storm Witch with the thunder shield charged angrily at Gil’Adan, but was intercepted by Krogar.  The half-orc fighter slashed at the Storm Witch with his katana and the two became locked in a fierce battle.

The remaining Storm Witch flew across the deck in a thunderous cloud before launching a powerful bolt of lightning at Gil’Adan to give him a taste of his own medicine. She cackled in satisfaction as her attacks landed, but her moment of glee was cut short when a sharp dagger erupted from her chest.  The shield bearing Storm Witch shrieked and tried to guard her sister from harm, but it was too late.  Ragnar had landed a critical and deadly blow.  Krogar seized the opening and hacked the thunder witch’s outstretched arm off.

As the storm wracked the ship, Danziker struggled to maintain their westward course. The Pride of the Opals twisted to the starboard side and everyone quickly grabbed something to hold on. Krogar grabbed hold of a railing and barely held on.  The Storm Witch next to him reached out for the same railing, but the shock of losing her arm was too much and she fall off the side of the ship to her death. Gil’Adan watched as the water sprites reformed into the Rain Avatar and shouted a warning.  Danziker ducked and the elf’s spear ripped apart the ship’s control panel. Gil’Adan ignored Danziker’s wild cursing and unleashed an empowered pulse of chaos at the eld.  The Rain Avatar exploded in a burst of rain water and reformed no more.

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“Archmage be damned, I hate flying heaps of magic!!” Danziker screamed as he slammed several of the remaining levers and righted the ship again. The storm slowly eased back and the clouds cleared up as they airship reached the Bitterwood.  Danziker looked over the controls sparking with wild magic, “Best hang onto something mates, this cursed contraption isn’t going to stay flying much longer!”

Gil’Adan looked back toward Shadow Port in the east.  His keen eyes saw several shadows in the distance moving between the clouds.  The sorcerer’s eyes widened as his elven eyes made out the approaching shapes.  “It’s not over yet!  Danziker, whatever you can do to speed the ship up, do it! Ragnar, Krogar, get those arbalests loaded! Eagle riders approach!”  

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The pirate shot the sorcerer a look, “I’m doing everything I know how to do and plenty that I don’t!” Danziker spotted a blue lever and flipped it upward. The ship buckled and a powerful electric whine coursed through the ship.  The pirate risked a glance back at their pursuers and saw them only a few hundred feet off.  “They be right on top of us!  Prepare to be boarded!”  The pirate twisted a knob next to the blue lever and lightning began to crackle out of the forks at the bow of the ship.

Krogar did not have time to investigate whatever the forks were doing as pairs of elves leapt off eagles and onto the deck with lances and halberds at the ready. The half-orc charged the first pair, determined to drop one before they could get an attack in.  He looked around for Ragnar, but the half-orc had vanished into the shadows in his typical fashion.

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Danziker had just finished jamming the pedals to keep the airship on course when he heard a screech behind him.  He ducked just in time to avoid a hail of sharp talons clawing at his head.  When he looked up he saw a high elf lieutenant bringing his great eagle around for another pass.  Danziker laughed and readily accepted the challenge.  With daring moves only a swashbuckler could pull off the pirate grabbed a rope, cut it loose and swung up to meet the unsuspecting eagle and rider.  With a well-placed blow from his cutlass Danziker knocked the lieutenant free from his saddle.  The eagle shrieked and went to dive after its rider, but not before Danziker leapt onto the eagle’s back and claimed the beast as his own.

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As several elven eagle riders continued to circle the airship, Gil’Adan armed one of the airship’s arbalests.  The sorcerer managed to drop two great eagles in flight before a large shadow passed overhead.  Gil’Adan dove out of the way as the largest eagle he had ever laid eyes on landed on the arbalests and ripped it apart with its sharp talons.  As the great bird lifted back into the skies Gil’Adan saw a female elven rider holding a longbow seated upon the eagle’s back.  The clasp on the rider’s cloak marked her as a Captain.

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Meanwhile, Krogar cut through the two of the elven riders that surrounded him. As he looked for another target, a hail of arrows from the Eagle Rider Captain peppered the hull around him. As Krogar searched for cover he saw Ragnar reappear behind a group of elves trying to take over the airship’s controls.  Krogar abandoned his plan to take cover and charged forward to help his companion.  The two half-orcs soon stood back to back defending the controls from several riders while a hail of arrows rained around them.

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The Captain steered her eagle in a wide arc around the ship, plucking arrow after arrow from an unfailing quiver and letting them fly at the two half-orcs.  She was so focused on taking down her enemy that she barely noticed an eagle fly out of formation until it slammed clumsily into her own in a shower of feathers.  Caught off guard, she was ill prepared to stop Danziker from slashing across her torso with his cutlass.   Angered that a human dare try to attack her with one of her own eagles, the captain turned her eagle to a barrel roll and smacked Danziker hard enough to send him flying off the eagle he had stolen.  The old pirate flew several feet before crashing back onto the deck of the Pride of Opals.

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Gil’Adan helped the pirate to his feet and noticed Ragnar running towards the front of the ship.  The half-orc pointed to the Eagle Rider Captain and then to the bow of the ship where the two forks were crackling with arcane energy.  Then it dawned on him.  “…it’s a lightning cannon…” Gil’Adan muttered.  As he looked toward the flight path of the Captain, he grabbed hold of Danziker’s shoulders, “Get to the helm and point this ship directly at the Captain! NOW!”

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Without hesitation, Danziker ran to the controls with Gil’Adan hot on his heels. The pirate nodded his thanks to Krogar as the fighter cleared the way by throwing the last two elves over the side. The pirate grabbed hold of the controls and flipped the levers, angling the ship upward and starboard. As the Captain soared directly in front of the ship’s bow unaware of the danger she was in, Gil’Adan channeled all his energy into the central control panel.  The ship shuddered and lightning ripped across the deck and into the Pride of Opals cannons.  Ragnar was ready at the cannons and pulled the firing trigger.  The sky light up as a massive streak of lightning shot forward from the forks, obliterating the Captain and her eagle in a bright burst of crackling energy.

With the riders all defeated, Danziker looked to the wreck of the controls again.  With a herculean effort, he pulled the levers that aimed the airship at the signal fires ahead that marked their crash site.  As he tried pulling the last lever that would slow their descent it snapped in his hand.  A pitiful whine emanated from the engine and the party could hear chunks of the ship breaking off followed by the violent crunches of trees snapping under the hull.  Krogar grabbed hold of the railing and bellowed out, “Hold on to something!  We’re going down!”
The Pride of the Opals, a once magnificent airship of legend, crash landed into the Bitterwood.  As the adventurers went flying, trees exploded around them and went dirt and sludge flew into the air. The airship shuddered, then moved no more.  Shakily, Krogar got to his feet and looked out into the woods at several shadowy forms. He shook his head trying to register what he saw.  Before him stood hundreds of orcs waiting for them, all armor to the teeth.

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“Curse us all as fools, this is a setup!”  Danziker cried as he drew his cutlass.

Laughter echoed the woods, “I assure you, the Prince is nothing but pleased with your work.” Samuel stepped from among the orcs in his usual rakish style. “I must admit, I had my doubts if you would pull this one off. Although, the state of the goods seem to be a little diminished…” The tiefling gazed over the wreckage that remained of the airship.

Ragnar wiped blood from his eye as he rose to his feet, “The deal was to crash the ship in the Bitterwood.  We did as you requested.” He helped Gil’Adan up and followed Krogar and Danziker down to the forest floor. The orcs army glared menacingly at them, though none moved while Samuel completed the transaction.

Samuel nodded, “Yes, indeed.  Truth be told, your benefactors here were most interested in the portal devise aboard the ship.  The condition of the airship matters little.  I am afraid I must warn you all though not to return to Shadow Port anytime soon.  The theft of an airship does not go unnoticed.  Your faces are plastered on every wanted sign throughout the town by now.” Danziker cursed as he realized he would not be seeing his ship any time soon. Samuel ignored him and continued, “Consider another of your tasks fulfilled. Five of six tasks completed.”  He sighed and pulled a large sack from his robes, “The Prince has decided to hold the last of your tasks for a later date. Your debt still stands, but the Prince is not unkind.”

Samuel dropped the large sack on the forest floor.  As it hit the soft earth emeralds the size of fists spilled out of the bag. As one, the orcs and adventurers all looked down to the sizable fortune. When they looked back up again Samuel was nowhere to be seen.  The orcs snarled and draw their weapons…

 

GM Note - I had a wonderful time running the final adventure for Shadow Port Shuffle.  This adventure was unique so far in that each adventure started with the players seperate from each other.  Since this adventure calls for one month passing since their last mission each player started this adventure of what their character had done since they had last been partied together to pay off a portion of their debt to the Prince.  Overall the campaign was satisfying and exciting for players and GM alike.  The organized play adventure storm witch fight calls for rain sprites, but to make things more interesting (and challenging!) a rain avatar was created that turns into mooks on even turns with multiple attacks on even escalation but reforms to a single big hitting creature on odd escalation.  The party rather enjoyed how this monster played out.  The ending of Shadow Port Shuffle with the airship crashing into the woods to an army of orcs waiting to take over the vessel was perfect.  Shadow Port Shuffle did a great job of connecting events between all of the 2nd level tiered adventures.  Excited to see where 13th Age organized play takes us next!    

 

Player feedback – “Fantastic game and a really dramatic ending. A+”  

 

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 4 Recap – The Golden Blade and the Kraken

Gil’Adan walked into the Crimson Goddess a bit earlier than their appointment required.  He took a moment to examine the large two floored tavern which had long ago been a temple to a now forgotten god.  Here and there it still looked like a place of worship with its large domed roof, alcoves for shrines, and of course the large red statue of a goddess in the center of the chamber.  Due to its history, quite a lot of superstitious towns folk avoided the place.  Gil’Adan heard the door open behind and turned to see Ragnar step inside.  “Afternoon, friend.”

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The street level floor of the Crimson Goddess
The light from the enchanted stained glass adds to the tavern’s ambiance.

Ragnar nodded, ever the silent type, then stopped mid motion.  A ghost with a large stain of blood on his side just drifted out from the wall.  The translucent figure smiled and spread his arms wide, “Welcome to the Crimson Goddess.  My name is Norman or Norman the Red if you so please..  Grab a table and kick your feet up, I’ll be with you soon.”  The ghost drifted away to gather drinks from deserted table.  Ragnar had reactively placed his hand on his dagger, but now was not so sure if a blade would help if it came to that.  The rogue and sorcerer made their way to a table and sat down, content to listen to the cheerful tunes of the bard playing the room.

After a few cheerful yet disturbing songs from the half-elf bard, Danziker strolled into the Crimson Goddess with a bit less of his usual swagger.  He stopped in front of the crimson goddess, grabbed a pinch of salt from a nearby table and threw it over his shoulder.  He tapped his hat in three different places and spun around before bowing to the goddess.  Only after he was done with his peculiar little ritual did he turn and find his two companions.  The old pirate plopped down and pulled a flagon of grog toward him, “Business as usual, eh mates?”

The bard on the floor above picked up her guitar and began a rousing round of The Golden Blade.  The mood in the tavern picked up as everyone enjoyed the heroic tale of the Golden Blade’s exploits.  When the song ended, the adventurers turned back to their drinks only to find a gnome woman with an eye patch sitting at their table.  “Wonderful song about a wonderful man.  Tell me, what do you know of The Golden Blade?”  Danziker smiled to himself, knowing full well that this was the legendary thief Brita Halfhand who had retired a few years back.

Regaining his composure, Gl’Adan slowly explained to his table the tale of The Golden Blade.  “He’s a legend.  At a young age he won his freedom from the gladiator pits.  From there, he used his skills to go on adventures throughout the land, often at the Emperor’s personal request.  Two years ago he disappeared on an expedition to the Magma Keeps.”  Ragnar nodded in agreement – Every half-orc knew the of the Golden Blade as a paragon of achievement for half-orc kind.

“Indeed, he is quite the legend.”  Brita tossed a coin to a passing server from a pouch at her belt.  Danziker chuckled, noting the pouch belonged to Ragnar.  He liked Brita’s style.  “All legends start with some truth though.  The Golden Blade is why we’re here tonight.  The Prince has discovered where he is, and he wants you to fetch him for me.  You’ll find him aboard the Kraken just off shore in the straits between here and Glitterhagen.”

Ragnar cursed, “You want us to break into a heavily guarded prison barge in the sea and rescue a high profile inmate?  Are you mad?”  He had heard stories of the prison barge, none of them good.  It was a private prison, so most of the inhabitants were significant enemies of someone in power.

“How you accomplish this is your problem, but you will meet me at the docks in two days with the Golden Blade.  That, or your task goes unfinished and your debt unresolved.  Any Questions?  I didn’t think so..”  Brita stood up and curtly made her way through the crowd and out the door.

The three adventurers knew that the Kraken was sea born so they reasoned they should consult a contact they had used in the past.  With Krogar out of town on a mission for the Prince, Danziker offered to reach out to Master Merryweather.  A handful of coins refreshed his memory when the half-elf seemed reluctant.  Several handfuls more got Danziker the location of the dock where the Kraken would be refreshing its supplies tomorrow and its course over the next week.  With Master Merryweather happily counting his coins, Danziker made his way to the Dark Jester to meet up with GIl’Adan and Ragnar.  They had hoped to uncover any information about the Kraken that they could.

DarkJesterAs the pirate entered the Dark Jester, he saw a tipsy Gil’Adan falling prey to the charms of Revka the Bartender and Ragnar speaking with two Forgeborn near the fireplace.  The pirate winked at Revka then walked over to his Half-Orc companion.  After the two rogues caught each other up on their progress, Ragnar spoke “The forgeborn tell me that the Kraken is guarded by a formidable platoon of constructs, all armed to the teeth.  And they’re strong enough to crush your skull with just one hand.”  The forgeborn nodded in agreement.

Danziker winked at his fellow Rogue, “Constructs, eh?  Constructs usually have a maker, and Bella the Mad is the most well-known crafter of constructs in town.  I’d wager me hat that she was the one that made them.”

Gil’Adan slid into a nearby chair, eyes hazy from the overly strong Drink Revka had served him. “The lovely Revka just informed me that Bella the Mad’s workshop burned down.”  Revka winked over at Gil’Adan and the half-elf grabbed his head to stop it from spinning.  “Apparently the whole street of Thornleech lane disappeared last Middenmass Eve and came back with Bella’s workshop burnt to the ground and the butcher shop missing.  Nobody’s been able to find her Codex but it’s said to detail all of her creations.”

Danziker clapped his hands together which made Gil’Adan winced, “Right, we find the Codex and the way to get around the constructs.  The Golden Blade is as good as free.”  Together, the three of them exited the pub but not before Danziker winked at Revka and tossed her a coin.

Every inhabitant of Thornleech Lane avoided eye contact when they showed up.  The air tingled with some residue of magic and there was a conspicuous empty lot where the Butcher’s Shop had been standing right next to the burnt husk of Bella’s workshop.  Ragnar kicked aside some of the rubble and watched as soot and dust billowed outward.  “Seems we aren’t the first ones to look through this wreck.  Spread out, see if there’s something that was missed.”

As Danziker rummaged around in the burnt rubble, Gil’Adan investigated a large desk.  When the half-elf opened one of the drawers, he failed the hear the click of a trap and yelled as a poison dart impaled his hand.  Ragnar scowled, “Careful, it seems Bella was found of traps.”  The half-orc rogue noticed a bookshelf full of burnt books but one stood unburnt and only covered in soot.  He brushed the soot off and pulled the book forward.  A series of gears whirled in the wall and the shelf slid back to reveal a secret door leading down a long flight of stairs into darkness.  A belt hung on a peg on the wall filled with several potions with easy to access flaps.  Ragnar snatched it and put it on before carefully making his way down, Danziker and Gil’Adan following behind.

Workshop

The hidden workshop of Bella the Mad
Bella may be gone, but the defenses of the workshop still lie in wait for intruders…

They were about halfway down when they heard the whine of gears in the walls.  They each responded quickly, bracing themselves against the close walls seconds before the stairs collapsed into a ramp.  If they would have slide downward, they found a pit full of razor sharp spikes waiting.  beyond the pit they found a small circular room full of various work tables, materials, and books.  The center work table had a deactivated golem surrounded by a fiery blast mark, his hand outstretched holding a bloody robe.  Gil’Adan made his way to the robes and noticed the fine craftsmanship indicating elven work.  He slipped them out of the golem’s grasp but failed to see the blade trap swing out from the table, slicing his thigh.

Ragnar scowled again, “Why not let the professionals handle this?”  The two rogues gingerly made their way around the room, finding countless traps and triggers ranging from bolt throwers, hidden blade arms, flame jets, and collapsing ceiling tiles.  When they were making their third pass through the room, Ragnar found a hidden button on the central work table.  Pressing it, a hidden drawer slid open revealing a complex rune covered book.  The Half-Orc quickly snatched the Codex and slammed the door shut before a hidden jet started to spew out poisonous gas.  Eager to be rid of the trapped room, the three adventurers made it back up the stairs and on to Thornleech Lane.  “We have the Codex.  We know how to find the ship.  We need an exit strategy.”

BergoIronbellyDanziker smiled confidently, “I’ve got ya covered mate.  Gents, its time you meet an old friend of mine.”  The old pirate led them to the Slimy Barnacle, a particularly seedy tavern near the warehouse district.  When Danziker entered, everyone in the run down joint waved or raised their glass to him.  He tipped his hat and ushered his companions to the kitchens in the back.  A gnome wearing a ridiculously large and tattered pirate hat was standing on a stool spooning several barnacles into a slimy green concoction on the stove.  Danziker opened his arms wide, “Bergo, me ol’ buddy.  How’s the Barnacle treating ya today?”

The gnome turned and laughed aloud, “Hah!  Danziker, you old sea dog.  While the Barnacle puts coin in me pocket, I still yearn for the open sea again.”  Bergo hopped off the stool, still brandishing the long spoon as if it were a scepter.  “Tell me true Captain, what brings you to me berth?”

Danziker looked to his allies, “The lot of us be needing a pick-up of sorts tomorrow in the straits.  A simple ferry job – Four people.”  Danziker tipped his hat back and leaned down to the gnome to whisper conspiratorially, “Know any capable sea dogs we can trust?”

Gil’Adan interjected, “Let’s just say we want to avoid any imperial entanglements.”

Bergo nodded, “Ye be in luck, captain.  Your old first mate is in the front, funny he didn’t see you first.  Hasan was his name, eh?”  Danziker balked, he didn’t know any of his crew had gotten out of prison.  He had thought he was the only one to escape Imperial clutches.  “Just released from prison he is.  Found himself working for Captain Longlock aboard the Brazen Maiden.  Betting he can put a good word in for you.”  Danziker nodded and gave his thanks to Bergo.  As they went back into the front, Danziker saw Hasan hiding in a corner booth minding his drink.

“Hasan, you ol’ scoundrel!”  Danziker put on his smarmiest grin, uncertain how his old first mate would react.  “When did you get out?  Or did you give them ol’ imperials the slip?”

Hasan scowled, “Was hoping you wouldn’t see me.  They only wanted you, Captain, not the crew.  Seems they got us all anyway.”  His scowl deepened and he added, “No thanks to you.”

Danziker put his hand on his chest, “Ya wound me, Hasan.  You saw that armada, we was doomed.”  Hasan reluctantly nodded and took another swig of his drink.  “Listen mate, let me make it up to ya.  Got a job lined up and I’ll cut you in on a fair share of the take.  Assuming you can get me a boat in time.”  Hasan’s interest was piqued.  Danziker explained they needed a pick-up from the Kraken at midnight the next evening, and they’d pay a hundred gold pieces per crew member and three times that for him and his captain.  Hasan also added the stipulation that all damages to the Brazen Maiden would be their responsibility, then shook hands to seal the deal.  Satisfied, the three adventurers exited the Slimy Barnacle to make individual preparations for tomorrow night.

The afternoon sun was just starting to set over the water as they made their way to the private dock where the Kraken was berthed.  Ragnar pointed out that only two live crew members seemed to be manning the ship: A captain and quartermaster.  The captain stayed aboard in his cabin toward the rear of the ship pouring over logs.  Below on the docks, the halfling quartermaster directed several worker constructs as they loaded crates aboard the ship.

Gil’Adan noticed the anchor not far off from the docks and suggested they use that to get aboard, but will need a distraction.  “Distractions are a gift of mine, mate,” Danziker smiled and took a healthy swig of grog from his hip flask.  Reeking of booze, he stumbled over to the quartermaster. “Oy!  Pipsqueak!  What’re you doing with me boat?!”  As the quartermaster and Danziker argued, Gil’Adan and Ragar stealthily swam over to the anchor and climbed aboard.  Once his companions had boarded, the pirate ended the conversation and walked back up the dock.  He waited until the quartermaster retreated back aboard before discreetly diving into the water and catching the anchor as it was being pulled upward.  The pirate made his way up to Gil’Adan and Ragnar who were hiding behind a collection of crates.

The Kraken was a stout barge, not made for the open waters of the Midland Sea, but entirely safe within the straits between Shadow Port and Glitterhagen.  Even still, the movement of the waves shook the great vessel back and forth.  When Shadow Port was far in the distance on the horizon, Danziker breathed a sigh of relief, “Ah, this is where I was made to be.  Smell of the sea on the air, the dancing sway of the waters below ye.  Bliss, I tell ya.”

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The upper deck and first hold of the Kraken.
The cramped dark cells hold twenty prisoners, each chained hand and foot to the next.

A fog was rolling in just as the sun set and the stars emerged.  With cover of darkness, the three made their way to the captain’s cabin.  The stout dwarf was looking out to the horizon as Ragnar crept up behind him.  The rogue made quick work with his blade, and the captain was on the floor moments later, his life draining out of him.  Gil’Adan quickly poured through the records in the cabin, finally finding the prisoner manifest.  “He’s two levels down, toward the rear of the ship.  Under the name of Jont Urner, in cell eight.”

Evading the construct guards was easier than Gil’Adan thought.  He could hear their thudding footsteps coming a mile away.  Making it to the second floor was simple work and finding the door even easier.  Ragnar and Danziker both darted forward, eager to display their skills at disposing of the lock.  Danziker beat the half-orc to it and quickly went to work.  In his haste, Danziker tripped the alarm and an unearthly wail ripped through the corridor.  A weathered half-orc face peered through the bars, “About time the Prince sent someone.  Aren’t you a little short for a construct?”

Gil’Adan swung the door open, “What?  Oh!  I’m Gil’Adan.  I’m here to rescue you.”  As Jont Umber exited his cell and stretched his arms, they all heard heavy footsteps.  The remaining crew member accompanied a golem carrying an electrified mace at one end of the corridor, a large golem carrying a gigantic axe down the other.  “We’ve been found, boys!  Time to cut our way out!”

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Jont retreated back into his cell, “This is quite the rescue!”

Gil’Adan ducked backward and began to gather arcane energy.  As he backed up, the guard charged and clobbered the sorcerer in the head with a heavy mace.  Danziker twisted through the tight corridor and brought his cutlass down through the surprised guard’s skull, dropping him instantly.  As the shield-bearing golem engaged Danziker, Ragnar ducked backwards and disappeared into the shadows.  Danziker nimbly backed away from the shield and mace swinging wildly at him but was greeted by a vicious downward slice from the other golem.

Gil’Adan saw the Axe welding golem bearing down on Danziker and quickly shouted out the power word he learned had learned from studying Bella’s codex.  When the golem grinded to a halt, the sorcerer knew his chance had come.  Letting the arcane energies pour through him he unleashed a massive arc of lightning ripping large chunks from the two golems.  Staggered but still determined, the golems fought back with mace and axe.  As the shield-bearer was about to deal a brutal blow to Danziker, Ragnar reappeared and drove his dagger into the golem’s exposed chest.  The construct shuddered then collapsed backward.

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A bone chilling war cry caught all of them off guard before they realized Jont Umber had just charged out and tackled the remaining construct.  The Golden Blade grabbed the head of the golem and ripped it free of its socket.  “Works done here.  Get me off this ship.”  With the two crewmen defeated and the guards easily detectable, the adventurers made their way back up to the Captain’s cabin.  They had good cover here and could hide until the Brazen Maiden appeared.  They didn’t have to wait long before the pirate ship appeared behind the Kraken.  When Gil’Adan noticed several worker golems arming contraptions that looked a great deal like ship-board weapons, he ushered his companions to the Brazen Maiden quickly.

The ship was built for speed rather than combat or hauling, a sleek vessel with a single triangular mast.  Gil’Adan and Ragnar leapt down onto the ship near the bow, supporting a weakened Jont Umber.  It seemed time in prison took its toll on his strength.  Danziker caught a rope on his way down and swung over near the helm where Hasan and Captain Longlock stood.  “Oy there, the seas be kind to us tonight.  Fate’s on our side.”

Hasan looked to his new captain, “No, fate belongs to us tonight.  Hand over the Golden Blade.”  As Longlock drew her glittering rapier, her crew followed suit.  Danziker hollered a warning to his allies and drew his cutlass, happy to be clashing swords on the seas on the sea.  As several scallywags crowded around him, knifes flashing outward, he deftly parried the blades aside.  The old pirate let out a laugh and spun around, slicing his cutlass across the legs of three of his assailants, leaving them hobbled and screaming.

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Toward the bow, Gil’Adan saw Ragnar twist away into the shadow again.  The sorcerer cursed under his breath as he realized he was now the only target on this end of the ship.  The brutish half-ogre first mage marched forward and crashed a large hammer into Gil’Adan’s side.  The sorcerer struggled to stay standing as stars clouded his vision.  He hastily cracked off a pulse of energy, but saw it flare out randomly to strike a buccaneer behind Danziker.  The ogre laughed and raised his hammer to strike again.  Ragnar stepped out of a shadow, stabbing his long knife into the Ogre’s exposed leg.  The first mate screamed and swung his hammer at the rogue who ducked out of the way.

A flurry of steel flashed in front of Danziker’s face as Captain Longlock’s attacked.  Danziker winced as he felt his blood trickle down the side of his face.  He returned a blow to Longlock, dragging his sharp cutlass across her chest.  Longlock hacked a rope leading up to the mast and let the weight whip her away and across the ship.  Danziker spat off curses as she fled but turned to Hasan and ran the traitor through.  Seeing the helm unmanned, Danziker grabbed hold of the wheel and parried the various attackers around him.  This is where he belonged.

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The half-ogre reeled back as an empowered lightning bolt tore open his chest.  “You landlubbers are tougher than I thought!”  The first mate drew two cutlasses and launched a frenzied assault at Ragnar.  The Half-Orc rogue took his fair share of cuts but managed to disengage again.  As he was about to retaliate, the ship shook under the volley of electrified ballista bolts hammering into the port side of the ship.  The constructs had finally mustered the Kraken’s ballistas and opened fire.  The remaining crew fell before the barrage but Ragnar weaved through the barrage to impale the first mate’s neck.  As the half-ogre fell, Ragar and Gil’Adan had already started moving toward Longlocks.

Captain Longlocks knew the ship wouldn’t last long under a barrage and kicked a barrel to her oncoming attackers.  With them distracted, she ran up to the helm.  Another barrage racked the ship and she stumbled toward the wheel.  When the barrage stopped, she found Danziker’s cutlass embedded deep in her chest, his other hand on the wheel.  “I’ll be taking your ship off your hands, lassie.  Thank you kindly for the pick-up.”  Danziker shoved her off with his boot then twisted the wheel southward toward Shadow Port.  Even heavily damaged, the Brazen Maiden was able to outdistance the Kraken’s barrage in no time.

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This is not how you roll recoveries. :(

With the ship taking on significant amount of water and whole planks falling off into the straight, Danziker brought the ship into the private port where they to meet Bella.  As Ragnar dropped the anchor into the waters and the crippled shell of a ship bumped up against the wharf, they could see Bella striding up the gangplank.  The gnome walked directly to Jont Umber and greeted him as an old friend would.  She turned to the three adventurers, “The Prince sends his thanks for completing yet another task.  It may be some time until your next job is arranged, but you are to keep your eyes and ears open.  I’d also like to add my personal thanks in rescuing an old friend of mine.”  Bella looped her arm through Jont’s, “I lost track of him in the Magma Keeps, happy to see his stubborn face again.”  The gnome escorted the half orc off the wreck of a boat then turned back to toss a large sack of gold back to the adventurers.  The two old friends walked off toward Shadow Port, the sun rising in the east.

Gil’Adan picked the sack up, “There’s enough in here to keep us for months.  It seems the Prince is valuing our services more and more.”

Danziker smiled and looked at the damaged Brazen Maiden, “I could care less what the Prince thinks of us.  Boys, I’ve finally got me a ship again!”  The way the old pirate beamed, one would think he was looking at the finest ship that had ever graced the Midland Sea.

GM Note –  With Danziker in our group and Shadow Port as the setting, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a pirate themed fight somewhere in the adventure series.  This adventure which was out to sea offered the perfect opportunity.  It helped that for this adventure he got a 6 with the Prince of Shadows.  I put together a group of pirates themed after rogue abilities, except for the First Mate who’s a nod to a WoW character in The Deadmines.  To budget our time better I transformed Bella the Mad’s workshop into a straight trap room so we could have a more robust fight at the end.  It went really well, and culminated in Danziker finally regaining a ship.  If you would like to use the pirates in an adventure of your own, you can find them here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8318942/PIRATES%21.pdf .

Player Feedback – Great fun! Can’t wait until next week’s concluding episode! 

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 3 Recap – The Carnival Caper

CrownAndGownA well-dressed Halfling wearing a feathered hat hummed as he paged through a guest list.  “Welcome to the Crown and Gown mage Gil’Adan, master Ragnar, swordsman Krogar and captain Danz-zi-ziker.”  The Halfling choked out the last name in disbelief and raised an eyebrow at the unkempt pirate.  The Crown and Gown was a luxurious upscale establishment off the main boulevard visited by the wealthiest people in Shadow Port, but the Halfling knew better than to question those on the list.  Regaining his composure, the Halfling put on his best smile and tucked the guest list under his arm.  “A private suite has been arranged for you.  If you would please follow me.”

Krogar’s jaw dropped open as he entered the private suite.  A long table filled with exotic fruits, roasted meats, and fresh baked bread lay before them.  The Halfling that led them here was busily pulling aside a thick velvet curtain that revealed a balcony overlooking the main tavern and dance floor of the Crown and Gown below.  “The food and drink are already paid for, so please make good use of our kitchens this evening.  If you have any need of my services, simply wave me down and I will be at your disposal immediately.”  With an elegant bow the Halfling took his leave.

Gil’Adan smiled pleasantly at the luxurious accommodations.  “Most impressive.  I was unaware Shadow Port has such style.”  The wood elf sorcerer pulled open a set of glass pane doors that led to another balcony that overlooked the main boulevard.  Immediately the sounds of the Sailor’s Festival going on below filled the private suite.  Danziker had explained on the way over that the Sailor’s Festival was an annual tradition in Shadow Port to celebrate the change in seasons and honor the folk that lived off the sea for their trades kept the town alive.  Even the mayor of Shadow Port has commissioned fireworks and a special parade to celebrate the occasion this year.  Now that Gil’Adan stood on a balcony overlooking the streets he got a better look of the festival.  Even though there were plenty of sights to see below, Gil’Adan’s eyes were drawn to a balcony farther up the street.  There stood the unmistakable figure of Lady Goldenhair of Glitterhagen.  A woman of her stature would of course be holding a private party during the festival.  Word on the street was that she was staying in town looking for someone to track down a family heirloom.  The woman was a curiosity to him and he decided he would speak to her more about it later.

PrinceSymbol1Gil’Adan was still staring at Lady Goldenhair when Krogar walked out onto the balcony with a turkey leg in hand.  It seemed like the whole town was out to celebrate the Sailor’s Return festival, but the half-orc had his doubts that they were summoned here just to celebrate.  Captain Danziker had taken great enjoyment on their way over to the Crown and Gown pointing out people in the crowd that he claimed were dressed in costume to be him, pirate of legend, but Krogar privately kept to himself that he did not see the resemblance.  Now that he was overlooking the streets though he swore he saw another man that looked identical to Danziker for a moment, not just in garb but in facial features too.  How strange.  About a mile up the boulevard the first few floats of the approaching parade could be seen.

Ragnar lingered in the room, never much one for crowds.  When he heard the door to the party’s private suite click open he half-turned expecting to see their Halfling host returning, but instead his trained eyes saw a shadow enter the room.  The lamps wavered from a small gust of wind.  The shadow detached itself from the wall and took on a vaguely humanoid form in front of Ragnar.  In its hand was a note.  While others might cower at the sight, Ragnar had seen such tricks before in his service to the Black and calmly took the note.  As soon as he took it the shadow dissipated into thin air.

The assassin cleared his throat to get the others’ attention.  Danziker who was busy sampling the free ale turned away from the table of refreshments.  When Gil’Adan and Krogar joined them from the balcony, Ragnar read the note aloud, “Your next task will test your cunning.  You will steal the Darkskye Diamond from the Emperor’s float in the parade.  This is the only time that the Diamond is not under heavy guard in one of the Archmage’s vaults.  Upon obtaining the Diamond, you are to return it here at the Crown and Gown retired dragon hunter named Shez-a-Kah.  Do not fail me.”  Ragnar noticed there was no signature, only the mark of a shadowy heart.

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Shez’A’Kah, retired dragon hunter. The organized play adventure calls for a hellish character with hooves, tail and horn, but we decided to switch to a half-elf for our game since we had a dragon slayer miniature that fit that bill. Watch out, she still summons Implings from the Fifth Hell if provoked.

Gil’Adan gasped, “The parade is already here!” At that moment, a brilliant flash of light exploded outside.  The fireworks had begun.

Danziker threw his tankard of ale to the floor and gave a crooked smile.  “Now then, no time for scheming Gents!  Time fer us to snatch a diamond!”  Before the others could object the pirate bolted for the balcony and leapt off.  Mid leap he grabbed one of the many cloth banners decorating the streets and swung onto a nearby rooftop.

Krogar went to leap after the pirate, but missed his landing and fell onto some poor woman’s balcony.  After the woman smacked him around the head with a purse, the Half-Orc scampered up the building’s wall to follow Danziker’s path along the rooftops.  Thankfully the crowd below was distracted by the parade to notice two figures running along the rooftops.

”He’s a lot more nimble than he looks,” Gil-Adan remarked about Danziker as he watched two of his companions depart.  Rooftop running wasn’t exactly an appealing path, Gil’Adan thought.  He looked to the boulevard below crowded with countless citizens and trade stands.  “There must be another way around the crowd.”

“There is,” Ragnar stepped up onto the balcony and gestured to the sorcerer, “Through the alleyways, I know a path.  Follow me.”  The rogue vaulted down on to the streets below, followed quickly by Gil.  The two muscled through the crowd to one of the less crowded alleyways.  Ragnar’s background as an assassin meant he was unaccustomed to traveling with others and he quickly found Gil’Adan slowed him down.  The rogue was too busy looking behind him for Gil to notice when a food cart wheeled out onto the street in front of him.  The cart owner’s shout was enough to alarm the rogue to try to leap over the cart, but in his hurry he mistakenly placed his hand in a basin of hot oil, burning himself.  Gil came running up and apologized to the cart owner on behalf of his companion.  “No time for courtesies,” Ragnar hissed as he grabbed Gil by the arm and continued towards the Darkskye Diamond.

ShadowPortAlleys

The carnival parade route as it passes by the Crown and Gown Inn
The normally dark and grim nighttime
Shadow Port street is lit with jolly paper lanterns…

Captain Danziker felt alive.  It was a pirate’s nature to chase after treasure and the Darkskye Diamond was a thing of beauty.  The last mission with the mushrooms and cultists was downright disturbing, but this was something he lived for.  And having his own ship again, but that would come soon enough.  Danziker had no plan other than be the first one to reach the diamond.  With sure footing that came from years of practice upon rocky boats, he landed an especially difficult jump between buildings that separated an alleyway.  Behind him Krogar attempted the same jump, but the half-orc’s brute size worked against him.  Part of the roof tiles gave way under Krogar’s feet and he tumbled into the streets below.

Ragnar noticed that the parade route had made a turn away from the boulevard.  The unmistakable shine from the Darkskye diamond glimmered in the distance, showing the float had already made the turn.  GIl’Adan stood next to him in dismay.  Even with the parade moving off the main street it would be unavoidable not being seen with the crowds, “We’re going to be seen stealing an item that’s the center of attention in this parade.  We need a disguise.”  Ragnar turned towards Gil’Adan and said nothing.  Gil looked at his companion and realized he had just spoken to someone dressed in black leather with a dark hood and mask.  “Well, I need one!”

Mask1Gil’Adan was hurriedly handing a merchant overseeing a costume booth coin to purchase a bandana to obscure his face when a large green figure dropped out of the sky, shattering the booth.  Masks, bandanas and scarves flew everywhere.  Krogar grunted as Ragnar and Gil’Adan pulled him up off the ground. The booth had absorbed the impact of his fall and he had thankfully avoided any grievous wounds.  Ignoring the shouts of the merchant, Krogar turned to his companions.  Another series of fireworks erupted above.  “I have an idea.  Gil, follow me.  Ragnar, get to the float.  And find the pirate too!”  Before he ran off he picked up an ogre magi mask from the ground.  It would come in handy.

Swinging across the street on another banner, Danziker surveyed the crowds below.  Seeing a flamboyantly red pirate costume hat in the crowd, he snatched it off the wearer’s head as he swung buy.  He quickly replaced it with his own before resuming his run along the rooftops.  As he closed in on the float, he spotted a cloaked figure hunched over on an opposing rooftop concealed in a familiar looking purple cloak.  It seemed the adventurers were not the only ones after the diamond.

The firework launcher was operated by two soot-covered dwarves.  Krogar approached them and took his most intimidating stance, “By the governer’s orders, we have need of this equipment immediately!”  The dwarves doubled over in laughter before Krogar realized he was still wearing the ridiculous Ogre Magi mask.  As the dwarves were distracted watching Krogar, Gil’Adan quietly moved to the machine.  The sorcerer kicked out one of its supports and pulled the lever, watching as the fireworks shot over the building and barely above the crowd on the other side.

The purple cloaked figure had just noticed Danziker and aimed his crossbow at the pirate when an explosion rocked the street.  The citizens below panicked and ran in every direction at once, grinding the parade to a halt.  The purple cloaked figure saw his chance at surprise was blown and yelled out, “Purple Lotus, let’s take out the competition!”  Danziker saw twelve other figures step up from balconies and train their crossbows in his direction.  The pirate dove off the rooftop, grabbed another banner and swung onto the nearest float… which happened to be the Emperor’s float with the Darkskye diamond.  At the Purple Lotus clan fired their crossbows after him the guards surrounding the float pulled their weapons.  Already alarmed from the explosion, they thought they were under attack.  One guard grabbed Danziker, but with his overly flamboyant costumed hat the sly knave played an innocent festival performer who had landed at the wrong place at the wrong time.  The guard let go of Danziker and turned to what he perceived as a more immediate threat: the Purple Lotus clan.  Danziker smiled.  He couldn’t have planned such a perfect distraction better if he had tried.

DarkskyeDiamondRagnar saw Krogar and Gil emerge from the alleyway and beckoned them over.  Only a few feet away from the Darkskye Diamond float they looked on in disbelief as the situation with Danziker and the Purple Lotus clan unfolded.  Gil’Adan looked at Krogar and shrugged.  “He may be unbearable as a comrade, but he’s resourceful.  I’ll get us past the guards.  You and Ragnar grab the diamond.”  The three of them pushed forward.  When they approached the float Gil’Adan pulled out a medallion bearing an official seal of the Emperor, a token of his days as a dragon rider.  “We are members of the Azure Guard, secret police sent by the Archmage!  He sent us to aid the Emperor in protecting it from harm!”   Two guards looked to each other then back at Gil’Adan and nodded.  The distraction from the Purple Lotus had them completely confused and they seemed thankful for the help.

Krogar leapt up onto the float and looked at the diamond in shock.  He was still new to these lands and his companions had neglected to mention the Darkskye Diamond was two feet across and glowing with magical energy.  There was no way he would be able to carry it through the streets discreetly.  Ragnar moved beside him and threw his cloak over the diamond, “Grab it and run!” the rogue hissed.  Krogar hefted the diamond over his back and leapt from the float as purple lotus crossbow fire hailed down on them.  Ragnar joined him a moment later, followed by Gil’Adan and Danziker.  As the four of them beat a hasty retreat, Gil’Adan noticed that the two guards he had tricked earlier were following distantly behind them with shields raised, obviously hoping to help safeguard the diamond.

What with the confusion caused by the Purple Lotus ambush, the party met very little trouble as they ran through the alleyways of Shadow Port.  Ragnar shouted out, “I know a guy up ahead who will harbor us!  Take a right!”

Gil’Adan shouted back, “No, we can’t use anyone who knows us.  Head back to Lady Goldenhair’s private residence.”  Krogar nodded his head and took a left down the alleyway.  They reached the estate in no time and ducked inside before anyone else on the street might notice them.  Krogar set the cloak containing the Darkskye diamond down on the floor, realizing that the magical energies of the diamond had burnt his arms and back.  As a butler approached them, Gil confidently stated, “We’re here concerning the Lady’s request for anyone with information on the Goldenhair legacy.  Let your ladyship know we’re here and waiting.”  When the two guards from the float looked confusedly at the sorcerer, Gil’Adan tried to cover his tracks.  “It’s our cover.  Guard the front door.  Reinforcements will be arriving shortly.”   The guards bought the lie and turned to guard the door.  When the two guards were distracted, Gil quietly motioned to his companions and they made their way quietly through the estate and out a back door.  It was only another block and before they made it back to the Crown and Gown.

CrownAndGownTavern

The ground floor of the luxurious Crown and Gown
Wealthier patrons go upstairs to their private rooms that overlook the ground floor.

Ragnar looked into the crowd and noticed Shez-a-Kah leaning against balcony overlooking the dance floor.  When he grabbed hold of Krogar to point her out, the fighter snarled under his breath, “We’ve got company.”  Sure enough, eight burly looking thugs stood up from tables and drew a variety of wicked looking weapons.  On the far side of the room two elven bounty hunters stood and drew their bows.  Not even Danziker could smooth talk them out of this situation.  As the music continued to play, the adventurers readied their weapons and prepared to defend the diamond.

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Marvel at our magnificent artwork.

Danziker was the first to move.  He leapt onto a nearby table sending plates and cups flying into one of the thug’s face.  As the thug was off balance, the pirate slashed his cutlass across the man’s throat, carrying his swing into another.  As the two bounty hunters readied their arrows, Ragnar twisted his cloak and disappeared into the shadows.  As Krogar barreled into another pair of thugs, knocking them over, an arrow took him in the leg.  The impact of the arrow made him stumble and drop the Darkskye diamond behind the bar.

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Hired thugs.

Gil’Adan started pulling arcane energy together, feeling the pure energy from the Darkskye Diamond flow into him.  The sorcerer was too concerned with the enemies inside the Crown and Gown that he made the mistake of exposing his back to the door.  The door slammed open and a menacing figure entered the bar.  As Gil’Adan turned he saw the figure was dressed in armor head to foot and was covered in a purple cloak with a hood.  When the figure spoke his voice was deep and raspy, “You’ve down well, but you’ve caused my clan enough trouble!  Now you face the Shredder!”

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Purple Lotus clan

On cue, members of the Purple Lotus clan poured into the Crown and Gown.  One of them saw the Diamond behind the bar and ran to seize it.  He was met by Krogar’s blade as the half-orc fighter vaulted over the bar to protect his prize.

Meanwhile Danziker had tipped the table he had vaulted upon over to protect him from any arrows the bounty hunters might aim his way, but the bounty hunters were too busy fending off members of the Purple Lotus clan to bother Danziker.  It seemed no one wanted to share the Darkskye Diamond and everyone was open game.   Thugs turned on the clan members which thankfully meant less foes immediately threatened his companions.  The only one not partaking in the brawl was Shez-a-Kah who looked on in amusement.  A throwing dagger sunk deep into the flipped over table mere inches from Danziker’s head and brought the pirate’s attention back on the fight.  The pirate pulled the dagger out and laughed as he threw it back at his assailant. “I love me a good ol’ fashion ballroom blitz!”

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Bounty hunters

The Shredder swung a jagged sword down into Gil’Adan’s shoulder.  Gil’Adan cried out and turned his outstretched hand into the man’s face.  A torrent of frost engulfed the Shredder just as Ragnar reappeared behind him.  The rogue skillfully slid his knife into the leader’s back, using his sneak attack to his advantage.  The Purple Lotus clan leader snarled and threw the rogue off him.  He was a feared figure in Shadow Port, but the combined critical blows from the sorcerer and rogue weakened him.  He lashed out in rage at the two, but struggled to fend off their combined attacks.  Worse yet, his clan members seemed to be faring even worse against the other two adventurers.  When a free moment presented itself the Shredder pulled a black vial from his belt.  “This isn’t over!” he hissed as he threw the vial on the ground near his feet. When the smoke cleared, he had vanished.
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After the Shredder retreated, the party made quick work of the remaining foes.  Krogar threw the remaining thug against the wall who then crumpled to the floor.  The fighter looked to Danziker who was nursing a black eye as he sat atop an unconscious purple lotus thief and bounty hunter.  The pirate looked like he has seen better days, but was cheerfully waving a piece of parchment in the air, “Lookie what I found.  A Shadow Port map marking the Purple Lotus’ lair.  Might come in handy one day.”

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Krogar shrugged, having no intent on seeking revenge tonight.  He bound his wounds as best he could and retrieved the Darkskye Diamond from behind the bar.  Shez-a-Kah was still waiting silently on a balcony above.  All four of party members, exhausted and nursing wounds still fresh from the brawl, climbed up the stairs to the second private suit.  The fierce looking half-elven woman greeted them as they walked in, “Nice work you did down there boys.  I was hoping I’d be paying you and not some Lotus thug tonight.”  When none of them made a reply, she smiled. “You’ve had a long night, and I thank you for your services.  The diamond, please?”  Krogar dropped the diamond to the floor with a thud.

KeyShez-a-Kah handed Krogar a sealed note with the Prince of Shadow’s black seal upon it.  Inside was a key with a note saying the party had unlimited access to food and drink to the Crown and Gown for life. The note also contained instructions to go to a drinking establishment called the Crimson Goddess to meet a gnome women named Brita Halfhand in one week’s time.  When the party looked up both Shez-a-Kah and the Darkskye Diamond had vanished.

GM Note - This adventure was amazing.  My group took to the impromptu planning with gusto, bringing in Purple Lotus clan again, Oni masks, Firework launchers, and more.  To keep the high energy going while retrieving the diamond, I put off a lot of the fights and combine them into one big bar room brawl at the end. Murder on the Dance Floor was the perfect fight chart to have thugs, bounty hunters, clan members and the adventurers in an all out fight over the prized Darkskye Diamond.  The Fight Chart was adjusted to add the Purple Lotus clan to the enemies side.  The psychic caster and rival thieves were used on the Purple Lotus side.  The rival monk was not used so that clan boss could be added, cue the TMNT reference.  Since the hired thug mooks were on their own side their numbers were bumped up from the outlined five to eight.  The bounty hunter’s weighted rope attack was changed to a long bow attack and the rival thugs from crossbows to throwing daggers to fit the miniatures on the table.   Shez-a-kah is written as a tiefling, but way back in Crown of the Lich King part 2 we  changed the former dragon hunter’s race to a Half-Elf so we stuck wit it.  This adventure was a blast to run and one of the best sessions we have had to date.

Player Feedback - Really great session — maybe the best one so far! :-D
(Sarah)    (Ben)

Stone Thief play test report…. sort of… ;)

The Stone Thief is an old and cunning Living Dungeon. For unknown ages, it has slithered through the Underworld, rising to consume towers and cities or other, lesser dungeons. Now, it has your scent. It swims through the earth, eager to steal everything you cherish, eager to drag you down into its hellish labyrinth.

The dungeon’s coming for you. Kill it before it kills you.

Written by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, the Stone Thief is campaign book currently in development for 13th Age.  Earlier this month a portion of the campaign was released for a playtest and we eagerly signed up.  As per usual playtest rules, details of the adventure cannot be publicized until the full campaign is officially released, but Pelgrane Press was kind enough to grant us permission to share photos of our game.  Please read no further if you wish to avoid spoilers.

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Last chance to avoid spoilers

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Aww look, a kitty!

BossDaniel

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Still here?  Okay.

Listen to me…

The human world is a mess

Life under the sea is better than anything they got up there.

Sahuagin Fight 1

The seaweed is always greener
In somebody else’s lake
You dream about going up there
But that is a big mistake
Just look at the world around you
Right here on the ocean floor
Such wonderful things surround you
What more is you lookin’ for?

Sahuagin Fight 2

Under the sea
Under the sea
Darling it’s better
Down where it’s wetter
Take it from me
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we devotin’
Full time to floatin’
Under the sea

Sahuagin Fight 3

Down here all the fish is happy
As off through the waves they roll
The fish on the land ain’t happy
They sad ’cause they in their bowl
But fish in the bowl is lucky
They in for a worser fate
One day when the boss get hungry
Guess who’s gon’ be on the plate

Sahuagin Priest

Under the sea
Under the sea
Nobody beat us
Fry us and eat us
In fricassee
We what the land folks loves to cook
Under the sea we off the hook
We got no troubles
Life is the bubbles

Swordapus 1

Under the sea
Under the sea
Since life is sweet here
We got the beat here
Naturally
Even the sturgeon an’ the ray
They get the urge ‘n’ start to play
We got the spirit
You got to hear it
Under the sea

Swordapus 2

The newt play the flute
The carp play the harp
The plaice play the bass
And they soundin’ sharp
The bass play the brass
The chub play the tub
The fluke is the duke of soul

Boot

The ray he can play
The lings on the strings
The trout rockin’ out
The blackfish she sings
The smelt and the sprat
They know where it’s at
An’ oh that blowfish blow

Wizard

Under the sea
Under the sea
When the sardine
Begin the beguine
It’s music to me
What do they got? A lot of sand
We got a hot crustacean band
Each little clam here
know how to jam here
Under the sea

Pirates 1

Each little slug here
Cuttin’ a rug here
Under the sea
Each little snail here
Know how to wail here
That’s why it’s hotter
Under the water
Ya we in luck here
Down in the muck here
Under the sea

Pirates 3

^ THE SUNKEN SEA ADVENTURE ^

One of the many levels available in the upcoming Stone Thief campaign.

(No little mermaids were harmed in the playtest of this adventure.)

(Sarah)    (Ben)

Part 2 Recap – This Place Grows on You

New Members to the Party…

IconRagnarRAGNAR

Ragnar is a half-orc rogue that lives his life in service to the Black, wrapping himself in shadows to steal what he desires and kill who he needs to.  His skill as an assassin and thief have landed him jobs all over the Empire and he “knows a guy” in each city to help him get the job done.  After years of planning he recently pulled off the biggest heist a rogue could tackle: break into the Prince of Shadow’s vault.   Things between Ragnar and the Prince have been complicated since.  The half-orc would likely be dead if the Prince were not so impressed with how he pulled off such a feat.  Such trespasses do not go unpunished though and Ragnar now has a debt to pay to the Prince.  

Shadow Port Shuffle 

Part 2 – This Place Grows on You

Ragnar stood in the corner of a small dingy room with no exit save for one door.  He did not like being cornered, but there would be no hiding so long as the Prince had a debt held over his head.  A well-dressed Tiefling walked in and sat down at the only table that graced the cramped room.  “My name is Samwell Dirrel.  It seems you have landed in quite a bit of a mess, now haven’t you?”

Ragnar remained silent.  While other rogues might impress people with clever banter and showy tricks, Ragnar preferred to go unnoticed in life.  A man with a profession such as his had little use of small talk.

The Tiefling’s face hardened.  “Fine.  Let’s get straight to business.  You owe quite a debt and I am here direct you on how to repay that debt.  Succeed and you will find your freedom and perhaps a bit of wealth on the way.  Fail, and… Well, I would advise you not to fail.”  Samwell retrieved a small pounce from his jacket pocket and tossed it on the table.

Ragnar upturned the pouch and a single coin fell out.  One side was defaced with the mark of the Prince of Shadows.  Ragnar looked up at Samwell.  “What is this?”

Samwell stood up and straightened his cloak, “Present that coin to the doorman at the Pious Gardener.   Further instructions await you there.  I trust with your knowledge of Shadow Port you do not need directions.”    With his business finished the Tiefling turned and left.  Ragnar pulled his dark hood over his head and walked out of the Dark Jester Tavern a few minutes later.  As he departed he overheard some of the bar patrons whispering about a butcher’s shop disappearing from Thornleech Lane.

TavernPiousGardener

It had been several days since the Navale mansion was robbed. Krogar thought it best to skip town while the dust settled and had taken a small job protecting a cargo shipment retuning from Glitterheagan.  Traveling through the Empire made Krogar miss the sight of his own home world that he longed to return to.  Every night since he was transported here he dreamt of a strange symbol, his only hint at what magics brought him to these lands.  As the ferry carrying the cargo pulled up to ports of Shadow Port Krogar located Sheila, the merchant who had hired him.  She was handing out payments to the other guards who had accompanied them, but when Krogar’s turn came she frowned.  “Sorry Krogar, you’re a fine guard, hate to do this to you.”  She placed a single coin in his hand, with the symbol of the Prince of Shadows scratched in the back.  “Take this to the Pious Gardener. That’s all I know.”  The fighter sighed.  He knew what this meant.  Gripping his katana, Krogar headed to the east of town.  Before he left he noticed a big bunch of ranger types rowing ashore in a tiny boat from the direction of the Bitterwood.  They looked to be about serious business.  Paying it no mind Krogar continued on his way.

There weren’t many places in Shadow Port that afforded a quiet moment.  Gil’Adan leaned his chair back and enjoyed the serenity that The Pious Gardener offered.  Most of the attendants in the tavern were elves passing through on business, and the Gardener catered to their tastes quite well.  A trellis along the wall and ceiling supported flowering leavy vines that reminded him of the Queen’s Woods.  He sipped at his summer wine and was about to pick up his book again when the door to the tavern was slammed open.  Captain Danziker staggered into the tavern, clearly three sheets to the wind, singly loudly to all that would hear.

“It’s of dear grog to you I’ll sing, And to dear grog I’ll always cling, I like my cup filled to the brim, and I’ll drink all you’d like to bring. And it’s oh, dear grog, thou art my darling, and my joy both night and morning.  Though oft hast made me friends me foes, and oft hast made me pawn my clothes, but since thou art so near me nose, it’s up, me boys, and down she goes!”  Danziker upended his flask of grog over his mouth and drank deep.  Feeling mighty proud of himself he went to take a dramatic bow, but as he tipped over the floor swam up to meet him.

TavernPiousGardener 2

The Pious Gardner Tavern
The trail of leaves leads to a home away from home for elves visiting Shadow Port

Krogar was outside handing his coin to the doorman when he heard Danziker’s voice inside.  He pushed open the door and barely had time to make sense of the situation before the bartender began yelling.  “YOU?!  How dare ye show yer face here!”  Krogar had no idea how to reply when he realized the old, one-eyed dark elf was pointing to where Captain Danziker was picking himself off the floor.  “You stole my ship!  You’re not welcome here!  OUT!”  Not intending to get himself mixed up in the old pirate’s affairs Krogar side stepped past and joined Gil’Adan at his table.

Danziker looked towards the source of the yelling with bleary eyes.  “Kiel Xu’bulon?  That be you?”  His vision cleared just in time for him to duck as a bottle was thrown at him.  “Halt!  I ain’t  cheated!  I won that ship in an honest game, you know that.  Wasn’t my fault you had three priests to my four dragons.  If ye be looking to blame someone fer stealing the ol’  boat blame the Emperor, he took it from under me ages ago!”  The bartender fumed and was about to deliver a retort before Danziker pulled a familiar coin from his pocket.  “I be here on business, mate.”  The bartender gritted his teeth and bit back further words. Very few people in Shadow Port interfered with the Prince’s business.  With a sharp jerk of his hand he gestured to the table where Gil’Adan and Krogar sat.  Danziker sauntered over and put his feet up.  “Aye, mates.  What be the business today?”

Before either the sorcerer or fighter could respond a shadow fell over the table.  A half-orc dressed in well-fitting leathers and dark cloak had approached their table.  By the look of the wicked long knife on his belt, here was a rogue that meant business.  From a pouch on his belt the half-orc pulled out the same coin the three of them had been given.  He pulled up a chair and sat down.  “You may address me as Ragnar.  What’s the job and when do we start?”

Since none of them had any indication what their mission was to be, they concluded to just wait for a sign.  The bartender continued to bring by drinks, pausing at times as if he had more to say but one look at Danziker always sent him back towards the bar with a huff.   After the second bottle of elven wine, Gil’Adan noticed the inside of the label had writing on it.  He carefully peeled the label off the bottle and flattened it on the table.  On it was the sign of the Prince and an image of a dagger.  Atop the seal were the words ‘SACRED DAGGER, Cult of the Sand Crab, Don’t Disappoint me.”

Note Sand Crab

Gil thought back to his time as a Dragonknight.  He had heard several passing whispers of the Cult of the Sand Crab popping up all over the port towns of the Midland Sea.  Not much was known about them other than they moved around from port to port keeping to themselves.  As he related the information to the other adventurers, Krogar spoke up.  “If they move from port to port, chances are there is some record of their arrival.  I know one of the harbormasters.  It’s a start.”

The sun was high in the afternoon as they found their way to the docks.  Danziker grimaced at the sounds of the seagulls above.  It did not take long until they found their way to the harbormaster, a half-elf named Tippen Merryweather.  When Krogar asked if he had any record of newcomers to the port within the last week carrying any religious or arcane equipment, the half-elf smiled and produced a mammoth ledger from below his desk.  After pouring through the records, Gil’Adan was able to narrow down the search.  “Three ships carrying passengers and cargo fit that description, all docking in the last week: The Concord’s Grace, the Queen’s Gambit, and the Golden Light.”

At the name of the Golden Light, Ragnar finally spoke up.  “Golden Light, you said?  I know a guy who was on that vessel.  The first mate, in fact.  He’ll help… for a price.”

“Everyone in this town will help for a price,”  Krogar snapped the book shut.  “Many thanks, Master Merryweather.”  The fighter slipped a sovereign across the table.  As long as he was stuck in these lands he made an effort to keep his contacts happy.

They were able to locate the first mate aboard the Golden Light overlooking the loading of cargo before their return trip back to Horizon.  After another few sovereigns changed hands, the first mate told them that their passengers were indeed members of the Sand Crab.  Rumor had it the cult meet in an old rundown warehouse on the northern docks.  The first mate warned them that the Cult of the Sand Crab   funded its operations by selling hallucinogenic fungus and sent them on their way.   On their way over a drunk staggered into Gil’Adan and grabbed onto his shirt, “The owls!  The owls have been seen slouching around Tenderhill district. Slouching I tells ya! It ain’t natural!”  Krogar pushed the drunken fool away and the party continued on.

The sun was setting just as they made their way into the northern warehouse district which belonged to the Red Scars.  Gil’Adan was about to ask why they called themselves the Red Scars when he noticed every single one of the members bore a vicious looking scar across a part of their face or arm.  Krogar noticed Gil’Adan’s gaze and quietly said, “Initiation rites for the gang.  Shows strength.”  Krogar greeted the Red Scar leader, Molak, with his hand on his chest.   “Molak, I need a favor.  Have you seen anything or anyone suspicious in the district in the last few days?”

Red_SashMolak was a scrappy looking halfling who looked like he had seen his fair share of fights.  “More suspicious than the usual lot in this town you mean?”  When his gang laughed, Molak continued, “As a matter of fact, I have seen some undesirables around.  Warehouse twenty-three a few blocks up has had some odd folks popping in and out of it the last two days.  At night the strangest sounds echo from inside.  Rumor has it that since they arrived strange warm black fungal spores have been falling all over Latchmound district.  It ain’t no problem yet, just an oddity.  Told me boys to give it a wide berth, get the feeling there’s something unnatural going on in there.”  When Krogar went to offer a coin to Molak, the halfling raised his hand.  “No need, mate.  You been good to us, and we’ve been good to you.  Just get rid of our new neighbors, eh?”

The halfling’s directions were accurate.  After a short walk they found themselves in front of a large warehouse that long looked abandoned.  Passing by, nobody would have looked twice at the building.  However, as they kept their distance to case the joint, Gil’Adan couldn’t help but shake a sense of wrongness in the magical aura around the building.  “Something isn’t right about this.”  Silently, the four of them made their way through the shadows up to the warehouse.  Danziker happily applied his set of thieves tools obtained from the Prince of Shadows to the one of the side doors of the building.

The interior of the building was much like any other warehouse: stacks upon stacks of crates and boxes on numerous shelves.  Eager to prove himself, Ragnar took the lead of the group.  He carefully avoided anything he suspected may be a trap, keeping his eyes peeled for anyone else in the warehouse.  Krogar and Gil’Adan followed the half-orc rogue carefully, with Danziker bringing up the rear.  When Danziker saw a crate with an unusual mark on the side, curiosity got the better of him.  The old pirate slid a knife under the crates lid and popped it open to see what was inside.  A jet of buzzing flies erupted out of the crate, surrounding the four adventures and driven them mad from the noise.  When the swarm finally dispersed, the party was a bit surprised to find the warehouse quiet once again.  No alarms had been raised.

While Krogar looked over Danziker to restrain him from doing anything else foolish, Gil’Adan and Ragnar were able to find a door leading to a basement level.  The tingling sensation that Gil’Adan was sensing through the building was much stronger at this one door.  The sorcerer was about to open it when Danziker grabbed the sorcerer’s outreached hand.  The pirate was glaring at the ceiling where a large bag with a black dripping stain at the bottom was hanging.  “Trap”, he whispered.  Danizker followed the lead of the line across the ceiling, down the wall, and along the floor.  Together Danziker and Ragnar used their talents as rogues to disarm the trap.  With the path clear the party descended to the lower levels.

They expected hard stone floor underneath them but were shocked to feel a squishy wet ground.  The chamber they were in looked to be a tunnel lined with numerous species of mushrooms.  Several of the mushrooms glowed with bioluminescence, offering a soft red light.  Gil’Adan pulled what knowledge he had of arcane disturbances together, “If I know anything about hell, I think we just stepped into it.  There is strange magic at work here… it feels like we stepped into another realm.”  Krogar silently agreed, he had jumped worlds before and felt a similar sensation when he was transported to Shadow Port all those months ago.

Room Fungal

Welcome to Fungal Hell
This place really gets under your skin… and grows there!

As Gil’Adan approached a brightly colored mushroom it began swelling up in size.  Moving fast, Krogar grabbed the wood elf and yanked him back just as the mushroom exploded in a spore cloud.  From then on Danziker and Ragnar used the knives to disarm any mushrooms that blocked their path from afar.  Further in Gil’Adan heard shuffling ahead and halted the party.  He gestured toward Ragnar who crept forward, keeping to the shadows.  The half-orc rogue found a cultists on his knees, rapidly shoving mushrooms into his mouth.  Ragnar crept up behind the man and drew his dagger across the cultist’s neck with ease.  As the cultist fell to the floor, Ragnar noted the man’s bulging stomach and grime covered robes – Apparently the cultists had been at this for some time now.  Gil examined the body, “I know a bit about cultists, and they’d do anything for power.  I’d wager a guess this man was devouring mushrooms to gain some form of power.”

The fungal covered walls eventually gave way to a rectangular room divided in half by a half-formed wall of fungal roots.  Four large crates occupied the closer half, with three similar crates barely visible on the other side of the fungal mass.  Triggered by the party’s presence, a skeletal hand appeared from the nearest crate, lifting the lid.  From each crate emerged a skeletal figure lined with grave rot mushrooms.

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Ragnar dodged a rusty sword and with a twist of his cloak disappeared into shadow.  Danziker saw his fellow rogue disappear and grumbled to himself about not needing no shadow tricks.  Relying on fancy footwork, Captain Danziker danced forward, bringing his cutlass down upon a skeleton that approached and tumbled left before the skeleton could return a blow.  He had no clue he had just tumbled right into a monstrously large skeleton until the undead creature raked his bony claws down across Danziker’s back.  The creature let loose an unearthly cackle as grave rot set into the wound that would slow the old pirate down.

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Gil’Adan knew from his power stolen from the Lich King that destroying the central source of power animating the undead could weaken the remaining skeletons.  He began gathering his power and observe the fight.  As the battle unfolded, the half-elf sorcerer saw the monstrous creature emerge from the fungal mass and sent Danziker sprawling with a single blow.  “There!  Kill the large one!”

Krogar turned to engage the monstrous skeletal creature, but found his path blocked as the skeletal warrior swarmed around him.  The half-orc fighter cleaved his way through one warrior and into the next, keeping the pressure off Gil’Adan.  Meanwhile, Danziker dodged under another blow then twisted his cutlass back up into the monstrous skeletal’s ribcage.  Ragnar stepped out of the shadows behind the skeletal horror and sunk his daggers deep into the back of the creature’s skull.  Seeing the two rogues making quick work of the monstrous creature, Gil’Adan redirected his energies towards the skeletal archers deeper in the room.  A super charge bolt of energy flew out of the sorcerer’s hands and hit his target dead on, sending bones flying as the archers exploded into pieces.  Within another round the undead had been put to rest and the room fell silent.    Krogar found a vicious looking long sword inlaid with the image of a bear in one of the coffins.  It was heavier than his katana, but what it lacked for in speed it more than made up for in might.  It would serve him well.

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After a short rest the party pressed on.  Beyond the undead chamber Krogar, Ragnar, Gil’Adan and Danziker found more fungus infested tunnels.  The party narrowly avoided pools of wriggling maggots, exploding noxious mushrooms and attacking tendrils as they made their way deeper into fungal hell.  As the tunnel continued impossibly upward, they eventually found themselves on a platform overlooking the mushroom cavern below.  The bioluminescence of the mushrooms below cast an eerie red glow over the surrounding area.  More red lights seem to float around in the air.  In the clearing, amid large mushrooms, were three cultists and an altar.  Two of the cultists seemed transfixed, seemingly by the hallucinogenic properties of mushrooms they harvested.   The third was standing over the basin of the altar.  None of the cultists had noticed the adventurers.

The two rogues knew what to do and stealthily crept towards the two transfixed cultists.  As Danziker was about to strike, he felt something hit his head and a spore cloud erupted around him.  He had just enough time to register the great hulking fungal demon stepping out from the shadows before his mind went blurry.

Expertly skilled as an assassin, Ragnar had better luck taking out his target. The cultist crumpled at the half-orc’s feet. With a trained eye he noticed that the floating red lights in the room actually belonged to two fungal demons, their black oily skin concealing them well in the dark room. He watched as one of the demons revealed himself and attacked Danziker, but Ragnar was too far away to help. At least he would beat the fungal demons at their own game. When the next free moment presented itself Ragnar stepped into the shadows.
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Krogar made to charge the fungal demon, but was stopped as Danziker stepped into his path.  The old pirate swung his cutlass at the half-orc fighter, but Krogar raised his new sword to deflect the blow.  “What in seven hells are you doing Danziker!?!”

“Confusion,” Gil’Adan shouted.  “Fend him off as best you can until he comes to his senses!”  The sorcerer started pulling energy together and readied a spell.  When the cultists finally joined the fight, Gil’Adan was ready for them.  Icy cold winds buffeted against the two remaining cultists as Gil’Adan released an overcharged breath of frost energy towards them.  One of the cultists froze solid and moved no more.  Seeing Gil’Adan attack the cultists the second fungal demon turned his fury towards the wood elf.  Before he could cross the room a dagger protruded from his neck.  Ragnar had reappeared.

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Danziker finally shook aside the confusing effects of the spores from his head and realized he had been attacking Krogar relentlessly.  Thankfully it looked like the fighter had made good use of his maneuvers and sustained little damage.  The pirate gave a sheepish grin at the half-orc fighter and shrugged.  Apologizes would have to wait until later.  Turning, the pirate moved to strike down the demon that had attacked him.  Krogar let loose a battle cry and joined the fray.

Working together now, the four adventurers dropped each of their foes.   As the fungal demons started decaying before their eyes, Gil’Adan examined the altar basin.  A glint of metal caught his eye and he reached his hand within.  The liquid was warm to the touch but he was able to pull a dull looking dagger out of it.  “I believe I’ve found the sacred dagger.  Doesn’t look very special.”  As the last drop of liquid dripped off the dagger, the wood elf felt the air in the room shift.  The fungus that lined the room darkened and began rotting.  With a groan the cavern walls began collapsing.   “By the Diabolist’s horns, we’ve gotta get out of here!  The entire place is rotting away!”

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The four adventures began a mad dash back the route they came.  The tunnels were quickly rotting away in large masses of disgusting filth.  More than once, on of them slipped on the rotted floor and found themselves covered in grime.  Down other corridors they could see other fungal demons rotting where they stood.  Several cultists of the sand crab were screaming in terror as their hellish fungal ‘paradise’ died around them.  The party finally found the trapdoor just as the last of the tunnels behind them collapsed.  Krogar wrenched open the door and heaved all of them up and into the warehouse.  As they exited the trap door and looked back down, they could see only a normal basement crowded with crates.

Danziker lifted himself off the floor, “I tell ye true, it ain’t often a pirate admits he be needin’ a bath, you make no doubt of that.  This muck is vile!”  All four of them did the best they could to get the grime of their clothes but to little avail.  Reeking of rotted growth, they made their way back to the Pious Gardener.  Several customers wrinkled their noses at the smell as the party walked in.  Kiel looked ready to start shouting, but the dark elf bartender held his tongue and looked sideways across the room.  There they found Samuel waiting for them as if he knew exactly when the party would be returning.  The tiefling took the dagger from them, saying another element of their debt had been repaid. 

GM Note - I loved this adventure and like Shadow Port Shuffle more and more.  With this particular adventure I added an additional skeleton combat to lengthen the session and to put a bit more pressure on the party.  Skeletons fit well with Gil’Adan’s Lich King heritage and the rotting aspect of fungal hell worked with the undead.  In keeping with Danziker’s disgraceful reputation, I chose to give Kiel the bartender a history with the pirate.  Since the history was troublesome, they had to do their own legwork to find the warehouse rather than having Kiel providing the location of the Sand Crab Cult for them.  In addition, I had the adventurers return the sacred dagger to Samuel in the Pious Gardener instead.  I liked the idea Samuel being a debt collector of sorts for the Prince and wanted to make him a recurring character.  If Kiel needs the dagger to further the organized play plot later, it’s simple to say Samuel gave it to him after the party departed.